Sir, - David Horovitz's "Four mothers" (February 17) clearly proved that disengagement does not prevent rocket attacks, and that the Israeli economy cannot adequately absorb the displaced persons. Yet your polls show that the Kadima Party, which is unabashedly in favor of more disengagement, isleading.
Is it not clear that the "security fence" is not high enough to keep out rockets, and that additional disengagement will expose more land to rocket attacks, and put unbearable strain on our economic activity because the area in which it can take place will decrease?
Please print my letter. Someone might see it and prove to me that the sky is not falling.
Sir, - Our government was warned. Now the Kassams have reached Ashkelon. When they hit the power station the country will be plunged into darkness, after which I expect the army to provide us with candles. On the positive side, our soldiers will be able to fire from obscurity into the empty darkness of our enemies("Prevent 'disaster,'" Editorial, February 19).
Dropping the charge
Sir, - I read that the Palestinian Authority owes the Electric Corporation $50 million ("Electric shock," Letters, February 20). When a poor family in Israel fails to pay its bill, the electricity is cut off. What's different with the PA?
Lone soldier and PM share a doctor
Sir, - In summer 2004 our eldest son was a lone solder, a front-line fighter with a Nahal brigade. One Shabbat, while on leave in Jerusalem, he developed a terrible headache and collapsed from a cerebral hemorrhage.
He was rushed to Hadassah Ein Kerem, where he was cared for by Dr. Jose Cohen. I arrived next day and was told Dr. Cohen had "magic hands." The nursing staff, the other doctors and the social worker assigned to us were all top-notch.
Then I saw that Ariel Sharon was being attended to by Dr. Cohen, and it brought home to me the democracy and equality of Israel - that a 19-year-old soldier with no family in the country would get the same doctor as the prime minister.
I don't wish anyone a long time in any hospital keeping vigil by a loved one. But in Israel it is a positive experience. The staff gets to know you, and people go through the halls at snack and meal times offering free food to visitors. In the synagogue all types of Jews daven together, even though on the "outside" they would never step into each other's shuls. Meals are arranged for visitors who want to stay over Shabbat, and sleeping arrangements are also made. Many patients are obviously Arab, and they get the same high-quality care as the Jewish ones.
A special IDF branch deals exclusively with sick soldiers. It has an office in the hospital and will arrange taxis for visitors, deliver newspapers etc. to sick soldiers and arrange medical necessities.
Despite a rocky start, my son has made an excellent recovery. If you have to be sick, I think Hadassah Ein Kerem is probably one of the best places in the world to be.
Crime and punishment
Sir, - Thank you, Evelyn Gordon, for "Troubling? Yes, but understandable" (February 16), which explained why not only youngsters but many adults are losing faith in our judicial system. Recent days have provided even more reasons.
Many in the media feel Omri Sharon's punishment is very severe and that there should have been more consideration for his father's condition. On the other hand, we are told the prosecution is going to demand an even harsher sentence for Naomi Blumenthal, whose offense pales against Omri's for many reasons, not only the comparatively paltry sum of money involved.
Omri set out to use the funds so his father could become PM and then "defraud" the electorate using autocratic methods against those who felt they had been cheated in the last election.
Blumenthal? One is almost tempted to believe that her real crime was not defecting from her party and its election platform.
Sir, - Evelyn Gordon is right on the money. Perhaps we need to ponder the following: Hamas contested and won an election, and they're running the Palestinian Authority. Kadima and our Supreme Court have done neither, and they're running Israel.
So who's more democratic?
What an insult!
Sir, - Regarding Israel Radio's report that the Chinese consul in Tel Aviv sent a letter to the Israeli authorities comparing the Dalai Lama to the head of Hamas, a group sworn to Israel's destruction, the comparison is, at best, absurd.
The difference between Hamas and the Dalai Lama is very clear. He has always reiterated his belief in peaceful means to solve the Tibet issue. He has never questioned the right of the People's Republic of China to exist, never called for the destruction of China. In fact, he is the calming force on Tibetan youths who want to take radical measures.
According to credible, independent observers such as Human Rights Watch, Tibet has for half a century been subjected to one of the most brutal assimilations in history. Since October 1950, when 40,000 Chinese soldiers invaded the Himalayan kingdom, around 1.2 million Tibetans have died. Some 6,000 Buddhist temples have been destroyed. Thousands of Buddhist monks and nuns have been imprisoned, tortured or killed.
Hundreds of thousands of Chinese have been encouraged to migrate to Tibet, so that in many towns Chinese now outnumber Tibetans. The Dalai Lama has been outlawed in Tibet. This even though the Dalai Lama himself has disavowed separatism and seeks greater autonomy and religious freedom for his people within China.
To sum up: The analogy is ridiculous, odious and insulting to Israel and to the threat the people of Israel face every day.
Sir, - Marvin Schick decries the focus given to "Jack Abramoff's black hat" (February 19) and suggests that giving media attention to it is akin to giving attention to an African American criminal's skin color, which would be racism.
The two are very different, for a variety of reasons. Skin color is not a matter of choice; wearing a black hat is. Skin color does not reflect religiosity; wearing a black hat is meant to. When the bearer behaves in a criminal manner, he is being hypocritical. The public reaction is not a manifestation of hostility to Orthodox Judaism. It would be the same if a criminal wore garb suggesting he was a religious Muslim, a collar suggesting he was a Catholic priest, or any other public manifestation broadcasting religiosity.
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein's responsum dealt with observant and law-abiding Jews wearing a yarmulka/kippa in public. He would surely have preferred that those engaged in criminal activity not cover their heads in public. That's a desecration of God's name.
CHAIM I. WAXMAN
Piscataway, New Jersey
Sir, - If by wearing a large black hat you make a claim to higher morality, you can't complain if other people hold you to that claim.
Sir, - Rarely does a person admit to outright hypocrisy. But that is exactly what Elliot Jager does in "Caught bareheaded," (February 19). In jettisoning his kippa along with his Orthodox faith, he asks whether this represents a rejection of spirituality. He claims that his aliya to Israel proves otherwise, but as for his abandonment of Orthodox beliefs, even the Creator himself isn't bothered either way.
But if God doesn't care, why wear a kippa when eating? In fact, why should God show a preference for beef over pork, or sardines over shrimp?
Fear of heaven
Sir, - Reader Moshe Ivry quotes the Vilna Gaon as saying that "the head-cover... has nothing to do with Judaism" ("Bareheaded, truly Jewish," Letters, February 19). Yet in his commentary to the Shulhan Aruch, the Gaon writes: "During the time of prayer it is proper" (to cover one's head).
I think the Vilna Gaon would agree with Maimonides, who wrote: "The great men among our sages would not uncover their heads because they believed that God's glory surrounded them and was above them. It also seems to me that the Gaon would not argue with the mother of Rabbi Nachman bar Yitzhak, who advised her son to "cover your head so that the fear of Heaven should be upon you."
Sir, - I want to thank Talya Halkin for "Women rabbis increase influence in liberal communities" (February 20), which so captured the united spirit of multicultural women of all ages participating in one of the four yearly Masorti Women's Study Days. Now in its sixth year, under the guidance of Prof. Alice Shalvi, founder of the Israel Women's Network, this project has spurred the formation of women's Rosh Chodesh groups and individual study.
The name of the Masorti Movment, also a sponsor, was inadvertantly omitted.
Women's Masorti Study Day
Sir, - Three excellent articles in your paper - "The unbearable normality of teenage violence" (February 15), "Blackened by whiteness" (January 5) and "The noise that creates hate" (November 25, 2005) - all written by Tom Hope, were recently brought to my attention. They are interesting, thoughtful and beautifully written.
I hope to see more.
Sir, - Kudos to Tom Hope and The Jerusalem Post for giving this young journalist an opportunity to strut his stuff.