Letters to the editor: Crazy behavior

I must say that everyone was surprised by Foreign Minister and Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman’s bombshell announcement.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Crazy behavior
I must say that everyone was surprised by Foreign Minister and Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman’s bombshell announcement (“Liberman quits as FM, says he won’t be joining coalition,” May 5).
I think he really has the courage of his convictions, and personally, as a modern-Orthodox person, I agree with his justified complaints against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, especially for selling his supporters out to Shas and United Torah Judaism. What on earth got into Bibi that he gave in to all their blackmail and extortion to roll back all the hard-won decisions from the last Knesset, especially laws on conversion, the haredi draft and child benefits? The Religious Ministry and religious courts will return to the Dark Ages. Haredi politicians are already making noises to get rid of the relatively moderate Tzohar rabbis, which would allow them to control us from birth to death.
We will see a return to the bad old days of people going abroad to marry, or worse, not bothering to marry at all.
Do these parties have something on Bibi? There is no other explanation for his crazy behavior.
Ethiopian Israelis
Your editorial “Root out racism” (May 5) and the columns appearing the same day by Michael Freund (“Address the challenges facing Ethiopian immigrants,” Fundamentally Freund) and Yosef I.
Abramowitz (“Jews of action, Jews of silence,” Better Energy) accentuate the tragedy and challenge of Ethiopian olim.
It is 30 years since Operation Moses brought the first mass aliya from Ethiopia, yet we are still talking about the need to absorb this by-nature refined and gentle people. The frustration of not being heard has led them onto the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
As I listened to a leader of the community speaking on the radio, I wondered if our prime minister or any 12 ministers charged a year ago with responsibility to address the challenges were listening. No one has heard their cry, with approaches and letters to the prime minister and ministers of absorption, social welfare and education being totally ignored, without even the courtesy of a response.
It is left to NGOs such as ESRA, which, among other things, encourages English speakers to volunteer in the community, to actually provide support for Ethiopian Israelis.
Netanya is home to 15,000 Ethiopian Israelis. Together with the municipality, ESRA provides afterschool classes for teens. Our “Students Build a Community” project offers young people the opportunity to live rent-free in deprived areas in exchange for mentoring the kids on their block. We also work closely with schools that recommend Ethiopian-Israeli pupils for our “Project of Excellence,” which enables these youngsters to participate in marine biology courses at the Ruppin Academic Center of Marine Science.
The bottom line is that the government should stop forming committees and instead work with, support and learn from NGOs whose experience over many years has made a difference.
BRENDA KATTEN Netanya The writer is chairperson of ESRA.
Much has been written on Ethiopian- Israeli rage in recent days, but no attempt has been made to understand how badly their absorption has been handled from the very beginning.
The main problem has been conversions. Rabbis of various denominations saw this as a wonderful opportunity to add supporters to their political parties and dragged out the conversion process. This kept olim in absorption centers for years and denied them some of their rights as immigrants.
The delay affected allocations of housing, which led to huge concentrations of Ethiopian Israelis in certain locations, as well as problems in allocations to schools, professional training and work.
Successive governments have failed to provide generous budgets to absorb these immigrants.
The fact that reports by the state comptroller have long been ignored has only helped aggravate the situation.
The demonstrations by Ethiopian Israelis reminded me that during the launch of this year’s Independence Day, I spent most of the ceremony searching for a brown or black face – somewhere, anywhere. I carefully and intently scanned the marching soldiers, the parading sailors, the honor guard, the speakers, the dignitaries, the singers, the dancers, the trumpeters and the audience, and was dismayed that I spotted just a single marching soldier and one of the spectators.
Of course, I realize that this is not an accurate appraisal. But the impression is clear.
The situation of Ethiopian Israelis is similar to what is seen with African migrants – the proportion arrested for crimes is out of all proportion to their numbers.
Migrants, too, accuse the police of racism.
The reality is, it is always going to be difficult to assimilate people from such vastly differing cultures, especially when they come from environments with so much violence.
There will always be intolerant cops, but it will be a huge problem for law and order if they become afraid to approach darkskinned suspects out of political correctness.
MICHAEL BURD Jerusalem/Melbourne, Australia
“The events of recent days teach us that there is a much deeper problem that requires more attention and resources,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is quoted as saying about Ethiopian Israelis in “Netanyahu: Ethiopian Israelis’ protest a warning light – we must fight racism” (May 5).
He continued by saying: “We must understand that Israelis of Ethiopian descent are Israelis in every way.”
And what about Israelis of Palestinian descent? They’re not accepted as Israelis in most ways.
Don’t Palestinian Israelis also require “more attention and resources”? Ethiopian Israelis demonstrate and riot, and are blessed with government attention. Palestinian Israelis demonstrate and riot, and are shot, beaten up and incarcerated.
Netanyahu also said: “We must fight racism and discrimination in every way and on every platform.”
Sadly, under policies established and promulgated by recent governments, racism and discrimination matter only when they’re committed against Jewish Israelis.
JUDY BAMBERGER O’Connor, Australia
The small details
As Yael Eckstein wrote so beautifully and emotionally in “Celebrating Israel’s 67th birthday” (Yael’s Corner, May 1), I am moved to add my own feelings.
Her “I love...” list expresses the very same sentiments and feelings that have been with me since coming on aliya many years ago. It is the “small print” that is so important, the small details of life in this land of ours, the everyday vibrancy, energy and stimulation, that make me love living in this special place I call home.
Like my sister, who came to serve in the IDF back in the 1950s and subsequently came on aliya, married and raised a family, my throat blocks-up as I stand and sing “Hatikva” and try to hold back the tears of pride. It is an honor and a privilege to live as part of the Jewish people, to have served in the IDF and worked as a volunteer on a kibbutz when I myself came on aliya.
Just as it is
I have to reply to reader Bernard Litwin’s letter (“So commonplace,” May 5).
I am a secular Jew who, like Mr. Litwin, reads The Jerusalem Post and its Billboard supplement every Friday, but wants reviews of non-kosher restaurants.
Perhaps next your reader will be asking why you publish Billboard’s television guide with programs on Shabbat.
Non-kosher restaurants must certainly be commonplace if there are so many such reviews.