March 28: Doesn't Matter

When I made aliya from London 6 years ago, I rapidly concluded that I would not drive in Israel.

Doesn’t matter
Sir, – Regarding “Daylight saving time won’t be extended” (March 27), when I made aliya from London six years ago, I rapidly came to the conclusion that even after 40+ years of relatively safe driving I would not drive in Israel. It was therefore with a large slice of cynicism and an even bigger pinch of salt that I read that activists were endeavoring to put back the annual dates of clock-changing in order to minimize road accidents.
The standard of driving in our beautiful country – thanks to the “Me first” and “My mum told me I’m more important than you” approach of drivers who risk their lives and continually put the lives of others at risk – is so pathetically low that it is quite immaterial as to whether Yom Kippur finishes an hour earlier or later.
I do not know at what stage in life it would be advisable to reeducate the population so that the carnage on our roads is reduced, but the subconscious examples set by parents to their kids in the back of the car has to change.
Minimum residency
Sir, – Regarding “‘Emigrés are no longer enemies of the state, and Israel should invest in them’” (March 27), Israelis who reside abroad temporarily and intend to return home to Israel should be allowed to vote in Israeli elections.
Not so people who came to Israel just in order to leave again as soon as possible.
Whoever stays in Israel for, say, less than four years should not be granted the right to vote from abroad.
Unwarranted attacks
Sir, – In “Teaching American kids about Arab culture and Israel” (Comment & Features, March 27), Abraham H. Foxman continues an unjustified and unsupported attack on a New York private school, Friends Seminary, that Alan Dershowitz began last month (“NY Friends seminary plays bait-and-switch on anti-Semitism,” February 24).
Foxman, like Dershowitz, criticizes this respected school, its administration and faculty based on assertions he fails to support.
The crux of Foxman’s criticism is that Friends Seminary organized a student visit to Israel and the West Bank that was supposedly imbalanced because the trip was co-led by a history teacher he blithely asserts holds “anti-Israel views” and because the group supposedly is not devoting as much time to visiting people apparently more suited to his perspective. He cites no evidence for his accusation about the history teacher, much like Dershowitz failed to offer when he began the attacks against Friends and this teacher.
Like Dershowitz, Foxman also fails to provide evidence that he in fact knows anything meaningful about the Friends visit.
Whether the Friends trip could have been planned differently, including more time with Israeli families and less time with Palestinian families, cannot seriously be what animates his complaint. Surely Foxman knows that thousands of students visit Israel every year and the organizers of their trips do not include visits with Palestinians, yet he has never complained that those visits are imbalanced.
Equally, why do Foxman and Dershowitz equate approaches to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that they do not like with anti- Semitism? As a committed and involved Jewish parent of children educated at Friends Seminary, I know this is an institution committed to justice, fairness and decency, qualities sadly lacking in Foxman’s and Dershowitz’s campaigns against this proud and respected institution.
Wolves and sheep
Sir, – With reference to “J Street is my street” (Encountering Peace, March 27), it is astounding how Gershon Baskin argues that by being in the forefront of progressive politics and defending democracy at all costs, peace will happily descend upon us.
I wish to disabuse Baskin and like-minded persons by saying this optimism is totally misplaced.
Sir Isaiah Berlin stated once that it was easy for people to call upon the Jews to make themselves martyrs, but history had proved that being a martyr had not helped the Jewish cause nor the world at large.
Since our emancipation in the 18th century, our participation in progressive movements has cost us dearly. A homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine was agreed to by the League of Nations in San Remo in 1920, and confirmed in 1947, in reduced geographical size, by United Nations Resolution 181.
Despite this, our neighbors have been in conflict with us ever since.
There was no definition of what kind of Jewish state this would be, and while of course democracy is the answer, there is a fundamental difference between Western liberal democracies and Israel. None of the former are threatened with destruction. Since we are, it is the responsibility of the government to defend this threatened democracy by acting in a manner similar to the UK or US during World War II. To act in any other manner just to please our critics is to put the country at mortal risk.
There is no Israeli who does not dream of peace. However – and this is the crux of the matter – the Arabs demand only appeasement and to weaken our resolve, since the only peace they have in mind is one without Israel.
To summarize the matter, what is the good if all the sheep vote for vegetarianism and the wolves disagree?
Going... home
Sir, – A group of us were discussing “Officials: Israel ready for ‘Global March to Jerusalem’” (March 26) and decided that a better alternative to sending border police and the IDF would be to offer the demonstrators a “Pessah peace package.”
The package would consist of the following: Several pieces of matza per demonstrator, plain and no butter; matzo balls without the soup, made with lots of chicken fat; gribbenes, lots of it; and lots of horseradish. No prunes or other fruits.
We feel that with these foods, the protesters, perhaps with a little discomfort, might become “up tight,” change their minds and go home. We stand ready to prepare these packages and would welcome volunteers to give us a helping hand.
Beautiful photo
Sir, – They say a picture is worth a thousand words. How true (“A father-son moment,” March 26)! I had tears in my eyes looking at the beautiful picture of Binyamin Netanyahu with his father on the elder’s 102nd birthday. I’m sure that most of us seeing that picture were wishing that our parents could have lived to be that age and that we could have celebrated that birthday with them.
Happy birthday to you, Ben-Zion Netanyahu, and may you have many more in good health and with continued naches from your family – until at least 120!
Quite exaggerated
Sir – Reader Roy Runds (“UK’s situation,” Letters, March 26) is exaggerating when he claims that Britain’s ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, is “incredibly naive or guilty of unpardonable chutzpah in...
totally ignoring Britain’s long historical mistreatment of its Jews [and ignoring that it] is still a hotbed of anti-Semitism.”
My experience of almost 70 years is that, if anything, the level of anti-Semitism has declined. When I was a boy it was unthinkable for a Jew to walk around wearing a kippa or even sporting a beard. Now this is commonplace and the average Briton does not think twice of it.
The “polite” anti-Semitism of snide remarks at dinner parties probably still exists, but this is a far cry from physical abuse in the streets.