February 11: A question for NATO and the US

Who is supporting the Taliban financially and technically, and why we are not taking action against them?

A question for NATO and the US
Sir, – Everybody has this question, but cannot find out proper answers. My question is, who is supporting the Taliban financially and technically, and why we are not taking action against them (“US closes in on Taliban’s south Afghanistan stronghold,” February 10)?
The answer could solve so many problems.
    DR. NADEEM IQBAL    Islamabad, Pakistan
A disturbing survey
Sir, – The article on the Pew Research Center’s public opinion survey brings out some very disturbing facts (“Surprise! Ninety percent of Israel’s neighbors don’t view Jews favorably, Pew poll finds,” February 9). According to this survey, every Middle East country’s population views Jews as a particularly undesirable people – including countries such as Jordan and Syria, with which Israel seeks to make a comprehensive peace. This bodes no good for US President Barack Obama’s vision of the region. The only Arabs who view Israel with favor are – surprise, indeed – Israeli Arabs who live here as citizens.
The United Nations, the Quartet, the United States and all the Human Rights NGOs should be concerned about the Arab attitudes toward Jews. Perhaps if they deal effectively with these attitudes, there may be a hope of peace someday.
    TOBY WILLIG     Jerusalem
Intercity roads...
Sir, – Israel Beiteinu MK Moshe Matalon has “acquiesced to the prime minister’s request to withdraw his bill, which would have seen Israel annex the West Bank section of Route 443, from the agenda of Sunday’s Ministerial Committee on Legislation meeting” (“MK Matalon drops bill to annex part of Route 443...for now,” February 8). And just when I thought we were finally coming round to the idea that this is Jewish Land for all time.
How can our prime minister, when faced with a High Court ruling that is more concerned with the inconvenience suffered by our enemies than the lives of our own people, not grab for this solution with both hands – to annex what is ours anyway? So what if “no country recognizes these unilateral annexations?” If we fail to take steps to secure our people and land because we are afraid of the condemnation of a hostile world that has already stacked the deck against us, we are in effect giving up our sovereignty.
    EDITH OGNALL    Netanya
... and a good dental plan
Sir, – If Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman’s irregular use of health funds for dental treatment eventually prods the government to include dental treatment in the health basket then he has my support (“Court order boosts groups opposed to Litzman’s ‘free’ child dental program,” February 9).
“Primitive” talmudic medicine ruled that dental infection was just as dangerous as any other internal infection, and its treatment overrides Shabbat. Rabbi Nahman Ben-Isaac maintained that “though it starts in the gums, its complications extend as far as the intestines” (Avodah Zara 28a). Perhaps Litzman can force the powers that be to include prophylactic treatment for all in the health basket, as in the British National Health System.
    ARYEH NEWMAN    Jerusalem
Perks and poverty
Sir, - In regards to the article “Decision to allow MKs to fly business class reflects reality, Rivlin’s office says” (February 9): What reality? MKs already make an exorbitant monthly salary and receive many additional benefits. Now a decision  has been made to allow them to fly business class instead of coach. One of the reasons stated for this is that some senior MKs have knee and back pain. What about the rest of the senior citizen population suffering from knee and back pain?  Will they also be upgraded, at no cost to them? And this on top of the survey recently taken by a British team that showed that the Israeli poor are poorer than most of those in other countries (“The dire plight of Israel’s poorest,” February 5).
How about taking the value of this additional MK perk and donating it to the organizations that help feed and clothe the poor people of Israel? Let MKs who want to fly business class use their own money.
    HANNAH SONDHELM    Jerusalem
Sir, – The wage and salary discrepancy in Israeli today is intolerable and reeks of social injustice. A top and middle echelon of our society are drawing huge monthly salaries  whilst the laboring masses earn a pittance that barely suffices  to meet their monthly needs, if that. I cannot for the life of me fathom how a few of my fellow Israelis in this day and age permit themselves to bring home salaries of NIS 30,000, 40,000, 60,000, 90,000 or more per month, when the average Israeli is lucky if he sees NIS 4,000 or 5,000 a month, and many have to make do with a bare NIS 2,500 or 3,000.
I personally work more hours in a day than most and am in the middle category – and then, even before the money gets to my account, it has drained away to nothing, leaving me with debts and the uncomfortable need to ask frequently for loans from the kindhearted. Rent is frighteningly and unjustifiably high, and each month I have to pray that I will manage to find NIS 3,500 for my 2.5-room apartment, knowing that I’ll be out on the street if I don’t come up with the cash on the dot. H
ow long will this situation persist, and what are our lawgivers doing about it? No wonder so many people are turning to crime and corruption to “turn a dishonest shekel.” I would like to see, in my lifetime, a country in which the old-time Jewish values of justice and fairness prevail so that I and every decent, law-abiding and hard-working citizen, as well as the old, the sick and the poor, can live happily ever after in a welfare state that is truly fair to all its citizens. I want to see the top echelons realize that for the good of the country, they cannot go on living off the fat of the land while the majority struggle to survive from one day to the next.
I think that Herzl would turn in his grave if he could witness the cruelly yawning gap between the big earners and the so-little-earners in his state, where the few fare well and increasingly large numbers are forced to bid farewell to their dreams of economic well-being. 
    DAVID HERMAN     Jerusalem
A true Palestinian moderate
Sir, – I would dearly like to share MK Einat Wilf’s belief that Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is a moderate whose state-building initiatives indicate a “deeper cultural change among the Palestinians” (“Finally, some Palestinian responsibility,” February 3), but the facts tell a different story.
If Salam Fayyad is such a moderate, why did he pay a visit in December to the families of the three Fatah terrorists who had just murdered Rabbi Meir Chai, orphaning his seven children, and condemn the Israeli operation that tracked down and killed the terrorists? Why, in 2007, did Fayyad say that since Palestinians are “occupied,” “resistance” – i.e., terror attacks – is “a legitimate right for the Palestinian people”?
But there is an easy way to spot a true Palestinian moderate. This is one who jails terrorists, not one who demands that Israel free terrorists; one who condemns terror attacks, not Israeli operations that kill terrorists; and one who ends incitement to hatred and murder within the PA, not one who fosters it.
    MICHAEL GOLDBLATT    Chairman, Board of Directors,     Zionist Organization of America    New York