Sir, - Re "Study finds no link between cellphone use, brain cancer" (January 20): Not to worry. A large number of cellphone users have no brains to speak of. These (ab)users are oblivious, disrespectful, discourteous and obnoxious - on public transportation and in public areas, in doctors' offices, theaters, restaurants and checkout lines. Lost in a dream world while they walk in the street, they cause accidents when they drive. Name a place; they'll be there, unable to bear silence or be with themselves for a moment.
And now: movies on cellphones and Disney cellphones for kids. Just what we need - more intrusion into people's private spaces, more abuser clones. Heaven help us when cellphones and cell movies become ubiquitous in airplanes. I vote for locking users into their own soundproofed area, where they will be obliged to listen to one another's inanities. For the entire flight.
I will give my business to the airlines that show enough sense to ban cellphones.
Hail from jail
Sir, - Marwan Barghouti is allowed to broadcast anti-Israel propaganda from his prison cell, where he is serving four life sentences for the murder of Jews. Next we will have Yigal Amir running for the Knesset ("Barghouti calls for Fatah-Hamas unity," January 23).
Sir, - Nowhere else in the world would a government allow a mass murderer time on TV to elicit votes for a political party.
Getting real on Hamas
Sir, - It never ceases to amaze that people like the pro-peace advocacy group Brit Tzedek V'Shalom can still maintain that Hamas will emulate "the Northern Ireland model" in which "the IRA first joined the political process and only after that disarmed" ("Approaching zero tolerance," January 20). Such a naive and credulous syllogism should have been dispelled long ago in the face of indisputable hostile declarations of intent by Hamas leaders.
The US Congress, in warning of dire consequences to the PA in the event of Hamas participation and success in the elections, is to be applauded for its courage in bucking the politically correct crowd still advocating the bolstering of the ineffectual Mahmoud Abbas. His record of attempting to coopt the terrorists into his security and legislative cadres should disabuse all impartial observers of the notion that he can serve as a true partner for peace in the region.
Lakewood, New Jersey
Honor the victims...
Sir, - Nathan Guttman's fine "US Holocaust Museum accused of ignoring Arab anti-Semitism" (January 20) raised needed questions about the politicization of the memory of the Shoah, let alone Jewish identity. The museum's agenda is essentially political and unrelated to the survival and future of the Jewish people, forget Judaism. After all, it was initiated as a result of the Carter administration's attempt to coopt the political support of the American Jewish community in the wake of the sale of advanced weapons to Saudi Arabia during the early 1980s.
It's to be expected that the museum hasn't broached topics like the persecution of Sephardi Jews, Muslim volunteers in the SS, and the actions of Grand Mufti Haj Muhammad Amin al-Husseini.
The Jewish people would be better served if our energies were devoted to promoting a proud sense of peoplehood through Jewish education, synagogue affiliation and religious observance. The way to genuinely honor our brethren murdered in the Shoah lies in ensuring a Jewish future rather than through the illusory comfort of crocodile tears shed over the past.
MICHAEL G. MOSKOW
Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania
...via Jewish education
Sir, - I heartily agreed with "Save the Diaspora" (Editorial, January 20), especially with your suggestion that Israel should work with the Diaspora on programs to bolster Jewish education and identity. However, I think that Israel should also work toward bolstering Jewish education and identity within Israel. For too long now the Ministry of Education has not seen fit to invest any money or effort in teaching state schoolchildren about Jewish identity and religion.
During the years my children were at school I saw the Jewish content of their school curriculum cut year by year.
Too many secular Israelis have no knowledge of Judaism or Zionism. For many of them patriotism is something to be disparaged, even ridiculed, partly because of lack of knowledge, and partly because of lack of pride in their country and religion.
If, as you say, the future of the Jewish people lies in the need to educate its youth in the integration of Judaism with modern life, that is just as true for Israeli youth as it is for the Diaspora.
Sir, - The only mistake David Ben-Gurion made in his thinking regarding the Jews of the exile was that he expected them all to jump at the opportunity to return to their homeland after 2,000 years. He saw the Diaspora through the eyes of an idealist visionary. He didn't dream that people like Jacob Blaustein were actually alchemists capable of turning the glorious into the commonplace, the holy into the profane.
"Diaspora" is a word created by Jewish apologists to sweeten the bitter truth that they prefer living in exile to returning to their homeland.
How, then, can we really "save the Diaspora"? Ultimately, the only way is to bring our brethren back home to Israel. As you state, over the past 35 years the Jewish population outside Israel has shrunk from 10 million to 7.75 million, illustrating that there is simply no future for Jews in the exile.
DAVID J. HEIMOWITZ
Let's hear it for birthright
Sir, - In her letter of January 23 Judith Hochberg wrote that "there is no worse time to go ahead with birthright Israel than the present." She then listed all of Israel's ills such as political corruption, violent crime, sex-related crimes and organized crime.
I recently took a vacation overseas, and suggest Ms. Hochberg do the same. She will quickly grasp the fact that although the existence of any violent crime in Israel is unfortunate, the rates here are much lower than in her former home country, America.
The Diaspora's Jewish population has decreased by 25% in the last 20 years alone. During that same time period Israel's Jewish population has increased by over 100%! It is essential that birthright israel continue. Now is exactly the time for this invaluable program to flourish.
Sir, - As a former "preacher's kid" I knew what it meant to have a father who worked 24/7. He was dedicated to and appreciated by the same community for 30 years. He simply loved what he was doing, and he was good at it. The funny thing is that now, even after retirement, his former congregants still come to him for advice! ("Where have all the rabbis gone?" Marvin Schick, January 22.)
Sir, - I would like to correct the figure the chairperson of World WIZO, Tova Ben-Dov, gave Greer Fay Cashman in her January 20 interview ("Elderly WIZO residents won't be evicted").
The past year's deficit for WIZO's Parents' Home was not NIS 5 million, as stated, but about NIS 1.5 million. This resulted from the instructions the chairperson and the director-general gave to the Parents' Home director - not to accept new residents, in spite of the fact that the home has empty rooms. The policy of World WIZO is to empty the home slowly in order to make the destruction easier.
As for the chairperson's statement that she has to "ensure that WIZO will be financially stable," why destroy the home of elderly people in order to help WIZO cover its accumulated general deficit? And as for the construction of the two 30-storey towers, who will want to rent flats and/or offices where an old age home exists?
Honorary Life President
'Munich' to 'Paradise'
Sir, - Further to "Spielberg's fictions" (January 23): How about Stephen Spielberg making another film called, say, Twin Towers, in which he devotes as much time and sympathetic understanding - or even more - to the sensibilities and grievances of the suicide bomber/pilots as to the families of the innocent murdered and maimed? After all, the US has tanks and bombers, even nuclear power at its disposal, while the poor al-Qaida "insurgents" were merely striking back at perfidious America with the feeble weapons at their disposal: civilian planes.
Complementing Munich, the 2006 Golden Globes winner Paradise Now explains, and even appears to justify, suicide bombers' motives.
In my opinion, any attempt to imply the slightest moral equivalence, however subliminal, between disgruntled perpetrators and their innocent victims is an insult to morality.
Both these movies involve the slaughter only of Israelis; so far no extenuating circumstances have been extended for terrorist grudges against New Yorkers, Londoners or Balinese. A coincidence?
Sir, - Employing a photograph of John Wayne as the illustration to your article questioning Jewish attitudes to homosexuality was singularly unfortunate. John Wayne was not only Gentile, but famously bisexual.
To answer the question posed in your caption, I think he would have enjoyed Brokeback Mountain.
Won't you listen?
Sir, - We cannot receive Reka FM radio broadcasts, and while they can be heard on cable TV, for many of us senior citizens that means getting out of bed. If only Israel Radio would return these broadcasts to Reshet Alef so we could listen to them in comfort and at our leisure!