October 9: Missed opportunity

I can think of no better way to encourage a people to build peace and focus on intercultural dialogue than by ensuring that the Palestinians make positive contributions to UNESCO’s mission.

Missed opportunity
Sir, – What does Israel fear that it must reject the Palestinian bid for full membership in a body that promotes peace and intercultural dialogue (“PA takes first step toward acceptance at UNESCO)? The Palestinian territories are rich with ancient sites, the Church of the Nativity (Bethlehem) and St. George Orthodox Monastery (Jericho) among them. Palestinians have nurtured areas of significant natural beauty – many of them worthy of designation as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Why deny them the pride in such achievements? Why preclude the opportunity for possible joint Israeli-Palestinian sites, such as the Ibrahimi Mosque/Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, the burial ground of our common father Abraham/Ibrahim? I can think of no better way to encourage a people to build peace and focus on intercultural dialogue than by ensuring that the Palestinians make positive contributions to UNESCO’s mission.
Why is Israel such a bully and America such a buffoon as to cease funding for UNESCO if Palestine is accepted as a full member? Both nations would miss an opportunity enabling collaboration, cooperation, communication – and peace!
O'Connor, Australia
Not very efficient
Sir, – In “Jerusalem light rail to force major bus changes” (October 5), it states that travelers may have to take a bus, the light rail and another bus to arrive at their destination. It further states that officials claim this will make travel more efficient.
Will these officials please explain how three transfers make travel more efficient? Do they have in mind the hardship all of this will cause the elderly and handicapped? Have they taken into consideration the waiting time for the light rail and another bus, which could add up to another half hour in travel? Do these officials have in mind the people who go to the Mahaneh Yehuda market and return with heavy shopping carts full of produce? I, for one, don’t understand how this will make for quicker and more efficient travel.
Sir, – I only wish that I and most of my fellow citizens of Jerusalem could share Stephen Rosenberg’s enthusiasm for the city’s new light rail system (“What a great light rail!,” Comment & Features, October 4).
I wish, too, that the years of inconvenience in what we are now told is only the first stage of construction could somehow be compensated for by the smooth, efficient transportation system Jerusalem has suddenly acquired.
But anyone in the city who regularly uses public transportation knows the story is otherwise.
The truth is, travel in the city is now slower than ever, and inconvenience and delay are the common result of the light rail’s construction and introduction. Moreover, we are now told that with the rerouting of buses, most of us traveling to vital areas like the Central Bus Station will have to make at least one and often two changes.
So my feeling is that songs of celebration for the light rail are not quite in order. What is in order is a call for more patience, tolerance and consideration on the part of all of us toward each other as we slowly make our way to our respective destinations.
We were there
Sir, – In “Allegations about UNRWA” (Letters, October 5), Chris Gunness, the group’s spokesman, writes in response to my piece “UNRWA is an impediment to peace” (Comment & Features, October 3) that “none of the activities he ascribes to us took place in our installations or have any association with the agency. They took place in non- UNRWA facilities for which we are not responsible.”
Our films of UNRWA summer camp programs took place at UNRWA facilities in the Deheishe and Aida refugee camps, where the theme of the camps was the right of return.
Sign from Above
Sir, – I read with interest Julia Feuer’s well researched article “The fight is on for religious freedom” (Comment & Features, October 5).
As someone who has administered a kashrut authority and beit din (religious court) for over three decades, I am acutely aware of the constant attacks on the practice of ritual slaughter, which have intensified for us in England since the UK became part of the EU. Your correspondent is so right when she calls for vigilance and a determined response to protect our sacred traditions and right to practice our religion.
However, I think we also need to wake up to what I see as a direct message from Hashem – that life in the Diaspora is not the be-all and end-all, and that our cozy existence is not in keeping with our Torah ideology. We have forgotten that we are in exile and that our yearning for the end of our dispersion has become dimmed.
We should view these threats as a spur to intensify our prayer for the ingathering of the exiles, our return to our holy land and the coming of messiah, the only real guarantee we have of our continued ability to live as Jews.
Manchester, UK
The writer is a rabbi
Lost in translation
Sir, – Judy Montagu’s relevant and thought-provoking column (“Imperfect faith,” In My Own Write, October 5) is the kind of item I wish The Jerusalem Post would publish more often.
However, I take issue with Montagu’s translation of “repentance, prayer and charity” as “averting the stern decree.” The text states that “repentance, prayer and charity avert the evil of the decree.” The decree itself is not averted, as she herself observes.
Hardly terrorism
Sir, – I am no less offended than Gil Troy regarding the recent mosque arson in Tuba Zanghariya (“Terrorists in every way,” Center Field, October 5).
The perpetrators committed a despicable, cowardly, antidemocratic and anti-Zionist act for which the broader Israeli society is reassuringly outraged and contrite. They committed a hate crime and deserve Troy’s condemnation.
But “terrorists in every way?” Let’s not get carried away.
While every act of terror may be evil, not every act of evil is terror. Though it eludes a universally accepted definition, terrorism goes well beyond “attacking civilian and symbolic targets” – it involves attacking people’s physical safety.
If this mean-spirited attack on religious property is considered terrorism, what word is left to describe blowing up a bus full of commuters? Such hyperbolic use of the “terror” term promotes a dangerous moral equivalence between thuggish vandals and murderous suicide bombers, and cheapens the horror suffered by the victims of true terrorism.
Sir, – While I agree with most of the points Gil Troy raises, I am compelled to reply to his assertion that the Jews have “historically resisted the temptation” to commit “mass murder” against their enemies.
In the aftermath of the Holocaust, Jewish death squads targeted and executed scores of Nazis, largely without the benefit of a trial – and you would be hard-pressed to find many Israelis today who find that shameful.
Just because we are a moral people does not mean we cannot render evil unto evil.
This is why, for instance, the targeted killing of terrorists is justifiable even while the so-called price tag attacks of settlers are not.
Ramat Beit Shemesh