(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sir, - For the first time, I agreed with most of what Gershon Baskin wrote in "Olmert's scorecard - failure" (March 24).
I am no fan of the premier and, yes, he has failed in most items mentioned. But Mr. Baskin writes as if all Israel has to do is sit down and negotiate with its intransigent enemies, and all will be peace and harmony: no more terrorism, no more abductions, no more incitement, no more war.
We have no partner for true negotiations like these, because the Palestinians have made their objective very clear. And if our destruction is what we have to negotiate, then such negotiations are hardly worthwhile.
Give it all back, and we'll live happily ever after? That's what I term a fairy-tale mentality.
As for the suggestion that Prime Minister Olmert can yet redeem his name by bringing Gilad Schalit home, that too would be a failure, because by so doing he would be sacrificing the welfare of all Israel for the sake of improving his personal report card.
Sir, - I am emphatically not an Olmert supporter, and have no political axe to grind, so there's nothing personal about this letter.
I would like to thank Gershon Baskin for emphasizing so clearly why Israel's Left is at its lowest point in history. His inability to ascribe to Muslim Arabs any independence of thought and his belief that their entire political culture is determined by Israel's actions only, is the deepest kind of racism.
The continuing sounding of this bankrupt mantra is as pathetic as Baskin's blindness to Arab crimes against peace and humanity.
Dose of reality
Sir, - Confronted by the reality, Jeff Barak's claim of a double standard doesn't fly ("Tied in knots?" March 23).
Let him name one country where the primary goal of the Jewish community is to become the dominant group; or one where Jews side with any other group to overthrow the legitimate regime of the country in which they live.
In fact, Jews, from time immemorial, have lived within the laws of the lands in which they have found themselves regardless of the conditions under which they lived. Can Mr. Barak say the same for our Arab citizens?
And if the excuse is that their treatment is less than desirable, I would remind him of the millions of Jews who have lived in Muslim countries for centuries under conditions that make Arab life in Israel seem close to paradise.
Avigdor Lieberman is no racist for demanding that Israeli Arabs take an oath of loyalty, and neither are those Israelis who agree with him. And as for Chaim Weizmann's statement about how the world will judge usâ€¦ well, the world may not have been quite as hypocritical back then as it is today.
Our European friends will treat us no more harshly than they did when we were forced to defend ourselves against unprovoked attacks.
No, the problem lies not in the legislation, but in its enforcement.
Sir, - Re "30 years at peace" (Editorial, March 25): When Israel was only a dream, I was a pupil in Cairo. Our Arabic teacher in school pointed to us Jewish fourth-graders, and exclaimed: "You Jews, you can have your country anywhere - Uganda, Australia, anywhere - but not in Palestine!" I can never forget it, even today when I am past 80.
Back then, the Jews were welcome in Egypt. Soon after, however, my family had to leave without any of our possessions. The problem is biblical, I believe.
Just and right
Sir, - I wish to tell Binyamin Netanyahu that he must at all costs do what is just and right in the eyes of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God will take care of the rest ("Likud up in arms over Netanyahu's generosity to Labor," March 20).
Sir, - A reader's letter on March 19 said that if the Jewish people observed two Shabbatot consecutively, "the Almighty would save Gilad Schalit and solve our other problems."
In a perfect world, that would be achievable. I would like to suggest that we aim for trying to be respectful and kind to each other, and remember we are a nation of families.
If we stand together, I believe God will do His part. He has saved us in the past, and He will continue to save us.
Disability ain't inability
Sir, - In likening his poor bowling performance to something out of the Special Olympics on last Thursday's NBC Tonight show, President Obama certainly meant no harm.
However, his gaffe, which was widely reported, exemplified to a T the central challenge facing people with disabilities: not the disability itself, but society's low expectation of the disabled, which equates disability with inability and often leads to low educational achievement and high unemployment. Such condescension cannot simply be glossed over with an apology.
But Obama's media critics, in urging compassion for "the less fortunate," were no less patronizing: People with disabilities crave equal treatment, not compassion.
The fact is that the quest for sporting excellence and the will to win are as strong and as exciting to watch in disabled athletes as they are in non-disabled athletes. Our attitude toward sports for the disabled should be no different from our attitude toward sports for women; they, too, used to be demeaned as "the weaker sex."
If Obama had likened his poor bowling to that of a woman, he would have been booed off the set. The reason he was not is that while we have come to respect the equality and political power of women, most of us, including our president, still tend to marginalize the disabled as human-interest subjects, instead of viewing them as a minority striving for equal opportunity, full participation and social justice.
The writer, who is blind, is a former US diplomat, now retired.
Liberate that china!
Sir, - Re "The fragile and the precious" (March 25): When I was growing up in the United States, every house I visited had a china closet in the dining room. Exactly as Judy Montagu wrote, all those beautiful sets of china and silver were behind closed doors.
As a child, teenager and adult I always wondered: "Does anyone ever use this stuff?"
Some people did use some of their fine dishes on holidays and special occasions - but the hostess was shaking throughout lest something get ruined or broken.
I guess some people like looking at their possessions. Maybe it also makes them feel rich. I, though, wholeheartedly agree with the writer of the article.
Forget the breakage, remove those slipcovers from your couch. Open up your china closet this year, take out your finest things and enjoy a Pessah like you never had before. The feeling will be wonderful!