Sir, – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not have an easy time building his government (“33rd Knesset sworn in after tumultuous talks,” March 19). It must have been difficult for him to place senior posts in the hands of political neophytes.
These challenging times call for ministers and MKs to be people of substance and vision.
Here’s my dream list:
• A defense minister with as much foresight as Moshe Arens
• A finance minister as savvy as Pinchas Sapir
• A house speaker with as much depth as Dov Shilansky
• A minister of religion as knowledgeable as Yosef Burg
• A UN ambassador as eloquent as Abba Eban
• A Druze MK as patriotic as Ayoub Kara
• A leader of the opposition with as much brainpower as Yossi Sarid.
I wish the current lineup the best of luck, but until these people prove themselves worthy of their newfound, powerful positions, I’ll continue dreaming.LINDA WOLFF
Sir, – With regard to Lahav Harkov’s analysis “Get ready to rumble: This opposition starts fighting today” (March 19), when I hear the word rumble I think of West Side Story, a play about two gangs whose members fight each other to the death.
When it applies to our government I feel sad because we are about to celebrate our exodus from an evil nation. We left slavery to come to the land we call Israel. We came to be a nation, not to fight each other.
Our government should have only one goal, and that is to do what is good for the country.
The internal fighting sounds like kids on a playground, each demanding his own way.
So during this holiday that symbolizes freedom, we should start acting like we are one nation and save our strength to fight our enemies.
Haredi sour grapes
Sir, – Upon reading “Angry haredi MKs rail against exclusion from gov’t” (March 19), the word that comes to mind is immaturity. Or better yet, sour grapes.
For many years we were held hostage to the haredi view on almost everything concerning government. As a result, our health system suffered and the work force gained nothing from the potential manpower of many men who would pay taxes and support their own families instead of receiving government handouts.
These MKs must realize that throwing temper tantrums in full view simply because they are not included in the current government is childish and nearsighted.
MK Ya’acov Litzman of United Torah Judaism calls the government “evil” and “based on hatred.” I find it sad that he sees the world only through his own eyes and not through those of all Jews, regardless of how they practice their Judaism.
Sir, – The walk-out from the Knesset of the United Torah Judaism MKs, and the vituperative remarks of Ya’acov Litzman and Moshe Gafni, bring to public notice the duplicity of the haredi political line and worldview.
It is easy to expose this duplicity.
The haredim contend that they should not serve in the defense forces, that the state should support their educational institutions even though they do not teach subjects that would enable students to earn a living, and that they should not work but be supported by the rest of the community.
The haredim can hold only one of two possible attitudes toward their way of life: 1. It is the only way to live and therefore all Jews should adopt it, thus bringing an end to food production, for example. There would also be no defense forces, and Israel would quickly be eliminated by its hostile neighbors.
2. Those who are haredim should be treated as a special class and be supported and defended by those who are not haredim.
The fact that both these alternatives are untenable shows the haredi case for what it is: deceitful nonsense.
Beit Zayit Farrago of falsehoods
Sir, – You have again given Asaf Romirowsky space to regurgitate his repetitive farrago of falsehoods about the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), which he accuses of perpetuating the Palestinian refugee problem (“Peace maker or peace breaker?” Comment & Features, March 19).
All internationally accepted paradigms for resolving the refugee issue foresee this being achieved within the context of a political solution agreed to by the parties, in consultation with the refugees, based on international law and UN resolutions. It is the failure of the parties to reach such an agreement that perpetuates the problem, not the existence of a human development organization.
Until such an agreement is reached, a dynamic and innovative UNRWA will continue to provide opportunities for, and empower, some of the most disadvantaged in the Middle East with education, health and relief services, as mandated by the General Assembly. The contribution this makes and our donors’ satisfaction therewith is a matter of public record, indeed acclamation.
The writer is spokesman for UNRWA
Sir, – The French ambassador to Israel, Christophe Bigot (“In pursuit of peace: The view from Paris,” Observations, March 15), sandwiched among the facts a little anomaly that could easily take root in the consciousness of the uninformed.
Bigot writes: “Jerusalem is central to the three monotheistic religions.”
Jerusalem is central only to Judaism. Muslims face Mecca when they pray, Catholics look to Rome, and Protestants are comfortable in any part of the world.
Jerusalem and Israel may be the holy land to these religions, but they are not central.
Sir, – I was puzzled by Oded Ben Hur’s “The pope I knew” (Comment & Features, March 13).
There are actually two documents in question – the Catechism of the Catholic Church, first published in 1992 under Pope John Paul II, and the Compendium to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published in 2005. The latter is intended to be a simpler presentation, but also to lead people to the Catechism.
One of the big differences between the two is that the compendium does not have direct quotations from Church documents. That is why the statement by Ben Hur – that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who went on to become Pope Benedict XVI, promised to include Nostra Aetate in the compendium (he confuses this with the Catechism in one section) – is puzzling and indeed misleading.
I doubt whether the cardinal would have promised this when he knew the compendium was not intended to include such quotations. Hence, it would not make sense that a paragraph from Nostra Aetate was dropped before printing.
I call on the ambassador to clarify his statements.PADDY MONAGHAN
Sir, – Newly-elected Pope Francis faces a daunting task, with the media already hard at work trying to dig up some “dirt” about his actions in Argentina.
The vast mast majority of Catholics and non-Catholics are willing to give the man a chance to take the God-loving, peace-loving masses to his heart, and not listen to the publicity-seeking media that insist on besmirching his holiness before his forthcoming accomplishments are realized.
It is my opinion that the naysayers will ultimately lose out.
Mooresville, North Carolina