Sir, - Poor Noga Martin. After living in Israel for 11 years she has discovered the "harsh truth" about Israel: Life here is not like life in America ("An open letter in response to 'Why I am making aliya,'" December 26).
She sees "all" Israelis as "tactless," but why expect them to act like Americans? It is unrealistic of her to expect that Israel will modify its culture to suit her tastes. Thus, it is Martin - and not all of "them" - who have not managed to make the necessary adjustment.
Some 16 years ago, after making aliya from the US, I received a bit of sage insight from a veteran immigrant. "The best thing about living in Israel," he said, "is the weather, and the reason for this is that the government can't foul it up." Hidden in that gem is the secret to successful aliya: Go with the flow. I suspect that Calev Bender will do just fine.
Sir, - I recall strolling on the campus of Tel Aviv University accompanied by a medical student of the New York State/America Program. These students can be considered temporary immigrants as they spend four years here pursuing medical degrees.
The student suddenly glanced upward and remarked, "Just look at that sky!" As we had experienced some heavy rains the previous day I spontaneously responded "Wow! What an incredibly blue sky after such tremendous storms." He countered with "No! Just look at that pollution..."
As the saying goes, life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. It's all in one's attitude.
Sir, - The most amazing part of Noga Martin's article was the summary description of her as "an overworked and underpaid employee" of The Jerusalem Post. Shame on you! If she is worth it, work her less and pay her more, and maybe she will then be happy in our country.
MONTY M. ZION
Sir, - Having read both Calev Bender's inspiring article and Noga Martin's candid reply, and having lived here for 34 years, my conclusion? Life in Israel is not easy.
But I am living among my own people. We may all express our identity differently, but it is the same identity. We fight and disagree politically, culturally and religiously, but that's how it is in families. We have a flawed society, but what can we do with our lives that is more important than improving and building our homeland?
I look at our youth serving in the IDF, and I feel proud. I hear a resurrected Hebrew being spoken even by toddlers, while Latin is dead, and I feel proud. I live in Jerusalem and I feel proud.
There is corruption. There is polarization. But I firmly believe we find what we are looking for. Calev Bender - it is a privilege and a blessing for a Jew to live in the Land of Israel. How rich you are!
Sir, - What a shame that on the first day of Hanukka (the Festival of Lights), the Post chose to print Noga Martin's article.
Perhaps you could have chosen to print an article on how it is only Israeli children who have the privilege their great grandparents were denied of learning about the festivals by living them here. These children inhabit the historical towns where these miraculous events took place and get a "hands on" education: seeing sufganiyot every 10 meters at Hanukka; people kashering oven parts in the street before Pessah; schach (coverings for succot) in the street before Succot.
Sir, - If the small things in life are more difficult than the big issues then I believe Noga Martin was badly advised before making aliya. My two daughters and their husbands also are overworked and underpaid and would not have had financial worries if they had remained in London. But their extreme joy of living here in our country overrides the small issues, of which they were made aware beforehand.
However, I do admire Noga Martin. She came without a Hebrew education and no religious background. Her frustration shows and many will empathize with her as indeed I do. Noga, don't give up and don't go back. I for one would help you at any time.
Sir, - Noga Martin seems to be unnecessarily negative about everything except the two things that one should truly be outraged about: Palestinian suicide bombers and suicidal Israeli drivers.
Sir, - First, let's deal with Noga Martin's petty grievances. My coffee is always just right and I'm happy to recommend a dozen good coffee shops. For a good appliance, she should shop around; and she should not be embarrassed to ask when her bank is open.
And now the important stuff. From the moment I got off my aliya flight I made an attempt to interact with Israelis, and always received a warm response. I try to speak Hebrew at all times and never sensed an "enormous invisible wall." For me Israelis' and immigrants' questions are simply "breaking the ice."
Yes, I would like to see changes in many areas: government, litter on the streets and juvenile violence. But for me it does matter that most people here are Jews; I relate to Israelis as "family." I would suggest she learn to laugh at the common foibles of Israelis and take advantage of the many cultural opportunities Jerusalem has to offer.
Bieber a hero...
Sir, - Avi Bieber is a true Jewish hero ("Avi Bieber, first pullout refuser, unrepentant after IDF discharge," December 23). Although he clearly encourages religious Zionist youth to continue to serve in the IDF with loyalty, when it comes to going against the true Jewish values the IDF stands for, he says a line must be drawn.
Refusal to commit immoral acts against the very people the army and the state was formed to protect was the right thing to do.
I would want my son to do the same.
...or unfit to serve
Sir, - The decision to discharge a soldier by the IDF must be very difficult. By doing so the army is, in effect, saying it finds he is not qualified to serve in any capacity. This is the case of Avi Bieber who refused a legal order to evacuate settlers.
Now that he has been discharged from the army after serving time in prison, he can leave the defense of the country in the hands of the young men and women who know how to follow orders and who have learned to leave their political baggage at home when they put on their uniform.
PAUL BERMAN Shoham
Sir, - Steven Spielberg makes movies to make money, not to teach morality "Spielberg's moral equivalency" (December 22). Like many Hollywood filmmakers he is excellent at his craft, and if blurring the lines between good Jewish victims and their evil Arab terrorist murderers will make his films more popular and therefore more profitable, then he will definitely practice moral equivalence.
In Hollywood, where ethics and morality are often determined by the size of one's bank account, and the profitability of one's last movie, moral equivalence is the order of the day.
Sir, - I saw Munich last week at a preview and I couldn't agree more with "Spielberg's moral equivalence." That the movie depicts the Mossad as no better than those who murdered Israeli athletes at the Olympics is contemptible. Completely lost in this film is any sense of the horror of what happened; there is only the fictional horror of Mossad agents in doubt.
Beware snap revenue
Sir, - The need to reduce traffic accidents in Israel and the promotion of speed cameras to do this made for interesting and timely reading ("Speed cameras now," December 22).
In the UK, certainly traffic accidents have decreased as a result of the introduction of speed cameras. However, there is a widely held belief that their actual purpose is to raise revenue for the government, rather than save lives. So much so that the government is not installing additional cameras and, to placate critics, the cameras have been painted orange so they can be easily spotted by drivers.
Israel can learn from the UK experience. If used at accident-prone locations, the cameras can save lives. If, however, the government uses the cameras as a means to increase revenues, their introduction will cause a backlash.
LAWRENCE J. RYZ
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