Letters to the editor: February 1 2016

From expensive gas to more postal blues.

Envelope (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Expensive gas
Concerning “Gabbay to gas companies: Lower your prices” (January 29), the real reason for adjusting the price of natural gas is not at all mentioned.
The price of imported natural gas includes the cost of shipping by sea, as well as import duties. But now that locally produced natural gas is being piped directly to distributors and should require no import duties, why hasn’t the price to consumers been reduced? Within the past few months, the cost of a 12-kg. canister of cooking gas has risen by 4 percent, from NIS 120 to NIS 125.
I don’t know about wages, but pensions have not been increased by even 1%.
Commemorative sham
With regard to your numerous articles covering International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 28), I would recommend the following Internet exercise to those who harbor illusions about the possible salutary effects of the worldwide commemoration.
Go to any reportage on these events carried by the world’s news sites. Then go to the bottom, where the talkbacks are. You will see some of the most vicious anti-Semitic and anti-Israel slander.
In some cases, these venomous attacks predominate.
The Jewish people and the State of Israel should ignore this utterly false show of commiseration by the world, or at most give it grudging acknowledgment.
More importantly, we should never – and I mean never – use the Holocaust as an explanation for why the State of Israel came into existence. Nor should we invoke the false claim that had the State of Israel existed, there would not have been a Holocaust – that statement shows a singular lack of insight into how horrendous human endeavor can be toward evil when it is so directed.
We in Israel have our days to commemorate the massacres of our people and other disasters that have befallen us. We need not buy into this sham, which actually furthers Jew- and Israel-hatred (as if these phenomena need any outside force to further them).
Petah Tikva
Core curriculum
I was appalled to read that United Torah Judaism has been pushing legislation aimed at canceling the core curriculum for its constituents (“Under pressure, education minister to advance law nixing core curriculum studies for haredim,” January 28).
How can our country sustain its lead in hi-tech and support an entire segment of society that is unschooled in basic education? Without English, math and science, these people are unable to deal with life.
Saying “God will provide” is no longer enough – not in the world we live in now. Furthermore, the tax burden on the rest of us will only increase.
It’s a shame that Education Minister Naftali Bennett is being pressured into this.
That queasy feeling
In regard to “PM blasts Ban: ‘Your remarks fuel Palestinian terrorism’” (January 27), Arabs can stab Israelis because they are under occupation. But are Tibetans stabbing Chinese? Are Greek Cypriots ramming Turks? Are Basques stabbing Spaniards? There are numerous other “occupations” throughout the world, but I haven’t noticed any killings.
The duplicity of UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon’s statement brings to mind an apt Yiddish statement: Me ken brechen – It’s enough to make you vomit.
Diversity at ulpan
In response to Sam Sokol’s “Chabad rabbi: Jewish Agency barred me from teaching” (January 26), Ulpan Etzion beautifully represents Judaism and Zionism, and the administration consistently conveys the importance of participating in Jewish life by hosting rabbis from various Jewish organizations to give lessons.
Reflecting the idea of kibbutz galuyot (ingathering of the exiles), the rabbis teach in just about every language: Russian, English, Portuguese, French and, of course, Hebrew.
When I was there, we traveled every week to the beit midrash at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to study Jewish sources. The ulpan administration organized “closed Shabbatot” in which students united in the experience of a traditional Shabbat. Jewish holidays, major and minor, were warmly celebrated.
Well beyond the mere study of Hebrew, the Ulpan Etzion administration strives to enhance each immigrant’s appreciation of Judaism in a loving and sensitive manner.
For religious or secular olim, it is a community in which the diversity of Jewish ideas is expressed and accepted.
The writer made aliya three years ago and studied Hebrew at Ulpan Etzion.
Wonderful testament
Your article “BGU dedicates center for female Beduin students” (January 25), about an initiative supported by philanthropist Josh Arnow, says that of the 450 Beduin students at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, 70 percent are women. What a wonderful testament to the opportunities and support that Israel’s democratic society offers to a relatively impoverished and culturally different minority.
Could any society or nation do better when surrounded by the wars and hostilities of the Middle East? I’m sure not.
Unfortunately, as is often the case, Zionist-bashers, self-hating Jewish leftists and others will attempt to denounce this achievement and present it in a distorted and ugly manner, pointing out that 25.8% of the Negev population is Beduin, so why aren’t there more Beduin women studying at BGU? They will shout the Big Lie – discrimination, racism – even though the opposite is true.
The writer is a professor emeritus at BGU.
More postal blues
It was heartening to read how individual activists and nature organizations stopped the ruin of the Palmahim seashore (“Palmahim Beach granted national park status,” January 18). It shows we have a voice, and that if citizens are sufficiently passionate about an issue, they will be heard.
So why on earth is everyone sitting apathetically, accepting the appalling deterioration of the Israel Postal Company? Most government offices and public institutions send forms and documents by regular mail, even through it is obvious that unreasonable delays cause missed appointments and other hardships.
In the past month, I have received on average one mail delivery a week, notably a parking ticket from the municipality and a notification that the tax on my car is soon due.
As of January 24, a much-needed check sent from Jerusalem on January 3 had not arrived. A letter confirming an important appointment at a nearby hospital was returned to the sender, with a note that the addressee was unknown; when the department secretary called me, I found that the name and address had been clearly and correctly written.
There is no guarantee that one will actually get the service one pays the postal company for. Having paid NIS 37 for 24-hour delivery of a regular letter to Jerusalem, it took five days before I received notice of its arrival. Recently, a notification that a package was waiting at the post office was left flying in the wind instead of in our letter box. Our letter box is large and well marked, with our names in Hebrew and English.
Sending a letter or package has become a chore. Many of the small postal branches have closed, and one can wait for up to an hour at the main branches as all the staff go for their breaks simultaneously.
It is time that the Israel Postal Company reorganized, with efficient managers who earn their inflated salaries while employees receive a decent wage – which might encourage them to actually deliver letters and packages instead of returning them to the sender or throwing them on the floor.