(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sir, - I'm sure I'm not the only one who linked the irony in the story about the Zimbabwean president's ostentatious birthday party to your well-written and justifiable editorial about our new premier's NIS 650m. mansion, soon to be built.
When do we stop being a third world country? ("Mugabe wants country's white farmers out" and "Wrong address," both March 1.)
...for big egos
Sir, - What hutzpa! ("PM asks state to rent him bigger office," February 25). With our country in a bad economic situation, should Ehud Olmert be allowed offices bigger than some Israeli families' apartments? And why the fancy Tel Aviv Towers for an ex-prime minister?
These benefits laws for ex-presidents and -premiers need adjusting.
Truth to power
Sir, - In Shakespeare, the Fool is often the font of penetrating insight and wisdom, albeit in a humorous format, as highlighted in "Speaking truth to power" (Judy Montagu, February 25).
Bibi, Tzipi et al. might, indeed, gain from King Lear's unnamed Fool:
"Have more than thou showest / Speak less than thou knowest / Lend less than thou owest / Ride more than thou goest / Learn more than thou trowest [believe] / Set less than thou throwest [pitch your aims lower than your expectations] /... And thou shall have more / Than two tens to a score."
R. CANNONPAUL BERMAN
Wrong way round
Sir, - To the American recognition that the Durban II conference is not worth attending could there be any worse response than Silvan Shalom's? It "highlights the Americangovernment's commitment to Israel," he says, and is "'a sign for the entire world' of the 'close relationship' between Israel and the US" ("US to boycott 'Durban II' racism conference," March 1).
I would hope that the decision highlights the American government's commitment to fairness, and is a sign to the entire world that America's sense of justice drives its relationships, rather than vice versa.
M. L. LEVINSON
Sir, - Larry Derfner's assessment of the root causes of the current wave of Jew- and Israel-hatred is somewhat off the wall ("Provoking anti-Semitism," February 26). Israel enjoys the high ground of morality in its efforts to survive despite the immorality of its adversaries. What other nation would warn civilians - used as shields by the enemy - to leave an area about to come under attack?
The siege on Gaza is the result of years of unprovoked missile attacks from Gaza. The "occupation" of the West Bank is the result of constant, unprovoked terrorist attacks.
Peace will come to the region only when the Arabs are ready for it.
Furthermore, Avigdor Lieberman is no more a fascist than Yossi Sarid and Larry Derfner are communists.
HAIM M. LERNER
Sir, - "Mideast envoy Tony Blair visits Gaza" (March 1) did not mention that rather than being the neutral interlocker he attempts to portray as the Quartet's Mideast envoy, the former British premier has established business interests in Arab countries.
Tony Blair Associates just recently signed what was reported as a seven-figure deal to advise on governance to Kuwait.
COLIN L LECI
Sir, - Since Operation Cast Lead, we've seen Western leaders and three US congressmen visit Gaza, expressing sympathy for the "poor Palestinians." Now that Hamas has resumed firing rockets at Israeli communities, Israel should insist that so-called friends state publicly that if the rocketing persists, Gazans have themselves to blame for what comes their way in response ("Upgraded Kassam smashes school in Ashkelon as six rockets hit South," March 1).
Sir, - Saeb Erekat should think more carefully before opening his mouth ("Erekat: Our government is none of Netanyahu's business" (February 27).
He's concerned that a Netanyahu government won't accept a two-state solution - why, then, is his Fatah faction actively courting Hamas, which is very explicit about rejecting a two-state solution? Hamas also rejects all previous signed agreements with Israel.
Does Mr. Erekat really believe his "program of government... consistent with Palestinian legality" can carry out any of the PA obligations that have been ignored for years?
The PLO has not yet genuinely changed its own constitution, which calls for the destruction of Israel. Palestinian law carries the death penalty for selling land to Jews.
The PA, meanwhile, carefully avoids highlighting that it is Hamas that is bringing down destruction on Gaza - a charge openly voiced in Kuwaiti and Saudi newspapers.
Sir, - "Is Israel on the verge of a recycling revolution?" you ask (February 25). To this observer, it seems that what is needed is education, not revolution. If we set the right example for our children, recycling will become part of our culture, as it already is in Europe. Convenience plays an important part too: Recycling bins need to be set up in every building.
Here in Petah Tikva we have two recycling initiatives, both highly successful. One is from the municipality, which has installed newspaper collection bins. The second initiative is our own.
Our building purchased a bottle collection bin, and we have collected 8,400 bottles in the last 42 months - a 95% collection rate, as opposed to 10% countrywide.
The average family discards 12 plastic bottles per month. If plastic bottle collection was universal in Petah Tikva alone, 600,000 bottles per month would be recycled and not dumped in landfill.
Bit of a gamble
Sir, - Amir Orni claims that NIS 550 is a tremendous bargain compared with Eilat ("Sababa in Taba: How to catch a tan in winter," Travel, March 1).
This is not true.
In the current winter season, similar prices can be had at Eilat's finest hotels, such as the Princess; lower prices are available at many other Eilat hotels of similar quality to the Egyptian one.
And perhaps it might have been worth mentioning that the hotel's room prices are subsidized by the casino. How many Israelis come back from their holiday in the Egyptian sun having lost their month's mortgage payment to this wonderful establishment?
Rain or shine
Sir, - I know you're not directly responsible for the content of the comic strips, but Sunday's "Garfield" (March 1) could have been made to order for the weather we've been having!
Thank you for brightening a dull morning.