Letters to the editor, April 30, 2006

Bad biz Sir, - There can be no clearer example of the draconian nature of our tax laws than the practice of taking VAT from small businesses before they receive actual payments from clients. Government departments are among the worst for delayed payments. As reported in "Advanced value added tax payment hurts small biz" (April 26) this means money lying in the state coffers while the small businessman or woman struggles to make ends meet. I issued the Trade and Industry Ministry an invoice in December, and am still waiting on payment despite numerous calls. Naturally I paid my VAT in January. As many small business owners are women they are adversely affected by the unfair timing of the system. My partner and I, working to help women succeed with their own businesses, are well aware of many such cases and very often hear these complaints. Government policy needs to look for ways to stimulate business activity, not damper it. We seek information about the experiences of women with this problem through our Web site www.lila.co.il BARBARA SHAW Jerusalem How foolish... Sir, - Re "EU urges Israel to transfer PA funds" (April 27): The EU must be insane. Why would Israel provide funds to terrorists so they can blow up Israeli people? SCOTT BOA Ingersoll, Ontario ...indeed Sir, - The present concerted move by the US, the EU and Israel to destabilize the Hamas-led PA seems ill-considered and risks unpredictable and possibly catastrophic consequences. It is also unjustifiable, as Hamas seems presently to be in a nation-bulding phase and hence observing a tactical cease-fire. The moralistic excuse for denying funding for Hamas is the ideologically and politically impossible demand that it explicitly renounce violence, recognize Israel, and endorse agreements previously negotiated by the PLO. STEVE AMDUR Olivone, Switzerland Sir, - Israel should act alone, without seeking the consent of the nations of the world. Security and survival should never be subjected to others who have different priorities. DAN IVANOVICH Miami Suha for the money Sir, - May I suggest a way to help the new Palestinian government out of some of its financial difficulties? Yasser Arafat stole $1.3 billion. Presumably, his wife is living handsomely on her late husband's thievery. So instead of wandering around the world with a begging bowl, let them go ask her for the money back ("Palestinian aid tops agenda at European-Arab forum," April 27). DAVID LEE London No, Minister Sir, - The decision to create a new "ministry for senior citizens' affairs" is alarmingly wasteful and precedent-setting. It must be vigorously opposed. Next we will have separate ministries for single mothers, the unemployed, the self-employed, you name it. In the 29th government, which lasted from March 2000 to February 2003, under Ariel Sharon, we had a Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, a Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Welfare and a Ministry for Social Coordination. In the 30th government we had a Ministry of Social Welfare and a deputy Minister of Social Welfare. Large savings could be effected by merging overlapping ministries into one ministry, which could deal effectively with the all-important interests concerning seniors. MAURICE OSTROFF Herzliya Brave new words Sir, - In just the past two weeks a suicide bombing occurred in Tel Aviv, the president of Iran again threatened us by telling the world that we are a "fake regime" which "cannot exist," and a massive bombing was barely averted at the Karni crossing. Yet the first major proclamation to the media on behalf of putative defense minister Amir Peretz is that "he will take a firm stand against settler violence" and "crack down on illegal settlement building" ("Sneh: Peretz to take firm stance against settler violence," April 27). Somehow my new defense minister does not make me feel very "defended." DAVID JACOBS Efrat Rationalizing hatred Sir, - Although I can understand Menachem Begin's feelings toward Germans of the World War II period, I find it sad that he seemingly could not separate them from their descendents ("Begin, Germany and the Holocaust," Yehuda Avner, April 25). As a German born in 1953, adopted and raised by Americans, I had very conflicted feelings about my origins. They were compounded because my birth family name, Knopf, could easily be Jewish or Gentile. I wrestled with the thoughts of my family as either persecutor or persecuted. To this day I have a great uneasiness about any criticism of Israel because of my own sense of communal guilt. Years ago at university in Los Angeles a woman told me: "You are cursed by your birth." I was stunned, as I held no such hatred for any person or group. It did wake me up to the realization that without forgiveness, together with remembrance, the peoples of the world will continue to rationalize hatred of others. Until we as individuals, groups and nationalities end the rationalization to condemn, no lesson has been learned from the Holocaust other than the magnitude of the inhumanity which is possible. THOMAS JONES Los Angeles Gen. Sir John Monash Sir, - In "Former enemies mark Anzac day" (April 26) your reporter wrote that Australian Ambassador Tim George "remarked on the large number of Jews who were killed on active service with the Anzacs... he singled out Gen. Sir John Monash." Lest these comments be misunderstood, Monash was not killed on active service. He became the commander of the Australian Forces, and after the war was active in many spheres of Australian life. He was president of the Zionist Federation of Australia and died in 1931. Monash University in Melbourne and Kfar Monash were named after him. JANE FREEDMAN Petah Tikva Sir - To clarify your coverage of the Anzac story: The main forces taking part in the landings at Gallipoli were British and French. The Jewish Monash went to Gallipoli as the 54-year-old colonel of an Australian militia battalion that had volunteered for overseas service. When his brigadier was killed Monash was selected to replace him. Only in France was he promoted to major-general and given command of an Australian division, the first Australian to be accorded this distinction. This at a time when entry to Australia's Royal Military College at Duntroon was barred to Jews. In France in 1917-18 Monash performed so well that he was promoted to lieut.-general, given command of the entire Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac), and knighted. SIMON BUKNER Jerusalem