A bitter pill...
Sir, - Truth can be a bitter pill to swallow, and Caroline B. Glick's brilliant analysis of our political scene was a bitter pill indeed ("Israel's uninformed electorate," March 21).
Rather than face up to reality, how much easier it is to select "a one size fits all" political party which has no clearly defined positions on the major issues, nor any need for such, because the press, in its infinite wisdom, has decided what we need to know.
The one-size party can then be whatever we imagine or need it to be. How comforting!
I don't believe I am being paranoid when I say we are being manipulated in this election, starting with the decision of the attorney-general to define Ariel Sharon's condition as "temporarily incapacitated on a permanent basis," a definition which led to the current election process.
A major decision awaits us next week. Hopefully, we will exercise good, sound judgment, and not refrain from voting because we are dissatisfied with any, or all, of the candidates.
Sir, - In one op-ed Caroline B. Glick manages to both articulate a pressing problem in our current election process and then proceed to exemplify that very problem.
Your intro read: "Media bias and superficiality block public debate on the issues that matter." Agreed! In the article itself Ms. Glick, whom I take to be a excellent representative of the media, then describes the post-election intentions of Kadima as "surrendering Judea and Samaria to the terror organization (Hamas)."
This seems a perfect example of how any intelligent exploration of the critical issues facing the public is discouraged and, in effect, blocked. The discouragement is effected by shortcircuiting any discussion by presenting as fact the predictable, often pre-determined, opinions of the media person.
Does anybody, including Ms. Glick, really believe that the motivation and intention of Kadima's Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni, Gideon Ezra and Tzahi Hanegbi, patriotic politicians all (with whom I disagree), is to surrender Judea and Samaria to Hamas? Does such a statement stimulate real public debate on the issues that matter, or does it contribute to a mindless repetition of the election sloganeering we're all suffering from?
I believe that this sloganeering helps explain the distancing of huge segments of the public from the current political process.
Change of heart?
Sir, - Re "Change still matters - Shinui," an appeal to the electorate by the head of the party's Knesset list: I would beg Ron Lowenthal, who has decided to live in Israel, the land God promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendents, to read Pastor Mike Hill's "Don't mess with Israel" (Letters, March 21). Perhaps he'll have a change of heart regarding some of his aspirations.
Sleepless in the battle
Sir, - I recently found out, via personal experience, that Binyamin Netanyahu might be making a few more enemies than just "the press." My recording machine gave me a campaign message from Bibi, spoken in a beautiful voice, with good diction and great text... but received at 10 minutes past one - a.m.!
I'm glad I unplug my phone at night ("Likud heats up its fight against the press," March 21).
Human rights aren't exclusive
Sir, - I read with astonishment Larry Garber and Eliezer Ya'ari's "Who's really damaging Israeli interests?" (March 20). The authors attack Gerald Steinberg and attorney Nira Mashraki for "condemning the (NGO) messengers" of human rights violations, but offer only standard clich s and no substantive evidence in response. They argue that the "currency" of B'Tselem and HaMoked is "their fact finding methodology and the credibility of what they report."
NGO Monitor has shown on a number of occasions that such NGOs either lack the facilities to conduct impartial research or allow their political biases to dictate what they report. This seriously undermines their credibility.
The authors then cite the meeting between IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz and representatives of Machsom [checkpoint] Watch as an example of positive engagement with NGOs. But, following the encounter, Halutzspecifically addressed the issue of NGOs putting Palestinian human rights before universal human rights, such as the right to life. Haaretz reported his words on March 5:
"Humanitarianism is not exclusively owned by Machsom Watch, and it is tested not only at the checkpoints, but also in preventing suicide bombers from reaching the markets of Tel Aviv and Netanya."
Halutz clearly joins with Steinberg and Mashraki in recognizing the dangers of taking these NGOs' politically motivated attacks as serious analyses of human rights violations.
Garber and Ya'ari would do well to recognize this too.
Sir, - As of this writing, Sky News had said not a word about Ken Livingstone's latest rampage against the Jews ("London mayor underfire for more controversial comments," March 22). It still amazes me what his second-in-command said about him. A Jewish woman whose parents survived the Holocaust claimed Ken does not have an anti-Semitic bone in his body.
I would love to hear his comments if he was anti Semitic.
Sir, - London's Mayor Ken Livingstone is a perfect example of the casual and subtle manner in which Amalek infiltrates our society and its hierarchy.
Sir, - The American Jewish Committee's motto "A century of leadership" should have the words "toward assimilation" added to it. The raison d'etre of this organization has always been to strive for acceptance by its non-Jewish neighbors. If this goal is to be achieved at the expense of Jewish identity, then that's the price you have to pay.
In addition to its anti-Zionist stand it is interesting to note that the AJC joined with other Jewish organizations in vehemently opposing the anti-Hitler protest rally held in March 1933.
As a consequence of the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel, from a Jewish point of view, the AJC was dragged into the second half of the 20th century. As a result it has made positive contributions, as enumerated in your excellent editorial, "AJC at 100" (March 20).
However, the inclusion of this organization in the "short list of groups that matter" was overly generous. Perhaps the term "short end" would be more appropriate.
Who's in denial?
Sir, - In "Gush Katif youth suffer range of psychological problems" (March 3) your reporter wrote: "Social Affairs Ministry spokesman Nachum Ido acknowledged that his agency had not been fast enough in responding to the needs of the youth, nor to the psychological problems of the evacuees in general. 'We are only starting the major efforts now,' Ido said. 'It took a lot of time.' Ido also faulted the 'initial denial on the part of the teens and their parents that they suffered psychological problems... Nobody knew exactly what would happen. At the beginning, the [evacuees] themselves didn't know what they needed, didn't know they had a crisis....'"
If there was denial, it was on Ido's part. The evacuees and anyone in contact with them were fully aware that they were suffering a major crisis.
On September 21, 2005, after personally faxing Ido a 16-page report on "The State of the Communities of Gush Katif and Northern Samaria," I received a phone call from his secretary asking why their office had been faxed the report. She said Ido had told her: "There is nothing I can do with it. Toss it."
I explained that perhaps the ministry would have some interest in the problematic situation of the evacuees. After I rejected her offer to file (bury) it in the "research section," she agreed, half-heartedly, to pass it on to the ministry's director. To the best of my knowledge, that was its dead end.
There has never been a lack of information available to Ido or anyone else in that ministry, nor any other ministry, just a lack of desire to help the evacuees of Gush Katif and Samaria.
From my experience as a researcher, among the ministers/MKs who have been more receptive to these issues and who have offered their aid are Matan Vilna'i (Labor) and Uri Ariel and Gila Finkelstein (NRP-National Union).
TOBY KLEIN GREENWALD
Sir, - "Call 'em lousy, you'd be right" (Letters, March 22), on the quality of Israeli drivers, would be acceptable if most of the mistakes that I witness by the hour on our roads were committed by "whiz kids" only. The painful and often tragic truth is that the so-called pillars of our communities - the 40+year-olds - are equally ignorant. And they are setting an example for future generations.
Why, for example, don't drivers, police cars included, stop when approaching a pedestrian crossing? Until this attitude of "I'm all right, Jack" is put to bed I am afraid many more families will be devastated by road deaths.
Attitude starts in the home, and our kids, more often than not, do as we do.
Sir, - I am happy that your correspondent has peace of mind from not driving in Israel, but, on the other hand, I would welcome another good driver on the road, doing the right thing. These people are all too rare.
Sir, - Shalom! I am 43, in search of male and female friends in Israel and worldwide, including Muslims or Christians, aged 20 to 50. I am an English teacher working as a librarian. My interests include books, movies, pop music, collecting stamps and postcards, cycling and swimming. Please write to Schacht Street 6, D 04155, Leipzig, Germany.
I am waiting most eagerly for responses.