Letters to the Editor, December 23

Challenge to Green Party Sir, - I categorically challenge the assertion that the Green Party is not anti-Israel ("Green divestment," Letters, December 21). The party shows a definite double standard. Where is the divestment strategy from countries with a much worse record than Israel's? How about divestment from the PA until it fights terror? Or pressuring China until it gives fair treatment to Tibet? Or supporting an embargo of Iran until it stops developing nukes? Further, divestment is against the party's own Common Ground statement: "We oppose the use of economic sanctions which bring suffering and death to innocent civilians." Yet it wishes to apply sanctions against a country recovering from a war waged against it by terrorists over the last five years. Talk is easy; the party claims to be "against terrorist bombings." But why are the only practical actions it proposes aimed at Israel? MITCHELL LEITER Antwerp Burqa bashing Sir, - Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders' idea to ban burqas leaves a bad taste in the mouth ("Dutch Muslims: Burqa ban idea is ridiculous," December 22). The motion, proposed in order to "promote integration" and "so that a terrorist cannot use the burqa to conceal a weapon," is unethical and unwise. For Wilders to forbid an external religious symbol as a means of integrating Muslim women into society should irk anyone who respects the notion of religious freedom. As for safety, this measure is of little value without more meaningful measures. Genuine security will result once the indoctrination of fundamentalist values is slowly and wisely eliminated. Wilders should not confuse the burqa - a symptom - with the widespread radicalization of Islam by terror-supporting factions. BATSHEVA NEUER Givat Shmuel Rivlin's hutzpa Sir, - Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin has the hutzpa to advise Israelis to "vote for more decent Knesset members" ("Rivlin: 16th Knesset was bad to the core," December 22). Rivlin and his colleagues have ensured, in Knesset after Knesset through both legislative action and inaction, to perpetuate an electoral system that denies Israeli voters the opportunity to do exactly what suggests we do. Give me such advice when the Knesset finally allows me to vote directly for its members. DAVID SCHOR Ra'anana Guy gap Sir, - Rabbi Stewart Weiss correctly pointed out that we must "emphasize to our young people the centrality of the family and its priority in Jewish life" ("Why the guy gap?" December 21). But let's be more specific. We in the Modern Orthodox world need to address our young men. In the past week, I have attended three evening presentations sponsored by religious girls' high schools in which they explained their educational programs to prospective students. Each of the schools included at least a one-year unit on "family life" in its curriculum, and all the principals mentioned the importance of preparing their female students for both the professional and family spheres. By contrast, I've already sent two boys to religious high schools in Israel and I can't recall anyone in the system ever mentioning the importance of educating boys to be good husbands and fathers. CHANNAH KOPPEL Efrat Sir, - As a single religious male, I can expound on a few of the problems affecting both guys and girls in finding a spouse. First, the girls who are available tend to be from the modern religious camp while the available guys tend to be from the "yeshivish" world. While the latter are generally open to Modern Orthodox women, as long as their observance of Torah and mitzvot is halachic, the women are far from open. Also, there is a dearth of women for Hassidic guys while the opposite is true in the non-Hassidic world. These are two groups whose members generally do not marry each other, but maybe it is time to break down the barriers. However, it's likely to be easier to marry someone who comes from a similar background. DAVID STERNE Jerusalem Evacuees' plight Sir, - Thank you for keeping us informed about those Israelis who were forced out of their homes in Gush Katif. They lost not only their homes, but their livelihoods and communities. For all too many of us it has become a case of out of sight, out of mind. To add insult to injury, the Disengagement Authority, fearing a few spurious claims, is treating all of the evacuees in a demeaning way. How many of us have saved old school records or tax bills? This agency does not even seem to have a definite policy on which documents are essential. It is to our shame that we are allowing other Jews, Israelis, to be treated this way. ELAINE SARID Jerusalem