September 2: Jerusalem, our heritage

When Prime Minister Olmert meets PA Chairman Abbas, he must remember that Jerusalem is not a gift he can dispense at will.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Jerusalem, our heritage Sir, - In this week's Torah portion of Ki Tavo we are commanded by the Torah to acknowledge that this land is ours to settle as a heritage to bequeath. When Prime Minister Olmert meets PA Chairman Abbas, he must remember that Jerusalem is not a gift he can dispense at will, or negotiate over. The integrity of Jerusalem is to be preserved - not only for ourselves but also for the children of this generation and of the future ("Abbas's new Jerusalem adviser wants to reopen Orient House," August 30). AARON SWIRSKI Netanya This wasn't genocide Sir, - While the Armenian deaths in WWI were a great tragedy, they were not genocide. The Armenian population was in almost total revolt against the Ottoman Turks. Armenian soldiers deserted the Turkish army in droves and went over to the Russian invaders. There are over 50 documented cases of Armenian massacres of Turkish populations while the Turkish army was retreating from the Russian invasion. When the Turkish army repelled the Russians and forced them to retreat, almost 200,000 Armenians, fearing retribution from the advancing Turks, fled to the Caucasus with the Russian army. There, in the region of Guba, they murdered thousands of Azeris, and over 3,000 mountain Jews. (Azerbaijan's Jewish leaders just recently requested that President Aliyev erect a memorial to the murdered Jews.) The Turks were at war, and their first obligation was to win the war and protect the local population. The Armenians' collaboration with the invaders led to their forced evacuation from all areas where they might undermine the Ottomans' campaign against Russia. Official documents show that the army was instructed to provide them with food and supplies on their forced march. Warnings were sent to the military commanders that neither the Kurds nor any other Muslims should use the situation to exact vengeance. A special commission was established to safeguard the property of the expelees and to provide for their return when the crisis was over. What happened was far from what was planned. The army was in almost total disarray. It couldn't protect the expelees. Kurdish bandits harassed the Armenians. Food was almost non-existent. The tragedy was horrific, but it was not planned by the government to wipe out the Armenian population. SHLOMO BAR-MEIR Eilat Incubating doctors Sir, - Re "Train more doctors" (Editorial, August 24): While there is no doubt that Israel needs to plan for more medical training now, it is not a question of either expanding existing faculties or setting up a new medical school; both are needed. While existing faculties can and should expand, there is a limit to how many new students they can accommodate without seriously compromising standards. A new school is the best answer for the long-term, and this has been recognized by the ministries of Health and Education; President Peres, who has pledged his active support; the Council for Higher Education, which has decided to authorize a new school, and many senior academics. Three major donors have placed hundreds of millions of shekels on the table. The establishment of the new faculty near Rosh Pina will create a revolution in developing Galilee, bringing high-quality people to the area and expanding economic activity and much-needed infrastructure. The school will thus serve the national interest in the widest sense, and all the local authorities in the area, recognizing this, are working as a unified body. The call to cancel the American students program is very shortsighted and would do hardly anything to cure Israel's doctor shortage. American students provide much-needed income but, more importantly, they constitute the backbone of the close human contacts between Israel and the US that are so important in the fields of research, clinical collaboration and training and patient care. This is a win-win program, yielding benefits that far outweigh the use of the resources, and it needs expanding (as the Technion did this year). Lastly, Israel needs to transform doctors' working conditions to make medicine an attractive career (the dropout rate of both students and doctors and the emigration of doctors is frighteningly high). While the editorial rightly pointed to pathetically low salaries and inhuman hours of work, I would add three other deterrents: over-bureacratization of the health system, placing doctors at the mercy of clerks and arbitrary rules; a hostile medico-legal atmosphere that creates a witch-hunt against doctors; and violence against doctors. None of these have been discussed seriously, still less dealt with. DR. ANTHONY LUDER Director, Paediatrics and Genetics Ziv Medical Center Safed Where beggars... Sir, - While I am a great believer in charity, I refuse to give to beggars on the streets. While talking in the street outside Bank Leumi in Rehovot, a favorite haunt for beggars, a man accosted us rudely, mid-conversation, asking for money. I told him that I don't give money to street people; my friend and I were then forced to separate rather than be hectored further. A nuisance? More like a plague. Local authorities should send the beggars to authorized day shelters and keep them off the streets ("Chance for a good deed or just a nuisance, there's no escaping Western Wall beggars," August 29). A. WEINBERG Rehovot ...can be choosers Sir, - Readers should not be misled into believing that the blight of beggars accosting tourists is limited to the Western Wall. Here in Safed, the problem is just the same. ELI MINOFF Safed