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Arbitration, every time
Sir, - It is heartbreaking to see our kids being deprived of essential schooling at a critical stage in their pre-army lives while the most sensible solution is ignored. A while back, a Post editorial as well as a reader's letter suggested submitting the dispute to arbitration while the teachers return to work, knowing that their cause is being pursued by their own advocates in front of two arbitrators, one chosen by each party.
In fact, arbitration should be compulsory whenever a strike threatens national services ("Treasury lambasts teachers' union," November 12).
A superfluity of clerics
Sir, - Unfortunately, it is not at all shocking to read a headline about some official being suspected of corruption. What leaps out from "Police chief rabbi suspected of taking illegal kickbacks, gifts" (November 12) is that the police actually has a chief rabbi, and, moreover, so do the Jerusalem Police District and the Border Police. One can only wonder how many other police districts have their own chief rabbis, and how many additional regular police officers could be employed or police salaries increased if the funds used to support these functionaries were redirected to the actual purposes of the police.
Exercise in fantasy
Sir, - Shmuley Boteach is right in his view that many of Judaism's values can inspire American society to reach beyond seeking fulfillment in rampant materialism and empty electronic escapism ("Fill the evangelical vacuum," November 12). But the solution he offers, making the Jewish Sabbath a mainstream American tradition, is completely unrealistic and borders on fantasy.
The majority of Jews throughout the world do not observe Shabbat in the traditional sense. Rather, they use Saturday as a day for recreation, entertainment and outdoor activity - which may or may not require a car - and/or shopping.
Since most Jews don't observe the Sabbath, or do so in non-traditional ways, how can Rabbi Boteach expect people of other religions to observe it?
Sir, - Shmuley Boteach apparently wants to bring Judaism to the hordes of gentiles out there and to instill in them an appreciation of Jewish values. Perhaps he should start in his own backyard and do just that to the hordes of Jews who are ignorant of their own heritage and values. Why reach out externally when the real problem is internal?
HAIM M. LERNER
Two-million dollar mausoleum...
Sir, - Isn't is rather ironic that at a time when Israel is constantly berated for the poverty of the Palestinians, their leaders should spend around $2 million on a mausoleum for Yasser Arafat? ("New Arafat tomb dedicated by Abbas in Ramallah," November 11). Surely that money would have been better spent on alleviating the suffering of those Palestinians who have been forced by their leaders to live in poverty as political pawns?
Cheadle, Cheshire, UK
...for a thief
Sir, - While the Arabs are busy remembering Yasser Arafat, will the Israeli government remind them that he stole $1.3 billion from them? This money was paid over to him to help raise the living standards of his people. Instead he grabbed most of it to buy himself hotels, apartment blocks, bowling alleys and a couple of holiday resorts in Spain. His widow, Suha, is now one of the wealthiest women in Europe owing to this stolen money.
Why hasn't Mahmoud Abbas demanded its return?
Sir, - How apt. What better way to mark Yasser Arafat's "yarzheit" than by having Palestinian gunmen shoot dead a bunch of people standing in a crowded street? Truly a fitting tribute to the "iconic" leader of the Palestinian people ("5 killed, 30 wounded as Hamas, Fatah supporters clash in Gaza," On-Line Edition, November 12).
Sir, - While we applaud the effort that placed Palestinian Minister Malki before Israeli journalists, it is inaccurate to report that "PA FM visits TAU" (November 9) represents a "first." On August 14, 2007, Minister Malki was one of the featured participants in an event of the Mideast Press Club, an initiative of our organization, The Media Line. Malki, at that time, addressed a significant number of Israeli reporters who were present at the event.
The Mideast Press Club is an American initiative that brings journalists together on a professional basis to enhance coverage from the region.
The Media Line News Agency
Oh, for a media cleanup
Sir, - The most amazing thing about Isi Leibler's citation of David Landau's comments in Russia two weeks ago is how little play they have gotten in the mainstream media ("Shame on 'Haaretz,'" November 7). Leibler's column was the first time I became aware of Landau's comments, and a Google search found them buried toward the end of an article you published a few weeks ago. That there has been so little comment in the mainstream media about such an obviously important revelation could lead one to believe that there is a media conspiracy to avoid discussing Ha'aretz's drive to push the country to the left by reporting opinion as fact. That a similar story about Israel Radio that came out last June was also largely ignored can only strengthen the conspiracy theory.
As a child of the 1970s in the US, I shudder to think what would have happened if The Washington Post had chosen not to publish Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's Watergate stories because Richard Nixon was opening up US relations with China and Russia. That is the only fair comparison to what Haaretz has done.
One of the reasons we have corrupt politicians is the media's willingness to protect them when they act as the media wishes on the political/diplomatic front. Perhaps cleaning corruption out of the mainstream media is the first step toward cleaning corruption out of the Knesset.
CARL M. SHERER
Democracy still distant
Sir, - It's not surprising that your reader, probably an Ethiopian, related her run-ins with hate ("But caretakers are victims, too," Letters, November 12). When people such as those she describes make statements about "kushim" or Moroccans - yes, these feelings still exist, even among so-called liberals - they are merely voicing the same racist spirit of hate as evinced by the crazies at football stadiums. Most have no education, their backgrounds revealing the same sort of feelings among their parents.
It's sad, but true. We're far from being a democratic country.
Sir, - Liat Collins's "Finger-tapping on the way to Annapolis" (November 11) was the most creative article that I've read anywhere this year.
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