April 4: Convince us

The millions of shekels that would be saved by reducing the government’s size could obviously be better spent elsewhere.

Letters 521 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Letters 521
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Convince us
Sir, – Regarding “PM says it’s impossible to both lower taxes and pay for programs” (April 2), Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statement would be much more convincing if he hadn’t put together such a bloated government, with all the accompanying expenses and perks.
The millions of shekels that would be saved by reducing the government’s size could obviously be better spent elsewhere.
But more important, the symbolic and ethical value of reducing the government’s size would be tremendous. Such a move would go a long way in demonstrating to the taxpayer that the PM is serious about changing priorities by first demanding greater sacrifice from his own government before raising taxes and prices for basic necessities like gasoline and electricity.
Until then, it will continue to be very hard to convince many sectors of the general population that such increases are not simply further attempts to ensure the government’s own self-preservation and benefits.
GERSHON HARRIS Hatzor Haglilit
Think ‘togetherness’
Sir, – Without taking away from the wonderful job that Chabad is doing in helping boys who have lost a parent to have a bar mitzva (“110 boys to celebrate bar mitzvah at Western Wall,” April 2), I cannot help but wonder whether the Kotel is the best venue.
We have watched as the Western Wall has morphed into an ultra-Orthodox synagogue and has become more and more remote and unavailable to those of us who happen to be on the “wrong” side of the mehitza (barrier between men and women). For a woman to see her son become bar mitzva there she has to stand precariously on a plastic chair and hope that her son is within view. She certainly won’t be able to hear him chant his Torah portion.
For those boys who have lost a father, surely it is even more important that their mother be as close and included as possible.
There are many places where this can be achieved within the bounds of Halacha.
I just hope that the sons and mothers were able to sit together at the NIS 600,000 event at Binyanei Ha’uma following the ceremony. Looking at the list of honored guests who were expected to attend, and in light of recent attempts to exclude women at public events, nothing would surprise me.
Guilty parties
Sir, – Your very informative article “Taking the politics out of Holocaust history” (Comment & Features, April 2) was extremely interesting and highlighted a major point: the thin line between fact and opinion, especially regarding the Allies and the Holocaust.
It also brings to mind the St.Louis, which left Hamburg on May 17, 1939, with hundreds of Jewish refugees hoping to be given asylum in the United States. Not only was the ship denied the right to even approach the US, it was denied entry to any port anywhere with exception of Havana, where a daughter was allowed to join her father. In the end, the UK took in a few passengers, as did Holland and France, but the majority died in the Holocaust.
The moral of the story is that this gave Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s minister for propaganda, an excellent opportunity to underline his contention that “no one wants the Jews.” Not even US president Franklin D. Roosevelt.
JOYCE KAHN Petah Tikva
No more contortions
Sir, – Martin Sherman (“Square circles, aerodynamic pigs and two states,” Into the Fray, March 30) has made a good case for something many of us have been thinking for years.
It is time we recognize that the reason there are no negotiations for an Arab-Israeli peace is because the Palestinian side isn’t interested. It never was.
While Israeli schools have tried to “understand” the Palestinian position by introducing Palestinian poetry and adding Al- Nakba (Arabic for “catastrophe,” which is how the Palestinians view Israel’s independence) to the curriculum, there has never been any corresponding effort on the other side.
Palestinian children are still taught that Israel must disappear.
There is no need, and never has been, for Israel to distort this reality. It must be confronted.
Until the Palestinian position, whether voiced by Fatah, Hamas or any other ruling party, is to recognize Jewish claims to the land, Israel does not need to contort policies in support of the illusion of a twostate solution. The Arabs rejected the idea in 1947 and still haven't accepted it.
Whose fantasy?
Sir, – By now Gil Troy must know that, regrettably, what he wished for was not to be (“A J Street convention fantasy: What they needed to hear,” Center Field, March 28). The saving grace, however, was the speech by Baruch Bina, Israel’s deputy ambassador to the US.
While Jeremy Ben-Ami, founding father of J Street, offered a discourse filled with paranoia and gloom in which his wisdom culminated in a hysterical call to “give up the land,” Bina, standing tall as a proud Jew, politely inferred the behavior pattern synonymous with the definition of “pro-Israel, pro-peace.”
Alan Dershowitz, the internationally renowned attorney, hardly a card-carrying member of the Likud, is of the opinion that J Street has done more damage to Israel than any other American organization and has argued that its actions “have had a deleterious effect on the next generation’s ability to effectively advocate for Israel.”
J Street is in a tent that has adopted the position of Israel’s enemies.
ALEX ROSE Ashkelon
Beautiful surprise
Sir, – Who can rightfully expect to be uplifted, inspired and made wiser by the morning paper? Thank you for the beautiful surprise of “Celebrate life!” (Comment & Features, March 27).
Time running out
Sir, – Kol hakavod to the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung for organizing the Interfaith Climate and Energy Conference that I was privileged to attend, at which Christian, Jewish and Muslim clerics stressed that religious values must be applied in order to avert an impending climate catastrophe (“Religious leaders unite to bless sustainability,” March 21).
As conference organizer Rabbi Yonatan Neril said, “Religious leaders and institutions have the potential to mobilize billions of followers and achieve sustainable development in the global struggle to curb climate change.”
The Jerusalem Post once published an article (“Israel urged to ‘act now’ or risk global warming tragedy,” July 7, 2007) that discussed a report of the Israel Union for Environmental Defense (Adam Teva V’Din), which stated that unless significant changes soon occurred, Israel would face severe problems from climate change, including an average temperature rise, a decrease in annual rainfall (with much of the rain coming from sporadic, intense storms that will cause flooding in some areas), an expansion of the Negev and the flooding of the entire coastline due to a rising Mediterranean. Recent reports of severe heat waves, droughts, storms, floods and wildfires worldwide indicate that we have very little time to make the necessary changes.
It is time to make tikkun olam a central focus of all aspects of Jewish life today in order to help shift our imperiled world to a sustainable path.