August 17: Much larger issue

The Carmel fire is evidence of a bigger issue: The growing problem of climate change.

August 17, 2011 07:13

letters. (photo credit: JP)

Much larger issue

Sir, – Regarding “Comptroller slams ministers for Carmel fire ‘failures’” (August 15), sometimes people cannot see the forest for the trees. The fire is evidence of a bigger issue: the growing problem of climate change.

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Natural historians and scholars of scripture contend that centuries ago Israel was home to an abundance and diversity of trees. Today, though, the hills are mostly barren.

Regardless of what one believes is fueling climate change, the green house effect is real. The Israeli government needs to take action by balancing the country’s ecosystem.

The Kyoto Protocol’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change defines afforestation as the “planting of new forests on land which historically has not been covered by forest.”

The land areas east of Jerusalem in the West Bank are sparsely populated and are in need of afforestation, but in 1971 Israel stopped afforestation in the West Bank. The Israeli government would likely have to balance the displacement of some West Bank residents with the need to promote ecological sustainability within its borders and the global need for the cessation of green house gasses.

To resolve this same dilemma when designating its lands as national parks, the US legislated that residents of lands reclaimed for the purpose of national parks would have occupancy rights for “twenty-five years, or, in lieu thereof, for a term ending at the death of the owner or his spouse, whichever is later.”

The US government compensated residents for the exchange of their properties for the benefit of the environment.

Everyone benefits from a healthier environment because the sources of climate change transcend national borders. For example, climate change has induced flooding in low-lying Bangladesh, and the flooding has caused climate migrants to crowd the capital of Bangladesh. Climate change affects people of all faiths all over the world.

Israel can do its part. It should create, through afforestation, a vast Israeli national forest project in the West Bank east of Jerusalem. In just decades, the Israeli National Forest could be a beacon of hope against the troubles of destructive global climate change for the Middle East and for the world.

Memphis, Tennessee

A little too close

Sir, – Brenda Katten (“Are we connected?,” Comment & Features, August 15) laments the waning of the Diaspora’s sense of connection with Israel.

While I, too, would like to see more loyalty to Israel by American and world Jewry, I differ with her diagnosis of the problem.

In fact, I would say there is too much connection with the Diaspora.

While Katten worries, properly, about one million Israeli children living below the poverty line, I worry about one million Israelis living in the Diaspora above the poverty line. I worry about what I consider to be the mistaken efforts of Chabad in keeping Diaspora communities alive.

How can we expect Diaspora Jews to feel connected with Israel if Israelis themselves leave, spend resources to rebuild old European synagogues and, as a recent Jewish Agency study found, feel Jewish peoplehood is more important than a Jewish State of Israel? We need less connection with the Diaspora. A connection perpetuates the legend of the Wandering Jew. Preoccupation with the health of the Diaspora undercuts aliya, which is supposed to be the priority of the Jewish Agency.

If we persist in living all over the world in numbers equal to or exceeding our numbers in the Jewish state, how can we expect the Arabs, the UN or the world to take the concept of a Jewish state seriously? Katten refers to Yossi Beilin advising American Jews to spend their surplus funds on maintaining Jewish identity in America. I disagree. I think American Jews should send their excess wealth to Israel, together with themselves.


Walk, not talk

Sir, – With regard to the “social justice” and “welfare State” mentioned in “Vision from the past” (Editorial, August 15), the committee headed by Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg could take a long time coming up with a solution.

The demonstrators are obviously impatient, so as a practical person I think the best way to show something positive quickly is to get the housing committees of every municipality to prepare areas for low-cost housing, even if this takes a little time. The young people who need it will see that something is being done for their future.

As I traveled through Tel Aviv a few days ago after having not seen it for some time, I was amazed by the high-rises built for the banks near where I used to catch the bus home near the Central Bus Station. If the municipality allowed such construction, it can do it for housing.

After all is said and done, more is said than done!

Herzliya Pituah

Whose reality is it?

Sir, – In “A settler’s ‘reality’ in a universe far, far away” (Comment & Features, August 15), Aaron Mann laments the fact that billions have been invested in Judea and Samaria at the expense of those living within the Green Line. He also asserts that this construction is the main stumbling block to peace.

Using that logic, 300,000 inhabitants of Judea and Samaria have no right to reasonably- priced housing.

Petah Tikva

Sir, – When Aaron Mann talks about an “alternative realities,” perhaps he should look in the mirror. Building in all areas – including the settlements – will increase the supply of homes and thereby decrease prices.

When thousands of homes were destroyed in Gaza and Samaria, it decreased the supply and increased demand, thus raising prices in “Israel proper.”

No doubt that Mann supported that policy.

When he criticizes those who seek legislation against boycott, disinvestment, economic sanctions and the delegitimization of Israel, his alternative reality is that these laws are “intended to shut down protest against settlements” rather than penalize those who would bring economic harm to Israel.

Perhaps the mother of all Mann’s alternative realities is the advocacy of Peace Now for giving away more and more land to Israel’s enemies, and the expulsion of more and more Jews from their homes. This has not and will not bring us closer to peace, and has not and will not decrease the prices of homes anywhere in Israel.

So, who is living in the “real world?”


Sir, – I have a question for Aaron Mann: Why does he consider the historic homeland of the Jews, including Jerusalem, a “settlement enterprise,” whereas he assumes that the Arab world would grant him the right to live in what he refers to as “Israel proper?”


Hurtful and cruel

Sir, – Your comments in “Rethinking estate taxes” (Editorial, August 14) were right on target.

Like many others, my wife and I started out virtually penniless.

Both of us worked throughout the years. We cared for our family to the best of our ability and carefully put aside funds to care for ourselves in our “golden years” and – who knows – even leave something for our children.

We were taxed on all our earnings. Why now, once again, must we be taxed? Is it because we may have been lucky enough to end our years peacefully? The idea is not only hurtful, but cruel.


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