Letters to the Editor
No use attacking a small voice
In response to "Why Jenny wants to kill me," November 19
Mr. Aluf Benn, I am shocked because I had been sure that a journalist and editor so highly regarded as yourself ought to have spent a lifetime of receiving death "threats," or perhaps "death wishes" - and to read your attack on a casual Facebook comment is, well, disappointing.
Aren't negative comments from narrow-minded readers, after all, an indication that you're doing something right? And isn't it part of the unspoken journalist code that we ignore those screams? Someone's ignorance, a university student's baseless and extremist zeal, is no excuse to take a personally humiliating cheap shot at an individual.
I wonder if you would have done the same had the response been in all capitals from a Pakistani college student, wishing destruction on all of Israel in broken English - wouldn't you have smiled smugly and ignored that one without hesitation?
I'm young - a starting journalist. And I've understood that part of this job is facing vitriolic responses. I've learned to keep a long-running document where I save the most amusing insults: A phone call from a matchmaker insisting that I'll never get married if I keep writing about the Orthodox community. ("You're an unmarried girl. You can't just write whatever you think." ) Or the now-routine ambush of tweets and Facebook messages, full of profanities and references to my "murderous Zionist blood." Or my Russian grandparents receiving handwritten letters to their Brooklyn apartment from secret right-wing organizations who call me a "liberal Muzzie-loving Jewess."
And I know that this is just the very beginning, God willing. But I've signed up for this, wholeheartedly, even if that means nights of robbed sleep, weeks of no appetite, awkward run-ins at cocktail parties and ducking around street corners so as not to face a confrontation with an irate neighbor - "You're a sensationalist! How dare you write like this!"
While I agree with your central points - indeed it's tragic, even blood-boiling, that people "only want to hear one thing" - I am frustrated with your poor choice of introduction. In today's world of endlessly consuming media, we writers are subjected to every opinion - we have to manage comments, talkbacks, Facebook, Twitter, blogosphere metrics, and so on. There's no escaping it, and there's little value in attacking one of those many small voices.
So with all due respect, I suggest you deal with it. A writer who displays such disrespect toward another quickly and easily loses respect in the eyes of his reader. And that, Mr. Benn, would be a real shame.
In praise of Akiva Eldar
I was very sorry to read that Akiva Eldar is retiring from Haaretz. His meticulously researched, profoundly intelligent and humane articles for many years shone a steady light on the bigotry, racism and obscurantism of Israel as an occupying power.
And although the truths he showed us became increasingly painful and depressing, his courage and quiet wisdom were always inspiring. Thankfully, there are other wonderful Haaretz commentators whose mission is to hold up the mirror, but Akiva Eldar will be very much missed.
Dr. Ilana Baram
Why we need the blockade
The hundreds of rockets being launched from Gaza should serve as a harsh reminder to those who call for the end of Israel's blockade of Gaza as to why such a blockade is essential.
After Israel ended the occupation of Gaza in 2005, instead of investing in the welfare of their people, the Palestinian leaders invested in weapons. After the first rockets were launched, Israel implemented the blockade, which is designed to make importing weapons as difficult as possible.
Instead of simply calling for the end of the blockade, the time has come for the international community to hold the Palestinian leaders truly accountable for their violent choices.
There are efforts in the international community for Palestine to become a country. Until such a time that the Palestinian leaders show that they act in the best interests of the people they govern and are prepared to live in peace with their neighbor, it is folly to contemplate this idea. The last thing the world needs is another failed state where the leaders are not interested in their own people.
When to correct language mistakes
In response to "More than just a grammar mistake," November 14
Regarding Tsafi Saar's question "to correct or not to correct," I was disturbed by the tendentiousness of maintaining that we identify a lack of fluency with the Mizrahim and those who live in the country's outskirts, and proper language with Ashkenazim, those who live in the center of the country, and the old elites. It is clear that the lack of fluency crosses socioeconomic classes and geographic location.
Should I correct the butcher when I ask him for 10 chicken thighs, using the proper feminine form of the number, and he repeats my order using the masculine form? Should I correct the school principal who tells me about a parent who knows that his son hits my daughter but pretends not to see (using an incorrect idiom )? Usually I don't correct people; I only add to my private collection. But I'm grateful to anyone who corrects me.
But Saar is missing the point: Did inarticulateness of any type ever serve a political objective? Even if a heartrending cry is sometimes preferable to a learned speech that chatters on and on, if new elites arise, won't we prefer to hear what they have to say?
After all, the ability to explain a viewpoint fluently is the heart of the matter, not whether we use the masculine or feminine form of a number. One can talk nonsense in correct language and make trenchant remarks in incorrect language.
A lack of fluency as I understand it goes beyond correct or incorrect speakers. Lack of fluency is basically the lack of an ability to convey the message, maybe even to yourself. So when we come to decide whether to correct someone, the good of the speaker should be our guide.
I have nowhere to hide
I heard on the news that when the siren went off in Tel Aviv the prime minister hid in a protected space. I was born in Tel Aviv and have lived here more than 75 years. I have nowhere to hide and there is nothing I can do about it.
I live in Hadar Yosef, a neighborhood built in 1949. It is impossible to build a protected room because Shlomo Lahat, the late mayor, decided that the neighborhood was going to be razed. As a result, no building permits are issued for about 100 buildings where the apartments are about 30 square meters large. So in my home I have no protected room.
I also cannot leave the neighborhood for other parts of Tel Aviv after the transportation minister's "transportation reforms" have imprisoned us in the neighborhood.
So I find myself in a unique situation. I am not allowed to build a protected room in my home, but I also can't go to my children's homes because it's very hard to leave the neighborhood.