Letters to the Editor / February 26

Party considerations come first

In response to "Maryland-born MK Lipman will hold open office hours for public" (Andrew Esensten, January 8)

One could not help but be amused by the drooling outpouring by Anglo supporters in favor of fledgling MK Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid) and their certainty that he "would be their address in the Knesset." It is true that the late Chaim Herzog, former MK and later president of Israel, held a "surgery" - as it is called in the UK - for his "constituents" after being elected to the Knesset. He was then the president of the Committee of Concerned Citizens, which he founded in 1978 to campaign for electoral reform, and wanted to set an example.

We worked closely with an "all-party" Knesset committee of dedicated MKs. We pushed for a system of direct regional representation which would ensure accountability. Sadly, Israel was "not ready" for such a change, and the direct election of a prime minister without the intended electoral change proved to be a disaster.

Immigrants may have to face the reality that their friendly, well-meaning MK may be unable to deliver the goods when party considerations come first.

Zelda Harris

Executive director and founder

(with Chaim Herzog) of the Committee of Concerned Citizens, 1978-1992

Still dreaming of MLK

In response to "How Martin Luther King Jr. avoided visiting Israel" (Ofer Aderet, February 23)

Ofer Aderet's article on Israel and Martin Luther King is most important because it shows how deeply Israel felt about him.

In 1963, the first year of our marriage, my wife, Rita, and I came to study in Israel. Since we were already here when the "I Have a Dream" speech was given in the summer of 1963, we had to figure out a way to see some of it when there was no TV in the country. A week after the march and that historic speech, we were at a cinema on Agrippas waiting anxiously for the newsreel that preceded the main feature.

Then the march on Washington came on the screen. We were amazed at the crowd. We did hear a small part of the "I Have A Dream" speech - the beginning and the end - with everyone cheering for MLK and his message. When that part of the news was over, Rita and I heard a fellow behind us say to his date, "Seh manhig" - "that's a leader."

Thirty years later, in 1993, I stood on the pulpit of a black church in celebration of MLK Day. I had been asked to speak because I had just arrived from Israel. I brought with me the small booklet in which the Israeli government had translated selections from MLK speeches into Hebrew to mark MLK Day being established. I thanked the congregation for inviting me, and told them that I wanted each one present to listen closely to MLK's words in Hebrew. I said the word for "dream" is "chalom" and began. What a reaction! Each time I uttered that word, they responded: "Hallelujah - Chalom of King in the Holy Tongue!"

Dr. David Geffen


A glaring omission

In response to "Fifth Israeli charged with running Cyprus prostitution ring" (Sharon Shpurer, February 25)

As stated in its headline, this article refers to the illegal activities of an Israeli citizen, Mr. David Digmi, that were committed in Cyprus. It glaringly fails to mention that these activities took place in the Turkish-occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus where, since 1974, the government of Cyprus does not exercise effective control.

I believe that the article is misleading in presenting Cyprus as an area of illegal activities (of some of the most appalling kind). And, I hope not deliberately, it avoids referring to where exactly these crimes have been committed, namely in the area which is militarily controlled, in violation of numerous United Nations resolutions, by the Turkish army, and where for many decades all kinds of illegal activities have taken place.

Just to name a few, I simply have to refer to the attraction of the occupied northern part of my country to all kinds of criminals fleeing justice from various countries and receiving refuge there by the illegal regime; the illegal plundering of the cultural heritage of the area and the trade of its stolen artifacts in the international markets; and the existence of numerous types of illegal activities including unlicensed casinos and brothels (just like the one referred to in the article), to name a few.

Dimitris Hatziargyrou

Republic of Cyprus ambassador,

Tel Aviv


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