Imbalance of trade
Sir, – Regarding “Shipment of energy bars from Gaza breaks
five-year export ban to West Bank” (March 6), it should be pointed out that
Gaza’s export of rockets to Israeli towns remains steady (“Two Kassams fired
from Gaza,” News in Brief, March 4).
Sir, – Nachman Shai (“The al- Dura case,” Comment & Features, March 6) is
right in calling for a thorough investigation of Muhammad al-Dura’s death, but
only because it would allow Israelis to conclude whether or not the IDF acted
appropriately, and demonstrate the incompetence of Israel’s official
Make no mistake: Whatever the verdict, it will have no impact
on al-Dura’s status as a martyr throughout the Arab world.
government’s reaction was a public diplomacy nightmare.
After waiting a
full five days to make an official statement, the head of the IDF Operations
Directorate took responsibility on behalf of Israel for the child’s death and
expressed regret. At that point, the game was over; there is simply no way
Israel can ever convince the world of its innocence.
The government then
exacerbated the problem by failing to support such courageous individuals as
Philippe Karsenty and Richard Landes as they fought to restore Israel’s honor.
The country’s official silence only confirmed its guilt. After all, if Israel
had an answer to the charges leveled against it, why wouldn’t its spokespeople
be shouting it from the rooftops? The train has already left the station. The
Arab world will never be convinced that al-Dura was anything but the victim of
Israeli brutality. The best we can hope for is that government officials who
represent Israel to the world have learned the necessary lessons so that similar
failures are not repeated in the future.
EFRAIM A. COHEN
Price for Pollard
Sir, – Aaron Lerner (“The elephant in the room: Jonathan
Pollard remains a hostage,” Comment & Features, March 6) succinctly
documents the many times that compassionate dignitaries, including President
Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, have literally pleaded with
US President Barack Obama to release Pollard.
Lerner uses the term
“blackmail” and writes, “America is continuing to hold Pollard until Israel pays
some exorbitant, yet-to-be-stated ‘price.’” It doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to
know what that price is: Netanyahu will have to announce that Israel will return
to the pre-1967 borders.
Then Lerner’s compassionate desire regarding
that “space on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s plane” would come to
Zichron Ya’acov Matter of membership
Sir, – In
2005, Magen David Adom (MDA) and the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS)
joined the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and not the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as you erroneously reported in “Samaria
settlers urge ministers to return Star of David to MDA ambulances in West Bank”
(March 6). The ICRC is a private, independent humanitarian
Jerusalem The writer is ICRC communication
coordinator for Israel and the occupied territories On language
Sir, – Language
skills are arguably more important today than they have ever been (“The current
higher education language war,” Comment & Features, March 5).
globalization has increased the use of English in trade, academia, science,
technology and politics. But in Israel, how would limiting the use of – and,
therefore, the opportunity to master – English help young adults improve
mother-language skills that should have been taught in primary school? There is
a demonstrable need for more and better language skills. Surely, the way forward
for any country wanting to play its full part in the world is to improve
mother-tongue education while also increasing foreign- language study. English
is an obvious choice for any country, not least Israel, with its thriving
There is no room for snobbery in education, but doesn’t
every child deserve a chance to learn his or her way into a meritocratic elite?
Sir, – I generally enjoy the doom-and-gloom Global Agenda
columns of Pinchas Landau in the Business & Finance section of your
newspaper, and in fact have made minor business decisions based on his
assessments. However, on March 2 (“The Japanese conundrum”) he mislead
He stated that “conundra” is plural for conundrum and then haughtily
said that “people unschooled in Latin will prefer conundrums.”
conundrum in both the Webster-Merriam and the Oxford family of dictionaries has
no known origin. Therefore, we cannot necessarily apply Latin rules of
Furthermore, if in doubt about the use of the English language
it is always prudent to consult Fowler’s Modern English Usage.
Churchill used it when writing to the director of Military Intelligence before
the invasion of Normandy, correcting him on the use of “intensive” instead of
I quote verbatim the entry for conundrum in Fowler’s: A 16c.
word of unknown origin (not L. but possibly originating in some now-lost
university joke). Pl. conundrums.
It seems that schooling in Latin might
have had its day.SIMON WEIN
Peduel Land for burial
Sir, – Finally, tiny
Israel is grappling with the fact that one day it will run out of burial space
(“National-religious organization and rabbis promote layered burial,” March 2).
Even far-larger South Africa is now confronting a lack of space for cemeteries
in its major cities.
Israel’s priority should be the living, not the
dead, and certainly not at the expense of arable and productive land. For
starters, it should ban the burial in Israel of Jews who have lived their whole
life in the Diaspora.JACOB MENDLOVIC
Toronto Holiday rules
Sir, – There
are not enough “Do nots” around, so I thought I’d suggest a few more.
To taxi drivers: Do not activate the meter if you take on English-speaking
2. To supermarket check-out ladies: Do not smile unless it is
to distract customers from your double billing.
3. To pedestrians: Do not
stop talking on your cellphone when crossing the road diagonally (in order that
your days may not be long).
4. To bus drivers: Do not worry about other
road users. They will come off worse if they collide with you.
doctors’ receptionists: Do not arrange for fewer than 15 patients to come for an
appointment at the same time. (Oh yes, don’t forget to ask for a Kupat Holim
card before greeting the patient.) 6. To employees of all municipal offices and
utilities: Do not answer the phone when it rings lest you encourage the public
to think you are there to be of service.
7. To senior bank management: Do
not cut down on the paperwork with which you bamboozle your customers lest they
be freed to concentrate on your excessive charges.
8. To newspaper
editors: Do not put any good news on the front page lest you put your readers in
a good frame of mind for the day.
9. To new olim. Do not try to speak
Hebrew to the locals lest they think you are tourists.
10. To everybody:
Most important of all, do not get caught! Have a happy Purim! LIONEL SHEBSON