July 6: A fresh breeze..

Liat Collins's analysis of the aura surrounding the development of settlements was refreshing.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A fresh breeze... Sir, - Liat Collins's penetrating analysis of the aura surrounding the development of settlements in Eretz Israel was refreshing ("Freeze frame," July 5). Gideon Sa'ar, our new education minister, could well have it distributed to teachers. They and their students have a right - and a need - to know that settlements are the elements of the solution, and not as the leaders of the US, France and Germany proclaim. EDWARD ELIYAHU WEINSTEIN Kfar Adumim ...blows over the settlements Sir, - "Paradigm shift" (Editorial, June 1) took the position that "Final borders need to be negotiated. And when they are, all settlements on the 'wrong' side of the line will be dismantled." During his term as prime minister, Ehud Olmert gave an official promise to Nobel Prize laureate Prof. Israel Aumann at an international Nobel Prize laureate peace conference in Jordan that there would be no forced deportation of Jews on the "wrong" side of various lines because forced deportation is a crime against humanity. This has been the gold-standard policy in Israel over the years. A Facts about Israel handbook distributed by the Labor government to olim in the early '70s addressed the issue of "Israeli settlement in the Administered Areas" and stipulated that "even should the area in question revert to Arab sovereignty under a treaty of peace, Jewish communities should be allowed to continue to live in it, just as Arab communities live in Israel." SUSIE DYM Spokesperson, Mattot Arim Rehovot Puzzling desire, this Sir, - "Many Madoff victims say 150 years in jail isn't enough," your headline shouted (July 3). Despite the obvious hardship, distress and utter despair that Bernard Madoff's actions have caused, one is puzzled by such a sentiment. True, Jewish law allows for punishment beyond financial recompense and punitive fiscal damages, even allowing for "Vengeance is Mine, saith the Lord." But what meaning can possibly be deduced from a desire that a 70-year-old man serve more than 150 years in prison? Its Shylockian qualities and illogicality speak to us louder than a mere desire for vengeance or "to see it hurt him." Just as incarceration, no matter how long, will not bring back a murder victim, so it will not return the life savings of those swindled out of them. STANLEY COHEN Jerusalem VAT - tax of the financially challenged Sir, - Re "VAT rise, rotten idea" (Editorial, July 5): Value Added Tax is the tax that mostly affects the middle class, and below. Increasing it increases the costs of their most-needed items - electricity, gas, water, telephone, medicines, Post Office stamps, gasoline, etc, etc., items our 35 ministers (averaging one deputy each) do not pay for even though they are highly overpaid. At least two ministers live in multimillion dollar apartments; and they and the rest of the cabinet travel free, on VAT taxpayer money, to the US to earn tens of thousands of dollars for making speeches. Yes, this country has a financial problem; and our prime minister, who holds degrees in economics, knows that the first thing to do is cut expenses. With so many deputy ministers, Israel needs only a 15-minister cabinet. Netanyahu needs to stop bribing the other parties by giving them more and more ministers and deputies, and consider the Israeli public first. SEYMOUR BRODSKY Jerusalem Growing my own Sir, - My own personal protest against the proposed imposition of VAT on fruits and vegetables is to start my own vegetable garden in pots on my patio. If I can reduce my produce bill by 16 percent, I will consider the effort a success. Starting from seed, I have planted tomatoes, red and green peppers, kohlrabi, green onions and potatoes. My grandchildren are very excited about my new venture, in which they are becoming partners. P. BERMAN Shoham The 'other' religious Jew... Sir, - Rachel Azariah's "Opening the parking garage on Shabbat" (July 2) was a gem. I'm so glad that, finally, we're hearing the voice of the "other" religious Jew, who respects the concept of freedom of choice and mutual respect. Azariah's absolutely right. The most important issue of the years to come will be: Who does the public domain in Israel belong to? As she wrote: "Only a consistent and unequivocal demand by us - the religious, traditional and secular population - for the right to decide about our public domain will allow all of us to live here." ANDREI COREANU Ramat Efal ...speaks up Sir, - I commend the courage of Rachel Azariah in speaking out about the need to keep the Carta parking garage open on Shabbat. Her arguments in favor are valid, and it is to be hoped that Mayor Nir Barkat won't allow haredi thugs to intimidate him. I also commend Reuven Hammer on his wise and considered arguments in favor of greater Jewish pluralism ("Not by force," same date). I have long been concerned about the excessive control given to the haredim in our land. Should it continue to grow, it could become intolerable, akin to rule by Shari'a law in Arab countries. It is time to do as Rabbi Hammer suggests and dissolve the Chief Rabbinate. I, for one, object to being forced to pay for their institutions when I don't support most of what they demand. It is time to give equal voice to all streams of Judaism and end the farce of haredi hegemony. FRANCES DASH Zichron Ya'acov Self-mutilation Sir, - Is this where we have gotten to - advertisers stooping to scribble graffiti on their own ads to make one think that perhaps others were to blame? ("Lingerie wars," June 30.) Stewart Weiss provided us with much food for thought. Let us stop and think where we are headed if this kind of thing is to be considered fair. Companies should know it will not be tolerated. YEHUDIT SPERO Beit Shemesh Awesome, Israel! Sir, - I was filled with awe and pride reading about Alysse Einbender, an eight-year paraplegic, who demonstrated the Israeli-developed ReWalk suit at a US clinical trial of the technology ("On her own two feet," photo, July 1). This astonishing device enables paraplegics not only to stand, but to walk and climb stairs as well. ZEV CHAMUDOT Petah Tikva Now you see him... Sir, - Further to Judy Montagu's "Seeing is believing, most of the time" (July 1) and her reference to Rene Descartes' famous philosophical aphorism: One day, Descartes was sitting and reading outside his favorite auberge. He'd been there for some time when he was approached by a serving maid, who respectfully asked: Would Monsieur care to order?" To which the great man replied, "I think not" - and vanished. OSCAR DAVIES Jerusalem