(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sir, - Your editorial, "Reform the Knesset" (November 29), suggests many necessary improvements that should be obvious in democracies. But until the underlying cancer is treated, these suggested reforms are only palliatives. So long as MKs are not chosen directly by the people they will continue to act rationally - to please their parties first and foremost.
Thus, knowing that a certain MK hardly ever appeared in the Knesset plenum is of little help to the voter, who cannot vote against that MK without voting against the whole party. Until citizens can vote for or against individual MKs, we cannot truly claim to be a democracy.
A good start...
Sir, - The future looks rather promising, assuming all of the Middle East leaders hold to their commitments made in Annapolis ("The goal: A peace agreement in one year," November 28) to meet on a regular basis starting December 12, 2007 until a peace plan is put in place by the end of 2008. It will be tough, but the consequences of not working toward a lasting peace are far more perilous to the region and the world. US President George Bush is to be commended for hosting longtime adversaries and helping them to get off on the right foot.
Sir, - By achieving "success" at the Annapolis conference and holding out the tantalizing dream of lasting peace, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is sure to glide comfortably into the status of an untouchable. There is only one problem. The sentence quoted from the joint statement in "The goal: A peace agreement in one year," (November 28) which talks about "terrorism and incitement, whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis" will horrify anyone who has taken a high school history class.
Not to worry, Olmert has ingeniously addressed this problem. He and Education Minister Yuli Tamir have effectively closed down all education in Israel beyond elementary school. If they keep the entire country from advancing beyond the sixth grade, perhaps they can continue to pull stunts. In fact, many of us who are older and educated have been so busy contending with our distressed teens that we've had little energy left to notice the absurdity of the current fiasco. I think I might have underestimated our prime minister. Now if only we could get him to use his brilliance to protect our precious and increasingly vulnerable state.
LESLEY SANSOLO LIPSITZ
Sir, - Amnon Rubinstein ("On dreams and nightmares," November 28) emphasizes the importance of Arab recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Equally important is for the Americans to emphasize Israeli security concerns.
It is vital that US President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice explicitly acknowledge Israeli apprehensions over the negotiating process. If they fail to do that, an impression that Israel is being bullied will erode trust in the US as an honest broker.
Amid calls to buck up PA President Mahmoud Abbas with confidence-building measures, we must not lose sight of the fact that confidence building is also required for a consensus in a Jewish Israel.
Sir, - Re "Beit Shemesh angles to become country's next Silicon Valley" (November 19): It would appear that the wrong impression might have been given regarding the arnona (municipal real-estate tax) levels in Beit Shemesh and any lack of assistance from the municipality. Firstly, the standard arnona for office users in Beit Shemesh stands at NIS 188 per square meter a year, and thus works out between 30%-50% less than in Jerusalem and the coastal area.
Further-reduced rates may even be possible for software development businesses. Finally, construction will soon commence for another five floors of office space next to Beit Shemesh's train station at the city entrance.
Sir, - Your Travel Adviser article about Thomsonfly's new service to London was not at all accurate ("$198 round trip to London? Don't expect flight miracles this Hanukka!" November 25).
We flew to London a couple of weeks ago, and the flight cost us $80 plus $19 tax, which equalled the advertised total of $99 including tax.
On top of this we paid $10 for check-in luggage (not $20 as Mark Feldman quoted). We were very happy to take our own food, and were seated together without any extra charge.
The plane was a brand new Airbus and the seat pitch was at least equal to that of BA or El Al. Also, I do not think that Thomson is operating a charter service. They have published regular flights.
I fly regularly to the UK and usually use El Al, but the Thomsonfly flight was an altogether more pleasant experience.
The company is offering excellent service, at very reasonable cost.
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