Sir, - I commend Nathan Guttman's nuanced coverage of the growing trend of support within the American Jewish community, and among pro-Israel legislators on Capitol Hill, for US initiatives which engage Israelis and Palestinians in negotiations ("Rice pudding," December 9).
Polls consistently support Guttman's observation that the call for vigorous and persistent US involvement in the resolution of the conflict indeed extends beyond the realm of the "usual suspects." Most recently, 76 percent of American Jews polled agreed with the statement: "The US should push both sides to move towards a peace agreement" (Ameinu, March 2005).
History also shows that during more than three decades of Middle East peace efforts, diplomatic breakthroughs between Israel and her Arab neighbors come only when the US president or secretary of state is personally involved.
The Jewish Alliance
for Justice and Peace
Sir, - Israel must make it abundantly clear to all that following the due process of law, Marwan Barghouti was convicted, as a terrorist, of participating in the murder of innocent Israelis and sentenced to five life terms in prison. Media hype and illusory claims the he will be an elected leader with whom we can negotiate notwithstanding, he must not be released. Morality and the sanctity of life itself demand no less.
Tug of war
Sir, - Samuel Freedman captured the state of Conservative Judaism in the US perfectly ("The Conservative conundrum," December 14).
In my town in New Jersey, the Conservative temple has an Orthodox-ordained rabbi who abandoned most Orthodox standards as soon as he accepted his position. Over the past few years he has invited Muslim groups to his Temple's succa and offered films on gay Jewish life in the social hall. In recent weeks this temple started offering traditional and egalitarian services simultaneously, like choices at Starbucks.
Now the egalitarian-leaning members are angry that the temple isn't becoming 100 percent egalitarian.
Like it or not, at least one knows what Orthodox Judaism stands for. Most also know that Reform stands for "afterthought" Judaism. The Conservatives are in a tug of war between the two. I would suggest Modern Orthodoxy: All of the traditions but still living in the 21st century.
Speak out, protect children
Sir, - As a clinical psychologist who has worked with too many families who have have lost a child in a traffic accident, I was very interested by "Traffic accidents top Israeli concerns" (December 14). I would like to suggest some steps for protecting our children.
The Transportation Ministry has approved seat belts on all school buses. Ask your child if seatbelts were available on the bus when he returns from a class trip. If the answer is "no," inform other parents and approach the school. Find out why.
While you are at it, ask your child if children sit three-abreast in seats meant for two children. As a parent you must speak out. You are your child's best advocate.
Parents who lose a child forever carry a tremendous void in their hearts. We can make a large difference with a few small steps.
DR. BATYA L. LUDMAN