March 9: Academy representation

On the eve of the Academy Awards, I was disappointed to hear that Scandar Copti said that “he does not represent Israel”

Academy representation
Sir, – On the eve of the Academy Awards, I was truly disappointed to hear that Scandar Copti, one of the directors of Ajami, stated on the IBA English News that “he does not represent Israel” (“Arab director of ‘Ajami’ says he doesn’t represent Israel,” March 8). Then I find out that the government gave the directors money to make their film.
This is the third year in a row that Israeli films have been nominated for the best foreign language film. That is a remarkable feat, but none of the three films portrays Israel in a positive light. Crime, gang warfare, and a one-sided view of war is not exactly good hasbara.
Maybe we should use the Hollywood angle to get a positive message across. If the government would allocate funds to directors willing to show the decent and compassionate side of Israel, then maybe the world would start looking at us differently. I am originally from Tinseltown, and people believe what they see on the screen. Let’s use it to our advantage.
Sir, – The Israeli university professors calling for an academic boycott of Israel receive state funds, as does the co-director of a film that is somewhat derogatory of Israel. If I promise to bad-mouth Israel during my next visit to America, can I get the state to pay for my trip?
Kudos to Liat
Sir, – “Not black and white” (March 7) by Liat Collins is a concise, factual and convincing reply to the anti-Israel campaigns. Her wonderful ability to present Israel as it really is should be utilized by the Foreign Ministry in its hasbara programs.
Sir, – Liat Collins writes about the “Save a Child’s Heart Program.” I would like to add the following statistics:
Since 1994 SACH has performed over 2,200 heart operations on children from Somalia, Rwanda, Vietnam, Zambia, Iraq and Jordan.
Most of the Arab children have been Palestinians.
SACH recently operated on 12-year-old Gaida Nofal from Nablus – the 1,000th Palestinian child saved.
YOEL TAMARI           Protea Village
Making our streets safe
Sir, – I was in Tel Aviv a few weeks ago, and somehow ended up near the neighborhood referred to as Neveh Sha’anan. Your editorial “Take back Tel Aviv!” (March 7) read my mind – thanks for putting it down on paper.
I felt more frightened there than in some of the least inviting areas of Los Angeles. Also, much more depressed, because this is Israel, our homeland, and somehow we are allowing our country to be taken over by people who have no connection to it. They should not be allowed to stay.
Woe unto us if we continue to ignore the obvious ramifications. Our compassion has to be directed toward our citizens first, and when our streets are not safe, our priorities have to be reevaluated.
The latest ‘long-shots’
Sir, – Now that thanks to Yehuda Avner, we know for the first time that prime minister Yitzhak Rabin thought peace with Yasser Arafat was only a “long shot” (“Rabin thought prospect of peace with Arafat was only a ‘long shot,’” March 5), how long are we going to have to wait before hearing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s assessment of securing peace through “proximity talks” via the US government with the Arab League representing Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas?
First recognize the city
Sir, – There is a certain irony in the petition of the 21 appellants seeking to change the registered nationality of citizens to Israeli (“Supreme Court to decide if there is an ‘Israeli nation,’” March 7). The petitioners – having brought their case to the Jerusalem District Court, and now the Supreme Court, also in Jerusalem – might find it interesting to know that the city is not recognized as Israeli by the US, nor by virtually any other nation.
Some years ago, I lobbied intensely and successfully on Capitol Hill for the passage of the Jerusalem Birthplace Act. The bill proposed requiring the US State Department to register children of Americans born in hospitals like Shaare Zedek or Hadassah with certificates showing “Jerusalem, Israel” rather than just “Jerusalem”; Israel was to be the nationality recorded on their passports as well.
The bill passed and was signed into law by then-president George W. Bush. Unfortunately, however, he also attached a letter specifying it should not be implemented. Challenges to this circumvention have been bouncing around US courts since.
The sheer incongruity of arguing for Israeli nation status from an address that is not recognized as part of the nation of Israel is striking. Perhaps the latter discrepancy should be addressed first.
JEFF DAUBE Director, Israel Office, Zionist Organization of America     Jerusalem
Employment criteria must change
Sir, – I am going on 55 and have been out of work for over two years. When the last company I worked for closed  my department and sent me home, I went to collect unemployment. One of the first things they told me when I opened my file was that in Haifa, they know it is a very big problem for men and women aged 50 and older to find a job (“More women join labor market,” March 8).
Today, companies want to hire younger people straight from university with a second degree and pay them minimum wage. Not many companies (if any) are willing to hire a person over 50 at the same salary they were earning at a previous company. And with the current economic situation, there aren’t so many jobs available.
When let go from your job, you are entitled to collect unemployment for seven months. And then what? How are you supposed to pay your bills and survive? Even being a cashier in a store requires experience. So even if you are willing to learn, and to accept the low salary and shift-work, the store will not hire you if you have no experience. How are you supposed to acquire experience if no one will hire you?
In addition, there are all sorts of jobs advertised in the papers and on the Internet, but for “young” people only. I think this is extremely prejudiced.
The pension age in this country is 67 for men and 64 for women. Yet from the age of 50, you have no work because you are too old, and you can’t touch your pension accounts because you’re not old enough! So what is one to do in this situation?
Personally I’m the type of person who cannot just sit at home and do nothing. So I volunteer at Rambam Hospital just to give me something to do and to get me out of the house, but I get no payment for volunteering, only tickets for the bus.
Our government must do something about this situation. I, for one, cannot live without a salary. I have a lot to offer, but no one will hire me – and I know there are thousands of other people out there like me. Something needs to be done now – not in another 10 years.
Mistaken ‘ass’-umptions
Sir, – The recent furor about the use of the word “ass” in connection with law and lawyers is based on a mistaken but commonly-held belief that Charles Dickens wrote, “The law is an ass” (“Deputy Jerusalem district attorney allowed to resume post,” March 3).
In Oliver Twist, Mr. Bumble, the beadle, is arraigned for something hiswife has done. When he protests, “But I didn’t do it, my wife did it,”the policeman replies, “The law assumes that a wife acts under herhusband’s direction.”
To which Mr. Bumble replies, “If the law assumes that, then the law is an ass. Or a bachelor.”
A sad example of how famous words can be misused. Words are likechildren. We give birth to them, but once they leave us, we have noidea where they may go.