August 1: Unhumble Olmert

Prime ministers such as David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir and Menachem Begin lived modest lives in modest houses.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Unhumble Olmert Sir, - Ehud Olmert has a hutzpa ("Olmert: Israel has become 'a nation of grumblers,'" July 31). Even if he is right, who is to blame? He travels first-class, stays in sumptuous hotels, and more - and if he does not receive monies from friends, it's at the taxpayers' cost. If Israel's needy cannot be taken care of; if Holocaust survivors cannot live on their pittance - but also cannot "die soon enough"; if people in the South are afraid to breathe and children have nightmares about Kassams - and our prime minister cannot alleviate their situation, he ought to be ashamed. But he isn't. Prime ministers such as David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir and Menachem Begin lived modest lives in modest houses. Olmert should think again before he blames the Israeli "grumblers." JUUP (JULIA) SOBELMAN Petah Tikva Sir, - He was a man of such promise. But he wasted the talent and opportunities afforded him to lead Israel to a more secure future. It is our sadness over what might have been that compels us to hope Ehud Olmert might one day atone for his misdeeds and become a better human being. JERRY& SYLVIA DORTZ Ariel UNHCR's role Sir, - "Knesset caucus to focus on Palestinian refugees - alternative to UNRWA seeks resettlement of some refugees in other countries" (July 30) prompted this question: The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), established in 1950, superseded the previous International Refugee Organization (IRO), established in 1946. The IRO terminated its work in 1952, having resettled something in the order of 1,000,000 persons. Why not turn to the existing and experienced UNHCR to handle the Palestinian refugee situation? ALBERT RETTIG Tel Aviv Urban life Sir, - I was glad to read your editorial "Save Tel Aviv's Kikar Hamedina" (July 27) advocating that the circle should remain an open space. It indicates that in Israel, as elsewhere in the developed world, the quality of life in urban areas is a major issue. Yet when I visited Jerusalem last year, I noticed the monstrous building of Bank Hapoalim on Zion Square and the Beit Ha'am main library on Bezalel St., with its substandard book collection and dearth of computers. Unfortunately, because Israelis are so preoccupied with security and defense they do not have as much time as other Western nations to fight for the features that make a city delightful: striking architecture, buildings congruous with their surroundings, recycled older buildings, preserved historical neighborhoods and parks. In Canadian cities there are vigorous watchdog groups. It is precisely because besieged Israelis live in a pressure cooker that they should have a special regard for harmonious cities. When one reads in the Pentateuch of the beauty of Eretz Yisrael, one should consider not only its natural scenery but also its built environment. The developers who want to build the massive apartment towers in Kikar Hamedina, overpowering the attractive district, will kill the goose that lays the golden egg. JACOB MENDLOVIC Toronto