December 10: Insecure in S.A.

The security measures at Johannesburg's Chabad House probably have nothing to do with the fact that Chabad is a Jewish organization.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Insecure in S.A. Sir, - Re "Israeli protection may increase Chabad's risk, security expert says" (December 9): The security measures at Johannesburg's Chabad House probably have nothing to do with the fact that Chabad is a Jewish organization. I recently made aliya from South Africa and can state that the security measures in place there are a deterrent against the crime wave sweeping the country. A few months ago, on a Saturday morning, a gentleman walking to a Chabad synagogue service was mugged and murdered because he was carrying his gold-thread-embellished Tallit bag, which was found a few metres from his body. The murderer had found nothing of "value." In certain areas of Johannesburg, groups of Jews returning in the dark from Shabbat Eve synagogue services are followed by a car driven by an armed security officer to ensure that they reach their homes safely. GEOFFREY LEVY Ra'anana Bedtime yawn Sir, - As a follower of Chabad ideology, with its predilection for gematrias and anagrams, has Shmuley Boteach ever noticed that his criticism of present-day marital malaise might be supported by the remarkable equivalence of "bedroom" and "boredom"? ("Take the TV out of the bedroom," December 9). MARTIN D. STERN Salford, UK What 'pogrom'... Sir, - Further to "No pogrom" (Letters, December 9): A pogrom, by definition, is citizen violence sponsored by the government. For the violence in Hebron to be a pogrom, the authorities would have to support it. The only, verified and admitted, pogroms in Hebron were in the 1920s and 1930s, when the British Mandate government supported Arab violence and murder against the Jewish inhabitants and then removed the remaining Jews, leaving the city Judenrein for the first time in its history since biblical times. The Jews reestablished their presence there only after June 1967. Is the prime minister, and maybe others, using "pogrom" in an inappropriate way in order to discredit Jews? AHARON GOLDBERG Hatzor Haglilit ...really means Sir, - We Jews are sensitive about labels. We are inclined to be offended when Jimmy Carter uses the word "apartheid" in matters relating to us and when major media call terrorists "militants" or "jihadists." Yet we now have our own PM describing the recent - admittedly ugly and distasteful - events in Hebron as a pogrom! Does this not indicate his blissful, disgraceful ignorance of the meaning of the term? ("Olmert calls Hebron settler violence a 'pogrom,'" December 8.) ROCKY MURAVITZ BENNIE PENZIK Ramat Hasharon Sir, - In the light of Jewish history and the fact that many of our families in eastern Europe were murdered in government-approved or -instigated slaughter, we object most strongly to Ehud Olmert's use of the word "pogrom." We would have thought that the PM, with his experience, would utilize his brain before he opens his mouth. SONIA AND NEVILLE GOLDREIN Jerusalem Territories belong to the Palestinians... Sir, - Israel's bullying behavior toward Palestinians, and especially those in Gaza, must stop. Israel must not impede the flow of humanitarian shipments and deliveries into Gaza, where the population live in extreme conditions. Israel must stop being hostile and have respect for others. Israel must not stop the flow of money into Palestinian banks in Gaza. Israel must ensure electricity supply and proper sanitation for the people in Gaza ("Israel reimposes Gaza media ban," December 9). I pray that all journalists who report from Israel observe duty, fairness and impartiality and honor their profession. Finally, Israel must recognize that the occupied Palestinian territories belong to the Palestinians. MATTEO D'AGOSTINO Veglie, Italy, they do not Sir, - In "The Zionist wunderkind," Colin Shindler wrote of an "Ottoman Palestine," when none actually existed (UpFront, Books, December 5). In 1909, for example, Tel Aviv was founded in what the Ottomans called The Independent Sanjak (district of) Jerusalem - and not the "P" word. T. E. Lawrence's (Lawrence of Arabia's) published memoirs, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, include four maps of the area, none of which uses the term "Palestine." The "Palestine" of the British Mandate was comprised of Sanjak Acco, Sanjak Nablus, Independent Sanjak Jerusalem and on the other side of the Jordan River were Sanjak Maan and Sanjak Hauran. Those last two, as part of a "land swap" were given to king Abdullah, who renamed them his Transjordan. His brother Feisal was given the vilayets (provinces) of Basra, Baghdad and Mosul which he renamed his green (yaroq) kingdom of Iraq. The British received, in return, the Sinai Peninsula in 1922, which they made part of Egypt as a means of protecting their financial interests in the Suez Canal. Saudi Ambassador to the UN Ahmed Shukairy told the Security Council in 1957 how it was common knowledge that "Palestine" was merely some area in Ancient Syria. Only later, as the first head of the PLO, did he define "Palestine" in the 1964 PLO Covenant as "the undivided boundaries of The British Mandate," and a "Palestinian" as an Arab who may have been in that area for two years prior to 1947 (see Israel-Arab Reader, edited by Walter Lacqueur). G. DINERMAN Ramat Aviv One-way deal Sir, - How can Israel continue to release Palestinian prisoners without linking Jonathan Pollard's freedom to the deal? Three-way deals used to be normal during the Cold War ("Palestinian prisoner release put off until next week," December 9). HOWARD SPERBER Cleveland Who can complain? Sir, - I just had to smile when I read in Barry Rubin's column "Vienna, Vienna" (December 9) that while in today's Austria "the Right is anti-Jewish, much of the Left is anti-Israel." What a perfect example of balance! GERSHON JACOBSON Jerusalem Bout of bellyaching Sir, - Long ago we Israelis designed our own method of appraising any financial crisis - crude and unscientific, but seemingly as accurate as any professional estimate. As far as we can judge, no more consumers than before are counting their change at checkout counters, or checking cheaper prices for identical goods. Traffic jams have not lessened. Has anybody seriously proposed car-pooling, switching to public transport, or really staggering the workday? What we do see is many employers exploiting talk of a crisis to do a bit of well-needed house-cleaning. The government should follow suit. If the financial crisis ever hits Israel in force, we should be prepared with belts already tightened. What is happening now is a minor panic and a major bout of bellyaching ("There is a solution," Shraga Biran, December 7). MACABEE DEAN Ramat Gan CORRECTION A work accident that resulted in the death of a man over the weekend ("Man dies in Haifa Port work accident") occurred in Kiryat Haim, and not in Haifa, as reported in Sunday's paper.