Sir, - Arkadi Gaydamak is the greatest embarrassment our government could dream of ("Gaydamak boasts 'Olmert is afraid I'd steal votes from him,' November 20).
Through his actions and words, Gaydamak is proclaiming to the nation: "You have leaders who, for many years, have tragically failed in the primary function for which they were voted into office. They failed you in the North, and they have abandoned you in Sderot for six years. The glitter and glamor of the formation of their new ruling party is overshadowed only by its absolute incompetence in caring for the lives and welfare of its citizens."
Never has an Israeli government been so out of touch with its people. Never have the people felt such a lack of leadership. "We as a government will give them a meaningful system of solutions," says Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in a soothing statement to the residents of Sderot.
Gaydamak may not be everyone's cup of tea, and he never suggested he has the solution to Kassam rockets, but he has exposed the nakedness of our government and seriously unnerved its leaders. In this he has done the nation a service.
Sir, - The government has finally figured out what to do about the deadly rocket attacks on Sderot, which increased tenfold to more than 1,000 a year from their pre-disengagement level.
Ehud Olmert and his ministers unpacked from their taxpayer-funded trip to luxury hotels in the United States and lost no time in criticizing Arkadi Gaydamak for paying out of his own pocket for Sderot residents to get a brief respite from the daily shelling.
What a relief that the government has taken such decisive action.
Sir, - Arkadi Gaydamak, who has been so benevolent toward the people of Sderot by sending them on an all-expenses paid holiday to Eilat, could now do just one more act that would benefit the entire population of Israel - he could offer to pay for an extended vacation for Ehud Olmert, Amir Peretz and Tzipi Livni.
DAVID S. ADDLEMAN
Sir, - Arkadi Gaydamak is acting philanthropically and our government representatives are shocked and appalled. This is the proof that Israel is like living in Alice in Wonderland.
The government has never been afraid to ask Diaspora supporters for financial aid for the programs it wants, but when it's obvious that the reason Gaydamak has to cough up this mega-generosity is because the government has not properly provided for the citizens, then it's repugnant to them.
... and con
Sir, - While Arkadi Gaydamak is throwing his money around to endear himself to the masses (bread and circuses?), he is sowing discontent and mistrust as well. He says he can win the prime minister's job as he has enough public support. I fear that he is very naive. It takes more than tossing money to people and giving them short-lived mini-vacations to run a government and win people's trust. His is a short-term solution to a long-term pressing problem.
The flip side is the lack of decisive action by Ehud Olmert's government which has fueled Gaydamak's popularity.
Perhaps its time to send one home and the other back to school to learn public policy and good government.
Save your energy
Sir, - "Tell the truth about peace" (Editorial, November 20) has hit the nail on the head, because no matter who comes up with a peace solution, whether it be France, Spain and Italy, the US, Tony Blair, Shimon Peres, Tzipi Livni or Ehud Olmert, Hamas stated this week that it would never recognize Israel.
So, I say to all these well-meaning people: Save your energy. Israel has to finally stand up to reality and be prepared to defend itself. There is no other way, because the Koran states that Islam is the only true religion and it does not tolerate any other people, including the Christians and the Jews.
Sir, - Re Herb Keinon's "Bowling for burekas" (Op-ed, November 19). He forgot two important points as to why bowling is the perfect sport: A smaller person can beat a larger person and you can eat while you bowl and not get sick.
Lost his cool
Sir, - I wish to protest the use by Gerald Steinberg of space which has been allotted to him for learned analyses of Israel's geo-political problems and suggested solutions for an exposition of a personal problem with the income tax authorities ("Still 'third world' after all these years, Op-ed, November 19).
Apart from the fact that he has apparently lost his cool as well as some money, when he asserts that the viability of our Zionist state depends upon his receiving more efficient service from the tax authorities and states that Israel is a "third world" country because it has inefficient, uncaring government clerks, his complaint might belong in the Letters department. This, too, is doubtful, for there are myriad other problems afflicting many residents who do not have the means to engage professionals to help then as Steinberg does.
Also, it is perhaps more correct to compare Israel to the US when bemoaning income tax authorities' aggressive, uncaring policies and actions.
Sir, - Re "Nobel Peace Prize for loans to the poor" (Financial Horizons, November 17). Please be aware that for many years a Jewish organization has existed in the United States and now also in Israel that awards interest free loans to the poor. It is called the Jewish Free Loan Association in the States and the Hebrew Free Loan Association in Israel.
My husband, Louis Kriegsfeld, of blessed memory, was president of the Phoenix chapter for a number of years. Although there are national criteria that are observed, each chapter has a degree of autonomy. The funding for these loans, to be repaid with a great latitude of time, is through donations.
Sir, - Re "Entering a sacred dialogue" by Hara Person (Op-ed, November 15). Person is obviously correct that women have much to contribute in the study of the Torah. But her implication that the new Reform Movement commentary represents something totally novel in this regard is is not accurate, as evidenced by the work of such groundbreaking Orthodox Bible teachers and commentators as Nechama Leibovitz, of blessed memory, and Avivah Zornberg.
Teaneck, New Jersey
Sir, - Re "MK Ariel blames government for targeting Jews thought to be planning anti-Palestinian violence" (November 14). If, as the State Attorney's Office and Shin Bet claim, there is "convincing evidence that the individuals pose a threat to public order and safety": (a) why not convince a civilian court? (b) why limit their expulsion to a year? and (c) why banish them only from Judea and Samaria?
If "the security forces could not reveal the precise charges against each suspect," how can those accused defend themselves? Are such secret trials in keeping with the democratic process? If appeals can only be made to the same people who arrested them, why bother? Isn't this a clear violation of civil and human rights?
Lack of will
Sir, - What a depressing irony. We are led by a government that assures us of its ability to protect us against the Iranian nuclear threat yet cannot muster the will to end the deadly rain of Kassam rockets on our citizens ("Kassam-hit kibbutzim slam gov't," November 20).
JACK E. FRIEDMAN