July 5: Bye, dear Beverly

I was saddened to read of the death of Beverly Sills, a great opera singer whom I had the pleasure to meet.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Bye, dear Beverly Sir, - I was saddened to read of the death of Beverly Sills, a great opera singer whom I had the pleasure to meet. She was tall, beautiful and vivacious, with an exquisite vocal range, and she was also Jewish. Her original name was Belle Miriam Silverman, but she was known as "Bubbles." When she toured Israel in 1971 she played Constanza in The Abduction from the Seraglio, and I was then in the Philharmonic Choir. It was a thrill for me to be on the same stage as this charming and famous singer. I have her autograph and her autobiography. Although she reached the heights of her career singing in the Metropolitan Opera in New York and The Scala in Milan, her private life was tragic. Her daughter was born deaf, so she never heard that beautiful voice, and her son was born retarded. Yet she never said, "Why me?" She was a real heroine ("Opera legend Beverly Sills dies of cancer," July 4). HILARY GATOFF Herzliya Pituah Sir, - I was stunned by the news of the passing of this true diva/prima donna and patron of the arts. Beverly Sills delighted opera fans around the world for years with her magnificent soprano voice. Musically speaking, "Through it all, she stood tall." This lady was a champ! Fortunately, we can still enjoy her performances through the miracle of CDs and DVDs. I miss her already. HERB STARK Massapequa, New York Standing up for Barbra Sir, - Stand Streisand back up - but maybe not on a pedestal. Contrary to the assertion in "Fallen idol" (Letters, July 4), Streisand has been in Israel. She dedicated the Emanuel Streisand wing of Hebrew University's Humanities Building in person. And maybe it's time Jews and Israelis went to Berlin to show the neo-Nazis that Hitler's Final Solution did not succeed. ISABEL BERMAN Ra'anana Cultivate the true moderates Sir, - Isi Leibler is absolutely correct in writing that Hamas's Gaza victory should not automatically render Mahmoud Abbas a partner for peace ("Stop appeasing Abu Mazen," July 4). Israel, America and most Europeans suffer from a "good-guy, bad-guy" myopia: If one party to a conflict is "bad" (Hamas), then any opposing party is "good" (Fatah). This view is simplistic, naive, irrational and simply wrong. It is one thing to say that Fatah is the lesser of two evils, another to say (as does Bush and, to a lesser extent, Olmert) that Abbas is by default a "man of moderation whom we can travel down the road of peace with." Like Leibler, I feel that Israel's plan to arm Fatah will have the same effect as a similar plan involving Arafat: The weapons will eventually be used against us. There are moderate forces within the Palestinian political spectrum. It is they, not Abbas, whom Israel and the West should cultivate. Any aid to Fatah must be contingent on its allowing these actors a chance to come into their own. Those who ignore the lessons of the past do so at their own risk. STUART KATSOFF Tel Aviv Sir, - Considering the field of choices awaiting us in the next election, I propose that any political party wanting to win that election draft Isi Leibler as its leader. There is no more rational and patriotic voice on the scene than his. CHAYIM SEIDEN Jerusalem Gilad's turn now Sir, - Now that Alan Johnston has been freed, he and the BBC ought to be in the forefront of the effort to free Gilad Schalit. It remains to be seen whether he and the BBC have learned anything ("Prime Minister's Office: Now it's Schalit's turn to be freed," On-Line Edition, July 4). SHAINEE POLIN Jerusalem 'Kurdish option'? No Sir, - Tom Friedman's suggestion that there is a "Kurdish option" for the establishment of "decent, progressive, pluralistic politics" in the Mideast is as mistaken as was the US attempt to make Iraq an example of democracy that would change the region ("Dog paddling in the Tigris," New York Times supplement, July 4). Iraqi Kurdistan is a microcosm of all the ills of the Muslim world - in spades. Kurdish politics is microfractured across the entire spectrum, from the al-Qaida-franchised Ansar Al Islam to the Greater Kurdistan, leftist nationalists of the PKK. The territory of the Kurdistan Regional Government is divided between two warlord families, the Barazanis and the Talabanis, who are now allied but have often fought each other in the past, and could well do so again. The region has a number of small ethnic and religious minorities: Yazidis, Turkmens, Armenians, Assyrians and others who have their own agendas and allies. Conservative, oppressive patriarchalism is still the social norm in Kurdish villages, Aid, investment and military bases with large PXs can certainly bring prosperity to Iraqi Kurdistan. They cannot bring democracy. JOSEF GILBOA Jaffa Humans for peace Sir, - This concerns the series of terrorist attacks occurring all over the globe. I would like to point out that the main purpose of the terrorists is to create chaos, confusion, mistrust and hate amongst different religious communities. If we all try to respect each other's religious views rather than being scandalized by them, these terrorists will have a tough time throwing bombs wherever they feel like it. Everyone knows it is difficult, but we can at least try to live peacefully. We all are human beings, and in that capacity we should respect each other and give everyone their due space. To uphold peace we need to do this ("Four suspects in failed British terror attacks identified as doctors," July 4). ERUM QAYYUM Lahore, Pakistan Sir, - It would appear that the Glaswegian doctors of terror have sworn the Hypocritical Oath. ANGELINE HARPAZ Jerusalem For the record Sir, - Thank you for Ruthie Blum's interview with June Walker ("Leading lady," July 3). I was sorry that it omitted the fact that there are over 20 chapters of Hadassah-Israel operating right here in every major city. We engage in all the activities that Ms. Walker described, as well as in many community activities. DENA RUBENS Past President Beer Sheva Chapter Hadassah - Israel Beersheba Pickled eggs with Alex Sir, - Alexander Downer - Alex - and I used to hang out together at Newcastle University (1971-1974). We went to lectures together and attended the same seminars. At the outbreak of the Yom Kippur war Alex was in Newcastle, as was I, because the semester had already started. Word buzzed round the synagogue I attended on Yom Kippur 1973 that war had broken out in Israel. Alex hung around the Jewish students and for lunch was known to order a lager and pickled egg at the university theater bar, where we all used to meet. During a coffee break while studying for finals, I asked Alex what his plans were, and he replied that he intended getting into politics in Australia. The rest is history (Grapevine, July 4). JUDY GABA (SELIG) B.A. Econ. Studies 1974 Newcastle University, UK