Sir, – Regarding “Top Israeli writers back Palestinian bookseller in deportation case” (April 6), I am puzzled: How many Jewish Israelis leave the country to study, and even obtain American citizenship, but keep their Israeli citizenship?
Can anybody explain to me why, and what will the rest of the world say now regarding Munther Fahmi? MARY SHERMAN
Sir, – I left my country of birth, a democracy (where my ancestors lived for almost 2,000 years), for Canada on my own volition. When I became a Canadian citizen and took a passport, my country of birth revoked my other passport. Today, I can only visit as a tourist.
It was my decision to accept the law. That is the law.
The bookseller refused Israeli citizenship, left for the US, became a US citizen, lived there for 19 years and then, voila, decided he wanted to return as he foresaw a future state for the Palestinian people. One can’t have his cake and eat it too!
The State of Israel has followed the law correctly. Amos Oz, David Grossman and the rest should stop portraying the bookseller as a victim; if anything, he needs to be charged for coming to Israel as a tourist under false pretenses. The law is the law.ISAAC JUDAH
Sir, – In “The bookseller of Jerusalem” (Comment & Features, April 6), Bernard Wasserstein is being more than slightly disingenuous when he states that in 1967 Munther Fahmi, “with the rest of the [city’s] Arab population, was issued an identity card recognizing him as a resident.”
Wasserstein, who has published extensively on the Israel-Palestinian conflict and on Jerusalem in particular, surely can be assumed to know that in 1967 identity cards were not issued automatically to the Arab residents of Jerusalem. Rather, the residents were offered a choice: full Israeli citizenship or merely residency in the united city.
Some chose citizenship, but others, apparently including Fahmi and his family, did not recognize Israeli sovereignty and chose just residency. Had they chosen citizenship, they would be entitled to live in Israel permanently, regardless of any time spent abroad. As mere residents they would receive benefits such as national insurance, but their status was conditioned on actual residency, and an absence for more than seven years terminates the status of resident – and this is exactly what Fahmi did.
If the professor feels Fahmi is entitled to an exception to the law, he can so advocate. But Wasserstein is not entitled to misrepresent facts – and especially so when he is identified as a professor of modern Jewish history at the University of Chicago, an outstanding educational institution (and my alma mater), something that inevitably leads readers to believe the accuracy of his contentions.JAN SOKOLOVSKY
Jerusalem More than just pay
Sir, – Your April 5 editorial “Prevent the doctors’ strike” outlines only a few of the serious problems facing doctors, as well as nurses, in the healthcare system.
Doctors and nurses are terribly overworked and terribly underpaid, and, I might add, largely underappreciated. Just the previous week, reporter Judy Siegel- Itzkovich reviewed literature outlining some of the excellent reasons Israeli doctors are losing their deep commitment toward their careers, as well as their caring and compassion for their patients (“Reigniting burnt-out doctors,” Health, March 27).
Much has been said about pay and benefits, but the problem is far larger and much more extensive. Your editorial and Siegel- Itzkovich both failed to even mention the huge patient workloads hospital doctors and nurses have to treat on a daily basis. No mention was made about the difficulty these professionals face in maintaining even a semblance of normal family and social life when forced to work double shifts, night shifts and overtime, as well as on Shabbat and holidays.
Thankfully, most Israeli patients and their families deeply appreciate the commitment and hard work that doctors and nurses do. However, there is a minority who treat doctors and nurses with discourtesy, outright abuse and all too often physical violence when they feel there is a lack of proper, adequate or timely care.
There is an obvious need for higher pay and better benefits, but there is also a need for the overhaul of the healthcare system. Unfortunately, we will probably have to settle for better pay and benefits for doctors with the hope that sooner rather than later the government will address the other problems.KENNETH S. BESIG
Kiryat Arba The writer is a registered nurse
Sir, – In your editorial on the doctors’ strike you state that the Israel Medical Association says a medical specialist earns NS 42 an hour. Many cleaning workers are paid this and more.
You also state that the Treasury says a senior physician, given the number of hours he or she works, earns some NIS 34,000 a month. If a cleaning worker put in similar hours, would not his or her monthly pay be similar?
In the same day’s paper, you also had a brief item headlined “Average public CEO salary: NIS 236,000” (Business & Finance), which is about eight times more than that of a senior physician. Can there be any justification in a system of free enterprise to treat a senior doctor any differently from a CEO? In my eyes there is none.PETER SIMPSON
Jerusalem There’s a difference
Sir, – MK Gideon Ezra, a former deputy Shin Bet chief, said “it is strange the settlers don’t complain to the police when crowddispersing equipment is used against Palestinians in Bil’in” (“Police defend use of plastic bullets against Gilad Farm protesters,” April 4).
Is it too much to expect that Ezra be able to tell the difference between people in Bil’in who come to cause as much damage and injury to our police and citizens, and our own people, whose crime is wanting to build in their own land? If that is not the purpose for which we were brought to the Land of Israel after nearly 3,000 years of waiting, then someone has to explain what the heck we are doing here.YENTEL JACOBS
Netanya No assault at York
Sir, – “Jewish student files anti- Semitism complaint against York University” (March 30) cites alarming statements about York University that are both erroneous and untrue.
In response to an allegation made publicly that a physical altercation occurred at York, a CCTV security tape was made available for all who requested to view it, including the complainant and his counsel. Members of the media who viewed the footage dismissed the validity of the complainant’s claim of assault.
“York University has supplied video footage that appears to cast doubt
on the accuracy of the reports,” the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported
on February 16. Also, the Jewish Tribune
, on February 10, said that
“[a]ccording to a press release from Hasbara Fellowships at York
University, the group ‘commends York University for their swift
investigation into [the] incident.’”
The safety and security of all members of our community is of critical
importance at York University, and because we received complaints from
several student groups, we brought in a local adjudicator to rule on the
incident in question and determine if student groups had breached our
code of conduct. The adjudicator found that York University had been
unfairly characterized by untrue allegations made by the complainant at
the time.WALLACE PIDGEON
The writer is associate director of media relations at York University