May 8, 2015: Kishle Memories

‘The Kishle had a very bad name way before the British got here; We tend to forget that there were Jews living in Jerusalem for hundreds of years, persecuted by whoever was leading.'

Envelope (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Kishle memories
David Stromberg wrote a fascinating article about the pre-state years, focusing on the Kishle (“Fighting for Israel,” Cover, April 24). He says of the structure: “During the British Mandate, it was used as a jail.”
I have in my possession an audiotape made by my father. Dad was born in Jerusalem about 100 years ago; he got stories about the Kishle from his grandmother. During World War I, the Ottoman Turks were trying to recruit very young men for their army, including Dad’s father. My grandfather was caught a few times and taken to the Kishle, which had an evil name even then.
The Ottomans were famous for being open to bribery, so my great-grandfather was sent to the Kishle to ransom his son – more than once. But eventually he was told that bribery wouldn’t work anymore, so my grandfather fled to Rehovot, which was already in the hands of the British.
The Kishle had a very bad name way before the British got here. We tend to forget that there were Jews living in Jerusalem for hundreds of years, persecuted by whoever was running the show at the time. Thank heavens Jerusalem is finally our capital!
Petah Tikva
Reading “Fighting for Israel” and about the Kishle, I was reminded of Yom Kippur 1947. A volunteer American sailor, I had just been released from the Atlit detention camp after having been detained in Cyprus. Someone blew a shofar. Under British rule, the shofar could not be blown (which reminds me of Jews not being allowed to pray on the Temple Mount these days). The British soldiers surrounding us jumped in. My fellow American volunteer sailor, Harold Katz, stood in front of me, but the British wanted me. I was hauled off and incarcerated in the Kishle.
Tel Aviv
One family Lawrence Rifkin wrote a column that was so touching, it must have affected every reader (“From generation to generation,” Grumpy Old Man, April 24). I was moved not only to shed tears, but to understand fathers and sons in our country, and how they feel and relate to each other and to all generations, before and after. We are linked together because we are really one family. Each family has diversity, but also has the unity of ancestors, memories and feelings that bind each member to the others.
This column should go all over the world. It would help make the inexplicable Jew and Israel much more explicable to the people of the world who cannot understand anyone who is not a duplicate of themselves. Being a Jew and an Israeli makes one different. I am proud to cherish this difference and know that we are a people chosen by God and history to enlighten the path of mankind.
Hammer’s views
I was surprised to read in “Israel: Cares and concerns” (Reflections, April 24) that Rabbi Reuven Hammer puts the blame on Israel for not doing enough for peace with the Palestinians when the truth is that Israel is willing to negotiate, but without the preconditions the Palestinian leaders demand. It is therefore not Israel but the Palestinians who are responsible for the lack of progress in solving the Arab-Israeli conflict. But there is another crucial point. Those like Rabbi Hammer who believe that the solution to the conflict lies in the creation of a Palestinian state fail to note the Hamas factor.
Even if an Arab leader were to sign a peace agreement and a Palestinian state were to be created, the extremist Hamas terror organization, as all polls show, would take over the Palestinian state, just as it did in the Gaza Strip. Who can doubt that, soon after, Hamas would prepare its rockets and tunnels, meaning that every Israeli town and city, as well as Ben-Gurion Airport, would be within range. I hope and pray that we are never placed in that kind of situation, which would jeopardize our very existence.
Reuven Hammer presents readers with an interesting review of his thoughts on the past and present condition of the State of Israel. While one can agree or disagree, there is one issue in particular that he did not represent accurately. In lamenting the now-diminished American support for Israel, Hammer writes: “For the first time, bipartisan support for Israel is in danger because of the way the Israeli government has intruded itself into internal American politics and identified itself with one party alone.”
Israel’s last election illustrated the exact opposite: It is the US administration and American NGOs that have interceded in Israel’s political affairs, not the other way around. But to even more pertinent charges, it is US President Barack Obama and his administration that have exhibited anti- Israel and pro-Arab, pro-Iran sentiments, not to mention insulting and rude diplomatic behavior. The fact remains that the reasons for strained American- Israeli relations are due to a tilt toward our enemies, rather than alleged party attachments.
‘Homes’ supporters
Recent reader criticism of The Jerusalem Post Magazine’s Homes feature (“Rethink ‘Homes’ feature,” Letters, April 24; “Can’t see the merit,” Letters, April 17) is wholly unjustified. This feature gives fascinating insight into modern home design, providing much inspiration when planning one’s own home. The only criticism I have is that sometimes there are not enough photos showing the kitchens. Arguably, the kitchen is the most important feature of a home and the most difficult to get right.
Please continue to lavish page space on this feature’s wonderful photos and prose.
Zichron Ya’acov
Having read for two weeks running that readers are unhappy with the Homes feature, I want to tell you that I love this feature. It is the feature I always look for first. The photos by Uriel Messa give us a good idea of the apartments or villas. Most recently, Gloria Deutsch wrote about a couple that had downsized on moving to a retirement home (“Late-blooming design,” April 24). I identified with this, as I did the same, even to the extent of also having my antique clock overhauled by Suzannah of Ra’anana.
While I am not a fan of the occasional “less is more” decor, please keep this feature coming.
Poor example
I would like to know what you were thinking when you published “Dangerous practice” (One on One, April 17). Just because there are foolish, irresponsible athletes who enjoy extreme sports such as base jumping to the extent that they can fall to a “sudden and violent death,” why should this be promoted to the public? I hope none of your readers intend to follow in Mei-Dan’s lead and cause themselves irreparable harm.
Nof Ayalon
While presenting Omer Mei- Dan as a role model, you forgot one small detail: Death is a one-way street. As mentioned in the article, Dr. Mei-Dan has a family.
Look near, not far
Almost every week, The Jerusalem Post Magazine seems to feature a glowing piece about an Israeli who lives abroad, usually in the United States, such as Omer Mei-Dan. Is there no one living in Israel whose life is interesting enough to write about in depth? Does no one, either native-born or immigrant, contribute enough to Israeli society to merit our attention? Israelis are free to leave the country to pursue whatever goals they choose, but I do not read the Post to learn about their achievements on foreign shores.
Your magazine can surely make an effort to find exemplary men and women who choose to make their lives in the State of Israel.
Ma’aleh Adumim
Write to: Only a selection of letters can be published. Priority goes to those that are brief and topical. Letters may be edited, and must bear the name and address of the writer.