July 24: Lady MKs' lost 'hope'

Is this a pluralistic and democratic country, or one ruled by fiat of the haredi sector?

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Lady MKs' lost 'hope' Sir, - As a member of Rinat, Israel's national choir, in the the early '80s, I recall singing "Hatikva" for the induction of Yitzhak Navon as president. I totally agree with the women MKs that this is the anthem of all Israelis, men and women ("Silencing of women MKs' singing in Knesset sparks outcry," July 23). If a haredi MK is offended by hearing women's voices, let him stay outside the chamber for the duration instead of excluding the women choir members. Is this a pluralistic and democratic country, or one ruled by fiat of the haredi sector? REIDA MISHORY-ISSEROFF Moshav Olesh Stopping the terror Sir, - Re "2nd bulldozer attack spurs new home demolition calls" (July 23): The solution is not to deprive terrorists' families of their homes, but of their right to live in Israel. That should concentrate their minds and those of future terrorists wonderfully. DAVID S. ADDLEMAN Mevaseret Zion Sir, - The blue Israeli identity cards we carry belong to the State of Israel. Extended to all Arab residents of East Jerusalem, they are given not as a right but as a privilege. Anyone who betrays that right through violence or the preaching of violence must forfeit this privilege. That must encompass the entire extended family and clan. Only when it is understood that this will mean losing Israeli social security benefits, pension rights, child allowances, sick fund membership and access to hospitals - not to mention the freedom to travel anywhere in Israel - will the violence stop. FREDA KEET Jerusalem Sir, - I am outraged that Israeli law prohibits criminal background checks on employees. I am in the tedious and difficult process of obtaining my own "clean" background check in order to make aliya from here. It seems our government makes it easier to employ criminals and terrorists to kill with heavy machinery than for a simple grandma to become a citizen. DEBRA NUSSBAUM Jerusalem Adapt, or die Sir, - Shmuley Boteach asks Israelis to consider "The death penalty for terrorists" like Samir Kuntar (July 22). While some may oppose this on religious or humanitarian grounds, people must adapt to their environment. Arithmetically, fewer Israelis would die, as a dead terrorist cannot be a danger once exchanged. Behaviorally, the message would be that terrorists could not simply "sit tight" while their release was negotiated. Israelis need to wake up to the fact that they do not live in a vacuum. Israel cannot be so idealistic when surrounded by unprincipled cowards. JOHN LALOR Dublin What Mofaz did Sir, - "Mofaz's mess" (Letter, July 21) contained factual errors that should not be left uncorrected. Shaul Mofaz, as chief of staff until his four-year term expired in April, 2002, transformed the army into the most powerful force in the region, instituted ways to protect local populations and army personnel and directed the strong, successful and internationally influential military responses of early 2002, including Operation Defensive Shield after the Park Hotel massacre. Prime minister Ariel Sharon undercut and sidelined defense minister Mofaz, starting from his appointment in July, 2002. Mofaz opposed the Gaza withdrawal and initially refused to enter Kadima. Then, realizing he would lose all ground if he opposed Sharon, he gave way. Sharon and his cronies abruptly stopped the proper preparation of the army and politicalized the lines of command. Amir Peretz inherited the mess a few months before the Second Lebanon War. EVE GERBER Jerusalem To Peace Now Sir, - I'd like to address this to my young friends in Peace Now: Why are you spending your time protesting against the Jews of Hebron and engaging in destructive activities? Be for, instead of against. Go to Gaza and volunteer among the impoverished and suffering Arabs. Help out in the hospitals and the schools, teach informal classes in useful skills. Take an example from the Peace Corps. That will do more for peace than provocative, ineffective loitering ("What happened on the Peace Now tour," Letters, July 23). SHLOMO SPIRO Kfar Saba Chabad and Jewish continuity Sir, - Re "Religious Zionist emissaries to spread word" (July 9): I would like to correct a common misconception, that "Bnei Akiva has been sending shluchim for the past 50 years, even before Chabad." Actually, Chabad has been sending emissaries to strengthen Judaism since its founding in the 1770s. Every generation, a Chabad Rebbe has sent his hassidim to places where they could make a difference. Perhaps your writer, in referring to the shluchim currently active, does not know of the many who served in the past. In the US, for example, my great-grandfather, Rabbi Sholom Posner, was sent by the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe to Chicago in 1939; Rabbi Shmuel David Raichik to Los Angeles in the 1940s; and Rabbi Yisroel Jacobson to New York in the 1930s. YOCHANAN POSNER Skokie, Illinois Bearers of gifts Sir, - David Katcoff of Vermont - who has our deep gratitude for his oft-expressed, warm support for Israel, further detailed in his letter of July 22 "The trouble with you Israelis" - should realize that most of us struggle honestly to make ends meet, as our tax burden is one of the highest in the world. Instead, he accuses us of being "sore, self-righteous jealous wannabees, posturing over that Talansky thing." Crucial to our threatened survival is a competent and modest leadership rather than egotists demanding luxuries totally at variance with their governmental responsibilities. Gift-giving from admiring Americans would be better directed to the Soldiers' Welfare Fund, Victims of Arab Terror, the handicapped and a plethora of other very worthy causes. Mr. Katcoff, accept our appreciation for your efforts on our behalf. For sure we'll "keep right on moving" as we deal with our formidable existential challenge. When will we have the honor of thanking you here, in person? ESTER ZEITLIN Jerusalem Where the heart is Sir, - As I stood in line recently at Ben-Gurion Airport for a New York-bound flight, another traveler asked me, "Are you going home?" I held up my Israeli passport and proudly replied: "No, I'm going away from home, temporarily." While we were waiting for the security check, he asked: "How can people live in this country with its wars, terrorist attacks, corrupt politicians and high cost of living - gasoline at almost $10 a gallon? It's cheaper to live in Australia." I told him that Herzl's 19th-century dream was still being realized with the ingathering of our exiles and the rebuilding of a Jewish nation-state for the entire Jewish people. And, turning around Joseph Trumpeldor's last statement, I observed: "It is good to live for our country." Humble or not, corrupt or not, it's home. ESOR BEN-SOREK Rishon Lezion