November 30: What do I say to Yossi, Becky & Haim?

Yossi's father just died in Los Angeles and he can't get out due to the strike.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
What do I say to Yossi, Becky & Haim? Sir, - I need some advice. I don't know what to tell Yossi, whose father just died in Los Angeles and who can't get out due to the strike. Should I tell him that, hopefully, he'll get there in time to sit shiva? I don't know what to tell Becky, whose mother is dying of lung cancer in Las Vegas, and the hospice just told Becky to get on a plane so she can say her farewells. Should I tell her that I hope her memories of her mom are strong? I don't know what to tell Haim, whose daughter was in a serious traffic accident in Haifa, and who is stuck in Paris because flights to Tel Aviv have been cancelled. Should I tell him it will be OK? I've been here 25 years, and have lived through hundreds of strikes; I actually supported the vast majority. But closing down our ports is inhuman. When our single international airport is closed down we don't have any other way out of our small country. The borders with Jordan and Egypt are closed. Will the strike be for a few hours? Will it last beyond Shabbat? Personally, I don't care what its underlying reasons are. What I care about are my clients - real people with real reasons to travel. Why didn't our government issue immediate back-to-work orders? Why has a bill not been passed in the Knesset forbidding Ben-Gurion Airport to go on strike? Like I said, I need some advice... what do I tell my clients? ("Ports close as strike begins," November 20.) MARK FELDMAN CEO Ziontours Jerusalem Ltd Jerusalem Sir, - From this distance I would not pretend to understand the general strike called by the Histadrut. However, what I do know is that a government prepared to spend large sums of money on promoting Israel tourism is throwing it down the drain if a tourist like myself finds himself stranded at an airport, unable to get to his destination. Better use your tourist promotion budget to settle the strike. PETER SIMPSON Pinner, Middx, UK Cat and mouse... Sir, - I am in a quandary, unable to decide whether Prime Minister Olmert and his government are acting like the foolish people in the Jewish village of Chelm, or like the indifferent, uncaring folks of Sodom, as mentioned in the Torah - or a combination of both. In my 28 years in Israel I have never felt so insecure because of the inept policies of incompetent amateurs who are running the government. I would never have believed I would see the day the cat runs after the mouse to give away the cheese. Our government, embarrassed that we have Eretz Yisrael, seems obsessed with giving the land away without any guarantees for its citizens' safety. YITZHAK RUBIN Jerusalem ...time to clean house Your editorial of November 24 ("Forget politics, do your jobs") expressed what a lot of people are thinking, but nothing is being done! An electorate that voted in a government comprising members who disloyally left their parties to join others of similar ilk - many of whom are being investigated for illegal activities - frankly deserves what it gets. The current impotent and ineffective government is making a mockery of what Israel stands for. We cannot expect to see diligent and responsible governance until MKs are made accountable to the general public in all aspects of daily life. Where is there a leader able to withstand the deviousness, self-interest and greed rampant in Israeli life, one courageous enough to see through a change in the law that would demand MKs represent the people in constituencies, and work for the people? MARION STONE Modi'in Tragicomedy Sir, - Daoud Kuttab demonstrated the height of hubris, or hutzpa, in "Honor the agreements you signed" (November 27). Does he think the gates are locked arbitrarily? Does he not know that every time we open them the Palestinians send suicide bombers to blow us up, and gunmen to shoot at us? Does he not know that we had barely evacuated the Gaza Strip when they started firing rockets at us - and are still doing so in spite of a cease-fire agreement? "Israel is obligated to permit Palestinians free access in and out of the Gaza Strip." No, not if they don't keep their side of the bargain, not if they maintain their belligerency. Were the situation not so tragic, one might be tempted to say this piece belonged on your comics page. B. GATOFF Herzliya Pituah Sir, - Daoud Kuttab calls Israel's continuous disruption of Palestinian movement "a war crime," thereby confirming that a state of war exists between the parties; which does not allow for an enemy to transverse one's territory. What could have been is thus no longer possible. IVAN ISRAEL Tel Aviv Communist influence Sir, - Ronnie Kasrils rejects "the slur that I am somehow willing to see the destruction of six million Jews" ("My right to debate," Letters, November 28). Yet as a Communist he has still to answer for the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939 that allowed Hitler's armies to conquer Poland and begin the Holocaust. Is Kasrils still a Communist? I have no idea whether he carries a party card nowadays. What is important is the major influence Soviet Communist ideology still has on his thinking. Further, Friedrich Engels, a founder of Communist thought, wrote that it "would be progress" to exterminate "reactionary peoples" [Neue Rheinische Zeitung, January 1849]. It seems clear that Kasrils considers the Jews a "reactionary people." Can he honestly dissociate himself from such thinking? It is also interesting that whereas Kasrils seems to consider the Jews alien to the Middle East, Kant and Hegel, the philosophical mentors of Marx and Engels, considered Jews Orientals alien to Europe. Indeed, Kant referred to the German Jews as "The Palestinians who live among us." In light of today's conventional notions, this is rather ironic. What Kasrils and other anti-Israel propagandists have done is transfer the Jews' alien nature from Europe to the Middle East. That is, now that the Jews are no longer in Europe (but for a few) and thus cannot be alien there - since they are not there - they are now said to be alien to the Middle East, where Kant, Hegel and Marx said they originated from. Kasrils's nonsense about "Israel's expansionist and militaristic doctrine" is beneath contempt, at a time when Prime Minister Olmert seems to be groveling before Arab terrorists - when Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad openly boast of fighting a jihad, which embodies their own "expansionist and militaristic doctrine." ELLIOTT A GREEN Jerusalem Women's work Sir, - One would hope that Avi Krawitz was only quoting and not expressing his own belief - and it would be a very politically incorrect one - when he wrote: "The model focuses on providing work suitable for married women who can provide cheaper skilled labor." Why should the labor of women, who can multi-task better than any man, be valued thus? What a slur on some 50% of the population ("Haredi job growth impresses Fischer," November 29). ESTHER CHIPMAN-FRAME Jerusalem Avi Krawitz responds: The sentence in question was not intended to imply - nor is it my belief - that married women are less skilled than anyone else. In fact, the women described, who are employed in Modi'in Illit, work at as high a standard, if not higher, than similar work forces elsewhere. That they provide their services at a cheaper rate is what makes the town so marketable to hi-tech companies.