Sir, - Tel Aviv deserves a fitting commemoration of its anniversary. However, Verdi's Requiem does not fit the bill" wrote Lotte Lapian in "Mass miss" (Letters, July 23).
I was present with 100,000 other people at what can only be considered a powerful musical event. Can one imagine the spiritual and moral uplift if that enthusiastic audience had sung "Hatikva" following the performance? The message would have been an appropriate commemoration of Tel Aviv's centennial.
Perhaps, though, it would have been asking a little too much of Daniel Barenboim.
Sir, - Instead of the focus on La Scala, maybe Daniel Barenboim should have been asked why he chose this particular piece.
Sir, - How right Stanley Cohen is ("Requiem victory," Letters, July 24): I was 13 years old and privileged to hear all the rehearsals for Verdi's Requiem in the Terezin (Theresienstadt) Ghetto, as I lived in the house where they took place. It was a time when I could just listen and forget the horrible conditions we were living under; and I have never forgotten the experience.
'Lines drawn on maps'
Sir, - Those with a sense of humor can enjoy the juxtaposition of British Foreign Secretary David Miliband's "lines drawn on maps by colonial powers" and failure "to establish two states in Palestine" ("New era in British hostility reaches crescendo," Robin Shepherd, July 21).
Precisely because the British colonial power drew a line on a map, its colonial secretary, Winston Churchill, succeeded in establishing the forerunner of the second state in Palestine, Transjordan (later Jordan).
In so doing, Mr. Churchill, in direct contradiction of British intentions during the first decades of the 20th century, tore away 78 percent of Palestine from the future Jewish state, which had already been made a legal entity by the San Remo Convention in April 1920.
Yes, there really are two countries in Palestine: the Arab state in eastern Palestine, also known as Trans-Jordan, and the Jewish state in western Palestine, or Cis-Jordan, brought into being by the Balfour Declaration, the San Remo Convention and the Treaty of Sevres, all the expression of the desire and design of prime minister David Lloyd George and others to give Palestine to the Jews (Arab aspirations to be fulfilled in Syria and Mesopotamia).
Had the British governments of the 1920s, '30s and '40s carried out the original intentions of the League of Nations, Lloyd George, the British Zionists of the early 20th century, Woodrow Wilson and the US, Israel would now include Judea, Samaria (the West Bank), Gaza and Jordan up to the Hejaz Railway. It would also be populated by 10-20 million Jews.
Sir, - Nobody is suggesting that Human Rights Watch is a friend of Saudi Arabia or that HRW should not raise funds from citizens of Saudi Arabia concerned with human rights. However, there is something clearly wrong when HRW chooses to raise funds in Saudi Arabia by concentrating on violations of human rights in Israel and ignores all "home-grown" violations of human rights.
If Larry Derfner is correct and HRW has no "agenda" against Israel, why in raising funds in Saudia Arabia does HRW ignore Saudi Arabia's own violations of human rights? Are we to understand that "arbitrary arrest and torture" and "slavery-like exploitation" of foreign labor in Saudi Arabia are unimportant?
Larry Derfner provides no answer to these questions. Until he does, I believe it is only reasonable to suppose that HRW, like many other NGOs, has a hidden agenda against Israel ("The smearing of human rights organizations," July 23).
Larry Derfner responds:
HRW officials at that meeting in Saudi Arabia didn't "ignore" Saudi human rights violations nor "concentrate" on Israeli violations. Even the Saudi state-controlled Arab News didn't give such a distorted report of the event. According to HRW officials, they discussed a range of their activities, including their well-known work in Saudi Arabia. No one's disproved that statement, because no one can.
Sir, - Re "Land reform & the national interest" (Editorial, July 26): In New York City there is a very successful program which aims to bring people back to live and work in the city.
Builders receive certain benefits for the construction of apartments, be they for rent or sale. The city, in turn, has a list of persons or families and knows their incomes. Basically, if you earn up to a certain amount, you may be eligible for one of these apartments.
The landlord of these units charges the market price, but because of certain benefits from the city, he must allocate 20 percent of his units to these lower-income groups, which are able to rent apartments at a 50% discount.
This program has been shown to work well for lower-income individuals and families, as well as for the builders. In this manner, the land has served the public at large.
If you want to help
Sir, - Re "Business is still dismal, but the hardy residents of Sderot are 'hanging in there'" (July 24): The relative quiet the 20,000 people of Sderot are experiencing - rockets still fall sporadically - can only be attributed to the bravery of our IDF soldiers, who delivered a harsh blow to the Hamas terror infrastructure this past January. That said, the people of Sderot are well aware that the situation can change at the drop of a pin.
Business has by no means returned to "pre-Kassam" days. As a result, the Hesder Yeshiva in Sderot has started a special fund to help those in desperate need of financial assistance. It also continues to build, to show our enemies that Sderot will not become a ghost town.
Those interested in providing for the needy in Sderot or helping the Hesder thrive while spreading Torah Zionism in Southern Israel should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Love at first sight
Sir, - How heart-warming to hear that Maccabiah athlete Dara Podjarski is making aliya ("Aussie athlete answers Netanyahu's call for aliya," July 26). That "love at first sight" effect which our wonderful country has on first-time visitors is exactly that which I and my family experienced during our first trip here in 1983.
Dara's positive view of all that Israel has to offer reinforces the picture painted for the nation of Israel by Moses throughout the Book of Deuteronomy, which we began reading in synagogue on Shabbat.
Great games - but what a shame
Sir, - I would like to congratulate all the athletes who came to Israel to compete ("Israel bids farewell to world... for now," July 24). The Maccabiah Games are unique because they bring Jews from around the world together to compete against each other.
It is a great shame, however, that the organizers set the events for during the three weeks before Tisha B'Av, meaning that many people could not attend the opening and closing ceremony due to the live musical performances. In addition, sporting events on Friday finished too close to the start of Shabbat.
Those who organized the event ought to have been more sensitive to the observant community.