(photo credit: Courtesy)
The tarnish spreads
Sir, - Israel's image continues to take a bashing in the arena of international public opinion, with allegations of corruption involving public figures creating the impression that it's a Third World country.
A prime example involves former president Moshe Katsav, whose reputation and that of the presidency have been dragged through the mud. To a large extent this can be attributed to Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz, who has been shilly-shallying over whether or not to charge him with rape. At one stage he was going to, but then he backtracked.
The same is now happening to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who, with only a few weeks to go in office, is being confronted with fresh headlines ("Mazuz ready to indict Olmert in Talansky affair," March 2). Could Mazuz not have waited another month or two, when Olmert will be a private citizen? Does he have to tarnish the office of the prime minister the same way he tarnished the office of the president?
Still time for praise
Sir, - We so often highlight our present prime minister's misconduct, shortcomings and failed policies. But I want to thank Ehud Olmert because he went out of his way to help to solve problems that had caused great distress and anxiety for me, as a Holocaust survivor.
There was nothing for him to gain, but there was a happy ending for me, and also for my family in Europe and the US. We hope that the prime minister will be accorded the same kindness as he struggles with his own mounting problems.
SARA CHANNA EISENMANN
Peace brings security...
Sir, - If Israel cannot take out the Kassams in tiny, adjacent and flat Gaza, how can it can it hope to take out a nuclear program in giant, far-off and mountainous Iran? And if Israel launched an ineffective attack, why wouldn't Iran simply bide its time and launch a reprisal?
Just as it would take only one bomb, it would take only one lost war, and without regional peace and security, wouldn't wars continue until one is eventually lost? This is why Israel needs a regionally-accepted security and peace plan - the best defense against Iran.
It is Israel that needs peace and security, so it should be grateful for the peace process, however frustrating, grating on the nerves and infinitely protracted it has been. Those who are against it in principle need to propose a credible and long-term alternative.
Sir, - Our obsession with peace invariably brings pressure to submit to Arab demands for land. A far higher priority should be to force the Arabs to cease the virulent hostility in schools and the mass media.
A runner-up to this threat is the hostility shown Israel by its own intellectuals and artists ("'Bashir' animator's short film shows Israeli hand clamping down on Gaza," March 5). The Jews here and abroad who sponsor hatred of Israel and endorse boycotts should be treated like criminals.
Wait for the repairman
Sir, - Perhaps the next rocket fired at Ashkelon will hit the line sending power to Gaza. Of course, we would fix it - but that could take some time.
Obama listens first
Sir, - Your article ("The significance of going to Damascus," Analysis, March 5) represents the intelligent viewpoint on what the Obama administration is doing.
It's time to re-enter the globalized world and start re-opening lines of communication. What the Obama administration did on the Durban conference was phenomenal - let's hear what they have to say [at the preparatory meetings] and if it doesn't sound right, we leave, but at least the world will see we are willing to hear another side.
It's time for the US to show it's back, to regain international support - and to drop the hammer when necessary (as with Iran). A liberal foreign policy is not weak, it's smart. It's about using diplomacy when you can, but not being afraid to use force.
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Bibi's record at Finance
Sir, - What detracts from Larry Derfner's article "Waiting for Bibi's New Deal" (March 5) is the fact that he offers no economic authority to concur with what he considers the failure of Binyamin Netanyahu as finance minister.
Netanyahu set the direction for a period of economic stability that I have not seen in decades. The shekel became a currency traded on world markets for the first time in its history, and NIS 3.5 equaled $1 before the world-wide recession.
I would like to suggest a different title for the article: "A Distorted View of Bibi According to Larry."
WJC vs. Brown
Sir, - As the World Jewish Congress and I are referenced in your interview with Bobby Brown (One on One, February 19), I would like to help set part of the record straight.
Audits of the WJC found that Bobby Brown used charitable funds for unauthorized purposes. After documenting a pattern of behavior damaging to the WJC, the democratically elected WJC Steering Committee terminated Brown for cause. His failure to disclose that he still seeks to extract at least $100,000 of charitable dollars from the WJC through a baseless lawsuit and his continued attempts to blame others for his wrong-doing further elucidate his character.
STEPHEN E. HERBITS
Former Secretary General
World Jewish Congress
Wrong on housing
Sir, - Your article ("Real estate prices expected to rise," Business, March 2) says that while demand is falling, supply is falling faster. How can you quote researched figures and then completely undermine them with a totally unqualified statement about demand and supply?
The whole world is facing a massive financial crisis. There will soon be close to zero demand, when unemployment takes even more effect and overseas demand collapses. The supply will be plenty. This is exactly what happened in the UK and parts of Europe. Housing starts at this point in time are almost irrelevant.
It would be better to create demand by reporting that prices are unrealistic and should fall - it would get sellers and buyers in the frame of mind to start moving. People simply are not earning enough to pay for inflated housing prices.
Ramat Beit Shemesh
The writer is a business consultant
It must be Adar
Sir, - Israel's bureaucracy seems to have gotten into the Adar spirit.
Last Sunday morning we went to the Gilo branch of the Interior Ministry to obtain travel documents in lieu of our Israeli passports. The ministry is infamous for long lines and inefficiency. We drove through a heavy rainstorm, uncertain whether it would be worth the expected aggravation.
We were greeted in English by a friendly security guard and ushered inside to find only about 10 people ahead of us. I asked the receptionist if there were copies of the forms in English, but she assured me that the clerk could help us.
Two Israelis waiting their turn immediately volunteered to help us with the forms and we completed them jointly. So much for the aloof Sabra! The clerk was most efficient and our forms were approved, stamped and filed in record time. Kol hakavod!
STUART AND JANE FISCHMAN