May 30: Olmert's legacy

If Olmert doesn't quit, he will be remembered as a politician who placed his position over his country's interests.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Olmert's legacy Sir, - Most Israelis do not think it appropriate to have as PM someone who has accepted wads of money stuffed into envelopes. For the sake of the country and because of the extraordinary decisions that have to be made affecting our survival, we urge and beg Mr. Olmert to resign. If he does, he will be remembered for this. If he doesn't, he will be remembered as a politician who placed his position over his country's interests ("Further disqualification," Editorial, May 29). JACK COHEN Netanya UCU: Clean up your act Sir, - Re "UK union passes motion to consider boycott of Israeli academia" (May 29): My son Dov, who lectures at Birmingham University, was approached by Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, to support its strike fund. He responded: "Thank you very much for your e-mail about supporting fellow UCU members in potential industrial disputes. I regard it as extremely important that UCU be as strong and united as possible to be able to stand up for the rights, pay and conditions of its members, including effective industrial action, should that be necessary. "You have asked me to contribute to the UCU strike fund. This is something I would like to be able to do. I hope you appreciate, however, that at the present time, I do not feel able to contribute; I hope that by this time next week I will feel that I can. "I have been a member of UCU/AUT for just over three years. In all my life in the UK, I can say that this is the only organization with which I have been involved in which I have been made to feel uncomfortable as a Jew - and specifically as a Jew all of whose family is Israeli. "Repeated calls for boycott of Israeli institutions, the circulation of vitriolic, offensive and untrue allegations, the fact that Jewish members have either been excluded or bullied out of the activists list have led to a culture in UCU that I have to describe as institutionally anti-Semitic. I choose these words carefully because I am sure that the individuals involved do not themselves mean to be anti-Semitic; but the net effect of these actions is to create a culture in the trade union in which Jews and Israelis feel alienated or excluded. "I know Israeli colleagues who will not join UCU because they perceive it as prejudiced against them. I know non-Jewish, non-Israeli colleagues who will not join or who have left UCU because they perceive it as being prejudiced against Jews and Israelis and not focused on the important matters of pay and conditions which you wrote about in your e-mail. "I regularly consider my position as a member of UCU, and, if congress again votes in favor of anti-Israel motions, will consider it again. I will probably stay, if only out of a dogged refusal to give way to a bigoted position. I would love to be able to contribute to the strike fund; but I first need to be able to feel that I belong to a trade union that accepts me for who I am: a Jew with an Israeli family. "As general secretary of the UCU, it is your job, alongside the other leaders of this union, to take strong and decisive action to deal with this appalling situation. RONNIE STEKEL Jerusalem Claim to Gaza? Sir, - On successive Fridays your editorial contained the statement that Israel has no claims on Gaza ("Truce & consequences," May 23, and "Hamastan must go," May 16). I don't believe this statement reflects a consensus; for my part, the map on the Keren Kayemet boxes of my youth had a smooth beach up to the international border, The area had a Jewish population under Judean sovereignty in the time of the Second Temple and beyond. Hershel Shanks's book Judaism in Stone documents intensive Jewish settlement in the Gaza region and further south at Maon up to at least the 6th century. That this ceased to exist can be attributed to the Arab sword and conflagration that spread out from the Arabian peninsula. Up until 1948 and after 1967 the area was sanctified by Jewish blood, sweat and tears. Property abandoned by Arabs in 1948 has been administered in their absence and presumably will be taken into account whenever a peace is concluded. Historic Jewish claims should be acknowledged in like manner. I believe your statement should be revised to read something like: "Israel has strong historic and emotional claims to the Gaza region, but her leaders have demonstrated a willingness, in the face of significant internal opposition, to suspend them as part of the painful price of peace." SYDNEY L. KASTEN Jerusalem Blessed gift Sir, - Re "A blessing on your eyes" by Batsheva Pomerantz (UpFront, May 16): I cannot describe how touched and impressed I was by the article about veteran educator Rahamim Melamed-Cohen and his incredible artwork. It is such a boost to the human spirit to know that someone has been able to fight this once-deadly ALS disease in so dramatic and life-enriching a manner. Dr. Melamed-Cohen's past prestigious works in the field of education are in themselves a most honorable, productive and full life's work - but to have mastered the original and fascinating technique of creating his remarkable art using only his eyes and computer technology is soul-shaking. May he be blessed with good, productive years in which to share his unusual gifts of mind and spirit with the many who will be inspired by him. And may the Almighty grant his wife continued strength of body and mind in the years ahead. CONNIE E. REISNER Beersheba Great letter Sir, - R. Erlich's letter "National shame" (May 26) responding to "Chaos in Conversion Authority as head is fired" (May 23) was a masterpiece! TAMAR KAGAN Jerusalem