Refugees or not...

Sir, – For once I agree with Hanan Ashrawi (“PLO’s Ashrawi: Jews who came to Israel from Arab countries are not refugees,” September 2), There are no Jewish refugees.

That’s because they settled in Israel, which welcomed them with open arms, whereas the Muslim states closed their doors in the face of fellow Arabs, a fact she well knows.

Ashrawi is both mendacious and disingenuous to assert that the Jewish refugees all came voluntarily.

They were forced out of every Muslim country. I suppose she thinks that leaving with a gun to your head is voluntary.

It is also worth noting that there were as many, if not more, Jews who were displaced than there were Palestinians.

ALAN B. KATZ
Meliville, New York

Sir, – The Arabs did not live in the Land of Israel for “thousands of years,” as Hanan Ashrawi boasts.

From the Arabian peninsula they conquered and pillaged all the way to Spain in the 7th century.

They built over our Jewish heritage, like the Temple Mount and biblical Shechem, so that they could later claim them as their “ancestral” lands.

Collectively the Arab countries have an area about three times that of Europe, with half the population. Many of these lands are floating on oil. Instead of developing their abundant blessings they present themselves as poor and wronged by “outsiders” and “infidels.” And just look at what they do to each other.

ALFRED INSELBERG
Ra’anana

Sir, – Hanan Ashrawi is right: Jews who came to Israel from Arab countries are simply people who, at the time of or after Israel’s War of Independence, decided to board ships and go on a holiday cruise, and then to step off in Israel. It was all a conspiracy!

JOE FRANKL
Savyon

...help the new ones

Sir, – It is now estimated that there are more than 200,000 Syrian refugees living in temporary camps on the Turkish, Lebanese and Jordanian borders, and more are flooding in each day (“Jordan inundated with Syrian refugees,” August 20).

Since the international definition of refugee is one who leaves or is forced to leave his or her country, there are now only a handful of genuine Palestinian refugees. Their children and grandchildren are not refugees, and the funds given to them are a scam that perpetuates the Arab-Israel conflict.

I suggest that UNRWA take some of the millions donated each year to so-called Palestinian refugees and use the funds for genuine Arab refugees who are suffering under desperate conditions.

JACK COHEN
Netanya

Poles on the cheap

Sir, – With regard to “Ski-pole without snow to better your health” (Health, September 2), I’ve been using my Chinesemade walking poles extensively for the past three years and they cost less than NIS 100. There is no need to pay exorbitant prices for a well made, extendable pair of poles.

FRANK BERGER
Ma’aleh Adumim

Crossing a line


Sir, – Edward Goldstein, the lone sympathizer for Rachel Corrie (“Rachel Corrie, “ Letters, September 2) admits that she “put her life on the line.” If she did, she had to know the possibility that this “line” could indeed be crossed.

Goldstein’s naivete is as tragic as Corrie’s willful stupidity.

MARSHA GREENBERG MOTZEN
Englewood, New Jersey

Sir, – Rachel Corrie’s death wasn’t inflicted on purpose, but it seems to have come out of a callous, inhumane and negligent value system. The judge’s perspective – that Corrie made the choice to put herself in danger and could have easily distanced herself from it, like any reasonable person – shows terrible bias and an appalling argument.

Are peaceful civil rights demonstrators around the globe not behaving “reasonably?” In Mahatma Gandhi’s India, Nelson Mandela’s South Africa or Martin Luther King’s South? In Lech Walesa’s Poland or Erich Honecker’s East Berlin? In Lebanon, Libya or Syria? Should civil rights activists around the world stay in their homes? Is that what is “reasonable?”

JAMES ADLER
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Proper schooling

Sir, – With regard to”Finally, an effective, realistic education plan” (Comment & Features, September 2), there is no doubt about the world’s admiration and envy of our “start-up nation” and our economic success and stability, which is a direct result of our education system.

Part of the “Diaspora syndrome” is our love of self-deprecation and the tendency to judge ourselves through the eyes of others, in this case international educational tables. Dov Lipman’s support of Yair Lapid’s paradoxical suggestion of decentralization, mayhem and the removal of exams in order to succeed in another type of test is Chelmlike.

Unlike other countries, Israeli schools are full of children who have their eyes on the army, not post-high school education, and uniquely can later improve their scores after graduation. One can only ask: Why is Lapid barking so loudly up the wrong tree?

MAURICE MOSHE ERNST
Jerusalem

Sir, – With the media full of back-to-school pieces, it is appropriate to once again mention the burden of textbook costs on parents, who must shell out thousands of shekels in purchases.

As a product of New York City schools I can testify to the benefits of the lending system. We received textbooks on loan for each subject. At the end of the term we returned our texts. Parents paid only for lost or ruined books. The following year the same books were given to new students.

In Israel, education is tailored for the publishing companies to reap unwarranted profits, and heaven help those parents with three, four or five children.

How fortunate we are to have “free” education.

BERNARD SMITH
Jerusalem

From 2 to 4 legs


Sir, – Regarding “Egged: We will not use any people on bus advertisements in Jerusalem” (August 29), how about photographs of animals instead? Dogs, cats, horses, donkeys and residents of the biblical Zoo? Also, how about asking people not to abandon their pets when going on vacation abroad? The importance of neutering pets and teaching children not to throw stones at street cats? Of course, all pictures of our furry female friends would show them modestly dressed.

MIRIAM WOLFF
Kfar Daniel

Some shekel-gazing

Sir, – We all owe a debt of gratitude to Greer Fay Cashman and veteran astrologer Miriam Binyamini for heralding the joyous news that a war between Israel and Iran will not take place in the foreseeable future (“War with Iran? Not in the stars,” Grapevine, August 29).

Our defense forces and home front can now relax and breathe a deep sigh of relief. The many strident opinions voiced by politicians, security personnel, theologians and philosophers surrounding the Iranian issue can now be forgotten.

However, despite our gratefulness to astrologer Binyamini for the above glad tidings, I feel she was morally remiss for not also activating her star-gazing skills for a matter of lesser importance, but still rather hurtful, when she failed to alert us to the rise of the dollar against the shekel.

Good news however, by any means, is always welcome!

ZEV CHAMUDOT
Petah Tikva

CORRECTION The Ma’aleh Hazeitim complex (“Right-wing activists seal room in east J’lem home,” September 3) is supported by Ateret Cohanim, and not as stated.

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