January 4: Shalom to Yaffa

Greer Fay Cashman eulogized Yaffa Yarkoni in a moving fashion, as an American I would like to recall great singer in the US during two month in 1961.

Shalom to Yaffa
Sir, – Greer Fay Cashman eulogized Yaffa Yarkoni in a very moving fashion (“Israel’s ‘Queen of Song’ dies at 86,” January 2).
But for the American I am, I would like to recall this great singer in the US during two months in 1961.
I was a student at the Jewish Theological Seminary and quite unfamiliar with Israeli singers. A fellow student called me to his room and told me to listen to a single. I sat there amazed and listened to “Shir Habokrim” (Song of the Cowboys), handled in an exciting fashion by someone named Yaffa Yarkoni. Then he said, “Do you know Yiddish?” A little, I replied. He then played the lush arrangements of Rumania, Rumania: Yaffa Yarkoni sings Yiddish. I was impressed, to say the least, but was unable to see her perform that weekend in New York.
Later, I went to visit friends in Boston for Shabbat. My friend said he had a surprise for me. At the Boston Hungry I coffee house that Saturday night, Yarkoni performed in her own inimitable fashion.
I have a personal memory as we all say shalom to her.
Whining and begging
Sir, – PLO secretary-general Yasser Abed Rabbo complains that Israel’s measures are aimed at isolating east Jerusalem from the West Bank (“PA to ask Security Council to halt construction in settlements, east Jerusalem,” January 1). Of course, this is just one of many complaints our “peace partners” have had.
Whereas their complaints are met with the utmost understanding, ours are generally met with condescension and demands, that we are not doing enough to bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table. All that we have already conceded, with great loss to our people, is as nothing. And why? Because it will never be acceptable for Jews to have their own land.
So enough of our prime minister meekly accepting all the complaints, threats and demands.
Enough of the whining and begging for the Palestinian Authority to return to the table. The Oslo Accords have proved to be a horrific and deadly failure. This is Jewish land and we will continue to build on it, as is our right, both historically and legally.
Crosswalk knowledge
Sir, – Regarding “Hit and run driver injures 3 generations of a family” (January 1), our courts have determined that the maximum speed at a pedestrian crossing is 30 kph. The majority of the driving public is most likely unaware of this.
It would be wise for government ministries to include this information in the media announcements they make. It would also be wise to include the number “30” in the yellow blinking lights at crossings, and to establish more efficient settings for the lights that allow pedestrians to cross.
Crosswalks are the scene of a large percentage of our traffic accidents. The advice not to cross unless you make eye contact with the driver is so true! DAVID GOSHEN Kiryat Ono
What about Pollard?
Sir, – I agree with the sentiments expressed by Liat Collins (“Questions in time,” My Word, January 1), in which she is compelled to ask why the country’s MIAs seem to have been forgotten in light of the Schalit exchange. Yet I am compelled to ask why she made no reference to why US President Barack Obama has ignored the pleas for clemency on behalf of Jonathan Pollard made by both President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
After more than 26 years of being incarcerated, Pollard deserves attention. Yet he has been ignored and apparently cast aside, just like the MIAs Collins mentions.
COLIN L. LECI Jerusalem
Deeply troubled
Sir, – I was deeply troubled by two aspects of the article by Rabbi Steven M. Bob (“The ‘tikkun olam’ president,” Comment & Features, January 1).
The writer informs us that he is a co-founder of Rabbis for Obama. This seems to be in gross violation of the principle of separation of church and state.
As rabbis, they should support worthy causes based on values, but they must also totally eschew the endorsement of a partisan political candidacy.
Are we to expect rival groups like Rabbis for Gingrich or Rabbis for Romney? Suppose the membership of Bob’s congregation holds differing political views – are they to be excommunicated? Suppose the other candidate wins? Second, I am concerned by Bob’s certainty about Obama.
While I do not at all deny the important defense, political and economic aid provided to Israel by the United States, I remain uneasy. I sense that many questions concerning Obama remain open, and my unease relates to the well-being of both the US and Israel.
Exhibition unseen
Sir, – In “Un-original shooting” (Terra Incognita, December 28), Seth J. Frantzman displays truly superhuman powers. He declares my project – “Israel: Portrait of a Work in Progress,” in which I have invited some of the leading photographic artists from around the world to explore Israel as place and metaphor – a “failure” without viewing the hundreds of photographs that have been produced or speaking with any of the 12 artists.
This is indeed a great leap forward for cultural journalism.
Soon, film reviewers will be able to skip the tiresome task of actually watching movies, and music critics will no longer have to attend concerts; they can simply cut-and-paste from other newspapers and pronounce judgment.
I trust in the intelligence of the Post’s readers to see through Frantzman’s toxic cynicism and judge the project for itself once it is completed, by visiting the major exhibitions that will be mounted around the world, and by reading the printed catalogue as well as books by the individual artists. Indeed, I look forward to these informed responses, as my ambition in launching this project was to nourish artworks that could provoke a new conversation about Israel, one that values complexity, nuance and difficult questions rather than the easy answers retailed by journalists like Frantzman.
Empty phrase?
Sir, – I was just wondering why your government sent only a minister-without-portfolio to represent the State of Israel at the funeral of our former president, Vaclav Havel.
Many times, one reads in Israeli papers what a good friend the Czech Republic has been to Israel, so we cannot but wonder if the expression “good friend” is just an empty phrase.
Outside help
Sir, – While essentially agreeing with Martin Sherman’s excellent discourse, as spelled out in his December 30 Into the Fray column (“Palestine: What Sherlock Holmes would say”), there is a need for departure on two counts.
The plan will indeed require acceptance and cooperation by Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
It will also necessitate sponsorship by the US, in particular, and by the Quartet.
Both the Israeli Left and Right have for some years been in accord in advocating separation, while differing on its implementation. It is unrealistic to imagine that other countries, not Arab or Muslim, would be willing to accept the named Palestinian Arabs.
In a January 2 letter (“Writes well, too”) on Martin Sherman’s most recent column, the quotation should have been “To the contrary, it reflects either inordinate credulity or complicity in undisguised duplicity.” The letters editor regrets the error.