February 17: Biting the hand

New Hebrew U students who fled Cairo do not show appreciation for being saved from riots by Israel.

letters to the editor (photo credit: )
letters to the editor
(photo credit: )
Biting the hand
Sir, – Reading “New Hebrew U students who fled Cairo are taking in ‘the other side of the conflict’ in Jerusalem” (February 15), my initial positive reaction quickly soured. I am disappointed and angry at student Penelope Shepherd’s lack of appreciation of literally being saved by the generous Israeli and Jewish spirit of chesed in quickly absorbing her and other students who had to leave Egypt in a rush literally due to threats to their safety.
Having been in Israel just a few days, she sees fit already to comment on tensions between Jews and Arabs, and on poverty in Arab east Jerusalem. To get a real education, I suggest she go visit some gorgeous Arab homes in east Jerusalem. They exist. Go visit some poor Jews living in Jerusalem. Also, I ask that she realize that neither she nor most Arabs living in Israel would fear walking down a street anywhere in Jerusalem, as she did in Cairo and as most Jews feel in Arab countries and even in some Arab areas in Israel. There is a reason why it is illegal for Israelis to enter some West Bank areas – it’s for their own protection.
We are an embattled nation made up, to a degree, of descendants of those who survived anti-Semitism and the drive to eliminate the Jewish people. Not one country around us has openly talked about true peace and wanting to live together in harmony. Israel has made huge, one-sided sacrifices toward this end, although they’ve backfired and only served to harm us.
If Shepherd and others like her are really so caring about the suffering of others, let them prove that it is not merely anti- Israel or anti-Jewish sentiment that drives them. Let them go and meet Israelis who have shown them kindness, and help Israelis who are in need. Go and seek out Jews who also live in east Jerusalem, in the Old City and all over the country. Speak with me; get to know us. There are some wonderful people here who live in true harmony, working side by side with their Arab neighbors.
I would also ask Shepherd whether the fact that Hebrew University has so large a number of Arab students does not tell her something of just how much freedom and true democracy Arabs have in Israel? Anyone can go to the campus and see many, many Arabs there, free to learn.
Sir, – I have tutored quite a number of Hebrew University students in English, and my experience is that all students there are cordial to each other, share classes, work together amicably and even become friends. I have never heard any students denigrate other groups or say that they do not want Arabs as fellow students.
Also, in contrast to what Penelope Shepherd said, most Jewish students at HU are on a very tight budget, far poorer than American students. If the Arab neighborhood she lives in accepted Jewish students as renters, many would be happy to save their shekels and become her neighbors. What they run up against is a refusal to let them rent there, and even beatings if they walk through.
Nevertheless, many Jewish students at HU are sympathetic to the Israeli-Arab and Palestinian causes – witness how many of them are currently demonstrating in Sheikh Jarrah against the Jewish owners who are finally getting the opportunity to use their own property.
If she hangs around long enough in Israel, she may yet discover that unlike the virtual 100 percent loathing and denigration of Israelis by Egyptians, the people of Israel have a wide spectrum of viewpoints and are more open-minded about and sympathetic to the “other” than the Egyptian population is.
Sir, – Just what we needed: more Israel bashing. Seems the more we try to help out, the more we are condemned.
Perhaps if Penelope Shepherd lived in a country surrounded by enemies that constantly bombarded her people with rockets, missiles and homicide bombers, and where her people felt threatened with annihilation, she would have a different perspective on what she sees as “a lack of understanding of people attempting to understand the Muslim population.”
We, the Israeli people, can unequivocably tell Shepherd that we have a complete and vast understanding of the Muslim population.
I’ll be watching, Benny
Sir, – Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz is not only well qualified for the post of IDF chief of General Staff, but a pleasant person and an impressive figure, descended from a survivor of the Holocaust (“From Bergen-Belsen to the Kirya,” Editorial, February 15).
With all these attributes, I wish him him success and wisdom in leading the IDF, which now includes our grandson – so I will be watching his progress with special attention.
HILARY GATOFF Herzlia Pituah
Good side of hospitals
Sir, – It was heartwarming to read about Shlomo Begun (“100-year-old man walks out of hospital after hip replacement,” February 15).
In these days of complaints and criticism about our hospitals, the fact that this gentleman received immediate treatment and was not considered too old or economically not viable, as would be the case in other countries, shows our health services in the best possible light.
Please continue to bring us similar good news, and may Mr. Begun continue to enjoy good health.
SHARON LEVY Kiryat Motzkin
Note all the videomats
Sir, – I wholeheartedly agree with your reader who wrote that more affordable housing is needed in Jerusalem, not a movie complex (“Housing, not cinemas,” Letters, February 15).
Movie theaters have been closing in Jerusalem, including those in the Malcha mall. More and more people are renting videos and watching movies at home.
This is a world-wide phenomenon, not just here in Israel.
Jerusalem also needs more hotel space, so it would be logical to build a hotel on that property instead of 15 movie theaters.
HANNAH SONDHELM Jerusalem Blame Kadima
Sir, – In his recent letter, Leonard Zurakov bemoans the presence of Shas in the coalition (“Blundering ministry,” February 15).
I agree that we would be far better off with a government that did not include Shas. The opportunity to exclude it was present after the last election, when Israel Beiteinu suggested a coalition with the other two leading parties, Likud and Kadima.
This was not acceptable to the leaders of Kadima, who would have had the opportunity of introducing legislation to amend the electoral system. I feel I can be forgiven for believing that they showed more inclination to protect their own political positions than act in the best interests of the country.
Let’s monitor ourselves
Sir, – I have been monitoring my household water consumption daily for nearly three years.
About four months ago we were supplied and fitted with the Water Authority’s aerators for two showers and a wash basin. I can inform your readers that I have not noticed any savings since the devices were fitted.
My greatest savings have come from monitoring our toilet cisterns and noticing when they are overflowing. This happens fairly often, and all it requires is a new washer or float valve. This has reduced my water bills by at least NIS 50 per month.
If this monitoring were done by the whole population (or with the help of the Water Authority), it would result in huge savings for the country.
I would be interested in other readers’ observations.