Letters to the editor, November 29

Forward with... Sir, - Shimon Peres, Ezer Weizman and Moshe Dayan helped Menachem Begin to make peace with Egypt. Those who join Ariel Sharon will help him make peace with the Palestinians ("Peres on verge of joining Sharon," November 28). BARAK MARCO Netanya ...Peres's agenda Sir, - The likely presence of Shimon Peres within the ranks of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new party suggests that Sharon is an opportunist who cares only about reelection. His policy has been borrowed from Shimon Peres, and a vote for Sharon will be a vote for Shimon Peres's agenda. YITZHAK BEN-DAYAN Pembroke Pines, Florida Thorns and roses Sir, - When the path ahead is strewn with roses, and butterflies flutter over brooks of tranquil waters leading to lush meadows, kadima (forward) is the obvious direction to go. But suppose you are standing on the edge of a cliff, over a valley shadowed by death? ("PM's party moves backward to 'Kadima,'" November 24.) AARON SWIRSKI Netanya Playing the game Sir, - I thoroughly enjoyed Raphael Medoff's well-deserved tribute to Binyamin Netanyahu's father ("Benzion Netanyahu, activist for the Jews," Letters, November 28). However, distancing it from the politics of the upcoming election is impossible. Politics intrudes. It is a game played out with many different strategies and the public must try to find out what's behind the smoke and mirrors. Bibi was raised on a diet of Jabotinsky, Zionism and dedication to the Jewish people and to Israel. For him this is bedrock belief. I wish him well. Let the games begin. JOSEPH DASHEFSKY Massapequa Park, New York No grounds for complaint Sir, - Further to "Barcelona & Jerusalem" (Editorial, November 28): Europe was against one Jerusalem In 1948. Jerusalem had a clear Jewish majority but with the help of Britain's Glubb Pasha and his British officers Trans-Jordan conquered and divided Jerusalem. A wall dividing the city was built, Jews were expelled from the Old City and Jewish sacred sites and cemeteries were desecrated. Israel is not ethnically cleansing any Arabs - almost 20% of Israel's citizens are Arab - but there are few Jews left in any Arab land; most found refuge in Israel. Europeans did not complain about British connivance in the horror then, and have no grounds for complaining now since Jerusalem in all its history has been a capital twice; both times Jewish, never Arab. ALBERT REINGEWIRTZ Carlsbad, California Sir, - Your editorial said all that needed to be said about the blatantly one-sided EU document written by British diplomats in the Jerusalem consulate. Just who gave either the British or the EU the right to have any say at all concerning our capital city of Jerusalem? Such reports are nothing but brazen meddling in the internal affairs of our country and should be treated as such. BERTIE FRANKEL Ra'anana Heartless society? Sir, - "Only in a heartless society would such governmental incompetence or indifference, and the plight it spawns, be allowed to persist" ("Unsettled," Editorial, November 27). I am feeling anger, shock and shame at the situation that I, as a citizen of the State of Israel who felt that the disengagement was a painful, necessary process, have helped to bring about. What have we become? RHONA SHEER MALINIAK Ra'anana Sir, - While many evacuated settlers have exaggerated their distress for political and financial gain, a large number are in genuine despair due to bureaucratic obstinacy and inefficiency. This shameful display of government indifference recalls the inglorious precedents of our treatment of the South Lebanese Army after Lebanon and of the Palestinian "collaborators" who sought our sanctuary after Oslo. Who will trust future Israeli promises of good will? The Left, usual champion of the underprivileged and of victims of social injustice, has demonstrated an equally shameful silence over the plight of the evacuated settlers. At this late stage only the media could mobilize the powers that be to move to improve this intolerable situation. They should conduct a relentless campaign highlighting the settlers' plight and exposing government ineptitude and bureaucratic incompetence. There should be no let-up until this open wound in our society has healed. ZEEV ABRAHAM Hertzliya Pituah Enough reward Sir, - I cannot understand the constant grumbling by Mahal volunteers about not being accorded enough recognition ("Mahal - never given its due," Letters, November 27). I came to Israel in 1949 through Paris and the camps in Marseilles, where I worked with the thousands of refugees from Europe, Morocco and India. On the final voyage of the Theodore Herzl we few Hagana members from Western countries kept order on an ancient, 800-ton boat with 1,000 people in the hold in the most primitive conditions. When the fighting ceased I, with six others, invested my meager savings in a Mahal fishing project. Due to currency changes and political preferences we lost every penny and I returned at the end of 1950 to the UK, where I continued to pay off the debts of others in Israel who had young families and no work. I returned to Israel later with my young family and endured difficult and unpleasant experiences, owing to the economic and political reality of the time, but I stayed. I have never been invited to a Mahal celebration, and could not care less. Recognition for what I did can never match the extraordinary experience of the first year of our state. For me the privilege of being here at that momentous, exciting time was reward enough. LEON HARRIS Netanya Jew-hatred where it isn't Sir, - Abe Foxman never met a headline he did not love, and could find anti-Semitism under a halla. When I read the accusations of Michael Jackson's anti-Semitism, I was shocked ("Michael Jackson calls Jews 'leeches,'" November 24). The Jackson family lawyer, Brian Oxman, is Jewish. He has handled matters for the whole family, including five divorces, and personal matters for the parents since 1989. When the news broke I called Mr. Oxman. He told me, "Michael loves everyone. Michael has always told everyone to treat me with respect." Lawyer Ben Brafman, an Orthodox Jew, was recruited for Michael's original dream team to fight his child molestation charges. This is what Brafman, the child of Holocaust survivors, had to say: "I saw no sign whatsoever to suggest that he was an anti-Semite. To the contrary, he and his staff went out of their way to accommodate my schedule when, for example, as an observant Jew I could not travel on the Sabbath." I am all for fighting anti-Semitism, but let us fight it where it really exists. LAURA GOLDMAN Tel Aviv Slave trade Sir, - So Michael Jackson has allied himself with Islam ("Michael Jackson mulling mosque in Bahrain," November 28). It may be time to remind Afro-Americans that it was the Muslim Arabs who went to black Africa to catch members of the black population, like animals, in order to sell them in their coastal towns to agents who, in turn, sold them on to farmers in North America. Mr. Jackson doesn't seem to know how his ancestors came to the US. Maybe he thinks they came on the Mayflower. H. RALF HELLINGER Tel Aviv Forget the Iranians, it's Israeli drivers! Sir, - Why are we worried about the Iranians' nuclear bomb capabilities when we are doing their job for them at a rate of some 500 fatal motoring accidents a year? ("Two killed in car accidents in North," November 28.) I am a travelled Englishman/new Israeli with many years' driving experience in many countries, and I promise you: My fellow Israeli drivers are the worst I have seen. The lessons I took prior to my Israeli practical driving test taught me nothing about minimum stopping distance to speed ratio, or the use of indicators. Imagine returning home from work one day to be told your child is no longer around because a motorist was too ignorant to understand the importance of keeping one's distance, not holding a cell phone, and being aware of what is going on. Don't shrug this off because it happens every week here. The driver holds the key, so arrive five minutes later at your journey's end. Don't let it be somebody else's journey's end. MARTIN LEWIS Hod Hasharon No Shabbat play Sir, - With so many facets of life in the Jewish state distancing themselves from traditional Jewish practice it was a pleasure to see and hear some welcome news on TV's Channel 2, November 27. The new owner of Betar Jerusalem, Arkadi Gaidamak, announced that in honor of his aliya his team would soon reschedule all its games in such a way as to avert violation of Shabbat. Gaidamak's move recalls the announcement last year by another immigrant from the former Soviet Union, Lev Leviev, that the Ramat Aviv mall, a highly successful shopping venue he had purchased, would henceforth be closed on Shabbat. JACK ZIMMERMAN Bnei Brak Pretty picture Sir, - What a nice change to see a photo of the silver-medallist Israeli duo, Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovsky, on your front page instead of the usual tanks, guns, attacks, demos and the (generally) unprepossessing mugs of our politicos ("Silver for ice dancing," photo, November 28). B. COHEN Jerusalem