March 15: UNESCO's findings

The UNESCO team's confirmation is welcome, but should not have been necessary.

letters to the editor (photo credit: )
letters to the editor
(photo credit: )
UNESCO's findings Sir, - Re "UNESCO: Dig not harming Temple Mount" (March 14): The UNESCO team's confirmation is welcome, but should not have been necessary. The international media, the BBC in particular, which falsely reported that the work was being carried out under the Temple Mount and Aksa Mosque, must bear responsibility. They vilified us, stirring up passions against Jews and Israel worldwide that resulted in numerous demonstrations akin to the blood libels of earlier centuries. Why did they not bother to inspect the reports of 19th-century, impartial explorers before jumping to conclusions? Is it now too much to expect a correction and apology? Currently, for example, there is no mention of the UNESCO findings on the BBC Web site - which managed to keep the dig as its principal item for days! COLIN L LECI Jerusalem Jewish genealogy Sir, - The Jewish genealogy paper trail indeed ends for many European families at around 1800. My father found out why, as he researched our own family genealogy. Before 1800, the names used in official records were the traditional Jewish names - for example, Reuven, son of Jacob. In some cases the signatures were actually written in Hebrew. Family names did not exist, or at least were not used. It was Napoleon, as he conquered Europe in the late 1700s and early 1800s, who established civil order and insisted that all official documents use a family name. Many families' names were consequently adopted according to the father's first name, the town they were from, or the business they were in. In our own genealogy search the paper trail was pushed a little further back by looking for names written in the traditional Jewish format ("Internet databases, DNA testing make genealogy an easy pursuit these days - but only for some," March 14). AZRIEL HEUMAN Ginot Shomron Resist this temptation Sir, - With the "Saudi Plan" gaining burgeoning support and cachet, it is incumbent on all sides to resist the temptation to ascribe ultimate responsibility for the "nakba" of 1948 on Israel, reassuring the Israeli government that very few "Palestinian refugees" would actually insist on "the right of return" to Israel, but that adequate compensation for the "displaced" refugees would be only fair and ethical. This travesty of justice would open the gates to fraudulent and unending legal suits, encumbering an already beleaguered Israel ("Fix the Saudi Plan," Editorial, March 12). FAY DICKER Lakewood, New Jersey About survival Sir, - In "Masada will not fall again - or will it?" (March 9) your reporter referred to Masada as "one of the country's most poignant symbols of survival." Yet surely survival is the last thing Masada symbolizes. If the suicide at Masada were the paradigm of the Jewish response to difficulties, our people would not be here. It is the Jewish people's ability to maintain its traditions while adapting to difficulty that has allowed us to survive. The reference to "Masada... and other biblical-era tourist attractions" was inaccurate as the events of Masada took place approximately five centuries after the end of the biblical period. DAVID MAGENCE Jerusalem Protekzia rules Sir, - In "Three strikes and you're out" (March 13), economist Dan Ben-David drew attention to the difference in output between Israeli and American employees ("An American in one hour produces 28% more than an Israeli"). To this olah from the UK, the most striking difference between the labor markets in Israel and the UK is the complete lack of a government-led commitment to equal opportunities in recruitment and retention. It would be untenable, not to mention illegal - and in a majority of UK institutions a sackable offense - to offer employment to one's mother, sister or best friend, as opposed to advertising the position openly and recruiting on a level playing field. What is the point of gaining a decent education if one "knows somebody" who will find one a position regardless of skill, ability, experience or education? HELEN OSTER Ramat Ishai Unpleasing police Sir, - Re "Out to lunch" (Letters, March 11): Sadly, I totally agree. I have lived here for 30 wonderful years, loving Israel more and more and feeling privileged to be here in spite of so many problems. But if there is one thing that distresses me above all else, it has to be our disgusting police force. I am an ordinary citizen, but I could write volumes along the lines of Mr. Inselberg's examples, and so can my friends. Indeed, on one occasion I was asked to leave a room where we were trying to report a small crime because I had objected to the policewoman ignoring us while she chatted on her cell phone to her aunt! Something should be done as we need a police force to deal with every type of crime, even "minor offenses." We also need our police to learn some manners and put the people for whom they should be caring first. FAY ROBINSON Givat Olga Raising body & spirit Sir, - It is gratifying to read of more attempts to adapt buildings to accommodate the handicapped ("Shul accessibility," Letters, March 14). Some four years ago the Young Israel Congregation of North Netanya decided that as many of its members were becoming handicapped due to age, it was time to rethink the accessibility. With this in mind, we installed an elevator with Shabbat mode certified by Tzomet. It enables disabled people to reach all parts of the building, including the ladies gallery and the reception hall, whereas before they were unable to participate in the simple act of communal kiddush. As a result the quality of life of our congregants and visitors has been greatly improved. Anyone interested in emulating our example will be readily helped. AUBREY BLITZ Netanya