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Sir, - Re your coverage of Maxim magazine's "Babes of the IDF" spread, I'd like to leave aside the debate over whether knowing that there are beautiful Israeli women will engender pro-Israel sympathy in the world, and ask another question: Why use army girls? If the mandate was to show Israel "beyond the conflict," wouldn't it have been wiser to show athletic girls, or Golan cowgirls, or our stunning mixed-ethnicity girls, or any girls but those of the IDF?
Handed an opportunity for a different kind of hasbara, I am nonplussed as to why the choice was the one group that emphasizes the militaristic side of our society, in apparent opposition to the stated goal. Did anyone think this through? ("Our human-lens approach to hasbara," July 8.)
Nothing to do under the sun
Sir, - Re "Israel urged to 'act now' or face global warming disaster" (July 6): Recent research by Henrik Svensmark and his group at the Danish National Space Center points to the real cause of the recent warming trend. In a series of experiments on the formation of clouds, these scientists have shown that fluctuations in the sun's output cause the observed changes in the Earth's temperature.
In the past, scientists believed these fluctuations were too small to cause the observed amount of temperature change, hence the need to look for other causes, such as carbon dioxide. However, these new experiments show that the fluctuations are in fact large enough, so there is no longer a need to resort to carbon dioxide as the cause of the warming trend.
Discovery of the real cause of the Earth's increased temperature is indeed a convenient truth. It means humans are not to blame for the increase.
It also means there is absolutely nothing we can do to correct the situation.
Thunder Bay, Ontario
Peace Corps from Zion
Sir, - In demanding that Israel open its borders to refugees from Sudan, Larry Derfner seems to totally miss the point ("An improper Zionist response," July 5).
No one grieves more than I for the plight of the suffering peoples of Africa. The disaster being visited by a maniacal tyrant on my own beautiful former home country, Zimbabwe, overwhelms me with despair.
But the reality is that Africa is filled with helplessness and hopelessness and Israel, with all the good will in the world, cannot solve its problems by becoming a haven to fleeing masses. Word will quickly get around and these desperate people will face any hardship, accept any burden to make their way here. And Israel would simply not be able to cope.
We don't know how to deal with the few thousand refugees already here, let alone with a possible flood! We must judiciously, and with empathy, allow those already here to remain, but must be resolute in discouraging any further attempts. What Israel can and must do immediately is get involved massively in bringing aid and relief to where it really matters - Africa.
In the glorious heyday of ties with Africa there were Israeli doctors and medical personnel setting up hospitals, and Israeli youth workers and teachers and agronomists disseminating our expertise and know-how throughout the continent. Young Africans came to Israel to study, and there are still people throughout Africa who speak the Hebrew they learnt as students.
This is Israel at its finest, this is what we know how to do, and this is what we must do. It expresses our best instincts to help and serve. It would galvanize the best of our youth, it would be Israel's own Peace Corps from Zion.
Sir, - The Sudanese refugees in Israel represent a wonderful opportunity for all those countries and organizations forever wailing over the plight of the Palestinian refugees to show the extent of their concern by taking these Sudanese into their own countries. Surely this makes more sense than leaving it to tiny, overcrowded Israel!
Peres, a true winner
Sir, - Every day I hear an expression that has become part of the Israeli idiom: Peres, the eternal loser (who finally won an election as president of Israel). In my opinion, this is an erroneous statement from a generation that unfortunately sees Mr. Peres as a serial loser who could never enter the "promised land."
It's time for a semantic and historical correction. Shimon Peres is a man who has brought enormous achievements to the State of Israel, leaving his impression on the IDF, the security forces and the national strength of Israel for generations.
Peres was instrumental in establishing a nuclear reactor in spite of great obstacles; he was successful in bringing weapons to the IDF, in spite of an international embargo; he established, in the face of internal resistance, security industries that today spearhead Israel's economy and industry. Such a man is a major winner of modern Jewish history.
A man's character is not determined by political conflicts, or by parties' victories and failures, but by his lifetime public record. Peres, with his determination, vision and courage is one of our greatest heroes, a stellar example. His losses are our losses, and his wins are our wins ("Sorry seems to be the hardest word," Emanuel Feldman, June 28).
Sir, - I must agree with Rabbi Feldman's comments on our politicians and their failure to apologize for wrongdoing. There is a wonderful children's book, The Hardest Word, by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Katherine Janus Kahn, which deals with this subject. Perhaps it should be required reading for all our politicians.
Sir, - "Majalie Whbee walks out of the Knesset... and into Beit Hanassi" (July 6) should have made more of the fact that a member of a minority group was acting president of Israel. News of this kind can only enhance Israel's international standing.
Sir, - Re "64% of Israelis support law to ensure prime minister is a Jew - poll" (July 4): What better reason to reform the conversion process, as suggested in the brilliant interview of Prof. Ish Shalom by Haviv Rettig (UpFront, June 29). It's up to all of us Jews from Birth to encourage the conversion of those who have chosen to live in Israel and take on the mantle of our society.
What makes me - a JFB whose parents were "full" Jews, and their parents too, as far as I know - different? I have chosen Masorti Judaism, and could not even have our own rabbi perform our son's wedding. I resent that. I want to see all streams of Judaism respected. To me that's a basic human right.
If we allow the tunnel vision of the establishment to continue to put obstacles in the way while others moan about the demographic problem, we will soon find ourselves drowning in the swamp we have created for ourselves.
Ticket to ride
Sir, - Mark Feldman says it all: The airlines are taking the public for a ride in more ways than one. Now that our government seems to be making efforts to restrain the money-go-round of creative Israeli banking charges, the costs of air travel must be made transparent so the customer can make an informed purchase ("Hidden taxes and other mystery elements of your next plane ticket," July 8).