November 19: Arm-in-arm with history

How lucky we are to be able to share Yehuda Avner's memories and golden anecdotes.

letters 88 NICE (photo credit: )
letters 88 NICE
(photo credit: )
Arm-in-arm with history Sir, - No one brings history to life as effectively or charmingly as Yehuda Avner ("The night Sadat came," November 18). He makes you feel as though you were standing next to him as he describes expressions, whispered asides, feelings of anticipation and excitement. Using all five senses, it is literature at its best. Through his many articles, I have accompanied Mr. Avner to Buckingham Palace, 10 Downing Street and state dinners, and always felt that I was seeing the human side of dignitaries and of our greatest statesman, Menachem Begin. How lucky we are to be able to share his memories and golden anecdotes. DVORA WAYSMAN Jerusalem Bride left at the altar Sir, - Re Calev Ben-David's analysis of the Sadat visit in 1977 ("One small step for Anwar Sadat - one giant step for Israeli-Arab relations," November 18): Peace, real peace was the wonderful dream so many Israelis had. Only, unfortunately, it did not happen. There was a cessation of hostilities, which has lasted, but in no way are there cordial relations. On the contrary: Egypt has neither prevented armed terrorism against Israel nor tried to influence the Arab world to soften its hostility to Israel and understand the advantages of peace. Egypt itself is one of the most hostile voices against Israel in the UN. Thirty years later, Israel is the bride left at the altar, still hoping for love and understanding from Egypt, and Egypt has gone back to those who make terror against Israel the nightmare of Israel's existence. TOBY WILLIG Jerusalem Raring not to go Sir, - Further to "Did Prince Charles's aides backtrack on a trip to Israel?" (November 18): Recently the British monarchy extended its grandiose and most formal hospitality to Saudi royalty, whose country's violation of human rights, abject subjugation of women and ban on religious freedom and diversity is repugnant to all who value democracy and decency. Conversely, regarding Israel's invitation to Prince Charles to visit here, his deputy press secretary sneered in an internal e-mail, as reported by The Jewish Chronicle: "Safe to assume there is no chance of this visit ever actually happening?'' Another nail in the coffin of official British hypocrisy, and hostility to Israel. GISH TRUMAN ROBBINS Pardesiya Over 50, depressed Sir, - Ruth Eglash's "Survey: Israeli men over 50 more depressed than Europeans in Israel" (November 14) only showed the tip of the iceberg. The problem is getting worse as more men in this age group are being discarded "on the scrap heap" in a society that is increasingly less social-conscious and more money-conscious. Losing one's job at such an age is virtually disastrous as available jobs are working as a security guard, low-wage telephone sales, telemarketing and customer positions paying an average of NIS 20-25 per hour, with no social benefits. Try to support a household on that kind of salary! And as both men and women approach retirement age, the pittance that the National Insurance gives is a joke. European countries have much better social-benefit structures, and that includes both unemployment benefits and old-age pensions. Our government, thanks to the "wonderful" economic reform plan by former finance ministers Binyamin Netanyahu and Silvan Shalom, has made things even worse as it is much more difficult for this age group to receive unemployment benefits. There is simply no justice, nor dignity, in our "enlightened" society! MAURICE PICOW Netanya Light unto... Sir, - The message of Shmuley Boteach's "The Jewish gift to humanity" (November 11) is most important. The world has become a global city in which neighborhoods or nations rub each other raw as communications and travel quicken and we live on each other's doorsteps. The values spoken of are God's. It is mandatory for each Jew to improve self-knowledge, understanding of the world, and Israel in particular; and to give without the will to receive. We Jews must echo His message to the world and amplify His light of humanity unto the nations. DOV SILVERMAN Ra'anana ...the nations Sir, - The true church of God is not a building, not an organization of men, and the true priests are not those who have chosen to be leaders of men. The true church is the believers, and the priests are those God has chosen to reveal himself to. I do not say that men should not go to organized churches - that is a decision each man must make for himself; but they should know that just going to an organized church will not guarantee them a place with God. It is each man's responsibility to build a personal relationship with God to the best of his ability. And it is the responsibility of those to whom God has given greater knowledge and faith to try and pass on what they have learned, and to encourage those who are weaker in knowledge and faith, so that they might grow. DAVID DOTHAGER Mulberry Grove, Illinois Private's better Sir, - I started teaching at Berlitz during its "golden days," in which the pay, schedule, benefits and conditions were very good. I left for a variety of reasons including stagnation in pay, drastic reduction in company benefits and working conditions, change in the direction Berlitz was heading, and the two-tier management-teacher hierarchy. I now teach privately, like many ex-Berlitz teachers. I am much more satisfied. I can customize the lessons and pace for each client instead of being required to finish a certain amount of material within a certain amount of time. To those considering becoming English teachers I recommend going to one of the big language companies to get training and experience before venturing into the private market ("Outgoing Berlitz Israel chief takes critical aim at the country's English-language instruction," November 14). LESLIE BAKER Beersheba Clean-up, Israeli-style Sir, - Thank you to Ranit Mishori for the rundown on getting clean ("Plain old soap and water will do, it seems," November 18). The only problem here in Israel is that when we really need to wash up, usually in public places, we are missing a few key ingredients of Mishori's formula: 1. "Warm running water": rarely found in public restrooms; 2. Soap - never a sure thing, either; 3. "Dry [your hands] with a clean towel": Forget finding towels, dirty or clean, in most Israeli restrooms. I can count on one dirty hand the facilities that supply paper hand towels. I hope this third-world mentality of neglect in restrooms will improve, along with the smoking issue, traffic accidents, the education system, the... K. BRONSTEIN Petah Tikva CORRECTION In "Bronfman defends 'Jewish idea' initiative" (November 15),The Charles Bronfman Prize was incorrectly called "the Charles and Andrea Bronfman Prize."