May 11: Equal responsibility for all

Any political party that promotes a platform of equal rights and duties will gain wide support.

Equal responsibility for all
Sir, – The recent calls by Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, opposition leader Tzipi Livni and others need not be attacks on one sector or another (“Schneller blasts Livni’s attacks on haredim,” May 10). Rather, they should rally us toward equal rights and responsibilities for all.
Any political party that sincerely promotes such a platform together with electoral reform will gain the support of most citizens. In turn, this will make our representatives and government more accountable, reducing corruption and gaining our trust. These should be the major goals of the Zionist parties.
A matter of mind-set
Sir, – While I appreciate that James Adler recognized the omission contained in his original letter, I believe that Mr. Adler is mistaken in a number of the premises underlying his latest letter (“Reply to Arab ‘peace,’” May 9).
First, the Arab Peace Plan made clear from the outset that it was a take-it-or-leave-it proposition and was not open to negotiation. Second, there were any number of Israeli leaders who indicated a willingness to negotiate on the plan, including President Shimon Peres, but there were no takers on the other side.
While I don’t disagree with the issues facing Israel that Mr. Adler lays out in his letter (although some may be overstated, from my perspective), I believe Mr. Adler and many others fail to take into account certain factors relevant to the dispute. First, many of us come at this dispute from a Western mind-set. We are taught and absorb the notion that there is a solution to every problem, and that if we simply work hard enough and invest enough time and resources, it will be solved. The notion that there is an insoluble problem is not something we are prepared to accept.
After having lived here for more than 15 years, I have come to appreciate that my mind-set and that of many Israelis is not the same as the Palestinian/Arab mind-set. This is not meant critically; it is meant as recognizing a factor that seriously impacts the negotiations between the parties. While Jews have a long history and long memories, they have short perspectives. Things have to be accomplished post-haste, in real time. Thus peace is Peace Now. Muslim Arabs, on the other hand, may not have as long a history as Jews do, but they have a longer perspective: If peace is not reached on our terms in this generation, it will be in the next generation – as long as it is on our terms.
I say this with sadness because we would all like to see a resolution to this most intractable conflict. But blinding ourselves to the different modalities of both groups does not advance the ball one whit and leads to frustration and anger, as well as to the idea that only one side has to make concessions.
That girl – another look
Sir, – We’ve all seen her walking the streets. Maybe she’s in our child’s class. We remember her from our youth, the girl who wears her sexuality overtly, clothes a bit tighter, shorter than they should be, make-up that paints over her true age. Maybe rumors of promiscuity circle her. We roll our eyes and think, I’m glad she’s not my daughter!
But she is our daughter, as it takes a village to raise a child. Next time you see that girl, hear her silent cry: I don’t feel good about myself. This girl may be lonely, lack self-esteem, have no self-worth, be academically challenged, a social outcast, come from a home where her parents are too busy to see her pain. Her obvious displays of sexuality may be saying, please give me attention, any attention. Just let me know I exist, that I’m not invisible. We need another safety net, because some homes don’t catch these silent calls for help (“Tel Aviv man arrested for pimping teen girls,” May 7).
What can you do?
Slow down and notice the kids in your children’s classes. If you see one of these girls, offering more than a smile, bring your concerns to the school psychologist or homeroom teacher.
If you have the opportunity, talk to this girl. She may be unable to articulate her feelings, but listen carefully to the sentiments unsaid. She needs to feel heard, to feel understood. Lift her with compassion. What she doesn’t need is an accusing finger and rhetoric. She needs someone to care.
Outside their field?
Sir, – The current International Writers’ Conference has brought talented authors to Jerusalem (“Writing the waves of change,” May 2). However, it appears some of them consider themselves qualified to give advice on topics far afield of literature. One was quoted on the radio as being upset at seeing the “separation wall”; another radio quote indicated that nothing had improved since a previous visit 10 years ago.
Well, our visitors may be well acquainted with illusions – or should I say, delusions. Someone who did not come to show solidarity during the second intifada should refrain from cheap advice. Preventing the bombing of our teenagers in pizza shops, Holocaust-surviving grandmothers during Pessah Sedarim and ordinary people on buses is more precious than a distorted sense of the aesthetic.
An author sitting overseas should be aware of a rise in anti-Semitism via a strange alliance of the Right and the Left; currying favor with those who demonize us just won’t work. Our once-in-a-decade visitors might consider adding Sderot to their itinerary. Until they upgrade their knowledge of history, geography and political science, I humbly recommend they stick to their realm of expertise: the world of fiction.
Staying strong on Jerusalem...
Sir, – I have always been a strong supporter of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, both before and after making aliya. As a result of his leadership and character, I joined the Likud party and was happy to cast my first vote in an Israeli national election for Mr. Netanyahu. I understand the intense pressure being placed on our prime minister from the first openly anti-Israel president of the United States.
However, it was precisely because some of us feared this pressure from the Obama administration, that myself and thousands of other voters cast our votes for Netanyahu. We believed he could withstand the pressure and preserve Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem.
I would like to inform the prime minister that if the reports are indeed true (“US: Israel vows to delay Ramat Shlomo, PA pledges to fight incitement,” May 10), then as long as there is a freeze on construction in Jerusalem, my support for him will be equally frozen; and in the event of an election, I will cast my vote for another candidate.
...the light of the world
Sir, – Liat Collins’s article “One city, many Jerusalems” (May 9) has inspired me to write down how much I cherish Jerusalem, eternal capital of Israel. No matter how many years I’ve lived here, I feel a thrill each time I drive up the road to Jerusalem. When I see the “Bruchim Haba’im L’yerushalayim” (Welcome to Jerusalem) sign, I feel like saying, “Thank you!” It’s as though the sign is personally welcoming me back home.
Notwithstanding that, much of the world refuses to acknowledge thisancient holy city of Judaism. Jerusalem has forever been the capital ofthe Jewish people, and will forever remain so. As the sages say,“Jerusalem is the light of the world.” May it continue to shine itslight and open the eyes of the entire world.
Beit Shemesh
In the Capital Calendar of May 7’s In Jerusalem, Zeev Sufott wasIsrael’s first ambassador to China, not as written, and his talk issponsored by HOB.