July 24: The housing problem

You are lucky to live in a free society where you are rewarded for your hard work. Stop blaming the government and take control of your lives.

letters (photo credit: JP)
(photo credit: JP)
The housing problem
Sir, – I am very proud of our youth for fighting for what they believe is right (“Protest leaders call for all tent cities to mass in Tel Aviv on Saturday,” July 21).
Unfortunately, though, the real world requires many sacrifices.
My income is below the country’s average. I survive because I have made a choice to give up the extras, like beer, going to the movies and out to dinner. Am I deprived? No. I am grateful for the roof over my head and the food on the table. When I have an occasional beer, I truly appreciate it.
Does one have to live in Tel Aviv? High rents are a fact of life in the world’s major cities. There are so many affordable cities in Israel.
I say to the demonstrators: You are lucky to live in a free society where you are rewarded for your hard work. Each one of us has to pay our dues. Stop blaming the government and take control of your lives.
Sir, – It is not often that two very different kinds of social problems – a housing shortage in Tel Aviv and a problematic number of illegal aliens residing in the southern part of the city – share a common solution, at least in part.
The repatriation of the latter would free many housing units in what could become a desirable and well-located neighborhood.
Some may object that the building stock is in terrible condition, but it seems easily repairable (although lacking illegal workers, new residents might have to do some of the renovations themselves.) What would be the reaction on Rothschild Boulevard to such a solution?
Sir, – There is no shortage of housing – just bad management of the situation.
Every new building should have a number of one- and two-room apartments. Instead, we find landlords illegally splitting apartments to rent out to singles and make exorbitant profits.
Sir, – Brilliant article by Yehudit Collins (“There’s a word for it – greed,” Comment & Features, July 21).
Let’s hope the decision-makers read it. Then perhaps we can hope that they generate a project, such as cheap housing financed by Tnuva, Teva, Osem and Strauss, to name but a few.
This could help the National Insurance Institute, which pays out millions each month in rent subsidies.
It might also help spread some of the wealth. Now that would be a dream come true!
JOYCE KAHN Petah Tikva
Sir, – Maybe when the messiah comes, owners of apartments will rent or sell them for less than market value, wealthy people will be restricted to owning one home, politicians will stop being influence-peddlers-for-hire, and the government will take all the “excess” capital that financially successful people accumulate.
In the meantime, I think the best we can hope for is a revamping of the Israel Lands Authority and the Finance Ministry, both of which are myopic. The answer isn’t some type of communism, which Yehudit Collins seems to be advocating.
STEVE KRAMER Alfei Menashe
No such thing
Sir, – For many years, Israelis complained that religious Jews did not serve in the IDF. Now, according to “Ex-top officer slammed over report saying army becoming too religious” (July 21), there are too many! Religious Jews are among the best and most dedicated of soldiers.
You can’t have too many!
Kiwis weigh in
Sir, – Your editorial (“Conspiracy in the rubble,” July 21) illustrates a lack of historical insight.
In the 1980s we had French spies/terrorists down here with false IDs blowing up a Greenpeace ship and killing one person.
Under huge pressure exerted by France, we had to give these spies/terrorists back, with just token sentences. New Zealand thus became sensitized to being taken advantage of by foreign intelligence services.
In 2004, Israeli intelligence personnel were caught here in connection with identity theft and passport fraud. After the French mess, we were being taken advantage of again – and this time by an ally. The disgust of the country was unanimous.
The common feature of both incidents included an ineptly-carried- out plan to leave the country fast. After the earthquake, we saw individuals from Israel who wanted to leave fast. The reasons were almost certainly innocent, but the Israeli intelligence activities of 2004 are still vividly remembered.
If anyone is to blame for the supposed anti-Israel prejudice exhibited by New Zealand it is the Mossad spymasters of 2004.
As someone who has worked with outstanding Israelis in the medical field and has huge respect for Israel and its place in the world, I think you should consider revising your views and recognize that there is sensitivity in New Zealand, not prejudice.
J. COOPER Aukland
Sir, – Our prime minister, who is in charge of the Security Intelligence Service, has stated that the Israeli killed in the Christchurch earthquake possessed two passports. The editor of the Southland Times, who broke the story, stated that he had five.
What is not in dispute, though, is the interesting statistic that the Israeli prime minister, on the day of the earthquake, made four telephone calls to the office of our prime minister. Your PM must have a very heavy workload, so why did he make four phone calls on that one day to the PM of one of the smallest countries in the world? Most New Zealanders have a very high regard for Israel, which like New Zealand is a small country.
But we would like to know what is going on, so would your fine newspaper please make some inquiries?
Sir, – New Zealand is hardly a threat to Israel, nor do we have a track record of anti-Israel or anti- Jewish sentiment at large. (The odd individual yes, but as a nation no.) While we should all acknowledge and respect the grave reasons for the birth of Israel as a nation and the ongoing struggle you have had to face over the years, perhaps for a change you could stop blaming everyone else for some (admittedly not all) of your problems? Oh, and stop sending spies here. There is nothing for you to spy on.
Sir, – I don’t think there is an anti-Israel bias in the New Zealand media. However, the media here are trained to ask difficult questions, and they expect politicians to answer them.
Perhaps Israeli journalists should hold their own politicians to the same level of accountability. Then, once they have answered questions regarding the ill-treatment of Palestinians, the illegal assault on ships in international waters and the death of innocents aboard them, and have received a detailed explanation of the assassination of Arab citizens abroad by the Mossad, then and only then will your outrage over this so-called anti- Israel bias be taken seriously by anyone here.

Not just hawks
Sir, In his response to my last letter (“Neither wing,” July 20), Larry Derfner claims to know that our followers are “overwhelmingly hawkish Republicans.”
But he can’t possibly know the political affiliation of ZOA members. I don’t. I do happen to know, however, that our board is divided between Democrats and Republicans.
New York
The writer is president of the Zionist Organization of America