(photo credit: Courtesy)
Why the fear?
Sir, - What are Arab MKs Ahmed Tibi, Taleb a-Sanaa and the Wakf Islamic trust afraid of? The Temple Mount is located in the State of Israel and a public official made a (rare) visit. End of story. No guns were drawn and no threats were made. Yet "Public security minister's visit to Temple Mount enrages Muslims" (June 24).
What are they afraid will be discovered? Most people who have nothing to hide welcome strangers or friends with open arms.
Sir, - That the US State Department classifies Israeli building in east Jerusalem as "settlement" construction beyond
the Green Line, and therefore illegal, is nothing new ("US says settlement freeze includes east Jerusalem," June 23). This issue was one of the central topics in dispute between the first president Bush and prime minister Yitzhak Shamir in 1990.
Shamir stated, categorically: "There are no settlements in Jerusalem. It is part of Israel and will never be divided again."
But the State Department should be reminded that the US Congress also rejected the State Department view. Both Houses adopted a concurrent resolution in April 1990 declaring that the Congress
1. acknowledges that Jerusalem is and should remain the capital of the State of Israel; and
2. strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic group are protected.
Moreover, the Jerusalem Embassy Act, adopted by Congress in 1995, includes a Statement of the Policy of the United States to similar effect.
The writer is author of 'Jerusalem in America's Foreign Policy.'
Sir, - The Eda Haredit is adamant in not accepting any kind of Shabbat parking agreement, crying "We'll set the country on fire" ("J'lem mayor seeks compromise to avert secular-haredi crisis," June 24). These haredim are the real Shabbat desecraters by igniting the fire of strife and hatred and causing actual serious Shabbat violations resulting from additional police being called to duty and wild protesters throwing lethal objects at them.
As a religious Jew, I don't subscribe to the madness of this "haredi Halacha."
Sir, - To protect Shabbat, the haredim only need people to go to the car park, sit down there and perhaps recite Psalms. That would stop any use of the site. Once they use violence - and throwing stones is violence - they cease to protect Shabbat.
Sir, - As a Jerusalem resident, I totally disagreed with Gil Troy's "Jerusalemites should not be afraid of ghosts" (June 22). We need a living and buoyant city where entrepreneurial young people enjoy reasonably priced accommodation and employment to widen the tax base for all.
We do not need a phantom city with a dead center of luxury apartments catered for temporary snowbirds who inadvertently manipulate and inflate property prices to the disadvantage of young would-be buyers, who are forced out of the city.
We did not need past municipal leaders' corrupt and incompetent policy of developing luxury apartments for wealthy Diaspora investors. We did not need the proliferation of luxury apartment developments fuelled by those affluent Diaspora investors, who leave them empty for most of the year while our growth industry is the burgeoning soup-kitchen business.
We do not need a city with 45 percent of its residents living under the poverty line.
What we need in Jerusalem is honest leadership, management and proper planning to encourage permanent residents into a living city rather than a poverty-stricken ghost town.
Sir, - Gil Troy overlooked one crucial element: While appreciating that non-resident absentee owners of luxurious apartments in Jerusalem (the "ghosts," as he calls them) are well-meaning Jews who, by spending a few days per year in the city wish to have some connection to our eternal capital, he ignores the fact that pricing real estate developments in the core areas of Jerusalem at the income level of prosperous North American and European investors who are purchasing a second home makes the city unaffordable to the young Israeli families who until now have been the well-spring of Jerusalem's growth.
From the early years of the State of Israel, young people who studied at the educational institutions in Jerusalem remained on and settled in its neighborhoods. Their income was derived from Israeli salaries, but they filled the stores, supermarkets, restaurants and theaters of the city, bringing a vibrancy to our capital. Today these young families are leaving in their droves, unable to afford housing in this hugely upscale market. Successive crops of our leaders have failed to address this crucial issue, perhaps out of fear of antagonizing our Diaspora brethren.
Perhaps our present leadership can find some arrangement whereby some sections of Jerusalem real estate are set aside for foreign investors, but substantial areas of the central neighborhoods of Jerusalem are protected for purchase by permanent Israeli residents only.
This is the only feasible accommodation that will prevent Gil Troy's well-meaning "ghosts" from turning our beloved Jerusalem into a magnificently constructed "ghost town."
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