February 20: Myth laid to rest

Jeremy Ben-Ami's statement about the US veto of a proposed UN resolution that Israel stop building settlements lays to rest the myth that J Street is pro-Israel.

Myth laid to rest
Sir, – J Street’s director, Jeremy Ben-Ami, states that he does not favor a US veto over the proposed UN resolution that Israel immediately and completely ceases all settlement activity, including in east Jerusalem (“UN Security Council expected to vote soon on anti-settlement resolution,” February 17). This lays to rest the myth that J Street is a Zionist, pro-Israel body.
The definition of “east Jerusalem” in this proposal is those parts of the city that were outside the pre-1967 armistice line, and thus includes Ramat Eshkol, Gilo, Armon Hanatziv, Ramot, East Talpiot, Ramat Shlomo and Pisgat Ze’ev.
If J Street believes we should cease all activity in these areas, it is either strongly anti-Israel or completely ignorant of facts on the ground. Either way, Ben-Ami’s latest declaration indicates that no Zionists should support it.
Kfar Saba
Not-so-good guys
Sir, – Here in the US, the media don’t know what to do with the story of Lara Logan (“CBS newswoman sexually assaulted by Cairo mob chanting ‘Jew! Jew!,’” February 17).
The accepted narrative has been that the protesters are the good Egyptians, while Mubarak’s people are thugs. The problem is that Logan was assaulted by the good Egyptians celebrating their freedom.
These good Egyptians also yelled “Jew, Jew!” as they assaulted Logan, a fact ignored by all but one media outlet here.
What to do with such inconvenient facts? The media have largely chosen to ignore them. Maybe, just maybe, the good Egyptians aren’t as good as CBS and CNN would hope them to be.
I suspect that we will see Egypt turn into another Iran before we see it turn into another Israel, but will the media know what to do when that happens?
ABE KRIEGER Highland Park, New Jersey
Termination writ large
Sir, – “Gazans who lost jobs because of the disengagement not entitled to severance pay” (February 16) says that according to the judge “there had been no act of termination.”
The disengagement was an act of termination writ large, not at the innocent employer’s initiative, but at our government’s. So shouldn’t our government pay? On the other hand, our government disengaged from Gaza because the Palestinian Authority’s failure to halt terror made normal activity impossible. So what the government should do is dip into the funds earmarked for the Palestinian Authority and use them to compensate the workers who lost their jobs because of the terror from Gaza.
Change the system
Sir, – I read with interest Jonathan Surasky’s letter (“Wider electoral reforms,” February 16).
It has long been a bugbear of my friends and me that there is no one lawmaker who represents Netanya or parts thereof.
The systems in the US, UK and elsewhere are not perfect, but at least there, one votes for a local politician to whom one may come with local problems. The drawback of our own system is that we vote for parties, all of which have lists of members who will obtain a Knesset seat based on the pecking order.
Laying aside the question of how self-seeking they may be, these politicians certainly do not care about local issues. Perhaps if Knesset members stopped thinking solely about themselves and thought of the poorly served and underrated population of this lovely country, we might get less sleaze and more action to redress the wrongs that go on in society.
We are able to be united as a people, but there is too much mudslinging between factions.
Sir, – The Knesset doesn’t represent the voters, no matter how heterogeneous they may be. It represents political parties that choose candidates for election to the House. There are no primaries for people to select their candidates for office. Candidates today are responsible solely to the parties whose names appear on the ballot, and not to the people.
Under our present and unworkable proportional representation system, no one party has ever secured a clear majority of votes.
Any party aspiring to leadership must enlist smaller parties to join its coalition. The small parties call the shots by threatening to leave the coalition and bring down the government if their demands are not met.
Almost always, governments fall after two years. A citizen may shout himself hoarse in a demonstration but will have no effect at all on anyone. No one in the Knesset represents him as an individual.
He has no one to turn to.
The present form of elections must be replaced with a constituency form of elections in which candidates represent the people of defined voting districts, to whom they must give an accounting of their actions in the House or be replaced. This would create three to four parties in the Knesset (instead of the dozen or so today), with one possessing a clear majority and able to legislate its political platform into action. Without this change, things will only go from bad to worse.
The hitch is that in order to enact this change, it requires a majority vote in the Knesset – whose members will be the last ones to vote for losing their seats.
Last month, Susan Hattis Rolef wrote an exuberant article titled “Tu Bishvat – the Knesset’s 62nd anniversary” (Comment & features, January 20), describing our Cave of the Winds as “a well functioning institution which well represents the country’s heterogeneous social makeup.” I didn’t know that the Post published fiction.
Loud and clear
Sir, – Regarding “Egyptian opposition figure calls to rethink Camp David Accords” (February 14), the Israeli government should make it clear that if Egypt abrogates the peace treaty, it, too, will cancel the treaty, rescind its concessions and consider reoccupying the Sinai.
The treaty is a contractual undertaking by both sides and requires the faithful performance of all obligations.
It is unthinkable that Egypt can retain all the tangible concessions while Israel simply loses all it had been promised – peace and recognition.
If Egypt rescinds the treaty, the US should also end the more-than $1 billion in aid it gives Egypt each year.
By highlighting the significant negative consequences of abrogating the peace treaty, Israel and the US would reduce the likelihood of Egypt doing so, and might play a stabilizing and restraining influence on Cairo.
The writer is national president of the Zionist Organization of America

Worthy cause
Sir, – The students from Yeshivat Eretz Hatzvi who plan on running the Jerusalem Marathon to raise funds for Tikvot should be commended for their admirable initiative (“Born to run,” Sports, February 17). Exhibiting such maturity and displaying a willingness to give back at such a young age is a tribute to their families and to their schools.
At the same time, I would like to introduce your readers to “Tzevet Daniel,” another worthy group of runners who are participating in the marathon to raise funds to build a special musical park in Alon Shvut. The park is being built in memory of my son Daniel, a 24- year-old soldier who was killed in 2003 while apprehending terrorists near Nablus.
For more information on this worthy endeavor or to sign up for Tzevet Daniel, please go to www.daniel-mandel.co.il or e-mail me at [email protected]
Alon Shvut