Letters to the editor, November 18

Judicial balance Sir - Yosef Goell's call to "balance" Ruth Gavison's appointment to the Supreme Court with the appointment of another justice who shares Chief Justice Aharon Barak's philosophy is ludicrous ("A question of balance on the court," November 17). Evelyn Gordon, who has done a yeoman's job of trying to explain the court's workings, explained only two procedural barriers that Barak ignores to justify his judicial activism: justiciability and standing ("Aharon Barak's agenda," November 17). A third procedural barrier which differentiates Israel's Supreme Court from similar courts in Western countries is that the latter will not hear cases dealing with "political questions." The judiciary should be part of a system of checks and balances on government's functioning. Sadly, in Israel, the judiciary has abrogated the legislative function to itself. CARL M. SHERER Jerusalem Optimistically pessimistic? Sir, - Larry Derfner left me in a bit of a quandary. Was he optimistically pessimistic or pessimistically optimistic ("Peretz, the morning after," November 17)? It's a good thing if Peretz gets elected, but don't expect too much. Things just don't work so easily. I also believe he sells short the New Deal accomplishments of the 1930s. Some chuckled at the ABC agencies, but others did give a sense of self-respect to those who had lost it during the Great Depression. I know. I was there. He only knows what he read somewhere. While it is true that good economic times didn't really come until WWII, many people still felt better during the Roosevelt years than they had during the Republican ones. I still have faith in Peretz. He'll certainly do a lot better for us poor folks than Prime Minister Sharon or Binyamin Netanyahu ever could. LEONARD ZURAKOV Netanya Hard heads soft hearts Sir, - Tommy Lapid is definitely right in saying that certain kinds of policies that are intended to help the poor end up doing more harm than good. But this is not an argument against progressive policies themselves, it is merely an argument against bad progressive policies. Policies that are both intelligent and progressive have been shown to be very effective, particularly in northern European countries. Lapid cites Milton Friedman, but I would recommend a book by another eminent economist named Alan S. Blinder, Hard Heads, Soft Hearts: Tough-Minded Economics for a Just Society. The title says it all. DAVID J. BALAN Washington, DC Three dictators Sir, - It seems we are a unique people. Our prime minister dictated the evacuation of Gush Katif, despite being elected on a platform which was against such a move. Our Supreme Court President, Aharon Barak, has decided that only his agenda should be dictated to us all ("Barak: Gavison's court agenda is 'inappropriate,'" November 13). And now Amir Peretz garners a slim victory to become Labor party leader and is ready to dictate his agenda. Three dictators want to rule the Jewish state. MURRAY GREENFIELD Tel Aviv <> Sir, - The Movement for Quality Government sent letters on Wednesday to the Austrian and South African ambassadors in Tel Aviv pleading with them to persuade their governments to cooperate with an ongoing investigation into allegations that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was bribed by foreign businessmen with interests in Israel ("Help sought from Austria, S. Africa in Sharon investigation," November 17). A word of advice to the prime minister: If he feels he is innocent of any wrongdoing or illegal activities, he should directly urge Austria and South Africa to cooperate fully with the investigation. JERRY AND SYLVIA DORTZ Ariel