January 20: A party splits

If you are elected as part of a party, the next person on the list should get your seat when you leave.

A party splits
Sir, – Regarding “Labor in chaos as Barak, in maneuver planned with PM, sets up new faction” (January 18), what kind of democracy is this? If you are elected as part of a party, the next person on the list should get your seat when you leave.
We in this country do not elect individuals. We vote for a party.
Barak can leave if he wants to, but he should leave entirely, not partly.
I would be glad to replace him, if this is how government is played, where anyone can come or go as he chooses.
Sir, – How ironic it is that Isaac Herzog’s career has probably come to an end as the result of Ehud Barak’s maneuver. This is the same Barak that Herzog protected by his immoral silence when questioned about the party leader’s political fundraising apparatuses.
Somebody up there has a sense of humor.
Sir, – In reading “For Kadima, Labor split recalls its own near-division last year” (January 18), I tried to identify the true difference between the two centrists, the Kadima party and Ehud Barak’s new Independence faction. The only distinction I see is that the former tries to feel important by criticizing the government non-stop, and the latter by participating.
Maybe some Kadima MKs, frustrated with all the negativity and powerlessness, can now join Independence and become constructive? MOSHE-MORDECHAI VAN ZUIDEN
Glick too optimistic
Sir, – Caroline Glick sees some lessons for the US in the popular uprising in Tunisia (“Tunisia’s lessons for Washington,” Our World, January 18). I loved her indictment of America’s so-called foreign policy elite for their comical Palestinian panacea, but she sounds too optimistic about the probable consequences of the Tunisian revolution.
Glick mentions the universal desire for the good life, but that means something very different to the masses in Islamic countries.
Strict adherence to Sharia law, despite its draconian penalties and discriminatory provisions, is widely seen as a path upwards. Those beliefs helped make the secular nature of the former Tunisian regime a liability, which is why the uprising is being widely hailed among Islamists, who are lionizing it as an intifada.
In addition, what economic good is there in hostility toward Israel? Besides the enormous human and material expenditure, wouldn’t trade and all the benefits of peace argue for reconciliation? Instead, religious bigotry trumps rationality among the masses. As one Hamas official opined, the ancien regime in Tunis was suspected of being cozy with Israel.
The most probable outcome is that Tunisia will see a repeat of the Iranian revolution, where a corrupt but relatively benign secular regime is replaced by one that is more dangerous and fanatical. Historically, reform in Islamic countries has come from the top, as with Kemalism in Turkey, while reaction has come from below.
I just hope I’m wrong.
Jericho, Vermont
Glasses still on
Sir, – How upset I was by your readers’ comments (“Put down those glasses,” January 18) on the article by Ashley Perry.
I regarded my aliya in 1986 like many olim – as a challenge with the usual ups and downs of acclimatizing to a new, exciting and young country, a new language and a new culture. At all times, whatever the situation, a sense of humor helped tremendously, and still does.
Despite its youth, Israel has many positive factors to be proud of. We are world leaders in technology, medicine and agriculture, and currently have a stable economy (with a little help from an oleh from the US). If a moment’s thought is now given to the economic and cultural situation in the UK, where the letter writers came from, they would realize what a tremendous advantage it is living here. Hopefully, so will waves of new olim.
My glasses are still rose-tinted!
Tsur Moshe
And the rest of us?
Sir, – The dangers of smoking are no secret (“‘Smoking can do quicker harm than originally thought,’” January 17). The damage, however, is caused not just to smokers, but to those that are subject to second- hand smoke, often against their will.
In the United States, laws and policies have been crafted to protect a person’s right to breathe air that’s free of second-hand smoke.
As a result, smoking in the US continues to decline and has become socially unacceptable.
It’s comforting that MK Gideon Ezra has put forth legislation mandating education on the dangers of smoking for high school students.
However, much more is required in this bill to change the current course of smoking. It should include the following: • A substantial tax on cigarettes to fund a continuous and massive advertising campaign on the dangers of smoking • No smoking in any public buildings, and no smoking within 25 meters of an entrance to a public building • No smoking in outdoor sections of restaurants • Full-color images on all cigarette packs of people in the late stages of cancer • A ban on all types of cigarette advertising • No smoking at any tourist attractions or holy sites, including those that are outside.
Breathing clean air is not only essential for life, it is a human right.
Every day, I and many others are robbed of that right as we enter our workplaces through a congregation of smokers at the entrances to buildings. We are robbed of our air while waiting at the bus stop and while having a cup of coffee on the rooftop cafe at the Mamila Mall.
The time is long overdue for our legislature to enact bold, responsible laws protecting our right to breathe air that’s free of secondhand smoke.
Fresh, not dried!
Sir, – Over the years, I’ve gotten increasingly frustrated witnessing the mass import of dried fruits for Tu Bishvat.
The whole reason for dried fruits originated when Jews living in the Diaspora could not acquire fresh fruits from Israel, and thus made do with (very) dried Israeli fruits.
During my childhood in American Jewish schools, we suffered every year with the tasteless dried fruit brought from Israel and served with Zionistic fervor. We called it “buckser,” which I know today as carob. What I didn’t know was how tasty it is when fresh.
And then I immigrated to Israel, where we are bombarded on Tu Bishvat with imported dried fruits, mostly of poor quality. What value is there to eating dried fruits on this holiday when the whole point is to celebrate nature’s new year with fruit from Israel? Where is our national pride? Love of country? Support of local products and environmental values? Let us truly provide encouragement to the farmers of this country who grow fresh fruits, dates and almonds, olives, raisin products and more. I approached public figures, the Industrialists Association, the minister of agriculture, the Organization of Organic Farming and more, to suggest a public campaign. Unfortunately, I received no response whatsoever.
So it’s time for a grassroots (or treeroots) effort to spring into action! This year, and all to come, let us embrace the natural and cultivated abundance surrounding us.
We are blessed. Hug a tree, support Israeli fruit growers, buy local.
With love of the land and its wonderful fruits, happy birthday, trees of Israel!
Kibbutz Gezer