Letters to the Editor, April 18

Seeing red Sir, - Magen David Adom's call for tourists to donate blood adds an ironic twist to the word "sucker" ("MDA asks tourists for their blood," April 17). MDA appeals to foreigners worldwide to purchase ambulances; hardly any ambulances are donated by Israelis. Now we learn that Israelis "are too busy enjoying themselves during the Pessah vacation to donate blood." Israelis should not abandon their responsibilities by dumping on good-natured foreigners during "party-time." BENJAMIN LERNER Jerusalem 'Expert' advice Sir, - Re "Ex-counterterror chief warns Bush" (On-line Edition, April 16): It is time we were preserved from (most) US and European "experts." To say that any military action by the US against Iran will end in disaster and therefore any such action is to be discouraged is to do nothing, admit defeat and hope all will be well; which it won't be - anything but. Of course there will be repercussions, but anything is better than doing nothing. Letting something so utterly evil as the Iranian regime and its like have its way will lead to far worse results. I. KEMP Nahariya Helping oneself Sir, - Our friends in Iran have been talking about us again. Apparently we're a weak, crumbling nation ("Ahmadinejad: Israel a 'rotten, dried tree' to be annihilated by storm," April 16). Unfortunately, I'm inclined to agree. On Pessah we remember how God came to our help time and again, when we needed him most. Are we going to help ourselves and pray for his help? We need to remember what it is that makes us the Children of Israel, and act accordingly. And we need unity. Then maybe we needn't worry about threats from outside. AVIGDOR BEN-AVRAHAM Givatayim Credit where it's due... Sir, - Albright fellow Stephen Rosenberg makes the "proposal... that this miraculous account of the Exodus is describing a series of events that took place over more than 300 years, when Semitic foreigners, including the Jews, left Egypt in wave after wave" ("The Exodus enigma," April 12). This same proposal was made by a very distinguished Israeli scholar, Avraham Malamat of Hebrew University, in a 1998 article in Biblical Archaeology Review entitled "Let My People Go and Go and Go and Go - Egyptian Records Support a Centuries-Long Exodus." HERSHEL SHANKS Editor Biblical Archaeology Review Washington ...or isn't Sir, - Two points occur to me after having read Stephen Rosenberg's article on the Exodus. Firstly, one should not take historians too seriously. David Irving has declared that the Holocaust never took place, and has as much right to fabricate history as the Egyptian historians did at the time of Pharaoh. They did not mention the Hebrews directly by name, but they wouldn't, would they, in view of their prejudices and bigotry. Mr. Rosenberg further suggests that while the people lacked basic amenities such as bread and water when they fled Egypt, they possessed the cloth to make the richest priestly garments for the temple in the wilderness. Yet the Bible says clearly that the Egyptians were so scared of the Israelites that they pressed on them clothes, silver and gold and other materials in great substance. I do wish that Bible critics would consider their position carefully before going to press. AUBREY ROSS London Lost in translation Sir, - I read Leah Pettepiece's "Lost Pessah dream" (Letters, April 17) with puzzlement, having lived in Israel for some 30 years without noticing any exposed pipes in my kitchen or bathroom to "blowtorch" for my Pessah cleaning. Her use of the word "pure" suggested she did not know that cleaning for Pessah is about getting rid of hametz; and her enjoyment of a secular Seder without the tiresome business of actually reading the Haggada also confirmed her distance from the traditional celebration of our exodus from Egypt. Then, reading the last paragraph, it dawned on me that her letter was really a knee-jerk liberal condemnation of Israel for its perceived treatment of the Palestinians, ignoring the fact that we are only reacting with a very velvet glove to the hatred and terrorism we are being subjected to by our Arab neighbors, without the iron fist most other countries would employ in a similar situation. CYRIL ATKINS Beit Shemesh Sir, - Leah Pettepiece convincingly lamented our flaws. Granted they exist, but many here are trying to rectify them. Can the same be said in her supposed utopia of Long Beach, California? What of her friendly new neighbors, busily burning Mexican flags, and worse, to bar new immigrants? Is her neat home safe from Santa Ana fires, floods and mudslides? And what about the infamous multi-lane road-rage shootings, extraordinary drug use, violence and the highly touted artificiality and shallowness which sometimes makes California seem a laughingstock? So, Leah, enjoy. ESTER ZEITLIN Jerusalem Self-reliance in energy Sir, - Oil shale environmentalists worldwide have a habit of scaremongering while lacking knowledge of the facts ("Solar energy, not shale pollution," March 28). Oil shale is not a bituminous material, as Rebecca Manski claims, but is composed of kerogen which, upon retorting (heating), produces products similar to crude petroleum. Retorting is a substantially different technology from that which produces power from the combustion (burning) of oil shale. The plant proposed for Mishor Rotem is not a power plant, but one that will produce approximately 3 million tonnes of syncrude oil from oil shale. The technology involved was investigated by PAMA Energy Resources Development Limited, of which I was engineering manager in the early 1980s. Technical-economic studies showed that refined oil shale syncrude could be produced for $40 a barrel - substantially less than the current world-marked price of crude petroleum, which is approaching $70 a barrel, on an unrefined basis. The enhancement of the processes considered by PAMA that is now being proposed will utilize some of the heavy bitumen produced by the Ashdod oil refinery from crude oil that otherwise would be used for heating purposes at the refinery but may shortly be replaced by imported natural gas from Egypt and Gaza. The plan to extract shale oil from the Negev is far from misguided. With estimated deposits in Israel approaching 15 billion tonnes, not only would we be self-reliant in energy, meeting ever-increasing demands, but the cost would be well below that of the international oil markets; we would also not be held hostage to insecure supplies. Such plants would also be non-polluting as they would apply the latest anti-pollution technology to provide a clean environment. COLIN L. LECI Jerusalem