July 6: What is this guy imbibing?

One can take at face value Gershon Baskin's commitment to Israel, but it is illogical to accept his conclusion.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
What is this guy imbibing? Sir, - One can take at face value Gershon Baskin's commitment to Israel, as expressed in "Palestinian nationalism is the mirror of Zionism" (July 1), but it is illogical to accept his conclusion. When he writes "The overwhelming majority of Palestinians, including almost the entire leadership of the PLO, have come to full terms with the existence of Israel as a fact that cannot be changed and are entirely ready to come to terms with Israel in a negotiated peace agreement," we are left to wonder what is in his drinking water. He acknowledges "the failure of the Arab world to accept the Jewish state," then exonerates the Palestinians by claiming that their international support is given on the basis of demonstrated civic responsibility. As Bret Stephens wrote in these pages six years ago: "Palestinian terror is not instrumental in its purposes but actually genocidal in its aims." Mr. Baskin does Israel no favor by minimizing the ire and irrationality of the Arab world toward Israel's existence. NORMAN LEVIN Teaneck, New Jersey Don't worry, be happy Sir, - Our prime minister has noted that in the North "nobody is casting a pall over residents' lives or threatening their security" ("Olmert: North is flourishing, now enjoys 'complete quiet,'" July 3). Yet he notes that "Shelters have been refurbished." Perhaps that's because Hizbullah is continuing to rearm for the next war. I guess anyone who can gloss over the danger building for our North could also claim the current quiet on our Gaza border as an accomplishment, despite Jonathan Spyer's detailing of the immense buildup of arms there as well ("Fortress Gaza," July 3). BARRY LYNN Efrat Here, it ain't so simple Sir, - Years ago I would have agreed with Emanuel Feldman's analysis of messianic Jews ("How to reply when the doorbell rings," July 3). But as that former messianic, Bob Dylan, sings, "Things have changed." My impression is that Feldman limits his "one, big, happy, Jewish family" to Orthodox, hassidic and haredi Jews. He seems not to have noticed that there are Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, secular, atheist and Zen Buddhist Jews, too, who make up about 80 percent of world Jewry. Does he cast them outside the fence as well? Jewish sovereignty has altered matters. In the Diaspora, heretical sects could be shunned, but in a Jewish state it is not so simple - especially with a group like the Messianics, who pride themselves on their patriotism and army service, unlike some of the other sects Rabbi Feldman mentions. Then there is Chabad; when I hear the term "messianic," I now wonder if it refers to the Nazarene or the Brooklynite messiah. Absurdly, Rabbi Feldman blames secular Zionism for the messianic phenomenon. It is much more widespread in America, where leaders like Rabbi Feldman have failed to ensure Jewish identity. JOSEF GILBOA Jaffa Bridge of Pretension Sir, - Your correspondent demands to know if a high school student who denigrated the Bridge of Strings studies art and architecture at her school and has heard of certain prominent artists and architects of the 20th century ("Wake up, you people," Letters, June 29). The point she's making is that this is not just a bridge but a work of art worth the tens of millions it cost. Another great influence on 20th-century design was Bauhaus genius Mies van der Rohe. No doubt your reader knows all about him. Rohe's most famous dictum was "Form follows function." I do not know if he believed in art for art's sake, but it had no place in his architecture. Structure is designed to work, to do what it is intended to do. And the goal of architecture is to build what you need so that it works. A concert hall that works, for example, is one in which all the notes can be heard from all the seats. If not, then it does not work. Everything in a Mies van der Rohe structure is there because it is needed in order for the structure to function as it should. A suspension bridge is needed to span the East River, the Golden Gate, the Bosphorus. It is not needed to span Jerusalem's Jaffa Road. Much greater spans are supported by embuttments and beams only. I do not know what Kandinsky or Pollock or Gaudi or Frank Lloyd Wright would have said about the Bridge of Strings, but I suspect that van der Rohe would have said it is unnecessary and therefore pretentious and ostentatious, and not consistent withgood design. YA'AKOV GOLBERT Efrat Why ban these Nepalese workers? Sir, - I am a recruitment agent in Nepal who has been sending agriculture workers to Israel since 2001. Since May 2007, I have not been able to send any workers to Israel due to a temporary ban on Nepalese workers. Various reasons have been cited - language, cultural knowledge, inadequate job proficiency and no Nepali mission in Israel to deal with problems as and when they arise. I understand from "Reform to protect caregivers' rights, but raise costs of services" (June 25), that the Israeli government wishes to protect caregivers by putting more responsibility on the manpower companies that recruit and provide these workers. However, I did not see any reform plan for the agriculture workers. Other labor-supplying countries like Thailand, the Philippines, India and Sri Lanka are sending workers to Israel without involvement of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), so why deprive Nepal of similar opportunities? SUK B. GURUNG Kathmandu, Nepal