November 30 Upfront: No grounds to celebrate...

The exploitation of the Israeli middle class is no grounds for celebration.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
No grounds to celebrate... Sir, - Calev Ben-David makes a mistake when he kvells in the overseas real-estate purchases of the 18 dominant Israeli families ("Israel's changing fortunes," November 23). To take one example, our high bank fees pay for robber-baron Nochi Dankner's casinos, and for tycoon Shari Arison's "navy." The exploitation of the Israeli middle class is no grounds for celebration. NATHAN WIRTSCHAFTER Rehovot ...oh yes, there are Sir, - The author with a great sense of humor deals with the tip-of-the-iceberg aspect of the French Jews' aliya ("The Norman invasion," Calev Ben-David, November 9). The "invaders" are far from claiming Normandy roots, and their ambition is neither to rule poor Saxons nor to influence their language (though they may dream about a little culture and some more civility). The French posters are limited to promotion of the building trade, and the local French-language press can hardly compare with the English-language one. Are these new olim reacting to growing Islamism in their country of birth, or are they achieving a centuries-old dream? A rapid analysis will show that the majority originated in North Africa, and their current move is the second move in their lives. The long transit time through France was also due to a lack of preparation and poor "homework" on the part of the Jewish Agency. In the '60s, French-born Algerians probably weren't very high priority, and a number of young couples among us who came here were given more problems than assistance in '61... leaving no choice but to return to Algeria first, and then to France when Algeria became independent C'est la vie; but we have arrived, thank God, and we are here to stay. Or, nous y sommes et voulons y rester. C.H. BENICHOU Jerusalem Jews saved in Shanghai Sir, - As part of our month-long stay in China, my husband and I were privileged to be guided through the former Jewish ghetto area of Shanghai by Dvir Bar-Gal ("On the Jewish silk trail," November 23). However, in addition to the Jews saved by the Chinese consul in Vienna, Dr. Feng-Shan Ho, Gloria Deutsch omitted to mention the plight of the Jewish refugees who fled from Lithuania in 1940 and also settled in the miserable conditions of the ghetto in Shanghai. This was as a result of the intervention of the Japanese consul in Kovno, Chiune Sugihara, and the Dutch consul, Jan Zwartenddijk, who were instrumental in issuing transit visas in 1940, enabling thousands of Jewish refugees who had fled from Poland to Lithuania to flee to Shanghai. Many thousands of Jews, including the Mir Yeshiva in its entirety, were saved in this way. Dr. Zerah Warhaftig, future Israeli minister of religious affairs and a signatory to the Declaration of Independence in 1948, was one of the leaders of the community in Kovno, instrumental in bringing the plight of the Jewish refugees to the attention of the Japanese and Dutch consuls. Dr. Feng-Shan Ho, Chiune Sugihara and Jan Zwartenddijk have been recognized by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, as Righteous Among the Nations. KATHRYN BERMAN Jerusalem