February 8: Pray for the dead

wonder if Assad was also praying for the thousands of people who have been killed in Syria over the past year of unrest?

Pray for the dead
Sir, – On the front page of your February 6 issue, there is a picture of Syrian President Bashar Assad praying during a celebration of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday (“US, France hint at efforts to bolster Syrian opposition”).
I wonder if Assad was also praying for the thousands of people who have been killed in Syria over the past year of unrest, including the more than 200 people killed in Homs over last weekend?
Higher strengths
Sir, – Much as it frightens me to read of the genocidal threats made by Iran’s Ayatolla Ali Kameini, it is nothing compared to the existential terror I feel when I read the words said by our prime minister when he spoke to the Knesset in response to those threats (“Netanyahu: Recent regional events harsh reminder for Israel,” February 6).
According to Netanyahu, “We are obligated to continue to develop Israel’s military, economic and social strength. That is also the only guarantor of peace, and Israel’s only defense if that peace unravels.”
While the ayatolla speaks of his religious imperative to annihilate the Jewish people and make the Middle East judenrein, our prime minister makes no mention of the God of Israel or His Torah – the original source for our right to this sacred land.
May I remind him of a certain verse in that Torah: “And you may say in your heart, ‘My strength and the might of my hand made me all this wealth!’ Then you shall remember your God – that it was He who gave you strength to make wealth in order to establish His covenant that He swore to your forefathers, as this day” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18). And just what was that covenant? It was the promise that if the Jews kept God’s laws they would inherit the land.
Let us therefore add spiritual and religious strength to Netanyahu’s list so that the true guarantor of peace will bless our efforts to defend ourselves with success and not, Heaven forbid, allow our enemies to annihilate us due to the sin of arrogance.
Finally, a sign
Sir, – The article “Cabinet approves rail link between Eilat, Tel Aviv” (February 6) struck a responsive chord.
Immediately after the Six Day War, I was engaged by the Israel Ports Authority to come from New York and analyze the economic feasibility of a transportation link between the Mediterranean and Eilat in view of the closure of the Suez Canal. My study demonstrated the importance of various elements: that the cargo link to Eilat be essentially from the Port of Ashdod; that cargo other than new automobiles be containerized for efficient transshipment; and that an Ashdod-Eilat link could attract Mediterranean-Asian cargo, even in competition with the canal.
That study was undertaken 45 years ago. Better late than never.
Dangerous precedent
Sir, – Regarding “Judge: Adopted man has right to know biological mom’s identity” (February 6), to coerce or obligate biological parents to reveal their identity to children they give up for adoption is an ill-advised and even dangerous precedent. It would dissuade the few pregnant women who consider giving up their babies for adoption.
Instead, they will turn to abortion or illegal adoptions.
What about the identity of sperm and egg donors, as well as surrogate mothers? Judge Rackover has given potential donors reason to change their minds.
BEVERLY LEWIN Ramat Hasharon The writer is a former social worker in the field of adoption
Not super rich
Sir, – Jonathan Degani (“Trajtenberg: More tax breaks for the rich,” Comment & Features, February 6) states that the reduction of the National Insurance Institute (NII) ceiling from some NIS 71,000 to NIS 41,000 is a tax break for the “super wealthy.”
I strongly resent and protest this characterization.
I am a hard-working member of the middle class, often working 12-14 hours a day (and many evenings and Shabbatot on call) to make a half-way decent income. Even after the last doctor strikes, I make far less than my colleagues in many European nations, and work in much worse conditions.
I am supporting three grown children, two of whom are studying at university. As such we are a normative family, the backbone of working Israel.
The temporary increase of the NII ceiling imposed two years ago represented a huge extra tax burden on me and many like me who are already reeling under some of the highest direct taxes in the Western world. It seemed to be exactly the kind of punishment that undermines all incentive for people like me to work long and extra hours.
Ending this temporary edict will at least return matters to the status quo ante and allow me and my fellow tax victims to keep a little more of our veryhard- earned income.
I have no problem paying my bit and do so in very generous doses, but I do mind being characterized as being in some way pampered, spoiled or rich.
ANTHONY LUDER Rosh Pina The writer is a physician
Hungary speaks up
Sir, – Hungary’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs has issued the following statement in response to “Radical right-wing political spokesman says Jews ‘colonizing’ Hungary” (February 5): The Ministry for Foreign Affairs strongly condemns the position of the MPs of the Jobbik political party on the Holocaust, on the internal political situation in Israel, and on the political relations of the Middle East.
The Government of Hungary considers the tragic extermination of the Hungarian Jews during the Second World War to be an unprecedented genocide.
The Government deems it extremely important that this should be given due emphasis in the nation’s memory, in education, in research, and in the compensation granted to victims and their relatives.
Hungary rejects all forms of Holocaust denial.
Hungarian foreign policy has been committed to Israel’s security since the political transition of 1989-90. Hungary supports all efforts which aim to achieve stable and fair peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through negotiations based on the two-state solution.
Regarding the situation of Iran, Hungary shares all the concerns expressed by our EU and NATO partners... and is an active participant in the formation and implementation of this alliance policy.
In addition, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs categorically rejects all the malevolent attempts which – corresponding to the recent propaganda creating anti-Hungarian hysteria – try to blur the distinction between the Hungarian Government’s policy and the irresponsible statements of the extreme right opposition on the basis of false allegations.
The writer is Hungary’s ambassador to Israel
Credit where due
Sir, – It is truly wonderful that Dr. Rowan Williams is visiting Israel (“Archbishop of Canterbury meets with chief rabbis,” February 3), but he is not “the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion.”
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth holds the title Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Archbishops and bishops are appointed by the queen (on the advice of the prime minister).
She considers names selected by a Church commission.
Archbishops and bishops take an oath of allegiance to the queen on appointment and may not resign without royal authority. Parish priests also take an oath of allegiance to the queen.
Happy 60th anniversary on your accession, Ma’am.