December 3: Where's the humility?

Re "Foreign Ministry furious at ZAKA's Mumbai 'meddling'" (December 2): What was the "meddler" thinking? Actually, he probably wasn't.

letters 88 NICE (photo credit: )
letters 88 NICE
(photo credit: )
Where's the humility? Sir, - Re "Foreign Ministry furious at ZAKA's Mumbai 'meddling'" (December 2): What was the "meddler" thinking? Actually, he probably wasn't - much like our defense minister and other officials who rushed to criticize the Indian actions while sitting in comfort thousands of kilometers away from these horrible attacks. It only proves that despite watershed and very humbling events for our almost mythically superior security forces in our own wars, Israeli arrogance is still a very real - and dangerous - phenomenon. GERSHON HARRIS Hatzor Haglilit Sir, - "These attacks took a lot of courage" a top Israeli official is quoted as saying ("Israel boosts security abroad following Mumbai attacks," December 2). Courage? I'd call it "vicious hutzpa." TAMAR H. KAGAN Jerusalem Inspiration to hate... Sir, - Finn Graf's cartoon in Norway's daily Dagbladet portraying Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as a Nazi - used to illustrate Marilyn Henry's "Needed: A single American Jewish address in the battle against anti-Semitism" (November 30) - was not unusual for a country falsely seen as a humanitarian model. A number of other anti-Semitic cartoons in mainstream Norwegian papers could have appeared unaltered in the most extreme Nazi papers of Hitler's day. Among those on the Web site of the Jerusalem Center's Institute for Global Jewish Affairs ( is one from the Labor movement's daily, Dagsavisen. It depicts an ultra-Orthodox Jew reading from a mutation of the Ten Commandments: "Murder, kill, liquidate, execute...." The German-born Graf is greatly valued by part of the Norwegian elite. In March 2007 he was made a knight in the prestigious Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav by King Harald V. The Council of the Order declared that his drawings were "an inspiration for all who draw and illustrate." To be fair to Harald V, he also attended the funeral in March 2008 of Julius Paltiel, one of the few Norwegian Auschwitz survivors. The juxtaposition is symbolic: honoring both a dead Jew and a living inciter to Jew-hatred. Awarding a prestigious prize to Graf was symbolic as well: It expressed the perverted state of mind among Norway's elite, including leading politicians and NGOs and many in the media. MANFRED GERSTENFELD Jerusalem ...and to awareness Sir, - In dismissing the relevance of the US State Department Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism, Marilyn Henry fails to recognize the important role of this envoy and his office. Legislation establishing the office enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Bush was a response to the alarming growth of global anti-Semitism and related violence. Congress recognized the significant impact of US diplomacy in the effort to hold governments accountable for taking effective steps to combat anti-Jewish attacks. The office, and the special envoy, Gregg Rickman, have been vital in ensuring that US diplomats worldwide are knowledgeable about what constitutes an act of anti-Semitism, and in documenting efforts to counteract and prosecute anti-Jewish violence. We expect the office and position will be continued in the Obama administration. MICHAEL A. SALBERG Anti-Defamation League New York On mixing... Sir, - Jeff Barak mocks Binyamin Netanyahu's economic plan for the Palestinians ("Barack and Bibi won't mix," December 1). It was our Peace Prize laureate, President Shimon Peres, who originated and is an eternal enthusiast for such a plan to help the Palestinians, which would encourage them to work harder for peace. Regarding Mr. Barak's put-down of the Right, I have two questions: Can he point to a single optimistic prediction of the Left, since Oslo, that has materialized? Or to just one pessimistic prediction of the Right, since Oslo, that has not? (Yitzhak Rabin ridiculed the idea of Gazan rockets on Ashkelon when the army pulled out of Gaza long before the disengagement. No one's laughing any more.) One more question: Can your writer point to one accomplishment of Ehud Barak since he entered politics 15 or so years ago? Tzipi Livni's CV is known. AVIGDOR BONCHEK Jerusalem ...and mismatching Sir, - "Barack and Bibi won't mix"? Neither will Tzipi Livni or Ehud Barak "mix" with the incoming US president, for one simple reason. Neither could answer this question: "If you cannot address the problem of equal rights concerning your own Arab citizens, how do you expect me (Obama) to believe you can find a true solution to your problem with the Palestinians?" The only area where I have seen any real movement to bring the Arab public into mainstream Israeli life is in the field of health and, to a limited extent, in the colleges. Israel can still maintain its identity while integrating those Arab citizens who are interested in living in this country. The real issue is breaking ground and finding a way to start on the long road to establishing bases for mutual respect and trust. Jeff Barak is correct when he writes that Binyamin Netanyahu will be our next premier because Ehud Olmert represents an administration of weakness and corruption that makes Israelis ready to accept the illusion of security based on military might alone. P. BERMAN Shoham Purchasing locally Sir, - I have somehow managed to maintain a pretty successful business in Israel. My wife and I started from scratch after making aliya to a kibbutz in the late '70s and leaving two years later. Since then, I have believed that the best way to ensure economic success is by encouraging local consumption. You create local jobs, bringing more people to influence the economy in a positive manner. Looking at today's Israeli economy makes one want to cry. Most firms that used to manufacture Judaica locally no longer exist, forced into bankruptcy by cheap Chinese imports. Soon more Israeli manufacturers of bedroom closets and kitchens will start to disappear as no one here can compete with the Chinese. Already most, if not all, of the garment industry has been lost to China. What's next? Here is my solution: • Remove all VAT charges from locally produced goods. This will encourage local production and employment. It should apply only to goods manufactured, not assembled, in Israel. It would also lower the cost of the "bread" basket - by 15 percent! - and allow large families to better survive. The necessity of enlarging payoffs to political parties such as Shas would be alleviated. • Raise VAT on imported items to 20%, thus compensating the treasury for lost revenue and giving the local economy an additional boost. • Allow local manufacturers who use imported products in their products to deduct 50% of VAT paid and receive it as returns from the tax authority ("Business scene," December 2). YONI FRAM Ma'aleh Adumim Feet to the fire Sir, - I so greatly appreciate The Jerusalem Post's in-depth reporting on topics that concern us all. I would like to see more ongoing reports on the situation with our precious water. With little rain coming to "save the day" and desalination plants years from completion, other news will decrease in relevance if we have no water for our very survival. Papers such as yours are one of the few ways we, the people, have a voice. Please help hold the politicians' feet to the fire on this crucial issue. K. BRONSTEIN Petah Tikva