(photo credit: )
Sir, - We can all rejoice that "Passover" is coming early this year - with the installation of the new government ("Netanyahu set to present mega-cabinet today," March 31). We can only pray that the new one will "pass over" without further incident, and the old one soon be a passing memory.
To the new government and its leaders: Happy Passover!
...but very frightening
Sir, - It is more than frightening to realize that how Israel will be run for the next who knows how many years boils down to stroking the inflated egos of party hacks and narrow interests; with next to no consideration of taxpayer money wasted, the tens of thousands of unemployed and soon-to-be unemployed, and the unprecedented existential threats we face.
Even our new prime minister has acknowledged the problematic nature of such a bloated and wasteful government, which we know will turn into the same schoolyard brawling we have grown accustomed to seeing among very different coalition partners.
This is the inevitable result of our electoral system, which allows no true representatives of the people to take office, only political parties and interest groups.
Apparently, electoral reform will come from the grassroots. Hopefully this most recent coalition horse-trading fiasco will stir many more people into action.
...so let's have
a little snack
Sir, - Commenting on the appointing of 30 ministers in Netanyahu's government, the new Minister for Kreplach and Felafel said there was no truth in the accusation that there are too many ministries.
VELVEL ZEV WEISZ
Sir, - The proprietor of the Cafe Crema in New Cross need not worry too much - he won't meet too many Jews ("London cafe removes sign banning Israeli products, but welcoming Jews," March 27).
I had the dubious distinction of being born in the area, where my late father, who proudly bore the name Cohen, was a popular family doctor. Although a small Jewish community existed before WWII, it dwindled in later years. The local synagogue, kosher butcher and grocery have all gone, along with my three siblings and myself. We all fled as soon as we could.
Cafe Crema's only Jewish customers might possibly be some Jews attending nearby Goldsmiths College, who would surely pass as goyim if they hid their horns and tails.
Sir, - I wanted to add this little footnote to the facts reported by Gabe Leden in "Echoes of the '30s in Caracas" (March 31).
In 1948, after surviving the Holocaust and when no other country on earth wanted to accept us, we applied for a visa to Venezuela, but were told that the only acceptable religious affiliation for obtaining it was "Roman Catholic." Later, when it came to citizenship papers, it was again imperative to indicate the "right" religion.
It is true that Jews prospered and built institutions in Venezuela, but the official government policy was always one of discrimination, and constant denial of their origins among the Jews there was the norm. If the population at large was not anti-Semitic, this was because they never really knowingly mingled with Jewish people.
In Venezuela, Jews really were a people apart. The present situation just built on something that was always dormant.
Gilad Schalit's life
Sir, - I write this to the Schalits: Gilad's humanity is our humanity. I wish I could fly to Israel and stand with you.
Your new prime minister must bring him home, showing the world that Israel is strong - strong enough to honor Gilad's sacrifice, strong enough to honor its pledge to his parents, strong enough to honor future volunteers.
Gilad's life is the issue; he represents us all. When he is free, we are free.
Schalit family, you are not alone in this fight to bring your dear son home ("Schalit dominates last cabinet meeting," March 30).
Sir, - As Gilad Schalit's grandfather, I would like to voice my strong objection to the linkage between his case and that of the monster Josef Fritzl, as in "the Fritzl story sheds light on the circus surrounding Schalit," from "Held hostage" by Ruthie Blum Leibowitz (March 20).
This was shameful.
Let's be precise
Sir, - Instead of saying we plan to "worsen" the condition of Hamas prisoners, let us use the correct terminology and say that from now on we will give prisoners their basic legal rights, but restrict all freebies.
In this way the international community and human rights organizations, always ready to pounce, cannot accuse us of being "inhuman" ("MK Bibi: Don't abandon prison service to backlash," March 30).
Makes me shudder
Sir, - "IAF may rush Iron Dome deployment" (March 29 ) gave me another reason to seriously question the intelligence of our defense and political establishment.
Instead of going to the root of the problem - the snakes' lair that is Gaza and the threat from Hamas and Fatah "rebels" in Judea and Samaria - we are proudly flaunting our hi-tech solution to these crude but still potentially lethal rockets.
Similarly, we have attempted to build shelters all throughout the Eshkol region and Gaza periphery, thinking we have thus made life tolerable for our citizens. That has been our answer to the rockets. We have not done what everyone knows needs to be done to stop them.
The "let's hunker-down and maybe it will go away" mind-set is defeatist at best.
Would someone please do the simple calculation of how much it would have cost us to shoot down the 8,000 or so missiles we have already absorbed - given the price of developing, building and deploying the Iron Dome system?
I am reminded (and I shudder to think of it) how the former Soviet Union was brought to its knees economically by having to concentrate its resources on dealing with the unimplementable "Star Wars" space weapons program.
Thrilled - and chilled
Sir, - My wife and I were thrilled by Mark Podwal's "Life among the dead" about the documentary film House of Life: the Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague. It brought back vivid memories of our visit there a few years back.
The only "fly in the ointment" was the mention of singer Chava Alberstein, who was honored by being chosen to sing a Yiddish song in the film.
This daughter of Holocaust survivors volunteered, years ago, to board a Palestinian Arab ship - renamed Exodus II - from Greece and Cyprus which intended to force its way into Haifa port, dirtying Israel's name before the world. She never did make it as the ship headed down to Davy Jones' Locker while in port, on the way.
ROBERT G. KENNETH
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