Egos & appetites
Sir, - The negotiations now taking place as our politicians jockey for cabinet seats only highlight our scandalous system of government ("A discontented Labor gives up on Treasury, looks for other posts," April 4). These discussions will hardly satisfy the majority of the public, which does not understand why the number of ministries in Israel greatly exceeds that of most other nations, including the US, which has one-half our number.
We don't have enough money for medical and educational needs, but we do seem to have enough to satisfy our politicians' egos and appetites.
Most of the public longs for a direct, regionally elected, representative Knesset, strong enough to ward off the costly political blackmail from which we suffer today.
Please, keep Shas away from Interior
Sir, - Re "Keep Shas out of Interior Ministry, progressives urge" (April 4): Former Interior minister Avraham Poraz once came to Kibbutz Beth-El, of which I am a member. It is the only Christian kibbutz in Israel, consisting almost entirely of foreigners, mostly from Germany.
Mr. Poraz said that if we were willing to leave behind a comfortable lifestyle in wealthy countries like Germany and Canada to come to a difficult land like Israel, with a lower living standard, and give our lives for the people of Israel, he felt there had to be something deeper inside us to make it worthwhile. I personally left both of these countries.
He granted us better visas and suddenly allowed many to come who had waited up to 40 years.
We have never taken away work from Israelis. On the contrary, we have built businesses and hired Israelis, many of whom would be in a bad situation without us. Since the end of the last government, however, we have once again faced the threat of deportation. The ministry is reluctant to renew our visas. Sometimes we must even hide when we know its representatives are coming. That's it - Germans hiding from Jews!
Legally I am not allowed to work, even though the work I am doing is actually creating jobs for Israelis. If Shas takes over this ministry I am quite certain we will once again experience the harsh treatment we once had under Shas.
For the sake of the Israeli workers we hire, and not for our sake, please, Mr. Olmert: Choose someone for Interior who has a heart for them.
Quaint dismissal of war on terror
Sir, - Asserting that the "war on terror" has served as a cover for various plans to assert US military and political hegemony around the world," Gwynne Dyer notes that less than one person a day is being killed in "so-called Islamist terrorist attacks." Tell that to the relatives of the 3,000 killed in the World Trade Center attack.
Actually, the war on terror has been going on for years, long before the Bush crowd came to power, and included attacks on US military and civilian targets.
Mr. Dyer's quaint dismissal of the threat reminds me of a person who drives without a seatbelt, dismissing the threat of a crash as unlikely ("Zacarias Moussaoui: Lying for Jihad" April 2).
Sir, - I agree with the European diplomat ("EU official suggests leasing settlements from PA," April 4). Israel should lease the West Bank from the Palestinians for a nominal sum of $1 a year, for a period of 2,000 years. In addition, Europe should lease back Spain from the Muslims for a truly fair price, including interest, since 1492.
Palestine on paper
Sir, - To your Miami correspondent who says "Palestine is Arab" (Letters, March 30):
You can't be blamed. You don't know better. You have been indoctrinated by Goebbels-like schoolteachers and certain media who have propagandized and taught you to hate Jews and Israel. Making peace with you and your generation will be impossible thanks to these "teachers."
Before the Land of Israel was given by the Creator of this world to the Jewish people there lived Emorites, Canaanites, Perizzites and Jebusites. Do they have their own state now?
Thousands of years later the Land of Israel was occupied by the Turkish Ottoman empire. Less than 200 years ago the English and French occupied this area and called it Palestine. It was later divided into a Jewish and an Arab part.
Palestine doesn't exist anymore, only on paper. Now it is Hamastan, and it wants to destroy Israel.
To be wreckless, attack the reckless
Sir, - Felicity Amos's "Show no mercy to reckless drivers" (Letters, April 3), about a driver with no less than 70 violations, was spot-on. This driver, and many others, should have been taken off the road permanently long ago. To let anybody exceed five-10 violations is absurd.
Going through red traffic lights has become a national epidemic. At nearly every red light where I stop on the yellow alert, one to three cars pass me, crossing under a clear red light.
Our traffic police, Ministry of Transport and courts are retarded in their concepts. Traffic control efforts and speed cameras on all - yes, all - traffic lights would cost the state very little if offenders were fined realistic amounts; and these can never be too high because the loss of life and cost of healing and assisting thousands of injured people annually on the roads is always rising.
Traffic violations have decreased dramatically in all countries where tough traffic control measures have been instituted. Don't let the violators get away with it; hit them hard in the pocket, where it hurts. When that doesn't help, take away their licenses
Necessary evil, 'tzara'...
Sir, - While polygamy was indeed never forbidden by Jewish law, it was never encouraged or seen as an ideal marital state.
In fact, the talmudic term for multiple wives is "tzara" - sorrow or trouble - because of the problems several women vying for the attention of the same man cause one another and their families.
This alone shows how Jewish tradition related to the idea - not forbidden, but certainly not to be encouraged.
Contrary to Greer Fay Cashman's rather idyllic vision ("Why not Mr. and Mrs. - & Mrs... & Mrs...?" April 3) history has proven that the issues of favoritism, disdain, complications of inheritance and just plain jealousy overrode any possible advantages of polygamy, not to mention the apparent non-existence of the very theoretical, and rather naive, state of bliss your writer envisions among "the girls."
Not for naught did Rabbeinu Gershom find it necessary to ban the practice of polygamy since it appeared that too many Jewish families were being destroyed rather than extended, or even preserved.
Even our forefathers entered polygamous relationships reluctantly, mostly because their first wives could not bear children.
Polygamy was a "necessary evil" in its time, maybe, but it is not something to be revived.
...several wives, openly, honestly
Sir, - I fully agree with several of the points Greer Fay Cashman raised.
Many monogamous marriages fail miserably. It would be far better for the Christian and Jewish world to accept the very narrowly-defined polygamy of the Bible, which was polygyny - a husband with several wives.
I'd rather see an open and honest polygamous family of consenting adults working faithfully to honor the holy covenants made to each other than the bitter fallout of broken monogamous marriages which failed due to lack of sufficient commitment.
JAMES A. MARPLES
Honors all round
Sir, - This past Saturday night my huband and I were invited to attend a function to honor the chairperson of the SPCA Tel Aviv, Hilda Friedstein, after an association of 50 years.
In her retirement address Hilda also thanked correspondents of the press and mentioned The Jerusalem Post, which over the years has given support and coverage.
Hilda, a very modest and retiring person, has done a wonderful job for the SPCA, supported by her husband, Colly, a financial wizard.
Sir, - When we made aliya in the 1980s, a long-time friend and adviser, a rabbi, encouraged us, saying the country badly needed people with Western standards to set an example where culture was badly lacking.
Sure enough, our arrival here opened our eyes to the lack of respect visible in all walks of life - for example, a disregard for the common courtesies of "please" and "thank you."
Today, however, it is a different world altogether. The young salespeople in shops etc. are so pleasant, helpful and polite.
Whatever has brought about the change - be it education, global influences, or whatever - I take my hat off to these wonderful youngsters.