Sir, - Though I have great respect for Rabbi Nathan Lopez Cardozo, and share his religious Zionist perspective, I found his criticism of secular Zionism unfair and simplistic ("Eternally other," February 28).
Clearly the great majority of Israelis are not "religious." Does this mean that they are without any vision or belief in Israel, without any sense of the history of the Jewish people?
The majority of those who have fought in Israel's wars have been secular Jews and, indeed, the secular state of Israel supports an unprecedented number of yeshiva students.
To describe secular Israel as lost in hopelessness is misleading. Harvard psychologist Kenneth Levin recently said that in the the face of unremitting terror, Israeli society has proven to be extremely strong.
He pointed out that 80 percent of Israeli Jews claim to be happy living here.
As a religious Zionist myself, I believe in the redemptive quality of the Jewish people's return to the land.
However, I also understand that there are Jews here who hold different religious views, while sharing the commitment to the future of the state of Israel.
Sir, - Daphna Baram's criticism of Emanuele Ottolenghi ("Who really sets Jews against Jews?" March 1) is like Cinderella trying to fit her slender shoe on the prince's foot. It has the story backwards.
Listing a handful of marginal anti-Zionists as "true heroes," she fails to see the heroism of the founders of Israel and of its young soldiers who risk their lives daily to prevent terrorist attacks. And to claim that a majority of Jews came to Zionism only after the 1967 war? One has to wonder what history (or comic) books she has been reading.
Baram and her comrades - I use that word advisedly - would be right at home among her fellow Leftish Jews here in Berkeley, California.
What's their beef? They are obsessed by the audacity of Jews wanting their own homeland and control of their destiny; not having to live at the forbearance of a world which, through the centuries, in a reliable way, has demeaned, persecuted and killed or allowed others to kill Jews.
For frequent elections
Sir, - Those who call for changing our electoral system from proportional representation to a system which is part proportional and part constituency, should consider the results of the Palestinian elections ("Eight parties lay out platforms in 'Jerusalem Post' political forum," February 19). Half the members of the PLC were elected on national party lists and half by direct election. Hamas gained 60 percent of the seats with only 44% of the vote.
While constituency-based systems may lead to greater parliamentary stability, they tend to eliminate small groups and establish unrepresentative majorities. In Israel, with our myriad ethnic, religious and ideological tribes, such a system could lead to a Knesset in which some sectors would not have a voice.
We live under existential threat in an ever-changing reality. Perhaps the lack of a stable parliamentary majority and the need for frequent elections is actually a healthy political response.
Sir, - While virtually everyone endorses democracy, a few comments on its limitations are in order.
A majority of Palestinians elected Hamas in what has been termed fair, democratic elections. We must assume, therefore, that the majority of Palestinians refuse to accept Israel's right to exist. Democracy in action! Let's stop deluding ourselves and give credit to that democratic process for revealing the truth about our relations with the Palestinians.
Disengagement is now history and there is no peace, nor is there a cessation of attempted suicide bombings. Yet, with Kadima far ahead in election polls, and purportedly intending to carry out further withdrawals from Judea and Samaria, it seems many Israelis approve of more disengagement. What a mockery of democracy when a plurality bases its vote on the wishful thinking that giving up most of the West Bank will allow us to all live happily ever after.
Democracy depends on intelligent choices, not wishful thinking.
Sir, - Anyone in the field of psychology ( I was in the field over 30 years) could hardly miss Larry Derfner's animus toward Diaspora Jews, Evangelical Christians, right-wing Israelis, hawks (including the brilliant Danel Pipes), America and Britain, etc.
Even assuming that the US should stay the course and attempt to contain a civil war in Iraq - as if it could - it is not responsible for the ugly fratricidal divide in Islam.
Sir, - Where did Larry Derfner get the idea that Israelis and Diaspora Jews "pushed hardest for the war" in Iraq ("Arabs killing Arabs," March 2)? I have a wide spectrum of friends both in New York and in Jerusalem and not one was in favor of the war. While they all had memories of the Scuds fired at Israel, they also knew perfectly well that the cash and theological support for terror was far greater in Saudi Arabia than in Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
My view was that the US should not have invaded Iraq until a workable "government in exile" could be established and the liberation of Baghdad accomplished by "Free Iraq" forces, with American and British support. If the forces opposing Saddam had been forced to work out arrangements among themselves before any military action, we would all be far better off now.
DAVID LLOYD KLEPPER
Sir, - Donald Rumsfeld's article ("The media war on terror," February 26) accurately pointed out that the bad guys are way ahead of the good guys. His call to use the Internet and other means of mass communication more extensively was welcome, but what should the content of the anti-terror message be?
So far, the US seems to use two approaches: the positive and the negative. The positive emphasizes tolerance, pluralism and the virtues of democracy. At times we slip into pandering mode, as when we tout our commitment to Palestinian self-determination or otherwise try to show Muslims that we are their good buddies. The negative is rarer, as when Rumsfeld himself waxes Churchillian in passionate denunciation of the terrorists.
While we take the high road, our message lacks the impact and clarity of the unambiguous scorn heaped upon us by our enemies. If those guys were advertising executives instead of terrorists, they would be selling us into oblivion.
Maybe it's time we learned something from our enemies and stopped being so nice.
A lot of hot air
Sir, - Could some part of global warming be attributed to the number of flags burned recently in protest over the Prophet Muhammad cartoons? ("More cartoon protests in Pakistan," February 22).
Ports in a storm
Sir, - Thank you for the fine article on Dubai Ports World and its participation in the Arab economic boycott of Israel. I had wondered if the company might be involved in the boycott the day after the first announcement of the ports deal.
Yours was the first report I read which covered this issue ("Dubai firm at center of US ports controversy enforces the Arab boycott of Israel," February 28).
West Des Moines, Iowa
Shtik it to them
Sir, - As the surprise prime ministerial candidate of the "Katz 4 Knesset" party "rally," as illustrated in the photo of Anglo seminary students surprising their rabbis with a mock political rally to mark Rosh Hodesh Adar (March 1), I can tell you it was quite a scene. I was there. Close to 100 "Women in Pink" had the traffic-stopping attention of central Jerusalem in Paris Square.
However, something about that "rally" struck a chord. Many people approached the students and asked, "Who is this Katz guy? I would vote for him - there is no one else worthy to vote for."
Perhaps, instead of taking the time to make sure Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) agents were present to supervise a Purim shtick and make sure a bunch of 18-year-old girls aren't a threat to them in the upcoming elections, our real elected leaders should be devoting some extra energy to providing us with a reason for real Adar joy in this country: something worth voting for.
Sir, - Day after day I hear about the corruption in the Knesset, and how the voters are tired of the poor list of candidates for the upcoming elections ("Good leaders wanted," Letters, March 1).
So I have a little proposal that will save a lot of money in election expenses while providing us with a better Knesset list.
Take the voter registration database and invite the operators of the Payis lottery to pull 120 names.
Those people would be our Knesset members. It would certainly be a better statistical representation of the population and I'm sure we would be getting a better Knesset.
Sir, - What a refreshing addition to your back page: KKL Jewish National Fund's "Day Tripper" feature, with daily photos and descriptions of beautiful locations in our wonderful country. This ought to encourage family trips to little-known places and donations to this worthy organization. Well done.