March 3: World don't care, 'cept for here

The world plays its morality game only on the back of Israel.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
World don't care,'cept for here Sir, - Michael Freund's "Are all counterterror operations created equal?" (February 25) on the world's indifference to the disproportionate attack by the Sri Lankan army against the Tamil Tiger rebels interested me - because Toronto has the largest Tamil community outside Sri Lanka. The world, by highlighting the disproportionate force and exact number of Palestinian civilian casualties in Israel's offensive in Gaza, plays its morality game only on the back of Israel. In the major conflicts of our time - France against Algeria, America against Vietnam, Pakistan against newly independent Bangladesh in 1971, Russia against Afghanistan and Chechnya - the number of civilians killed range from the tens of thousands in some wars to over a million in others. There is only a vague idea of how many in any of them, and no one cares. Moreover, unlike Israel, none of these countries faced any threat from their victims. Freund, however, overlooks the savagery of the dominant powers in the Sri Lankan civil war. Some 20,000 Tamils have "disappeared" after their seizure by government forces. And in one week in July 1983, the Sinhalese majority slaughtered up to 3,000 of the Tamil minority in riots. Again, there was only a rough estimate; the world was indifferent. JACOB MENDLOVIC Toronto Right, but upside-down Sir, - What seems to be going wrong with Barack Obama's approach is that while he's correctly linking resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict with the Iranian threat, he's approaching it upside down ("From the West Bank to Teheran," David Horovitz, February 27). The only way Israel will do what it has to do to make peace with the Palestinians - and their side of the equation is even more problematic - will be when Obama demonstrates, through deed, that he's as good as his word when it comes to making sure Iran does not produce a bomb. This slight change of emphasis is all-important, and, needless to say, Mr. Horovitz and his colleagues play a vital part in making Americans aware of it. JACK EISENBERG Baltimore Our space, our place Sir, - Thank you to the compiler of the Quick Crossword that appeared in your newspaper on February 26. This was the clue for 23 Across: Occupy (7 letters). The solution - Inhabit. I always knew that I was an inhabitant here in Israel, and not an occupier. LITA ARKIN Jerusalem Lostentation... Sir, - What has happened to this country since we made aliya 33 years ago? NIS 650 million for a new, ostentatious residence for the prime minister - are we competing with Dubai? ("Wrong address," Editorial, March 1.) How well I remember our visit not too many years ago to the Foreign Ministry, then housed in old barracks from Mandatory days. Inside was modern, with all the sophisticated technology the ministry needed to conduct its business. We were very proud that there was no hesitancy over receiving world leaders in those premises. The ministry remained in those quarters for many years. What has happened to our modesty and good sense? Has our government lost them? EVELYN WOLMAN Tel Mond ...Begin shunned it Sir, - Almost daily I am besieged by telephone calls from charitable organizations beseeching me to help the sick, the handicapped and, above all, the hungry. In such an economic climate I ask myself: Why don't our leaders allocate more funds for these and countless other worthy causes instead of - for example - mindlessly splurging on a grandiose new prime minister's residence worthy of the most corrupt third-world country? Great leaders of the past like Menachem Begin managed very well in extremely modest accommodation. Funds such as those apparently available for the PM's new abode could surely be put to better use - for new schools or hospitals, and those who staff them. The list is endless. SHEILA BRULL Jerusalem Medical tourism Sir, - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich's "Israel lags in race for medical tourists" (March 1) is so true it screams out for action. Medical tourism is almost unaffected by the security situation (which doesn't show any signs of improvement, meaning that "normal" tourism will be hit very hard). Many hospitals in the US are filled with extremely talented Israeli doctors who just couldn't get the kind of jobs they wanted in Israel. So stop the brain drain and use your brains - and the brains of those good doctors, too. ZVI KOENIGSBERG Brookline, Massachusetts Sir, - Congratulations on your excellent article about offering medical facilities to foreigners. However, there is another source of revenue in this field that is not being exploited. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of regular visitors to Israel, many of whom own property here and come in as tourists several times annually, often for periods of one or two months. They would love to have medical coverage while here without using their travel insurance cover. They would be happy to pay for this, but, to the best of my knowledge, none of the medical funds offer it. Most would not use it, but it would be a comfort to know it was there. PAUL WEISER Herzliya Pituah Health reporter Judy Siegel-Itzkovich responds: No country in the world offers such insurance because of the risk that foreigners will take advantage of it and demand benefits available only to residents who pay health taxes. Wish you were here? Sir, - I was appalled to see a review of the Taba Hilton ("Sababa in Taba," March 1), the author's somewhat "parve" disclaimer toward the end notwithstanding. In fact, earlier in the piece the writer's mention of those who hesitate to travel there clearly had a negative connotation. While some choose to ignore warnings, it is known that trips to Sinai are to be discouraged - to put it very mildly. So why run a review of a hotel there? Would you publish someone's praise of a particular brand of cigarette? NACHAMA KANNER Rehovot Bedside book Sir, - Re "Proposing change for Israel" (David Benkof, February 26): A Bible in every hotel room? Excellent! I suggest the same in youth hostels, etc. But what of the very many hotel guests who don't know Hebrew or English? HANNA ZLOTNICK Jerusalem Tireless decanter Sir, - Re your very interesting report on "The man whose mission is to catch rain water" (March 2): The above photo is of my wife, Bracha, who for years has filled bin after bin of rainwater, taking from a full bin and decanting the water to other receptacles. The photo was taken during a rainfall on Saturday February 28. REUVEN YAGIL Beersheba