December 31: 'Meddling' in public policy

December 31 Meddling

'Meddling' in public policy Sir, - According to EU Ambassador to Israel Andrew Standley, "there is a certain perception in Israeli society that what we are financing in Israel is... aimed at influencing public policy" ("EU envoy to 'Post': European funding of Israeli NGOs doesn't constitute 'meddling' in public policy," December 30). In reality, he says, "these are global programs," and "the funding is not provided for a political agenda, but rather in support of a universal objective such as human rights… all over the planet." Really? In the interests of transparency, it would be useful to see EU records of financing and involvement in similar human rights programs in places such as Syria, Saudi Arabia, the Lebanon, Gaza, the West Bank, Iran, Somalia, Egypt, Yemen, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. There's no better way of allaying Israeli suspicions that the EU is using massive public funds to meddle in Israeli political affairs and that the Jewish state is the target of selective treatment. ILYA MEYER Gothenburg, Sweden Sir, - I read, with utter amazement, the claim by European Union Ambassador Andrew Standley that European funding of Israeli NGOs doesn't constitute "meddling" in public policy. No? What is it called, then? The donation of millions of euros by foreign European governments to Israeli NGOs, which use the funds to pay for expensive lawyers who then petition the courts in order to frustrate the actions of our democratically elected government, is nothing but blatant meddling in Israel's affairs. The EU envoy should not attempt to insult the intelligence of the citizens of Israel by claiming otherwise. BERTIE FRANKEL Kfar Saba Equal road rights... Sir, - I was struck by more than a hint of irony as I read about the Supreme Court ruling concerning Highway 443 ("Court lifts ban on Palestinian travel on Highway 443," December 30), a road whose use had become restricted due to drive-by shootings during the last intifada. My thoughts went immediately to the story The Jerusalem Post ran just five days earlier about an explosive device having been placed next to this very road by Palestinian terrorists "with the goal of causing the greatest possible damage" ("Unexploded gas-balloon bomb found on Jerusalem-Modi'in highway, December 25). Given last week's event and the precedents of the intifada, I wondered how much deliberation had gone into the judges' decision - an about-face that is sure to pave the way for the return of the terrorists, result in unbearable tragedy as before, and end in the inevitable renewal of restrictions. Still, I am a fair-minded guy and agree that, at least under normal circumstances, civil rights for all should be upheld. So it seems reasonable to question why the drivers of Dolev and Talmon have had no success petitioning for a correction of their inequitable treatment. Prohibited by military authorities from taking the short Bituniya Road between Highway 443 and their homes, they have been forced to endure years of burdensome travel, including a circuitous alternate route that adds an hour daily to their commutes. I hope the Association for Civil Rights in Israel is indeed interested in ending the "disgraceful separation and banishment" of all residents, not just Palestinians. JEFF DAUBE Jerusalem ... and residency rights? Sir, - In an otherwise cogent editorial about "Terms of reference" (December 30) for peace, the writer slipped in the following: "Once the two sides agree on permanent boundaries, settlements on the 'wrong' side of the border will be dismantled." While this concept is the conventional wisdom in both the Israeli and Palestinian peace camps, it should, in fact, be anathema to anyone who is interested in building a free and democratic state of Palestine. On a practical note, Israel was barely able to survive the trauma of removing 8,000 souls from their homes in Gaza. Who in their right mind believes that it could survive the removal of 50,000 or more? Beyond the practical, how can the US, led by a president whose very prominence is based on the rejection of racism; the Palestinians, whose core narrative is based on their own expulsion from their homes; and the Israelis, who desperately need a democratic neighbor, countenance the founding of a new state based on driving people from their homes merely because they are Jewish? The success of any peace must be predicated on the idea that just as Israel absorbed its Arabs as citizens, so, too, Palestine must be willing to absorb its resident Jews in complete safety and security. A Palestine that cannot tolerate a few thousand Jews in its midst will certainly not tolerate a few million Jews on its border. MENACHEM LIPKIN Beit Shemesh Irony at the airport... Sir, - Regarding the article "Better airport scanners delayed by privacy fears" (December 30): It's ironic that terrorists who want to enforce a worldwide strict Islamic lifestyle may cause us to undergo full-body scanning. YONATAN SILVER Jerusalem ... and other modes of transport Sir, - Innovations, politically correct or not, are fine. However, regarding gender-segregation on buses, the men cannot board at the back of the bus, because male terrorists by far outnumber female ones ("Making a distinction," Letters, December 30); the driver needs to check out the boarding men. Maybe double-decker buses are a solution - but not hot-blooded red ones, of course. The men should sit upstairs. MOSHE-MORDECHAI VAN ZUIDEN Jerusalem An oleh we can relate to Sir, - The essay by Greg Teppler, "Gen-X Zionist," (December 30) lit up something for me. My husband and I arrived on aliya as retirees in March 1993, at the age of 65 and 61. Obviously a very different aliya than that of the writer. We left a small, warm provincial community in the UK where we had lived for many years very successfully, fulfilled with our family and friends. After deciding to make aliya, we informed our non-Jewish neighbors, and the response was, "You are going home." I was in shock. I am third-generation British-born and never felt anything other than that. Britain was my home. What did this mean? Life in Israel has changed us. How can it be otherwise? We watch with pride as our grandson becomes a man in the Israeli navy and our other grandchildren make a useful contribution to Israeli society. Yes, there is road rage, the lack of "British" manners, no free prescriptions, banking, bureaucracy and sheer bloody-mindedness. Relatives and friends living in the UK offer us a "haven" if ever there is trouble. But our reply has been, and will always be, that we are here to stay, for better or worse; this is our home. VIVIENNE GREENBAUM Pardess Hanna Karkur Sir, - All I can say is, "Brilliant." Greg Teppler's article reminds me of my aliya in 1978. I spoke one language and missed much of America, but when I was drafted into the reserves of the IDF at the age of 47, I really became an Israeli. I learned the language, fit into the society, and agree with Mr. Teppler: "There is nothing more wonderful than living in Israel, freedom-loving... line-waiting, falafel-eating American that I am." CHAIM GINSBERG Ma'aleh Adumim