Letters to the editor, February 24

Authentic 'politika' Sir, - As one of the Anglo candidates for the Knesset mentioned in "Angling for Anglos" (February 17), I read Gil Hoffman's article with more than casual interest. In the accompanying box "How do you talk politics in Hebrew? By speaking English" Mr. Hoffman wrote that "some English [political] terms have been absorbed into Hebrew... as in the case of politika [politics]." But, davka, the word politika is authentic mishnaic Hebrew: Rabbi Yehuda describes city dwellers as politikin (Trumot 2:5). Rabbi Ovadia of Bartinura explains that the politikin are "those who dwell in the king's palaces" - i.e., those who rule the country. Or, in simple English, "politicians." DANIEL PINNER Herut Party Candidate Kfar Tapuah Forward & back Sir, - Re "Yiddish movies get a welcome jump-start" (Arts & Entertainment, February 21): The free world is haunted by the threat to its democratic way of life by an increasingly strident Islamic Orthodoxy with its repressive, sexist attitudes toward women, often culminating in family "honor" killings on account of "immoral" behavior. But what about our Orthodoxy? True, our maidens are not murdered if suspected of disgracing family honor. But they are targets of aggressive demands by their male "betters" to retain "modesty" in dress and behavior, to keep their place at home, in the kitchen, and in the synagogue behind a wall or curtain. Israel is often described by its enemies as an "apartheid" state. This is nonsense, as the only apartheid practiced in the Middle East is found in the judenrein Arab Muslim states, where persecution is also eradicating Christian communities today. However, there are forms of segregation in Israel, even on our public transport system. For example, on buses running back and forth between Bnei Brak and Jerusalem men (in black) sit in the front of the bus, and women at the back. Woe betide any female who accidentally strays into the forbidden area! Now we have "the first Yiddish film in 60 years," aimed at the American Orthodox community, with an all-male cast and one small female role - played by a man! If this community - once fiercely anti-photography, anti-TV and anti-movie - does indeed watch this movie, that will be one giant step forward for Orthodox people. But it will also be a 400-year step back into the dark ages of the entertainment world, when female roles were played on stage by pre-adolescent boys. Only 50 years or so after Shakespeare's death did the first actresses appear on British stages. But in Orthodox Jewish circles in 21st-century America, there are elements who cling to a primitive, sexist past. TRUDY GEFEN Kiryat Ono Ambiguous occupier Sir, - I am not sanguine about Israel's ultimate, long-term survival in an immense ocean of hostile Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, although I am optimistic about the future flourishing of the Jewish people in a large non-ethnic state that has abandoned its conflict-fueling obsession with ethnicity and religion-based social engineering. But on Israel's behalf, and in view of the questions Saul Singer raised in "Playing pretend" (UpFront, February 19), I raise two more: (1) How can Hamas consistently both participate in the Palestinian Authority and uphold its nonrecognition of the one signatory - Israel - whose agreement was most necessary for the creation of that authority in the first place? (2) To what extent can Israel be said to be the occupier of the West Bank without being able to do anything about the Hamas government? In other words, how can it be an occupier and the West Bank an "occupied territory" if Hamas rules despite Israel's wish? The Hamas election victory, and a PA which looks soon to be partially funded by a hostile state like Iran, does seem to make the extent to which Israel should still be considered an occupier considerably more ambiguous. JAMES ADLER Cambridge, Massachusetts Party of God Sir, - Sometimes we can glimpse God's plan unfolding. While rabbis were warning that God would not permit unilateral withdrawal from Gush Katif, Sharon/Likud/Kadima were unwittingly doing God's work by securing the success of Hamas, "the party of God." Now that Hamas is firmly in control, the chances of a Palestinian state being created are a long, long way off. Sure, we may have major conflicts in the future, but at least Israel won't have to worry about a terrorist Palestinian state existing next door. Not in this generation. Three cheers for the Party of God ("Fatah official: Party to join Hamas gov't," February 22). YAACOV PETERSEIL Jerusalem Lack of feeling Sir, - President Bush's "deal" with a state-owned company in the United Arab Emirates to operate American ports, whether "safe" or not, shows definite disregard not only for the American psyche but his own party. How did he think the masses would feel, still emotionally recovering from 9/11? And, as a result, how did he think his own party members would need to react in light of their own constituencies and reelection prospects ("Bush pledges to veto proposed bill blocking Arab company's ports deal," February 23). As one commentator said second-term Presidents sometimes feel invincible. Bush doesn't seem to feel at all. ALLEN MEYER Lake Zurich, Illinois