February 23: Lentils and pasta

I once heard a perfectly rational person calmly state that he would kill for a nice bowl of fettuccine.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Lentils and pasta... Sir, - Re "Visiting US congressmen say Israel has to change 'counterproductive' Gaza policies," February 22: Brian Baird and Keith Ellison maintain that Israel should lift all import restrictions, including on such items as pasta and lentils. Maybe these congressmen have a point. Perhaps the Palestinians persist in trying to kill us because of a lack of pasta. After all, I once heard a perfectly rational person calmly state that he would kill for a nice bowl of fettuccine. Therefore, I propose starting a grassroots Pasta For Peace movement in which Gaza's leadership will agree to stop spending food money on a massive terrorist infrastructure. In return, it can wallow in more noodles than it ever envisioned in its wildest dreams. YONATAN SILVER Jerusalem Sir, - The two visiting congressmen's plea for Israel to lift the ban on lentils and pasta is a pathetic commentary on the state of Congressional fact-finding missions. Where is the condemnation of the more than 7,000 Kassam and Grad rockets aimed at innocent Israelis? Hundreds of smuggling tunnels have ferried tons of illegal arms, rockets and missiles. Perhaps there is not as much profit in smuggling lentils and pasta. ISRAEL AND BLOSSOM RUBIN Beit Shemesh Sir, - What audacity, what chutzpa, what falsehoods. Why don't Brian Baird and Keith Ellison ask Hamas what they have done with the millions, or is it billions, they've received for "lentils and pasta?" Why don't the congressmen wonder why Hamas found it necessary to destroy their own people's lives and arm themselves with rockets they've been firing into Israel from land that was fully vacated? Why don't they ask members of Hamas why they dedicate their lives to the destruction of Israel? What's worse, why doesn't our own government respond forcefully to Baird and Ellison, who are predisposed to blind bias? NATAN BEN YEHUDA (NATHAN BORSKY) Ra'anana/Woodstock, NY ...for Taliban, too? Sir, - I wonder if US Congressmen Brian Baird and Keith Ellison are planning a fact-finding mission to Afghanistan to see how Taliban children are coping with the US military presence in their country. If their visit to Gaza reflects new US attitudes and policies toward Israel, it's going to be a rocky four years. JOSH HASTEN Jerusalem Chelm-on-the-sea Sir, - While Gilad Schalit is in captivity with Hamas and the whereabouts of other soldiers remains unknown ("A hostage situation," February 22), the Arab murderers in our jails get visits from their families and from the Red Cross. Marwan Barghouti was actually permitted to take a degree from the Open University. If it weren't so tragic, I would say we're living in Chelm. GERSHON COPPERMAN Petah Tikva/Dublin Is Lieberman so bad? Sir, - Why all the Lieberman bashing? Avigdor Lieberman tells it as it is and as it should be: "Bli ne'emanut ain ezrachut"... without loyalty there can be no citizenship. His challenge is not only to Israeli Arabs, but also to haredi Jews. No military service. No national service. No wars have been won or borders secured by Talmudists. Israelis are obligated to demonstrate complete loyalty to the nation or risk the loss of certain privileges. Lieberman has a view that offers hope to those in need of hope, people like the 300,000 non-Halachic Jews who cannot have a rabbinically-sanctioned marriage in Israel. His proposal of a civil union is a solution to a very unhappy situation. Why did Lieberman succeed in getting so many votes from Israeli-born youth and soldiers? Because he represents the future. DR. ESOR BEN-SOREK Rishon Lezion ...looks like it Sir, - Avigdor Lieberman should seriously consider the fact that this is a Jewish state and as such its laws should be in accordance with Jewish law. The conversion process is designed to be lengthy and difficult because becoming Jewish is a lifelong commitment to living one's life as a Jew, and is not intended as a tool to enable people to come and live in Israel. There is already a significant lack of knowledge of even basic Judaism among many Israelis, and I fear what would happen to Israeli Jewish society should Lieberman's dreams become reality. JEREMY WEISS Tel Aviv Halacha is 'more just' Sir, - Yisrael Perry stole the equivalent of NIS 800 million from Holocaust survivors and Israel's Supreme Court punished him with 10 years in jail ("Lawyer who defrauded Holocaust survivors to be jailed immediately," February 19). The Torah mandates that thieves pay back the entire amount they stole, plus an equal amount as a fine and deterrent. Therefore, if the Supreme Court had used Halacha to determine the fine, Perry would have to pay NIS 1.6 billion, and directly to his victims, not the State of Israel - which could still fine Perry for the cost of the police investigation and the trial. As for the jail sentence, Halacha calls for no jail time, which is cruel both to the thief (who imprisoned nobody) and to society (which has to foot the bill for incarceration). The Halachic system of torts and damages is much more just, logical and humane than the modern Western approach. ROBERT KLEIN Beersheba Electoral reform redux Sir, - Further to the correspondence arising from Amnon Rubinstein's proposals to reform the obvious shortcomings of the Israeli political system ("Plenty of brakes but no engine," February 18): Perhaps a first step would be to increase the threshold before any party can have representation in the Knesset, to, say, 10 percent of the votes cast. This would ensure that all parties are relatively broad-based, rather than single-issue factions. MARTIN D. STERN Salford, England Tennis, anyone? Sir, - Andy Roddick is to be applauded for boycotting the Men's Dubai tennis tournament this week ("Roddick steps up for Pe'er," February 22). But would this have been necessary if organizations like Sony-Ericsson and Barclays Bank, the tournament sponsors, had spoken up about the UAE barring Shahar Pe'er from last week's women's tournament? Thank goodness there are still some decent people who are not afraid to publicly show they know right from wrong. PETER SIMPSON Jerusalem Is there a way out? Sir, - While other places in the world (e.g., Kashmir, Kurdistan, Korea, just to name three) also defy solutions, it's always the Middle East and the so-called Holy Land that grab world attention. I've always been intrigued by Biblical prophecy. If the best brains in the world can't solve the Palestine conundrum, which has been ongoing since 1947, maybe there's something to this apocalyptic stuff. President Obama entered office with a lot of goodwill. Let's hope he can do more than simply kick the can down the road! JOHN EASON Victoria, BC, Canada