Pride, not shameSir, – Brian Blum invokes Yuval Harari in presenting a soulless anthropological rationale for humanity’s segregation into groups (“Human history,” This Normal Life, December 12).His focus is basically fearbased: How can we know if this one or that one is in the club, and therefore not a threat, so to speak? He then juxtaposes this sad, but perhaps necessary, state of reality against the gold standard of utopia – the song “Imagine,” which to Blum’s sensibility offers the ideal of an “ultimate flat world, where egalitarianism and equality would reign supreme.”I think that maybe the rest of us would greatly benefit from another Israeli academic’s take on “Imagine,”.In his searing critique of the song as a vision of a Hell, Ze’ev Maghen astutely observes (“On Love and Lennon,” Azure, Spring 1999) that a world such as John Lennon envisions is ultimately a world without love and without compassion.If there is no particularity and no distinctiveness, and I am expected to love or care about strangers’ children as much as my own (and we can extend this out as far as you want to families, communities, tribes, societies and nations), then ultimately I love no one.While there is likely a basis in fact in what Blum posits, we would be better off seeing particularity combined with tolerance toward those not within the particularity as the highest form of human interaction. This surely is what we Jews believe God had in mind in first dispersing humanity at Babel, then focusing His redemptive efforts on one particular family/ nation – that of Abraham.We should all look hard at what Lennon says and see it for the illusory snare it represents.I do love my kids more than yours, and my people more than others, but that very ability to distinguish and discriminate allows me to respect and appreciate other kids and other peoples. That is something to be proud and not ashamed of.DOUGLAS ALTABEF Rosh PinaRip Van Begin Sir, – Daniel Gordis’s “Would Menachem Begin recognize the Likud?” (A Dose of Nuance, December 12) seems to imagine Begin as Rip Van Winkle, waking up more than 30 years after his premiership and ignorant of the changes in the world that had occurred since that time. Let’s examine just a few of Gordis’s points: 1. Begin would have been appalled at our current policies regarding the Africans here, as shown by his admitting the Vietnamese boat people to Israel.Not necessarily so. There were about 100 Vietnamese admitted then – legally, as opposed to over 50,000 Sudanese and Eritreans, who illegally infiltrated our borders and are now terrorizing poor Tel Avivians.2. Begin respected the Supreme Court and would have been horrified at current efforts to limit its powers. Not necessarily so. Begin lived before the era of Aharon Barak’s constitutional revolution, which turned the court from a reviewing judicial body into an anti-democratic group of wise elders who could and would strike down laws that offended them. 3. Begin would never have proposed the Jewish Nation- State bill. Not necessarily so. During Begin’s day, Arab advocacy groups such as Adalah hadn’t proposed the elimination of Israel’s Jewish character, as they have done over the past decade. Today, the bill is needed for protection against groups whose platforms would have been ignored 30 years ago.On the other hand, maybe Gordis is right: Perhaps Rip Van Begin would find today’s Likud unrecognizable. If Begin were to hear that the leader of his old party had accepted the establishment of a future Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, he would truly be appalled.DAVID GLEICHER Jerusalem Temple Mount optionsSir, – With regard to “Weighing the options on the Temple Mount” (Opinion, December 5) by Ben Hartman, according to Jewish law (per a halachic ruling by Rabbi Kook, Rabbi Goren, Rabbi Shach and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef) it is forbidden to go up to the Temple Mount because no living person knows where it’s permitted to stand, let alone pray.In addition, special purification is necessary, which means more than just going to the mikve. It’s also a provocation to go up to the Temple Mount because of the status quo agreement with Jordan from 1967.I’m personally against administrative detention for those arrested for going up to the Temple Mount, as every individual has the right to a trial because of the status of innocence until proven otherwise.KEN KALCHEIM Dimona Sir, – Both the police and Palestinians on the street say recent violence has been caused by Israelis coming after the mosque and looking to change the status quo. But the violence is really due to our inability to stand up for our rights, which allows our enemies to believe they are invincible – which they almost are, as there are no consequences for their brutality and murder of Jews.The police could easily show the Arabs who is in charge by allowing Jews to enter their holy site, and when the Arabs threaten to riot or actually do so, it is they who should be forcibly evicted. In this crazy country it is our enemies that are treated well, while the Jews in their own land and at their own holy site are treated like criminals.If we keep giving in to terrorism, there is no hope for us. There is every incentive for them to continue murdering us because they smell weakness and cowardice.The fact that Arabs have picnics, play football, vandalize and generally use the Temple Mount as a garbage center, much like the Jordanians did when it was under their control, should convince any rational person that it is just a tool with which to beat us. No one would behave like that on a site that is supposed to be holy to them.Let’s wake up to what is actually going on, and that is the gradual surrender by our cowardly leadership of everything for which we were returned to this land, and for which our people fought and died.EDITH OGNALL Netanya Back from the brink Sir, – Thank you, David Brinn, for your piece “Too much exercise” (Comment, December 5), and in particular: “Just like the political parties, we’re a nation of factions each with its own outlook, priorities and prejudices.And with each successive election, that division is becoming more apparent.”Before we divide too much, I suggest that we embark on a road of withdrawal from the brink. We should enforce, if we can, a look with serious intent at the democracy inherent in constituency-based Knesset representation, which would bring MKs and the people significantly nearer to each other, importing a sense of responsibility on the one hand, and mutual identification all around.I do not suggest that this would (or even should) cure us of being a nation of factions, but it might democratize us a little more! MICHAEL BRUNERT Modi’inWrite to: email@example.com Only a selection of letters can be published. Priority goes to those that are brief and topical.Letters may be edited, and must bear the name and address of the writer.