Sir, – Your article “Housing cabinet to consider dueling Lapid, Ariel plans” (March 24) correctly analyzes the faults of both plans aimed at lowering the astronomical price of housing in Israel. Lapid’s plan to eliminate the value added tax on a small subgroup of buyers will likely not effect the market as a whole, and the Ariel plan might encourage shoddy construction.
The solution is to adopt the Ariel plan along with the institution of construction inspections along the lines of the American model. In the US, each stage of construction must pass inspection before the next stage can begin.
A standard building inspection process would allow the adoption of the Ariel plan and ensure a minimum standard of construction in the entire country.
ROBERT J. GOLDSTEIN
Sir, – Edan Johna’s attempt to deflect blame for the failing peace talks onto Israel (“The referendum law’s problems,” Comment & Features, March 24) is a laughable exercise in sophistry.
While permitting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas the right to the democratic process of referendum, Johna asserts that Israeli rights to the same process constitute “defiant obstructionism.” The writer makes this assertion while wholly ignoring Abbas’s deadly Three Noes – no to a Jewish state of Israel, no to a Palestinian “right of return” to Palestine instead of Israel, and, most fatally, no to any commitment to an end-of-conflict agreement.
Johna’s blithe assurance that any Palestinian referendum would result in agreement to land swaps is baseless in light of hardline demonstrations against compromise taking place in the Palestinian streets. Note that in the PA dictatorship such demonstrations don’t happen without government approval and support.
The writer is erroneously described as a “former human rights worker.” I submit that based on this screed, he is nothing more than a Palestinian propagandist and should be discounted as such.
Man of straw
Sir, – You say that according to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinians won’t make any concessions “regardless of the pressure and threats” (“At emergency Fatah meeting, Abbas demands full sovereign state with east J’lem as capital,” March 23).
Why can’t we hear this kind of talk from our own government? Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s weakness has only provided an open door for continued pressure on us to give up our historic and legal land, a land to which no other has title – not previously, not now and not in the future.
I would say to Netanyahu: You have tried in every possible way to keep US President Barack Obama and the terrorists happy, and it does not work. They can see only too well how desperate you are to please.
No one respects a weak leader, and when that leader has served Obama’s purpose, he will be dropped like a hot brick. The tragedy is that the real victims will be the people of Israel, who made the grave mistake of not seeing Netanyahu for the man of straw that he is.
Even they know
Sir, – I noticed with horror “Arrests for trying to slaughter donkey” (News in Brief, March 23).
What are these guys learning in the yeshiva at our expense? The donkey is not a sacrificial or kosher animal. Even half-religious Jews know that.
It wasn’t even ignorant yeshiva students; it was a rabbi. How can he be that ignorant and call himself a rabbi?
Sir, – Two of your recent editorials (“The Vienna lesson, March 23; “Abbas’s triumph, March 24) make worrying reading.
The first shows Iran and Russia thumbing their noses at the EU and US over the former’s nuclear program and the latter’s actions in Ukraine. The second shows Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas thumbing his nose at US President Barack Obama over the so-called peace process, having not made the slightest retreat from his original demands.
Both editorials show how utterly ineffectual so-called Western leaders are when there’s a crisis, and how irrelevant and ridiculous they are when they make empty threats and demands. It seems that the only way they can regain any self-respect and prove how important they are is to put pressure on the only country that actually thinks it has to do what they tell it to do – Israel.
I did not hear one word of condemnation for Abbas from either the US or EU after he showed a total lack of compromise in his recent meeting with Obama. It’s about time we stopped sucking up to them and start preparing for what’s going to happen after Palestine becomes the next anti-Israel vote in the UN.
Sir, – It was disturbing to read “Secular hypocrisy” (Letters, March 21).
I don’t believe that people who call themselves “secular” are hypocritical.
I grew up going to a Conservative synagogue in the US – I can attest to the fact that most of these people are not educated enough in the Jewish religion and way of life to be hypocritical. The little bit of education I received in Hebrew school taught us that most of the traditions and holidays were observed by the Orthodox; since we were Conservative, we didn’t have to follow everything.
I have learned that 80 percent of the Jewish people here believe in God. I think that if more people were educated in a loving, accepting way, more people would be religious. Besides, secular or not they are still our brothers and sisters, and calling them names in a “holier than thou” manner will not help.
This reminds me of a story about Rabbi Aryeh Levin. He was walking down the street when a former student saw him and walked to the other side of the street. Rabbi Levin nevertheless caught up with him, said hello and asked why the young man was avoiding him.
The young man answered: “Rabbi, I don’t have a kippa on my head and I was embarrassed.”
Rabbi Levin answered: “You know, I am a short man. I only come up to your chest, so I can only see what’s in your heart, not what’s on your head.”
Insidious but liberal
Sir, – With regard to “Survey: 95% of Israelis see racism in country” (March 18), I have news for these Israelis: Every democracy, even the most liberal, is racist. In New York, police stop and frisk young black and Latino men on the streets. In England they call it stop and search, targeting young black and Asian males. And in Toronto it’s called “carding” when police disproportionately stop young blacks.
In all cases, the dignity of racial minorities is denigrated, but police respond that they have a job to do.
In the Canadian province of Quebec, a recent poll found that 57 percent of Quebecers dislike Muslims and 56% dislike hassidic Jews. Moreover, in passing ever stricter language laws that promote French, governments have been successful in driving out anglophones opposed to their goal of separating from Canada. The provincial government now has introduced a bill that would will prohibit public employees from wearing such religious symbols as the Muslim hijab, Sikh turban and Jewish kippa, a tactic aimed at driving religious minorities out.
Take note, Israel, how Quebec insidiously “transfers” its undesirables and is still recognized as one of the most liberal jurisdictions in the world.
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