August 13: Missed the train

As sorry as I feel for the Jerusalem merchants, now is not the time for them to be demonstrating.

letters pink 88 (photo credit: )
letters pink 88
(photo credit: )
Missed the train Sir, - As sorry as I feel for the Jerusalem merchants, now is not the time for them to be demonstrating ("Jerusalem merchants disrupt city council meeting over light rail construction," August 12). They've known about the plans for the light-rail system for several years and should have protested before, not now when the infrastructure on Jaffa Road has begun. HANNAH SONDHELM Jerusalem Why Darwish's work is not for Israeli kids Sir, - A wide expanse extends between the soul of the Palestinian and the soul of the Israeli Jew. After so many years of suffering, so many tears, so many lost dreams for the Palestinians and two intifadas and seven wars for the Jewish Israelis: Are Jewish Israeli children ready to study the Nakba? ("Should Darwish's poetry be taught in schools?" Ehud Zion Waldoks, August 11.) As an Israeli, I would have to aver no; as a language educator having taught literature for more than 30 years, both in Israel and the US, I would have to assert no. Children living in a situation of uncertainty regarding their neighbors' threatening intentions and, therefore, their own future need to read literature of meaning to them, not literature demeaning their very existence. Although Mahmoud Darwish is considered the Palestinian poet laureate, his take on reality should not be taught to Israeli children, whose very existence is impugned by his every poetic nuance. YOEL NITZARIM Skokie, Ilinois Offensive to art Sir, - I am the British publisher of Raja Shehadeh's book Palestinian Walks, which was the subject of the most extraordinarily offensive and objectionable article by Zalman Shoval ("'The Economist' rewrites history," August 3). His assertions were almost consistently false. The author is not "portrayed as a lawyer and writer." He is a lawyer with a successful commercial and human rights practice based in Ramallah. He is, for example, the legal counsel for the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank. His book is not a "blatant political pamphlet" but a series of meditations based around walks in the Occupied Territories conducted over a number of years. Inevitably - and this is one of the themes of the book - everything in the Middle East, reflections on the landscape, the process of exploring the landscape and seeing how it has changed, is in part political. The Orwell Prize is awarded for "making political writing into an art." The Economist and the judges acknowledged - as have many other reviewers around the world - that this is "a superbly written book." So why Shoval's twisted irony around the phrase? It is offensive fantasy to suggest that the author is "something of a political extremist for whom even Yasser Arafat was too moderate." The author, like his father before him, has always been in favor of a two-state solution. He was a vocal and significant critic of Arafat for his failure to adhere to the rule of law (once again showing the author's experience as a lawyer). This kind of ad-hominen attack poisons any serious discussion of the underlying crisis in the Middle East. ANDREW FRANKLIN Profile Books Friend of Jerusalem Award London Likud's sea change Sir, - A Likud-led unity government may be a possibility, but any government headed by Binyamin Netanyahu would reflect a sea change from current policy toward the Palestinians, and a grasp of what can realistically be accomplished. It is misleading to downplay differences between Likud and the other major parties on negotiations to establish a Palestinian state ("Kadima unvarnished," Editorial, August 6). Netanyahu's position is that there is no current Palestinian partner for peace, and that the Palestinian Authority cannot keep commitments. He advocates an economic peace which focuses on institution-building and improving the lives of Palestinians, and not on land concessions which will just create a third Iranian base on our doorstep. In the absence of an effective, self-governing PA committed to peace, Netanyahu would involve Jordan and Egypt in arrangements that would stabilize Palestinian population areas and the region. Netanyahu therefore opposed the Annapolis summit and the negotiations with Abbas that it launched. He views the Jordan River as Israel's eastern security border, would maintain Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem, and would not withdraw from territory that would put Israel's population centers and critical security sites in danger from short-range missiles. He also advocates military action to topple Hamas in Gaza, and would not negotiate with Hamas, even to establish a temporary cease-fire. SHALOM HELMAN Jerusalem National Director Likud Anglos Jerusalem Peculiar primacy Sir, - Re "Rabbinical judge urges religious Zionists to accept haredi primacy in conversions" (August 7): Why should they? The haredim are only a small minority among Jews here in Israel and among world Jewry. Why should they decide such matters? The Halacha was written long ago. Surely some of the rulings cannot be applied to our modern world. Conversions done some years ago or recently cannot be cancelled or declared invalid. Any signed contract is binding for both sides. And what about the children born after conversion, would they not be Jewish any more if the conversion was declared invalid ? In my opinion, this would be completely illegal as well as illogical. BERNARD NATT Ra'anana Panic in the... Sir, - Re "Water wisdom" (Letter, August 10), about the authorities shutting off our water for an hour every day: Unfortunately, knowing most Israelis, they'll fill up countless containers in a panic. Then, when the hour is over, they'll throw out what's left. People in general haven't absorbed the seriousness of the water situation. One sees water being wasted everywhere NOMI KALISCH ...wrong place Sir, - There are public fountains all over the country wasting large amounts of water every day. I see public areas where the flowers are being replanted, using lots of water. Why not put in pretty rocks and Astroturf? When we lived in Florida and had a water shortage, the authorities did not raise our water usage fees, but went around giving out tickets and fines if you washed your car or watered your lawn on days when you were not allowed. Maybe it is true what people are saying: that the government can make tons of money off its citizens by raising our costs, instead of truly having us conserve water, and that is the real reason for our "water shortage." REBECCA RAAB Ma'aleh Adumim If the cap(tion) fits... Sir - The caption under the photo illustrating "US relay team makes incredible comeback to keep Phelps on course for 8 gold medals" (August 12) said the swimmer and his teammate "cerebrate winning the gold in the men's 4x100-meter freestyle relay." Was someone not thinking, or was it because the games are being held in China? JONATHAN TOPPER Jerusalem