A correct anxiety
In response to Niv Ellis and Sharon Udasin’s “Cabinet okays restricted housing cabinet, but leaves environment out” (May 20), the anxiety expressed in the article that the new housing cabinet will be heavily biased in favor of blind building development is correct. The exclusion of the environmental protection minister from this cabinet is indeed a cause for concern.
More and cheaper housing, especially for young couples, is definitely a deserved government priority. But this should not be done blindly, at the expense of all other considerations.
For example, it has been reported that the Israel Lands Authority, now under the control of Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, wants to transfer the hill between the entrance to Jerusalem and the Ramot neighborhood, where I live, to a preferred- housing planning committee.See the latest opinion pieces on our Opinion & Blogs Facebook page
The mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, recently told us that he completely opposes transferring responsibility for the hill.
He is in favor of urban renewal for solving Jerusalem’s housing problems and against expanding Jerusalem and, in the process, destroying more green areas.
The hill is one of the very few green areas left in northern Jerusalem. It is easily accessible to all residents of the city and is used extensively for recreation by all socioeconomic groups and religious stripes. It is a hot spot of biological diversity and a treasure of nature and heritage.
Over the past 14 years, the authorities have tried many shortcuts to circumvent the usual planning process for the site, but we have not let them get away with it.
AHARON CASSEL Jerusalem
The writer is affiliated with Ramot for the Environment, a grassroots organization seeking to preserve green space around the neighborhood.No laughing matter
Although I was amused by reader Nathan Pomerantz’s letter (“Advantage: Tortoise,” May 20), the present state of Israel’s postal services is not a laughing matter. It is abysmal. A small package posted in the UK recently took over a month to arrive here, while a regular letter took three weeks.
The Gilo neighborhood, where I live, is home to around 40,000 people but has only one post office, where it is normal to have to wait for as much as an hour to collect a parcel, buy stamps, etc. To make the situation worse, the mail boxes for posting mail in Gilo, and perhaps the rest of Jerusalem, have recently been closed, as was the post office in the Malha Mall.
I accept that the use of email has greatly reduced the writing and mailing of letters, but certainly not completely. (And the technology to send parcels by electronic mail has not yet been invented!) I suggest that everyone who is being similarly inconvenienced write a strong complaint to the Israel Postal Company, and even to the Communications Ministry. Maybe if enough people complain, some notice might be taken.
LOLA S. COHEN Jerusalem
Perhaps Ethan Hauser (“I love the post office,” Comment & Features, May 20) is right about the situation in the US.
But in Israel, no one I know loves the post office.
You can’t post a letter in a street mail box any more. The mail boxes where I live have been sealed by people who hate the public, and you have to go to the post office branch.
In my case, the postal clerk seems never to have learned geography: When I tried to post something to England and told the clerk in Hebrew that it was for Anglia, the best he could do was to find Angola on his computer. It wasn’t much better when I helpfully suggested Britannia.
If I get a card telling me to pick up something from the post office, it is more and more difficult because local post offices have been closed down.
The only mail I get regularly is bills from the public utilities, but they no longer trust their bills to the postal system and hand-deliver them.
Regular mail arrives very infrequently, and sometimes it never turns up at all. I am still waiting for two items that were sent to me from Australia months ago.
RAYMOND APPLE Jerusalem Parody of itself
I can’t thank you enough for pages 18 and 19 in your May 17 issue, which consisted entirely of articles reprinted from The New York Times. From these articles I learned that Hillary Clinton will be the next American president because she is not Mike Huckabee; American cities are violent because of lead paint; crazy has gone mainstream in the Republican Party; and the biggest victims in World War II were fish.
Next thing you know, the Times will publish an article advocating turning Michigan into a province of Syria. Uh oh! It did that already! I can’t wait for an op-ed advocating the import of two million Palestinians to Detroit and a change in the state’s name to Palestine so there will truly be a Palestinian state! I stopped reading the Times five years before moving to Israel.
It has become a parody of itself.
ANDERSON HARKOV Modi’in
Vatican and Israel
The Vatican is taking a significant step in furthering Arab efforts to create another Muslim country by naming in a diplomatic treaty the “State of Palestine” (“Israel disappointed Vatican reaches formal agreement with ‘State of Palestine,’” May 14).
No doubt the Holy See sympathizes with Palestinian Arab suffering. However, Church leaders, just as the government of any state, protect the Vatican’s interests, including the well-being of Catholics all over the globe.
The Vatican hierarchy, including the pope, is cognizant of the unending, relentless persecution, despoilment and murder of Catholics throughout the Middle East. This includes the deteriorating condition of the faithful in the Palestinian Authority.
The Vatican cannot but understand what will happen to Christians living in a Muslim state of Palestine, especially when, as is likely, Islamic fundamentalists become the rulers.
Why, then, pursue the creation of this country – and right on the border of the only place in the Middle East where Christians freely practice their religion with no fear of persecution? Strange.
The following explanation is presented as one among several possible answers.
For 1,500 years, popes were not known for their love, respect or consideration for the people who brought forth their savior. The elimination of the hostility and scorn for the Jews is relatively recent and possibly not complete. It is credible that the old hatred has transformed into an unconscious design to see an end to the Jewish state.
BERNARD SMITH Jerusalem
The main religious body of the Vatican in Israel is the Franciscans, who have been here since 1217. They call themselves the custodians of the Holy Land.
There are 74 shrines and churches in Israel that are run by the Franciscans. As a licensed tour guide, I visit many of these Vatican-owned sites, and I have to say that I have found each and every priest, nun and others who are directing and maintaining these sites to be most hospitable, gracious, kind and outgoing.
Indeed, some have become my friends.
Tour guides, pilgrims and others are deeply indebted to those who labor and work here on behalf of the Vatican. We have to say thank you for their continued work on behalf of tourism in this land.
HELA CROWN-TAMIR Neve Ilan The writer is a licensed tour guide.