Letters to the editor, March 10, 2006

Book of life Sir, - How refreshing to learn the truth behind the Protestants' attitude to Israel ("Bulldozing Caterpillar," Elwood McQuaid, March 9). I was reminded of the words of Isaiah: "They have devised schemes, but they have been foiled. They have made declarations against us, but they will not be fulfilled, because Hashem is with us." Both on Purim and Pessah we recall those who have attempted to destroy us throughout the generations. Miraculously, we are here to this day, stronger than ever, whereas mighty regimes have fallen. Our Torah is our book of life. MICHAEL PLASKOW Netanya Principle vs. payoff Sir, - Evelyn Gordon hits the nail on the head - again ("Don't mention Africa," March 9). Western countries send huge amounts of money to Palestinian terrorists - as a payoff - while letting Angolans of Africa starve. This tells us that when European (and, to a lesser extent, American) diplomats criticize us for so-called human rights abuses they are more worried about their own necks, and "stability" for their oil supplies, than what really goes on over here. BARRY LYNN No free lunch for large families Sir, - While agreeing about the child-friendly atmosphere in Israel, I totally disagree that it is easier to bring up children here ("For the children," Letters, March 7). As a grandmother of nine and childbirth educator working with young parents, I witness daily the difficulties of making ends meet. Free education? It takes a month's salary to send three children back to school in September, equipping them with materials that ought to be bought wholesale by the schools. And it takes another month's salary to keep those checks flowing for enrichment activities and extras which should be provided by the Ministry of Education. Israeli mothers who really want to stay at home and care for their babies at least for the first year are often forced to return to work because the family cannot manage on one salary. Leisure activities? Try taking three or four children for a holiday treat to a swimming pool, leisure center, museum or other enrichment activity and see how few discounts are offered. Of course children are a blessing, and we are prepared to prioritize so they get the best of everything. But for a country that needs large families, Israel does not make it easy. WENDY BLUMFIELD Haifa Off the roof Sir, - Rabbi Elyakim Levanon fails to convince concerning the practicality of a Greater Israel (Shouting from the rooftops," March 7). Sure, it would be nice to have a Jewish state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean, but how can we ignore the multitude of hostile Palestinian Arabs that we would have to rule over, and, by Rabbi Levanon's own admission, would have to treat as limited, second-class Israeli citizens? Where are the Jewish values in that? On the other hand, the present government's shameful handling of our evacuated citizens from Gaza borders on the criminal. Broken promises, inefficient housing, unemployment, disruption of lives, are all the inalienable responsibility of the government following the "necessary disengagement." But the real problem is that neither side has bothered to sit down and explain the strength of its position to the electorate. The government's unilateral action in Gaza nearly caused a civil war, while the "rooftop" youngsters at Amona vented their anger at their own brethren in the police and IDF. Perhaps the time has come to stop shouting from the rooftops, come down to earth, sit down and thoroughly explore the pros and cons of future planned disengagements. HAIM M. LERNER Ganei Tikva Faint praise ain't enough Sir, - As an attendee of the concerts of the iPalpiti orchestra and all the recitals of the iPalpiti Soloists at the recent Eilat Chamber Music Festival, I was disappointed to read the tepid review of the performances by your music critic Maxim Reider ("Eilat's Winterfest hits the right note," February 28). Although he appropriately complimented the energy of the musicians' orchestral concerts, it seemed clear to me that Mr. Reider either did not attend the soloists' consistently outstanding performances, or was so limited in space that he had to omit mention of these wonderful concerts. Although complimentary regarding the orchestra's performance of a single piece, Mr. Reider omitted to mention that the orchestra was the featured ensemble of the festival; that its musicians rendered spectacular performances of a broad range of music with only minimal rehearsal time; and that both orchestra and soloists received standing ovations after every concert. To the audiences' delight, the musicians responded generously to their rhythmic clapping by playing many encores after each concert - a noteworthy fact that went unmentioned in your review. I came to Israel specially to attend the Eilat festival because of the reputation for excellence of the iPalpiti orchestra. As a Los Angeles resident, I was excited and proud that these prize-winning musicians had been invited to star at the Eilat festival. For your music critic to fail to mention the remarkable performances of the musicians, beyond noting their youthful energy, was a disservice to their musicianship, to their magnificent conductor, Eduard Schmieder, and, most importantly, to your readers. We in Los Angeles know that what we have is an international treasure. Too bad your critic did not accurately report what we, the audience, were privileged to hear. HAROLD E. SHABO Los Angeles