Sir, - Knesset Education Committee chairman Michael Melchior is absolutely right when he says that philanthropy destroys more than it helps when it replaces government ("Security crisis at schools due to 'philanthropy gone wrong,'" September 1).
The start of the school year is also about safeguarding kids and teachers. Dependence on overseas donations to pay for security guards at schools is the issue at the moment - but what worries me is what will happen when the millions being raised here and overseas to feed the hungry children (and adults) run out.
Israeli society seems to accept the hand-outs without embarrassment. The fact that our governments are incapable of taking responsibility for the most basic human rights of any society is a given.
At least schoolchildren are now traveling safely to school, two to a seat and wearing seat belts. Metuna led the campaign for schoolbus safety, demanding that money be found for additional buses, and for seat belts for the yellow buses. The issue was pushed from ministry to ministry, no one wanting to foot the bill even though legislation had been passed.
If former MKs Leibowitz and Ratsabi of Shinui had not given NIS 15 million of their budget for this purpose we might have been forced to turn to donors abroad - again.
PR Director, Metuna
Sir, - A country resembles a business in many respects.
When a business is suddenly faced with massive expenditure it is universally accepted that increasing economic activity by even the smallest percentage will yield results that far exceed simple cost-cutting. Cutting expenses alone is a major mistake.
Creating the climate for increased economic activity is the responsibility of the government, and it needs to use all the tools at its disposal. While the contribution of local big business to reducing poverty is admirable, it cannot be expected to replace government.
Encouraging more investors who are transferring their investments abroad to invest here, abolishing the red tape which drives so many investors from our shores, and drastically cutting the taxes of small and medium-sized business, as the US has, will eventually turn the tide in the fight against poverty ("Poverty report challenges anti-welfare economic policy," September 1).
Sir, - Israel must do everything it can to get its kidnapped soldiers returned ("Thousands rally in TA to demand release of kidnapped soldiers," September 1). Yet should it release large numbers of terrorists, as it did in the past and may again, it can expect more kidnappings and more terrorism. Nothing succeeds like success.
lnstead Israel should arrest every Hamas and Hizbullah terrorist it encounters and exchange only them for their soldiers.
On another front, the Israeli leadership has again reversed itself. Originally it would not allow any peacekeepers in Lebanon from countries that do not recognize Israel. Now "Israel accepts Indonesian UNIFIL troops" (September 3).
This zigzagging is not in Israel's best interest. It has to stop.
Coconut Creek, Florida
Sir, - Amir "Peretz may be in a no-win situation" (September 3), but the Labor MKs plotting against him - people like Avishay Braverman, Ophir Paz-Pines and Binyamin Ben-Eliezer - should not believe that they themselves are in a no-lose situation.
Where were they when Peretz joined the coalition? They expected to warm up in the folds of government - until Peretz became a liability. Their zigzag won't earn them much sympathy from the voters.
Re Braverman: The only really positive thing I can say about him is that he left his post at Ben-Gurion University, allowing a woman for the first time to become president of such an institution in Israel.
Sir, - David Horovitz erred when he wrote that the word "mediocracy" was coined by a serving member of the cabinet ("Fix the 'mediocracy,'" September 1). The word is actually quite old, the earliest recorded example of its use being in the July 1876 issue of Atlantic Monthly.
It is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as: "Government by the mediocre; a system within which mediocrity is rewarded." The Concise Oxford provides an alternative definition: "A dominant class consisting of mediocre people."
While your editor erred on historical grounds, he was surely correct when he used the word to describe our society and its current rulers.
Sir, - I don't buy the protest against the way the war was handled ("Ya'alon says Israel's leaders should quit for Lebanon failures," September 1).
A frontal attack would likely not have eliminated Hizbullah. And the Israeli casualties would have been enormous. Better that the Shi'ites use rocks for pillows to contemplate the Law of Unintended Consequences.
Boynton Beach, Florida
Selective, or what?
Sir, - On September 1 the British media were of one voice about the Palestinians, saying Europe must give them $400 million to stop their suffering. (Not a word about countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, who are offering their beloved brothers zilch. Or any comment about the suffering of the citizens of Sderot from rockets fired by these poor Palestinians.)
Ten times we were told on TV how evil Israel is; how the poor Lebanese are frightened to return home because of the unexploded bombs left by Israel; and how the UN stands in condemnation of Israel. (No mention, though, of the thousands of Israeli civilians who suffered indiscriminate Hizbullah rocketings.)
If that weren't enough, President Assad, we were told and retold, will starve Hizbullah of weapons. How do we know? Because Kofi Annan said so ("Syria promises to enforce arms embargo on Hizbullah, Annan says," September 3). Again, no mention of the return of the two Israeli soldiers whose kidnapping by Hizbullah started the war. Or of why the UN and Europe are silent about helping Israel recover from the 4,000 rockets that rained down on its civilian population.
Where are the Israeli government protests about this warped reporting? Why isn't Israel demanding financial help from Europe?
It seems from here that Israel is governed by a bunch of wimps. Isn't it time to bring back Binyamin Netanyahu? At least he is proud of Israel and would never let her enemies walk all over her.
Sir, - Syria will enforce the arms embargo? This is the fox guarding the chicken coop.
Manhasset, New York
Sir, - Re Evelyn Gordon's "No room in the dorm" (August 31): National service of some kind should apply to all citizens, Jews, Arabs and Druse. It should be the pre-condition for every government program, including health insurance and welfare support.
Sir, - "An investment that's in everyone's interest" (Sarah Kreimer, September 3) sounds like good advice if the Israeli Arab community wants to be better citizens of the Jewish State of Israel; to shoulder responsibilities as citizens loyal to the state; to give three years to the IDF or national service; to receive from the state and give to the state.
Dreamers and their dreams will not help us.
Sir, - It bothers me immensely that so many foreign nations devote so much time to deciding the Mideast peace process ("Speak to Syria, Swedish envoy urges," August 30).
The key rests exclusively with Israel and its important first step in helping to create a permanent Palestinian state.
No other government can completely accomplish this, and in most cases those governments want to have a continuing role in Middle East politics. This is the ingredient that will forever spoil the soup.
Israel and its people are an integral part of the Middle East. They are one of the Semitic nations and stand to be an important regional leader.
A successful settlement with the Palestinians, including Hamas, will significantly improve relationships between Israel and its Islamic neighbors.
This is the only certain route to lasting peace and productivity in the Middle East.
Visit to the archbishop
Sir, - Our chief rabbis consider visiting the Archbishop of Canterbury "an important symbol," but view meetings with rabbis of the Israeli Conservative and Reform movements as a waste of time.
What hypocrisy! ("Chief rabbis to visit Archbishop of Canterbury," September 3.)
Banner toward Zion
Sir, - In "Miracle of Zion" (UpFront, August 18) Meredith Price wrote of Ness Tziona: "The settlement has been known by this name, meaning 'Miracle of Zion.'"
The name actually means "Banner (or Standard) toward Zion (or Zionward)."
The "a" suffix (kamatz heh) in Hebrew means "toward," as in, for example, "tzafona" - northward.
The founders of rebuilt Israel were well versed in the Bible, and Ness Tziona is a quote from Jeremiah 4:6 - "Set up a standard toward Zion."
YACOV M. TABAK
Lost a camera?
Sir, - On August 28, in the late afternoon, I gave a ride in my red Renault Clio to a young woman from Haifa who had been visiting friends at the army base near Kfar Giladi.
She rode with me to Rosh Pina, where I bought gas, and she left my car to catch the bus to Haifa.
I later discovered that she had forgotten her camera. I took it to the police station in Rosh Pina, from where she can recover it if she sees this letter.