Sir, Your analysis of our election problems in "The wrong reform" (Editorial, October 9) was very effective. Your proposed solution "introducing some form of constituency-based, district voting system" is the only answer to the growth of real democratic government in Israel. Instituting such a system would make the elected officials responsible to the voters instead of the party.
Sir, Last week I took to the streets with a petition demanding direct representation in the Knesset, and the reaction was overwhelming. People are desperate for change so much so that getting the petition signed was a piece of cake. However, drastic responses came from many who said they don't plan to vote again because it's nothing but a charade.
Israelis feel disaffected, disillusioned, frustrated and alienated from their leaders. The media ought to be connecting the dots and serving up electoral reform issues in serious doses.
Sir, Every year at this time I wonder what figure will be plucked out of thin air by the Israel Manufacturers Association showing how much money was saved by instituting Daylight Savings Time. This year's figure was no doubt cut from whole cloth ("Daylight savings saved NIS 80m.," October 7). In fact no one has ever proven the saving of a single shekel since, for every extra hour of daylight, hundreds of thousands of extra kilometers are driven by motorists at cost figures that also can only be imagined.
Sir, George Hanus follows in the tradition of noted Chicago Jews who have sounded the demography alarm, urging free Jewish education for all Jewish youth ("All continuity's is local," October 9). The late rabbi Samuel Dresner, also of Chicago, raised this same issue in 1971. To achieve any measure of success vocal support is needed from the two groups whose primary focus is on Jewish education.
One group consists of the members of all the various rabbinic organizations in the US. The second is the Association of Jewish Studies, numbering all the faculty members teaching Judaica at American colleges and universities.
Let the rabbis and the academics join Hanus's team and challenge American Jewry to underwrite day school Jewish education for all who want it. Maybe then the decision makers will listen.
RABBI DAVID GEFFEN
Sir, The real way to solve the Jewish "drift" is for the Chicago community to finally recognize that it is comfortably settled in that great city and that the time has come for Jews to get Israel on their radar screen. If George Hanus is worried about Jewish youth retaining their Jewishness, he and the rest of the Chicago leadership should should be pressing for aliya. While allocating 5 percent of one's personal estate to education is praiseworthy, allocating Jewish souls to Israel is that much greater.
Sir, Visiting London after a long absence, I felt that the Jewish community has somewhat resigned itself to the anti-Jewish/Israel sentiments wafting about and is glad of Israel's current low media profile. However, I was shocked to see that some Zionist organizations have climbed on the "poverty" bandwagon in order to raise funds locally. I was ashamed that we had sunk to this. Poverty and hunger cuts across the board and is anathema in a society which aspires to be "a light unto the nations." Propping up the failed policies of the establishment via schnorring and mitzvot is not the answer.
Today I received two more appeals for donations one of them, again, for food, this time for patients receiving dialysis at a major Israeli hospital. I always assumed that the hospital or sick fund provided the required meals during the procedure. I learned that patients, even doctors, sometimes ask for extra food to take home.
Happy New Year to the government of Israel, which has abrogated its responsibility to our society.
Superfluous to requirements
Sir, "New English Al Jazeera wants to broadcast here" (October 7): We need an English Al Jazeera in Israel like we need suicide bombers. After all, we have CNN and the BBC. Al Jazeera will likely contribute its anti-Israel position and fuel further hatred of Israel. With the appointment of a former BBC correspondent to head the network's Israel division, success in that regard is a certainty.
'People like me'
Sir, In Cyril Atkins's rush to heap scorn on "people like me" 50 percent of the Jewish population of Israel? 50 percent of world Jewry? he got it wrong ("Shul 'sale,'" Letters, October 7). I wasn't shown into the kitchen because there was no room in the main body of the shul for interlopers like me on the High Holidays. I was put there because the kitchen is where the female congregants of that Beit Shemesh shul regular attendees too always sit. And why does he assume I didn't make arrangements ahead of time? I did.
But I'm encouraged by his belief that the "synagogue of my choice" will welcome me "with open arms." That contrasts sharply with Ms. Liebowitz Schmidt's solution for "people like me": "In Israel, people not accustomed to synagogues can attend... free, 'user-friendly' Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur services held in community and absorption centers. The services are abbreviated to the minimal necessary prayers [and] leaders give explanations and page numbers" ("The mehitza that made waves in New Orleans," September 29).
If synagogues in Israel! become no-go areas for half the country's Jews, how will that encourage aliya and combat assimilation, or encourage the next generation to become shul-goers?
Sir, Caroline B. Glick commenced "Anti-Zionist show trials" (October 6) by expressing a kind of amazement that over the past decade anti-Semitism in the West has taken root in the political Left. In fact, an analysis and protest of this power was made by the writer Jean Am ry, an intellectual in Europe and Auschwitz survivor, after he discovered that his Left had espoused anti-Zionism during and after 1968! He wrote several important essays and gave many lectures on the phenomenon before he finally committed suicide, and was even lamented by Primo Levi in the introduction to his own last book.
The problem has been more than self-evident for almost 40 years now, and the softmindedness of American Jewry is a prime example. Unregenerate Communists, like those in Israel, are deplorable examples of this abhorrent failure of intellect and nerve.
PA corruption? That's rich!
Sir, Even though the result has been little but corruption, terrorism and anarchy so far, the European Commission proposes doubling annual aid to the Palestinians now some 250 million euros so they can build a credible government. When will the EU learn that money does not help make a state democratic, or even alleviate poverty if it goes to corrupt institutions instead of to a controlled and supervised body? ("EU wants to double aid for Palestinians," October 6).
The Palestinians have proportionately received more aid money than practically any other people, and always for the same purpose: to help them build a government. Where has all the money gone? Can the Europeans think of no world cause worthier than helping corrupt individuals in the PA become richer? The poor of Mexico and Central America, India and China spring to mind.
Europe must decide: Does it want to help President Bush in his efforts to create regime change, or help perpetuate Palestinian corruption?
THELMA LILIAN WILLIG
Sir, Child allowances have a much larger impact on the Beduin and other Muslim birthrates than on the haredi one. The Beduin birthrate was on the way down until the instating of child allowances; after which it skyrocketed until the Netanyahu reform.
Israel has already lost Galilee. It seems Ehud Olmert is determined to help it lose the Negev as well ("About-face Olmert," October 1).
Cautionary word on St. John's Wort
Sir, Judy Siegel-Itzkovich's health columns are wonderful, and I look forward to them every Sunday. I was particularly interested in her article on seasonal depression ("Seasons, celebrations and 'the blues,'" Health, October 9) and would add that anyone taking an SSRI for instance, Prozac should be aware that taking St. John's Wort at the same time can cause a serotonin syndrome (hypertension, etc. ) which can be very serious. Many drug interactions have been noted with St John's wort. People need to know the potential dangers.
Sir, You appear to have a new online format, with a more critical letters to the editor policy. Would you detail this policy so those of us who in the past felt free to send letters in know what the standard for the choice is?
Boynton Beach, Florida
The Letters Editor responds:
All letters commenting on articles in our paper are welcome providing they add to the debate and are free of incitement, racism and ad-hominem attack. The title of the piece and date of publication should be included.