Par for the course
Sir, - So Israel has been blackmailed once more, and the world looks on ("Hamas: Swap of Schalit video for 20 women prisoners is first phase of an exchange agreement," October 1).
Why do we have to release 20 prisoners? The Red Cross could have told us if Gilad Schalit was alive and well. Maybe the various humanitarian organizations could have found out. Perhaps Judge Goldstone might have asked.
There is no humanity, but there is plenty of politics.
Sir, - Kudos to Yaakov Lappin for his thoughtful "For Israel, a low price to pay for a sign of life; for Hamas, a propaganda coup" (Analysis, October 1). The price may indeed be "relatively low," as he says; but he goes on to point out that it is "setting a potentially dangerous precedent." Indeed.
Sir, - Despite my belief that we are as a nation more sinned against than sinning, I share Leonard Cohen's awe at the ability of some Israeli and Palestinian bereaved parents to reach out to each other, irrespective of rights and wrongs, and hope against hope that this empathy may help contribute toward that goal which the politicians, and others, have so miserably failed to advance ("Leonard Cohen builds a glorious, spiritual Tower of Song," September 25).
G. GERSHON GUBBIO
More money for MKs?
Sir, - Three reasons why Asher Meir's support for higher salaries for Knesset members ("The best and the brightest," September 25) is mistaken:
â€¢ Since we can only elect parties and not people, no Knesset member really represents anyone except him or herself and his or her respective party - as has become blatantly evident as the years go by. Therefore, a higher salary would be little incentive to improve performance because the basic system never required it. In fact, such a move could backfire, causing the worse elements to fear losing these greater perks and salaries and sink further into their cushiony jobs rather than let new, more dedicated people in.
â€¢ Money is power. And power corrupts. A few short years into the 21st century, we have seen the world's richest gain unprecedented power while not being immune, to put it mildly, to the worst kinds of corruption. Why should a legislator be any different?
â€¢ High or low salaries are relative to local norms. By any Israeli standard, MKs' salaries, plus perks, are more than respectable in Israeli society; too high, some think. To paraphrase an old joke: Let them first start earning the NIS 33,000 they're making now, then we'll talk about a raise!
Sir, - "A day of wrath, onslaught and sacrifice" (Yom Kippur supplement, September 27) let you "listen in" as Golda Meir persuaded Kissinger and Nixon to - very quickly - send a desperately needed airlift.
Our nephew, Jay Freedman, was the navigator on one of the huge USAF cargo C-5 Galaxies landing in Israel every 15 minutes, some carrying five or six Skyhawk fighter planes ready to be quickly assembled to replace our fighters shot down by Soviet SAM missiles near the Suez Canal. He volunteered to fly the Azores-to-Israel leg of the airlift, back and forth, over and over again. Portugal, unlike "our friends" in Europe, allowed the American planes to refuel at its Azores base.
I was working in Holon, and we clapped and cheered to see the BIG Galaxies coming in low for their landing.
Stop the occupation
Sir, - Re "Netanyahu says UN speech was inspired by Lubavitcher Rebbe" (September 29): In that 1984 meeting, he revealed, the Rebbe told him "to light a candle of truth" in his dealings with that body.
But the UN General Assembly apparently did not hear Netanyahu's truth, preferring to focus on the distorted UN Goldstone report deliberately released prior to the assembly meeting.
The UN and its many anti-Israel commissions and "peace" organizations miss no opportunity to slag us off, and it is time UNTSO and other UN organizations headquartered in Jerusalem's Government House were removed and we declared the site sovereign Israeli territory.
Built in the 1930s as the residence of the Mandatory British High Commissioner, the building and its surroundings are today not claimed as UK property. When the High Commissioner left in 1948, the complex was turned over to the Red Cross, which found it unsuitable as its "clients" were not in the locality. They handed it over to the UNTSO, which is still in occupation over 60 years later.
COLIN L. LECI
Sir, - The touching "Never too old to learn" by Ruth Beloff (Yom Kippur supplement, September 27) moved many of us to tears. We all have experience of failing to support the underdog - in her story, an unsuccessful teacher. But how rarely are we treated to a cleansing, personal narrative such as hers?
All schoolkids could benefit from a reading of this to touch their hearts and consciences - not years later, but right now. Thanks Ruth, for sharing.
Sir, - Suppose one day Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv is on the top floor of a senior citizens residence, unable to pray in synagogue on Shabbat because he refuses to use a kosher Shabbat elevator. What will this man who wants us to become Karaites do then? ("Leading rabbis issue halachic ruling against Shabbat elevators," October 1).
Sir, - As the whole world mourns the victims of the latest natural disasters in Samoa, Indonesia and Vietnam, may I express my sincere condolences to their peoples and sympathize with their grief, for my country had its share of grief this August, when Typhoon Morakot struck Taiwan, causing the death of more than 600 people.
I thank the Israeli government, which was effective and prompt in sending rescue equipment to Taiwan.
As scientists warn of more disasters caused by global warming, and in a time when world leaders are placing the environmental issue at the top of the agenda, I would like to stress Taiwan's need to be a part of the work force designated to deal with these climate changes by participating in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Taiwan has proved time and time again that it has taken many measures to mitigate global warming, and it is fighting successfully against the global pandemic of swine flu thanks to its participation for the first time as an observer in the World Health Assembly in 2008.
Taiwan faces the same climate change challenges as other countries worldwide, including Israel, and it deserves the same right to try and protect its 23 million people - especially considering Taiwan's problematic location in the South Pacific basin, where natural disasters are an everyday threat.
I therefore call on the UNFCCC to let Taiwan share its environmental protection experience with other nations via effective and meaningful participation in the talks, for the benefit all.
TERRY G.C. TING
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office