Three years for a gas mask?
Sir, - Gas mask distribution will take three years (November 11)?! If your area is deemed relatively safe, you have to wait longer?! If Iran, Hizbullah and/or Hamas note where the masks are not being given out, they'll know which areas to aim for!
To add insult to injury, we'll now have to pay a "nominal" fee? What if a family can't afford that? What if they prefer to buy bread and milk or even some vegetables with that 30 shekels? Does that mean they won't get their masks?
Here's why, Mr. Kouchner
Sir, - The French foreign minister should take a look at why the peace movement has all but disappeared ("Kouchner: Israelis no longer aspire to peace," November 11). If only Israelis are willing to give up territory, while Palestinians continue to deny Israel's existence, and if only Israelis agree to a two-state solution, while Palestinians ingrain in their children and their children's children "Kill the Jews for Allah," then the Israeli peace movement has been all but pre-empted by the Palestinian hate movement.
Sir, - In a few more years, when the Moslems of his country finish their takeover bid, Kouchner will even understand why there are so few Frenchmen in their peace movement.
New task for Goldstone
Sir, - In "Fears of proxy war loom as Saudi navy blockades north Yemen coast" (November 11), you reported that "The rebels also confirmed that Saudi air strikes were continuing Tuesday, saying new villages had been hit deep inside Yemen, killing two women." We expect the UN Human Rights Council to assign Richard Goldstone to investigate this brazen attack on a civilian target.
Call his bluff
Sir, - Mahmoud Abbas is presenting the inhabitants of the Land of Israel with a real opportunity, in his calls for resignation and for dismantling the PA (November 8), for a permanent and lasting solution. Let's call his bluff.
Let the PA dismantle itself. Palestine is Gaza - let Israel be the first country in the world to recognize it. The two million other Palestinians are invited to become Israeli citizens, if they pledge allegiance to the state and undertake national military or civilian service - the identical conditions we must impose on all Jews, including the ultra-Orthodox.
Let us not pass up this chance for an integrated solution, assuring rights, security and economic advancement to all in the country.
Sir, - Having had a family member hospitalized for 10 days at Wolfson Hospital in Holon, I slept in his room for the first four nights and the room was spotless, the linen fresh and abundant. Yes, food was simple, but it was fresh. And the nurses, well, were angels. It is we who don't respect public property anymore. Family members sit on patients' beds with their shoes on, or bring in outside food and have a party till 1 a.m. in the patients' rooms. Nurses are sometimes afraid to enforce regulations because of threats; I saw a large man almost attack a nurse.
It is time that we stop blaming the authorities for all that is wrong. We also should be responsible for improving what is not adequate.
And by the way, the choice of the word "horror" was a little too much ("Hospital horrors," Letters, November 10).
OLGA P. WIND
Sir, - If only the rabbis who devoted so much of their halachic knowhow to publishing a "book advocating killing gentiles who endanger Jews" (November 11) had, instead, in light of the violence of our Jewish society, published one on the sanctity of all human life. There, they could have detailed when killing is permitted as, for example, in self-defense.
The very idea that the halacha makes any distinction between Jew and non-Jew, besides being abhorrent, was outlawed by one of our most prominent rabbinic authorities, the Meiri (1249-1316). In commenting on Talmudic discrimination against non-Jews, he stated: "All who share the same universal moral code ("the seven Noahide laws") are bound by one and the same law, and there can be no question of favoring ourselves..." If this was recognized in 14th century Provence, where the Meiri flourished, how much more so in our day and age.
Sir, - The article on Lord Jakobovits ("A modern prophet," November 6) was a beautifully written description of a towering rabbi, brilliant scholar and community leader. He was also prescient. In his article "Rabbis and Deans, which appeared in Tradition, the journal of the Rabbinical Council of America in the early '70s, Lord Jakobovits foresaw the dangers awaiting Jewish life if the rabbinic leaders of the yeshivot, the Deans as he called them, abrogated the influence and authority of community rabbis. He felt that community rabbis were in closer touch with their congregants and more sympathetic to their needs and the pressures of their everyday lives. The Deans, enclosed in their yeshivot, were isolated from the people and therefore tended to be much more demanding and extreme. How sad it is that he was so accurate and that even he and other leading community rabbis have been overshadowed by the extremism so rampant today.
Why Labor has lost it
Sir, - In his oped of November 6, "The Labor Party - of blessed memory," David Forman writes why he thinks Labor has become a threatened species after so many years of being in power. He places great emphasis on the lack of movement by Labor to demand the dismantling of settlements. The picture is far more complicated than that.
Forman has forgotten that it was Labor that put most of the settlements where they are today while being the largest party in the Knesset. While it is true that Labor has abandoned its base and its ideals, it has also been forced to privatize many of its successful institutions - Kupat Holim, Bank Hapoalim, Shikun Ovdim, Sifriyat Hapoalim, the kibbutzim... It was these institutions that gave it so much power.
Forman also neglects to mention that the leaders of Labor, while being socialist on the domestic agenda, were also very hawkish in matters of security and foreign affairs. It was Ben Gurion who forced Moshe Sharett out because of his dovish views, and Golda Meir was very hawkish on defense.
Labor has shifted excessively to the left and the country has not followed. This is especially true after the failure of the disengagement from Gaza, the eight-year shelling in the south, the loss of 1,500 civilians in the last intifada, the Second Lebanon War, Operation Cast Lead, etc.
The wall and the fig-leaf
Sir, - I am glad to find ideological support from Anetta Kahane's article on the Berlin Wall ("In Germany, the East-West divide is still alive and kicking," November 11)
When the wall fell, I preached from the pulpit that it should have stood forever, as a symbol of what happens when countries follow a Hitler. I was told that I was wrong. Germany must be rebuilt, accepted, turned into a democracy, and the wall must come down to advance this cause. Now we are informed that although west Germany is democratic, and is even a friend of Israel, east Germany is germinating neo-Nazis, enemies of Israel, anti-Semites. If that wall was still standing, this would be obvious to the democratic world. Without it, the virtues of west Germany serve as a fig-leaf covering the evils of east Germany.