Some thoughts for
a first-time voter
Sir, - Congratulations to David Hoffmann on becoming a new voter and for sharing his thoughts regarding his options ("I'm finally old enough to vote. What now?" December 1).
David: Over time you will learn, as most of us older folks have, that the democratic political process achieves only incremental change. You will learn that although we term ourselves a sovereign nation and should be masters of our own destiny, in reality we are not and, from our founding in 1948, never have been. The preemptive strike against Egypt in 1967 was the first, and probably the last, as our friends have cautioned us. May I remind you, that also was unilateral.
On election day we will be asked to vote for a party and its leaders and, in one case, for Kadima - which is not a political party in the classic sense but was established by one person, who is asking for our trust.
It is not enough to identify with the stated goals of a particular party. One should consider past achievements and the characters and credibility of its leadership. What kind of leadership can we expect from people who have been the subject of criminal enquiry? Ask yourself that before you make up your mind.
Of course you may decide, as many of us have already done, that voting in Israel is voting while holding your nose and that, in order to "progress" in building our state, one has to make allowances because the important thing is the achievement of the goal. People who think this way, in the end, apply these same rationalizations in their marriages, their business dealings and their social relationships.
Are not integrity and honesty far more important than success and fame?
Sir, - I liked Evelyn Gordon's analysis although I took exception to her closing line: "Israelis will deserve every bit of it" ("The fruit of mendacity," December 1).
Are you with us, Ms. Gordon? If so, a "we" would be in order rather than that patronizing, slamming concluding line. Some of us are Israelis and proud of it. If we have problems as a society we have to work toward resolving them through strengthening our identity, not semantically shaking it off.
"A simple choice"? I don't see that it's so simple; this isn't just about Arik Sharon. It sounds like one of those logic tests - you come to a crossroads and meet two brothers, and you don't know which one is lying, so who do you believe when you ask directions?
We are coming to an election where probably all the politicians are lying, so should right-wingers vote for the Left? Or left-wingers vote for the Right? How is it possible to see the choice as simple when the whole political process has become a farce and a grotesque caricature of democracy?
Cause for shame
Sir, - How can Omri Sharon remain in the Knesset when he has confessed to wrongdoing, to use an understatement? ("Delayed decision," December 1). It is frustrating and disgusting, and many of us cannot take it any more.
Justice seems to be a dirty word in today's Israel. Ariel Sharon was not even asked about his son during his press conference last week, proving that the public either does not care, or is scared to ask for the law to be enforced. It's a pitiful state of affairs, and one sees not a glimmer of hope on the horizon.
Surely there must be someone with clout who can start the process of weeding out the dishonest from our parliament. So many people mention it while angling for votes, but nobody does anything.
I wish I had a country to be proud of.
Sir, - I think Ariel Sharon made a terrible mistake. He should have named his new party the Turncoat Party, because that is precisely what they all are - a bunch of turncoats. Obviously Sharon and his henchman believe the electorate will be fooled into following their platform. How can they be trusted?
A chameleon changes its appearance on the outside, but its inside remains the same.
Sir, - Why do politicians imagine that there is something special about their own personal charisma that will affect the voting patterns of the electorate? Who cares who has crossed from one party to another, except perhaps as an indication of their complete lack of principles? ("Political merry-go-round spins as parties scramble," November 30.)
Most voters are unaware of the names making up the party lists at the time of voting. Voting is based on the trust people put in party manifestos, and moves by individuals to take advantage of a perceived but temporary trend will surely backfire.
Voters now have a clear choice: The Likud, bereft of Ariel Sharon with his penchant for doing whatever he likes, regardless of the opinions of his party or the electorate; or two parties of the Left with their innate, sad belief that the more we display weakness, the more our situation will improve.
We've been robbed
Sir, - The Big Bang took place and the reverberations broke the charade of Israeli politics. For the first time in ages we can see not only that none of the so-called emperors (or the hopefuls) have any clothes, but that they are grotesque, selfish, interested only in themselves and void of any values or ideals. If there was ever a time in recent history that the moral bankruptcy of politicians has been evident - across the full spectrum - it's now.
Fighting for ideals and values is out. Roping in "big names," celebrities and cronies, regardless of their abilities or beliefs, is in. Previously we had the privilege of voting for the lesser of the evils. Today we have been robbed of even that.
Show me lslam's
Sir, - How encouraging to read an article such as "A pro-Israel Muslim speaks out" (December 1), and how unfortunate that the information given in it is so very little known. But there was one point that, if elaborated, might allow the "easy solution" - leave religion out of the Israel-Arab conflict - to be implemented.
Regarding "the name of Islam... is an Abrahamic faith that cherishes Judaism": How can we fully know such a thing? Our experiences with Islam tend to teach us the opposite. Where is such a benign view expressed for us so we can learn from it?
It makes me very grateful to know that there are young people like Sarah Nasser who do speak out, probably at the risk of their comfort, and maybe even their lives. I wish her success in getting her message across.
Sir, - Noam Chomsky is not merely "a harsh critic of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians," but an advocate of Israel's destruction ("Dershowitz and Chomsky debate Israel at Harvard," December 1). He hates himself and his own people and has traded in his heritage and identity for being accepted into the ranks of the politically correct establishment, which has little concern for the basic human rights of the Jewish people and a great deal for the welfare of Arab racists.
Chomsky has been pushing "Jewish media conspiracies," KKK-style, for years.
This piece was
a real pleasure
Sir, - I found "What's coming to us and what's not" (December 1) by Rabbi Avi Shafran extremely timely and profound. He put into perspective Judaism's view of issues that we all confront. It is a pleasure to learn what exactly is the Jewish view. We are exposed to so much shallow, populistic "wisdom" that this piece should be required reading in our schools.
Looking forward to more of the same.
Not so friendly
Sir, - Isi Leibler's paean to Christian evangelicals for their support of Israel overlooks the simple fact that evangelicals are awaiting the Second Coming of Christ, when all Jews will be transported to heaven and converted to Christianity ("Stop attacking our friends," November 30). Who needs friends like these?
Ariel Sharon has been the darling of the evangelicals, but will they continue to adore him now that he has left the Likud and formed a centrist party?
In good company
Sir, - Our Ministry of Communications now wishes to eliminate Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communications ("Ministry to crack down on illegal VoIP usage," November 30) because the 01X long-distance providers are losing revenue. What a great idea, perhaps email should also be banished because of the revenue loss to the Post Office.
With this new ministry policy we will join the company of those two other leaders of the Middle East who ban VoIP, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
'Finger' to TNT
Sir, - I used to cringe whenever I encountered a bus stop billboard spray-painted over by some (to my way of thinking) prissy, easily-offended nut with an agenda. Now I feel like spraying over every billboard for TNT jeans which I pass. These ads are outrageously ugly and repulsive.
I couldn't care less how tight or seductive jeans or other apparel are on the kids; these are not the days of my youth, and they are entitled to their own fashions. But why does TNT feature beautiful young people with hideously distorted, glowering faces? The latest I've seen of the young man shooting the finger isn't offensive because of the gesture - it's the cobra-like expression that freezes me. A Hitler Youth would look charming in comparison.
I return the one-finger salute to TNT.
Sir, - TNT's ads, with their blatant sexualization of young teens and encouragement of coarseness and even violence, are a sad statement about the values of our secular Israeli society.