Better spent



Sir, – With regard to “Israel to spend billions on Jewish Diaspora initiative” (January 13), I believe that an important aspect of “bolstering the identity of Diaspora Jews” is to help them understand who we, as Israeli Jews, really are, as opposed to the negative impressions they get from the international media.

They should be proud of belonging to our people.

What is really important to show foreign visitors is not the Knesset but the normal, everyday life of the mix of people who live and work here side by side.

Show them Arab and Jewish Israelis, cashiers and shoppers in the same malls and supermarkets, traveling together on the same buses. Arab and Jewish patients share hospital wards in neighboring beds, all eating the same food and being cared for by Arab and Jewish doctors and nurses.

I read many articles about Arabs from our neighboring countries whose lives were saved by the medical care they received here in Israel. Why not ask them to tell their stories, even if they must hide their identities to do so? Spend some of those billions on bringing Jewish people here to see for themselves.

DEENA SPIGELMAN



Jerusalem



Sir, – Plans to bolster the Jewish identity of Diaspora Jews is beyond ignorance and arrogance.

May I suggest we spend the money bolstering Jewish identity among Israeli youth, several hundred thousand of whom have voted with their feet to live any place but Israel? Perhaps we can start with encouraging “aliya” among the many thousands of Jewish Israelis who feel more at home in Berlin than in Tel Aviv.

BEVERLY A. LEWIN



Ramat Hasharon



Still quite relevant



Sir, – I have always admired George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty- Four. From the prophetic predictions to the exposure of the abuse of language to pervert reality and distort history in totalitarian societies, it is a masterpiece of literature.

Having grown up and lived all my life in liberal Western democracies, I thought the book had only theoretical value. I could not have been more mistaken! Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch says he plans to investigate the heinous crime of displaying “happiness about [Ariel] Sharon’s death,” as you report in “Bayit Yehudi’s Struck admits her anti-Sharon comments came too early” (January 13). I guess his “thought police” will not be tolerating what Aharonovitch calls “despicable conduct.”

This is of one piece with US Secretary of State John Kerry and his requirement that we free terrorist mass-murderers as a “goodwill gesture” toward the Palestinians. There goes another of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s famous red lines down the “memory hole.”

Obviously, Nineteen Eighty-Four is more relevant than ever.

MORRIS KARLIN



Jerusalem



Horrible term



Sir, – In “Death of a Warsaw Ghetto heroine” (January 13) about the great Chavka Folman Raban, who was my close friend, I noticed a totally biased and horrible term in the sub-headline: “Nazi Poland.”

Poland was occupied by the Nazis but was never Nazi itself.

In fact, Polish and Jewish resistance groups joined forces to fight the Nazis.

We continue to fight the biased statement that appears in the media from time to time, that there were “Polish death camps.” But it has been a rare moment when we read something even worse and more offensive as appeared in your article. It is especially offensive at a time when Poland is one of Israel’s best friends in the European Union and various international forums.

In addition, you are probably aware that no other country has had as many of its citizens honored as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.

JACEK OLEJNIK



Tel Aviv



The writer is first secretary at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland.



The Editor responds: The term was the result of an editing error. We apologize to the Polish Embassy and the people of the Republic of Poland.

The migrants



Sir, – Concerning “Save Darfur and Israel: A personal plea from an American Jew in Israel” (Comment & Features, January 9), self-appointed do-gooders and self-righteous individuals who think of themselves as “repairers of the world” use their own interpretation of the scriptures to suit their own agendas.

When the Bible says that one should treat the stranger well because you were strangers in Egypt, it cannot mean all strangers.

It must mean only strangers who do not act against the wishes of the majority of the population or rebel against its laws.

The majority of the African infiltrators – and that is what they are – have entered Israel illegally from Sudan and Eritrea, passing over at least two borders.

An examination of their names shows that the vast majority are Muslims.

The NGOs see that Israel is adamant in its opposition to a return of Palestinian refugees and so are encouraging its Islamization by a different route.

CYRIL ATKINS



Beit Shemesh



Sir, – You say in “NGOs and migrants” (Editorial, January 7): “The truth is that the vast majority of African migrants are motivated to make the trip to Israel because they see an opportunity to earn what is for them large sums of money.”

Indeed, there are not a lot of economic opportunities for “ambitious young men [and women – not surprising you left them out] living in Eritrea, Sudan or many other places in Africa.”

You are also right that a vast majority of African refugees in Israel are not in fact from Sudan but from Eritrea.

However, what you slyly leave out is that Eritrea is a country whose president, Isaias Afewerki, has been condemned as one of the world’s worst dictators. Its government has been described by Amnesty International as one that “has systematically used arbitrary arrest and detention without charge to crush all opposition, to silence all dissent, and to punish anyone who refuses to comply with the repressive restrictions it places on people’s lives.” The UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea has described detailed cases of “extra-judicial killing, enforced disappearance and incommunicado detention, arbitrary arrest, torture, inhumane prison conditions, indefinite national service, and lack of freedom of expression and opinion, assembly, association, religious belief and movement.”

What you leave out is the reality of life in Eritrea, a reality that pushes people to leave and seek refuge elsewhere.

Although “unauthorized” migration of African asylum seekers has been curbed since the construction of the mega fence along the Egypt-Israel border, you continue to push this “Jewish dilution” fright. Why? Because you fear 50,000 African refugees is a demographic threat to the more than six million Jews and you want to ingrain this baseless fear in your readership. You should be ashamed of yourself.

As you vengefully point to the left-wing NGOs as culprits in attempting to brainwash Israeli society, allow me to place a mirror between you and them, because you are the one “disseminating misinformation about the migrants.” You are the one undermining the State of Israel.

SHIRA LEFFEL



Tel Aviv



CORRECTIONS • In “Swedish tabloid compares Sharon to Hitler and Stalin” (January 14), it should have been clarified that someone was quoted as making the comparison in a news item and not in an opinion piece.

• The Tu Bishvat holiday takes place Wednesday night and Thursday, January 15 and 16, and not as stated in “Tu Bishvat goodies can pose choking risk to small children” (January 13).

• In “Number of physicians, nurses and dentists in decline” (January 8), the rate of MDs up to the age of 65 fell to 3.26 per 1,000 in 2012 compared to 3.71 per 1,000 in 2000, and not as stated.

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