February 16: A disgraceful wrong

Holocaust survivors in Israel should be at the very top of the list of those deserving generous financial support and counseling.

Don’t wish too hard
Sir, – Those in Egypt who question the peace treaty with Israel should be very careful with their wishes (“Egyptian opposition figure calls to rethink Camp David Accords,” February 14).
Any treaty requires two sides, and Egypt cannot renegotiate alone. If Israel does not agree, the treaty would become null and void, and the two countries would be forced back into a state of war – where anything can happen.
The Multi National Force, which includes US units, mans the truce line in the center of the Sinai, protecting both sides from invasion. If it’s withdrawn, Egypt, based on previous experience, would be in much greater danger. Further, if Egypt abrogates the treaty, the US Congress would without hesitation cancel all aid to Egypt, currently at more than $1 billion a year, leaving it in a far-worse financial state.
Let the country’s new leaders focus on improving the situation of the Egyptian people, not worsening it.
Sir, – To paraphrase Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, Egyptian opposition member Ayman Nour is in effect saying, “The October shall not be the last war. More war, more bloodshed.”
Sir, – I agree. We should rethink the Camp David Accords. Let’s take over the Sinai, its tourism, manganese ore and oil, and rebuild Yamit and secure passage through the straits.
A disgraceful wrong
Sir, – “Holocaust survivor center loses building, may close” (February 14) evoked much anger and disgust. Holocaust survivors in Israel should be at the very top of the list of those deserving generous financial support and counseling, and yet from time to time there are horrific reports about their poor standard of living and distress.
The very fact that an NGO (The Association for Immediate Help for Holocaust Survivors) has been providing this support is an indictment of the government.
Caring for every need of Holocaust survivors should not be left to NGOs. I sincerely hope that the state will feel the embarrassment and take immediate, effective action to right a long-standing and disgraceful wrong.
HERTZEL KATZ Ramat Hasharon
Wider election reforms
Sir, – Not only is it a good idea to allow absent citizens to vote in elections (“Coalition consensus growing for ‘Omri Casspi bill’ on absentee ballots,” February 14), it is also time to have regional elections.
With all the reforms being sought across the Arab Middle East, it would behoove the government of Israel to make changes in the way the country’s citizens select their elected officials. Would it not be fair for residents of the Golan and Sderot, or Judea and Samaria, to have their own regional representatives in Knesset? The current system favors the center of the country, and party hacks move up by being loyal to the machine, not to citizens.
If Israel wants to be considered a true democracy, it must allow its citizens to choose their representatives.
Leave it alone
Sir, – Regarding “Ministerial panel delays vote to extend daylight saving time” (February 14), we are about to be subjected to an annual Knesset debate that is the quintessential red herring of Israeli politics.
Shortly, a bevy of “experts” will pull figures from hats showing how much money we save during daylight saving time.
Actually, no one has ever proved that this saves a single shekel, as the electricity saved in factories is expended on the roads, where people have more daylight hours in which to tour.
So let’s just leave well enough alone and allow those people who say Slichot prayers before Rosh Hashana and fast on Yom Kippur to continue to do so without this totally unnecessary hassle.
Unbearable stench
Sir, – When attempting to read Jeff Barak’s “As the Hebrew expression goes: ‘The fish stinks from the head’” (Reality Check, February 14), one is immediately confronted with an unbridled display of malice toward Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, with the almost complete absence of any socially redeeming message.
Is only Netanyahu to be blamed for any stain found in the fabric of Israeli society or its foreign relations, without the presentation of any facts to substantiate the accusations? Whether the issue is the appointment of a new IDF chief of General Staff or the tumultuous events in Egypt, the writer subjects Netanyahu to unmitigated vituperation.
Needless to say, Barak’s arguments ad precious little to intelligent public discourse.
Sir, – I understand and support the need to publish columnists with various points of view. However, consistent with The Jerusalem Post’s oft-stated desire to raise the level of our political discourse, I propose that all of them be required to refrain from denigrating politicians with opposing views.
Jeff Barak could have made the same points without the fish.
I also fail to see how Ehud Barak’s decision to join the coalition was in any way undemocratic – it’s the way our political system was designed to work.
If the Post’s former editor-in-chief has any suggestions as to how to fix the system to better reflect the voters’ wishes, I would be interested in learning them.
Donors, take note
Sir, – Not only does David Levin (“Free speech paramount,” Letters, February 14) advocate free speech on campus, he portrays it as the only matter of absolute importance for an academic institution.
Nowhere does it seem to occur to him that free speech is a privilege – and for any privilege to be enjoyed, there are concomitant responsibilities.
In a democracy, we claim the right to free speech. But in practice, this right is not absolute, and is circumscribed by a host of factors that require one to behave responsibly. This is what is lacking at so many universities, with the pursuit of political propaganda dressed up as academia .
Fortunately, universities cannot survive on public money alone. If nobody else can instill in them and their governing bodies the imperative of responsibility, prospective donors can.
Tempting fate
Sir, – Sybil Kaplan suggests we eschew the pagan Valentines Day festival in favor of the Jewish Tu B’Av (“Be my Tu B’Av?,” Letters, February 14).
The Talmud reports that in Biblical times, maidens would dress in white on Tu B’Av and dance in front of men to encourage them to take a wife.
I wish Kaplan luck in persuading certain religious leaders to endorse such biblical goings-on.
Absolutely vital
Sir, – The recent sabotage of the natural gas pipeline from Egypt to Israel and Jordan has shown how vulnerable our energy sources are (“Sinai pipeline blast prompts calls to speed up Israeli gas development,” February 7). Now, with regime change in Cairo, there is no such thing as a cast-iron guarantee.
It is vital to our national security to immediately develop our own indigenous fuel infrastructure so we are not at the mercy of others. We saw how the lack of gas forced Jordan to draw more from another pipeline shared with Lebanon, and the resulting blackouts there. Securing our energy supplies must be given priority on par with our defense strategy.
COLIN L. LECI Jerusalem