Wrong help is no help
Sir, – Regarding “In search of a new home” (Cover, July 8), it is outrageous that Ethiopian aliya is being delayed yet again.
These people are waiting in desperate and inhumane conditions.
Is it racism or is it the extinguishing of the light unto the nations that Israel was supposed to be? Even in the period of extreme austerity in the early years, Israel succeeded in absorbing huge numbers of immigrants in proportion to its established population. The waves of immigration, the Holocaust survivors, the refugees from Arab countries certainly endured difficult conditions and nobody wants to see the ma’abarot of the 1950s. Nevertheless, an immigration system was established so that Jews from anywhere in the world were welcomed, housed, educated and sustained.
The difference now, in the 21st century, is that with a small minority of the wealthy living in multimillion-dollar apartments in city centers, and other prime properties standing empty in ghost neighborhoods because their foreign owners occupy them for just two weeks a year, there is no affordable housing for immigrants or young couples.
It is scandalous that this affluent “elite,” which includes some of our
so-called leaders, are bleeding us dry so that middle-income
professionals are left with non-sustainable pensions and the numbers of
the working poor grow larger by the year. But to admit that the country
cannot offer housing to immigrants in distressed circumstances is truly a
sign that the light unto the nations is being dimmed to extinction.
Sir, – I believe the government strategy to place Falash Mura olim in a
small number of substandard neighborhoods is incorrect. Even worse is
saddling them with mortgages.
My grandparents and great grandparents immigrated to America more than a
century ago. No one “sold” them a tenement apartment on the Lower East
Side of New York.
They didn’t know what a mortgage was or understand that they would have
to stay in a ghetto until they sold the apartment – if ever. Instead,
they rented an apartment they could afford, worked hard to acclimate
themselves to their new lives, and moved out and up as soon as they were
I’m a volunteer with the Forgotten People Fund in Netanya (www.fpf.org.il
We work closely with the Ethiopian community in the area, following up
on requests from social workers and initiating proactive programs. Our
“Rapid Response Team” spends a lot of time and money helping Ethiopians
get out from under obligations (like mortgages) that they would never
have taken upon themselves if they knew what they were getting into.
The government must find a better solution, quickly, to help new
immigrants from from Third World countries to acclimate to life here in
hi-tech Israel.STEVE KRAMER
Sir, – Reader Monty Zion asks whether Israelis really welcome new
immigrants (Letters, July 8). The olim themselves sometimes wonder.
Brought up with the idea that Israelis are like the sabra plant –
prickly on the outside but pleasant inside – olim arrive prepared to
forgive a great deal. But they still find it hard to meet people whose
job is to deal with the public although they generally lack any training
in courtesy or customer relations. Nobody explains the local system to
you. You have to learn the hard way or find a relative or friend who
found out by often unpleasant experience.
Absorption counselors who give you counsel and support? Forget it.
Professionals (including rabbis) who are “simpatico”? Forget it.
Officials or tradespeople who know your Hebrew lacks technical
terminology? Forget it. Drivers with manners? Children with manners?
You bring skills and experience with you from the Diaspora? Here we
prefer you to be a nobody. Menschlichkeit? Here we write books about it
but can’t give you a smile or help you along.
Dr. Zion says Israel likes aliya but not olim. Maybe he has a point.RAYMOND APPLE
The writer is rabbi emeritus of the Great Synagogue in Sydney.No problem at all
Sir, – The towering 300-foot redwoods of California are immune to pests,
disease and even forest fires, and are believed to enjoy perpetual life
(“Fallen giant: Visiting Dyerville in Humboldt Redwoods,” Travel, July
Yet remarkably, dendochronology (tree-ring dating) shows that none are
older than 4,000 years. They were mere seedlings when Noah died,
saplings when the Tower of Babel was being built, and sturdy young
giants when Solomon inaugurated the First Temple.
Uniformitarian evolutionary paleontologists call this “a vexing
problem.” But not creationist/ catastrophists, who hold by a worldwide
Noahic deluge some 4,000 years ago.
There is a huge body of solid scientific evidence showing that the
Jewish year 5771 on the cover of The Jerusalem Post may well be
literally correct – “The world will exist for 6,000 years” (Talmud
Sanhedrin 97)! AMNON GOLDBERG
Sir, – Alon Ben-Meir (“Root cause behind the Israeli-Palestinian
impasse,” Above the Fray, July 8) probably knows that as an ivory tower
academic with a Hebrew name and sitting in New York, his credibility
rating in Israel starts off at a disadvantage. Yet inexplicably, he
consistently does everything in his power to ensure that this innate
problem is aggravated and exaggerated to the greatest degree possible.
In his latest piece, Ben-Meir uses the odious tactic of moral
equivalency. Both sides have their truth, their narrative, their
regrettable history. What we need is for both sides to acknowledge the
other and everything will be okay. Yet he doesn’t consider the
possibility that one side may have a narrative and history, but no
What then? Can real peace be made between truth and a lie? Was Munich a
real peace? Was Versailles a real peace? Even the much-vaunted Northern
Ireland example wobbles and staggers – and there everyone is Christian.
Where is Ben-Meir’s evidence for his statement that “each side knows the
basic framework of a negotiated settlement”? The Arabs (but not
mainstream Israel) have repeatedly rejected this framework.
The so-called Saudi plan is a far cry from this basic framework.
It would be better for him to admit that the Arab narrative is a lie,
and the “Palestinian people” is an Arab League invention, with the PLO
being founded only in 1964! It would be better to acknowledge that
mainstream Israel yearns for peace but that there is no parallel Arab
peace movement and never has been.
Lastly, for Ben-Meir to call for more involvement of religion in the
dispute seems to be evidence of complete separation from reality. Who
are and where are these “respected independent scholars” in whom he
places so much hope? Names, please. Religion has always been a force for
continuous and ever greater extremism and fanaticism on both sides.ANTHONY LUDER
Sir, – Alon Ben-Meir rightly pinpoints religion’s importance.
He also points out that the trauma of the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis is unmatched in size and scope.
It is matched, however, in thoroughness.
The destruction of Judaism in Arabia during the rise of Muhammad and
before his colonization of the Middle East and North Africa was so
complete that it didn’t leave a traumatized remnant to mourn and make it
part of our tragic heritage. In contrast to the Nazi project, where
within decades of its end, thriving Jewish communities have been
re-established in Germany, Austria and the rest of Europe, Arabia has
managed to keep itself free of Jews.
There is another important difference: Whereas Arab apologists are
writing the Holocaust out of history, the genocide at the root of Islam
and its contempt for Jews is recorded in the Islamic narrative.SYDNEY L. KASTEN