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About living here
Sir, - Yosef (Tommy) Lapid's illustrations of the good life here resonated with me on several levels. They brought back memories of the time I spent doing outreach for the aliya emissary in Detroit some 30 years ago. I told wannabe olim: The Israel of the mind is a far cry from the reality awaiting you.
Yes, it's hard coming here and living with all the small inconveniences, then reading the papers and finding out that the politicians are not as golden as we had hoped and the health system not so healthy, etc. But I agree with Mr. Lapid: "Life is good here" (April 26).
Where else can we walk the streets in relative safety at night? Where else can we be truly Jewish and not embarrassed by it? Where else are there Jewish garbage collectors and policemen? Where else are the festivals really truly festivals?
Yes, it's good here regardless of all the flaws and complaints.
Sir, - Re Michael Freund's "Bring the 'lost Jews' back" (April 25): I have an even more urgent plea: Bring the lost Israelis back.
Thousands of Israelis have made their "temporary" home in the US and are making great contributions there, but they would be happy to come back to Israel if they could figure out how to make the adjustment. There is no concerted effort by any group - governmental or private - to bring these people home. As a matter of fact, they are fined by the National Insurance for every day they are away, and most Israelis find they owe thousands of dollars if they want to return! A family in which both parents are Israeli may find they owe Bituah Leumi upwards of $10,000, and so they cannot simply return, even if they want to.
People making aliya receive tremendous benefits from the Jewish Agency and Nefesh B'Nefesh - advice, cash, help with moving, lower rates on many items, etc. This is wonderful, and aliya is a tremendous boon to the country.
But Israelis already have the language, the tools to succeed, the education, the knowledge and the desire to live here. We must get them back before we look for anyone else.
LEANNA BELSON SCHONBRUNN
Sir, - Re "Obama: Israel should help change status quo with PA" (April 25): Instead of nagging Israel, what Obama and others need to do is ask the people who form the majority in the region, the Muslim Arabs, to take the lead for positive change.
In a sense, the US has done that already in Iraq. The Bush administration is looking to the Iraqis to try and make a viable democratic state. While the success of that effort may be in doubt, at least it recognizes that the problems of the region can be solved only by the Muslim majority - and also that those problems go way beyond the Israeli-Palestinian issue, which is but a symptom of the overall pathology.
No religious or ethnic minority is in a position to decisively influence as vast an area as the Mideast. The refusal to require the Muslims to take on what should be their obligation shows how low expectations have sunk; but that is no excuse not to try.
Home sweet home
Sir, - Trips for Israelis to Saudi Arabia and Syria? ("Peace could mean sunning in Saudi Arabia, ad campaign boasts," April 26). Read the small print: It's contingent on accepting the Saudi "peace plan." That is, we'll first have to hand over chunks of our capital, and have people who want to destroy us move into what's left of our country.
It's nice to travel, but there's no place like home.
Sir, - Bezeq's new Web site is not just a problem for genealogical searches, it's a disaster for anyone needing to find a phone number ("Bezeq's new Web site stymies genealogical searches," April 26). Limiting the responses to a maximum of five and the search to a single city makes the site useless for me.
The other day I needed to find the number of Haim Cohen who lives somewhere in Bikat Ono - forget it! I've gone back to using the paper phone book exclusively.
My assumption is that Bezeq designed the new site to force users to go back to calling 144!
JANET S.S. NUSSBAUM
Honored in the breach
Sir, - I'd like to add two more misdemeanors for which the police and/or municipal authorities could earn easy revenue "Fine idea" (Letters, April 17):
Parking on the wrong side of the road is dangerous as it entails driving against traffic to park, and driving across oncoming traffic to exit. Entering an intersection without being able to get to the other side blocks traffic, inconveniencing cars coming from the crossroads and increasing driver frustration. I have never seen a driver apprehended or fined for either of these anti-social behaviors.
I have been a police volunteer for three years, but at not one of our training sessions or briefings was I instructed to apprehend people for any of the problems highlighted by your reader or myself. Come to think of it, we were never even taught most of these laws.
If there is no culture of road safety and adherence to laws among the police, is it any wonder the public ignores both the laws and the police?
Sir, - Re "Going to pot" (April 10): Based on pronunciation and similar sound, some sources identify keneh bosem, one of the items in the sacred anointing oil used in the Temple (Exodus 30:23), as cannabis, the hemp plant.
RABBI STEWART WEISS
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