August 8: Better than medals

I am hurt, saddened and angry; instead of being welcomed to Israel with open arms, I have obstacles and attitudes in front of me.

Letters 521 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Letters 521
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Better than medals
Sir, – Yarden Gazit’s “Israel’s Olympians must jump over government hurdles” (Comment & Features, August 6) is most welcome and accurate.
However, it addresses only part of the problem.
Physical education in Israeli schools is greatly lacking and competitive sports are almost non-existent. Another hurdle is that sports organizations and clubs are politicized and engage in favoritism.
Attitudes toward and investment in physical education and competitive sports are widely known as the principal factors in success at the Olympics and other international sporting events. Israel, too, can succeed well beyond its size if these problems are duly addressed and sports education and competition are raised to a top position on our national agenda.
The resulting benefits would go far beyond Olympic medals.
Remember the 11
Sir, – As Jeff Barak explains in “The right way to remember the Munich 11” (Reality Check, August 6), it won’t help to complain about the fact that the athletes murdered in Munich were not memorialized in public at this year’s Olympic Games (or at any previous games). But the mere fact that a memorial was held inside the Olympic Village in London shows they are not forgotten.
As Barak says, “this is the right way to remember these Jewish athletes.”
Let’s keep it that way. As long as we remember, that’s all that really counts.
Sir, – Perhaps it was indeed best that no moment of silence was observed at the opening of the London Olympics for the 11 Israeli athletes slaughtered by Palestinians in 1972.
Consider what would have happened in the undoubtedly sanitized speech. There would have been no mention that the terrorists were Palestinian or about our anger at Germany, which freed the three surviving terrorists a short time later under dubious circumstances.
Sir, – Perhaps in his next column, Jeff Barak can explain why the victims of the 7/7 terrorist attack in London – which had absolutely nothing to do with the Olympics – were honored at “such a joyous event” as the opening ceremonies, and why doing the same for the Munich 11 would have been wrong.
Ultimate post-Zionist
Sir, – It was very disconcerting to read “Israel’s fading democracy” (Comment & Features, August 6).
The opinion piece was part of a campaign of resurrection for Avraham Burg, and the fact that it came from The New York Times, a bastion of anti-Israel voices, added to my discomfort.
Just recently, Beit Avi Chai announced a series of lectures by Burg called “Discussions on Parashat Hashavua.” If my recollections are correct, the principal donor for Beit Avi Chai would not approve choice of the lecturer.
When an organization is not properly supervised it can lead to a very left-wing staff.
Another example is when Burg became chairman of the Jewish Agency, with a hefty salary and many perks. While there he spent the majority of his time on personal political efforts. He also attempted to mount a court action against the Agency, which refused to pay him NIS 200,000 per annum and provide him with a prestige car and chauffeur for the rest of his life.
He is the ultimate post-Zionist.
Coulda been worse
Sir, – Undercover police attending a social justice rally in Tel Aviv on Saturday night attempted to be inconspicuous by wearing T-shirts linked with the party of political hopeful Yair Lapid (“Why were undercover cops wearing Yair Lapid Tshirts at Saturday night’s rally?,” August 6).
It could have been worse. The undercover personnel wearing those shirts – with the slogan “Where’s the money?” – could have been tax inspectors.
They’re in trouble
Sir, – As if the failure of President Barack Obama’s efforts to stir up jobs and get the economy moving in the right direction isn’t bad enough, we now have the male counterpart of Sarah Palin as his presumed opponent.
Mitt Romney’s gaffes get no laughs. We have to decide between Obama, the consummate lecturer, and Romney, a man whose demeanor is so stiff and robotic that watching paint dry is more stimulating.
We are in trouble, folks! HERB STARK Massapequa, New York
Sir, – Winners of the Nobel Peace Prize win the award for something they did. US President Barack Obama is the only one who received the prize based on what was expected of him.
Since he received the prize, Iran has been threatening genocide and has not stopped for a moment in developing a nuclear weapon that would allow it to carry out its threat.
Obama should return the award. Maybe then he’ll win for his integrity.
Forbidden fruit
Sir, – On Fridays I buy the newspaper of my choice, which is not outside the shop with all the other English-language papers but in a black plastic bag hidden inside, in the corner behind the cash register. No, it’s not porn... it’s The Jerusalem Post! Recently, the shop owners told me that if caught selling the Post their kashrut license would be revoked. I was speechless – I live in Har Nof, a neighborhood in Jerusalem, not Tehran! NAOMI HALPERN Jerusalem Aliya in Dark Ages Sir, – After 18 years of wanting to make aliya, I finally started acting on my desires.
After many months of dealing with the Jewish Agency, often receiving differing instructions or late responses (each email would come from a different person), I thought everything was finally ready when my application was submitted to the Absorption Ministry. While waiting for processing I took up a three-month opportunity with a humanitarian aid organization in Senegal.
Much to my disgust, my case is now being revisited due to the fact that I declared that I suffered from depression in the past. Despite it being 100 percent under control and providing the Jewish Agency with a medical certificate, I am now required to attend an additional interview and have my case discussed by a special committee.
It appears that this is due to the possibility that I could, theoretically, fall into the category of being someone who may “endanger public health or the security of the state,” which is one of the exceptions to the Law of Return.
The Jewish Agency will not make provisions for the fact that the closest shaliah (aliya emissary) who can do the interview is a $1,700 flight away in South Africa. Neither telephone nor Skype is acceptable.
What is most distressing, though, is the 19th-century attitude to mental illness. The immediate link between the broad category of mental illnesses and the possibility of endangering public health is not only ludicrous, but a sad indictment on what is otherwise a modern state.
I am hurt, saddened and angry at being put in a position where instead of being welcomed to Israel with open arms, I have such obstacles and attitudes in front of me.
It is high time that these bodies come out of the Dark Ages and understand that mental illness can be controlled and is not contagious, and that people like me are not all crazy mass-murderers!
KEVIN MAYER Dakar, Senegal