April 6: Hope in letters

It is important that our prime minister’s letter includes an offer to put on the negotiating table each of the pre-conditions that Abbas has stuck to.

Hope in letters
Sir, – It is important that our prime minister’s letter (“‘Battle of letters’ shaping up as Netanyahu prepares diplomatic missive for Abbas,” April 4) includes an offer to put on the negotiating table each of the pre-conditions that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has stuck to so determinedly, no doubt for internal political reasons, ever since the abortive peace talks of September 2010.
Equally, Israel’s “post-conditions” referred to in your news item will need to be part of any meaningful dialogue.
One can only hope that this exchange of letters will pave the way for a resumption of face-to-face negotiations.
Women and walls
Sir, – Anat Hoffman says she wants women at the Western Wall to be permitted to wear tefillin and read aloud from the Torah (“‘Plans for Mughrabi bridge must account for women’s area at Kotel,’” April 4). May I remind her that Robinsons’s Arch is also part of the Western Wall and has been designated for non-Orthodox services.
We don’t try to build mehitzot (gender partitions) in Reform temples, so why do they want to tear down the mehitza at our holiest site?
No shame here
Sir, – Welfare and Social Services Minister Moshe Kahlon is a neighbor of mine, so it is a pity he did not see me and other congregants of the Moriah Masorti Community in Haifa delivering boxes of Pessah supplies to needy families on Tuesday afternoon (“As holiday nears, Kahlon stands by his attack on ‘degrading’ distribution policies of food-aid charities,” April 4).
As in other years led by Rabbi Dubi Hayun, Moriah members were asked to either drive their vehicles or help carry the boxes to families in need.
It was certainly not a humiliating experience for the volunteers or the recipients, who greeted us with a smile and thanks. And nobody took photos for publicity or other purposes.
Comments like those of Kahlon show just how much the government is neglecting the social issues of Israel today. However, having received tens of phone calls in the past month requesting funds for various charities claiming to provide food for the needy or quality treatments for the sick, I do agree that most of these NGOs should form a roof organization that would stop the duplication of efforts and reduce salaries and overhead.
Look to Korea
Sir – “Bolster Israel-South Korean ties” (Fundamentally Freund,” April 4) was a very insightful article.
Jews and Koreans have both suffered oppression, and just like Israelis they do not have natural resources.
They can only depend on their intelligence.
The South Koreans have displayed a love for Israel.
Their ambassador here, Ma Young-sam, told reporters that the Talmud was obligatory reading for Korean schoolchildren.
Journalist Tim Alper wrote in the Jewish Chronicle last May: “Pop down to the local corner shop and along with a pot of instant rice or dried noodles you can buy a copy of Stories from the Talmud.
It is not rare, either, to come across book-vending machines stocked with classic works of Babylonian Judaism....”
He quotes one mother as saying, “The stereotype of Jews here is that they are ultra-intelligent people.
Jews have come out of nowhere to become business chiefs, media bosses, Nobel Prize winners – we want our children to do the same. If that means studying Talmud, Torah, whatever, so be it.”
May the ties with Israel and South Korea grow stronger through the years. The world will benefit from this close association.