Slurs and falsehoods Sir, – Regarding “Hot off the Arab press” of January 17, it’s a good idea to publish excerpts from the Arab press, but many readers worldwide might not know the background of what is being reported.For example, there is “Sharon’s late death and legacy” from Al-Safeer in Beirut. The reporter mentions “the Jenin massacre in the second intifada....”Many readers might not know that there was no such massacre, and that it ultimately was proved to be a lie.If you are going to print the false claims published in the Arab press, it is incumbent on you to point out the false information and correct it with the truth, so that readers can judge for themselves.If that is a problem, it would be better not to reproduce these slurs and falsehoods at all.MICHAEL SCHNEIDER Ra’anana Noble proposal Sir, – Jeremy Gimpel’s noble proposal that the debts of the poor be remitted during the upcoming shmita year (“Ancient wisdom to transform a modern economy,” Israel Inspired, January 17) is quaint and endearing, but utterly unrealistic.Israeli banks, like banks everywhere, do not lend money to those in need, but merely to those in want, who can readily afford to repay their debts. Indeed, if they had any sensitivity to the needs of the poor, our banks would waive their usurious fees for every transaction, deposit or withdrawal – fees they gladly waive for those clients who are least affected by them.By contrast, the poor who seek loans have to go to the socalled gray market, a market run by gangsters and mafiosos who take their spiritual cues from babas, X-ray men and other kabbalistic superstars who have made it onto the Forbes list of richest Israeli rabbis.It is highly unlikely that these holy men would urinate into the pool that has so enriched them. After all, how then would they finance their “Torah” enterprises, lavish mansions in New York, Paris and the Negev, first-class air travel and the suitcases of cash needed to grease their way among our elected officials and law enforcement brass? J.J. GROSS Jerusalem Is kashrut cruel? Sir, – Reader Jenny Levine (“Kashrut and cruelty,” Letters, January 17) appears to insinuate that shochtim, or ritual slaughterers, are party to cruelty to animals, which the Torah forbids.She writes that it has been disproved so many times that kosher slaughter is as humane as possible.Disproved by whom? No references from Jewish sources are given to support such a claim. We do not require other groups to instruct us on how to run our religion. One cannot imagine God commanding the Jews to act in a cruel manner, nor our highly trained shochtim to collude with such practice. I advise your reader to see the pamphlet Shechita (London, Soncino, 1967) by the late Dr. Bernard Homa, issued on behalf of the Board of Deputies for British Jews.Her second statement, namely that meat from animals that have been maltreated – not, I hasten to add, by Orthodox Jews – surely cannot be kosher.Once again, no references are given. If she was knowledgeable about the laws of shechita (ritual slaughter), she would realize the meaninglessness of such statements.Like those who threaten our right to act in accordance with our religion (which includes our right to exist), ignorance is no longer an option. And just for the record, nowhere in the Torah does it state that at the present time vegetarianism is an ideal or sacred duty.LEONARD BOOK Ashkelon The writer is a rabbi.Help for the troubled Sir, – Dr. Mike Gropper wrote an excellent article on depression and gave a list of useful techniques to adhere to (“Help for the helpless,” Psychology, January 24). However, I would like to add one more that I think could be very useful: Join a support group for people suffering from depression.Also, I don’t think that I would use the word “helpless” when referring to these people, as many of them manage to have productive days. Maybe a more apt title for Dr. Gropper’s article would have been “Help for the troubled.”JILL SADOWSKY Ra’anana The writer has authored two books and numerous articles on mental illness, and has been honored in the Knesset for her work.