Strong and silent... Sir, - I read Herb Keinon's "A soldier's chores" (May 25) with great enjoyment. I have several grandsons in the IDF and can identify with what he wrote. These young soldiers are idealistic and don't like to tell much about what they are doing. They are the strong, silent types who are very brave young men. Kol hakavod to Keinon for capturing their spirit. NAOMI SPIEGELMAN Jerusalem ...and appreciated Sir, - I do not have a child in the army. In fact, I am not even based in Israel. But I was moved to tell you how much I appreciated Herb Keinon's latest Out There column. I gained an insight into Israeli life and the ever-evolving parent-child relationship - and it personalized a byline I anyway never fail to read. Sababa. JOSEPH WEISSMAN Paramus, New Jersey Sore sights for eyes Sir, - I write with mixed feelings, mainly sadness, about the sight that greeted me on my morning walk on Lag Ba'omer in my neighborhood of Gilo. First was the litter left from the previous night's bonfires, no attempt having been made to at least put it into plastic sacks. The next appalling thing was to see deserted fires still burning. Third was the thievery of supermarket carts used to gather wood, and then added to the fires. Saddest of all was my entry into Park Gilo, where the most devastating sight was the burnt remains of a wooden table, which I'm sure had been intended for picnics and not as a source of fuel. Where can one start to change this primitive, laissez-faire attitude? Perhaps in kindergarten, and then maybe the next generation will grow up to respect public property. Then again, possibly the affliction takes root at home, when parents take their three- and four-year-olds on outings and neglect to clean up after themselves. It doesn't matter where the blame lies. The hope is to find a way to conquer this disease of apathy regarding our environment and, ultimately, our country ("In the heat of the night," Photo, May 23). FRIEDA ROSEMAN-MANDEL Jerusalem National shame Sir, - Re "Chaos in Conversion Authority as head is fired" (May 23): In civilized societies there are rewards for lifetime service, there is respect for the elderly, there are review boards to assess successes and failures and legal process to address them. When the Prime Minister's Office "unceremoniously dismissed" Rabbi Haim Druckman from his position as head of the State Conversion Authority by messenger-delivered letter - without due process, without explanation - we were all shamed. How can we accept the belated argument that Rabbi Druckman is too old for the position? He was hired four years ago, when he was 71, although the age limit is 67. Now suddenly, at 75, he is too old? And if his age had become a factor, where were the words of acknowledgement, of appreciation, of his years of service, and a respectful retirement? Belatedly claiming "administrative shortcomings" besmirches the rabbi's reputation without justification or opportunity for defense or even clarification. This action represents not only injustice to one man. It undermines our national sense of decency and legality and suggests that justice has been undermined for political advantage. It is not too late for our government to reconsider its action and rectify it. Our nation requires nothing less. R. EHRLICH Jerusalem Giving up Sir, - Israel is going to be expected to uproot 1,8000 people and dismantle 32 Jewish communities on sovereign Israeli land in exchange for Syria's distancing itself from terrorist countries and organizations ("Israel-Syria - now the arguing begins," May 23). True, our prime minister says we will have to make painful concessions... but Syria will be giving up more - since its commitment to terror is apparently stronger than our government's commitment to Jews and their communities. Hey, we all have to give up something - right? PHIL CHERNOFSKY Jerusalem Abbas, truly In recent days Mahmoud Abbas has:
rejected the comments President Bush made in his speech at the Knesset, accusing him of "bias" toward Israel: "What the president said at the Knesset made us angry, and to be honest we don't accept it."
The official Palestinian News Agency, WAFA, released a statement from Abbas which said "the right of return (of the Palestinian refugees) is sacred and should never be delayed or postponed."
referred thus to East Jerusalem: "It belongs to us and we will get it back one day" (i.e., even if negotiations fail to return it).
Abbas is being held up by the Bush administration as a "moderate," yet he says he is unwilling to accept anything less than 100% of East Jerusalem and completely denies Israel's right to its biblical capital and holy sites. His "sacred" right of return would facilitate a dramatic change in the demographic make-up of Israel, eliminating it as the only sovereign home for the Jewish people.
If Abbas is the Bush administration's definition of a moderate, heaven help the civilized world ("PA investment gathering hopes to attract $2b." May 25).
San Ramon, California
Pelosi on Obama...
Sir, - Re David Horovitz's interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ("Speaking up for Obama," May 23):
Somehow I don't believe the citizens of the US have to have, among their top priorities, that a new president be good for Israel. If he's good for the US - and I feel certain Barack Obama would be - he would also be good for Israel. So let's get our priorities straight.
Sir, - The implications of what Nancy Pelosi said to David Horovitz are mind-boggling:
"Q: How optimistic are you that Iran can be deterred short of military action
A: It has to be.
Q: Under what conditions, if any, would you support a military strike against Iran?
A: That should not be taken off the table. But I think - as with all military action - that it should be the very last resort. Certainly if they strike Israel, that cannot go unanswered. What are the consequences of a preemptive strike on Iran in terms of rallying around their leadership, in terms of the price of oil, in terms of the response of the rest of the Muslim world?"
Is there any way to interpret what Pelosi said other than that Israel should not launch a preemptive attack on Iranian nuclear sites, but respond only after being attacked (and devastated in a nuclear attack); and that because of what a preemptive strike would do to the price of oil?
Be my pal
Sir, - I am a 12-year-old boy from New Zealand and I am looking for a penpal of my age from Jerusalem who I could correspond with. I am a newspaper and stamp collector, and I collect them from around the world. I am interested in other countries and people.
Thank you for reading this. I hope to get an answer from Jerusalem! Please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ashburton, New Zealand