June 3: Tommy, as he was

With few exceptions, I have never heard anyone present the case for Israel and against the rising tide of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism so well.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Tommy, as he was Sir, - In 2005 Tommy Lapid was being pilloried by my fellow religious Jews for his party's extreme secularism and his acerbic comments about haredim. Then I saw him as a guest on BBC's HardTalk. With few exceptions, I have never heard anyone present the case for Israel and against the rising tide of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism so well. He demolished the interviewer - in excellent English, with great wit, and as a loving defender of Israel and the Jewish people. Rabbi Israel Eichler, who appeared with Lapid on Channel 1's Popolitika, says Lapid "knew nothing about Yiddishkeit." As Rabbi Berel Wein points out frequently, anything that is good for Judaism is Torah. Despite his negativity toward the ultra-Orthodox, Lapid, in his own way, was a Torah Jew ("Tommy Lapid to be buried today in Orthodox ceremony," June 2). AHARON MAYNE Jerusalem/Ottawa/Buenos Aires Sir, - While I never agreed with much of what Tommy Lapid stood and fought for, I have to give him credit for standing up vociferously for his beliefs. I would love to have a transcript of the exchange between Tommy and God as he made his way to the "World of Truth." STUART PILICHOWSKI Mevaseret Zion Negotiating... Sir, - "Hizbullah to 'Post': Body-parts exchange part of larger deal" (June 2) raised two questions: First, what sort of barbarian picks up body parts of enemy soldiers and keeps them, unburied, to use as trade goods? And second, what hope is there of peace with people like these? Those who make political decisions on our behalf should bear these questions constantly in mind. LESLIE PORTNOY Netanya ...with Nasrallah Sir, - Hassan Nasrallah reportedly has a policy of never revealing his prisoners' condition until the end of negotiations. In what holy book is it written that Israel must agree to this inhuman situation? What would happen if Nasrallah was told from the beginning that the first step is proof of life, and without that there is nothing to talk about? This might delay the release overall, but a firm Israeli refusal to negotiate without it would render the prisoners' value to Nasrallah near-zero. It's time for Israel to stop getting pushed around by stubborn Arabs and show them that we can be stubborn also. HARRY RESNICK Ginot Shomron Syria's word Sir, - In "Utopian peace junkies" (May 27) Caroline Glick spelled out very clearly the dangers of withdrawing from the Golan Heights, especially for the residents of the north. I should like to highlight one aspect of Syria's attitude to obligations entered into with Israel. In the 1974 armistice agreement under which Israel returned Kuneitra to Syria, the Syrians undertook to rebuild it as a civilian city. From all reports - even after 35 years - not only has this not been done, the Syrians use Kuneitra to "show" how Israel "destroyed" that city. Yet, seemingly, our politicians are willing to trade vital assets for a new piece of paper. EMANUEL FISCHER Jerusalem Give us a voice Sir, - Caroline Glick wrote holy words and testimony about the lack of democratic elections ("Padded pocket politicians," May 30). Our most important national priority is to give voice to the electorate. Past low turnout demonstrates voters' lack of interest in elections because of an inability to influence their outcome. The way primaries are currently conducted and people chosen for positions of power has mafia connotations. Citizens should be able to vote their choice without need of party membership affiliation. After 60 years, isn't it time we brought in real democracy? PHILIP FRYDMAN Netanya Courage & clarity Sir, - The excellent letter by Ronnie Stekel's son, Dov, who lectures at Birmingham University, stated his position vis-a-vis the UK's University and College Union with incisive clarity, making the deplorable situation at his university plain to those of us who didn't fully understand it. I hope he will not have to pay a price for it ("UCU: Clean up your act," Letters, May 30). MARCELLA WACHTEL Jerusalem Sir, - To Dov Stekel: I would take my hat off to you, if I wore one. JUDY GOLDIN Kiryat Ono To catch a thief Sir, - That Israelis have little respect for their police is understandable, perhaps even deserved ("Police image hits new low," May 30). According to the head of the police investigations and intelligence department, only one out of 100 car thieves is brought to trial. This is likely due to the difficulty and danger of apprehending these people, without much reward for the effort. Car thefts cost hundreds of millions of dollars every year, which we pay for in high insurance premiums. As an incentive to nab these criminals, why couldn't insurance companies be required to establish a fund that would gift, say, NIS 10,000, tax-free, to every cop who catches a thief and puts him behind bars? MOSHE DANN Jerusalem Long-suffering bird Sir, - The critical comments on Israelis' choice of the hoopoe as our national bird were astounding ("Ooh, it's the hoopoe," Letters, June 2). Here is an adorable, colorful little creature that will do anything to protect its nest, even lining it with excrement to keep predators away. If the duchifat has any sense of smell, it is clearly willing to suffer for its family's sake. What hasn't yet been brought out is the bird's loyalty: It sticks to the same mate for life. Finally, as soon as it reaches a certain level, it gets vilified in the press. What could be more Israeli? MARTHA LEV-ZION Omer Sir, - The hoopoe is a non-kosher bird, but King Solomon used it to pick up the Shamir worm. This worm was able to carve into stones used for the building of the Temple, thus avoiding the use of tools, which were forbidden (Talmud Chullin 63a). This is the hoopoe's redeeming feature. MICHAEL PLASKOW Netanya Milk and money Sir, - We dedicated lactation counsellors in Israel also answer panic phone calls night and day and drive kilometers to visit breastfeeding mothers - the difference is that, unlike US consultant Pat Shelly, we do not get $150 a visit! ("'Breast whisperer helps new moms go with the flow," June 1). The problem we share with overseas breastfeeding activists is that while formula companies use their profits to donate their products to hospitals and promote them among health professionals, in violation of the WHO Code, nonprofit breastfeeding organizations get absolutely no public funding. The Health Ministry may claim that it now provides support and education for breastfeeding in its hospitals and community clinics, but nonprofit organizations are still filling a lot of gaps. WENDY BLUMFIELD Israel Childbirth, Education Center Haifa