letters to the editor 88.
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Talk is cheap
Sir, - It seems strange to me that in his article "Galilee gravy train" (September 14), Daniel Doron did not mention the cancellation of the Karmiel spur line by Israel Railways nor the cancellation of the northward continuation of Route 6. This while the express line between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem proceeds apace for electoral reasons.
Of course, these cutbacks were implemented the day after the government (Prime Minister Ehud Olmert) promised to do everything for the economic recovery of the Galilee. Another case of "putting your mouth where the money should be."
A simple solution
Sir, - This seems too simple a solution, but what about this: The Auschwitz Museum should immediately return Dina Babbitt's artwork (Auschwitz artifacts case presents ethical dilemma," September 14). It should negotiate with her over the price for the copying of these pieces, and then hang them. Its display wouldn't be affected as the public surely doesn't care if the pieces are the originals or not.
Museum spokesman Jaroslaw Mensfelt's self-righteous comparison of these artworks to the "Arbeit Macht Frei" gate makes the Auschwitz Museum appear as though it wants to "keep Nazi-looted art away from Jewish heirs."
Who are the others?
Sir, - Maybe one could ponder about the fact that the hi-tech company that designed the special phone line that allowed President Moshe Katsav to listen in on employees' conversations ("Allegations against Katsav now include illegal wiretapping," September 14) cannot economically exist from only one customer like Beit Hanassi.
There must be a lot more customers around.
The question is for what purpose that installation is necessary or even indispensable in a certain place if its use is in fact "criminal."
Sir, - It is no surprise that Amir Peretz has failed his party and lost its respect ("Labor ministers: Peretz will never again lead us," September 14). What do you expect? Think about it; it is no surprise and also his behavior is a lot like many individuals in the government - amateurish, temper tantrums, etc.
Maybe now is a good time to reflect on how unqualified people become our MKs. Education, a working knowledge and experience in whatever field should be paramount. You don't see successful companies like Intel being run by "friends of friends" or "the party flavor of the day." They are run by qualified individuals. Shouldn't our government be run the same way?
Right now people are picking on Peretz, but maybe we should all look within ourselves and see who really should be in our government. Maybe it it is time to change how our government is actually formed.
Sir, - The headline "Israeli schools get F for fail" ( September 13) is a complete misrepresentation of our school system. The OECD report is based on material gathered from only 46 countries, less than a fifth of the total.
It is quite clear to any Israeli who takes even a partial interest in educational matters that there is a lot to be done to improve teaching standards and instill in our children a sense of community and responsibility. However the school system, with all its problems, is certainly not "F for fail."
There is not one place on the 46-country list that absorbs immigrants as we do. Of course parents, teachers and students would all like to see smaller classes. Australia, Spain, France, Greece and Mexico, cited as paying their teachers more than we do, all have a higher GDP than Israel. Teachers' salaries here should be improved, but the only true way to compare salaries is to examine like with like.
The positive note in the article, referring to Israel being fifth in the developed world in terms of cumulative hours of instruction being given to students aged seven-14, is also of little importance. It depends on the substance and student absorption of the material being taught.
This is not the first time that the OECD has published a spurious report on Israel that only tells part of the story. When you walk around Israel's universities and witness the quality of the student population, together with the innovation of research, it must mean that something is being done correctly in our education system.
Please stay on, Tony
Sir, - I urge British Prime Minister Tony Blair to reconsider his exit from world affairs and stay on ("Visiting Labor MPs say Blair's Israel stance not central to his fall," September 13).
It's unfortunate he was duped into going along with US President George W. Bush's weapons of mass destruction hoax, but I feel - as many people the world over - that Blair's leadership qualities are above and beyond Bush's and even today Blair's eloquent diplomacy may yet broker a Middle East peace. War is the last resort and sadly, our president's mind-set is exactly the reverse.
Bottom line: Don't go yet, Tony.
HERBERT W. STARK
Massapequa, New York
Sir, - In your article "Israel targeted with war crimes charges" (September 13), you mindlessly repeat the charge that "Israeli aircraft and artillery killed more than 850 Lebanese during the 34-day conflict, most of them civilians..." What evidence is there that this statement is true?
Israel claims to have killed 530-700 Hizbullah fighters. In addition, the Lebanese authorities admit that another 70 allied militia and Lebanese army soldiers were killed. If these figures are given any credence, then the majority of Lebanese deaths were guerrillas and soldiers.
Sir, - In her comments, Wendy Elliman ("Family matters," September 13) seems to want to rewrite her past.
For most of us, if our parents had the means, they very likely would have put an addition onto their house for us or bought us a place across the street from theirs. However, those of us who moved out had good reason to, and we found jobs, houses and, more importantly, established our own families in other parts of the country, the world and Israel. We made adult decisions and took adult responsibility for our choices, in the knowledge that all choices by necessity exclude other choices.
I think Wendy Elliman should just grow up.
KENNETH S. BESIG
Keep the UN away
Sir, - If Israel allows the new Palestinian Authority unity government to take its negotiations to the UN, then we are lost ("Israel, US scramble for policy on new PA gov't," September 13). Any opportunity of the full UN revisiting the structure of these questions should be avoided.
A vital point is that "the territories" are not a sovereign state and thus only after borders and all else have been determined by private negotiations should this be brought to the UN for final ratification. Even then, the question of the recognition of Israel should have been explicitly stated.
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