Sir, - Congratulations on your understatement of the year: "Public uninspired by all 3 PM candidates" (February 24).
J. BENJAMIN FRIEDBERG
Sir, - The Post poll showing that only 46 percent think Ehud Olmert is suitable to be prime minister, yet Kadima is on the verge of one of the most lopsided political victories we have seen, means that Israelis perceive Olmert as an astute politician who has yet to prove himself as prime minister.
Olmert has the rare opportunity to change his poor showing before the elections. The evacuees from Gaza are in desperate need of a champion to help them restart their lives. If he were to fill this role he would accomplish three things:
1. He would demonstrate that he is truly the prime minister of all the people.
2. He would begin the healing process within Israeli society that has been too long in coming.
3. He could lay the groundwork for breaking the stranglehold of the extreme right on the settlers.
Let's see if Olmert recognizes this chance.
Insight on incitement
Sir, - Recognition of Israel, disarming and renouncing terror by Hamas must be preceded by a demand that the Palestinians replace the teaching, throughout their school system, of hatred and anti-Semitism. Palestinians must be taught about the benefits of peaceful coexistence with the Jewish state. The changes must include eliminating incitement broadcast on Palestinian media and preached in their mosques.
Once Palestinian society changes, then - and only then - will recognition, disarmament and renouncing terror take hold as they will be demanded by a people who truly have seen the futility of trying to destroy Israel. Failure to change Palestinian society before peace talks will, once again, allow wishful thinking to cloud realism - with disastrous results ("Let's be more flexible on Hamas, some in Quartet say," February 24).
Weston, Florida Sir, - Why are we so concerned about funding Hamas? It could survive in comfort on the interest from the billions Arafat stashed away.
Sir, - If Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is so convinced of the correctness and righteousness of his actions in ordering the police to move in on the kids at Amona, then he should welcome an investigation into the events there to validate his actions ("Acting premier says he would cancel Amona inquiry if elected," February 23).
The rules changed...
Sir, - The Israeli media never fail to trumpet our democratic state and values. While invoking "democracy" no less than five times in your editorial ("Saving hesder," February 23) you challenged the hesder yeshivot to salvage their traditional mission of producing highly motivated and educated Zionistic soldiers. You also accused some yeshivot of indoctrinating their students in an ideology that is hostile to the state.
I believe the problem lies in our definition of democracy. When Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, armed with a solid Knesset mandate, suddenly switched platforms and adopted the disengagement policies of his vanquished opponent, he abused the trust, faith and democratic principles through which he was elected. That's not democracy.
The blame is not with the hesder yeshiva rabbis, who haven't strayed from their religious Zionist ideology at all. Rather it seems that Prime Minister Sharon simply changed the rules, and forgot to tell them.
Sir, - There is no doubt that the hesder yeshiva program has produced some of the finest soldiers and officers in the IDF. However, some of the proposals for modification of this program are not without reason and justification.
If I were running a business and a religious employee came to me and said that he couldn't report for work until two hours after everyone else because he needed time in the morning to study Torah, I would admire him but I would fire him. If an employee said that he couldn't work with secular employees and needed his own private cubicle, I would also admire him but fire him. The religious convictions of an employee are private and should not burden the company.
If everyone else serves two years in the IDF, so should soldiers in the hesder yeshiva program. This period of service can and should be interspersed with periods of Torah study, but the actual amount of military duty should be equal to that of everyone else ("Hesder yeshivot in jeopardy of disbandment," February 22).
HAIM M. LERNER
...so change the army
Sir, - Full unity and integration of our boys and girls in the army is a great idea. Full unity of all our adults would also be nice. So why don't we make the whole army like the hesder units and offer anyone that would like to join the opportunity to learn a little bit more about our religion, land and what we are fighting for? It is because of such education that 70 percent of Israeli army officers are religious. This is not to say that the non-religious do not know what Israel is all about. However, religious Jews seem to stay in the army to help defend our people in the land that God has given us.
Golani Hesder 198