Uncreative education Sir, - As another father clueless as to the whys and wherefores of the bagrut tests ("Graduation time," June 11), I'm sure Herb Keinon speaks for the thousands of Anglo-Saxon parents who see the current testing system as a "non-recipe for the development of intellectual curiosity." Besides the tremendous waste of school time and pressure on the student, the emphasis on doing well in these tests prohibits creative thinking. In my opinion the redundant retesting (magen, matkonet and bagrut) on the same material steals valuable learning potential from the students. STEVEN STEIN Efrat Fine exposure Sir, - I would like to thank your newspaper, and particularly journalist Herb Keinon, for the interview with US Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman ("...And to the Republicans for which he stands," June 1). Mr. Keinon did a fine job of exposing the thoughts Mr. Mehlman expressed concerning the basic American canon of separation of church and state, on which the US is founded, and which it has staunchly defended since its establishment as a free nation. I was amazed that Mr. Mehlman would consider that since the Talmud does not require this separation, this in some way allows the Republican Party and its very tight relationship with the Evangelical Christian Right to erode what has been one of the most important principles of the American way of life. As for his defense of the ongoing conflict in Iraq - a war now accepted to have been launched on the basis of false, if not falsified, intelligence and then conducted in a manner that can only be described as totally without serious thought and strategy - it is sad, indeed. I have great respect for my fellow Jews in the US, who, I am firmly convinced, will continue to back the Democratic Party in huge numbers; as will the tens of thousands of Jewish American citizens living and voting from abroad, in the full knowledge of exactly which administrations have truly worked toward improving the situation in the Middle East, and therefore in Israel. JOANNE YARON Vice Chair Democrats Abroad - Israel Ramat Gan It's a good thing when the bad go Sir, - Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed last week, and that's a good thing ("Bush hails Zarqawi's death but warns war goes on," June 9). Whatever else is going on in the world, whatever you like or dislike about the American government, it deserves praise for this. Whatever the future brings, it's good Zarqawi's gone. If, in 1940, Hitler had been killed, there would have been hordes of anti-Roosevelt administration protesters calling him bad names; but we surely know today that it would have been a good thing. ROBERT HARRIS Chicago Mission near-impossible Sir, - I am sure many join me in my sadness regarding the loss of life in Northern Gaza due to "unintentional collateral damage." The IDF has almost impossible ethical and moral decisions to make and enact in brief seconds. May God guide those in positions of responsibility who make and carry out these split-second decisions. If a charitable organization having as its raison d'etre the care and comfort of civilians suffering from collateral tragedies, both within and outside Eretz Yisrael, does not already exist, we should establish it ("Was blast a stray shell or a Palestinian misfire?" June 11). DR. ELLIOT KRAVITZ Faculty of Medicine McGill University Montreal No truce... Sir, - The first sentence of your June 11 paper says that Hamas has "effectively ended a 16-month truce," but goes on to mention Hamas's responsibility for recent Kassam rocket attacks. Hamas never signed or observed any truce with Israel, though at one point it did conclude a truce of sorts with the Palestinian establishment in order to continue its terrorism undisturbed ("Hamas vows 'earthquake' after 7 killed on Gaza beach," June 11). MARK L. LEVINSON Herzliya ...no explanation Sir, - If Dana Olmert is so proud of the "peace work" she does alongside Anarchists against the Fence, Gush Shalom and Yesh Gvul, why did she feel the need to cover her face and flee the scene, as described in "Olmert's daughter protests Gaza incident" (June 11)? Or did her conscience suddenly cause her pangs, the awareness that she may be embarrassing daddy? BARBARA BROWN Beit Shemesh Begin's example Sir, - Anshel Pfeffer admirably described the role of the media in bringing to light corruption at all levels of the political establishment ("Hand over fist," June 9). One of our greatest politicians, Menahem Begin, could at no time be accused of corruption. He applied exemplary moral behavior to his office. When the media could not find any scandals to write about him they resorted to claims that he was withholding information about his reputed ill health. These claims were false and were refuted by his medical attendants. Even Time magazine, not well known for apologizing, published a retraction of one of its claims. His shining example could well be followed by the present generation of politicians. MYRA ZION Tel Mond What electoral reform can do Sir, - Some items from recent Post articles:
People needing life-sustaining medications must go on a hunger strike to be noticed by our government.
Many citizens wonder why there is not adequate oversight of the Electric Company regarding excessive "perks" for employees, funds for needed improvements, lack of notice for service interruptions, and lack of preparation for summer by the beginning of June.
Rockets continue to fall in Sderot and nearby communities.
Citizens report that they write to Knesset members and get no response.
If we could personally vote for Knesset members the response to our needs would be entirely different since MKs would need our individual votes in order to get and keep their jobs.
We need to encourage the work of the president's committee for electoral reform. We need to follow the committee's progress and offer suggestions, whenever they are solicited. We need to insist that our voices be heard by the people who make the laws and approve the budget. This is what electoral reform can accomplish.
SARA LEE WOOLF
Public Action C'ttee
Sir, - Re "Fake money, real time for Israeli in Turkey" (June 9): The Israel Police did a disgusting thing in making one of our citizens spend time in a Turkish jail, on less than complete evidence, and knowing the conditions prevailing there. They could easily have asked the air crew to send the suspect back to Israel to face whatever he did wrong, if indeed he did do anything wrong.
It might be a good idea to send one of our police officers to spend a few days in jail in Turkey, to ascertain the conditions.
Where are the rights of our citizens to a sane police decision? Much pain and insult could have been avoided.
Sir, - Israel's government has imprisoned refugees from the Sudan's Darfur region. A pity it has lowered its standards of moral conduct to those of my country, America.
("Free jailed refugees, protesters demand. African demonstrators seek amnesty and rights for asylum seekers," June 6).
Ridgewood, New Jersey
Sir, - Why was Leon Meijer so shocked about the things he heard in Holland when they thought he was a Jew? ("Holland moves to ban Holocaust denial," June 11.)
I am Jewish. I was born in Holland two years after the war, my parents were in a concentration camp, the rest of the family was murdered, and from a very young age I was told that I was a dirty Jew and that it was a pity Hitler didn't finish us off. This came from kids and grown-ups.
So many Israelis think that Holland is "our friend." Well, believe me, "with friends like that...."
Dubious poster boy
Sir, - It is commendable that someone is at the age of 79 still contributing to society and, moreover, in government. But how can anyone who has been smoking three packs of cigarettes a day for the past 60 years be the national spokesperson for eliminating the habit, especially among our youth? ("Health minister targets youth smokers," May 31.)
Our foundation for the future is our children, and they need someone to look up to. We need an individual who can go to the schools, speak out regarding the ills of smoking, and set an example of "health through fitness."
The old adage of "Do as I say, not as I do" doesn't work anymore.
SID SKIPPY MARCUS
Home from home
Sir, - I am writing to reassure Mr. Alberto Baggini regarding his and his fiancee's safety while touring by auto in Israel (Letters, June 9). The terrorism situation here is much overrated by the foreign press; he should not worry about it.
If anything, it is our drivers he should fear - but as he qualifies for a driver's license in Italy, he should feel right at home here!
Sir, - In November 2004 my friend Ralph Cowden and I were traveling in Thailand and met four young people from northern Israel at the Laotian embassy in Bangkok. We will be in Israel in September of this year.
This is a long shot that one of them might see this letter, and we could get together.