November 2, UpFront: The whole truth...

If Israelis are undergoing a spiritual crisis, it is because our rabbinic leadership offers nothing but "religious gobbledy-gook."

letters 88 (photo credit: )
letters 88
(photo credit: )
The whole truth... Sir, - Finally, someone has the courage to say it outright. David Forman's column, "Ghosts & goblins" (October 26), points to our false rabbinic prophets who insult our intelligence and emotional well-being every day with their ludicrous interpretations of the Jewish tradition that condemn us for all tragedies that have befallen us. If Israelis are undergoing a spiritual crisis, it is because our rabbinic leadership offers nothing but, as Forman writes, "religious gobbledy-gook." PAULA JAFFE-SHEKEF Ramat Aviv ...and nothing but? Sir, - David Forman excels at half truths. In his article "The coming Third Intifada" (October 12) he omits to mention the following facts: 1) Many Arab villages were settled by Arabs coming to Palestine in search of work during the British Mandate period. Others were Beduin encampments, much like those we see in the South today, which evolved into villages such as Shibli. Since that time the land is tenuously owned by the patriarchal leaders of the clans and families, members of which build at random as their families grow, without the need to pay for a building license and of course without paying for infrastructure costs, thereby paying a minimal price to build a home. 2) The cost of a home for a non-Arab Israeli is almost doubled because it includes all infrastructure costs, such as roads and pavements (who hasn't been charged when their pavements are widened?), sewerage, electricity and even land allocated for parks. 3) The transfers the Interior Ministry makes to towns and villages is supposed to match, shekel for shekel, the amount of municipal taxes collected by each council. In the Jewish sector municipal tax collection is above 80 percent on average. In the Arab sector it is below 40% on average. 4) The Arab sector and its leadership totally and unreservedly reject being a part of National Service even though those serving do so for the benefit of their own communities, whether in schools, kindergartens, clinics or social services. This short-sighted policy enables them to cry "discrimination." The Arab sector lags behind the Jewish, not because of discrimination but because its leaders have neglected their constituents in favour of anti-Israel national politics. BERYL RATZER Kiryat Ono Sir, - In modern developed countries all households have running water. The homes, however, are all legally built on registered land and the homeowners pay the local taxes. Homes which are illegally built are demolished and the owners imprisoned. If in Israel there are 100,000 Arabs without running water (although this figure is probably wildly exaggerated), it is not because of some imagined prejudice but because the homes are illegally built. David Forman does a grave disservice to Israel when, instead of fighting the phenomenon of illegal building, he seeks to aid and abet these illegal activities, which in the end can only harm the rule of law and order. HARVEY MITCHELL Mazkeret Batya Poor me persona Sirs, - Re "Winds of Change?" (October 26). Manar Fawakhry is to be commended for her work at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. But I would like to say to her that beyond the cause factor - Islam's adamant refusal to "suffer" a Jewish entity and the Western way of life - the Arab world has embraced pain and humiliation as its raison d'etre. The Jewish people have been supremely humiliated for a millennium as a nation of homeless castoffs whose very faith was usurped, culminating in the supreme dehumanization of Nazism. However, for the Jews suffering bred genius. The life force of American blacks propelled them to great heights of creativity out of the depths of a villainous and humiliating slavery. In both cases, and in many others, suffering inspires a reach for the stars, one of the mysteries of the human condition. Only when Islam gives up this "poor us" persona and seeks inspiration in a goal that does not harm others, can the basis for a peaceful dialogue develop with the West and with Israel. SHIRA TWERSKY-CASSEL Jerusalem