Rail is the way

Sir, – The pundits of doom who are against the proposed railway to Eilat (“Eilat train route approved, as green groups oppose,” Business & Finance, October 7) are so wrong. The cleanest, least polluting and safest form of transport is the train.

The road to Eilat is a disaster.

How many lives have been lost on that substandard highway? The bus journey is tedious and very long, and flying is expensive and does not link up with the interesting sites on the way.

Eilat may have a small population, but it is a prime tourist attraction. Many overseas visitors fly in direct, and because of easy transportation to the rest of the country they do not see other tourist attractions north of the Arava.

Building a superhighway would cause far more air and noise pollution. It would also destroy a lot of the natural beauty of the Arava because roads need a far more complicated infrastructure, such as ugly lighting structures and gas stations, which inevitably are enlarged to become shopping and leisure centers.

A railway is quiet and does not encroach on the surrounding countryside, and well-designed bridges are a beautiful architectural statement.

WENDY BLUMFIELD

Haifa
Not-so-smartphone

Sir, – Regarding “Smartphones misfire on hours change yet again” (October 7), it amazes me that people rely on electronic devices for time checks. What happened the that old-fashioned device called a wristwatch? To paraphrase Ecclesiastes, there is a time for everything under Heaven.

SALLY SHAW

Kfar Saba

Set in law


Sir, – I assume that reader Isidore Solomons (“Why a constitution?” Letters, October 7) originates from the UK (“ a country without a written constitution”).

If so, he should know that much of the UK Constitution has been codified – i.e., incorporated into written legislation.

Second, the historical nature of the British people has lent itself to a non-written constitution.

Pragmatism is virtually a national characteristic.

Notwithstanding this cohesive national personality, much of the UK’s constitutional law has been codified from common law, and much in fact has been legislated over the years by statute. There is, therefore, a large body of written constitutional law.

Moreover, take the vast differential in national characteristics between the historic cohesiveness of the British and the disparate backgrounds of the citizens of Israel. A codified, written constitution is called for here for the sake of clarity, certainty and public understanding

MICHAEL BRUNERT
Modi’in

Here’s information

Sir, – You published a letter from reader Nina Sheftman (“Information, please,” October 7) in which she asks about the European Jewish refugees saved by the US War Refugee Board, their origins and where they found refuge.

Rafael Medoff, the distinguished historian whose writings the Post occasionally publishes, wrote a book about Josiah E. DuBois, Jr. titled Blowing the Whistle on Genocide (2009, Purdue University Press).

Though slim, it is a scholarly work replete with references to historical sources.

In Chapter 5, Ms. Sheftman will find an account of the activities of the War Refugee Board, and in Chapter 6 a detailed analysis of those it saved. Actually, the whole book is well worth reading, not least because it was the actions of the “whistle blower” DuBois alone that led to the establishment of the board, on which he served as general counsel, and resulted in the saving of many more Jews than were rescued by far better-known characters such as Oskar Schindler, Raoul Wallenberg, Chuine Sugihara, Feng Shan Ho and so on.

LESLIE PORTNOY
Netanya

Not in the plans

Sir, – With regard to the letter by reader Emanuel Blumfield (“TAMA 38 and greed,” October 7), both TAMA 38 and the Pinui Binui project have not been thoroughly thought through.

Where are the displaced residents supposed to live, given the shortage of accommodation during the pinui (removal) stage and in the long years before the binui (construction) stage is completed? Although apartment owners are supposed to be compensated, no such arrangement exists for renting tenants.

Pinui Binui should not start until every resident, owner or tenant, has been found acceptable alternative accommodation.

I fear that the whole scheme will only lead to unscrupulous contractors getting richer at the expense of poorer people who rent.

There is a solution: Reasonably priced, basic accommodations could be built on some of the sites that are already zoned for building instead of erecting luxury tower blocks for wealthy overseas buyers. The buildings could be built to last for 20 or 25 years, during which time a master plan for more permanent affordable housing could be made.

In addition, wealthy philanthropists might be persuaded to invest in housing for young couples, families and the elderly instead of giving money to showy and unnecessary projects.

This was done in London during the late 19th century, when scores of new immigrants, my grandparents among them, lived in the Guinness or Peabody buildings.

YEHUDIT COLLINS

Jerusalem

What would Jesus say?


Sir, – As the headline “Foreign Ministry slams Council of Europe for anti-circumcision stance” (October 6) makes clear, Christians in Europe are so concerned with Jewish and Islamic circumcision that they believe it essential to ban this ancient religious practice.

As far as Jews are concerned, it is true to say that circumcision has not caused genuine harm down the centuries. Were this not the case I believe Jewish communities would have ways to eliminate the causes in order to carry out God’s commandment.

The second coming will necessitate European Christians to face up to the fact that Jesus himself was circumcised when he was eight days old. To say the least, he would be embarrassed and undoubtedly insist on the reintroduction of the Jewish ritual.

He would be even more upset upon learning that Christians had changed God’s decreed weekly day of rest from Saturday to Sunday. Because God was indeed serious, He ordained the penalty of death to those who worked on His nominated day of rest.

Jesus may well have no alternative but to turn his back on Europe’s Christians.

JOCK L. FALKSON

Ra’anana

Tell him to stop


Sir, – Regarding “Verbal abuse, loudspeaker taint WoW’s Kotel service” (October 6), Rabbi of the Western Wall Shmuel Rabinowitz issued a letter last week calling on ultra-Orthodox leaders to avoid organized protests at the site for Friday’s prayer service marking Rosh Hodesh. I am quite confused as to what the rabbi considers “organized protests.”

I was at the Western Wall on Friday, trying to pray. My prayers were loudly disrupted by someone on the men’s side using a microphone loudly. Is this not considered a protest? Is this not considered a disruption of the sanctity of this holy place? I also heard whistles. This, too, I would consider some kind of protest.

I go to the Western Wall to pray. I bring my own Siddur and want to pray with honor and respect. Please suggest to the rabbi of the Western Wall that if he has any influence on the man who was using the microphone, tell him to stop!

LORRAINE SKUPSKY
Jerusalem

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