August 10 - UNRWA and innocence

Misplaced priorities of American Jews; Teva's stock is a "godsend."

letters to the editor 88 (photo credit: )
letters to the editor 88
(photo credit: )
UNRWA and innocence
Sir, – Behind the seemingly benign opinion piece by UNRWA’s Chris Gunness (“Let Gaza’s kids be kids,” August 8), there lurks the less-than innocent role played by UNRWA in its relief activities there.
While admitting to a $100 million budgetary shortfall (where did those millions go?), Gunness chooses to ignore the deliberate destruction by Hamas of several summer camps for children built without its approval and prefers to blame Israel for the shortage of schools.
Gaza’s children stand no chance of growing up to become useful and productive citizens as long as Hamas continues to raise and train them to become jihad terrorists.
Finally, I would like Gunness to consider the thousands of Israeli children who long for a bright future but are forced to constantly seek shelter from the rockets of Hamas.
Petah Tikva
Sir, – Just as one would expect from a senior UNRWA official, Chris Gunness is blatant in his exploitation of imagery and in his subtext of Palestinian victimhood.
For Gunness and UNRWA, image is everything. He says that the “iconic images emblazoned across the media” contrast sharply with the “imagery of destitution that usually emanates” from Gaza. Of course, UNRWA itself has notoriously promoted such destructive images worldwide in order to inflate its own importance by perpetuating the victimhood of the “oppressed.”
And who are Gunness’s Gaza victims? The children, who are romping, grouping cooperatively, smiling, laughing and working in “rapt concentration”; the UN teachers who “have given up their summer holidays” to allow Gaza’s children “to have fun”; and UNRWA, which, despite being underfunded, has bravely maintained its commitment to “human-development goals” that assist thousands of students “to reach their full potential” and gain “selfrespect.”
And who is the bad guy? Israel, of course. It’s responsible for the destroyed airport, the restrictions on humanitarian goods, the lack of new schools, the disrepair of older ones, the high student-teacher ratio, the ineffectual lifting of the blockade, the 40 percent unemployment rate, and the “decimated” export economy.
Nowhere is there even the slightest suggestion that the people of Gaza bear any responsibility for their predicament.
I posit that the children of Gaza will never have a semblance of self-respect or normalcy until their parents discard the crutch of “relief” organizations like UNRWA and teach their children dignity and civility.
Misplaced priorities
Sir, – It is perhaps ironic, but hardly surprising, that a liberal American Jew like Marilyn Henry would champion the construction of a megamosque at Ground Zero (“New York City votes for tolerance,” Metro views, August 8) on the heels of her recent call to suppress the rights of Orthodox Jews in Teaneck, New Jersey (“A town that touts its diversity,” Metro views, July 18).
The sad reality is that most of America’s liberal Jews, often to the shock and disgust of their gentile neighbors, are the first to fight against an eruv or the construction of an Orthodox synagogue, yet take the lead in championing the rights of Muslims. By extension, this explains why Israel cannot count on the support of liberal Jews, as their thinking is driven by a double standard whose subtext is self-loathing.
J.J. GROSS Jerusalem
Teva a godsend
Sir, – While Aaron Katsman may be right about unprofessional advice given by local advisors (“Did Teva’s plunge sink your portfolio?,” August 6), my long-term holding in Teva has allowed me to retire in comfort in Israel.
With all due respect, Katsman should stop sounding the alarm bells. Owning this stock has been a godsend for me and for thousands of others like me who owe their financial well-being to Teva.
Sir, – Thank you for starting to run a personal finance column in Friday’s paper. I hope it will remain a regular feature.
While I don’t agree with all of Katsman’s thoughts on Teva, he did provide food for thought, and I think this kind of column will greatly benefit readers.
End the freeloading
Sir, – It was heartening to read of the arrival of olim from North America, including a group of young men ready to serve in the IDF (“Nefesh B’Nefesh brings largest number of future IDF soldiers on chartered plane,” August 4).
On the other hand, the shameful bypassing of the Tal Law – without allowing for due discussion by the Knesset – to exempt yeshiva students aged 22 and over from serving in the IDF and allow them instead to perform national service (“A wrongheaded change on IDF exemptions for haredim,” Editorial, August 4) is a disgrace and a slap in the face to all those who do not opt out of their national duty.
As has been pointed out by many, not least of all by Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, Israel’s financial structure will at some point collapse under the weight of haredi freeloading. Of course, this whole situation is the outcome of a bad electoral system whereby, in order to govern, the leading party has to “pay out” to smaller parties for their support.
I, like many others, came to Israel over 40 years ago with my husband and sons to live in a Jewish – and not haredi-dominated – state.
Alive, well and surprised
Sir, – We were surprised to read in Isi Leibler’s column “The arrogance of Claims Conference leaders” (July 22) his description of the Anglo-Jewish Association (AJA) as a “defunct body.”
It would seem that Leibler is unaware that the AJA is a long-established organization in good standing in Britain. It was a founding member of the Claims Conference and its executive members are active in both the Claims Conference and other Holocaust-related charities.
The individuals representing the AJA at the Claims Conference are unpaid and experts in humanitarian- and Holocaust-related issues, and are involved in other Jewish communal and charitable organizations as well. The AJA representatives do not simply turn up each year for the board meeting.
In addition to our work with the Claims Conference, the AJA is one of the largest UK Jewish education grant-making organizations, dispersing the greatest number of education grants to directly support needy and vulnerable Jewish students. Our assistance enables Jewish students in financial need – including many Israelis – to enter further education or study for full-time degrees at British universities.
We are actively and passionately involved in working for the welfare and interest of the survivors, and sit on and chair committees of the Claims Conference.
As well as having the requisite expertise, the AJA and its board representatives are completely independent, as our group receives no financial benefits from the distribution of funds from the Claims Conference.
We therefore have no conflicts of interest.
We are not “arrogant” and are committed both practically and morally to the objects of the
Claims Conference and the victims of the Holocaust.
NEIL MIRON President
CLEMENS NATHAN Trustee and vice president
Anglo-Jewish Association