Worth a thousand words
Sir, - Will the real Salam Fayyad please stand up?
When discussing the Palestinian Authority's bid to join the World Trade Organization, a member of his newly-appointed team emphasized that its effort was dependent on cooperation with Israel and that "it's very important to send the message to the Israelis that we are not interested in turning this into a political issue" ("Palestinians bid to join World Trade Organization," January 6). And yet, on the same day, a very political Fayyad was photographed in an Arab village, proudly throwing a carton of goods into a fire, saying he was "determined to clean the Palestinian marketplace of settler products," and announcing a boycott of items from "West Bank settlements" ("Burning issue," Photo, January 6).
DR. JAN SOKOLOVSKY
Sir, - As they say, "One picture is worth a thousand words." The photograph of PA Prime Minister Fayyad joining in the burning of "settlement" products in Salfit says it all: Even economic progress and growth for the Palestinians themselves cannot overcome the seething and fanatical hate they have for anything Israeli. The fact that many so-called "settlement" industries employ local Palestinians and that Fayyad himself is a veteran financial specialist and economist means nothing, nor does the fact that such products serve Palestinians no less than Israelis.
Thanks for the info, US
Sir, - Regarding the front-page article "US: East Jerusalem housing project harms peace efforts" (January 6): Gee, I thought it was terror attacks, rockets purposefully fired into large civilian population centers, and drive-by shootings. I feel more knowledgeable now. Thanks, USA.
A strange equivalence
Sir, - David Newman seems to have a hard time understanding the need for the Israeli government and the IDF to do everything in its power to protect its citizens ("Security or discrimination?," January 5). The IDF is "hopeless when it comes to controlling another people who want nothing more than their political and sovereign rights." Is that what these people want, when they have no problem attacking, stabbing, shooting and killing innocent Israelis time and time again?
The author goes on to state that none of us wants to be blown up by a suicide bomber or by a Katyusha rocket, just as no Palestinian wants to see Israeli tanks in their backyard or the ripping up of their olive groves. It seems to to be a very strange moral equivalence - being blown up by our enemies, and their having tanks and soldiers on their property in response to the killing and attacking of Israeli citizens.
A life-saving helmet
Sir, - MK Shelley Yacimovich should know that our son would not be alive today were it not for a bike helmet ("MK Yacimovich's proposed anti-bicycle helmet bill blasted by safety experts," January 5). He was knocked off his bike 10 years ago by a car in perfect visibility while cycling as a student on urban roads in Oxford, England, thrown over the handlebars on to the car roof, and landing, concussed, on the road at a busy roundabout. He ended up with a fractured neck, but not a fractured skull - only thanks to a badly crushed helmet. Today he is absolutely fine and cycles long distances in Israel with a helmet on, come what may.
I have rarely come across anything more irresponsible than Yacimovich's proposed bill. BETEREM and other opponents are right - all this will achieve is increased injuries and fatalities on the roads.
Sir, - I can't understand how anyone would want to revoke a law (or part of it) that is aimed at saving lives and preventing injury. The reasons are fatuous in the extreme - uncomfortable, spoils hairdos, a nuisance to carry around. There are many helmeted riders on the roads today, and they manage very well with their hairdos.
Making the grade
Sir, - There's a very simple way to resolve the questions about the tour guide course ("Failing grades raise questions about tour guide course," January 6): Whoever graded the exams should make them available for review - by the students and by the course instructors - and then everyone can see very clearly what grades were given and on what basis. This is standard procedure in many testing contexts - students are able to see their exams and grades, and hopefully learn from their mistakes.
The ministry should also state clearly what a passing grade is. If this was a bad year, oh well - people will know to teach better or study harder next year. Why the big mystery?
Sir, - As I was reading MK Aryeh Eldad's response to Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver in defense of a Hebrew language exam ("Bill requiring Hebrew exam for immigrant doctors angers Landver," January 5) it became apparent to me that he may not be aware that a special ulpan for immigrant doctors and other health care professionals is already in place.
Since November, I have been attending a medical terminology ulpan in Jerusalem, with several doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, a biologist and a laboratory technician, hailing from the Soviet Union, the United States, Canada, Brazil and Peru. This ulpan, offered by the Education Ministry, is extremely relevant to any immigrant planning to work in the health care system, and is highly recommended.
... and Masonic lodges
Sir, - As a Freemason honored with a high rank by the movement in my native Australia, I found Seth Frantzman's article of particular interest ("The first economic peace in the Holy Land," January 6). Freemasonry is alive and well in the State of Israel, and continues to serve the ideal of brotherhood between Jews, Christians and Muslims. Its members come from all three traditions, and its meetings display the sacred scriptures of all of them. The ritual of the movement takes it for granted that all are brothers; one of its favourite readings is Psalm 133, "How good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." Israel has several English-speaking Masonic lodges, including the Lodge of the Holy City in Jerusalem, of which I am a member.
Mazal tov on anniversaries...
Sir, - Birthright israel is not the only free Israel experience celebrating an anniversary ("Taglit-birthright celebrates 10-year anniversary," January 1). The Robert I. Lappin Youth to Israel Adventure, precursor to birthright israel, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
In 1996, when the program became fully subsidized, the concept was simple: Provide free trips to Israel, and they will go. Glad to see this paved the way for birthright israel.
DEBORAH L. COLTIN
Executive director, Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation
... and Zulu weddings
Sir, - As a South African in Israel, I send traditional Zulu greetings for a chief and take the opportunity to congratulate President Jacob Zuma on the occasion of his wedding ("South African president marries third wife," January 6): "Bayete Inkosi and mazal tov!"