Settlements are legal
In “Two nation-states, two national minorities” (Encountering Peace, November 23), Gershon Baskin wrongly states that the “building of settlements by Israel is in violation of international law.” By virtue of the following, nothing could be farther from the truth:
1. The San Remo resolution of April 1920 recognized the Jewish rights to Palestine enshrined in the Balfour Declaration.
2. The unanimous vote in July 1922 by all members of the League of Nations endorsed the San Remo resolution.
3. Article 80 of the United Nations Charter safeguards the resolution of the League of Nations.
The above firmly established in international law the rights of Jews to settle west of the River Jordan, and the rights of Arabs to settle east of the river, as confirmed by Sir Alec Kirkbride, a British diplomat with four decades of experience in the Middle East, in his 1956 book A Crackle of Thorns.
JACK SHEBSON Jerusalem
The writer is an attorney.
Suppressing their heritage
I salute Gary Cohen (“An open letter to Avi Gabbay,” Comment & Features, November 23) for calling the Labor Party leader to task for pandering to the soft-right and religious-light or, as he put it, for trying to outflank Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid, Israel’s master panderer.
I especially appreciate Mr. Cohen’s clarion call that Israel is a home for all Jews, “religious or secular, Orthodox, Conservative and Reform.” He is absolutely on target when he notes that the “secular Zionists who established and built the State of Israel not only created a new country, but also a new kind of Jew....”
Bravo! But I am troubled by his failure to note that those secular Zionists were not just secular – they were socialists, genuine comrades whose world view was deformed by all of the illusions we now know to have been endemic to socialism in all of its permutations.
It is heartbreaking that when one comrade (Mr. Cohen) calls another (Avi Gabbay) to task, he feels compelled to obscure their comradeship and suppress their socialist heritage.
AVI BERKOWITZ Efrat
With regard to Gary Cohen, you can be a Jew or even the Anglican Bishop of Durham without having to believe in God. But you cannot be Jewish.
There have been countless different types of Jews since biblical times both in the Land of Israel and outside, but except for those who adhered to the traditional modes, they were all terminal Jews – just a passing aberration.
JEREMY I. PFEFFER Rehovot
Another approach to weather
I read with consternation – but understanding – the letter criticizing the state of weather forecasting in Israel (“A ‘forecast’ is just that,” November 22).
Certainly, there is a problem: Forecasts are made as if they are a form of entertainment, and not for the supply of useful information. On the other hand, while forecasts are often inaccurate, they are not necessarily wrong.
Reader Gordon Bloch wrote that on November 21, he enjoyed the weather in Netanya. But those in Tel Aviv did not – there was more than 30mm. of rain. More recently, it rained substantially in the Haifa area and in Gush Etzion, but much less elsewhere, if at all.
On the larger scale, though, forecasts are correct.
Forecasting for Israel is challenging because Israel is a small country that also has small-scale weather. Unlike in the US, where it can snow from Maryland to Connecticut, here it can snow in Jerusalem or Gush Etzion (or vice versa). Rarely, though, do we have storms large enough to cover the entire country.
A solution does exist: It’s called “ensemble forecasting,” in which multiple forecasts are made accounting for small-scale errors, and instead of a “yes” or “no” for rain, the chances are given as probabilities (high, medium or low, for example). This way, forecasters can account for what we don’t know while at the same time saying something useful. The user can then decide if he or she wants to risk leaving the umbrella at home.
This has been my approach for quite some time.
BARRY LYNN Efrat
The writer has a PhD in meteorology and is CEO of Weather It Is, Ltd.
Williams sisters’ and Israel
How beautiful to see the wedding picture of tennis superstar Serena Williams, with all seven bridesmaids, including sister superstar Venus Williams, wearing gorgeous gowns by Israeli designer Galia Lahav (“Fashion Grand Slam,” November 20).
Fortunately, this is not the only connection between the Williams sisters and Israel. In February 2009, Venus protested strongly against the Dubai Championship Tournament over its denial of a visa to player Shahar Pe’er because she was Israeli. While Pe’er was not admitted to Dubai, Israeli player Andy Ram was belatedly granted a visa and he was allowed to play.
So mazal tov, Serena and Venus. We love you!
JAN SOKOLOVSKY Jerusalem
I am a faithful listener of Kol Hamusika and enjoy most of its programs.
I do understand that it takes money to finance our radio broadcasts and therefore we have to put up with commercials. What I do not understand is that all the commercials are absolutely silly and appeal to the lowest common denominator. They put me off and really cause me to reject the product or service they are advertising.
RUTH SCHUELER Jerusalem
Reaching the left-lane hogs
Several years ago, the Israel Police announced it had determined the primary cause of “zig-zag” driving (weaving in and out of traffic lanes): “Left lane cruisers” – drivers who plunk themselves in the left-most lanes and cruise along at whatever speed they fancy, usually well under the limit – obstruct the flow of traffic. This compels drivers who wish to go faster by moving to the right-most lanes and weaving around the blockage.
I do not condone this, but facts are facts. Traffic law states that the left-hand lane is intended for passing and that anyone driving there for more than 40 seconds when it is possible to safely return to the right-most lanes is in violation.
The police state that they are going to strictly enforce this law. Hearing this, I remarked that the cops were emulating Lewis Carroll’s Walrus and Carpenter, thinking that with their limited money and resources they would be able to convince the thousands of Israeli drivers who spend most of their time in the left lane and cannot be pried loose from there with even a nuclear bomb, to move over.
I submit that if the Israel Police and Transportation Ministry really want to minimize unnecessary left-lane driving, they should do the following: • Post signs along the left-lane shoulders saying “Left lane for passing only. Keep right. Violators subject to fine.”
• Broadcast service announcements to this effect on all radio and TV channels during normal viewing and listening hours.
• Photograph violators and send them warning notices instead of flagging one poor slob down for a 20-minute procedure while 5,000 other violators drive merrily along.
This left-lane driving problem is far more widespread than just about any other driving violation, and the only way to reduce it is through a massive education campaign, not by trying to sweep the beaches clear of sand.
TREVOR DAVIS Aseret