Letters to the editor, January 13

First-rate coverage Sir, - I would like to commend you on your daily coverage of Ariel Sharon's hospitalization over the past several days. Judy Siegel's reporting of events at Hadassah University Hospital, along with her ongoing explanation of the various changes in the prime minister's condition and her colleagues' analysis of the overall picture, has been outstanding and greatly appreciated, especially by this reader and subscriber. IRVING M. GOLDENBERG Efrat Palestinian press Sir, - Khaled Abu Toameh's expose of the lack of freedom of the press in the PA was refreshingly blunt ("The fallen hope for Palestinian press freedom," January 4). However, he is off the mark in one crucial respect. He criticizes his foreign colleagues for ignoring "the voice of the man in the street" and "contenting themselves with interviews of this or that official." "To understand what Palestinians are really thinking," he argues, "you need to sit in the cafes and talk to the man on the street." Unfortunately, most press coverage in the Palestinian cities and towns is carried on from Jerusalem - for safety reasons. Every newspaper and wire service in the world uses Palestinian "stringers" for on-site coverage. Foreign press coverage of the Palestinians is being controlled by the Palestinian Authority through those stringers. Therefore, the foreign press does not cover the Palestinians the way it covers most other locations in the world. The irony is that for a free press to exist that will criticize the government, the government must foster and protect the press. Sadly, the PA is unwilling. CARL M. SHERER Jerusalem Happy talk Sir, - I read with interest Marvin Schick's "Where is Chabad heading?" (January 10) and the various responses. In Israel there is an organization called Tzav Pius that aims at creating dialogue between religious and non-religious. Perhaps it could create dialogue also among the various Orthodox groups, and then, once we can all get along, the Messiah can truly come. BARUCH SHAPIRO Har Nof Jerusalem Compassion call Sir, - Having recently returned from visiting the Falash Mura in Ethiopia, I commend your editorial urging the government to honor its commitment to bring them to Israel ("The plight of the Falash Mura," January 5). Particularly in Addis Ababa, where the NACOEJ assistance programs have been stopped for over a year, the situation is the worst I have seen in 15 years. Jewish children are begging in the streets for food rather than attending class. They are suffering now, but ultimately Israel will pay the price for the delays, when these future citizens of Israel make aliya, in heavy additional outlays for remedial education and health costs. However, you are not correct in placing all the blame on the Interior Ministry. The major factor holding up aliya is the failure of the Finance Ministry to appropriate the necessary funds. One can only hope that as Ehud Olmert settles into his new duties as acting prime minister he will display the same compassion toward this distressed Jewish community as was shown by Prime Minister Sharon, who was a leading advocate for the community. JOSEPH FEIT Lawrence, New York The writer is a past president of the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry (NACOEJ) Tainted funds Sir, - Re the acceptance of questionable funds by community organizations (Grapevine, January 11): A number of years ago, when I held the post of AACI national president during a time of dire financial need, an offer was made of a substantial, but questionable, amount of money which would have eased our heavy monetary burden. Without much discussion it was decided to say "Thanks, but no thanks!" To this day, I know that the decision to refuse those "tainted funds" was the right one. RUBY RAY KARZEN Jerusalem 'Black sheep' of the Diaspora Sir, - Judy Montagu should ignore the harsh criticism of Israel by her friends in Britain ("About living in Israel and losing friends," January 8) because its Jewish community is the black sheep of the Diaspora. No other anti-Zionist group outside Israel contains such a hugely disproportionate number of Jews of its country (over 1,100 members) or has attracted so many of its notables (filmmaker Mike Leigh, theater director Dr. Jonathan Miller, playwright Tom Stoppard) and is so well-organized as the British-based Jews for Justice for Palestinians. While three Jewish members of parliament - Harry Cohen, Gerald Kaufman and the recently defeated Oona King - have vilified Israel, not even one of the 37 Jews serving in the American Congress dares criticize Israel. And the Jewish population in Britain is only five percent of the size of the US's. As for Canada, while its Jewish community is a third larger than Britain's, its anti-Zionists are imperceptible. JACOB MENDLOVIC Toronto