The real problem with the depiction of our prime minister under a noose – “Art or incitement” (December 13) – is that it is not good art: a picture of the prime minister, probably lifted from an online source, with a drawing of a rope superimposed on it. Is there aesthetic value here? I don’t think so.
This picture is a political statement, not a work of art. The Bezalel judges should have had better judgment. To quote the poet: Art is beauty. There is no art here, and no beauty.
ROSALIE BROSILOW Rehovot
Here’s a way to determine whether the “art” showing Netanyahu and a noose constitutes freedom of expression or incitement: Display the same picture with Haneen Zoabi replacing Netanyahu. If no one screams, obviously we’re dealing purely with freedom of expression.
NAOMI SANDLER Jerusalem
In regards to “Teaching the startup nation,” (Editorial, December 13) without doubt there are problems in our educational system, but complaining and throwing blame isn’t going to help the situation at all. What definitely will help is a change of mind-set, and requiring teachers to once again take charge of their classrooms.
In fact, if every teacher were to commit to enforcing only one rule in their classrooms, an enormous improvement in learning would automatically take place. After that, we can turn our attention to class size, teacher training, curriculum updates, and other issues.
What is the one rule? That only one person may speak at one time, whether it is a student or teacher.
Please don’t be deceived by the apparent simplicity of this rule. When it is first established, there will be a number of days, if not longer, during which little learning will take place. Why? Because the teacher will need to spend at least half of each class period rapping on a desk to establish quiet, or perhaps ringing a small bell or pounding a drum, whatever it takes to ensure that no one can hear anything if more than one person speaks at a time.
Once the room is quiet, students can raise a hand or finger and the teacher will decide who will speak next. As soon as someone interrupts, again the rapping, ringing, or drumming until quiet reigns. The result will be that once the atmosphere of disrespect changes to one of respectful listening, the entire class period can be used for teaching, thus increasing learning as well.
This sorry state of classes in school has been going on for a very long time, as is apparent even from proceedings in the Knesset where the behavior of many of our MKs seems to be the same as when they were in high school. However, it’s never too late to change, and my suggestion will not require any extra funding. It’s one of those rare win-win solutions.
RIVKA ZAHAVY Jerusalem
Regarding the opinion piece written by Joel Braunold, “Tribal classrooms lead to a tribal society,” (Comment & Features, December 15) the writer is dismayed by the fact that there are different types of schools rather than one monolithic, unified and unifying public school system.
I’m all for unity – who isn’t?! So let’s sum up: All the schools will become religious, and then there will be unity! Everyone will learn in a religious school where a common Orthodox Jewish curriculum is taught.
No, you say? My suggestion is religious coercion, you claim? Thank you. You’re right. So is your suggestion, only I assume it would be secular coercion of the type the US has. Because the crux of the problem is: What should be the core curriculum? Subjects that prepare future citizens to be productive economically, and therefore we should emphasize math and English? Should it be to educate our children to be liberal or conservative in world outlook? Perhaps the main function of education is to foster morality and of course – in the Jewish state - Jewish identity? You see – that’s the problem.
At this point in our history there is no common core that can serve as a unifying factor.
Only if one particular world outlook were to “take over” the educational system would there be just unity, but at the price of coercion.
I believe that “tribalism” is a good thing, because I believe that a variety of customs, ideologies, world outlooks and value systems, enrich society.
The only thing may be to encourage every “tribe” to be aware that there are other tribes, and they each have a place in Israel.
DOVID BEN MEIR Eli
Implement the plan
Seth Frantzman’s critique of the planning process designed to ensure Beduin a peaceful, prosperous existence, “How Israel’s Right and Left failed the Beduin” (Comment & Features, December 12) misses the mark.
Drafting of the Alternative Master Plan for the Unrecognized Beduin Villages in the Negev was rigorous and inclusive; the failure has been on the part of every government representative since the plan’s 2012 publication to consider it.
Dozens of Negev Beduin were part of the planning process, and the professional planners at Bimkom (an NGO seeking to address human rights concerns in their designs) translated the needs of the Beduin into planning terms that fit into the current standard structures of Israeli city planning.
The exact thing that Frantzman suggests – that it would be easy to recognize these small farming villages – is exactly what Bimkom concluded and proposed, that a modified version of the plans for a moshav would suit the Beduin communities and be flexible enough to account for different needs in differently sized villages.
The planners made the right plan, it just needs to be implemented.
Jews have a moral obligation to move forward with this plan.
The prophet Micah warned about abusing power to seize property and the impact it can have on a people: “And they covet fields, and seize them; and [they covet] houses, and take them away; thus they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage.”
As a nation of people that knows what it means to be an oppressed minority, Israel has a moral obligation to protect the most vulnerable within its midst.
We should support the members of Knesset such as MK Ayman Odeh and MK Dov Henin who have actively and publicly worked to help the Beduin communities get the attention and recognition they deserve.
RABBI MARISA ELANA JAMES New York
While I read “Deck the malls” (Comment & Features, December 13) I radiated with joy. As a Jewish American who recently came to Israel, I completely relate to the picture the author so perfectly portrayed of Israel.
The feeling towards the land that we both share could immediately be understood in her line, “Here, going to the mall makes my Jewish pride swell.” This is not just because we feel part of a bigger picture, but, in my opinion, because we actually feel closely connected to one another.
In Israel, it is not abnormal to simply ask a shopkeeper how his day was or to start a kind conversation. In contrast, those friendly gestures are not as common in America. The shopping experience in America is not only “skin deep,” because people are going shopping for sales and not in spirit of the coming holiday, yet also because the shopping lacks the warm feeling one gets when interacting with a follow person. I am proud to be in Israel.
LISA FRIED Jerusalem