April 3: Painful and slow

The only help Heftsiba victims have received to date has been the freezing our mortgages until the end of August.

letters 88 (photo credit: )
letters 88
(photo credit: )
Painful and slow Sir, - I was amazed to read that the government is even trying to help us "Heftsiba victims," as until now nothing has been done - let alone any funds disbursed to us. As you reported, "Finance Ministry representatives denied that Minister Ronnie Bar-On planned to transfer the NIS 15 million promised by the state to buyers burned by the collapse of Heftsiba." The only help we have received to date has been the freezing of our mortgage from this month till the end of August, by the Mizrahi-Tfahot bank. The slow and painful process of trying to obtain our homes has been good only in that it has united our neighborhood in the desire to finish the battle and get into the homes as quickly as possible. How have 20,000 people been so abused by their government? ("Victims of Heftsiba collapse demand more help from banks and the government," April 2.) REIDA MISHORY-ISSEROFF Moshav Olesh Plump profits Sir - Re "Israel Postal Company finally makes a profit" (April 2): Great news that a government company has made a profit instead of draining the Treasury. Now if they want to make even more next year, all they have to do is again double the price of air and local letters. And instead of charging NIS 35 for every package, subject to duty or not, they should take, say, 70 or 80 shekels. That should really fatten up the ole bottom line. MARCHAL KAPLAN Jerusalem You can't 'occupy' your own home Sir, - I suspect that Amnon Rubinstein has allowed personal political ideology to overcome principles of jurisprudence and rational thought. In writing "Settling Jews outside of Israel proper is... illegal in international law and defective morally," while basing himself on the Fourth Geneva Convention, claiming that document "prohibits such settlements," he is misrepresenting facts ("The folly at Givat Ze'ev," March 25). Firstly, that convention, like any contractual obligation, applies to those who are signatories, defined as the "High Contracting Parties." As there was no "Palestine" when the convention was produced, Israel cannot be considered as occupying its territories. Secondly, David Ben-Gurion, in a Knesset statement on December 3, 1949, declared that the UN resolution of November 29, 1947 - the Partition Plan - no longer had any moral force and was null and void. Taken together with the reality that the official representative bodies of the Arab community of the British Mandate refused to acknowledge the plan, the area administered currently by Israel since 1967 - what Rubinstein refers to as "occupied" - is, in essence, still part of what the League of Nations Supreme Council defined on July 24, 1922 as the area to be reconstituted as the national home of the Jewish people. A state institution representing the Jewish people - Israel - cannot be an "occupier" in its own country. Moreover, Jews moving to places such as Givat Ze'ev and Shiloh are fulfilling the principle established in the League of Nations decision which guaranteed them the "right to immigration to and close settlement on the land" (paragraph 6). Therefore, even if Israel is not actively encouraging such acts, individual Jews surely maintain those rights up to this day. Thirdly, since Jews lived in, owned and tilled property in those "territories" for hundreds of years prior to the wars of aggression in which Arabs, local and foreign, sought to eliminate the State of Israel in 1947-49 and 1967, they are only returning home. Certainly Jews must protect the civil liberties of the non-Jewish population (note: the term "Arab" appears nowhere in the text of the Mandate decision because the international community and its law did not recognize any specific Arab ethnic or national right to the area of the Mandate). But that does not affect Jewish rights as stated above. YISRAEL MEDAD Shiloh Terms of reference Sir, - The term "good-will gesture" is widely used to refer to Israel releasing imprisoned terrorists and dismantling roadblocks. Your editorial "Don't politicize West Bank checkpoints" (April 2) underscored this improper use of the term by enclosing it, as above, in quotation marks. Substituting "political concession" or "sacrifice" would also work. "Good-will gesture" should be limited to such actions as bestowing gifts, allowing Arabs to cross through checkpoints for treatment in Israeli hospitals, and giving a seat of honor to Palestinian Authority representatives. ALICE EIGNER Ma'aleh Adumim Sir, - When "ordinary Palestinians" loudly and unequivocally excoriate the murderous attacks on Israeli citizens, there will be no need for roadblocks and checkpoints "imposing hardship on ordinary Palestinians." FAY DICKER Lakewood, New Jersey Not Israel's fault Sir, - Both the IDF and the World Health Organization have the wrong end of the stick on the issue of hospitalization for sick Palestinians ("IDF blasts WHO criticism for 'inhumane' treatment of Gaza sick," April 2). For years the world community has been financing Gaza. At the time of the disengagement, the local powers that be received millions for all kinds of schemes to drag Gaza into the 21st century. Colleges and agricultural projects were spoken of, and hospitals to be built on the razed Jewish settlements. Why is Israel still being berated for not taking care of people who aren't even its citizens? With all the international funds flowing into Gaza, why were those newhospitals never built? The world was robbed blind on that deal - but not everything is Israel's fault, or its responsibility. THELMA JACOBSON Petah Tikva 'Uproot' this Torah law Sir, - Re "Rabbinic court blocks civil court intervention in aguna cases" (April 2): Isn't it about time to challenge the rabbinic claim that Halacha cannot be changed - not by appealing to secular, civil (gentile) courts, but to precedents in the Halacha itself? The late Eliezer Berkovits, an Orthodox authority, in his book Lo Bashamayim Hi (It Is Not in Heaven) cites several cases in marital law where the rabbis "uprooted" Torah law. Examples: A man cannot betroth a married woman on condition that her husband dies. He cannot annul a get, or bill of divorce, before it is delivered to his wife. One witness is sufficient to testify to the death of the husband. Why cannot today's rabbis "uproot" the Torah law that says the "man purchases the woman" and "sends her away from his house" - and establish equal rights for a couple in marriage and divorce? That would solve the problem of the aguna once and for all. RABBI JACOB CHINITZ Jerusalem Punk sunk Sir, - Having lived in Manchester until December 1982, I must dispute Barry Davis's write-up on the punk group Joy Division ("The power of punk," March 30). Far from being responsible for a cultural revival in Manchester, this group was unknown to me, and probably little known - if at all - to a wider audience between the 1970s and the 1980s. This suggests that director Grant Gee is hanging his "masterpiece" documentary on a slender thread that hardly existed. Manchester had a prolific cultural scene throughout the 20th century and was not in need of a punk group to revive it. PHILIP BENSON Netanya