Jeremy Sharon writes in “College students design a modern set of tefillin – for women” (March 9): “Because they were designing tefillin for women, they chose to depart from the traditional black color used for the religious item, and also elected to design a less square and angular object, in favor of something with less severe lines and corners. And instead of inserting parchment with the traditional excerpts from the Torah... the students minted metal discs with the names of prominent women from the Bible....”
By making these changes, any one of which would render the ritual item invalid, the students are designing some form of jewelery and not “female tefillin” in any meaningful sense of the term. I can only presume this article is not to be taken seriously, having been meant to appear on Purim but somehow delayed.
MARTIN D. STERN
Salford, UK Simply all wrong
In “Reflections on Netanyahu’s Washington speeches” (Think About It, March 9), Susan Hattis Rolef blames the prime minister for having the chutzpah to address Congress without President Barack Obama’s permission.
She engages in gross dishonesty when she makes no mention of Iran’s intention to destroy Israel, nor of Obama’s bias against Jews (the murder of four Jews in Paris was “random”) and his refusal to recognize Islamic terror for what it is. The fact that Obama was mentored by radical leftists such as Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Edward Said is completely ignored.
For Ms. Rolef, it all boils down to one simple fact: Anything and everything Netanyahu does is wrong.
Seth J. Frantzman is clearly asking the wrong question in his correctly titled “Israel’s politicians must get real about housing” (Terra Incognita, March 9).
In any market, price movements are driven largely by supply and demand. If demand is higher than supply, prices go up. If supply is higher than demand, prices go down. This is Economics 101. So if people can’t afford housing but prices are still going up, there must be other forces at play, which Frantzman doesn’t clarify.
Fortunately, you supply the answer on the next page, in the article “Home purchases by foreign residents surge” (Business & Finance).
Demand in Israel is being distorted by foreign investment in the housing sector. This distortion is aggravated by the fact that, by comparison with the source of the demand, which is largely the United States and Europe, Israeli housing is still very cheap.
Investors from Europe, for example, can easily take the option of selling for high prices there (or taking second mortgages at the currently very low interest rates) and then buying here. We are not necessarily talking about the very rich; today, a middle-class immigrant from France or the UK can probably sell his house, buy a large apartment here and bank a few million shekels.
I think Frantzman needs ask another question: What can the politicians do to level the playing field between Israelis and foreigners? It seems to me that in the rush to encourage immigration and investment, we have lost sight of the plot by offering too many incentives to the point where our own society is crumbling. HENRY KAYE
One of the main reasons for the high cost of housing here is the simple fact that people want to buy homes in successful countries. Israel is clearly successful if one considers the high price of homes.
By having a successful country in virtually all the main categories of importance, we not only have high local demand, but also demand from abroad. No doubt, if Israel should start to fail, the only dubious advantage we would accrue are lower prices for homes. In the meantime, a very large number of people have become millionaires simply by owning homes.
Of course, there are other causes for high prices, such as the length of time to get permits to build and the limited amount of land being freed for use by the state. But as long as we have a successful country, the prices cannot be expected to drop very much.DUNN RABINOWITZ
Time for top court
Reader Yitzchak Ben-Shmuel (“Perverted justice,” Letters, March 9) and attorneys Elliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelson (“Three decades of US lies about Jonathan Pollard unmasked,” Observations, February 27) are quite right in saying that all efforts should be made to free Pollard.
Unfortunately, clemency right now can only be obtained from President Barack Obama. In view of the current rift between Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the chances for this are low, perhaps non-existent. Thus, the only avenue for Pollard to gain freedom is by having his pro-bono attorneys file with the Supreme Court a writ of coram nobis based on newly discovered evidence, as they set out in their piece.
Lauer and Semmelson are brilliant lawyers. I am sure they would be successful.
Zichron Ya’acov The writer practiced law in the United States.
A few questions While the UN, various politicians and academia react in horror, outrage and revulsion, and denounce as “war crimes” Islamic State’s deliberate destruction of “un-Islamic” museums, statues and ancient sites to erase the past, I have a few questions.
Where is the outrage at the deliberate, continuous and wanton destruction of Israel’s antiquities by the Palestinian occupiers of east Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria? Where are the declarations of war crimes at the genocidal slaughter, mutilation, torture and enslavement of Christians, Yazidis and the “wrong” sort of Muslims in Syria, Nigeria, Mali, Iraq, Libya and Pakistan? Why are there no campus resolutions for charges of war crimes against Hamas for teaching children to hate via TV, in “training” camps and in UN-run schools that are knowingly used as storage facilities for rockets and other weapons? It seems that in the distorted looking-glass world of the UN, the EU and the academic Left, the destruction of ancient statues and idols with no souls comes well before the protection of modern statutes that are supposed to prevent the destruction of far more valuable living souls.
Until the UN and others nail their colors to the mast of freedom, justice and truth, and reject the loathsome despots that currently have them in thrall, they will remain for all to see as a suppurating cesspit of corruption and hypocrisy.JEREMY ZEID
There seems to be a mind-shift in parts of the more enlightened (if it can be called that) Arab world. Jordan got whiplash and has introduced changes in its text books to educate children that a good life is a possible alternative to getting killed. Saudi Arabia is talking about a friendly, peace-loving country called Israel.
If Israel had an electoral system that gave the people direct representation, we could lobby our members of Knesset to make every effort to engage in penetrating, unrelenting talks to reach a comfort zone for the entire region.
It would be an opportunity to pursue peace as if we had no enemy, and pursue the enemy as if there were no chance for peace.
We are facing new elections – which are the only time our leaders pay attention to us. Let’s be creative. Let’s think what we can do for our little, brilliant and successful country. Let’s lobby our leaders now! BARBARA SCHIPPER