(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sir, - Thanks to you and reporter Yaakov Lappin for the coverage of the brutal attack on two American students and those who tried to help them ("Hooligans assault visiting US students on Ein Gev beach beach," June 30).
As an American Jew who has visited Israel several times, I was appalled by both this crime and the way the police responded. I am hopeful the perpetrators will be brought to justice, and that you will continue to report on this important story.
Sir, - I don't want to say something bad about my birthplace, but in Amsterdam when someone gets attacked, all others look at the sky, the ground or the scenery. Typically, no one helps. Here, bystanders will help, as your reporter recounted so movingly.
However, those who attacked the two American Jews were also Jews. We are not immune to evil actions. Drinking alcohol, the killing done in wars, violent music and movies can finish off any trace of holiness.
With 61 years of warfare behind us and alcohol consumption on the rise, we'd better watch ourselves.
M. VAN THIJN
Sir, - MK Danny Danon is right to be upset with the Obama administration's emerging generally negative attitude toward Israel and, in particular, its unreasonable demands concerning the settlements. Many American Jews share such deep concern.
Nevertheless, it would be a major mistake to boycott the US ambassador's July 4 gathering ("Likud's Danon calls for boycott of July 4 celebration," July 1). That is a celebration not of the current administration, but of longstanding, close US-Israel ties.
America remains Israel's most important friend in an increasingly unfriendly world. In its own security interests Israel may well have to, and should, stand up to the Obama administration; but needlessly angering it, while also providing talking points for anti-Israel Americans, would not be wise.
RICHARD D. WILKINS
Syracuse, New York
Desire to diminish
Sir, - The Israel Policy Forum's Nick Bunzel says that 78 percent of American Jews supported Barack Obama and that "an overwhelming majority of American policy-makers, Jewish leaders and organizations" continue to support his policies ("We're not Israel-bashers," June 30).
We can only hope that American Jews - sooner rather than later - will remind themselves of some facts: such as the intense attempt by the Arabs to destroy the nascent State of Israel in 1948, without their suffering any repercussions; the destruction of tens of synagogues as a consequence of the Gaza disengagement while the Arabs exert de-facto control over the Temple Mount; the daily bombardment endured by the citizens of Sderot and the South (leading us to Operation Cast Lead), and the additional rocket fire, proving that the terrorist infrastructure still remains.
Then there's the giving of arms (Gen. Dayton's militia) to the Arabs, which will likely result in the death of more Jews; the continued illegal imprisonment of Gilad Schalit; Arab glorification of child-killer Samir Kuntar and the murder of pregnant Tali Hatuel and her four innocent daughters - dwarfed in the US media by the concurrent atrocities at the Guantanamo prison, where no murder was committed.
Finally, there's the vulnerability of Ben-Gurion International Airport should a Palestinian state arise on Israel's border; and the unreasonable refusal to recognize Israel as a lone Jewish state, as opposed to the multitude of already existing Arab states.
The American Jew should learn - even if he does not care - that the real reason for the international clamor for a Palestinian state is not related to the welfare of the Palestinians but to the desire to considerably diminish the physical and spiritual significance of Israel.
Sir, - There is a far greater issue than "full transparency in the way government bodies use public money" ("PM resolves BoI, treasury
dispute," June 24).
The more pressing problem is how ineffective the Finance Ministry has been over many decades in limiting the rise in public-sector salaries.
How did we reach a situation in which many public servants receive salaries more than double the PM's? Why is the public sector growing in numbers, at such a rate?
Part of the problem is the Finance Ministry's untiring efforts to transfer expenses from the government budget to the local authorities' budgets - really a way of increasing the tax burden on the public while making the government budget look more economical.
The ministry is also only interested in "absolute cost figures" and has no responsibility for, or interest in taking a businesslike approach to fixing salaries. This needs a public committee of independent members without conflicts of interest, who are not looking to further their own future employment prospects.
We need a much more "businesslike" approach to budgeting the use of public money.
In our highly specialized world, the ministry needs to use specialists on an ad-hoc basis instead of retaining the services of expensive senior staff who have reached very senior levels and are an excessive burden. Top-heavy budgets prevent the breakthroughs we desperately need in so many public organizations.
It is to be hoped that the new "compromise" will focus more attention on the way the Finance Ministry operates and, slowly but surely, lead to a much more creative control process that will eventually strengthen the economy.