No, keep them out...
Sir, - With respect to Leonard Zurakov's "Let them stay!" (Letters, November 2), I have read too many pearls of mindless Israeli liberalism based on the notion that because we Jews have suffered so much, we should be sensitive to other peoples' suffering. Now this same line of reasoning, which has been trotted out to allow the children of illegal immigrants to stay in our country, may open our gates to the masses of migrants waiting on our Sinai borders.
What our centuries of suffering in the Diaspora and in our own country should teach us is to stop letting others take advantage of us. This means we must stop making concessions to our enemies and literally erect a wall to prevent us from being swamped.
... or at least use common sense
Sir, - We need foreign workers today because we are unable, for security reasons, to use the huge Palestinian labor source. The Palestinians are excellent in building, agriculture and caring for the aged; should we be able at long last to reach a peaceful settlement, the demand for overseas imported foreign workers would experience a dramatic drop.
For now, while the economic and social justification for using foreign workers seems very logical, we, with our peculiar survival situation, need to make some basic changes to reduce our growing dependence on foreign workers.
In the past, successive large waves of Jewish immigrants provided cheap unskilled labor. New immigrants worked initially in unskilled jobs and within a few years "graduated" to more skilled work, with their places being filled by the next wave of immigrants. But the waves of immigration have stopped.
The reliance on cheap foreign workers removes the incentive to modernize methods and does not result in creating more skilled employment for our own Jewish population at liveable wages. This applies especially to agriculture and building. It is our duty to provide a reasonable living to our own population and the government should make the import of "temporary foreign workers" conditional on modernizing the relevant branches of the economy.
If our heads of industry cannot or do not want to modernize, they should be denied permits to import foreign workers.
The even more dangerous effect of the phenomenon is that it increases the number of jobs which are considered "beneath the dignity" of our Jewish population to do. The more foreign workers available, the less incentive there is for employers to train local staff, and so the cycle widens. Our leaders do not use their influence to create the necessary atmosphere which encourages the population to work and even "dirty their hands." We are not such a rich and privileged country as to afford the privilege of being so fussy about what job we take.
Finally, the cost to the country of foreign workers is much higher than it should be because of the excessive premium the foreign worker has to pay to the "labor contractor" in his country of origin and to the "local Israeli labor contractor" who contribute very little to his or her employment in Israel. This cost is passed on to the consumer; here, too, urgent government intervention is needed. Contractors earn fat commissions and that is why it pays for them to get rid of foreign workers and then import others. ("Foreign workers - financial boon or demographic threat?," November 2.)
Sir, - Thanks to The Jerusalem Post for being the only mainstream media covering a Sderot delegation's and Take-A-Pen's joint demonstration at the UN compound in Jerusalem on October 21 ("Sderot residents present a letter to UN..."). As described, a busload of Sderot citizens came to Jerusalem to call the Jerusalem-based UNSCO's attention again to Sderot's ongoing suffering, now into its ninth year, and to demonstrate against the UNHRC's Goldstone Report and the subsequent UNHRC resolution blaming all suffering on Israel, which after unprecedented self-restraint finally fought to stop Hamas.
A clarification is due regarding the documents handed over to the UN. Take-A-Pen submitted to the UN its global petition, endorsing its earlier Open Letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, headed "Hamas Leaders to Trial for War Crimes." This was not a letter and petition from Sderot. We were proud to be together during the submission, and young residents of Sderot held high the first pages of Take-A-Pen's letter and petition, which has been signed by 90,000 people from around the world.
and BATYA KATAR
Haifa and Sderot
So what else is new?
Sir, - An August 9, 1994 article in The New York Times informed us: "Biblical Puzzle Solved: Jerusalem Tunnel is a product of Nature" - and, furthermore, that "An ancient fissure offered King David access to the city."
American geologist Dr. Michael Bramnik of Northern Illinois University, the last in a long list of armchair speculators, now rehashes old theories and ideas, some going back to the late 19th century, which view a number of biblical narratives in 2 Samuel, 2 Kings and Chronicles as historical fact ("US geologist: Limestone bedrock persuaded King David to choose Jerusalem as his capital," October 25). It is then a short jump into fantasy which takes some geological features, like karstic dissolution of limestone, to show how these features provide a scientific basis for these narratives.
Bramnik extends his theory to show how the king's group of elite soldiers climbed up through Jerusalem's cave system (presumably the biblical tsinor, or Warren's Shaft), infiltrated beneath the city walls and attacked the Jebusite forces from the inside. Presumably he has not noticed that some 70 percent of Israel's surface is covered by limestone identical to that forming the bedrock of Jerusalem, much of it karstic (cave forming) and in areas more fertile, much better watered, often forested and blessed with a fine Mediterranean climate.
Apart from the Gihon spring and cisterns, ancient Jerusalem had no additional water sources, and is partly surrounded by bad, infertile soil and a hostile semi-arid-to-arid desert far removed from the principal commercial and other routes in the region. Definitely a bad place to establish a capital, and most certainly not because of limestone bedrock.
David's elite did not climb up the "tsinor" in the Canaanite water system in 1000 BCE to open the gates into the city; had they done so, they would have smashed their heads into layers of solid limestone and dolomite blocking their exit from the shaft into the upper Canaanite water system which led into the city.
As clearly shown by archeologists Reich and Shukrun (and Shimron and Frumkin, who showed that Hezekiah's aqueduct is indeed from the time of Hezekiah), access to the Jebusite city via the karstic (Warren's) shaft was made available only during the late 8th to the early 7th century BCE, following excavations carried out by King Hezekiah's engineers as they constructed what is now referred to as Hezekiah's aqueduct.
ARYEH E. SHIMRON
Nothing positive on Iran
Sir, - You report that "Netanyahu praises US-led initiative on Iran as 'positive first step'." I just can't make sense of that remark. Iran is playing America and the world for fools, as it has been doing for the last six years. It can smell weakness and knows just how to manipulate the president.
By all accounts, America is resigned to a nuclear Iran, but Israel should certainly not be.