Poor Ehud Barak
Sir, – I know that entreaties from America can turn a man’s
head, but it is absolutely ridiculous for Israel, at the urging of Defense
Minister Ehud Barak, to apologize for the raid on the Mavi Marmara (“Barak
raises prospect of apology to Turkey,” July 31).
We have seen pictures of
what really happened on that ship. The people who were killed wanted to attack
the Israelis who boarded. The ship was filled with
weaponry. Everyone saw the cargo.
Is the United States so willing
to abandon Israel that it will make Israel abandon its righteous cause? How can
Barak face his own IDF with the script the US has written and say that Israel
Poor Ehud Barak. His very persona is threatened and Israel
must find another way of dealing with Turkish hubris and American
Sir, – Two articles in your July 31
newspaper really bring home our lack of faith in ourselves.
raises prospect of apology to Turkey,” we see our defense minister is again
mulling apologizing for the Mavi Marmara
affair despite leaked reports that we
had legal justification for our action. Barak is worried that members of the IDF
might be sued on trips abroad. This is giving in to international blackmail and
gives up our right of deterrence.
The second report is “Police won’t let
Jews hold march around Old City due to Ramadan.” The march is to mark Rosh
Chodesh, but because it is also the start of Ramadan, the authorities don’t want
to risk trouble.
The mantra “united Jerusalem” is meaningless if we don’t
have the courage of our convictions. Bad enough that Moshe Dayan ceded
the Temple Mount to the Muslims – why do we compound this huge mistake by giving
in to their threats of violence? JUDY PRAGER
Petah Tikva All those passports
Sir, – Liat Collins (“The Kiwis and the Sabras,” My Word, July 31) has hit the
nail on the head!
From personal experience, I can tell you that New Zealanders
are indeed a friendly and helpful people. Yet the conspiracy theories of some of
them concerning the number of passports found with the Israeli backpackers
following the Christchurch earthquake is to my mind nothing short of
As Collins correctly points out, many of us have dual
citizenship and carry more than one passport.
My husband and I each have
an Israeli and a British passport; we use the latter when travelling abroad,
which includes our visits to Australia and New Zealand. And we most certainly
are not spies! It is therefore not at all surprising that five or more passports
were found with four young Israelis.JACKIE ALTMAN
Netanya Obviously no
Sir, – Larry Derfner assumes that in the wake of the horrific attacks in
Norway, perpetrated by a radical right-winger, Israeli rightwingers will shut up
and leave the country’s leftists alone (“The Breivik effect in Israel and
abroad,” Rattling the Cage, July 31).
The Palestinians have been
curiously reticent about taming the anti-Israel rhetoric following any of their
countless terror attacks on Israel – and Derfner has never said boo! MENACHEM G.
Ramat Beit Shemesh
Sir, – For reasons that escape me, Larry Derfner
seems to believe that if you are on the other side of the political divide you
are evil, and all of the people who believe as he does are knights in shining
Would that the world were that simple.BARRY EISENBERG
Jerusalem Affordable housing...
Sir, – A giant step toward solving the
housing problem would start with addressing the issue of absentee foreign
ownership, which both diminishes supply and raises costs.
authorities must enact zoning regulations that thwart the wholesale development
of properties built a priori for absentee owners. At the very least, new
projects should be designated for mixed use, with a significant percentage of
all units to be set aside as affordable housing.
purchased by a foreign national should be taxed at 50 percent of its purchase
price, with the revenues earmarked for affordable housing; this tax could be
rebated in decreasing amounts over the course of five years should the buyer
And finally, every home owned by a non-Israeli who spends
fewer than 180 days a year in Israel should be subject to an annual tax of 10%
of its assessed value. In Jerusalem alone the annual revenues would
amount to over $265 million, enough to build some 500 units of affordable
housing each year just in that city.
This program would have zero
opposition among Israeli taxpayers. Moreover, should it trigger a
wholesale sell-off by absentee owners, it would cause a steep drop in the price
of housing – a drop that would have a domino effect all the way down the
Sir, – There already is a solution to demands
for affordable housing, as well as free health care, childcare and education.
Many can find it by joining a kibbutz.
Maybe it’s time for the kibbutzim
to get involved and start proposing solutions. The apparatus is already in
place; many demonstrators have shown that they want to implement socialist
ideals, and the solution is right under their nose.JUDY LEV
Sir, – I would be interested to know how opening the dairy market
to imported products would help bring prices down for Israeli consumers (“Gov’t
seeks to lower dairy product prices by opening market to imports,” July
I purchased a 250-gram tub of Danish butter at my local supermarket
for NIS 16.99. If I lived in London I could purchase the same tub for the
equivalent of approximately NIS 9. Even taking the extra shipping costs into
account, how is it possible to justify the almost 100-percent extra cost? SHEILA
Modi’in Real agenda?
Sir, – The tent city protesters want us to believe
that they are truly concerned about affordable housing and food. But their
actions suggest otherwise (“Right-wing NGO: Protesters refuse to sing
‘Hatikva,’” July 31).KURT SIMON
Jerusalem It’s how we vote
Sir, – When
will people realize that nothing will change in our country unless the electoral
system is changed and produces a truly representative government that can
actually do something? The protesters would be spending their time far more
advantageously if they were to join the pressure for meaningful electoral
Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrating for this – now that
would really be something to welcome! LARRY REEFE
Sir, – Housing prices
and taxes are too high, but under Israel’s electoral system we practically elect
the same people over and over again.
Social justice begins with direct
elections and direct responsibility to us by our elected leaders.BARRY
Attorney Hassan Jabareen of the Adalah Legal Center for
Arab Minority Rights is not assisting Khaled Abu Arafa, as we stated on July 31
in “High Court could decide ‘within weeks’ if four Hamas leaders can remain in
Jerusalem,” but is in fact an amicus curiae, providing the court solely with a
neutral expert opinion.