Right to abort
Sir, - Avi Shafran complains that the National Council of Jewish Women wants to undercut religious tradition when it worries about guarding the principle of the right to abort ("What do Jewish women want?" November 22). I think he r eveals an unjustified fear of losing control.
I and my husband are interested parties. We are both Jewish, we both value marriage and childbearing, and I have never had an abortion. We used a birth control method acceptable in traditional Judaism. We value our relationship, also the continuity of the family and the Jewish people.
But I remember how glad I felt when I learned that I did not have to be entirely subject to chance in the baby lottery. The mere knowledge of possessing freedom of choice made me breathe easier.
As for Shafran's other point - the need to advance the cause of Judaism - I do not see myself as a tool in the national demographic stakes. Sorry, I decline to be conscripted, although I am willing to volunteer.
Our marriage has entirely gained from my being able to consider and decide if and when I should have a child. A healthy woman, in a good relationship with her husband, is normally happy to have children. She doesn't need legislation to force her to agree with her husband. Why can't women be trusted to do what is appropriate in a given situation?
Men just have to be reconciled with their supportive but secondary role in this situation.
Sharon: More of the same...
Sirs, - Ariel Sharon's adviser Eyal Arad says: "The time for overlooking Palestinian violations [of the road map] is over" ("Top aide: PM won't define settlement blocs before vote," November 23). Arad is playing a word game worthy of former US president Bill Clinton. This past summer, instead of overlooking Palestinian terror that violated the road map, Sharon circumvented those violations by acting unilaterally to give the Palestinians the Gaza Strip free of its Jewish residents. Either way, the result is the same: Palestinia n terror is rewarded, not merely overlooked.
The rest of the interview indicates that Sharon intends to continue his policy of rewarding Palestinian terror through unilateral steps if he forms the next government. Israel deserves better.
CARL M. SHER ER
...committed to peace
Sir, - As reported in your newspaper, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made what I consider an incredibly bold move by leaving a party he helped found to form a new centrist party. In his own words, his old part y "is unable to lead Israel toward its national goals." This, along with other things, most notably the Gaza pullout, show Mr. Sharon's commitment to a peace process that is just and fair. I would argue that we all have a stake in whether he succeeds on t hat front.
Ocean, New Jersey
Sir, - While I can relate to Yehudit Tayar's sentiment, I find it strange that of all the country's ills she found it necessary to criticize Amir Peretz's visit to the grave o f Yitzhak Rabin. To me it seems rather normal that a newly elected leader of the Labor Party should pay his respects to a former leader of the party.
Furthermore, if Ms. Tayar so abhors our Knesset representatives, she can do something about it. Despite the "cynical manipulation" this is still a democracy. Undoubtedly she's referring to the abysmal behavior of our politicians in dealing with the expulsion from Gaza. There, too, the democratic process will eventually unfold and the one responsible for th at debacle may soon be fighting for his political career.
What we need is a far more rational approach to saving Jewish values than the one your writer seems to offer ("The country is turning its back on Jewish tradition," November 17).
HAIM M. LERNER
Sir, - I was pleased to read Chaim Steinmetz's "Why Israel needs a Thanksgiving" (November 23). He spoke in truth and sincerity. God is to be thanked and praised, for we have all been blessed by His loving grace.
Between the cracks
Sir, - Caroline Glick's "The Jewish refugees" (November 22) was a true cry for help from a group of valiant people, the settlers, who must be wondering what they did wrong to be punished in this way. In addition to all the physical hardships they must now suffer we are in the process of losing a generation of young people.
To complicate the matter the government has, for all practical purposes, disappeared. Except for basic services and defense everything else in this country will probably come to a grinding halt until the next elections, and then some. These people have truly fallen between the cracks.
Nowhere but up
Sir, - I have noticed that in your many references to electoral reform you usually advocate a regional representation system ("The big bang," Editorial, November 22). I would strongly urge you to look at a different alternative: allowing voters to directly select representatives from part y lists, as is done, for instance, in Holland.
This system, combining a primary and an election in one vote, allows for the key notion of voter accountability without the de-facto disenfranchisement a regional representative system would almost certainly engender, leading to further alienation. This is a dangerous disadvantage in Israel, where gerrymandering could easily leave out many people who today vote according to sector.
Combining the primary and the election also helps avoid the problematic natu re of open primaries, which allow for people who don't vote for a party to help determine that party's list.
The main disadvantage of the "choose from the list" system is that it is a bit harder to understand and explain (the ordering of the list is impo rtant, because "overflow" votes trickle down to the next candidate on the list).
But nobody understands why their vote doesn't seem to matter today anyway, so I think we have nowhere to go but up.
Sir, - All Israelis and all Jews should take pride in Crpl. David Markovitch, whose bravery and quick response saved Jewish lives and foiled Hizbullah's evil plot ("Young paratrooper's marksmanship thwarts Hizbullah abduction attempts," November 23).
As a religious Jew I take special pride in noting that Crpl. Markovitch is a yeshiva bochur as well as an excellent marksman. May God bless him in everything he does, and may there be more like him in Israel.
Framingham, Massachuse tts
Sir, - David Markovitch - aptly called, both as to first name and last. He made my heart swell with pride.
Trade them for Arad
Sir, - Re "IDF kills four infiltrators" (November 22): We should trade the Hizbulla h terrorists' bodies for Israeli navigator Ron Arad. We need to keep them until Arad, or his remains, are returned.
Profit with decency
Sir, - In "Raise the minimum wage?" (November 23) Jonathan Lipow ignores two esse ntial issues. One is some employers' practice of taking advantage of people so desperate to feed their families that they are willing to work for even the most ludicrous wage. That is the place in our nation where desperation meets greed. It is obvious th at many employers are capable of being unethical, hence the unfortunate necessity for government to step in and protect the vulnerable among us.
Second is the reality (as reported in "The black market," UpFront, October 14), of employers paying less than the minimum wage. This is not only immoral, but illegal.
As a labor federation the Histadrut, by its own mandate, is responsible for the interests and welfare of workers. Before he engages in the struggle to raise the current minimum wage, it wo uld be prudent for the head of the Histadrut, Amir Peretz, to focus on enforcing the current law. It would add to his credibility and entail no struggle with the Knesset.
Today we have a minimum wage law that is being consistently and consciously violate d by employers who feel it is their right to pocket exaggerated profits from the hard work of their employees - because they can get away with it. The real message is one many business people can testify to: It is possible to enjoy a reasonable profit and also pay decent wages.
At home in Berlin
Sir, - I read with interest about the mayor of Berlin's current visit to Israel and Ramallah, having met him in Berlin recently ("The German-Israel relationship grows stronger," November 21). Every year two groups of approximately 100 former Berliners and some of their offspring worldwide are invited by the mayor's office for a one-week visit to the German capital. This department is headed by a gentleman called Ruedi ger Nemitz, who is responsible for the entire program of these visits, down to the smallest detail. He caters to all the visitors' whims from the moment they deplane until they leave Berlin, but to my regret his name is never mentioned. I feel there should be a few words of appreciation for his many years of unparalleled and undivided devotion to making his guests feel at home in Berlin.
Driving you mad
Sir, - Israel Kasnett's "Drive safely, or don't drive at all" (November 22) was the best article I have seen in the Post for quite some time. I hope it saves many lives. As one who does not drive here because I am scared, may I add a few points.
Too many drivers seem not to understand that wing mirrors and i ndicators should be used when going from one lane to another. Most drivers here seem to think they are on dodgem cars at a funfair. A thorough overhaul of driving standards is required.