Sir, – I spent a difficult afternoon listening to Israeli
members of Knesset speaking out against the continued incarceration of Jonathan
Pollard (“MKs across political spectrum call for Pollard’s release,” March 7.)
Speakers reminded listeners that Pollard never spied on the US, nor did Israel
instruct him to do so. The information he imparted was material he believed
should have been passed on to Israel because it had a right to know.
suppose Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu does not have the diplomatic gall to
ask US President Barack Obama, as they face TV cameras when they meet soon,
whether he can publicly say that the US has never spied on Israel. It would be a
fair question since it is no secret that the multi-storied US Embassy in Tel
Aviv houses dozens, if not scores, of intelligence officers. Obviously, all
these guys are not handling visa or green card applications.
PR suggestion: The speaker of the Knesset should start each daily session with
the number of days Pollard has been in prison.
JOCK L. FALKSON
Paying the price...
Sir, – I am one of the very many who try so hard to
paint a more balanced image of this very special country. There is the rough and
there is the smooth.
Isi Leibler (“Israel-bashing in Israeli movies,”
Candidly Speaking, March 7) is so right to point out how subjective the films 5
Broken Cameras and The Gatekeepers are. Yes, they are well made and worthy of
Oscar nominations, but not for their content.
With friends like these, as
the saying goes, who needs enemies? And, as Leibler rightly asks, why are we
paying for this?
Tel Aviv ...literally
Sir, – Kudos to Aaron
Katsman for “Locusts are a sign: Let us be free” (Your Investments, March 7). He
hits the nail on the head.
The average Israeli is oppressed with a myriad
of taxes, and then the government spends the money with complete disregard as to
where it came from in the first place.
Too bad Katsman didn’t run for
Knesset. We could use more people like him telling it like it is.
MORRIS Tel Aviv A board’s role Sir, – In comparison with recent Swiss
legislation, your editorial criticizing the lack of control over executive
compensation in Israel (“Fat-cat salaries,” March 7) is very much to the
The problem is rampant throughout the world. However, attempting
to directly control top executive salaries via legislation is unlikely to be
There are numerous ways around such efforts, as compensation
can take many forms, such as stock options, bonuses and very expensive
The crux of the matter is the lack of control over the board of
In theory, a board is supposed to represent the shareholders
and look after their interests. In fact, it does not. There are regular
elections to a board, when shareholders are asked to vote.
shareholder in many companies I have never bothered to vote because there has
never been a choice. One can vote for the candidates preselected by management
or protest by withholding his vote. What a choice.
If we want to exercise
control over executive compensation, as indeed we should, we first must make
elections to boards of directors meaningful. First, there should always be at
least twice as many names on the list of candidates as there are places
available on the board. Second, any shareholder should be able to stand for
election, provided she or he has the approval of a minimum number of registered
shareholders. Finally, any compensation package suggested by the board should
have to be approved by a majority vote of the shareholders.
As the main
function of a board is to select the CEO and set the salary and other
remunerations defined in his contract, this would achieve the control presently
lacking. Reducing the compensation paid to the executive suite would increase
the payout available to shareholders.
Critics of such legislation would
complain that a company paying lower salaries to its executives would attract a
lower quality of talent, and thus not benefit shareholders in the
However, studies have shown that there is no correlation between
high salaries and company success. Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer and
arguably one of the world’s most successful companies, has much lower salaries
in the executive suite than thousands of companies that have stiffed their
City Group is a case in point.
When City Group
collapsed, shareholders lost 99% of their investment, but the disgraced CEO, who
presided knowingly over the fiasco, walked away with a $20 million “golden
Legislation should be directed at modifying the legal
structure of a company’s electoral system, not mandating specific salary levels
for the CEO.
Ma’aleh Adumim Contrasting replies
Sir, – US
Secretary of State John Kerry’s rebuke of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan for the latter’s verbal attacks on Israel (“Kerry calls Erdogan’s
labeling of Zionism as crime against humanity ‘objectionable,’” March 3) stands
in sharp contrast to US President Barack Obama’s long-established indifference
In the three months prior to Obama’s speeches in Turkey in early
April 2009, Jewish life was under renewed assault throughout Europe – and
nowhere more so than in Turkey, which Obama chose for the culmination of his
grand tour of the old continent.
Turkey was the scene of the fiercest
anti-Israel and anti- Semitic agitation in Europe, extending from streets to
schools, newspapers and TV stations – for the very good reason that it was
encouraged by Erdogan, who had declared that “Israelis know very well how to
kill” and “Jews control the [Turkish] media.” But nary a word about this little
unpleasantness crept into Obama’s speeches to Turkish parliamentarians and
Rather, they were full of his usual calls for respect for Islam
plus assurances that America was not and never would be at war with
Since then, the bellicose Turkish prime minister has become Obama’s
favorite foreign politician, the recipient of special privileges to disregard
America’s sanctions against Iran (by trading Turkish gold for Iranian gas), and
reliably reported to be on the phone with Obama more frequently than any other
In this instance, at least, Kerry has followed the advice
not of Obama but of Obama’s predecessor.
On November 19, 2003,
then-president George W. Bush, speaking at Whitehall Palace, London, said:
“Europe’s leaders – and all leaders – should strongly oppose ant-Semitism, which
poisons public debates over the future of the Middle East.”
Seattle Humility, sincerity
Sir, – Many reporters, photographers,
columnists and readers have weighed in about the recent events at the Kotel
spurred by the Women of the Wall. Though terms such as democracy, equality and
rights have been used, most Jews do not want the Western Wall to become the site
of protests or fights.
Each visitor should be able to convey dignified
respect or pray there as he or she deems fit, in a safely designated place. If
anyone wants to be photographed to achieve a specific aim it is that
individual’s choice. Should there be males who choose to wear feminine apparel,
fairness would decree that this is their prerogative.
Will the day ever
arrive when everyone who comes to the remaining tiny fraction of our once-great
platform on the Temple Mount do so humbly and sincerely?