December 1: It starts at home

I respectfully suggest that the prime minister starts saving immediately by drastically reducing the size of his cabinet.

It starts at home
Sir, – In “PM: Gov’t must restrain spending as OECD slashes Israel’s growth forecast” (November 29), Binyamin Netanyahu is reported as saying the government has to save money.
Although I’m aware of the need to satisfy coalition partners, Israel today has the unbelievable number of 30 ministers. There are also nine deputy ministers.
That is close to a third of the Knesset! The cost is unjustified.
I respectfully suggest that the prime minister starts saving immediately by drastically reducing the size of his cabinet.
HERTZEL KATZ Ramat Hasharon
Libyan picnic
Sir, – Regarding “Defense Ministry: Sorry we made pregnant photographer undergo X-ray” (November 29), I, too, am sorry if Lynsey Addario was upset at her treatment. However, I cannot understand how she can say she had “never, ever been treated with such blatant cruelty.”
In April, the Committee to Protect Journalists published an interview with Addario in which she said: “Physically we were blindfolded and bound. In the beginning, my hands and feet were bound very tightly behind our backs and my feet were tied with shoelaces. I was blindfolded most of the first three days, with the exception of the first six hours. I was punched in the face a few times and groped repeatedly.
Basically, every man that sort of took us over and was bringing us all to the next – wherever they were taking us – they just basically touched me over my clothes. It was incredibly intense and violent. It was abusive throughout, both psychologically and physically. It was very chaotic and very aggressive.”
This is just the beginning of a long piece on her treatment over six days she and other journalists were held captive in Libya. Perhaps that treatment was so traumatic she has blocked it from her memory?

Make them use it
Sir, – I want to congratulate you and also thank you for your excellent editorial “Building bridges” (November 29). It was direct, to the point and without political bias.
What is being noted here is essentially that we are dealing with a safety issue. Forget about the geo-political nature of the situation.
I personally think Israel should temporarily close down the main entrance gates from the Arab market to the Temple Mount because then, when the Mughrabi ramp collapses, even the Arabs will wonder why it wasn’t fixed.
Beit Shemesh
Haredim and the Shoah
Sir, – I was very pleasantly surprised to read Meir Wikler’s oped piece (“Yad Vashem and the Haredim,” November 29). Surprised because concern about education in the haredi world regarding the Holocaust is not the norm, and happy because a change in this policy and approach would do wonders for that community.
Haredim have distanced themselves from the rest of the nation with regard to the Holocaust.
Many, if not most, do not stand silently for the siren on Heroes and Martyrs Remembrance Day.
Those who do do so out of respect for those around them, but not out of a real connection to the national expression of that powerful minute.
The haredi focus regarding Holocaust education is on the great spiritual heroism of religious Jews in those horrific circumstances – which is certainly very worthwhile but does not come close to capturing the full realm of what Jews must learn.
Perhaps Wikler’s focus should be on changing attitudes among haredim, and not pressuring Yad Vashem to change. The more the haredi community joins with the rest of the nation in mourning and education regarding the Holocaust and all national issues, the more it will have a say regarding their nature. But to isolate themselves and even mock and vilify national institutions, and then complain about the lack of appreciation for haredim in those institutions, is simply not fair or just.
Beit Shemesh
The writer is a rabbi and director of Anglos for Am Shalem
Sir, – With all due respect to Meir Wikler, I believe he is tilting at windmills.
The haredim feel they are underrepresented in testimonies of survivors. It is my understanding that during the Holocaust, those who were overtly religious were the first to disappear.
What difference does it make so long as Yad Vashem is telling what happened during that period of history? Survivors, religious or not, did what they were capable of doing. Their Jewish blood was enough to jeopardize their lives.
Free passage
Sir, – I had to make sure it wasn’t Purim when I finished reading Khaled Diab’s article (“Israel needs its own freedom riders,” Comment & Features, November 29). Is he living on the same planet? Not permitting Palestinian activists to enter Jerusalem by bus is a safety measure. We do not want bombers, suicide or any other, on our buses. Our experience has taught us that we have to take steps to ensure we are not attacked.
When they quit teaching their children that Jews must be killed, when they quit rattling sabers and making threats, when they quit trying to eradicate the memory of generations of Jews living in Jerusalem, that will be the time we can consider free passage for them into Jerusalem.

Sir, – The reason authorities do not allow Israelis into areas controlled by the Palestinians is the possibility of them not leaving alive. The reason authorities restrict the entry of Palestinians into Israel proper is the possibility of them leaving some of us dead.
Any other suggestion is obfuscation par excellence.
Take the leap!
Sir, – Always entertaining, Shmuley Boteach asks “Are Mormons any weirder than the rest of us?” (Comment & Features, November 29). Answering his own question, he clearly proves beyond doubt that all religions are equally based on weird and totally irrational beliefs for which there isn’t a shred of evidence.
Well done! However, weirdest and most irrational of all is the belief in a non-existent, unobservable and imaginary entity Boteach calls God – and the jump of logic required to abandon this fantasy poor old Shmuley is unable to make.
Instead, he tries to justify his counter-intuitive mental contortions by attacking rational scientists, of all people. No one can take him seriously when he attacks his old friend and sparring partner, Richard Dawkins.
I am convinced that Boteach is too intelligent to believe his own attack on evolutionary science, backed as it is by overwhelming biological, geological and genetic evidence. He also knows very well that no one has ever made a credible scientific observation that contradicts evolutionary science, in itself a remarkable fact.
It is a fact that evolution is not only probable, as Dawkins, Darwin and many others have clearly and brilliantly shown – it is the only possible explanation for speciation that is consistent with known physical and biological laws.
Shmuley, we rationalists are waiting for you to make the final leap of logic, and that wouldn’t be weird in the slightest.
Rosh Pina
The writer is a physician
CORRECTION The photograph accompanying “Employing Israeli Arabs” (On My Mind, November 30) was not the photo that was intended for use, and depicts an Egyptian woman preparing to cast her ballot at a polling station in Cairo. We regret the error.