(photo credit: )
Test drivers annually
Sir, - I applaud the Milan Center for Driving Education on its pilot project aimed at reducing accidents on the road. In addition, I suggest that each year when a car is tested, the driver should be, too ("New Pilot program aims to change driving culture," March 18).
Sir, - It was pitiable to read the criticism and condemnations of what our prime minister said at AIPAC ("Incumbent upon him?" March 16).
There is no reason for us to hide our views on Iraq and Iran because they may not be politically correct to some in the US. The instability in the Middle East and the existential threat we face because of it trumps any partisan or Jewish fear factor (i.e., "What will the goyim think?") that is the basis for some of the criticism.
For the PM to skirt the issue would not only be spitting in the face of most Israelis; it could increase our risk even more. And for all those who disparaged Mr. Olmert for interference, how many would have been equally upset if that interference had taken the view of the so-called liberal wing of the Democratic Party?
Perhaps the Democrats and many American Jews are unhappy, but if they are convinced the situation here is stable and would be improved by a US loss in Iraq and by appeasing the Iranians, let them vote for conciliation, move here and watch out for the mushroom-shaped cloud.
As much as many of us question the PM, he was spot-on to call it like it is. He would have been derelict in his responsibility, not only to us but to Americans also, to pretend that stability is the nature of things in the Middle East, and that "nice, nice" is the solution here.
STEPHEN J. KOHN
...and not popular
Sir, - Ehud Olmert admits that he is an unpopular prime minister, not only with the public, but also with MKs in his own party ("I'm not popular, Olmert concedes," March 16). He goes on to say that "our friends in the opposition, led by Likud Chairman Netanyahu, do not miss an opportunity to point out that I am unpopular."
We do not take issue with the preceding comments. However, we do take issue with another comment: "Reporters have reminded the public that I am unpopular."
Wrong, Mr. Prime Minister - it is the public that reminds the media of just how unpopular you are: Check the polls.
JERRY AND SYLVIA DORTZ
Keep the Golan
Sir, - So the Golan Heights are not essential any more because rockets can reach any place in Israel anyway? ("Thoughts on the Golan," Letter, March 16.)
I see two reasons to keep the Heights, nevertheless: 1. The difference between retaining and not retaining them is the same as having a pistol aimed point-blank at your head and having one aimed at you from a distance of 100 meters; and 2. The Golan Heights were used extensively by the Syrians to shell the Israeli settlements around Lake Kinneret, so they were a part of the weaponry used against Israel.
You do not return weapons captured from your enemy in war.
Sir, - It was bone-chilling to read genocide denial in your newspaper. Jews should acutely understand the impropriety of denying genocide, yet Barry Rubin's "Perception and identity" (March 13) plunged into the topic of Armenian Genocide denial head-first.
If you replace the word Armenian with Jew, and replace Turkish with German, I think you'd begin to understand just how universally revolting this sort of denial is. Please, put morality and decency before expediency and don't support Turkey blindly on every front.
Barry Rubin responds:
From 1915 to 1918, between 600,000 and 1 million Armenians were murdered by military forces of the Ottoman government and all their property was stolen. This is historical fact, accepted by many in Turkey. What is not established is whether this was pre-planned and organized genocide, or the result of corruption, anarchy and hatred by the direct perpetrators. Achieving recognition of the terrible reality has been sabotaged by the battle over the unproved assertion that this was a systematic, premeditated plan.
My point was that it is questionable whether this failed strategy really benefits Armenians.
Sir, - Re "BBC image survey is troubling, officials say, but 'not serious,'" (March 8), I think the Foreign Ministry's attitude is both troubling and very serious. The image of Israel is on the whole extremely negative. Not to recognize and respond strongly is seriously negligent, not to say dangerous.
How a country like Israel, irrationally maligned for any number of specious and false reasons, can be viewed as the ultimate aggressor state, a pariah without any right to defend its mere existence, is very hard to understand. All the reasons put forward - anti-Semitism, Arab and radical left-wing politics, pseudo-intellectualism, UN corruption - don't really count. As an old boss of mine used to say: "Excuses are like armpits. We all have them, and they all stink."
Particularly troubling is Government Press Office director Danny Seaman relating the survey results to poor statistics. This is not about being behind in some kind of propaganda war, it's an extremely complex situation of basically skewed perception that requires correction.
If the people in Israel's government aren't up to the task, it may be time to find those who are.
Minsk, Belarus/Voorhees, New Jersey
Covering their ***...
Sir, - Last week I tried to obtain the BBC's archival material on the Mughrabi Gate dig and - surprise, surprise - it could not be accessed. Some story about testing a new archive search process ("UNESCO's findings," Letters, March 15).
Talk about CYA!
..regarding the Temple Mount dig
Sir, - I read your article on the UN finding that the archeological digging near the Temple Mount is doing no damage ("UNESCO: Dig not harming Temple Mount," March 14).I hope that Israel will keep digging, provided that due respect is given to artifacts, be they Jewish or Muslim. Perhaps a worthy discovery would help both religions come to a greater understanding of their common ancestors and roots.
JAMES A. MARPLES
Music, for the record
Sir, - Wendy Blumfield was mistaken in writing that the basic melody of "Hatikva" can be found in "a work by Borodin"; the composition in question is Die Moldau by Bedrich Smetana. Nor is there "some question as to whether Charles Lamb, and not Shakespeare, really wrote all those incredible plays and sonnets."
Lamb published a children's book, Tales from Shakespeare, in 1807, almost 200 years after the Bard of Avon died ("When imitation isn't the sincerest form of flattery," March 15).
Wendy Blumfield responds:
I am not an expert on music, but I do know that the pieces I mentioned in my op-ed originated in earlier works. There are, for example, several popular melodies originating from The Planet Suite. I admit the mistake about Lamb. It has been suggested that both Marlowe and Bacon wrote works that are attributed to Shakespeare.