December 6: Making progress

Just days before Pearl Harbor the State Department believed it was "making progress" in meetings with visiting Japanese dignitaries.

letters to the editor 88 (photo credit: )
letters to the editor 88
(photo credit: )
'Making progress' Sir, - Aside from the letters to the editor, I always enjoy Alexander Zvielli's From our Archives box on the same page. December 4th's should be required reading for our government: Sixty-five years ago, on December 4, 1941, "The US State Department denied that President Roosevelt had issued an ultimatum to Japan. All Washington demanded were straight answers to several questions on Japan's aggressive designs on Indo-China and the Far East. "According to the State Department, some progress has been achieved in inconclusive meetings with the visiting Japanese dignitaries." In other words, just days before Pearl Harbor, while the Japanese fleet was already on the seas toward Pearl Harbor, the State Department believed it was "making progress." The Japanese were just using these "discussions" as a cover until their fleet was in position to begin the slaughter. THELMA JACOBSON Petah Tikva Unhelpful Sir, - I would like to see Iran wiped off the face of the earth. If it is done by Israel and the US, that would be OK. But for Michael Freund to write articles assuming the US is Israel's bully is the kind of thing that gives America poor press around the world. Plus smart bullies don't warn - they just do ("Sound familiar, Mr. Bush?," November 29). NEIL J. GOLDEN Seattle Power to the people? Sir, - In 2002, Israel Electric's employees and their families used well over NIS 100 million worth of electricity, about 2.6 times the national average. They can afford it; besides being among the highest-paid people, on average, in Israeli industry, they get their power supplied free. But there ain't no such thing as a free lunch, and someone has to pay for this largesse - namely, the common man. Two problems: "Manufacturers: Powerless government is failing to avert an electricity crisis" and "Israel Electric profit plummets 85%" (both December 4). To solve them, I suggest: • no free electricity for new employees, i.e., those with less than one year on the job; • begin withdrawing this perk from all those currently receiving it, including retirees, as follows: In 2007 they pay 10%; in 2008, 20% , in 2009, 40%, and in 2010, 70%. They should be over their withdrawal symptoms by the year 2011. I don't know if that will put the IEC in the black or not, but it might give the rest of the Israeli public a bit more pocket money. SOL SPIEGLER Tel Aviv No contradiction Sir, - As the "outreach activist" responsible for linking Boston's 60% rate of interfaith families raising their children as Jews to the fact that Boston allocates more than 1% of its total annual spending to outreach to the intermarried, more than any other community, I appreciated Jonathan Tobin's suggestion that the rest of the Jewish world would do well to study what Boston has done and see where its success can be emulated ("What price outreach?" December 2). It is important to note, however, that no one in the "outreach lobby" is against communal spending on day schools, Jewish summer camps or trips to Israel, and there is hardly a danger that spending on outreach to the intermarried, currently attracting less than one-tenth of 1% of US communal funding, will overtake those worthy efforts. Even more important, Tobin's "inherent contradiction" between welcoming the intermarried and encouraging in-marriage is a false one. Young adults can be encouraged to in-marry because it will maximize their chances of having Jewish families and children, and make it easier to do so. What is insulting to the intermarried is when young adults are encouraged to in-marry because intermarriage is "bad" or "wrong." EDMUND CASE President & Publisher Newton, Massachusetts Eye of the beholder Sir, - The ideal woman, according to Shmuley Boteach in "The perfect diet? Try a compliment" (December 4) is thin (but not too); shapely, with soft, supple flesh; has long hair and manicured nails, wears colorful clothing... Barbie! This is not the eshet chayil - the woman of worth - we were raised to idealize, imbued with soul and spirituality, intelligence, kindness and a fine character. And women are not simple Skinnerian objects, who will morph physically because you tell them so. Humans, even women, Rabbi Boteach, are far more complex than that. Please give them the credit they so richly deserve, and spare us the Stepford Wives' view of marriage. True beauty will always be in the eye of the beholder. JERRY KOLLER Ma'aleh Adumim Sir, - I was amazed that readers took Shmuley Boteach's "The perfect diet" seriously. Personally I got a good giggle out of it. Surely he wrote it tongue in cheek. RUTH LEE Hod Hasharon Abbot and Costello Sir, - Gil Hoffman's "Saving Israeli democracy from itself" (December 1) testified to the wild confusion that attempts to improve the electoral system generate. MK Menachem Ben-Sasson suggests that giving citizens financial incentives to vote will bring them to the polls. Prof. Richard Katz, one of the world's foremost experts in electoral reform, claims that because we didn't bring about peace in the entire Middle East, and never answered the question of who the State of Israel is for, "prevented Israel from achieving stability needed to govern." Drying my tears from laughing and weeping, I'm reminded of Abbot and Costello, who always managed to complicate the simplest job. If our politicians weren't so unyielding we would take the simple road that follows the basics. There is no perfect system of governing, but we could start with one that has been operating for generations, such as the US presidential system with separation of powers, and improve on it with time. The number of voters who turn out to vote has been declining consistently. We citizens feel alienated because we have power before the elections, but after that the power is solidly in the hands of the parties. Regional elections will bring us to the polls in droves to choose our leaders who will be accountable to us - or else. BARBARA SCHIPPER Jerusalem Chosen people Sir, - God looks upon Israel. What does He see? He sees a corrupt government. He sees a corrupt police force. He see the armed forces corrupt as well. The greatest sin of all are the brothels used in the slave trade. Young women are brought to the Holy Land and held as sex slaves. Dear God, have mercy on those who sin. ANITA JAINCHILL Bethesda Blessed release Sir, - Thanks to Sam Levy in Caesarea for his immensely helpful letter and suggestion that people who don't wish to be disturbed by advertising phone calls ring 199 ("No ad calls, please," Letters, December 3). My husband and I, also elderly, did this immediately and were told we would be "taken off the list." Many of my friends have done likewise. Again, thanks for this marvelous advice. YITZHAK AND YETTY MARKUS Jerusalem Little gems Sir, - I would like to express my appreciation to the anonymous writer of the "Day Tripper" JNF-KKL pieces that appear regularly in the Post below the weather report. Each one is a gem - descriptive, imaginative and charming. I don't immediately rush off to visit the sites, but I do file them away in my mind for a future trip. The writer is deserving of many compliments. DVORA WAYSMAN Jerusalem