August 31: Advocates and friends

I was interested to learn that Edward Kennedy was, among other things, a strong advocate for recognizing Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Advocates... Sir, - I was interested to learn that Edward Kennedy was, among other things, a strong advocate for recognizing Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel. Will Barack Obama, who revered Kennedy, the person instrumental in helping him attain the presidency, take note? ("Liberals and Israel," Editorial, August 28) RACHEL BIRATI Melbourne ...and friends Sir, - I believe Obama's nice words. He was a bit badly informed on why the State of Israel was founded, but as a black man, he understands identity, and therefore Jewish identity. Why would he not be sincere? I believe that it is Obama, and not Netanyahu, who needs us Israelis to protest the dictates and distortions that he gets from the traditionally anti-Israel State Department, to strengthen his humanist, impartial vision so that he can implement it. We don't need someone pro-Israel. We need someone pro-every population, and that is clearly Obama. ("Left-wing parties lament Obama's unpopularity in Israel," August 23) M. HAGENAUER Jerusalem Ineptitude, no vision Sir - Lack of funds is not the only reason for Israel's brain drain. It is lack of vision, and ineptitude. "Save our scientists" (Editorial, August 27) stated that Israel's official policy is "to combat the brain drain by drawing to Israel both some of those Israelis who have left and also new immigrants." Israel's Council for Higher Education defies that policy even when no funds are involved. A proposal for a school of art and multimedia that recruited faculty from among Israelis working abroad and potential olim was rejected. It was proposed by Netanya Academic College, an accredited private institution of higher education that requested no funding from the Israeli government for this new school. The curriculum was designed by an expert in new media art living in Israel in cooperation with an international advisory board of the world's most innovative thinkers in higher education in the arts. Their recommendations were developed into a book Educating Artists for the Future: Learning at the Intersections of Art, Science, Technology, and Culture published by Intellect Books/University of Chicago Press. The unprecedented inclusion of a highly acclaimed book created especially as an integral part of a proposal for an academic program was ignored. The Council for Higher Education committee to approve a school of art and multimedia had no representatives of the arts. It was made up of an architect, graphic designer and industrial designer. It is as if a committee of a pharmacist, dentist and veterinarian was formed to approve a proposal for a new medical school. It is not just lack of funds that is crippling Israel's higher education. It is the professional incompetence of Israel's educational bureaucracy that drives 3,000 top-notch Israeli scientists to work abroad. MENAHEM ALEXENBERG Petah Tikva Peace pact Sir, - Peace at last. No, I am not talking politics, but the fact that the new school year is about to start. This means the hordes of rowdy youngsters who stay awake all night roaming the streets and smashing glass (why?) will need some sleep! ("Ministry issues tougher rules for new school year," August 28.) SALLY SHAW Kfar Saba To end haredi violence... Sir, - There is only one way to stop haredi violence in Jerusalem ("Arrests, injuries increase as haredi protests at Jerusalem parking lot turn more violent," August 30): a nationwide solution that may help stem crime in other cities as well. Decentralize the police force. Make it possible for each city to have its own municipal force, with its own police commissioner appointed by the city council. It can then impose a Friday night-to-Saturday night curfew on those intending to disrupt public quiet and safety in Jerusalem. A. WEINBERG Rehovot ...saturation therapy Sir, - Remember that "skunk" machine which sprays intolerably smelly liquid on rioters? I understand the smell takes days to wear off. A rioter who gets his pricey fur hat and satin robe saturated won't soon hurry back for the same treatment. MIRIAM AMGAD Jerusalem Marranos of our generation Sir, - Re "Give Ethiopian Jewry a chance to flourish" (August 25): As someone who has worked with the Ethiopian Jewish community in Ethiopia and Israel, I say Pnina Radai is correct. The Falash Mura should be considered the Marranos of our generation. There is a final list of 8,700 who remain in Ethiopia under desperate conditions, separated for years from their families as they wait to be checked for eligibility to make aliya. Israel's government has announced that it will examine 3,000 of these to determine their eligibility for aliya. What rational policy would check 3,000 of the 8,700 and not the remainder? Some or even many of them may not qualify to immigrate; but at least it would once and for all end their limbo and bring to a close, with dignity and finality, the nearly 30 years of Ethiopian aliya. Does anyone honestly think that if there were 8,700 educated Westerners waiting to make aliya, there would be a moment's hesitation about bringing them? Would Israel be swayed by wild accusations of millions and gazillions more waiting for come? There is a list of 8,700. The advocates agree that the list is finite. Check the names. Bring those people who qualify, and finish already. RICKI LIEBERMAN New York We can't rely on 'reciprocal altruism' Sir, - Re "A grand bargain over evolution" by Robert Wright (New York Times, August 30): Yes, our moral sense , like our other behaviors, has evolved from our ancestral species. The problem, however, is that we have also inherited an immoral sense, which includes our notorious propensities to murder and rape. Thus we covet our neighbor's wife (immoral) because of ancient genetic programs which evolved to spread our DNA. But we also have an opposing inherited psychological mechanism which predisposes us to refrain from acting on these sexual impulses and to remain in stable marriages (moral). Such long-term "pair-bonding" was favored by evolution because it improved chances of rearing offspring to maturity. We are torn by these kinds of conflicting, independently evolved psychological mechanisms and must choose between them. That's why we need a Torah which can demand of us that "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife." In the final analysis, we can't rely on "reciprocal altruism" to guide our behavior. JOEL RUTMAN M.D. Zichron Ya'akov With approval Sir, - I'd like to respond, briefly, to "IncrediMail - Israel's incredible story" (August 30) about an Israeli company's success in enabling emoticons to be inserted in millions of emails and text messages worldwide. :-) YONATAN SILVER Jerusalem CORRECTION For those who wish to contact Chaim Freedman regarding his book about the Vilna Gaon (Letters, August 26), the e-mail address is: