December 15: Bunch of gangsters

It might also be a good time for the Palestinian Authority to explain how, if no Jew is allowed to be in its conception of a Palestinian Jerusalem, the city can ever remain open.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Bunch of gangsters
Sir, – Kol hakavod to Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina (“Palestinians slam Guatemalan president for visiting east Jerusalem,” December 12).
Why the Palestinian Authority leadership thinks it can act like a bunch of gangsters and dictate to the world who can or cannot visit what it considers Palestine under its self-created conceptions of international law is quite beyond comprehension. It is even farther beyond comprehension why the leaders of major nations, starting with US President Barack Obama, adhere to its diktats.
I hope the next step will be that the brave Guatemalan government moves its embassy to whichever part of Jerusalem it thinks fit, something that might just spur Congress to force the recalcitrant Obama to adhere to the will of the American people.
It might also be a good time for the Palestinian Authority to explain how, if no Jew is allowed to be in its conception of a Palestinian Jerusalem, the city can ever remain open.
Let him go
Sir, – Once again, Esther Pollard, in her impassioned and heartfelt plea that justice prevail (“Pollard’s Nightmare,” Comment & Features, December 12), brought tears to my eyes. So should it be to any normal, fair-minded human being who sees Jonathan Pollard’s sentence as probably the biggest scandal of the century.
As Esther Pollard points out, the White House soon will be announcing its holiday clemencies.
I sincerely hope the fact that her husband is not Filipino, Chinese, African or Spanish will not hinder the decision to let him out for time served, as in the well known plea to the Pharaoh, “Let my people go.”
Sir, – Sometimes I read with amusement, other times with exasperation, the Pollyannaish Encountering Peace columns of Gershon Baskin. Most recently, I read “They got it right, they got it wrong” (December 12) with incredulity.
Baskin’s statement, “the Oslo process totally crashed… when it became apparent to the Palestinians that Israeli had ceased withdrawing from territories that in their understanding were to become part of the Palestinian state,” is completely false. The truth, which I am sure (or at least I hope) Baskin also knows, is that Ehud Barak, at Camp David in July 2000, offered to give up practically all the territories that the Palestinians demanded, but Arafat just got up and started preparing the second intifada.
Baskin should not tergiversate on history.
Chump change
Sir, – The legislation to raise the property tax on homes that stand unused most, if not all, of the year (“Finance Committee approves doubling property tax on ‘ghost apartments,’” December 10) is extremely ill-conceived.
When a Jew from abroad purchases a second home here, he is helping Israel. His money creates construction jobs. He and his family will spend more time in Israel, providing more tourist-industry jobs. Furthermore, he and his family strengthen their ties with Israel and may someday even make aliya.
However, doubling his property tax, though he receives far less in public service benefits than residents, tells our Zionist from abroad that he “hurts the market” and prevents young people from staying in Jerusalem.
A well-off person from abroad who pays $200,000 to $2 million to buy a home in Israel is certainly not going to rent it out, and be unable to use it when he wants, just so he can save a few thousand shekels a year in taxes. He will be left with a bad taste from being made a chump, possibly dropping the whole Zionist project and getting rid of his home.
Politicians should stop promoting ineffective solutions to the housing-price problem and concentrate on measures that will truly increase housing supply, such as changing zoning laws and freeing-up stateowned land.
Farewell, South Africa
Sir, – In bidding farewell to Nelson Mandela (“Thousands queue to bid farewell to Mandela,” December 12), I also bid farewell to South Africa in general, for though I was born near Mandela’s ancestral home, I recognized early on, while growing up there, that I did not really belong. And so, in 1961, I went away in search of my own ancestral home, and found it in Israel.
I worry today about what will happen to the Jewish community that stayed behind, for it seems to me that no matter how hard these people have tried to become part and parcel of the rainbow nation forged in the post-apartheid era, they have not really been accepted. I worry what might happen to them during the forthcoming general elections, when an angry generation of young South Africans born in the post-apartheid era will be looking for someone to blame for the country’s poverty, crime, unemployment and poor economic growth.
If I were Israel’s leader I would give out a clarion call to South African Jewry to gather at Cape Town harbor, where a ship will be waiting to bring them home.
Sir, – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is being berated for his failure to attend the memorial service in South Africa for Nelson Mandela.
Perhaps citing cost was a poor choice. But I ask: Of the world leaders in attendance, how many had enemies calling for their extermination who were warmly embraced and supported by the South African government under Mandela? Israel is accused by this government of being an apartheid state, while never have the Palestinian leaders been condemned for stating that a Jew would never be allowed to live in a Palestinian state. Should not this have been the stated reason for not attending?
What a waste
Sir, – To clear snow, the Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem uses the method shown in the photo, taken Thursday. Does it seem efficient? Economical? Or is it a waste of resources?