December 22: Patriarch's words

The fact that the Palestinian Authority allows and maybe encourages the emigration of Christians from Christianity’s birthplace is not mentioned, let alone condemned.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Patriarch’s words
Sir, – You report that the Latin patriarch for Jerusalem and a vicar of the patriarchate are concerned about Christians in Arab lands who are “tempted to emigrate,” and about African migrants and asylum-seekers here (“Christmas message from Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem: Israeli-Palestinian conflict blocking regional stability,” December 19).
It is interesting that in all this, these august Christian leaders ignore the plight of Christians in Bethlehem, the home base of their belief. The fact that the Palestinian Authority allows and maybe encourages the emigration of Christians from Christianity’s birthplace is not mentioned, let alone condemned. At one time, Bethlehem was mostly Christian. Now it is mostly Muslim.
It appears that the plight of Christians in this area is less important then calling on Jews/ Israel to do something. It is the Jews/Israelis who are guilty and must do something, not the Arab Muslim and Christian leaders.
Sir, – We are all warmly indebted to the Latin patriarch for his wise words. Perhaps he might, while in a communicative mood, advise us what to do in case of heavy snowstorms and icy roads.
Tenuous grip
Sir, – I refer to “Explaining Iran to a five-year old” (Comment & Features, December 19) by Bob Feferman. Surely the most important thing is to explain it all to EU foreign policy head Catherine Ashton! It seems her grip on reality is somewhat tenuous.
Wrong message
Sir, – The headline of your frontpage analysis “Israel chooses restraint” (December 17) is the wrong message by our government.
It should have read: “Israel chooses weakness.”
No trust there
Sir, – Regarding “Can Netanyahu cross the Rubicon?” (Comment & Features, December 17), MK Hilik Bar proudly presents us with the facts.
Bar writes that he “hosted a group of Palestinian officials at the Knesset. For the first time, the Palestinian and Israeli flags were raised in the Knesset chamber beside each other. The spirit of peace was in the air.” He further writes: “A few weeks later, [Palestinian Authority] President [Mahmoud] Abbas invited our Knesset caucus to visit the Mukata [presidential compound] in Ramallah, and we sat with him and talked.”
By not presenting us with the full picture, in this case that the Israeli flag was not raised in the Mukata, Bar shows us that he lives in fantasy land. The logical conclusion of the absence of our flag, of the lack of reciprocity, should have been that there was a spirit of the elimination of Israel in the air.
If I had been in the Israeli delegation to the Mukata I would have felt gravely offended. Bar and his delegation should have left immediately.
Clearly, trust was not built there.
That snow
Sir, – At 2 a.m. on Tuesday – in other words, in the middle of the night – my husband and I heard loud noises that sounded like a large engine revving up. When we got up the next day we realized that the noise had come from workers who had been sawing away to remove the large tree that had been blocking our driveway due to the snow and making access by either foot or car very difficult.
I would just like to say kol hakavod to all those hard workers who helped keep Jerusalem moving.
Sir, – I was surprised at the helplessness of our storekeepers and building residents who were unable to clear the snow in front of their properties. I wish to add my suggestion.
As a former New Yorker I have been accustomed to seeing the residents or proprietors of each building cleaning the area around the property. I feel that people here would be just as eager, given the proper tools.
Therefore, I recommend to Mayor Nir Barkat that he purchase 10,000 snow shovels and distribute them at little or no cost. It certainly would be a cheaper method of snow removal than massive trucks.
I know that we all will respond willingly when given the proper tools.
Sir, – Did Israel really wait for the snow to melt? People in the 21th century are still relying on nature to run its course! With all our technology and being one of the few advanced countries in the Middle East, we can’t seem to rise above a few centimeters of snow! And even if we rise above the snow, we’re still slipping on the ice!
Sir, – When there is a problem, it is so comforting to place the blame somewhere, on someone else, on the “other.” So whom can we blame for this storm? The haredim? The national-religious? The settlers? The secular? The partnership between Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi? Of course not! The weather is in the hands of God.
On the one hand, a lot of help was extended during the storm.
Let’s continue that quality! To the army, police and able individuals, we all owe a debt of gratitude. On the other hand, may I humbly suggest that God sent us a warning. I believe this was a wake up call.
Could He be angry at us? Always quick to blame the other person, the other group, for our troubles, we avoid taking responsibility for ourselves. Rather than being unified, baseless hatred is present in all groups.
Our external enemies don’t go away. We desperately need God’s protection. But could He be waiting to see if we deserve it, whether we can transform our baseless hatred into love for all the people of Israel? Let’s try and see if we can make a difference.
E.P. HARRISJerusalem
Sir, – Thanks for printing the most moving letter by reader Stuart Pilichowski (“Readers comment on the nation’s weather preparedness,” December 16).
I had tears in my eyes when I realized that, thank God, we have people like the sexton and the rabbi, who helped a family of Filipino converts on the eve of our snowy Shabbat. The members of the family were offered “the very best guest accommodations by the local Sephardi rabbi. They received the highest honors on Shabbat morning at services.”
May these caring people, like the rabbi and the sexton, increase in our midst! JENNY WEIL Jerusalem
Unfounded claims
Sir, – Your article “Charity founded by Orthodox lobbyist under investigation in New York” (December 16) repeated unfounded claims against our organization.
Relief Resources, Inc. provides critical mental health referral services to thousands of Orthodox Jewish families in New York each month, and does so in consultation with leading doctors and other healthcare professionals, who enthusiastically attest to the professionalism and dedication of our staff.
I am confident that all who independently review this matter will come to the same conclusion.
BENJAMIN BABADNew YorkThe writer is director of Relief Resources Inc.
Always remember
Sir, – We read of the death of Peter O’Toole in “‘Lawrence of Arabia’ actor Peter O’Toole dies, aged 81” (December 16), yet one of his best parts, filmed here in Israel, was not mentioned.
One of his most dramatic roles was filmed on location at Masada.
He played the Roman commander Lucius Flavius Silva. He was nominated for an Emmy for his work on this made-for-television movie.
As a licensed Israeli tour guide, I go to Masada and can still point out some of the remnants that Hollywood left behind at the site. I always mention Peter O’Toole and will always remember him.