That little word 'with'
Sir, - Thank you for "Choose peace" (Editorial, December 19). It clearly explained the current state of confusion within the Palestinian Authority and detailed the reasons that have led to it. The very big choice necessary for the Palestinians to realize their hopes was also stated very explicitly: Worldwide "peer pressure," exerted through the "Quartet," must realize the necessity of focusing on peace and state-building - and that means putting pressure on the Palestinian people as well as on their representatives.
Simply recognizing the State of Israel's existence would be a first step, but only that. The focus must be on peace with the State of Israel. State-building for the Palestinians must necessarily happen alongside their neighboring state, Israel.
So simple, really. But somehow not yet obvious.
Boca Raton, Florida
Sir, - Why are Arabs permitted to fire weapons in the air? (Photo, December 20.) This terrible practice, common during funerals and celebrations, must be outlawed.
In January 2006, a Mississippi farmer was paralyzed by a falling bullet. At a 2003 Ku Klux Klan initiation ceremony in Tennessee, a stray bullet struck a participant "on the top of the head and exited at the bottom of his skull." Between 1985 and 1992 a trauma center in Los Angeles treated 118 people for injuries caused by falling bullets, and 38 of the victims were killed.
The US International Action Network on Small Arms is doing its best to increase awareness of the dangers of celebratory gunfire.
Monroe Twp, New Jersey
Sir, - Avi Shafran writes in "A good word about 'discrimination'" (December 20) that we should learn to differentiate between bias and the ability to make fine distinctions, and that there are two meanings to discrimination. He cites discrimination in favor of traditional, religiously-sanctioned marriage as an example of a beneficial sort of discrimination.
While marriage forms the basis of the nuclear family and is a key component in any society, it is also useful to legally recognize alternative living arrangements.
For example, we have instituted civil unions in Vermont for same-sex partners. This allows people living in non-traditional households to reap comparable financial benefits to those of married couples without disturbing the sensibilities of those who would be offended to call those arrangements marriages.
Defining civil unions, as opposed to marriage, is an example of discriminating by making a fine distinction in order not to discriminate by being biased.
Waves of gratitude
Sir, - Thank you, Rabbi Avi Weiss, for your wonderful and thoughtful message of "Gratitude to God must echo" (December 19). Our sages warned us a long time ago that whoever denies or refrains from thanking God will, at the end of the day, deny and refrain from remembering to appreciate and direct his thanks to his fellow human being.
Sir, - I was particularly interested to read the article by Dr. Zeev V. Maizlin on "The man who became 'Lawrence of Judea,'" - Lt.-Col. J.H. Patterson (November 28).
My late father, Mark Kirstein, was a private in the Jewish regiment, the 38th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, and was in Palestine in 1917. I remember he told me that their mules refused to carry water up to the top of Masada, and that the soldiers had a hard job convincing them to do it.
The regiment celebrated Pessah, with two seders, at the Western Wall in the same year.
Sea of people
Sir, - I doubt any international travelers who flew from Israel on November 30 would agree with "Ben-Gurion rated Europe's best airport" (December 19). Admittedly this was the day after the strike, but the situation in the area - I can't use the term queue, there wasn't one - for security for EL AL passengers was appalling, just a sea of people. Many passengers who had arrived at 6 a.m. when the airport opened were pushed to the back of the melee by those who arrived later and just forced their way in from the side. Once through security, passengers just ran to the shortest queue for check-in. Why isn't the much fairer "snake" system used?
Returning last week was no better - a full 747-400 from London, and only six passport desks opened for returning Israelis! The new terminal may have better duty free and more expensive cafes, but passenger organization shows no sign of improvement.
Crime at home
Sir, - I am worried about the deteriorating conditions of personal security in Israel. Not everything is the foreign menace. There is a growing number of thefts, burglary, scams, rapes and murders, and more and more violence. The security policy-makers seem to have forgotten about personal security, one of the most important things related to the feeling of well-being and a good life.
Not so long ago, maybe less than 20 years, countries like Brazil had crime problems similar to Israel's right now. The authorities did nothing. Now that beautiful country has one of the world's highest crime rates.
Israel has neither the size nor population of a country like Brazil. So society can't stand or fight crime at that rate.
Let's do something now.
For the record
Sir, - "Evangelical heads honored for support," (December 19) incorrectly stated that the event was hosted by the World Jewish Congress. It was not. The event was hosted by the Israel Branch of the World Jewish Congress. This is one of five regional branches and one of over 80 member Jewish communities of the WJC, and is representative only of its own independent board and not of the WJC as a whole.
STEPHEN E. HERBITS
World Jewish Congress
Sir, - I completely agree with the letter (December 6) in praise of the daily KKL-JNF "Little Gems" item on the back page of your newspaper. It is clearly written by someone with a beautiful and humorous gift of the English language, and should be credited with a name. Can you please oblige?
The Editor responds: The items are written by Aviva Bar-Am.
A (quiet) leg to stand on
Sir, - Many yeshivot in Israel have slate or tile floors and use movable, metal-framed chairs. The chairs usually come with wooden plugs on the legs, but in time the wood wears away and each leg is then only a hollow steel tube. When it scrapes along the floor, an almost deafening screech is heard. The problem is particularly acute during the Silent Amida prayer.
The solution is a simple synthetic rubber cap, available in several diameters. The cost is minimal, and the caps last up to a year. I have found the white version to be more durable than the black.
Any hardware store should be able to supply this noise control measure, improving the quality of life of those who live or work in the vicinity.
DAVID LLOYD BEN YAACOV
Member, Institute of
Noise Control Engineering