December 28: If Mary and Joseph came to Bethlehem now

They would not be allowed in by the Palestinians.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
If Mary and Joseph came to Bethlehem now Sir, - "Hijacked by hatred: UK NGOs use Christmas in anti-Israel attacks" (December 24) noted that one of War on Want's cards shows Mary and Joseph coming to a Bethlehem that is "effectively sealed off from the outside world by Israel's Separation Wall." Well, Mary and Joseph were Jews, and if they were to come to Bethlehem today, they would not be allowed in by the Palestinians. They might even be lynched. The Christians in Bethlehem suffer tremendously. Five years ago, my son was in Hadassah Ein Kerem's pediatric ICU, together with a Christian mother from Bethlehem and her child. She told us of the persecution she and her husband had suffered at the hands of the city's Muslim rulers. Her husband, she said, had lost his job solely for being Christian and life was difficult. I really don't understand why these NGOs swallow the Arab line that Israel is to blame for everything and don't examine the facts for themselves. All I can come up with is either they have big Arab donors, or it is pure anti-Semitism. BATYA BERLINGER Jerusalem 'Read my actions' Sir, - Larry Derfner's "Accept Hamas's offer" (December 25) was in line with the "arrogance and blindness" he accuses Israel of possessing. He was clearly out of the country when Hamas sent those Kassam rockets to Sderot during the supposed cease-fire. We left Hamas alone, and they responded by bombing us. That's the routine and Hamas is very open about it. It's not saying, "Read my lips," it's saying, "Read my actions." The arrogance and blindness of a succession of governments that think, like Mr. Derfner, that it will be just as easy to retaliate later is what has led us into this mess - a mess that has resulted in our self-proclaimed enemy accumulating hundreds, if not thousands of rockets now aimed at our cities. Mr. Derfner, we dismantled Gush Katif in an effort to "leave them alone." Look around and tell us how well that worked. YAACOV PETERSEIL Jerusalem Sir, - How well-considered are the articles from Larry Derfner. He is a point of light in the Israeli collective brainwashed society, a free-thinker. I've appreciated all his articles in your newspaper. He is a real balance to journalists like Caroline B. Glick; or Isi Leibler, who last week critiqued Avraham Burg for his latest honestly written book ("Avraham Burg: The ultimate post-Zionist," December 25). SARAH SONNEBORN Beyond the pale Sir, - There may be a place in Israeli democracy for slanderous depiction of one's country. But there is also a much-needed place for government, together with the general public, to do something to minimize - and hopefully eliminate - the likening of some things going on in Israel to Nazi Germany, as Avraham Burg has done. This degrades the Holocaust itself, bespeaks a lack of basic civility and points to something amiss in one's character as a person and a Jew. JOSEPH DAVID Jerusalem Severe, you say? Sir, - Re "Baby killer Yisrael Valis ordered to begin jail term" (December 25): "The prosecution... praised the sentencing as befitting the crime" while "the defense... criticized it as overly harsh" I cannot believe this. A baby suffered pain and brutality. Bit. Beaten. Pinched. Punched. All this - and a "severe" sentence of six years. Another mockery by our judicial system. JUDY GOLDIN Kiryat Ono Friendly Philippines Sir, - I am one of the Filipino caregivers here in Israel. In "Bittersweet Surrender" (UpFront Travel, December 12) Mya Guarnieri emphasized the poverty of Filipinos (and their generally easy-going manner); the frenetic mix of Spanish, American and Asian influences that make up the Filipino culture in the part of Manila she was in, which sounded horrible - a family of eight living on a street corner - and looked to see which "juan" was sitting in cafés staring," as she put it, "at the lonely planet map of the Philippines." The Philippines was known as one of the poor third world countries, but did your writer appreciate its hospitality, and how good its people are in terms of English communication, seeing that some of them are uneducated? Filipinos can speak English mainly because during the American occupation, US President McKinley, in his instructions to the First Philippines Commission in 1898, ordered that the Philippines' languages as well as English be used for instructional purposes. The American administrators found the local languages too numerous and difficult and so we ended up with a monolingual English system. Your writer landed in the Philippines without knowing any words in Tagalog - but she was still able to get along with the Filipinos. Unlike us: Before coming to Israel, we needed to undergo Hebrew training and become aware of Israeli culture so we could communicate, appreciate and adapt to the Holy Land. ARLYN MARIVELES Tel Mond Not getting it Sir, - While your article about waste water permits was interesting and informative ("Herzliya, Nahariya removed from the pollution blacklist," December 24), I initially found your choice of headline perplexing. I thought we had something to celebrate. Reading the article, however, I saw that we are still not "getting it" about pollution in our country. How is it that we, a country with water woes, continue to contaminate what little we have and mistreat our vital natural resources? Are the results of Herzliya and Nahariya worth a pat on the back, or is this just another piece in the chess game of politics? Considering the photograph accompanying the article and the information contained within it, I would have headlined it "Pollution prevails as permits powerless to prohibit pumping." K. BRONSTEIN Petah Tikva