‘Powers That Be’ Former prime minister Ehud Barak thinks we could have gotten $7 billion more in US aid if only the incumbent, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had not angered US President Barack Obama by appearing before Congress in an attempt to forestall its approval of the US-Iranian nuclear deal (“Barak pummels PM over US aid package,” September 16).Netanyahu’s chances of getting Congress to suspend its approval of the Iran deal were slight, while the likelihood of his enraging President Obama was intense. Even if this affected the final level of our aid package, it was worth the risk, considering the mortal danger in which Israel has been placed by the deal.I would suggest that we all intensify our prayers during the forthcoming High Holy Days to get the “Powers That Be” to take up our cause and help us overcome this sad state of affairs.DOV EDELMAN Petah Tikva Misleading stats Raw statistics are often misleading. A case in point is “OECD report: Israel’s gender pay gap is higher than average” (September 16).Women are quick to complain about an apparent pay gap without telling the whole story.But all things being equal, an Israeli man spends up to 20% more time on the job than his female counterpart. While this might be attributable to women having other priorities outside the workplace, such obligations are not the employer’s concern.Furthermore, women retire five years earlier than do men, at age 62, compared to age 67, and outlive men by an average of two years. Hence, the typical woman receives retirement payouts for seven full years more than men.If one were to calculate the value of the extra hours that men work and the fewer years in which men enjoy retirement benefits, it would likely make for a very different overall picture – one significantly weighted in women’s favor.While the decision to work extra hours is an individual one, the inherent reverse sexism in our retirement model is not.One can only imagine the shrill chorus of sirens were the situation to be reversed – and rightly so.J.J. GROSS Jerusalem Some ‘dream’ “A dreamer of peace” (Frontlines, September 16), about Shimon Peres, is one sick joke.It was a dream that brought back the arch terrorist Yasser Arafat from the gutters of Tunis, where he was ignored even by the Arabs and would never again be in a position to harm Israelis. It was a dream that led to the murder or maiming of thousands of Israelis, for which Peres refused to accept responsibility.One is certainly entitled to dream, but once it becomes a dangerous obsession that blocks out reality, it is insanity.To call the Oslo Accords Peres’s best-known achievement and something that has defined the Israeli-Palestinian relationship for the past 23 years is absolutely correct – except for the word “achievement.” Any good he did in the early days of the state was overtaken by the evil he brought into our country.Of course, the Oslo Accords could have been eliminated had we not opted for weak and spineless leadership, so we are stuck with it until people wake up to the fact that the time bomb is ticking for us.If someone caused evil, then the fact that he might be dying in no way changes the facts.PHYLLIS STERN Netanya Despicable MK Again, you give MK Basel Ghattas a platform (“MK Ghattas calls Peres ‘ruthless colonial settler’” September 15). This time it is to rant against Shimon Peres, precisely at a time when our former president is so critically ill in the hospital.It is really outrageous. Why do you promote such a despicable MK? JENNY SHAY Jerusalem Ties to this land In “Jewish unity” (Editorial, September 16), you claim that the Jewish people have no longterm connection with “a specific geographic area” because it was created “well before it settled in the Land of Israel and continued to exist well after it was exiled from its land.”True, the Jewish nation was created before it settled here, but from that time onward, it maintained an unbroken connection with the Land of Israel.Nonetheless, throughout the 2,000 years of exile there were Jews living here – in Jerusalem, in Hebron, in Safed, in Tiberias, in Gaza – despite the difficult, even intolerable conditions.Moreover, those Jews who were in exile always prayed while facing Jerusalem, reciting the Psalmist’s words: “If I forget Jerusalem, may my right hand lose its cunning.” Their prayers and their hopes were inextricably bound up with the Land of Israel. The gentile world recognized this. Ironically, even our enemies would sneer at us, derisively saying: “Jews, go back to Palestine!” How do you explain our attachment to the Land of Israel if you imply that in the past, Jews were just temporary settlers in what you describe in belittling tones as “a strip of land”? What is the common history and shared fate of the Jewish people if not our connection to our homeland? NAOMI SCHENDOWICH Jerusalem Twisting issues Reader Sharon Lindenbaum (“Setting priorities,” Letters, September 16) twists the issue when she writes: “The vast majority of Israelis favor a Jewish state over a ‘state for all of its inhabitants,’ yet most secular Jews are largely ignorant about what Judaism is.”The issue of a “state for all its inhabitants” has nothing to do with the Jewishness of the state; it is part of the wider debate over the extent to which this is a country for the Jews as versus non-Jews. The place of Jewish studies in the general educational curriculum is about the Jewishness of the state for all of its Jewish inhabitants.When you go back to the most generalized Zionist thinking, the operative phrase was “state for the Jewish people,” not “Jewish state.” After all, exactly what is a “Jewish” state? Is it one ruled by Halacha? Is it one in which inhabitants have to toe the line of a certain religious stream? And define “Jewish.” Is it being born of a Jewish mother or having undergone a halachic conversion? And if it’s conversion, just whose version of Halacha? This does not mean that the Jewish studies being touted by Education Minister Naftali Bennett must be subservient to general studies. But when someone says they must come before general studies because this is a “Jewish state,” it ignores well over a century of debate – as yet far from settled – about just how Jewish the state will be.Let’s not twist the issues.ARI BEN-SENDER Jerusalem Country of illusions Gershon Baskin makes a mistake by considering both parties in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as equal in trying to achieve piece (“Clear and measurable steps,” Encountering Peace, September 15).I am convinced that most Israelis and their leaders want peace. I have no such impression from the other side. It is very possible that most Arabs would like just to get on with their lives, but their leaders are simply not interested.Mr. Baskin should open his eyes and stop living in a country of illusions.RUTH SCHUELER Jerusalem CORRECTION The photo accompanying “Leave the shuk alone” (Comment & Features, September 18) was of Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market, and not as stated.