Letters to the Editor
Gazans need investment in welfare
While one may not wish to applaud Israel's actions in Gaza, everyone should appreciate that they are reactive and designed to end the wave of rocket attacks from Gaza on Israeli civilians. The same explanation cannot be given for the rocket attacks themselves. There is no element of defense when Palestinian terrorists launch rockets. They are not launching them to prevent an Israeli response.
In fact, the absolute opposite is more accurate: They are launching them precisely to provoke an Israeli response and thus an escalation. If Israel were half as terrible as the Palestinians frequently claim, one would have to seriously question any logic involved in the continuing Palestinian rocket fire.
Israel ended the occupation of Gaza in 2005, and there was no blockade of Gaza until after the Palestinians chose to invest in rockets instead of investing in the welfare of the people in Gaza. If only the Palestinians would invest in the welfare of the people in Gaza as much as they invest in weapons, life would be so much better for both sides.
While the Palestinians are certainly the weaker party of the two, this doesn't stop them being the aggressor. Only when this fact is admitted and dealt with in the Western world, which heavily funds the Palestinians, is there any hope for peace.
Meretz welcomes others to the left
In response to "Pampered poodles," November 12
In his commentary, Aluf Benn urges Shelly Yacimovich and Yair Lapid to continue their strategy of trying to garner votes from the moderate right, saying that, paradoxically, this will ultimately help rebuild the political left.
Among the arguments Benn uses to support this rather strange contention is that should a reelected Benjamin Netanyahu turn his attention, as Benn phrased it, to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, he would benefit from having Yacimovich and Lapid at his side to stave off the Likud rebels.
On the other hand, according to Benn, should Labor or Yesh Atid shift to the left, they would end up wiping Meretz off the map. This equation is based on the faulty premise that the number of left-wing votes to be had is finite and fails to take into account the power of the messages delivered by our leaders.
Let's imagine the scenario Benn presented of Yacimovich and Lapid standing at the side of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and calling for an end to the occupation. How is it that Benn doesn't see that hearing more Israeli leaders saying "Yes we can" rather than "There is no partner" would result in a renewed belief that peace is possible? How is it that he doesn't see this leading to a surge in support for the left rather than the decimation of Israel's sole left-wing party?
As for Netanyahu putting the peace process on his agenda, the problem is not his failure to take notice of it but rather what he perceives when he does. Having the settler-wooing Yacimovich and Lapid at his side will certainly give Netanyahu a broad base from which he can expound on the importance of negotiations, but it will not move him one inch closer to concluding them.
Benn and the Israeli public should know that Meretz would welcome a shift to the left by any party and would embrace anyone who adopts its worldview. In fact, were the Likud leader himself to undergo a transformation and become the champion of human rights, social justice and a negotiated agreement (the operative word here being agreement, not never-ending negotiations ) that ended the conflict with the Palestinians, I have no doubt Meretz would welcome him into the fold and gladly relinquish its position as the only voice of hope and reason on the Israeli political map.
Meretz National Executive member
Don't mention the pogroms
President Shimon Peres recently visited Moscow, where he attended the dedication of a Jewish museum, an unprecedented event in Russian history. Peres praised Russia for being a place where the Jewish community flourished for about 1,000 years.
Peres' speech was criticized because he refrained from mentioning the hundreds of years of discrimination and pogroms during the czarist era and the pogroms during the Russian Civil War (which also affected my family ). The critics also mentioned the discrimination against Jews during the Soviet era, which had a decisive influence on the emigration of thousands of Russian Jews to America (including my family ). That was not mentioned in Peres' speech either.
Still, the critics are ignoring that Peres came to Moscow during a period when America's support for Israel is questioned, while the Iran crisis hovers over it. The Jewish state, whose interests Peres represents, has to find support wherever possible.
Russia is an important geopolitical player; certainly its role in the Middle East should not be played down, especially when Moscow is trying to adopt a more balanced policy in the region. In fact, President Vladimir Putin is the first Russian leader to visit Israel and has repeatedly expressed his respect for Israel and the Jewish people.
In such a situation it clearly would have been useless for Peres to engage in an objective analysis of the complex and sometimes tragic relations between the Russians and the Jews, who did in fact live together for hundreds of years. His main objective was to ensure the greatest benefit to the Jewish state. In light of his statement that the viewpoints of Russia and Israel on the Iranian issue are very similar, he apparently achieved his objective.
Dr. Dmitry Shlapentokh
Professor of history
South Bend, Indiana
Enlist and you'll receive
The Education Ministry's decision to give grants to schools based on the number of students who join the army raises several questions. After all, the ministry's main objective is the education of the next generation. If school is treated as a preparation course for enlistment, it's no wonder the students' attitude toward education is in constant decline.
The Israel Defense Forces refuses to draft young people with serious socioeconomic problems. The new system of grants will increase the gap. Strong schools will receive more money and attract better teachers; the weak schools will remain behind. If the army wants to increase the enlistment rate, it should demand increased budgets for the country's outskirts and the weak schools.
Isn't it time for the IDF to demand professionalism instead of counting heads? The weapons and computer systems are becoming increasingly sophisticated and require a higher level of soldier. The IDF should try to increase the number of good soldiers, not only the number of soldiers in general.
Being drafted into the IDF is an obligation. Those who are not drafted are the ones who the IDF has chosen not to draft, or who have not been drafted due to medical problems or coalition agreements. Why give a grant simply for obeying the law?