January 11 UpFront: Two roads diverged Two roads diverged Sir, - Larry Derfner's well-written article, "Inside the Bubble" (January 4), doesn't pull out many stops in describing the life of people working in Israeli high technology industries. What should be understood, however, is that no one is forced to pursue these kinds of careers, and those who do usually understand the minuses as well as the pluses. In our modern, technology-oriented society, people are having to work longer hours and have less time to devote to family lives. So it is with the hi-tech generation here in Israel. On the opposite side of the spectrum, religious families, especially the haredim, have rich family lives but literally no money in their pockets. So the bottom line involves choosing which path to travel on, the one least taken, or the other, as written so eloquently in the Robert Frost poem. MAURICE PICOW Netanya The low road Sir, - Larry Derfner's cover story was one of the most slanted, poorly researched and uninformative articles to have appeared in your magazine. His choice to interview only three disaffected hi-tech dropouts and one so-called expert may have helped add gossip value and scandal to the story. But it would have made much more sense to interview hi-tech workers who have managed to survive and thrive in the system, perhaps coupled with an interview with a human resources manager who is actually working in the field. The true picture that would emerge from a well-researched article is one that shows that hi-tech workers do indeed work hard (no more, though, than many people in other professions including the owner of your neighborhood grocery). But the reason that most people in hi-tech throw themselves into their work is because they love it, they get a sense of creating something, of solving problems that others could not, and of being part of a team. The team aspect is enhanced not just by "perks" as Derfner describes them, but much more by the very real sense of ownership that hi-tech workers feel. In most hi-tech companies (unlike any other industry), workers are actually given part ownership of the company through stock options, meaning that they can enjoy the fruits of the company's ultimate success, when it goes public or gets bought. Derfner failed to mention this, which is perhaps the most essential differentiator between hi-tech and other industries. SAMUEL KARP Petah Tikva Secret of success Sir, - We have to thank Saul Singer for his sensitive and insightful article on January 4. He puts quality of life into perspective. Singer does not aspire to being a philosopher but indeed he is. He encourages us to step back and look at ourselves and puts into words our fears and aspirations. All of us with young families caught up today in the rat race of the 21st century should heed him and share these profound observations with them. LEON LEVY Tel Aviv Countering Counterpoint Sir, - David Forman (Counterpoint, "Undermining Annapolis," January 4) is flat-out wrong when he claims that "in every agreement between Israel and the PA, one of the critical elements includes the freezing of settlement construction." As the Foreign Ministry points out in its November 2007 Answers to Frequent Questions, "The various agreements reached between Israel and the Palestinians since 1993 contain no prohibitions on the building or expansion of settlements. On the contrary, they specifically provide that the issue of settlements is reserved for permanent status negotiations, which are to take place in the concluding stage of the peace talks. The parties expressly agreed that the Palestinian Authority has no jurisdiction or control over settlements or Israelis, pending the conclusion of a permanent status agreement. "...The prohibition on unilateral measures was designed to ensure that neither side take steps that would change the legal status of this territory (such as by annexation or a unilateral declaration of statehood), pending the outcome of permanent status talks. The building of homes has no effect on the final permanent status of the area as a whole. Were this prohibition to be applied to building, it would lead to the unreasonable interpretation that neither side is permitted to build houses to accommodate the needs of their respective communities." DR. AARON LERNER Independent Media Review and Analysis (IMRA) Ra'anana Getting the right Gehry right Sir, - Regarding Calev Ben-David's recent article "Snap Judgment: Getting the right Gehry," we would like to respond to a number of statements which are incorrect regarding the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi project.
â€¢ The article states that the project has "become mired in controversy." That is not the case, all of our agreements for development and operation have been signed and implementation has begun. The plan continues to be to break ground in 2009 and open in 2012/2013.
â€¢ The project has the full and unanimous support of the board of trustees of the Guggenheim Foundation. In conversations with our board members, politicians on both sides of the aisle, members of the diplomatic community and leaders in the Jewish community have been generally supportive of the Abu Dhabi project. Certainly, there has been no widespread outcry against it. In our view, the Jewish connections to the project can only serve as a progressive influence.
â€¢ The Guggenheim Foundation has provided a response to Human Rights Watch regarding labor practices in Abu Dhabi.
â€¢ According to UAE representatives in Washington, D.C., people with Israeli stamps in non-Israeli passports are not constrained from visiting Abu Dhabi.
â€¢ There is absolutely no agreement that nudes or "controversial" material will not be shown at the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum.
ELEANOR R GOLDHAR
Deputy Director for External Affairs
Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Calev Ben-David responds:
â€¢ This is what Newsweek had to say last summer about the Saadiyat Island complex, of which the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is a keystone: "A project of such spectacular ambition was bound to be controversial. But the speed and ferocity of the backlash against Saadiyat Island has startled even the skeptics. While Abu Dhabi's leaders say the island will enrich its own population as well as serve as a link between the gulf and the West, sharp attacks are coming from all quarters."
â€¢ Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East & North Africa Division, describes the Guggenheim's response to HRW's report as "entirely inadequate" and stands by her earlier statement that "unless the Guggenheim takes action, its biggest overseas branch could become known for exhibiting labor violations."
â€¢ An official Abu Dhabi government Web site currently states: "The three entry requirements of obtaining a visa in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and its seven emirates (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah) are that you are not a citizen of Israel, that your passport doesn't contain Israeli stamps, and that your passport is valid for at least 6 months before your arrival."
â€¢ According to a CNN report last January: "The museum will have its own permanent collection of contemporary art and will also show temporary exhibitions. While some of what is on show will no doubt be cutting edge, Islamic sensibilities will be respected, and figures in paintings and sculpture will be clothed. Likewise religious themes are likely to be avoided.
"Thomas Krens, director of the Guggenheim Foundation, says: 'Our objective is not to be confrontational, but to be engaged in cultural exchange. There are things that we don't do in New York because we feel that it is not appropriate to do them in this city.'"
Frank Gehry, in a piece published in the Guardian last March, wrote: "Abu Dhabi does throw up some very particular issues for the Guggenheim and the display of art. I don't think we'll be allowed to display nudes, and there are all sorts of concerns about the way women are allowed to be shown."
Silence is golden
Sir,- Walking in the center of Jerusalem a few days after the violent takeover of Gaza by a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel, I passed a Woman in Black T-shirt wearer saying into her cellphone "I'll tell you what's going on."
Keen to know what was going on, I assumed the nonchalant air of someone who didn't speak a word of English, and couldn't help overhearing her "explain" that this was all arranged by Israel so that Israel could hold on to other land.
Before I could ask T-shirt whether she believed that Israel was arranging for Iran to drop a nuclear bomb on us so the world would understand the threats we are facing, she crossed the road and joined a demonstration.
I now understand why Women in Black consider silent demonstrations to be their best policy ("Paint it black," January 4).
Sir, - Ben Naparstek's review of the biography of Bernard Malamud ("In defense of the hamburger," January 4) reeks of yellow journalism. Phillip Davis did not write a biography of Bernard Malamud to tell us about his family and sex life, which seems what Mr. Naparstek found to be the most interesting parts of the biography. What was overlooked in the book review is that Mr. Malamud won two National Book Awards and a Pulitzer Prize for fiction (1967) and how his writer's discipline facilitated such an achievement. Readers of The Jerusalem Post deserve better.
Recasting the capital
Sir, - "Recasting the past" (December 14) portrays a memorable Jewish Carlton in Melbourne, Australia. It relates to me an emotional wave of nostalgia and homesickness. It is also contrasts to my present situation living in Jerusalem.
I agree the 1950s in Carlton was the golden age of Melbourne Jewish society where many Jewish establishments became retail icons, religious and social institutions.
It was not only my birthplace but also my wife's, who resided with her parents in a shop-fronted terraced house with upstairs accommodation. It was a similar working class beginning, an uphill battle for many Jewish immigrants from Poland who became well established, influential and prosperous.
Carlton has now become a unique desirable, cosmopolitan and multicultural icon created initially by Jewish and now Italian influence and recognized locally and internationally.
From its meager working class beginnings, Carlton has become the forerunner of a successful, vibrant and committed Melbourne Jewish community that world Jewry could be proud of.
I suggest that the Jerusalem mayor and his colleagues take a leaf out of how Carlton and now Melbourne Diaspora Jews used their initiative and common sense to achieve their prosperity from their hard work.