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Our situation, if you deduct Netanyahu

In response to "PM, on inequality: 'Minus Haredim and Arabs we're in terrific shape,'" April 5

"The State of Israel is doing 'not badly' compared with other countries, and, if you deduct the Arabs and ultra-Orthodox from inequality indexes, we're in great shape," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an interview with TheMarker. Would Netanyahu have lasted in his job for even one day, when he was working as an economic consultant in Boston or as a furniture salesman in an Israeli company, had he informed the owners that if you deduct the competitors the company is in great shape; and that it is the existence of those competitors that is preventing his success?

The Haredim and the Arabs constitute about 40 percent of Israel's population. Their failure to participate in the country's economy, and the closed world that they have created for themselves, are important factors in preventing greater economic growth and in reducing the manpower the Israel Defense Forces requires.

Netanyahu, as prime minister for the second time, and after serving as finance minister for years, is directly responsibility for channeling a substantial percentage of the country's resources to financing the existence of these two sectors, mainly the Haredim. In order to receive their support for his government he is perpetuating their disconnect from the country.

Netanyahu also said that the middle class embarked on a protest because it is funding the Arabs and the Haredim. The middle class does not decide where the state budgets are sent; that is done by the economic super-minister Netanyahu. If Netanyahu really believes his own bizarre statement, he can console himself by saying that if you deduct the Arab world our situation in excellent; that's certainly the case if you deduct Iran and the nuclear bomb. If you deduct the Palestinians our situation is terrific too.

To such profound thinking we can add that if you deduct Netanyahu, our situation is excellent.

Yigal Laviv

Tel Aviv

Embrace the symbol, not the Temple Mount

In response to "When the Jews leave Jerusalem," April 4

There is no question that the Temple Mount is a symbol in Jewish culture, as Ronen Shoval writes. This symbol, along with others, has existed for the past 2,000 years.

But the symbol exists even without our possessing the thing itself, and perhaps mainly when we don't possess the thing itself. After all, Shoval is not mourning the fact that we didn't build the Temple on the Temple Mount, or the absence of the sacrifices. That's why it isn't clear why he finds giving up sovereignty over the Temple Mount so threatening.

What we have here is an adherence to what looks like Judaism, but is in fact only one aspect of this rich culture, which has been inflated to huge dimensions under the aegis of Israeli ultra-nationalism. The Judaism that we know and appreciate today is more a product of 2,000 years of exile than a product of our possession of a mountain or a building. The most potent Jewish symbol may actually be the ability to survive, develop and improve while longing, by holding onto the symbol and not the land itself.

The late Prof. Yeshahayu Leibowitz and the late Rabbi Shagar (Shimon Gershon Rosenberg ) were right when they spoke of the idolatrous potential of an idea that sanctifies the land, the physical place, and about the fact that the hope for our continued existence here actually lies in internalizing the idea that man must maintain a certain distance from the land and from being enslaved to it.

Although the Temple Mount served and continues to serve as an important symbol in Jewish culture, the heart of Judaism is not to be found there, nor is Jewish survival dependent on it. If the heart of Zionism really is on the Temple Mount, perhaps the time has come to take another look at Jewish history in all its complexity.

Naama Katii

Ramat Hasharon

Even if the anthem is changed

In response to "Citizens without an anthem," April 1

Although maybe we should improve the wording of the national anthem, so that Arabs will also feel comfortable singing it, the Arabs in the State of Israel are a minority. No minority in the world is opposed to the symbols of the country in which it lives.

Still, the problem does not seem to be a matter of wording. When Arab MKs, who represent the Arab public, wrap themselves in Palestinian flags during public appearances, there is no question that they don't consider Israel their country. Even if the wording of "Hatikva" is replaced by "Biladi Biladi" (the Palestinian national anthem ) they won't see that as a solution to the dilemma pointed out by Oudeh Basharat.

Galil Elyashiv

Kfar Sava