February 20: Payback time

The US saved Egypt in 1973 from another devastating defeat, a fact the Muslim Brotherhood seems to overlook.

Payback time
Sir, – Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (“Top Muslim Brotherhood leader: US aid cut would give Egypt the right to review treaty,” February 17) seems to overlook one critical historical fact: The US saved that country in 1973 from another devastating defeat.
Arik Sharon surrounded Egypt’s Second and Third armies, and only American pressure on Israel prevented Cairo from having to swallow an unconditional surrender.
When the Muslim Brotherhood suggests a review of the peace deal with Israel, it should not forget that Israel has just as many rights in preserving the very cold peace, and that Egypt owes a huge debt to the US.
Sir, – In your article on Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the peace treaty with Israel, you use the photo of a man you identify as Essam El-Erian, a prominent Brotherhood member.
Following BBC’s Hardtalk program it appears that the photo is of Mohamed El-Erian, head of PIMCO, the world’s largest mutual fund, and not as stated.
The Editor responds: The reader is right. The following is a photo of Essam El-Erian. We regret the error.
Dangerous hype
Sir, – Regarding “Heavily subsidized CFL bulbs now available” (February 16), the amount of light given off by a light source is measured in lumens, not watts. The hoax involved in the CFL hype is that this fluorescent bulb gives off much less light than it is purported to emit.
Expect medical reports of increased eye-strain in the near future. Of course, by then it will be too late to turn back. Too much public and private money will have been invested in this sad invention.
Positive learning Sir, – For 25 years I served as a public school psychologist in the inner-city of Baltimore. I have something to add to Richard Curwin’s “Rewarding fraud in our schools” (Comment & Features, February 16).
On occasion, a student would be referred to me because his behavior was completely atrocious. I always found something good to say about this child.
What always worked was to get him started by showing him that he had some good traits. I would begin by praising him for any good behavior he exhibited. After he saw that he could genuinely do something praiseworthy, I could use all of the techniques Curwin suggests.
I used a daily behavior chart for all of the teachers to sign and rate. This documented the children’s behavior for the entire day and served as a historical record. I had much fun turning these seriously low-achieving students into kids with academic success and good behavior.
Sir, – Regarding “Gender separation helps girls in sciences” (February 16), I have taught a wide range of subjects in both mixed and separate classes for boys and girls, and my own finding after 40 years is that gender separation helps both boys and girls in many subjects.
The same as boys think they “own” sciences, computer studies, technology and possibly even math, girls excel at languages and the arts. When boys and girls are mixed, boys often shy away from subjects they perceive as “girl” subjects, as much as girls may shy away from what they perceive as “boy” subjects.
Here in London, the top-performing schools in national exams for 16- and 18-year-olds tend to be single-sex schools. They also tend to be nominally faith schools with a strong traditional ethos.
Who’d show up? Sir, – Reading his most recent column (“Hope for peace at a roadblock,” Yalla Peace, February 15), one wonders why any objective organization would give special recognition to “award winning columnist” Ray Hanania.
Hanania criticizes Israel’s supposed “pre-conditions” for peace negotiations without understanding the simple distinction between opening positions and absolute demands. Unlike the Palestinians, at no time has Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu demanded that the Palestinian Authority accept any specific position before negotiations.
A simple test proves the vast difference between the two sides: If the US or EC announced tomorrow that it was holding a wide-open Israeli-Palestinian negotiating session, which side would be more likely to show up? Hanania also suggests that Israel’s desire to be recognized as a Jewish state is evidence of its discriminatory inclination. Perhaps he assumes that Israel acts like the dozens of Islamic states that refuse to allow anyone other than Muslims to practice their religion.
He also ignores the fact that 20 percent of Israel’s citizens are not Jewish yet enjoy full legal rights and benefits, while the PA has stated emphatically that no Jews would be allowed to live in a Palestinian state, even if they accepted Palestinian authority.
There is a much easier explanation for the PA’s opposition to recognizing Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people: To do so it would finally have to accept the historical Jewish tie to the land and the right of Jews to live here – something it (and Hanania?) refuses to do.
EFRAIM A. COHEN Zichron Ya’acov
Shake-up needed Sir, – Regarding “Ice cream and conversion” (Candidly Speaking, February 14), haredi control of the rabbinate is a situation that causes considerable hardship for non-haredi believers, and severely alienates those who are not believers but who are good Jews and Israelis.
We must remember that haredim are generally non-Zionist or at times even anti-Zionist, and that this gives them an entirely different agenda for the enhancement and well-being of the State of Israel. Therefore, their domination of key religious functions is something that must be altered immediately.
A prerequisite for participation in the rabbinate must be the acceptance of Zionism as the national Renaissance of the Jewish nation. Without this, there can be no understanding of the basic religious needs of Jews in a modern and democratic Israel.
HAIM M. LERNER Ganei Tikva
Sir, – Isi Leibler deserves praise for his column on the disastrous situation of the Chief Rabbinate, which is unduly influenced by non-Zionist haredi leaders, something that is causing a dangerous split between the majority of Orthodox Zionist Jews both here and in the Diaspora.
Leibler proposes a new Chief Rabbinate that is Orthodox but Zionist. Such rabbis exist, but this would require political courage on the part of our prime minister.
Now is the time to modify the electoral system. If Prime Minister Netanyahu shows strong leadership, the majority will support the change.
HENRY WEIL Jerusalem
Sir, – Isi Leibler’s excellent “Ice cream and conversion” very illuminating but extremely worrisome.
The ice cream issue was both outrageous and stupid. But regarding the conversion crisis, during the past two centuries many distinguished and famous rabbis have displayed a very compassionate and liberal approach to prospective converts. Leibler names but a few of these giants. In contrast, our harsh, intransigent and compassion- free Chief Rabbinate turns a blind eye and deaf ear to all views other than its own, which are so detrimental to our society, especially when Israel so desperately needs Jews – what ever their makeup.