Logical, no? Sir, - The calls on Israel by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other "do-gooders" to reverse the closure of the Gaza crossing points in order to avert a humanitarian crisis all miss one fundamental issue. Why can't the humanitarian aid enter the Gaza Strip the same way as the material for most of the explosives, rockets and mortars used to bombard our towns, villages and agricultural facilities - Egypt being the prime facilitator? ("UN slams Israel for closing crossings to Gaza," January 20.) It is time these international agencies ceased telling us that the measures taken to protect our citizens create a humanitarian crisis for our enemies, when the boot is really on the other foot. COLIN L LECI Jerusalem The people in mind Sir, - Re "Israel Beiteinu's exit deals a blow to prospects for electoral reform" (January 20): Its version of reform mainly intended to strengthen our leadership; important, but not by itself. Only MKs Ophir Paz-Pines (Labor) and Gideon Sa'ar (Likud), among some other forward-thinking MKs, have the people in mind with their proposal for direct regional elections of at least 60 members of Knesset. The Citizens Empowerment Public Action Campaign (CEPAC) fully supports their proposals, and we can only hope that more civic-minded MKs will join them. A comprehensive booklet on our program for electoral reform is available to the public upon request. Call 04-9872117 or fax 04-9872093. E-mail: [email protected] ELAINE LEVITT CEPAC Migdal Tefen Soulful capitalism Sir, - Shmuley Boteach calls capitalism the "most serious threat to human uniqueness." Yet it is only a free and capitalist society that allows individuals to express themselves and share their uniqueness, unfettered by the tentacles of the government. Philosophers and economists have written about the morality of allowing us individuals to make our own choices and live our own lives unencumbered by "Big Brother." What Boteach calls "soulless capitalism" has given us technology that makes our lives easier, medicines that make our bodies healthier, and entertainment which provides joy in our lives. Jewish texts from the Bible to the Talmud to modern rabbis write about the virtues of limited government and the importance of productivity. Maimonides writes that one who is capable of working but sustained by charity defiles God's name; he also notes that the highest form of charity is not a handout, but job training - early advocacy of the Wisconsin plan. Even for those who, like Hitchens and Dawkins, do not believe, capitalism provides human advancement and individual liberty. Now that's what I call soulful ("Threat to human uniqueness," January 15). AVI HEIN Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies Jerusalem Easing olim in Sir, - I was delighted with your excellent "Language of life" (Ruth Eglash, December 28). However, as someone who works with olim, I was disappointed to read about the immigrant families that had difficulty accessing necessary services, and wanted to let your readership know about Lamdeni. Lamdeni is an organization that helps new, English-speaking olim integrate into the Israeli educational system. We provide services - from pre-aliya consulting and educational pilot trips to post-aliya academic coaching (including ulpanim!) and advocacy - to olim across Israel in both Anglo and "Israeli" communities. We have a particularly strong and active region in the Sharon area and in numerous other locations across Israel. Careful advanced planning, a well-researched pilot trip, and a strong educational advocate can ease what may otherwise be a difficult transition. RABBI ARI CUTLER Lamdeni Educational Services Modi'in Ulpanim must go on Sir, - The Education Ministry is attempting to close down the ulpan classes that have been successfully teaching Hebrew over the years ("Budget battle over ulpanim may see them privatized by mid-2009," January 8). I was raised in Miami, Florida. As a member of the Conservative movement, I learned to pray in Hebrew. Of course, I didn't understand a single word. I came to Israel as a tourist, and began learning Hebrew at Kibbutz Sedot-Yam, in 1978. The process changed my life, and I began considering aliya. In 1980, at the WUJS Institute in Arad and still a tourist, I studied Hebrew in a level-2 ulpan. While there, a dream took root: to be a ulpan Hebrew teacher. I had fallen in love with the language and with the idea of ulpan. In 1981, I officially made aliya, served in the IDF, studied Hebrew and world literature, Hebrew grammar and Bible at Haifa University. I taught literature and Bible in Israeli high schools for three years. In 1990, with the search on for ulpan teachers, I jumped at the opportunity. My dream had come true. I have taught Hebrew in a number of programs, including to tourists at kibbutzim and to Jewish youngsters from the US and Britain in Israel on a one-year program to strengthen their Jewish identity and ties to Israel. Recently I've been teaching senior citizens from the former Soviet Union, South America and other countries. Speaking as a former tourist in Israel, I can say that denying tourists the opportunity to learn Hebrew in kibbutz and other ulpanim would be disastrous. CHAIM/HOWARD FREEDMAN Upper Nazareth Blogosphere rumor Sir, - It is too bad that you accepted at face value all that Mark R. Cohen had to say regarding Muslims and Jews coexisting together "peacefully" through the centuries ("The new Muslim anti-Semitism," January 3). As Bat Ye'or has pointed out both in 1986 and just recently, Cohen is totally off the mark (pun not intended). I understand from the blogosphere that Bat Ye'or's counter-article was not considered worthy of publication by The Jerusalem Post. Too bad. It might shed some clear light on the subject for your readers regarding the condition of servitude Jews and Christians lived under in Muslim countries. MARTIN SIEGEL Jerusalem The op-eds editor responds: The Post did not turn away Bat Ye'or. The tone and style of the piece she wrote in response to Mark Cohen's essay simply did not meet the basic requirements of a Jerusalem Post op-ed. We invited her to modify and resubmit what she had written as a letter to the editor. When she declined, we invited her to write a "fresh" op-ed for our pages that would take the issue forward; but she declined for lack of time. We then offered her a one-on-one interview with our features editor, which she is considering.