Sir, – Every few years the State of Israel gets involved in an act of breathtaking stupidity.
We saw the 1993 Oslo agreements. We saw the 2005 disengagement from Gaza and its hideous aftermath this past summer. And here we go again, as reported in “Foreign Ministry steps up to send mobile clinics to Africa to fight Ebola” (October 6).
My goodness. What are they thinking? A researcher is quoted in the article: “This is great news. Finally, Israel is joining the righteous and helping out with Ebola.” Possibly, this researcher doesn’t remember when the State of Israel tried to be on the side of the righteous.
We sent teams to Haiti after the earthquake. Then they were accused of organ harvesting. Imagine! Now what if, God forbid, one of the doctors or staff comes down with Ebola? He or she would of course be sent home for treatment. Does anyone know what is happening in Dallas, Texas, because one person arrived (on a plane) with this disease? They wanted to quarantine all the passengers who were with him on the plane, as well as all his kids and their school friends.
Our hospitals are in dire straits right now. They don’t even have money to pay for life-saving medicines, let alone saving the lives of Syrians who occasionally drag themselves across the lines for treatment.
If, God forbid, we manage to import this plague into our country, does anyone believe the world would help us out? You must be joking. The world would probably blame us for starting the plague in the first place.
Medical research is indeed a wonderful idea. I’m just not ready to endanger our little country and all its citizens for its sake.
THELMA JACOBSON Petah Tikva
Sir, – I was again disappointed this year when on the front page of your October 5 issue you had a picture of children riding their bicycles on the empty streets of Jerusalem on Yom Kippur. That is not what Yom Kippur is about! How about next year showing a picture of the throngs of people going to their synagogues dressed in their white clothing? That would be a more appropriate picture of Yom Kippur.
HANNAH SONDHELM Jerusalem
Holiness and order
Sir, – I was astonished at your temerity in “Jerusalem out of control” (Editorial, October 5) when you mentioned “the sense from citizens that the police do not protect people venturing to the Kotel, the holiest site in Judaism...”
Have we lost all sense of pride in our heritage that we discard the Temple Mount as being the holiest site? Why? Furthermore, nowhere in the editorial could mention be found of the constant attacks on Jews who venture to visit the Temple Mount, assailed there by mobs of Arabs who are not restrained by the forces of law and order. Freedom of religion in Jerusalem is being restricted by the basic denial of human rights to Jews to openly visit and worship on the Temple Mount in our sovereign state.
Jerusalem is out of control because we have lost both our dignity and our pride by failing to unequivocally acknowledge and stand up in both word and deed to the sanctity of the Temple Mount to Judaism, letting our enemies take full advantage. Our leaders should be ashamed that having restored our rights to the land after 2,000 years, they have failed to secure in the eyes of the world our holiest site.
JUDITH BARNET Jerusalem
Sir, – I must voice my distress after a visit to the Temple Mount with a group from Safed before Rosh Hashana.
At the entrance, our group (Jewish, let me emphasize) was arbitrarily divided in two by the (Israeli) police. One group was allowed through but those of us who were stopped at the barrier had to stand and wait in the hot sun for more than one hour! On the other hand, group after group of tourists (non-Jewish, let me emphasize) sailed through with a very minimal search of their possessions, one after the other.
Our group stood there, watching with dismay and sensing something very wrong. We kept asking: Are we in Israel, our Jewish country? When we were eventually given the okay, we were searched thoroughly in case, God forbid, we had on us anything indicating we were about to pray.
When we were finally up on the Temple Mount we encountered group after group of black-garbed Arab women scattered along the route that Jews are allowed to walk. They were yelling Allahu akbar (God is great) at us constantly, making it difficult to hear the explanations and descriptions given by one of our group who happened to be au fait with the topic after the Jewish guide we had hired was refused entry.
These women, who are apparently paid liberally for their “services,” made sure their faces were completely covered to avoid identification.
The 15 of us Jews were escorted by two policemen and a number of vigilant officials from the Wakf Islamic religious trust, none of whom even once attempted to move the verbally belligerent women away.
We all felt like aliens in our own country, on our holiest site. All we could do at the end of the visit was be eternally thankful that on that fateful day in June 1967, Moshe Dayan did not give the Arabs the keys to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, too.
LINDA STERN Safed
Sir, – Your editorial addresses the critical and timely issue of the simmering intifada currently taking place in Jerusalem.
But while you call for the police to come up with a “long-term action plan to curtail this violence,” this is simply putting a Band-aid on a gaping wound. The problem is one of enforcement of law! Why do the police decide when and in which neighborhoods they will enforce the law? The law (and peace and quiet) must be kept at all times. Either we are sovereign or we are not. If there needs to be an increase in manpower, it must be allocated.
Who oversees the Jerusalem police and allows them to be derelict in their duty? This is not about “curtailing” violence – violence must be stopped in its tracks.
Your call for fostering coexistence and interaction is sweet but naive. Just like in Gaza, those who take aim at us must learn that it will not pay and the law will be enforced swiftly and totally. If we cannot figure this out, I suggest consulting with former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was successful in making his city safe for its citizens.
WENDY DEROVAN Ma’aleh Adumim
Slapping the king
Sir, – Unfortunately, in contradiction to what Alexander Zvielli writes in the last paragraph of “Slapping the king on the cheek in ancient Babylon” (Comment & Features, September 29), this tradition had nothing to do with repentance or atonement.
At the Babylonian new year’s ritual, the king absolutely and categorically denied any and all wrongdoing during the past year, including unfulfilled promises. The purpose of the slap was only to emphasize the servitude of the king before the gods and to assure he would remember to whom he owed his throne and not arrogantly behave like a typical, capricious god during the coming year.
JEREMIAH UNTERMAN Jerusalem
The writer is a retired professor of Bible studies