Letters to the editor, December 28

Disgraceful equivalency Sir, - David Forman has become a contender for the "moral equivalency" disgrace award by equating verbal attacks and destruction of trees with suicide terror attacks ("Settlers, hands off the olive trees," December 27). To make his case, Forman's use of words is Orwellian: Verbal attacks against Palestinians are "nothing less than blood-curdling," while murderous attacks against Jews are simply "Palestinian violence." He decries the cost of a day's work to the Palestinians, but never mentions the loss of human life and limb (and property) from terror attacks. He even distorts the meaning of the word "stranger" when quoting from Exodus. In that context the stranger is a non-Jew who comes to live peacefully within the Jewish community, and accepts its basic moral code. Jewish law does not require us to treat enemies as strangers, and we had better know the difference. JAN SOKOLOVSKY Jerusalem PM's 'immortality' Sir, - While Uri Dan revels in Prime Minister Sharon's discharge from the hospital "without bandages" ("Medical striptease," December 25), perhaps we can ask: Since when are stroke victims given bandages? Dan admits that the Kadima party "has turned support for Sharon into a quasi-messianic movement," yet ends by proclaiming that for Sharon the stroke was "a piece of cake." Is such gusto not itself a messianic fervor that seeks to elevate a political leader into a demigod? Cancer, heart attacks, strokes: Perhaps they affect mere mortals, but they're nothing for Ariel Sharon, erstwhile survivor of stomach surgery and a bleeding forehead. Such gaudy ascriptions of seeming immortality do little to bring clarity to a still unclear situation. AARON SICHEL Washington, DC Sir, - Uri Dan's comments about Prime Minister Sharon's stroke are a shining example of a macho Israeli immortality syndrome. However, he only shows a lack of knowledge about medical problems. To say a stroke is a "piece of cake" for Sharon is unwise. Sharon is an obese 78-year-old who probably has hypertension and is an excellent candidate for type II diabetes. It is unlikely his circulatory system is in good shape. Uri Dan should learn about geriatric medicine before making prognostications. IRWIN REICHMAN, MD Jerusalem Sir, - Ariel Sharon received a warning about his lifestyle ("Sharon suffers mild stroke," December 19). In addition, it should be a warning to all concerned Israelis that their leader's physical and mental health is paramount. I suggest that Knesset members be required to pass a fitness assessment and the results of the physical condition of each be disclosed to the public. JACK DAVIS Jerusalem Sir, - I have been following the media's coverage of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's lifestyle since his mild stroke. The Post reported "The Hadassah doctors [who treated Sharon] did not have time to encourage Sharon to exercise and lose weight, although his personal physician, Sheba Medical Center Director-General Prof. Boleslav Goldman, has said: 'I have advised this about this for 30 years, and I hope to continue to discuss it with him for another 30 years'" ("PM's 'good genes' help him recover from stroke without any damage," December 20). The man is 77 years old. He has enough on his plate running a country; let him enjoy eating what he likes. HELEN SIMPSON Jerusalem Don't 'despise' Sir, - Caroline Glick got to me when she classified Shimon Peres, Ehud Olmert, Haim Ramon and Dalia Itzik as "despised political figures" ("The Likud's strategy," December 23). Surely more people dislike Netanyahu than dislike Peres, but neither should be "despised" because of his agenda. Personally, I don't find Dalia Itzik important enough to dislike, and Olmert seems to express a voice of reason from time to time. RAY LEWIS Jerusalem NRP record Sir, - The NRP's Knesset members have an excellent record. Three of the present MKs were singled out for being among the most effective members of this past Knesset. Gila Finkelstein and Shaul Yahalom had the most bills passed while Nissan Slomiansky had the best attendance record ("Report card - 16th Knesset," December 22). Voters should look not at the polls but at the practical records of achievement. The NRP has been an asset to the Knesset with an intelligent and forthright slate. TOBY WILIG Jerusalem Free speech? Sir, - None of the proposals for dealing with MK Azmi Bishara ("Bishara's blast," December 21) are appropriate in a democracy that truly believes in free speech. He really should be allowed to say all that he said. I propose that Israel call his bluff. Bishara said he resents the Israeli citizenship that was forced upon him. Simply invite him to give up his citizenship - in the only democracy in the Middle East - and to leave for the country of his choice elsewhere in the region. If he does not take up the offer, well, there goes his credibility. DANIEL M. BERRY Waterloo, Canada Sir, - I was amazed that a restaurant owner was detained for hanging a Kach T-shirt in his store ("Restaurateur held over Kach T-shirt," December 26). If this gentleman had done the same with a Palestinian flag there presumably would have been no repercussions. I thought Israel was a democracy. I thought its citizens were endowed with a right to speak freely. GERALD JACOBS Staten Island, New York Constitution Sir, - Yosef Goell is undoubtedly one of the Post's most able contributors but his argument for adoption of a constitution to replace the present Basic Laws is on the wrong track ("Basic laws aren't enough," December 25). The Jewish people already have a constitution, and a fine one at that. It is called the Torah, and is backed up by an extensive set of constitutional amendments called "Talmud." To round out this great superstructure of rules and laws of Jewish life, we have the halachic codes such as the Shulhan Aruch, texts by Maimonides and the endless production of rabbinical responsa. BENJAMIN GOREN Afula God in the message Sir, - On a cold winter day, President Bush's Hanukka message warmed my heart ("Happy Hanukka!," December 25). The president's simple yet eloquent words highlighted the miracle of Hanukka and our thanks for God's many blessings. All too often I have read holiday messages from our secular political leaders where the word "God" was not even mentioned. My wish for Hanukka is that we merit leaders who will demonstrate and articulate belief and faith in God. KENNETH FISHER Jerusalem Sir, - During my first Hanukka here in 1968 I was surprised to see Santa Claus-wrapped chocolates for sale. When I asked children to identify the man on the wrapper they replied, "He's the zaken [old man]." That was before TV became ubiquitous. Just this week, however, TV news devoted some five minutes to Christmas around the world, replete with scenes of celebration, lots of Santas, depictions of Christianity's savior and even the pope's birthday greetings to the "messiah." Yet only 30 seconds were devoted to candle-lighting on the first night of Hanukka. Hanukka celebrates the miracle of our remaining unique among the nations. Let's not lose sight of our national identity. LINDA WOLFF Sha'arei Tikva Sir, - The Post gave us a startling example of "Hellenization." First, the single vial of oil burning for eight days was referred to as a "fable" ("PM: Go easy on the doughnuts," December 26), whereas in the "Christmas wish list" editorial (December 25) we read that Bethlehem is "revered as Christ's birth place" and about the "festival of Christ's birth." One is a fable and the other isn't? In addition, it is strange that an Israeli newspaper should use the term "Christ" (which means "messiah") rather than "Jesus" - who has never been and will never be accepted by Jews as the Messiah. LOUIS GARB Jerusalem Coming clean Sir, - My cleaner is ending her employment with me at the end of December. The reason given was that because I pay national insurance contributions on her behalf her potential government benefits as a single mother with children are reduced. In other words, she finds it more beneficial to find an employer - and there are plenty - who will break the law by not paying contributions, thus allowing her to claim more benefits ("Hotline: Migrant workers are treated like slaves," December 23). Do I now have to break the law myself in order to find a replacement in this black- market economy? NAME WITHHELD America's image Sir, - Swanee Hunt is another wonderful example of what is best about the US ("Southern belle, steel magnolia," December 22). I hope President Bush finds a way to incorporate her into his cabinet. She would probably do wonders for America's image and for world peace. RAOUL WEIL Haifa How convenient Sir, - As a vegetarian it was interesting and encouraging to read that the sales of vegetarian foods are increasing. ("Vegetarian schnitzel sales give traditional chicken a pecking," December 26). I think one of the main reasons for the growth of soy food sales in Israel is the convenience of eating it with milk or meat dishes and, if eaten on its own, not having to wait the customary time between meat and milk. CEDRIC LEVY Jerusalem