letters to the editor 88.
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Up to it, Mme Royal?
Sir, - Your take on Segolene Royal seems right on ("Royal's visit," Editorial, December 6). If she didn't get a good translation of what was said in Beirut, that's her fault. If she really is that innocent, then perhaps she isn't up to being president of France. On the other hand, her lack of experience can be an asset - if she's willing to learn, there is still hope for her.
It isn't often that France has been on our side. The last time I can remember was during the Six Day War, when French warplanes and munitions helped us when the Americans refused.
Can Mme Royal usher in another era of French pro-Israelism? Let us hope so.
Stick to the truth...
Sir, - President Bush wrote in his April 2004 letter that "a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue â€¦ will need to be foundâ€¦ throughâ€¦ the settling of Palestinian refugees [in a Palestinian state], rather than in Israel." But in his spoken speech he said, loudly and clearly, "not in Israel" - signifying exclusion and not preference. Similarly, one of the original three stipulations of the Road Map, demanded from the Palestinians, is the dismantling of the terror infrastructure, and not - as in the much-watered-down version, recently often used even by our representatives - the renunciation of terror.
Let our enemies pervert the truth and us stick to it, even when it is in our favor ("Prodi gives nod to Israel's opposition to 'right of return,'" December 6).
...and heal thyself
Sir, - Of course, Israel's image in the world is terribly damaged, and it's getting worse and worse. Well, but saying that, you go only halfway ("Consumers give thumbs down to Israel's brand," December 3). If you're ill, it's not enough to make the diagnosis. You have to search both for the causes and the treatment.
Is Israel able to climb out of this vulgate of "The whole world is always against us"; "We are right, the others are bad," and "Criticizing Israel is anti-Semitism"? I doubt it.
It would be nice
Sir, - Neil J. Golden writes that he would like to see Iran "wiped off the face of the earth" (Letters, December 6). So what is the difference between Mr. Golden and Mr. Ahmadinejad, who would like to see "Israel wiped off the map"? One difference is that Mr. Ahmadinejad lives in the Middle East and would suffer the consequences of the action, while Mr. Golden is being brave from the safety of Seattle, 8,000 miles away.
Anyway, it would be nice to think that after the Nazi attempts to wipe people off the face of the earth, we might have come to the conclusion that wholesale slaughter is not such a good idea. Or does this only depend on who is slaughtering whom?
Shout it out
Sir, - Hidden in your December 6 edition was a small item saying the Palestinian Authority had "rejected an offer... for as much as $1 billion to sign a peace agreement with Israel." An international fund would have brought progress and prosperity to the Palestinians.
Why, oh why, wasn't that item a banner headline on page one?
He's made up his mind
Sir, - Morris Ostroff's appeal - "Archbishop Tutu, please be fair" to Israel (December 6) - was laughable. Judging by my correspondence with Tutu, he is blindly anti-Israel and possibly worse; also ignorant of the background to the Israel-Palestine problem. He only "knows" that Israel is similar to the white Afrikaaners in Apartheid South Africa, and no evidence, no matter how cast-iron, will change that opinion.
Sir, - We tread on dangerous ground when we agree with Dennis Prager that "the Bible is America's holiest book" ("Congressman's decision to take oath on Koran raises eyebrows," December 6). It is also questionable if the test of "agreeing with the American Constitution" is a safer criterion for our Hebrew Bible than it is for the Koran. The Tanach does not provide for freedom of speech, or of religion. Why not be honest and recognize that the use of the Bible in the oath of office is a custom which may be opposed to American principles legally, but is as established as the use of "In God We Trust" on American coins?
From a strictly legal viewpoint it is possible that the assumption of power, in Congress or the presidency, occurs automatically, based on the time of day and calendar stipulations of the Constitution. The latter document does require the incoming president to take an oath to "defend the Constitution..." but scholars of the Constitution will tell you that the oath does not actually determine assumption of office.
As for the oath taken by witnesses in court, I have been advised that testimony becomes official and subject to the penalties for perjury as long as the witness understands the special standing of his testimony. In conversation, lying is not subject to perjury charges. In court, it is.
Sir, - I am sick and tired of Shmuley Boteach blaming all marital problems on men ("The perfect diet? Try a compliment," December 4). He would have us believe men are guilty whenever an extramarital affair occurs, and also to blame for the predominantly female obsession with weight management.
Since I hardly expect to read an article next week attributing the predominantly male phenomenon of workaholism to an absence of husband appreciation (something that would understandably offend many women), I would point out to Rabbi Boteach that trying to be more of a male-basher than the most radical feminist will not endear Orthodox Judaism to those bent on deriding it. Therefore, he might as well acknowledge what most mature people intuitively realize: that we are all responsible for our own behavior. No man or woman can be forced to gain weight, have an affair or become a workaholic.
The rabbi must realize that treating women like helpless children could be construed as a form of misogyny - surely that was not his intent?
Sir, - Though the idea of complimenting people is sound, this column was incredibly sexist, and full of unspoken assumptions: for example, that only married women get fat. Anorexia is even more dangerous than obesity, and it occurs mainly in single young girls.
Does Rabbi Boteach think that women enjoy having obese husbands? Moreover, what is someone supposed to do if he or she got fat before they got married and now cannot get married because no one is willing to look at them twice? This is indeed more of a problem for women than for men, as men care much more than women about how their partners look (and Boteach's column is a clear expression of this). Who is supposed to compliment the fat women whom nobody is even willing to look at?
At least conventional diet books, for all their faults, assume that each person has to take responsibility for his or her own life.