July 29: Settling the dispute like reasonable men

The Histadrut has proven it can be reasonable as well as correct in its demands.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Settling the dispute like reasonable men Sir, - Kudos to Larry Derfner for telling it as it is ("The nerve of those strikers," July 26). This relatively small but influential group of government workers has proven it can be reasonable as well as correct in its demands. Surprisingly, Finance Minister Bar-On and his cohorts were reasonable too and didn't stretch out the negotiations, but made a compromise when it was put on the table. They also deserve our plaudits. Let us hope this will be a guideline for future disputes. LEONARD ZURAKOV Netanya Sir, - In the finest traditions of Hollywood, the drama of the annual wage negotiations has been played out yet again. But this time was the greatest production yet ("Histadrut breaks off general strike," On-Line Edition, July 26). The Histadrut has shown its members that it pressed for their best interests - and saved the tourist industry from total collapse. The government has shown it went down to the wire to keep the wage deal as low as possible, and saved the tourist industry as well. The fat cats got their increase, and nobody talked about helping the poor at the bottom of the scale. The press did its bit to pump up the drama. Poor families who had been saving for years to take their kids to Turkey were shown prominently on the TV news, and the airport management was shown doing its utmost to get the maximum number of flights out before the deadline. All wonderful drama, reaching a climax at the very last minute. It's just amazing that we fall for it every year. MALCOLM MANDEL Ra'anana Sir, - Two actions the government could take could stop or greatly reduce these national strikes that cost the government billions: 1. Make it illegal to pay salaries for the days workers strike. As long as they get paid when they are on strike, there is no incentive not to strike. 2. Make it illegal for all unions to go on strike even if they have no disagreement with their own situation. As long as the Histadrut can get all workers to go on strike there is no way the situation will ever change. HARVEY MATTHEW Homat Shmuel Smoke in our eyes Sir, - Rather than clarify a complex problem, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin throws more smoke in the eyes of both Jews and Christians ("In praise of Christian-Jewish interfaith dialogue," June 24). By mowing down the fences which have been scrupulously used to preserve the unique faith of the Jewish people and maintain respectful connections with other faith communities, he has further obscured the "Who is a Jew" issue. This opens the door to Israeli Jewish assimilation into a globalized world - which, enticing as that may be, leads to disaster. Rabbi Riskin's historical arguments go back a mere 40-some years - surely shortsighted in light of a 2,000-year history among gentile nations which, in spite of being full of persecution and pogroms, was also characterized by golden ages of prosperity and periods of emancipation and enlightenment. It can be argued that it was usually within these brief spans of camaraderie, dialogue and cooperation that we Jews committed the errors that would help pave the way to periods of spiritual and/or physical destruction. This is why great modern Orthodox rabbinical figures went to such great pains to safeguard our unique status by defining differences rather than seeking common denominators. It's the quest for Jewish spiritual continuity rather than a fear of anti-Semitic eruptions that continues as the driving force behind Torah-observant Judaism's insistence on drawing clearly defined theological lines between faiths. I'm surprised Rabbi Riskin chose to largely ignore the rampant proselytizing in Israel by evangelical movements (whose raison d'etre is to evangelize), and the confusion this breeds among our youth. He certainly has the option to try and further Jewish-Christian relations with empathetic and impassioned evangelicals at a time when Israel's position needs to be bolstered. But he leaves us no option to respectfully exit the relationship should it turn sour under ever-changing theopolitical realities. ELLEN W. HOROWITZ Moshav Nov Ignore misinformation Sir, - In "Europe gets more 'awkward' on Israel" (July 25) Robin Shepherd identified more arrogant, spurious analogies comparing Northern Ireland's Troubles with Israel's. Do I even need to point out the naivete of the British Conservative Party's Michael Ancram comparing Republicans and Loyalists, barbaric as they are, with Islamist terrorists? Little is known in Israel about the gory details of the Northern Irish peace process. Most Irish claim politics solved terrorism. It did not: it merely legalized it, putting proven terrorists and murderers in highly powerful positions and handing "policing" of much of the country's housing estates over to sectarian gangs. Dear Israelis, please ignore the misinformation from your own Leftists, and never dare emulate the mistakes we made. JOHN LALOR Dublin You are what you eat Sir, - You report that most of those who ate at the buffet table at Beit Hanassi on Tisha Be'av were Jewish members of the media. This does not surprise me. When negotiations took place in Cairo after Anwar Sadat's historic visit to Israel in 1977, the Egyptians set up a table with kosher food especially for the Israelis - who then made a beeline for the non-kosher table. There were also recent reports of Israeli diplomats complaining bitterly that they have to use kosher restaurants to entertain foreign dignitaries. We are not exactly respected in Egypt or in the Arab world, nor in the world at large. It is about time we started respecting ourselves, then perhaps others would begin to respect us ("Fast food at Beit Hanassi on Tisha Be'av," July 25) C. ATKINS Beit Shemesh