October 24: Another go?

You report that Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite has said the European Union does not recognize settlements as part of Israel (“Israel to announce new construction in West Bank in the near future,” October 22).

October 23, 2013 21:17

Letters 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )

Another go?

Sir, – You report that Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite has said the European Union does not recognize settlements as part of Israel (“Israel to announce new construction in West Bank in the near future,” October 22).

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Perhaps someone should remind Ms. Grybauskaite that two of the three most important members of the EU already had a go (through the 1916 Sykes Picot Agreement) at defining which Middle Eastern territories should be in which Middle Eastern countries. The third had failed to get itself into a position to do so.

She should also ask the present- day people of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Kurdistan, etc. how well that worked out.


Wiser spending

Sir, – Regarding “Knesset panel: Increase focus on Diaspora Jewry,” October 22), MK Nissim Zeev is correct when he advocates greater funding for day school education abroad.

In the same issue, you write that New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is to receive the firstever $1 million Genesis Prize.

The $100m. charity fund that awards this prize was established by Russian Jewish billionaires.

Would it not have been better to award this money to Jewish education? If Jewish life is to be maintained in the Diaspora, students and schools there need it desperately.

Bloomberg, however much deserving of the honor, does not!


Eilat rail solution

Sir, – The planned railway to Eilat is essential for the future of Israel’s economy. I believe the objections of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel can be and should be overcome.

Have SPNI members ever traveled around Switzerland? The beauty and grandeur is no less than that of the Negev. The bridges and tunnels complement the views, and the rail lines are designed with both visual impact and impact on wildlife in mind.

If opera can be said to be Italy’s greatest contribution to world culture, symphonic music Germany’s and gourmet cooking France’s, then railways as an artform, and not cheese, might be that of the Swiss! Israel has some fine architects.

Their input in the design stage can produce equally beautiful results.

A second possibility would be to await the day when our Arab cousins depart from the path that anti-Semitic Europeans designed for them during the colonial era, and return to be Abraham’s children.

We could then avoid the expense of an entirely new rail line, with a very short link to the Jordanian line to Akaba (converting the narrow-gauge to dualgauge, many examples of which exist in Europe, particularly in Switzerland) and construct another short link between Akaba and Eilat.


Not just one scandal

Sir, – Isi Leibler (“No end to Claims Conference distortions and shamelessness,” Candidly Speaking, October 22) says that “every day we hear heartbreaking stories depicting the appalling suffering of Holocaust survivors in the twilight of their lives....” I, too, have been deeply disturbed by this terrible situation.

I worked for many years as head of social services for the Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR) in the UK. We secured annual funding from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany (Claims Conference) for needy survivors.

The three major organizations caring for survivors in the UK (AJR, Jewish Care and Agudas Israel) meet monthly to discuss requests by survivors for assistance and allocate funds to them fairly and carefully. No known survivor is left hungry or in need of care. All essential household needs are supplied.

Also, the British government does not tax the people’s foreign Holocaust pensions.

I am now retired and living in Netanya. I recently was told of about 160 survivors in a town in central Israel who are being fed and supported by a fellow survivor who has to seek funding from private individuals. Why should this be? I know that of the large proportion (70 percent) of the annual sum distributed by the Claims Conference comes to Israel. Who here distributes these funds? Is there a working system of individual assessment for every survivor’s request for help? The issue of Claims Conference probity is very important and rightly highlighted by Leibler. The problem of hungry survivors here is a national scandal that deserves immediate attention.


A glass half-full

Sir, – With regard to “Green laces for Gaucher Awareness Month” (Comment & Features, October 22), I have read Elaine Benton’s books and follow her daily blog. I also make a point of following her blog appearing every Friday in the health section of the Huffington Post.

Benton has the ability to remain positive while dealing with two serious chronic illnesses – which is pretty heroic.

What shines through in every blog entry is her attitude.

Like the rest of us she must have had two choices: give up and slip into depression, or write books and blog, allowing us to peek into her daily life and, as a result, helping people in the same position all over the world.

In each blog entry she manages to show us the half-full glass.


Sir, – It is imperative that more be made known about Gaucher and other such hereditary diseases so that the general public and those more likely to be affected become aware of the signs and consequences. Kudos to Elaine Benton for bringing this to worldwide attention.

Tel Aviv

Sir, – I know that Gaucher is a disease found mainly in the Jewish Ashkenazi population. Yet it receives little attention in the Israeli press.

Many thanks to Elaine Benton for her well written article, and congratulations to the Post for publishing it. Hopefully, you will give us the opportunity to learn more about Gaucher, its effect on patients’ lives and developments in treatment.


Sir, – It was refreshing to read Elaine Benton’s article on Gaucher, which is prevalent mainly within the Jewish community.

The disease can be expressed to many different degrees, from severe, where it affects every aspect of life, to where those afflicted do not even realize they have it.

How do I know this? My husband had it and he suffered.

Then, through the blessings of modern science, the missing enzyme was able to be manufactured and administered biweekly via intravenous infusion (but at a very high cost). He was lucky.

Some patients develop an allergic reaction and the body fights the very medicine that is hoped will stop the progression of this horrible disease.

Thank you for helping us in the Jewish population to keep abreast of issues that can affect the quality of our lives. Awareness is half the battle.

KATHERINE SHELTER Baltimore, Maryland

Sir, – I had not heard of this condition before reading “Green laces for Gaucher Awareness Month.” I found the article most interesting, thought-provoking and informative. It will make people more aware of some of the lesser-publicized debilitating ailments.

Elaine Benton obviously has a great deal to handle. She should be applauded for caring enough to share her experiences with others who perhaps find their glass half-empty.

Well done, Elaine and The Jerusalem Post.


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