May 15: Do, don’t whine

Social justice movement is very focused on what it can be given. But it is far more important to know what it can achieve.

Sir, – The social justice movement here in Israel (“Thousands hold rally in renewed call for social justice,” May 13) is very focused on what it can be given.
But it is far more important to know what it can achieve.
It would be interesting to know if the movement could organize real credit unions and food cooperatives, and if it could make kibbutzim concentrate on growing more agricultural products and developing green technology. The movement could also organize a massive fundraising organization to build housing projects that would offer not only moderate rentals, but solar heating and solar technology throughout.
Instead, the movement’s energies are concentrated on what the government should or should not do.
This is a waste of time and productivity. Let the protesters become a “can-do” movement and they will really change the social welfare situation.
Naked truth
Sir, – Mandy Patinkin (“US actor relates nude confrontation at peace conference in Tel Aviv,” May 13) is the latest in a long list of seemingly (or deliberately?) ignorant actors and musicians who claim to be supporting the Palestinian cause while ironically experiencing and enjoying all our beautiful country has to offer.
Patinkin’s spiritual visit to Hebron 30 years ago contrasted with his latest trip there, which he described as a visit to a “ghost tomb.” Conveniently, he neglected to mention that neither visit would have been possible if there had not been an Israeli presence.
Had the outcome of the Six Day War been different, neither Patinkin nor any other Jew would be allowed to visit Hebron, the burial place of our forefathers and -mothers. He and other hypocritical Peace Now activists should learn some history and appreciate the fact that thanks to the State of Israel, their history – our history – is being preserved.
Check the economics
Sir, – Regarding “Ashalim and beyond: what grid parity means for Israel (Comment & Features, May 13), casual readers of this puff piece might be led to believe that electricity can now be generated by solar energy at a cost comparable to conventional methods. If only this were so.
“Grid parity,” a term unknown to economics, is a comparison of the wholesale cost at the power station with the retail cost to the end user. These are two very different things; as such, the term is meaningless.
The article also fails to mention whether the bid price of 53.65 agorot per kWh is before or after the government subsidy, and whether it includes the cost of the land and other infrastructure.
An honest evaluation of the cost of generating electricity by different methods would compare the actual cost at the power plant based on a reasonable return on the required investments (including land), depreciation over the expected life of the plant, and the cost of fuel.
I believe that on this basis the cheapest method would be a coal-fired plant, followed by natural gas, with nuclear and solar running a distant third and fourth. If I am wrong, I would hope that Holly Wu would provide the appropriate figures.
There are, of course, other considerations, such as the unfortunate fact that solar works only during sunny daylight hours. There are also environmental effects, including the pollution caused by mining the rare earth minerals required for photovoltaic cells, the possible effects of releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and, in the case of nuclear, the cost of disposing spent fuel rods.
This is a complicated study that should be undertaken by competent engineers and economists who have no vested interest in the outcome.
STEPHEN COHEN Ma’aleh Adumim
The day after
Sir, – With regard to Stability Rules (Editorial, May 13), all the potential advantages you cite in having such a stable national unity coalition are only theoretical.
There have been broad coalitions in the past where similar hopes were quickly dashed because the main partners were afraid of the vengeance by smaller parties the “day after.”
I am sure that both Binyamin Netanyahu and Shaul Mofaz will take the same route, being particularly afraid of what might happen with the haredi parties and their support after elections.
So, with the exception of more draconian economic measures, which are usually the main achievements of large unity governments, I fear we will see little, if any, real change on other important issues.
GERSHON HARRIS Hatzor Haglilit
Where will it end?
Sir – Meretz wants the state to officially recognize same-sex marriages (“Meretz MK resubmits marriage equality bill,” May 11).
Why not? Gay couples can get married whenever they want.
They don’t need a minyan or a rabbi or even sheva brachot.
But the implication of recognizing same-sex marriages is that there are some rights they would be entitled to as a legal couple. What are they? And if there are rights for such couples, why can’t we legalize these rights for marriages between people and their dogs? It would only be fair.
Cut both ways
Sir, – London in the sixties. Mary Quant. The Beatles. The mini-skirt.
Vidal Sassoon (“Vidal Sassoon, ‘hair architect’ and Hagana fighter, dead at 84,” May 11).
Long, straight hair was a must if you wanted to be part of swinging London, but my hair was thick and curly and the bane of my life. The secretary at the school where I was teaching suggested I go to Sassoon’s salon.
Ninety minutes spent under his magic treatment and my hair was beautifully cut in one of his famous straight, geometric styles.
Not only was my hair swinging, so was my heart. It would be no exaggeration to say that it changed my life.
To this day my haircut is based on that style. Thank you, Vidal.
Sir, – It is a pity that Vidal Sassoon, in telling his life story, was not objective.
“Had he gone to college...,” the article says of Sassoon. But he did go to college. Nat Goldberg, who became his stepfather, scrimped and saved every penny from his wages to send Sassoon and his brother, Ivor, to the London Polytechnic where Vidal studied hairdressing and Ivor accountancy.
There is no mention of the man who put his adopted sons on the road to success. Goldberg, of blessed memory, was my mother’s brother.
Have some respect
Sir, – Uri Savir (“National Unity, but not national decisions,” Savir’s Corner, May 11) should have respect for his fellow Jews and not castigate them for their views because they are diametrically opposed to his.
To refer to the residents of Judea and Samaria, whom he describes as “settlers” and accuses of having “racist, non-democratic positions,” is a deliberate attempt to besmirch those who emulate the pioneers of the early Zionist movement.
COLIN L. LECI Jerusalem
Regulate the bonfires
Sir, – In regard to your frontpage photo of the Lag Ba’omer bonfire in Jerusalem (“Holy Flames,” May 10), it looked more like the entire neighborhood was on fire.
There should be a law limiting the size of bonfires, especially in cities. Humongous fires are a threat if they get out of control.
They are also ecological disasters and raise air pollution to high levels.