January 17: Likud has lost its way

How to make donations in Debbie Friedman's memory; the post office in Jerusalem can be pleasantly surprising.

Transparency is good
Sir, – In regard to “Ten thousand protest against ‘decline of democracy’ in Israel” (January 16), it is truly puzzling as to why the proposal to investigate the funding sources of NGOs resulted in an explosion of hysteria, distress and name-calling.
If the NGOs are honest and fair, and do not receive money from governments that directly or indirectly wish to harm Israel, they should be thrilled and delighted.
However, if they truly are a fifth column against Israel and support boycotts and deliberately malign and discredit Israel, we have a right to know.
Sir, – The Knesset should pass legislation requiring all quasipolitical Israeli organizations, on the Right and the Left, to file detailed reports on the sources of their funds (the original sources, not just the ones who write the checks), and these reports should be available to the public.
Transparency fosters democracy.
It makes a big difference if the positions of an Israeli organization are really just the positions of the Norwegian government or some Diaspora Jewish billionaire.
Pot and kettle
Sir, – Representing one of the most antagonistic nations toward Israel, the diplomatic bluster of Norwegian Jonas Store against his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, should come as no surprise. Now Store dares to interfere in Israel’s internal matters (“Norway’s FM slams Lieberman over NGO funding investigation,” January 13).
It’s not enough for Europeans to support Palestinian aspirations.
Additionally, they hide behind an Israeli veneer – so-called “human rights” organizations in Israel – to affect Israeli public opinion against our democratically elected government.
I suppose it would be too brazen to pay for anti-Israel advertisements on Egged buses with the notation “Sponsored by the government of Norway.”
The Norwegians, and also the Spaniards, fear we might expose B’Tselem as an agent for foreign governments, and not-so-Israeli after all. The hypocritical Store doesn’t mind benefitting from our openness; he just doesn’t want us to be too open about B’Tselem.
I hope that Foreign Minister Lieberman makes another of his not-so-diplomatic comments and tells Store to keep his comments to himself. And while he’s at it, he should tell the Norwegians to stop their vicious whale hunts, and the Spaniards to stop their bullfights.
There’s no question
Sir, Regarding “Extreme measures may be considered if rain shortage persists” (January 13), I don’t know why The Jerusalem Post continues to waste space on such articles.
Every few months, we have heard that “a new plan may be considered if....” Well, the conditions for that “if” are long past.
American solution
Sir, – Rachel Levmore writes about the problem of a woman who did not receive a get, or halachic divorce, after her civil divorce (“The plight of an ‘aguna’ reaches Capitol Hill,” Comment & Features, January 13). She fails to mention a precedent set by a non-Jewish judge in New York State.
As I remember it, the judge said the civil divorce would not go into effect until the woman received a divorce that met her religious standards and felt free according to her religion to remarry. The decision was phrased to avoid interfering with the separation of church and state, yet allowed the woman to practice her freedom of religion rights. Maybe this precedent should be used by the woman mentioned in Levmore’s article.
Both parties to a divorce should be equally free to remarry. If one side is not, the other should not. No gender inequality.
CHAYA GOLDBERG Hatzor Haglilit
Decidedly unpostal
Sir, – Funny, but my experience at the post office in Jerusalem doesn’t measure up to the level of distress Michael Freund writes about (“Post office follies,” Fundamentally Freund, January 13).
I’ll admit I was wary of my first close encounter, but what pacified me somewhat was the system of taking a number. In South Africa one can stand in line for hours. (The clerks also stand, and their level of irritation increases by the minute.) But in the central post office here, I walk in and find people sitting and quietly waiting. So I take a book and an apple, and keep my eyes and my mouth active until my number comes up.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised.
People are nice to me. They help me. They try to understand my basic Hebrew. Might it be because this is what I expect? I didn’t know that the post office “is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with this country,” as Freund writes.
Naively I believed I was among family and there was time for a brief exchange or a laugh. Now that I know better, maybe next time I’ll be bullied!
Likud has lost its way
Sir, – Government Services Minister Michael Eitan (Likud) on Tuesday called for a halt to construction in isolated settlements (“Eitan: Build in major blocs, not isolated W. Bank areas,” January 12).
There was a time when it was unthinkable for a Likudnik to say “We have to advance a settlement policy that is compatible with a policy of territorial compromise: stop building in areas of [the West Bank] that we will have to relinquish...,” and that no other countries support settlements in Judea and Samaria.
It is obvious that the Likud is no longer a right-wing party and is bereft of its ideology. We are being isolated and delegitimized because of these very sentiments of weakness, because a government that has been unable to stand up for our rights has forgotten our heritage and has no faith in the justness of our cause.
Road death inaccuracies
Sir, – There was an error in the numbers reported on road deaths in the caption accompanying my op-ed, “Administrative carnage” (Comment & Features, January 12).
The death toll in 2009 was 354, and not as you stated. In 2010, the death toll is estimated to have been at least 380. This figure can be expected to rise as many who were badly injured in 2010 might die in 2011 from complications.
Also, I inadvertently omitted the name of Prof. Yoram Finkelstein of the neurology department at Shaarei Zedek Medical Center as one of the signatories of our letter warning that Transportation Minister Katz’s decision to raise speed limits should be considered criminally negligent. Finkelstein is an expert on the neurological effects of trauma.
Remembering Debbie
Sir, – To all of Debbie Friedman’s beloved fans who have inquired about making donations in her memory, a number of years ago she established the Renewal of Spirit Foundation, with the goal of manifesting her life’s work and all that she stood for. Now, donations to the foundation will enable the projects Debbie was working on at the time of her death to be completed.
These funds will also support future projects reflecting her passions and commitments.
Donations may be made online at www.debbiefriedman.com or sent to:
Renewal of Spirit Foundation Gerber & Co.1880 Century Park East Suite 200 Los Angeles, CA 90067-1600 USA
Los Angeles
The writers were Debbie Friedman’s business manager and legal counsel, respectively.