Never mind sex, we're kosher
Sir, - I have worked in tourism and hotels in Israel for over 25 years. Avi Krawitz's excellent article about the new way Eilat is being promoted in the UK showed how completely out of touch the Tourism Ministry continues to be ("Can sex sell Israel?" January 3).
It needs to wake up and recognize what is happening in Jewish tourism, now commonly called "kosher tourism" today. In 2005 kosher tours, hotels and cruises increased substantially worldwide - except in Israel. Yet where else are there so many kosher hotels concentrated in one beautiful resort? Israel is a "kosher resort paradise," and should be sold accordingly.
Just open The Jerusalem Post and read about all the kosher cruises and resorts outside Israel that are being promoted. The number of hotels in the world going "kosher for Pessah" is incomparable with prior years. Uzi Gafni's erroneous approach is typical of the ministry, which tries to sell Israel as if it were just another Mediterranean resort.
Sorry - we're unique... and we're kosher!
NAHUM A. BEDEIN
Fly us cheaper
Sir, - As someone who devotes a lot of time to promoting Israel I am delighted to see a significant amount of money invested in promoting tourism. However, might I suggest that some of it go toward bringing fares from the UK down to a realistic level to compete with travel to other European destinations? At peak times it is impossible to get flights at any price.
We in Manchester long for the return of direct El Al flights to Israel. I am sure this would encourage more people to make the journey. At the moment there are poor connecting flight times either through London or other European cities. El Al have mentioned resuming direct flights possibly from 2007, but say it depends on demand. How can demand be assessed without giving it a try?
Cheadle, Cheshire, UK
'Resistance' is terror
Sir, - Too bad Khaled Abu Toameh sees the dangerous consequences of lawlessness but can't completely condemn the root causes - hate education in schools funded by UNRWA teaching terrorist-group doctrines - and call terrorism what it is: the phenomenon of murdering civilians for political goals and/or gain. Instead in "The fallen hope for Palestinian press freedom" (January 4) he writes: "[Mahmoud] Abbas believes in the political track, that the only way to achieve something is through negotiations. The young guard believes there should be a two-track policy: negotiations and 'resistance,' or what Israelis call terrorism."
Is this journalist like the BBC, unable to call a spade a spade?
Khaled Abu Toameh responds: I was simply stressing the fact that the Palestinians refuse to acknowledge that their attacks are terrorism, instead calling them "resistance."
Return of right
Sir, - I have no problem with Palestinians living in Jerusalem participating in the PA elections providing they first return their Israeli ID cards and also their entitlement to Israeli Social Security benefits ("J'lem police crack down on Palestinian campaigning," January 4).
What an outrage!
Sir, - It is an utter disgrace that Marwan Barghouti, sentenced to five life terms for his crimes, is allowed to have free-wheeling political meetings in jail with the approval of the Prisons Service and the encouragement of the Prime Minister's Office ("Restrictions on Barghouti to be eased," January 3). Is there another country in the world that would permit such scandalous acts? The blame for this outrageous situation can only be placed at the door of Ariel Sharon and his deputies.
Appeasement of our worst enemies is the road to disaster, never to peace.
Defects as we see them
Sir, - In his January 4 response to my op-ed on closed lists, Michael Jaffe said I misrepresented direct representation systems. The fact is that I accurately quoted the examples of Britain and the US, where the party receiving the overall majority of votes does not necessarily win the election. Due to space limitations I could not deal in detail with the many alternative electoral systems available, but I did acknowledge that alternatives exist by quoting the example of mixed member proportional representation as used in Germany and adopted by New Zealand.
My main purpose was to highlight the defects of the closed lists system used in Israel, and I am pleased Mr. Jaffe agrees on this central aspect.
Sir, - For a Jewish institution such as the 92nd St. Y to open on Shabbat is a downright betrayal of the Jewish heritage ("Open for business... on Shabbat," January 3). What makes a Jewish institution Jewish is its compliance with Jewish values. Such an entity must be closed on Shabbat. It must serve only kosher food in its cafeteria. It must put up mezuzot on its doorposts.
What an individual observes, or doesn't observe, is that individual's business only. But what a public facility claiming to be Jewish does is everybody's business.
HAIM M. LERNER
Sir, - As one of the demonstration organizers I read "Attacked for our beliefs in Beersheba" (December 28) with interest. Howard Bass wrote that "haredi extremists" attacked his group; this is very far from the truth. The people present were mostly ordinary Israelis, many of them traditional Sephardi Jews fed up with a process which is turning Beersheba into a city disconnected from its Jewish roots and estranged from its Jewish culture.
On this particular Saturday we received inside information about a plan to baptize tens of Jews from all across the southern region of Israel. This, in our eyes, was a red line that could not be crossed.
As for the piece's title, we did not attack Howard Bass personally for his beliefs, but because of the hunting of innocent souls by those who abuse the difficult socioeconomic situation of innocent and sometimes ignorant Jews, taking advantage of their low status in order to influence them to believe in Jesus Christ.
Sir, - Howard Bass objects to the fact that his group was identified as "converts to Christianity" rather than as "Jews who believe that Yeshua/Jesus is the Messiah" (Letters, January 1).
I fail to see the difference since accepting the beliefs professed by this group pretty much means denying the Jewish concept of Moshiach. If you renounce a principal foundation stone of Judaism and accept the one of Christianity, how can you be anything but a convert?
Sir, - Assuming that the plan for the reorganization of religious services proposed by the Ne'emanei Report applies to all streams of Judaism, it resembles closely the proposals made over the years by the Masorti Movement and is to be commended as a much-needed attempt to free religion in Israel from the coercive influence of official religious monopolies. For the first time it would offer an opportunity for Israeli Jews to have the freedom of choice in religious matters enjoyed by their fellow Jews elsewhere. As such it also offers hope for a true resurgence and renaissance of Judaism in the Jewish state.
It is unfortunate, but not unexpected, that the representatives of the National Religious Party and Shas oppose this plan. These groups have always relied on governmental interference in religion to perpetuate Judaism, not understanding that religion flourishes best under freedom.
It is to be hoped that this plan will receive the serious consideration it deserves and be adopted for the benefit of all Israeli Jews and Judaism ("NRP, Shas reject reform in providing religious services," January 4).
RABBI REUVEN HAMMER
Limmud & the Left
Sir, - For the last 15 years we have attended the UK's premier annual Limmud Jewish conference, currently held at Nottingham University. It runs for four days at the end of December and attracts over 2,000 Jews from all over the world. Sessions cover the whole spectrum of Jewish religious and cultural topics, a high proportion focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In recent years, however, we have seen the event become a major target for left-wing Jewish intellectuals and journalists, who seem intent on assisting the Arabs in their propaganda attacks against Israel.
For many years now left-wing educationalists have dominated British universities, promoting lies and myths about Israel. In addition, vast sums of money have been spent on training Palestinian and Arab intellectuals to promote their cause in schools and universities around the world.
Very little is spent on presenting Israel's case in the UK. Individuals who wish to counteract the propaganda receive no professional support and risk being verbally abused and shunned by the Jewish press. There are still some excellent efforts being made in areas like Manchester, but in London the situation is quite worrying.
There are many good reasons for attending Limmud. However, unless there is a major attitude change the conference will continue to contribute to the demise of intellectualsupport for Israel among Jews in Britain.
LYNETTE & MICHAEL ORDMAN
Tears and wonder
Sir, - I wept as I read "2,990 terror attacks during 2005 'truce'" (January 2).
As an American I cannot imagine almost 3,000 attacks in a year. The courage of the people of Israel is amazing to me. In spite of everything you continue to move forward in an attempt toward peace!
I respect and admire you for all that you withstand, as well as for your example of faith.
Sanford, North Carolina