March 22: New gateway

I suggest erecting our new international terminal on a man-made island off the shores of greater Tel Aviv.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
New gateway Sir, - Further to your cogent editorial "Fast-track the train" (March 19), I would submit that now is the time to begin planning our much-needed international airport of tomorrow. Ben-Gurion Airport's future is limited by safety, security, geopolitical and economic concerns and its replacement in the center of the country is only a matter of time. I suggest erecting our new international terminal on a man-made island off the shores of greater Tel Aviv, with accompanying road, rail or helicopter services providing ready access to a new and imaginative gateway to Israel. JOEL KUTNER Jerusalem Not a bad life Sir, - They have television and cable connection? ("Committee mulls reducing privileges for Hamas prisoners," March 19). No wonder the world thinks we are wimps and pushes us around. As a member of the Israeli workforce, I don't have television because I can't afford it. What does Gilad Schalit have - does anyone know? Our prisons sound like country clubs: free food and entertainment, visitors, cell phones and cable TV - you get the picture (no pun intended). DEBRA BRICKNER Tel Aviv Sir, - Add a swimming pool and a weekly dance, and we would be the only country with a shortage of workers. The whole country would volunteer for prison. CHAYIM SEIDEN Jerusalem Linkage Sir, - I believe the release of the reconstruction money for Gaza should be tied to the release of Gilad Schalit. If Schalit is not released unharmed, the reconstruction money should not be released to Gaza. This is only fair ("Noam Schalit: All that's left is to wait for a miracle," March 19). EVELYN BROOKS Troutman, N. Carolina Trojan horse... Sir, - Let's connect the dots between Charles Freeman's withdrawal as chairman of the US National Intelligence Council ("Under fire, Freeman walks away," March 11) and Yesh Din's opposition to Israel's quarrying rocks in Judea and Samaria ("Israel's latest crime," Editorial, same date). Both events involve organizations funded by foreign governments, but the US and Israel reactions are quite different. Freeman's connection with the Middle East Policy Council, funded in part by Saudi money, immediately evoked objections from several congressmen. Shortly thereafter, Freeman withdrew. Israel, unfortunately, ignores the dangerous implications of foreign governments funding non-profit advocacy organizations. These include the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and B'Tselem, which, your editorial warned, "work against the interests of Israel's mainstream by chipping away at any Jewish claims beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines." They file petitions in the Supreme Court on sensitive issues and lobby in the Knesset to minimize Israel's Jewish identity. The funding nations want Israel out of Judea and Samaria, and almost certainly "give Yesh Din money because its work helps delegitimize Israel's presence there." If foreign governments object to our policies, they should act at the diplomatic level. That is what nations do. We must not allow them to impose their foreign policy upon us from within, by infiltrating our judicial and legislative systems with paid surrogate NGOs. And those NGOs should be required to register as agents of foreign governments, as in the US. JAN SOKOLOVSKY Jerusalem ...and history's course Sir, - In 1929, a very serious global financial crisis started. Over the next decade, a medium-sized power (Germany) armed in contravention of international agreements, threatened its neighbors and used latent and overt hate of the Jews locally and worldwide to strengthen its standing. The world powers, led by Britain, tried to convince Germany to cease its threats. Appeasement did not work. At the end of the decade, a world war started that lasted six years and in which 56,000,000 people, 2.2% of a world population of 2,500,000,000, died. In 2008, a very serious global financial crisis started. A medium-sized power (Iran) is arming in contravention of international agreements, threatening its neighbors, and using latent and overt hate of the Jews locally and worldwide to strengthen its standing. The world powers are trying to convince Iran to cease its arming and its threats. Appeasement is not working. Does history repeat itself? If so, 150,000,000 people, 2.2% of the world's current population of 6,700,000,000, will die. In the decade leading to WW2, there were those who said war was inevitable, but no one imagined its enormous scale and cruel depravity. There are those who say war is inevitable now - but even they cannot imagine the enormous scale and cruel depravity that would be inherent in that catastrophe. The mind-set must be changed. The events immediate to WW2 could not have triggered hostilities without the decade-long process prior to them. Everyone who appreciates freedom should thus work now, conversation by conversation, to combat the anti-civilizational paradigms that fuel the current dangerous downhill slide. KENNETH PREISS Ben-Gurion University Beersheba Changing social norms Sir, - The issues raised by Frimet Roth in "The right to independent living in the community" (March 18) are both a disappointment and a challenge. A country imbued with Jewish values should be setting the global standard in promoting the rights of people with disabilities to live within the community. Fortunately, some Israeli organizations stand out - like Shalva, the Association for Mentally and Physically Challenged Children in Israel. For almost two decades, Shalva has helped empower children with special needs to cope with their disabilities in mainstream settings. Shalva believes in raising the special-needs child as part of the family, not isolated from it. No wonder, then, that many siblings of Shalva children become Shalva volunteers and as adults enter into the helping professions. We would all do well to take Bizchut's study to heart, raise local awareness of the disparities it describes and do our best to support those best practices it advocates to help people with disabilities "come into their own" in our society. SID SLIVKO Director of Communications SHALVA Jerusalem King Rat Sir, - A few days ago I watched a program on BBC24 called Tropic of Capricorn about a man travelling along the tropic. On reaching Mozambique, ravaged for years by guerrilla war, he saw how the people there address the land mine issue - by 'importing' huge rats from Gambia! These creatures, about the size of ferrets and relatively docile for rodents, are harnessed and attached to a wire, after which they walk over the ground where land mines may be concealed. Light enough in weight not to trigger these devices, they "sniff them out" and scratch the earth - after which the controller can dig out the mines and disarm them. It was fascinating to watch this somewhat primitive but effective method of locating land mines, an inexpensive solution for an impoverished country ("Minefields on my mind," March 19). SALLY SHAW Kfar Saba