June 12: Not the last

Reader contends precision of description of Simcha Rotem (Kazik), who met with PM, as last survivor of Warsaw Ghetto, because living relative is also survivor.

June 11, 2013 22:54

Letters 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )

Not the last

Sir, – I read in The Jerusalem Post that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Simcha Rotem (Kazik), who was described as “the last survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising” (“On eve of Poland visit, Netanyahu meets ‘last survivor’ of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising,” June 10).

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This seems a bit surprising, as I have just been speaking to my cousin in Australia, Sam Gutkin, who himself fought in the uprising and is a survivor. Furthermore, Sam tells me that there quite a few survivors from the uprising who are still alive.


Serving the nation

Sir, – It is not often that I can agree with Tzipi Hotovely, but her statement that Balad MK Zahalka is telling Arabs to be freeloaders is right on (“Hotovely: MK Zahalka is telling Arabs to be freeloaders,” June 10).

If we insist that the ultra-religious do their part by taking part in army service or civilian service that serves the nation, then certainly we should expect Arab citizens to do their part as well. Arab Israelis insist upon being treated as Israeli citizens – thus, they must take it upon themselves to do what the rest of us do. Anyone who expects to be treated as an Israeli citizen must be ready to take on the responsibilities that other Israelis take as part of being Israeli. Nothing less will do.


Candy and carrots

Sir, – I read with amusement about the attempt to teach Israelis common courtesy when boarding/ alighting from the Jerusalem Light Rail (“Stop pushing and have some candy,” June 10).

Scoff if you will, but as I tell my students, if we can train chimpanzees to operate spacecraft, we can train you! The use of the carrot and stick, however, is essential.

Public service ads should be run in all media to train the public, and fines for transgressors should be instituted. It went a long way to stop Americans and Canadians from throwing their trash wherever they wanted back in the ’60s. I humbly would like to expand the list for behavioral modification to include the following: how to properly pee in public, why yelling is not conversing, recycling, picking up your garbage and getting service without resorting to yelling.

I know the cynical among you will chortle derisively at such outlandish suggestions with regard to our fellow citizens. But remember, this is the place that miracles have happened, happen, and will continue to happen.


Vast victory

Sir, – I read with interest the article by Michael Bar-Zohar (“The war nobody wanted,” Comment and Features, June 10).

I must congratulate Bar-Zohar in relating his story – which was exactly how we experienced it, exciting and terrifying though it was.

The three weeks prior to the war was tense, and I remember going in to Tel Aviv one morning to encourage one of our neighbors who worked there. Whilst standing at the bus stop, I chatted to those waiting and told them how it was in England with the Battle of Britain in World War II. They answered “But you had Winston Churchill, and we only have Levi Eshkol!” However, when Eshkol chose Moshe Dayan, everyone’s spirits soared high as we all had faith in his capability as a soldier.

From the top of our street in Zahala, we could look across the orange groves to the horizon which was the border with Jordan, so we thought that the Jordanian soldiers would just cross the fields and walk down Jonathan Street on their way to Tel Aviv. All the neighbors were sitting in a ditch or wadi at the bottom of each garden. I had a basket of water, biscuits and first aid if needed. Thank goodness we didn’t.

Looking back, we can say “Those were the Days” like the song. Of course, having gone through that experience, there was no decision to leave Israel after that – the vast victory was quite unbelievable.

Herzliya Pituah

Train transport

Sir, – The plan to incorporate moshavim and kibbutzim into local municipalities for the purpose of constructing multi-family housing makes no sense whatsoever (“A hostile takeover, Editorial, June 9).

It will destroy the character and social harmony of these enclaves and will do immense damage to the land which has been so lovingly cultivated over the past seven decades. From Gedera in the South, to Hadera in the North, Israel will become a single strip of solid, brown concrete, with natural vegetation and parks becoming more like a “museum.”

Why are young people so reluctant to settle in the periphery, which, in my own opinion, is a thousand times more desirable than living in the Center, with its gigantic traffic jams, polluted air, and all the other problems that come with suburban life? The answer is reliable and affordable mass transportation.

From Katzrin to Afula to Midgal Ha’emek, most people who are either car- or bus-dependent to get to work get caught up in enormous traffic jams. But, if fast, modern and efficient rail service were extended to the Southern Golan running through the Emek Regional Council area and linking Tiberias to Afula southward to the coastal area, a new world would open up to people seeking all the advantages of living in the periphery.

It is a matter of setting priorities straight. We would all benefit from the reduction in air pollution emitted by passenger vehicles, and the job of policing those roads would be made much easier.

Israel has some transportation homework to do.

Ashdot Ya’acov

Sir, – Once again, our government proves how out-of-touch and even arrogant it is toward the general public. As you rightly state, despite much rhetoric and lip service to developing Israel’s “periphery,” the facts on the grounds tell an entirely different story.

This latest plan for annexing moshavim to neighboring cities will first and foremost further enrich contractors and others with friends in high places, and create even more urban congestion, traffic jams and higher prices for apartments.

If, as the editorial says, Afula is considered a “more outlying” area going North, what about the Galilee and Golan? Apparently, we are not even on the radar for real improvement.

A truly public and environmentally conscious government would do what was done in both Europe and North America as they grew and developed: Build an efficient and affordable railroad service that made interstate commuting a reality, as well as developing even the most outlying and sparsely populated areas.

Hatzor Haglilit

Protecting forests

Sir, – I read with interest the excellent article written by KKLJNF chairman Efi Stenzler (“Preserving Israel’s environment: A dunam here and a dunam there,” Comment and Features, June 9).

In 1995, the KKL-JNF worked exceptionally hard in order to define Israel’s forests, marking on the national master plan all forests that needed to be preserved.

These forests are the green lungs of the country providing air and quality of life to its citizens. These laws were made to protect the public and in this case especially the forests.

Why, then, does the country’s national planning committee feel free to change the law and redefine the zoning in order to build on this legally protected forest land? Why did the KKL-JNF go to such lengths to provide the state with these stringent environmental guidelines if they are broken so easily? Jerusalem is very quickly losing a large percentage of its forests. It’s about time the public made its voice heard that changing laws in this way is totally unacceptable. Our capital also needs forests, and the people who reside there need the green lungs that these forests provide.

The writer is chairwoman of the NGO Ramot for the Environment.

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