letters good 88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Saudi plan
Sir, - It seems that M.J. Rosenberg got a bit carried away by his anti-Bush bias ("Bush's Saudi moment," October 11) when he wrote that when George W. Bush was thinking of running for president, then Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar came to Texas and essentially conducted "a tutorial on Middle East issues for the future president," implying that the Saudis set the course for his Middle East policy. Well, so did I, the Israeli ambassador, come to Texas at that time and, judging by the Bush administration policies, I wonder whose "tutorial" was more effective.
More disturbing, however, is Rosenberg's advocacy of the 2002 Saudi "Arab League plan" as an acceptable basis for any equitable peace arrangement between Israel and the Arabs. Far from being a peace plan, it is a scheme on the part of Israel's enemies to achieve by cunning what they failed to do by fighting it.
Rosenberg sets great store by that the Saudis may amend their original plan in a way that Israel's withdrawal to the Green Line and from the Golan Heights would no longer be a precondition to negotiations, but rather the guaranteed outcome thereof. What's the difference?
He is also blithely ignoring the fact that the Saudi plan also includes the "right of return" of Arab refugees, though in a seemingly more moderate version. The plan specifically calls for a "just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194" - which is interpreted in the Arab world to mean that the refugees will return to Israel, thereby creating an Arab majority, in effect abolishing Israel as the national home of the Jewish people.
Some supporters of the plan have been swayed by the word "agreement," implying that this would give Israel a veto over any attempt to flood it with the refugees, but this is not what the plan says; on the contrary, it makes it very clear that the solution to the refugee problem must be "agreed upon" exclusively in accordance with Resolution 194.
Sir, - Ruthie Blum's interview with Wafa Sultan was quite interesting but left out some topics. ("A woman's work in progress," October 26)
Blum, in discussing Islam, made a statement about Christianity being reformed so why not Islam. No comparisons were made with Judaism.
One example of Islam religious law that Sultan mentions is the reported "case of a man killed in Iraq for selling ice, since Muhammad didn't use ice."
While I may not be a great fan of Islam, this incident should not be a proper example of Muslim religious law. If the criteria is what Muhammad used and did not use, then practically all Muslim leaders should be killed. Muhammad did not use electricity, did not ride in a car, did not use oil-based products such as plastics and gasoline, did not use guns or tanks or fighter aircraft. All of these are used by Muslims today.
A more appropriate comparison might have been with Judaism, in which modern society can be matched with ancient codes of law. Modern amenities are not banned in the Jewish religious codes.
Sir, - I just wanted to commend you on probably one of the most well written and informative interviews I have seen in a long time. I will be passing this article to everyone I know.
I have been involved with interfaith dialogues since high school and have constantly debated Muslim women. Not only were you able to tackle this issue, but also provide insight into radical Islam as it affects the world.
JILL A. CANNON
Sir, - Re "Social activists call to transform Heshvan" (October 25). While social activism is a worthy cause, it would be wrong to omit the correct background to the month, Marheshvan.
Like most months in the Hebrew calendar, Marheshvan is taken from the Akkadian and means "the eighth month" (marh is month; shvan is eighth). In Akkadian, it was "warakh shamna." For those familiar with the Hebrew words "yerah" (month) and "shmoneh" (eight), one can see the similarities in the Akkadian terms (the vav and the mem were exchanged).
Counting Marheshvan as the eighth month stems from the period in which Nissan was the first month in the Babylonian calendar (and Jewish calendar).
According to the Encyclopaedia Biblica under "hodesh": In the Babylonian Exile the Jews used the Babylonian calendar and continued using it after they returned to Eretz Yisrael, as accounted in the Jerusalem Talmud.
Therefore, in taking a scientific approach, the word should not be broken into discrete syllables as "mar-heshvan," but rather "marh-shvan."
The Hebrew Language Academy
Sir, - I see that another person was killed by a driver with multiple traffic violations ("Eight killed in road carnage," October 29). May I suggest the following policies:
The driver of a car who kills someone and who has multiple violations shall lose his driving privileges for life.
Said driver shall pay significant compensation to the victim's family.
Said driver shall serve significant jail time.
The last judge not to suspend said driver's license shall lose his/her license for life.
DR. DAVID FEIGENBAUM
Sir, So Avigdor Klagsbald thinks he has suffered enough ("Klagsbald gets 15 months for killing 2 in car crash," October 27). His lawyer thinks it a harsh ruling.
I wonder if the shoe were on the other foot they both would be so ready to contest the decision. In my view, for such an horrific killing the sentence (which undoubtedly he will not serve) is not enough, as anybody who saw the pictures of the accident would agree
Daylight saving time
Sir, - Next year, most of the people in the United States will enjoy eight months of daylight saving time from the beginning of March through October ("US returns to standard time," October 29). This will not only save millions of dollars in electricity costs alone, it will also provide extra daylight hours for easier driving and other pleasures.
Here, where we also could save millions of shekels, and where our drivers could certainly use the extra daylight hours, we'll be lucky to have six months.
However, considering that the government would probably use the saved money to create a few more ministers, perhaps we're better off after all.
The answer is...
Sir, - Re "I had to adjust" (Letters, October 29).
The writer asks who conducted the poll showing a high rate of olim emigrating shortly after arriving in Israel as immigrants. The answer is the Central Bureau of Statistics, Special Report No. 65-2006.
Kibbutz Tirat Zvi
Sir, - The idea that hitting children is necessarily "immoral," as stated by Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich, or represents "violence," the word used by the Israel National Council for the Child, is regrettable since both take a single act out of the context of child-rearing and focus on it rather than the whole picture ("Halpert: Hitting kids is for their own good," October 26).
While it is easy, and politically advantageous, to use such terminology, a spanking in a loving family may be beneficial rather than harmful - especially when the child is subjecting himself to danger. On the other hand a detached and angry word in the context of an upbringing lacking love may be harmful.
Isolating a single act and vilifying it to show one's "sensitivity" may make good press, but it is not always the best way to approach a situation.
RICHARD A. ROSEN M.D.
West Mount Vernon, New York
Make use of olim
Sir, - At a time when blatant anti-Semitism (not always disguised as "anti-Zionism") is sadly on the increase in Britain, it is good to know that an imaginative program of events will be held there to mark six decades of our national independence ("Ambassador to London unveils plans for massive celebration of Israel's 60th," October 26).
During 2008, your correspondent reports, "Israeli and British educators" will tour the UK, visiting schools, universities and Jewish communities, and leading seminars "on a wide range of common experiences." Who will choose these educators and what kind of experiences will they impart to their audiences? It is an undeniable fact that, in the not so distant past, some of Israel's cultural ambassadors have given British listeners a decidedly negative picture of the Jewish state.
This issue will be of particular concern to ex-Merseysiders like myself, since "a large-scale event" is scheduled to take place in our home town, Liverpool, which has been designated "European City of Culture" for 2008.
Is it too much to hope that those organizing the celebrations, headed by Ambassador Zvi Heifetz and Zionist Federation chairman Andrew Balcombe, will for once ensure that Israeli speakers will include a few veteran British olim - the people who are best equipped and motivated to address Jews and non-Jews alike?
GABRIEL A. SIVAN
Sir, - M.U. Milunsky's letter, "Donate Organs," (October 25) should be read and reread. Having received a kidney transplant at Beilinson Hospital last year, I can appreciate this life-saving gift.
Unfortunately only 4 percent of Israelis have signed the ADI organ donor card that will save lives. Approximately 100 Israelis die needlessly each year for lack of a compatible organ donation. This does not need to be. Jewish law states that to save one life is to save an entire world.
I found my donor by surfing the Web. I would gladly assist others in their search.