Letters to the Editor (February 15, 2012)

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Im giving up my property in Hebron

Its important for Israeli students to be familiar with the countrys heritage and landscapes and to visit Hebron, but its no less important for them to understand the questions stirred by the situation that has been created in the city. The questions are many and difficult, but the biggest question is whether the Hebron settlers will continue to torpedo the chances of a compromise between the two peoples.

The settlers in Hebron have introduced the method of searching for pre-state Jewish property to undermine the situation created in 1948. During the War of Independence the country was divided, and Zionism achieved Theodor Herzls goal: both a country of our own and international consent.

My mothers family lived in Hebron from the beginning of the 18th century or even earlier. In 1880 my great-grandfather Rabbi David Eliezer Melamed and his brother Haim Yehezkel Melamed bought two apartments in Hebron next to the Eliyahu Synagogue. I have the purchase contract. The contract is approved with the seal and signature of Hebrons young chief rabbi, Rachamim Yosef Franco, as required during the Ottoman period approval of a document by the head of the religious community.

As is true of veteran Jewish residents, there are tens of thousands of Israeli Arabs who have papers proving ownership of property in Jerusalem, Haifa, Jaffa, Tiberias and Safed. It is folly to try to turn back the clock to 1948.

I hereby declare that I fully waive any right of possession in Hebron. I am not a stranger to settling the land, nor do I oppose it; on the contrary. I have been engaged in settlement all my life, beginning with the establishment of Tel Katzir on the Syrian border in the demilitarized zone east of Lake Kinneret.

The difference is that back then settlements were built out of a perception of the overall picture, not to seize every hilltop. We settled to stabilize the borders, not to distort them so that it would be impossible to reach the necessary territorial compromise.

Hebron can serve as a good example for teaching students to distinguish between messianism and reality.

Yoram Katzir
Tel Aviv

Beauty can be eternal

In response to Politics in the classroom, February 13

Without discussing the issue of high school students tours to Hebron, I would like to comment on the pedagogical approach of the articles authors, Dina Berdichevsky and Gili Kugler. They write: When we teach the Bible and literature, we encourage our pupils to ask questions and to think about the nature of a just society, about the significance of human freedom, about the future they are dreaming of, and about war and peace.

There is no question that the students should be encouraged to ask and think, but when teaching Bible and/or literature the focus should be on Bible or literature. Many high school students complete their studies without sufficient knowledge of those and other subjects.
First they have to acquire the knowledge, and only afterwards, throughout their lives, will they search for the political or apolitical relevance.

We should encourage love of the subject, whether it is Bible, literature or any other field. Relevance changes. Beauty can be eternal.

Yehoshua Schwartz
Ramat Gan

Partial peace, a vain dream

In response to A new peace, February 9

The new peace, which wont be imminent but gradual, may give the Israeli center and left a relevant diplomatic agenda, writes Ari Shavit. The new peace will not necessarily be based on signed agreements. Apparently the left-center, instead of hallucinating about a final-status agreement, is supposed to try to achieve a calm life of neighborly relations with the Palestinians a life that will probably be based on administrative arrangements until perhaps one day we can conduct talks on a final peace.

But that basically has always been the Labor Partys policy, from the time it was headed by Ehud Barak to this day, when it is headed by Shelly Yachimovich. All we need is to include it in the platforms diplomacy chapter for the next elections. In other words: Yes to two states, but in the unforeseeable future.

The beauty of such a platform is that even the national camp would gladly adopt it especially the partial peaces nonchalance: Give us such a partial peace and well know what to do with it on the ground.

Common to all the ideas on interim agreements is that their authors, including Shavit, are silent about continuing or freezing the settlement enterprise during the interim period. They create the impression that if we sign a final-status agreement today, well leave the area tomorrow (with accompanying horror scenarios).

They are concealing the fact that a final-status agreement will, for technical as well as security reasons, require a long transition period. And by doing so, they avoid taking a stance on the final agreements framework and what it means for the settlements.
If we are doomed to a Shavit-style partial peace, we better prepare for life in one state between the Jordan River and the sea.

Tzuriel Shivo
Holon

Its Syrias fault

In response to Black flag over Mount Hermon, February 12

Gideon Levy has apparently forgotten the Syrians shooting and artillery barrages from the Golan Heights on the communities in the valley. I remember the farmers from Tel Katzir, who absorbed such barrages while cultivating the land near the Syrian border. There was also shooting at fishermen sailing on Lake Kinneret, which was under full Israeli sovereignty.

All that took place before the Six-Day War and before the occupation of the Golan Heights.
Had it not been for Syrian incitement and belligerency, war would not have erupted in that sector, and all the communities whose disappearance Levy mourns would have existed to this day under Syrian rule.

Alon Shatner
Rishon Letzion

A basic right to dignity

R. from the Prime Ministers Office in effect represents a large group of women. She is an ordinary woman. She likes her job, and may even earn a nice salary. R. prefers routine the familiar and the known rather than the roller coaster whose final destination she doesnt know. She claims she wants to preserve her privacy.

Thats a shame. She has been given an opportunity to work for female empowerment and to encourage women. That isnt feminism, its a basic right to dignity that should not be undermined.

Suzanna Porzia
Netanya

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