April 2: Size matters

It is hard to imagine that a country of seven million requires a cabinet of 30 ministers.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Size matters Sir, - It is hard to imagine that a country of seven million requires a cabinet of 30 ministers, twice the size of the US president's cabinet. I'm afraid this is not a very efficient start for the new government ("Netanyahu set to present mega-cabinet," March 31). JEROME S. REICH Miami Sir, - Every time a new government is formed there are comments about its size and composition. We must remember that democracy doesn't come cheap. The only "low-cost" governments are those run by one person alone determining who sits in his cabinet. Almost every new government has to add ministers at some point. Remember: All political parties, by definition, have "parochial needs." That's why they exist. And it was Binyamin Netanyahu, the first directly elected prime minister, who when he took office kept his cabinet to the then-mandated 18 ministers. A.I. GOLDBERG Hatzor Haglilit Sir, - Here's wishing PM Netanyahu and his administration the best of luck in their effort to achieve peace between Israel and the Arab world. HERB STARK Massapequa, New York Misguided policy Sir, - According to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the United States is no longer using the phrase "global war on terror" ("For US, no more 'war on terror,'" April 1). This is not a surprising development since the Obama administration seems to believe that the way to achieve peace is through appeasement. Let's not forget that the 9/11 terrorists designed their evil plan as President Clinton's administration mistakenly refrained from dealing with the global terrorism threat as a "war." I pray, for the sake of both Americans and Israelis, that history does not repeat itself because of this recycled and misguided policy. JOSH HASTEN Jerusalem Firmly on your feet Sir, - I recently traveled to Sderot with a program training adolescents in advocacy and solidarity for Israel. I walked the ghostly streets of the town and stood in residents' destroyed homes. At the police station, I walked through the tens of rows of Kassam rockets on display; some hundreds lined the walls. I heard the residents pleading, tearfully, "We just want it to stop, we just want it to stop. For our sake, our parents' sake and especially for our children's sake." Israel must stop hiding behind the other countries of the world. She is a strong and great nation, and should be standing on her own two feet. The time has come to put an end to this terrorism ("Palestinians firing Chinese-made rockets at Israel, police say," April 1). JACQUELINE BRYK New York I resent this portrayal Sir, - Your headline "Balad's Zoabi praises Iran's nuclear quest as means of deterring Israel" (April 1) was misleading and could by no means be concluded from my statements. On the contrary, they completely oppose my democratic positions. It seems that by putting a provocative headline, your paper made a "nuclear" figure of me, which is absolutely false. When I was asked whether I was afraid of the Iranian nuclear weapon, I answered negatively, since I believe there is no such thing. Yet I declared that my fear is more caused by the Israeli nuclear weapon, for two reasons: A. it gives a justification for nuclear armament and the nuclear arms race; and B. there is no question regarding the existence of the Israeli nuclear weapon. I was not asked about my point of view regarding nuclear armament in general, nor was the journalist even interested to know whether I oppose or support nuclear armament for all countries. It should be noted that I'm against any kind of nuclear armament, and I find Israel responsible for some countries seeking nuclear weapons in the region. I resent and protest the falsification of my viewpoints by your journalist, whom we expected would be professional and refrain from mixing his own Zionist tendencies with his professional work. I had asked him to send us the interview before publishing. By ignoring our request, he caused the newspaper and himself an unpleasant situation of presenting the newspaper in unprofessional and propagandistic way. HANEEN ZOABI, MK Jerusalem The editor writes: The Jerusalem Post stands by the story. The interviews with MK Zoabi were recorded. The writer made no agreement to send MK Zoabi the interview before publication. Norway's stance on anti-Semitism Sir, - The print edition of The Jerusalem Post dated March 30 carried an article purporting to demonstrate widespread anti-Semitism in Norway, and even that this is supported by Norwegian political leaders. Such allegations are without basis in fact, as repeatedly shown by statements made by leaders of the Jewish community in my country. I was particularly disappointed that you claimed the Norwegian minister of finance, Ms. Halvorsen, shouted anti-Semitic slogans during a demonstration in Oslo. As your paper acknowledges today, this is not true ("Norwegian Jews tell of 'troubles,' but tolerance in Norwegian society," April 1). The minister took part in a manifestation for a ceasing of hostilities in Gaza. It lasted for about an hour, and was a dignified and peaceful event. It ended outside the Norwegian parliament. The violent demonstration that later followed outside Israel's embassy was carried out by fringe groups. Ms Halvorsen strongly disapproves of violence and incitement to violence, and has said so repeatedly. JAKKEN BIØRN LIAN Ambassador of Norway Tel Aviv Sir, - I regret that Norwegian Jews let the government, the minister of finance, her party and large segments of this society off the hook. Still I understand my Jewish compatriots, for Norwegian Jews are a generous people. Even so they and Israel will, as usual, get nothing in return. You attacked this issue in the wrong way; you should have let a qualified, independent researcher go through the coverage of, say, four major papers and two broadcasters for the duration of the Gaza war. Then you would see what is going on. Something is rotten in the kingdom, and it makes me ashamed. I shall pray for Israel and the Jewish people. You have my respect and love, for you are civilized. Europe is not, it keeps making the same stupid mistakes. They have learned nothing from recent history, and time will prove me right. HELGE SUNDAR LOEKKE Arvika, Sweden My tiny hand was frozen Sir, - On March 30 at the Tel Aviv Opera house, I saw the most incredible performance of La Boheme. The singing was superb, the acting top-notch and the characters so well picked for their respective parts. But I cannot find enough superlatives to describe the sets. Designed by Franco Zeffirelli and put together by the Opera House, I was there, in the Paris street on Christmas Eve. I felt as if I were mingling with the throng on stage. A cold, early morning scene complete with snow and a frost-covered ground, had me shivering in my seat. I was right there in the garret with the struggling artists! Kol Hakavod to all who participated in this truly spectacular production (Opera Review, Ury Eppstein, March 24). LINDA SILVERSTONE Herzliya Pituah Past as prologue Sir, - I thought your readers might be interested in this letter, which appeared over the weekend in The New York Times: "As a longtime supporter of the Israeli peace movement, I believe that based on Benjamin Netanyahu's record as prime minister in the late 1990s, he may turn out to be more pragmatic and moderate than his out-of-power political rhetoric suggests. Although Mr. Netanyahu previously vehemently opposed and denounced both prime minister Yitzhak Rabin's accords with the Palestine Liberation Organization and any negotiations with Yasir Arafat, the PLO leader, prime minister Netanyahu in October 1998 lunched with Mr. Arafat in Gaza before meeting with him at the Wye River Plantation in Maryland to negotiate a significant United States-sponsored interim Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. He then shook hands with Mr. Arafat at the signing ceremony at the White House. During those negotiations, Mr. Netanyahu associated himself and his hard-line Likud Party with the fundamental principle that Israel must be prepared to trade land for peace. Acceptance of a peace process by dovish Israelis and Palestinians is largely irrelevant. For any such process to be successful, it must have the support of the Israeli and Palestinian mainstream individuals and groups most likely to distrust its very feasibility. Mr. Netanyahu has said that his government will be a "partner for peace." If past is prologue, he may well be true to his word" ("'I ask for your trust in this time of crisis," April 1). MENACHEM Z. ROSENSAFT New York The writer was one of five American Jews who met with Yasser Arafat and other PLO leaders in Stockholm in December 1988, resulting in what was termed the PLO's first public recognition of Israel.