August 16: New skyline

I was saddened to read that the Interior Ministry has given approval for 12 skyscrapers to be built at the western entrance to Jerusalem.

Basic needs
Sir, – If the government wants to raise prices and yet avoid the automatic backlash of protest from the “social justice” crowd, (“Price of subsidized bread rises by 6.53% today,” August 14) a solution would be to allow the rise in prices whilst at the same time removing VAT from basic food items such as bread, milk and eggs. This would enable the producers of these items to receive a fair price for their goods, while at the same time allowing poorer families to purchase basic nutritious foods at lower prices.
New skyline
Sir, – I was saddened to read that the Interior Ministry has given approval for 12 skyscrapers to be built at the western entrance to the city (“12 skyscrapers approved for entrance to Jerusalem,” August 14).
I sincerely hope that this plan will not happen. Jerusalem has always been different and unique from other cities. If this plan does materialize, it will destroy the nature of Jerusalem. In the past, Jerusalem has maintained the style of low buildings built in Jerusalem stone that blended in with the surrounding hills.
These projected skyscrapers are supposed to include a mix of government offices, private businesses, a 2,000 room hotel and residential apartments. We’re sure these residential apartments will be very expensive. With Jerusalem needing affordable housing for the younger and also older people, this will not meet their needs.
Jerusalem was always the Holy City, and visitors came here to admire its uniqueness. If this plan goes through, Jerusalem will become just “another big city” like all other big cities around the world. Please, don’t let this happen.
Let us remain unique!
Sir, – If the “Interior Ministry gave its initial stamp of approval...” to the 12 new skyscrapers it needs to be renamed as the “Inferior Ministry.”
Jerusalem is not just any city. It is bad enough that the Leonardo Plaza sticks out like a sore thumb, without compounding the disaster.
How dare greedy people try to ruin our beautiful city with huge ugly blocks of concrete! Attractive buildings limited to a maximum of 12 stories could be considered for approval.
Have we no pride or principles?
Sage studying
Sir, – There is debate in Israel trying to draft students who are intensively engaged in Torah studies (“Council of Torah Sages convenes to address issue of haredi draft to national service,” August 14).
Some claim that not all the students are worth the time and the money and should serve in the army instead. Following that criteria, only scientists, professionals or athletes who show outstanding potential should be supported.
The recent Olympic Games highlighted the tremendous effort, emotional investment, psychological involvement and financial resources needed to support athletes. For Michael Phelps to shine as a swimmer, it takes an outstanding infrastructure of goods and human capital, yet imagine how many swimmers did not even qualify to participate in the games.
In order to create an effective vaccine, it often takes countless scientists and funds that go to waste. Similarly, it takes the ambience of a yeshiva to create a gadol hador, or leader of a generation.
The argument that only outstanding scholars should be given the opportunity to study, diminishes the study of Torah.
Sir, – Following Avi Schwartz’s beautifully written article, (“Studying Torah can be a national service,” Comment and Features, August 14) I too fantasized.
I pictured on every army base around the country a series of new hastily erected prefabricated caravans marked “Yeshivat Tzahal.”
Streams of khaki-clad haredim were eagerly clamoring to be accepted as students. They committed themselves to learn the regulation 10-12 hour yeshiva day plus one hour of daily army training. Numbers? Say 10 bases with 50 young men each to begin with, swelling as demand increased to 100 or 200 per base.
Wow! With the combined dedication of regular soldiers and the yeshiva boy soldiers the body and soul of our beloved Jewish land would be in safe hands.
Let’s dream on!
Jerusalem Trade off
Sir, – The article “A return to the bad old days” by Rafael Medoff (Comment and Features, August 14) was very encouraging.
I consider myself as neither a Democrat nor a Republican as there is too much political philosophy on both sides of the aisle that I both accept and reject.
Thus by default this would probably make me an independent.
However I, in a non partisan manner, am totally against voting for party labels – Republican or Democrat – rather than deciding on the issues involved. This forthcoming election is a good case in point, for the selection of Paul Ryan as the Republican vice presidential nominee seemingly has all the potential of lifting this campaign from the gutter to something more respectable where issues and not personalities will be debated – at least this is my hope.
Nevertheless, even when considering the issues, politics like most things in life is a trade off – few if any get everything. But the focus has to be on the critical, existential issues, knowing very well you may also have to buy into things you do not favor but that are less critical. This is the dilemma of this election.
Mr. Medoff’s article raises the hope that the Republican Party will actively court the Jewish vote to let them know they are wanted and important and that the Jewish voting community will decide on the basis of the merits of each and every issue and with perspicacity rather than as a pavlovian response.
Getting schooled
Sir, – David Newman omits some pertinent facts from his defense of the educational status quo (“Government intervention in the politics of education,” Borderline Views, Comment and Features, August 14).
In regards to firing the head of the civic education program, the official in question, Adar Cohen, chose educational materials that supported the Palestinian narrative over the Zionist one. In regards to the recognition of Ariel University Center as a university – the elevation of Ariel is being fought almost exclusively on political and ideological grounds, not academic. Additionally, the current universities have a built-in bias against new competition.
In regards to philanthropists conditioning their gifts against institutions supporting anti-Zionist professors, benefactors always want to support organizations in line with their own beliefs. What is unfair or unusual about that? Professor Newman also neglected to acknowledge the role of Labor and Kadima in shaping Israel’s educational direction, such as by appointing Adar Cohen, or the Likud party appointing Gideon Sa’ar as education minister. Governing parties typically choose officials of their own political persuasion.
Pain free
Sir, – Melissa Ruggieri, in her article on Barry Manilow (“Barry Manilow is singing the old songs, creating new ones,” Arts and Entertainment, August 14) describing the hip surgery that he underwent as a “painful complicated procedure” and from which he has recovered “about 90 percent,” does a distinct disservice to all those considering or about to undergo hip replacement.
I cannot speak for American techniques but I certainly can for those in Israel. Total hip replacement is neither painful nor is too complicated. Postoperative pain is minimal, less even than dental transplants, and good physiotherapy will have the patient up and about in a very short space of time. Of all known operations this is the one that carries the highest total success rate.
Mevaseret Zion