Where there's smoke...
Sir, - Kudos to Judy Siegel-Itzkovich for reporting that Philip Morris, the world's leading international cigarette business, is providing $250,000 for medical studies ("Philip Morris funds Hadassah smoking study," December 13). This type of "investment" by tobacco companies harms, rather than helps, medical science.
Tobacco companies use this funding to consciously and subconsciously influence researchers, and to manipulate the scientific agenda. Prof. Lerer, lead researcher of the study in question, may believe his tobacco-funded study is "completely objective," but a quarter of a million dollars says otherwise.
DOV RABINOWITZ, Jerusalem
Safe passage during war?
Sir, - Israel is in a state of war with its Palestinian neighbors. The latter have chosen to harbor terrorists committed to wiping Israel of the face of the earth. They send suicide bombers to kill and maim our civilian population.
Israel for its part is firing artillery shells into Gaza and dispatching aircraft to commit targeted assassinations of the enemy.
In a time of war you don't permit an enemy safe passage across your country ("US, Israel continue talks about Gaza-West Bank convoys," December 13).
IVAN ISRAEL, Tel Aviv
Sir, - Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's promise to Kadima members that "no one will be slighted... There will be enough positions for all of you" says it all ("Arad advises Kadima to target Labor voters," December 13). To anyone who thinks tha t the members of Kadima have the best interests of the country at heart, I have a bridge to sell them.
FRIEDA I. ROSS, Jerusalem
Political refugees II
Sir, - The Likud has recently been leading an effort to dethrone Prime Minister Sharon a nd install an interim government with a mix of parties ("Sharon blames Netanyahu for 'deal of doomed,'" December 13).
Given that the Likud has been criticizing Kadima as a party of political refugees who lack any real ideology, this takeover strategy is v ery shallow as Likud was working to create the same kind of hybrid (Likud, Labor, Shinui and the National Religious Party) for which it criticized Kadima.
Would the ideology of such a coalition be any less opportunistic than those who've fled to Kadima?
< i="">DOV GORDON, Ramat Beit Shemesh
Middle class to poverty class
Sir, - Although I voted Shinui in the last election, I believe there is at least one issue on which MK Yosef (Tommy) Lapid was deeply mistaken ("Shinui will battle on," December 11).
The Regan/Netanyahu economic policies of lowering taxes for the wealthy, while saving money by reducing assistance to the poor, are not healthy for the middle class that Lapid claims to be championing.
Prosperity of the middle class does not "trickle down" from the wealthy. It arises from the lower-income community whose members buy locally produced foods in neighborhood markets and don't spend their "disposable" income on trips abroad.
As economic reports are beginning to show in Israel, as in other countries that have adopted "trickle down" economics, the middle class is beginning to share the experience of the poverty class and the social alienation it produces.
YORAM GETZLER, Moshav Aminadav
Sir, - Shinui had the Ministry of Justice and th e Interior Ministry for two years. It accomplished absolutely nothing in terms of civil marriage and secular rights. The two most powerful positions in the country for gaining civil advances went for nought. They had their chance. Good riddance.
STUART PILICHOWSKI, Mevaseret Zion
Sir, - You've got me. I'll just close up my clinic (homeopathy, reflexology, bach flowers) and various other apparently useless techniques and send my poor misguided patients back to their GP, who often referred them to me in the first place ("Medicine or magic?" December 11).
Yes, there are charlatans out there - in both conventional and alternative medicine - and in a lot of other fields besides. But there are also many good, dedicated people who have helped many patients in both types of medicine.
Many alternative practitioners have studied extensively. Homeopathy, naturopathy, Chinese medicine, osteopathy and chiropractic require years of study and continual updating after qualification.
Th e layman is not stupid. If treatment doesn't work, he won't keep coming back. I won't argue with scientific studies (that would be blasphemy in the modern world) but I also won't argue with results (that would be unwise).
VERA RESNICK, Classical Homeopath Alternative Medicine, Jerusalem
On bombing The Bomb
Sir, - So, the evil-minded president of Iran can threaten to destroy Israel, and develop its nuclear arsenal to do so, but Israel cannot even hint that if Mohamed ElBaradei, chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency, fails to stop Iran from reaching this aim, Israel might have to take out Iran's nuclear reactors ("ElBaradei: Don't bomb Iran's nuclear facilities," December 11).
If ElBaradei is worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize he j ust received, rather than denouncing Israel for wanting to bomb Iran "half to death" - an expression which, in itself, is a total misrepresentation of Israel's intention - he should have said he firmly hoped Iran would bow to international pressure and no t force upon itself a military solution.
ElBaradei should comprehend that a people who were the target of Hitler's extermination plans will not sit idly when another ruler clearly declares similar intentions. What else can they do, when all else has miser ably failed?
JAN WILLEM VAN DER HOEVEN, Jerusalem
Sir, - No amount of negotiation will persuade the Iranian theocrats to give up their longtime quest for nuclear weapons. To ensure Iran will not produce such weapons, the United States and its alli es must destroy Iran's nuclear facilities and wipe out its regime, without delay.
The Iranian regime has repeatedly threatened to wipe Israel off the map. It has repeatedly called for "death to America." These threats must be taken seriously. We did not t ake Osama bin Laden's threats seriously, and lost the Twin Towers. We do not want to make the same mistake with Iran, and lose all of Manhattan.
DAVID HOLCBERG, Irvine, California
Herzl the prophet
Sir, - A little over 100 years ago Theodo r Herzl predicted a Jewish state which, on one hand, would be a light to the nations and, on the other, would feature criminals and scoundrels.
Recently we have seen Herzl's prophecy come true with the dignified ceremony awarding Israel's Prof. Robert Aum ann the Nobel Prize ("Aumann's Nobel a family affair," December 11), while Zeev Rosenstein awaits extradition to the United States for his criminal activities ("Livni willing to sign extradition order," December 5).
JEFFREY MOSKOWITZ, Arad
Sir, - Tsipi Landau is correct when she laments the "insult and injury" Israelis feel these days and the lack of anything to arouse national pride ("Flagging pride," Letters, December 8).
Without sounding ominous, the precedent is found in Hosea 12. There the prophet tells that the reign of Jeraboam II in the Northern Kingdom was a time of prosperity, luxury and idolatry with the nation swiftly drifting towards social and political disintegration. The country amused itself with internati onal intrigues and imitated the morals of her allies. The leaders and the rich exploited the poor, depriving them of even basic human needs. The rest is history.
If there is not to be a repeat of this, immediate action is required. One cannot put one's head in the sand for much longer.
COLIN L. LECI, Jerusalem
Environment for the birds?
Sir, - With the growing passion for bird watching in Israel, local enthusiasts are out scouring the countryside, intent on seeing the incredible flocks of migrants and native species that fill our skies. However, they are discovering something else: Israel is absolutely filthy! Every wadi, canyon, stream, riverbed and lake, no matter how remote, is filled with rubbish.
A recent birding trip to the park and lake opposite Yeroham is a case in point. This place should be a haven for birds and an oasis of beauty. In fact, it is dank and smelly, the lakeshore littered with trash.
I would like to challenge the Jewish National Fund: Make pollution your top priorit y; take the lead in educating to change the culture of mindless littering. We have no other country.
FREDA KEET, Jerusalem
Sir, - The dismissal of Ton Caanen as Betar Jerusalem's head coach is a pathetic power play by Luis F ernandez and owner Arkadi Gaydamak against the most electrifying manager in Israeli sports ("Caanen's role as Betar coach ends as Fernandez takes over," December 13). Even I, someone who hates the club with all his heart, am bewildered by this move.
Caane n took over a club that was drifting without a pilot. I remember the images of him, after the victory over Ashdod (which turned my stomach), gesturing to the fans and rousing them out of their seats. I thought to myself, "Finally there is a personality in Israeli football who can draw fans into a frenzy for a reason other than demanding his dismissal."
The introduction of Fernandez as the head coach will cause disaster.
RAMON EPSTEIN, Accoo