December 30: Band of Brothers

When it comes to the real test, everyone does what they were trained for as Anglo sabras become a band of brothers under fire

Band of brothers
Sir, – Ben Hartman’s article, “Anglo lone soldiers talk of ‘daily grind’ in the IDF,” (December 28) was very articulate. Kol hakavod to all these lone soldiers, as I back in 1969 was one of them. I was in a group of 36 lone soldiers from 13 countries with a mixture of languages including English, Spanish and Dutch. I can relate to their remarks, nothing changes, but when it comes to the real test everyone does what they were trained for as Anglo sabras become a band of brothers under fire. Rosenberg’s statement at the end of the article – “makes you wonder what the hell I was thinking” – brought back memories of when I said the same thing during basic training, sleeping out in a field during constant rain.
Kiryat Motzkin
A spinning slight Sir, – I would like to take exception to Gil Shefler’s article “Limmud UK goers fail to break dreidel record” (December 28) The article read, “Organizers of the event here believed the record stood at 541 set by Temple Emanuel in Cherry Hill, New Jersey in 2005.
Yet according to reports, the University of Maryland drew out 603 participants the same year and Indiana University boasted no less than 713 simultaneous dreidelers.”
My bone of contention is how could he not even give a very honorable mention to the organizers of Dreidel Palooza at Yeshiva University, the December 2010 holders of a Guinness World Record of a documented 618 simultaneous dreidelers that succeeded in making all the New York City newspapers.
Imaginary numbers
Sir, – PM Netanyahu says that Israel’s unemployment rate is the “lowest in the Western world” (“PM hails 5% unemployment rate,” December 27), but this number is purely imaginary.
It measures only those who wish to work but are unable to find jobs. It does not take into account the large numbers of haredim and Arab women who either do not want to work or are prevented from entering the work force by social pressure. Also, the majority of young Israelis are involuntarily removed from the work force as they serve in the IDF or perform national service.
As the haredi community expands, those who are employed will find themselves supporting a rapidly increasing number of nonworkers.
They will become ever more restive and disenchanted as they recognize that their hard work does not necessarily translate into improved living standards for themselves and their families.
Zichron Ya’acov
Plant more trees
Sir, – The JNF awarded a $3 million grant to re-landscape the garden surrounding the president’s residence (“Peres moving to rented apartment in David’s Village,” December 27).
According to the official JNF website it costs $18 to plant a tree in Israel, together with a certificate of recognition. Do the arithmetic: The JNF could have planted more than 166,000 trees with that money.
That's quite a forest.
No certificates of recognition should be awarded for this.
Thoughtful people
Sir, – If the only road to peace is a two-state solution, then Oren Kessler’s story (“One state, two states? Right-wing activists, Palestinians brainstorm at improbable Ariel parley,” December 27) is irrelevant.
But if, as many believe, the two-state solution is a recipe for a Middle East disaster, then his report has a singular importance because it presents both sides with the revolutionary idea that we can actually talk to each other.
The suggestion of Kamal Nawash (an Israel-Arab confederation as two provinces within a single state that is based on free movement of labor and people) may not be the perfect solution but it may be a powerful starting point because it has the potential to address issues important to both sides.
Kudos to Ariel University for organizing this conference.
Their work proves that, with all the hate in this region, there are still thoughtful people here ready to think productively.
Ma’ale Adumim