April 1: On not seeing stars

"If only today's Jews and Arabs could come up with enlightened compromises ... perhaps peace could be achieved."

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
On not seeing stars Sir, - I can't agree with your description of the decision by the Arthur Rubinstein piano competition judges as "bizarre" ("Rubinstein winners share second place," March 31). I heard all the finalists, and while the two second-place winners played very well, there was no star performer, no one who brought new insights and interpretation to the works. The judges' decision added prestige to the competition, stating, as it did, that only outstanding competitors, and not merely good ones, merit first-place recognition. ROSALIE BROSILOW Rehovot Sir, - You stated that "the tri-annual event... has never seen two winners share first place." Not so: The 1989 competition had two winners, Benjamin Frith and Ian Fountain, of Britain. Both received first prizes and Gold medals. This year's decision not to award the first prize may have been "bizarre" - or not - but it, too, had a precedent. In 1986 there was no first-prize winner at the Rubinstein. The prestige of the contest did not appear to suffer. EMANUEL KRASOVSKY Tel Aviv Aiming high Sir, - I enjoyed "Out of the ruins: Restoration of Jerusalem's historic Hurva synagogue speeds ahead" (March 28). You stated, correctly, that upon its completion in 1864, the Hurva was the tallest building in the Jewish Quarter. There is an interesting story here. The Arabs insisted that a mosque situated next to the synagogue be the "highest" building in the area. The Jews insisted that their synagogue be the "tallest." A clever compromise was devised: The Jews dug down, allowing for the Hurva to be "taller" than the mosque; while the mosque remained "higher." If only today's Jews and Arabs could come up with enlightened compromises of this kind, perhaps peace could be achieved. STUART KATSOFF Tel Aviv Great expectations Sir, - Robert Dublin is quite right in his assessment of our government's lack of interest in Jonathan Pollard's release ("Pollard abandoned," Letters, March 30). But what can one expect when our prime minister tells the people of Ashkelon to prepare for more Kassam and Grad rockets? If the Olmert-Barak-Livni trio was really concerned with citizens' safety and security, they would set an example and move to the area around Gaza in order to share those citizens' suffering - as the Royal Family did during the London Blitz, when they refused to leave London. MENACHEM DAYAGI Tel Aviv The real folly Sir, - In "The folly at Givat Ze'ev" (March 26) Amnon Rubinstein used his keen intelligence and legal knowledge to question the wisdom of expanding Jewish construction at this site, because doing so would antagonize our most important allies. However, we have learned that our most vital ally, the US, is pressuring Israel to allow 700 PA security personnel to be deployed in Jenin; and for Israel to transfer sophisticated night vision goggles to the PA, in addition to allowing their receipt of 25 armored personnel carriers from Russia ("Israel mulls PA deployment of soldiers in Hebron, Tulkarm," March 31). Defense Minister Barak has openly acknowledged that Israeli lives and property might be endangered. The unfortunate but factual history of several similar past gestures by Israel to the same PA is of such materiel being used in the maiming and killing of Israelis. These unrequited gestures are therefore completely unacceptable; and if Israel makes them it will be acting not merely in folly, but with criminal irresponsibility. ZEV CHAMUDOT Petah Tikva Suspected abuse? Tell the authorities Sir, - A few points about "Haredi code of silence on abuse must be broken" (March 27). First, sexual and physical abuse are rife among all sectors of society. As a survivor of sexual abuse within the home, I have come across many other survivors from very different levels of society, both religious and economic, and from all geographical areas. Unfortunately, the single factor that unites all these communities is the code of silence that exists within the specific community. Whether it is to save the face of the village, kibbutz or religion, or the family's reputation, the only victim is the abused child. I therefore implore anyone who has even the faintest suspicion that abuse is taking place in someone's home to notify the authorities. It could be a false alarm, and then everyone can breathe a sigh of relief; or it could be the lifeline a child needs to save him- or herself from the evil hands of an abuser. Beyond being the right thing to do, it is also the legal duty of every citizen because the suffering does not end when the abuse does. It continues to hound its victims well into adulthood. Let us make a pledge to the children among us that we will not keep silent to protect the guilty, but do all in our power to protect those who desperately need their silent voices to be heard. NAME WITHHELD Israel Right and might Sir, - In "Conversion court packed with new haredi judges. Source in rabbinate claims many hand-picked by Amar" (March 11), Matthew Wagner reported on a sad phenomenon. As a religious Zionist, I agree fully with Rabbi Shaul Farber, head of ITIM, a non-profit organization that helps potential converts navigate rabbinic bureaucracy, that "The judges that serve on the conversion courts are the cream of the religious Zionist community. They don't need the approbation of the haredi Right." Rabbi Farber is being very circumspect. The haredi Right represents might, and these additional haredi judges will make the removal of bureaucratic procedures that stand in the way of the desperately needed mass conversions totally impossible. I would have loved to see a full list of all 64 candidates, including such "minor details" as: Did they serve in the army, and if so, in what units? Where did they receive their rabbinic ordination? Where and in which rabbinic functions did they serve? Who recommended them? To which religious "shade" do they belong? The answers would have enabled me to judge how far this "election" was made from a diversified slate. YOSEF VLEESCHHOUWER Jerusalem Virgin territory Sir, - Re "German is spoken here" (March 25), I'd like to tell Liat Collins: Don't judge a book by its cover, or a nation by its grammar. As a former student of German she will remember that we, like any other sensible people, see humankind as represented in two sexes, male and female. But grammatically speaking, we differentiate between three genders - which do not always cover the natural "sex" of the subject (or object). It's the powerful little suffix -chen that does the trick, turning almost every noun, even a "masculine" one, into the neutral gender. By the way, the origin of Maedchen is "maid," which can mean young girl, female servant or virgin. Now that's what I call ambiguity. ANDREA THIELE Berlin Timely question Sir, - Why do all media advise us to move our clocks forward at 2 a.m. on Friday morning? Wouldn't it be far more logical to do so at 12 midnight - or better still, before retiring? ("Did you remember to turn your clocks forward one hour last night?" March 28.) ARJE COHEN Haifa