March 14: Obama is coming

I welcome US President Barack Obama to Israel, even though as an American citizen I did not vote for him.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Obama is coming
Sir, – The detailed analysis of the upcoming visit by US President Barack Obama (“Obama’s itinerary: The deep significance of each step,” March 13) does not mention the poor timing of the visit, coming so close to Passover.
It appears that Obama’s advisers ignored the impact of the visit on the citizens of Jerusalem at this particular time of the year. Whole swaths of city streets will be closed off for three days and public transport curtailed. This is what happened on previous presidential visits.
As we meticulously prepare for this most important and significant holiday, one is surprised that US Jewish leaders failed to convey the unacceptable disruption to the president last week.
Passover is like no other holiday experienced by any other people in the world.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the government, if they had any pride and selfrespect, should have advised the president that while a visit was welcome, the timing was totally unacceptable.
The planning was obviously with the acquiescence of the ultra-religious parties in the former coalition, who now feel the pain of being excluded from the next government. If they were true to what they claim to represent, they would have stood up and publically denounced the poor timing.
Moreover, Netanyahu has shown weakness in accepting the visit at this time and has failed to recognize that when previous incumbents had said no to the US administration on matters of faith and principle, they were truly respected.
COLIN L. LECI Jerusalem
Sir, – I welcome US President Barack Obama to Israel, even though as an American citizen I did not vote for him.
The United States is forever asking Israel to make gestures toward the Palestinians, and in effect to the US. I suggest it is about time that the US made a gesture toward Israel.
The most meaningful gesture would be the release of Jonathan Pollard after 27 years in prison, a gross miscarriage of justice. It would be welcome if Obama announced during his trip that he will pardon Pollard.
Judy and noise Sir, – Listen to Judy Montagu and cut that deafening music at the weddings (“Let the music play,” In My Own Write, March 13).
Montagu suggests: “At religious weddings, decide on 10- 15 minutes of joyful (loud) ‘mitzva dancing’ immediately after the huppa – and no more at that time.... Continue with background music during the entire meal, enabling guests to relax, enjoy the food and music and talk to friends and relatives they may not have seen in years.”
Then, “Let the band or DJ finally turn up the volume to their hearts’ content for those guests who adore loud music and want to dance until they drop. The rest of us can leave quite happily at this point, knowing we have participated in all the important parts of the celebration – and suffered not at all.”
What a great idea!
JENNY WEIL Jerusalem
Sir, – For many years now I have attended only those weddings held outdoors, at hotels (where the management doesn’t want other guests to be disturbed) or where the band and dancing are in a separate room from the dining hall. I find the noise too painful.
Someone suggested that I wear earplugs, but then I wouldn’t be able to converse with others, so what’s the point?
Sir, – Judy Montagu wrote a very good article. I want to make two additional suggestions, which worked out well at our son’s wedding many years ago.
First of all, pick out one person and introduce this person to the band leader. Tell the band leader that this person, and only this person, will tell him when the music is too loud; otherwise, different people will come up to the band leader with different comments.
Second, tell the band leader that if he doesn’t tone down the music when asked to do so by this person, he won’t get paid.
You’ll see how quickly the band leader will listen.
It’s time people have soft background music during the dinner so that people at the tables can converse with each other.
Sir, – With Judy Montagu’s beautiful prose, she puts into words exactly how I am feeling.
I am blessed with a very nice, big family and many friends.
Therefore I suffer through countless weddings and usually leave during the first “mitzva dancing.”
I have nothing to add except that my late aunt had the same idea as SingleDad!
Sir, – I heartily agree with Judy Montagu.
We are inundated with unwanted loud noises here in Israel and it’s a wonder that more of us don’t suffer hearing loss. Why do we need “background” music in malls, stores and other public places? And why must Israelis shout to one another when they are standing in close proximity? The blaring of horns even before a light turns green; the garbage trucks that wake us from our sleep in the wee hours; the people using their cellphones incessantly, speaking as if those at the other end need to hear their actual voice rather than through the phone; the loudspeaker at the school two blocks from my home making announcements to the students; and the renovations taking place in a nearby apartment. These are only a few examples of the noise pollution we are subjected to on a daily basis.
Peace may be hard to achieve, but quiet should be attainable.
Tiny caveat
Sir, – I was intrigued to read in “Likud Beytenu, Yesh Atid fight over Education Ministry” (March 12) by reporter Lahav Harkov that Avigdor Liberman “will become foreign minister after his corruption trial....”
Does this mean that Liberman will be eligible to remain in the Knesset and, in fact, to represent Israel to the world, even if he is found guilty of corruption? Or is the trial a meaningless formality? Or, perhaps this incredible statement means the prime minister and various ministers-to-be are totally confident that Liberman will refute all charges and emerge from a fair trial as innocent as he was before.
It is true that Liberman, like everyone else, must be judged innocent unless and until proven guilty. But surely promising him the Foreign Affairs portfolio unconditionally is taking this principle a bit far.
Many of us were hoping that some of the first-time MKs would usher in a new era of frankness and decency in government.
Lahav Harkov responds: I should have written at the end of that phrase “if he is exonerated.”
Behind the scenes Sir, – It was refreshing to read the story about your film critic, Hannah Brown, bringing up an autistic child (“Raising autism,” Arts & Entertainment, March 11). I always enjoy her reviews but had no idea of the story behind the scenes.
What an inspiration for parents everywhere, especially for those with special-needs children.