(photo credit: Courtesy)
Drop of dry humor
Sir, - The cabinet's discussion on saving water can't be serious ("Water Authority experts plumb for solutions to bone-dry winter," January 26). I live in a new neighborhood where the sociological level is high, but the waste of water is terrible. And our municipality does not care.
After the November 1 regulation forbidding the watering of gardens, especially lawns, nothing stopped here in Kiryat Hasavyonim. It took numerous phone calls to 106, and many personal faxes to the mayor, until the last public watering stopped - after seven weeks!
However, the many gardens attached to high-rise buildings continue to water their lawns to this day, even when it's raining, "because it's automatically controlled." Residents' committees have not been informed of the ban, and there is no inspection (excepting mine), or fines.
The government would be wise to finance inspections and instigate fines instead of spending money on useless public advertising.
I have, since 1999, been trying to promote the installation of waterless urinals, especially in government and IDF buildings. These could save millions of cubic meters of water a year, but no one seems to care.
Two Israeli companies manufacture units for extracting pure drinking water from humidity. They are selling in China and Mexico, but there's no interest here.
So please, Minister Ben-Eliezer, don't tell us we are saving water!
Sir, - Richard Williamson, the recently refrocked Roman Catholic bishop, has hit the headlines because of his denial of the Holocaust. Wait until some of his other ideas are publicized.
This man's social and political thinking is somewhere to the right of Ramses II. He objects to women who wear trousers and has written and preached extensively about what is, in his eyes, the most dangerous and subversive work of the 20th century: The Sound of Music.
In this movie, the Julie Andrews character leaves the convent and finds happiness in love and marriage. For Williamson, to abandon a vocation of poverty, chastity and obedience for personal fulfillment is betrayal, and a film with a romantic, happy ending is subversive, intended to corrupt the morals of society.
The bishops of the church are responsible for its Magisterium, its duty to teach the faithful. By accepting a certifiable kook into this distinguished company, Pope Benedict XVI has devalued its authority and made the episcopate a laughingstock; while souring relations not only with the Jews, but also with the more enlightened members of his own church ("Iudicium perversum," Editorial, January 26).
Two sides of the Shoah...
Sir, - Irwin Cotler offers us a cogent analysis of the Holocaust and the exercise of remembrance ("The Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers - it began with words," January 27), all of it poignantly relevant these days when the president of Iran calls for the destruction of Israel.
I would only add one point: We should always remember that the Holocaust had two sides. Its evil face is well known, but there were also thousands of women and men who risked their lives to save the persecuted.
The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation works day and night to unveil, document and divulge their legacies of courage. It is a moral debt we all have to these heroes, but above all it is our obligation to the younger generations so they get to know of these feats.
International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation
...and a belated apology
Sir, - When the Holocaust started to become a bandwagon for remembering universal hate and prejudice, my mother, a Holocaust survivor, became very upset. "They (the non Jews) will eventually use the Holocaust against us," she said. "They will get ideas from what happened in Germany to improve their methods to delegitimize us.
"The Jews were hunted and murdered because they were Jews, not because they were a symbol," she added.
Now, seeing how the Europeans are using Nazi terminology against Israel, I must apologize to my mother, belatedly. At the time her words sounded paranoid, but, sadly, they have proved prophetic ("The new blood libel," Eli Kavon, January 27)
TOVA GERTA TEITELBAUM
Why Israel blocked press entry to Gaza
Sir, - We've heard so many stories and excuses from the State of Israel that we could write a book about it. But this is the simple fact: Israel did not want independent coverage of the war in Gaza. That is why they started to block journalists as well as diplomats from entering Gaza already in the beginning of November.
With all due respect to Daniel Seaman, he said on many occasions that we foreign journalists are the fig-leaves of Hamas and of Palestinians in general; and that we would endanger the lives of Israeli soldiers ("Foreign media coverage in Gaza has become 'a disgrace to the profession,' GPO chief says," January 26).
These are only two excuses we heard; all total nonsense. We are not the fig-leaves of Hamas, or of the State of Israel. We called the hill from where we were allowed to broadcast "The Hill of Shame," and that is what it was. Israel missed a historic PR opportunity, which did only harm to the country.
And about us putting the lives of the Israeli combat troops in Gaza in danger - come on, most of us have more war experience in this part of the world than any Israeli soldier in the field there in Gaza.
Instead of taking us seriously, our intelligence and profession were taken for a ride and, believe me, we were clever enough to have seen that and reported it. We did not fall into the propaganda trap since it was too obvious.
One good thing: The Israeli High Court fully agreed with us. Hopefully the Israeli authorities will at least listen to the very clear judgment and decision by their own High Court and we will not be forced to fight this totally undemocratic and basically stupid way of dealing with the international press, as happened in this war.
CONNY MUS, Correspondent
RTL News Holland
Be alone & unafraid
Sir, - Isi Liebler quotes "Balaam's biblical depiction of the Jews as 'the people that dwells alone.'" ("Diaspora Jews and the war," January 26) It's a pity he did not offer the entire quote: "(Israel) is a people that shall dwell alone, and which shall pay no heed to the nations."
The first part of Balaam's prophecy is that which is imposed upon the Jewish people by a hostile world. The second part is the surest formula for Jewish survival despite the isolation to which Israel is subjected - namely, to be indifferent to what the goyim think.
Sadly, Israeli policy on the battlefield, in the media and in the court of world opinion is increasingly driven by concern for what others think, rather than what is in Israel's best interests. This defeatist anxiety about the opinions of outsiders is not limited to the cafes of Tel Aviv. It is endemic among the politicians who claim to be Israel's leaders.
Sir, - Pfizer's purchase of Wyeth will result in the pharmaceutical giant firing 19,000 people while acquiring the Effexor anti-depressant ("Pfizer to buy Wyeth for $68 billion," January 27).
An innovative way of increasing one's potential customer base?