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Sir, - Throughout history, corruption has led to the demise of almost all great nations. A characteristic comment from friends and family: "Nothing to be done. Most people associated with government are corrupt." I love my country and believe in it, and attitudes of distrust and disgust toward our leaders are mind-boggling, saddening and, yes, dangerous.
Officials at all levels of government place their own desires, friendships and family, etc. above the nation they have committed to serve, and too frequently wink at the law. That is a tragedy in the making. Yaron Zelekha is correct: This corruption can result in our demise. It is important that Dr. Zelekha retain his position. His concerns are valid. He cares about Israel ("Moral authority or megalomaniac?" Dan Izenberg, September 7).
...and his wrong comparison
Sir, - I was full of admiration for Yaron Zelekha's fearless campaign against corruption in a society which is constantly crossing "red lines." However, I took umbrage at the following quote in Dan Izenberg's article: "We must put an end to the terrorism of corruption. The cost of corruption is almost as expensive as the security budget, and the war against corruption more important than that against traffic accidents."
Trivializing the two most devastating and crippling issues affecting Israeli society - security and road casualties - in an attempt to make one's case, is pathetic. Corruption is evil and abhorrent and eats away at society like a cancer, but it's about greed and mostly does not cause loss of life and limb.
Let's stick to the facts. Let's clean up our society, but not on the backs of our basic human values. And let the New Year bring optimistic tidings on all fronts. We badly need them.
Worse than negligence
Sir, - If war with Syria were to break out in the coming months, the Home Front Command would have enough gas masks for only 1.5 million adults and half-a-million children. The Defense Ministry is "considering proposals to make emergency purchases of gas masks from Israeli and American companies, if the need arises" ("Ministry holds off on gas mask distribution," September 11). You also report the well-known fact that Syria has many chemical and biological weapons.
You first reported the gas mask shortage in July, quoting a "senior official" as saying that the situation "could be interpreted as neglect" ("Less than half of Israelis to have working gas masks by end of year. 'Non-conventional attack would result in major crisis,'" July 9). Apparently nothing has been done about this issue since.
The situation is now one of gross negligence, or worse. Where is the public outcry, the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the opposition? Why is the government being allowed to play Russian Roulette with our lives?
CARL M. SHERER
Israeli Europeans & Arabs
Sir, - Why do so many Israelis seem to aspire to put Zionism behind them? Because what they really want to be is European.
I travel the world on business, and many Israelis I meet in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Eilat, etc. are really no different from the Europeans I meet in Amsterdam, Berlin and Brussels. They want to sip espressos in the outdoor cafes and argue about the really important issues: soccer matches and real-estate values. For post-Zionist Israelis, the real enemies are the haredim and the "crazy settlers"; they would give up Jerusalem if it meant no bombers in their pizzerias. And Israel's top leadership, with its European sensibilities and face, fits those Israelis like a glove.
The problem is that the Arabs aren't in on the plan. They won't let you Israelis be Europeans. The terrorists would just as soon blow up your cafe in Tel Aviv. Given an opportunity, they will gladly shoot your wife and children at close range, and not lose a minute of sleep ("A rotten state of affairs," Caroline Glick, September 11).
How many UJK Jews?
Sir, - I would like to challenge the accuracy of your figures in "The British are coming!" (August 22), which I believe to be grossly overestimated. "The Jewish population of Great Britain numbers between 350,000 to 450,000," the article said.
I don't know what the source is, but I believe the most accurate and reliable current source is the 2001 census and "Enumerated Population Size," the document produced in May 2007 by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research in London about it (www.jpr.org.uk/). The Jewish population in the 2001 Census was published as 266,740 people.
However, this figure did not include Jews who identified by ethnicity onlyâ€š in England and Wales, or Scottish Jews who identified as Jewish by upbringing but held no current religion. These broader definitions brought the total number of Jews enumerated in the United Kingdom in the 2001 Census to 270,499.
This was the widest-ranging quantitative demographic study ever undertaken on Jews in Britain. As a consequence, Britain's is now one of the best-analyzed large Jewish communities in the world outside Israel.