Thank you, IDF
Sir, - To the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces: We thank you for your bravery, courage, dedication and sacrifice for Israel and the Jewish people.
Wherever we are, and wherever you are, we will forever remember and support you.
Caring for the fallen
Sir, - Every year around Remembrance Day, the next of kin of all persons who sacrificed their lives in the establishment and defense of the State of Israel - IDF, police and other auxiliary services, and now victims of terror as well - are sent a condolence letter, usually signed by the president, prime minister or distinguished senior IDF officer. The specially designed A5-size envelope, which until 1966 bore postage stamps commemorating the foundation of the state and, since 1967, have carried the annual commemorative Memorial Day postage stamps, are franked with a special postmark.
The idea of a nation remembering its fallen heroes in this manner and continuing to show compassion for the relatives left behind was first suggested to prime minister David Ben-Gurion by the then head of the Unit for Fallen Soldiers. As far as I am aware, Israel is the only country that remembers its past warriors in this way.
I am in the process of writing an illustrated book and preparing a very comprehensive philatelic display which I hope will go on show at many stamp exhibitions throughout the world, bringing credit to the Jewish state and the Jewish people for the compassion they show.
I have acquired more than 90% of the material I need from various sources and am appealing to Jerusalem Post readers to assist me in obtaining the remaining letters and envelopes. I fully realize the very personal, sentimental value these items have for their owners and am prepared to make a token financial payment to the donors themselves or to any charity they may wish to nominate.
Anyone able to assist with my project can contact me in Israel at P.O. Box 1084, Mevaseret Zion 90805, tel: 02-533-0563; or in the UK at 13 Peters Lodge, 2 Stone Grove, Edgware, Middx HA8 7TY, tel: (0)208-958-1422.
SYDNEY E. VERONIQUE
Waving the flag
Sir, - I'd like to thank Bank Hapoalim for sending a flag to each subscriber to a newspaper - a wonderful gesture that is very much appreciated, especially by those who do not have cars any more, enabling them also to display their connection to Remembrance Day and the pride of Independence Day. Seeing the many flags all over Haifa, I feel that in everyday life one does not realize how much we have achieved in under 60 years.
When I served in the WAAF during World War II, most soldiers sang the well-known "There'll always be an England." Why not change our anthem to include words like that, expressing our feeling that there will be an Israel - always?
We do not have to emphasize the Jewishness of our state, which may make it easier for our local Arabs to say words which are acceptable to them as well.
Hag sameah, and many more to come.
Help for survivors
Sir, - Mitchell Barnett is right that the plight of Holocaust survivors seems forgotten ("Great injustice," May 1). However I think his language is possibly self-defeating. He will have realized, as an oleh, that there are enough divisions and separations, religious and other, within our state, and we don't need any more.
I'm sure he didn't intend to generate animosity toward Yad Vashem or other Shoah memorials, lasting tributes that will hopefully outlive us all and prevent such atrocities happening again.
I agree completely that we should all strive to do our bit to help. The time for action is now: to create a sense of positive unity, using the fantastic charity work of the country's largest philanthropists to galvanize awareness of the survivors' plight.
Add 19 grandkids
Sir, - I thoroughly enjoyed reading about each of the six survivors who lit a memorial flame representing one million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. One correction, though: Menachem Frenkel has four children and 21 grandchildren - not two. I am writing on behalf of Yehil Frenkel, one of his sons, and his wife, Sharon ("One candle for each million," April 25).
Sir, - Thank you for the heart-warming piece on transplants by Judith Nusbaum ("Save a life, save a world," May 1). No doubt: This is an excellent way to inform and inspire others to donate their organs to the needy. I applaud your efforts in this regard.
KHANA R. FEILER
Meat of the issue
Sir, - Walid M. Awad's "Israel does have a partner for peace" (May 1) trotted out the usual Palestine Authority mantra that the Palestine Liberation Organization - we often forget that the "L" in PLO stands for "Liberation" - is the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian People." This mantra has effectively blocked any genuine peacemaker from raising his voice.
Awad mentioned Mahmoud Abbas's speech in Stockholm. How many people remember Yasser Arafat's speech there not long after he signed the Oslo Accord with Israel? In that speech he said, among other things, that the PLO would take over Israel slice by slice, like a salami.
So far, Arafat's forecast is coming true. The first slice, the Gaza Strip, has been handed over to the PLO, and Ehud Olmert's "convergence plan" will be the next slice. Can one blame the Hamas government for waiting patiently until the whole salami has been delivered?
Sir, - I am trying, without success, to find some logic in Arab/Muslim thinking.
They want to end the "occupation," but never remember that they caused it. They blame everything on the "occupation," yet stymie negotiations for a settlement of the conflict as vehemently as they oppose unilateral withdrawal. They want an independent state, but have wasted every opportunity to get one. Can anybody solve this puzzle?
Now that's logic!
Sir, - In "Choose partnership" (April 25) Gershon Baskin wrote that "the basic logic of Oslo remains: There must be a Palestinian partner, and Israel must be willing to cooperate with that partner." Baskin calls it logic, but it's merely an isolated assertion following logically from no given fact or observation.
Here is a rough example of logic: If someone sees no alternative to partnership with me, then I can dictate the terms of the partnership. If I can dictate the terms of the partnership, it is logical that I set the terms to my own maximal benefit. If I think that the ruination of my partner will benefit me, then it is logical that the terms I set should lead to his ruination.
MARK L. LEVINSON
Sir, - Reading your articles I get more and more feeling to become Jewish. Please advise me on the way to achieve this, and the conditions to be met. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Benin, West Africa
Sir, - Amnon Rubinstein exposed the problem in "Make it easier to get things done" (April 30). Good, but not enough. We need a solution.
How about a public campaign to enlist a proven energetic, capable, under-used ex-minister as Minister for the Streamlining of Bureaucracy, with sufficient powers to "clean out the stables"? I think the suffering public would support such a ministry for, say, the life of one administration.
Law enforcement in the breach
Sir, - Judy Siegel's "Watch your eyes this Independence Day" (April 26) was interesting. However, I doubt that anything will change.
This country is not a country of law enforcement. Firecrackers on Purim are also not allowed - and yet everyone knows that it doesn't make a difference.
Until this country makes a decision to enforce its laws, passing any legislation is really of little use.
Other examples? Illegal building and outdoor generator wiring between buildings, to name just two.
Looking bad in blue
Sir, - The police do not seem to feel the need to exercise good road behavior. Two recent personal examples:
While overtaking legitimately at a suitable speed on the coastal road between Haifa and Tel Aviv, I was tailgated by an unmarked police car. Switching on my hazard lights to warn the driver that he was driving dangerously close seemed to annoy him, and prompted him to put a portable blue light on his car roof to show me who was boss. After I completed the overtaking maneuver he overtook me and proceeded at an excessive speed.
In the second case, on Begin Blvd. in Jerusalem, we passed a marked police car on a family outing. Two little girls were roaming around the back seat, without any seat belt restraining them!
Surely the first step in improving road safety is for those in charge of enforcing the traffic laws to set a good example?
Sir, - I would like to hear Shmuley Boteach's comments on the ultra-Orthodox Jews who proudly wear their fur spodeks and shtreimels
("The fur coats of Englewood," April 20). Are they also making "the ultimate statement of high-flying material success"?
People who work hard are entitled to use their money in the way that makes them happy, without needing to impress anyone.
So let the women of New Jersey wear their fur coats. It gets mighty cold there in winter!