May 27, 2017: Trump visit

So US President Donald Trump visits Saudi Arabia and, apparently, has its king agree to future peace talks with Israel without any preconditions. An unexpected and revolutionary approach!

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Trump visit
So US President Donald Trump visits Saudi Arabia and, apparently, has its king agree to future peace talks with Israel without any preconditions. An unexpected and revolutionary approach! At long last, it seems to match the long-standing Israeli position, and talks can start straight away.
So what does Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu do? He immediately expresses a precondition to such talks (“PM: Temple Mount will be under Israel’s control forever,” May 25).
Well done, Bibi!
Your paper reports that President Donald Trump refused an invitation by the speaker of our Knesset to address the plenum because it was such an unruly institution (“Edelstein says threat of rowdy MKs is what kept Trump away from Knesset,” May 24).
Watching the speeches, debates and discussions on our TV; seeing how our lawmakers interrupt and scream at each other while throwing threats; and watching them freely walk around the spacious area as though they were in a park or on the street, all while resisting efforts by the speaker to have them leave or be removed – it is no wonder how this type of behavior reflects on all other walks of life.
One can only compare this to viewing British parliamentary debates or prime ministerial addresses on the BBC. They take place with decorum and manners, with MPs hardly ever interrupting the speaker.
The House of Commons is hundreds of years older than the Knesset. Unlike ours, it has no luxury swivel chairs for each member, but rather long green benches, where the members sit squeezed in, shoulder to shoulder, with no table in front. They keep their papers on their laps, where they also take notes. There is no room to walk around and talk to other lawmakers.
The House of Commons has about four times the number of members that our Knesset does, and look what it achieves! The UK is a leading world democracy, its lawmakers behaving like gentlemen and ladies, with great historical moments, and all this in an ancient building with old physical conditions.
The conclusion is that our Knesset members have it too good. They are too comfortable and behave poorly, with less to show for it.
Jerusalem Day
Amid the many published reports concerning the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, I saw no mention of Jordan’s continuing involvement in the guardianship of the Temple Mount.
After Jordan spent 1948 to 1967 destroying every synagogue in the Old City and then initiating a war that finally gave Israel sovereignty over all of Jerusalem, Moshe Dayan awarded his Jordanian enemy by handing over the Temple Mount on a silver platter. To this day, we are paying for this utter absurdity.
A final peace treaty between Israel and the Arabs must assure that all of Jerusalem, including its most historic and sacred site, be part and parcel of the State of Israel for all time.
Every year for the past 10 years, I have made it my business to be present in Jerusalem on 28 Iyar to celebrate Jerusalem Day and participate in the unique service at the city’s Great Synagogue, just like it used to be at Finchley Synagogue in London, arranged by Likud Herut GB.
Contrary to previous years, where the prayers were open to all free of charge, I was told this year at the entrance to the Great Synagogue that it was a private event, and that the sponsoring organization, World Mizrahi, had decided to charge the public so it could reimburse the guest speakers and pay for use of the premises, the cantor and the choir! If they wanted it to be a private event, they could have used any of the numerous wedding venues or a hotel hall, but not the Great Synagogue! To have the temerity to charge to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria in prayer is beyond the pale. It’s the ultimate chutzpah!
Edgware, UK
Shuli Natan, who sang the original version of “Jerusalem of Gold,” is alive and well, and still singing. Indeed, she will perform here in Omer this week.
Why, then, did the organizers of the Jerusalem Day ceremony choose a beautiful young blond, whose beautiful white gown emphasized her very pregnant belly? Is it because Shuli is 50 years older than she was in 1967? Aren’t we all?
Visible armpits...
In “U can’t talk to ur professor like this” (Comment & Features, May 21), Molly Worthen discusses professor-student etiquette at academic institutions.
I agree with everything she writes, but there is an important omission in her piece, which refers mainly to US institutions.
In Israel, the climate is hot and often very humid. You can see most male professors (I’m sorry I have to refer to gender) dressed very, very informally – shorts, sandals and visible armpits.
A tie, long-sleeved shirts and a jacket are almost never to be seen.
Just like you would be nonplussed if you visited a doctor or a lawyer who was in such attire, the same is true for professors.
To be treated with respect, Israeli professors have to drastically upgrade their attire. It’s not all the student’s fault.
I have to admit that I was guilty of the same informal attire during my 37 years of teaching.
The writer is an emeritus professor of physics at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
...and rethinking burials
The sweeping curves of the new multi-story cemetery sections just outside the entrance to Jerusalem are impressive.
Surprisingly, nobody has publicly recognized that by reviving Temple-time ossuary burials, the capacity of cemeteries is effectively multiplied.
In Britain, Victorian cemetery entrepreneurs realized quickly that they were into reverse mining – mines were exhausted and cemeteries filled up, so the British now cremate, and the French limit their grave leases to a decade or three.
Using ossuaries will prolong capacity, usable time and revenues.
It will also save land, because whichever way you look at it, coffin space is four ossuary spaces – if not a dozen, given that the practice still survives around Naples and Venice. Eventually, the bones can be exhumed, put in an ossuary 30 cm. by 30 cm. by 1 meter, and laid across the foot of the grave “tank” where further ossuaries – mostly air – can be piled on, perhaps in a twin stack of 12 as a substantial family memorial.
Also, existing town cemeteries and the 600 kibbutzim and moshavim around the country could adjust their cemetery management, invite their non-kibbutz and -moshav family and friends, and turn the piled ossuaries into a cemetery wall, as in Venice and Naples, where they are piled in neat stacks like supermarket “gondolas.”
Israel already has a flourishing plastics recycling industry Stamping out ossuaries from recycled plastic, with a shallow honeycomb or finned surface to take a plaster skim, will ensure that the décor is not expensive. And it will virtuously use waste.
Even if the population doubles, stop worrying, as existing cemeteries can adjust and “take it.” What matters is l’chaim to a flourishing future!
Prestwich, UK