Letters to the editor: January 3

Foxman's motives... Sir, - Abraham Foxman's motives are exactly what should be impugned ("No anti-Zionist spirit in 'Munich,'" Letters, January 2). After failing to ignore The Passion of the Christ - and being largely responsible for the majority of viewership that an otherwise unwatchable movie received - Foxman now wants to ignore the blatantly anti-Zionist intent of Steven Spielberg's Munich so he can maintain his self-appointed position as "court Jew" to the liberal Left. His protestations notwithstanding, Foxman should expect more from Spielberg. In a world where Israel and Jews are vilified for even attempting self-defense, Foxman is obliged to acknowledge the film's failure to recognize historical Arab/Muslim terrorism; the world's dereliction in stopping and/or punishing it; and the need of Israel to fight that battle alone. While Foxman might be forgiven for his apologia had, say, someone like Edward Said been the screenwriter or director, his motives are exactly what come into question when the director is the most accomplished Jewish filmmaker of this era. CHAIM ABRAMOWITZ Jerusalem ...Israel's precedent Sir, - Judging by the reaction to Steven Spielberg's recently released film it seems a majority of Jews in Israel and the Diaspora have taken the renowned filmmaker to task for equating Arab terrorists who coldbloodedly murdered the Israeli Olympic team with the Mossad agents who avenged their deaths. While I believe that any attempt to humanize terrorists or justify their heinous acts serves to aid and abet the global plague of terror, why fault only Spielberg for "immoral equivalency"? After all, it was the government of the State of Israel that decided to recognize Yasser Arafat as a peace partner, thus granting legitimacy to the chief PLO terrorist and his "Palestinian Authority." Subsequently, despite the thousands of Israelis slaughtered or wounded by Arab terror attacks since Oslo, Israel has been widely perceived as the oppressor of the Palestinians, whose plight has become a cause celebre for guilt-ridden Jews. SHIFRA HOFFMAN Founder Victims of Arab Terror Int'l Jerusalem Responsible action Sir, - Has there ever been even a scant indication that the Palestinians would disavow their winning strategy: proclaiming serious intent to honor commitments and agreements, doing absolutely nothing to fulfill those promises, and then finding that no punitive actions resulted? Your editorial "Hold the PA accountable" (January 2) only states the obvious by deploring the absence of eminently justified retaliatory measures for Palestinian inaction. It would be the height of malfeasance and irresponsibility if the Israeli government was waiting for fatalities or serious injury before taking appropriate and overdue action to hold the PA accountable for the ceaseless barrage of Kassams on populated and vulnerable targets. The government naively drops pamphlets warning Palestinians to vacate areas the IDF plans to hit in retaliation for the rockets. How deserved is this consideration when a recent Norwegian poll determined that two-thirds of the Palestinian population approve of these belligerent acts? FAY DICKER Lakewood, New Jersey Gaza anarchy (yawn) Sir, - Reading your coverage of the complete disregard of law and order leading to total anarchy in Gaza, we wonder why the world at large is not strongly reacting to it except for the usual tepid lip service. If it was happening between rival factions in Israel it would be front-page news worldwide ("PA official: We're no longer in control," January 1). JERRY AND SYLVIA DORTZ Ariel A real step against terror Sir, - By allowing Turkey to play a major role in managing the Erez industrial zone both Israel and the PA are taking concrete steps to counter the growing influence of Hamas in Gaza. One of the major keys to progress against terrorism is to provide a strong economic base for the Palestinian people - and a joint venture between the PA and Israel under the supervision of Turkey, itself a Muslim country, can only be seen as a real first step toward achieving that goal. If this plan succeeds the credit will have to go to the Sharon government, which has a no-tolerance policy toward terrorism but a long-range plan to help ease the desperate economic plight of the people living in Gaza ("Turkey to manage Erez industrial zone," January 2). P. BERMAN Shoham You can bet it's broke Sir, - Shlomo Avineri, against "'Presidentialism' in Israel" (January 2), makes potentially misleading statements such as: • "President Katsav… appointed a committee of experts to look into the possibility [of 'presidentialism' for Israel]." This committee is in fact looking at the entire Israeli political system, including the advisability of regional elections for all or part of the Knesset. • "Supporters of moving to such a system… wish for a strong executive." Some do, but a great many, including myself, simply want a more representative government. • "Presidential candidates would need the votes of the adherents of [small] parties." Not necessarily. Candidates may or may not decide to appeal to the adherents of particular small parties. • "It's hard to think of a single essential policy that has not been carried out because of alleged structural faults of the system." Everyone has his own list of essential policies that have not been carried out. Ask Amir Peretz or Yossi Beilin if their essential policies have been carried out. The more relevant question is whether or not the policies that have been implemented were wise ones (e.g. Oslo). • "If it ain't broke - don't fix it. And… the Israel system ain't broke." Really? If disengagement proved anything, it proved that the electorate cannot rely on party platforms as a guide on how to vote. And if this is so, a proportional system that has parties as its bedrock is indeed broke. COLEMAN BROSILOW Rehovot Poverty plague Sir, - I am sure that the tens of thousands of Israeli children who go to bed hungry every night, the elderly who rummage through the garbage pails to supplement their diets and the thousands of small shopkeepers who went bankrupt and now live in poverty will all be greatly satisfied, but not fooled, by the impressive growth in the GDP ("Economy grows 5.2% in 2005). Perhaps in five or ten years they too may share in the bounty. In the meantime they shall have to continue standing in line at their local soup kitchens in order to survive. In spite of the impressive statistics, poverty and its related problems continue to plague the nation. One does not have to be a genius to predict that, sooner or later, there is going to be a spontaneous, massive social explosion that will shake the foundations of the country and threaten its future. ELI MINOFF Safed Deadly slumber Sir, - I was outraged to read about two Jewish youths killed by an Israeli Arab bus driver who apparently fell asleep at the wheel ("Two teenagers killed in accident involving Egged bus," December 28). In the US it is so rare for drivers of local buses or intercity Greyhound buses to fall asleep, causing fatalities, that when it happens it makes national headlines. The Pentateuch is severe against those responsible for preventable homicides. JACOB MENDLOVIC Toronto Stinky habit Sir, - Further to "Puff no more" (Letters, January 2) and N. Gomel's self-satisfied prescription for quitting smoking, I stopped smoking in 1983. There wasn't a heavier smoker than I in all the country. Getting out of bed signaled my first cigarette. Before and after breakfast I had a smoke, and during the day I thought I could not drive - or work, think, remember anything or enjoy life - without a cigarette in my mouth or between stained fingers. Then one evening I took my beautiful, three-year-old granddaughter on my knees for a cuddle and a kiss, and she said: 'Grandpa, you stink!' I never touched a cigarette again. Self-control? No, I just don't want to smell. Smokers, think of that. MAX FRIEDLANDER Jerusalem Holy work goes on Sir, - Imagine my surprise when I opened The Jerusalem Post on January 1 and found myself quoted ("Jewish seniors need nurses, but will congregations pay?"). Let me clarify a few points. First, every synagogue has different needs; nurses are not needed in all congregations. Second, it is not just seniors who need help. Third, a nurse does not take the place of a Bikur Holim committee or caring community but rather enhances the work of volunteers and rabbis. Much of the work I have done as a congregational nurse has been directly related to end-of-life issues due to my specialties as an oncology and hospice nurse. I was able to assist those dealing with serious illness and death from a different perspective than the rabbis of our synagogue, and to facilitate the help of volunteers. Most important, we worked as a team to help those in need in our synagogue family. I have always found nursing to be holy work. As an new immigrant I look forward to continuing this holy work in my new community. WENDY BOCARSKY, R.N. Jerusalem Easy's out Sir, - The impending change in bank overdraft regulations will undoubtedly net our banks millions of shekels. Easy credit - that worthy instrument of economic survival - will soon disappear from the horizon, like Zionist idealism. Perhaps we should follow the American example and add a motto to our currency. Yes, let our coins and paper currency bear the slogan "In God we trust, but all others pay cash!" AARON FRADELSON Tiberias Cloudy crystal ball Sir, - I am in the habit of keeping articles on predictions for the year to come to see how accurate they turn out to be. On December 27, 2004, the Post published these predictions for 2005 made by a "famous astrologer," Hassan al-Sharibi of Tunis: Both Mahmoud Abbas and George Bush would be assassinated; Saddam Hussein would die suddenly before his trial even started; Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would lose his government and Osama bin Laden would be captured, more likely dead than alive. CAROL CLAPSADDLE Jerusalem