Extremist rabbis

Sir, – With regard to “Elder Palestinians protect settlers from lynching” (January 8), the State of Israel, with or without Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, must immediately bring the wild-eyed, fire-breathing extremist rabbis under control now.

They are the principal instigators behind settler violence and will be the root cause of the next intifada, which is just over the horizon.

The religious people in this country need to learn to live with those who might be a little different, and they must do so quickly or we are all going to regret it.

Up here in the North, everybody gets along fine.

Once these maniacal rabbis are brought under state control, there will be peace in the territories as well.

MITCHELL RADOV

Ashdot Ya’acov

Something’s wrong

Sir, – With regard to “Productivity and poverty” (Editorial, January 8), there surely must be something drastically wrong in this country when there are increasing numbers of working poor who can’t make ends meet. They are indeed facing a three-headed monster of greed, graft and corruption.

I fear we are in danger of being reduced to a twoclass economy of rich and poor.

With the divisions in our society widening, there is no time for complacency.

Without real leadership, I foresee a potentially threatening scenario from many disaffected and desperate citizens who might use civil disobedience against the present inept and defective government. The “cottage cheese crisis” of 2011 would be like a cakewalk.

I don’t envy incoming Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug, with a myriad of economic dilemmas facing her.

JACK DAVIS
Jerusalem

Sir, – Your interesting editorial makes the point that reducing the gaps between rich and poor requires a holistic approach. This is obviously correct. However, it should be understood that Israel’s way of measuring poverty is to calculate a mean income and then state that anybody who makes less is poor.

In many countries, poverty is defined differently. In the US, for example, a basket of goods and services required by families is determined, and poverty is defined, per family size, as the inability to purchase the required goods and services.

With the Israeli scheme there will always be many people defined as poor because there is always a mean income, and by definition many people fall below the mean. In fact, I once heard former Bank of Israel governor Stanley Fisher say (with tongue in cheek, I presume) that he could lower the poverty rate in Israel by reducing the number of those with large incomes.

A definition of poverty that is based on the realistic needs of people and their families rather than a simplistic statistical determination could lead to better targeted policies that would make it much more likely to reduce real poverty.

MATTHEW SCHEIN
Jerusalem

Sir, – I want to compliment you on an excellent editorial. It embraced a clear perspective. You had the courage to state what is really going on.

It cost me and my family a small fortune to make aliya legally. Perhaps we should have all tried to be infiltrators or asylum-seekers instead.

SHIRNA OSPOVAT
Beit Shemesh

He’s no Begin

Sir, – I congratulate Michael Freund on his latest column (“Can Israel say ‘No’ to the US? Yes, we can!” Fundamentally Freund, January 7).

I don’t think our prime minister has either the courage or the conviction to say no. He is frightened of what the US and the world will say. He must remember that we were here before the US, and we will be here after the Americans are gone.

There will never be another prime minister like Menachem Begin. He had it all – the charisma, the chutzpah and a Jewish soul.

JUDY FORD
Petah Tikva

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