Wake up, Mr. Jager
Sir, - Elliot Jager's "It's not about the race, Ehud" (May 17) was well done. Unfortunately, he must not have listened carefully to our new prime minister's wish for disengagement - that it be now, and not later.
What you say is very true, Mr. Jager, and I do agree with you about all the problems that lie ahead; but I don't have any sympathy for you.
There is an old saying: "You've made your bed, now lie in it."
Sir, - Elliot Jager refers to Israel's occupation as "so-called." If Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria is not an occupation, then the only logical definition of its presence there is that the area is part of Israel. If one holds to this interpretation, Israel, being a democracy, would have to apply universal suffrage to all who live there, which would herald the demographic death knell of the Jewish state.
Mr. Jager argues that convergence has sobering security ramifications and implies that the presence of settlements in some manner prevents terrorist attacks on Israel proper. On the contrary, while convergence implies a civilian and political withdrawal from a large part of the territories, it does not for one minute rule out military intervention in the territories as a response to terrorism.
Ehud Olmert has not promised to eradicate terror but to ensure de-facto borders with a solid Jewish majority - this is the core idea behind unilateralism.
Finally, a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians may well render us far less than a unilateral withdrawal would. Not only would Israel have to give up more land, it would sign an agreement knowing full well that its terms would not be adhered to by the Palestinians. Oslo demonstrated this only too well.
Begging with menaces
Sir, - The kleptocratic, corrupt governing Palestinian Authority, unable or unwilling to support its own bloated bureaucracy, is dependent on handouts from European and American donors.
Now a terrorist group affiliated with the mainstream Fatah organization has the effrontery to demand charity as a right - otherwise it will harm the donor countries' citizens and commercial interests ("Aksa Martyrs Brigades threatens to strike at US, Europe if PA sanctions upheld," May 16).
What unmitigated gall! This is begging with menaces.
Sir, - Your article on the funeral of Daniel Wultz, in which you noted the moment of silence before the tip-off of Game 5 of the NBA's Miami-New Jersey playoff series, caused me to pause to reflect, and ask: When was the last time any Israeli sporting game was stopped for a moment of reflection on our terrorist victims? ("Daniel Wultz laid to rest in Florida," On-Line Edition, May 17).
Be not deceived
Sir, - One can only hope that the public will not be deceived by the latest spin of the Kadima and Labor spin doctors, namely the spats between our premier and his defense minister ("Olmert-Peretz spat intensifies," May 15).
These reports serve the PM by making it appear that he is still somewhat of a Betarnik, and they serve Peretz by making it appear that he is standing up for his dovish ideals. The Americans and especially President Bush are also impressed that Ehud Olmert has a not-so-stable coalition and has to placate his main partner, Amir Peretz, in order to survive.
Thus does Olmert hope to obtain President Bush's agreement for his "convergence" plan.
Sir, - After seeing the film Mekudeshet and reading Rabbi Avi Shafran's "I don't buy 'Mekudeshet'" (April 18) and his reply to Rabbi Shlomo Riskin ("Uncountered charge," Letters, May 17) I have a deeper appreciation of the daily blessing "Baruch shelo asani isha" (Blessed be He who did not create me a woman).
Fireworks at the central bus station
Sir, - Tuesday evening I and many others went to see the "Fireworks on the Tel Aviv beachfront" (Photo, May 17). Afterwards, with so many people trying to get home, what always happens in such a situation in Israel happened: chaos, with hundreds milling about in the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station and nearly no extra buses to take them home.
After the last official bus left there were still more than 100 people waiting to get back. They got angry and started to curse Egged, which in their eyes was responsible for the mess. During this time an Egged manager talked to every single bus driver on his way home, trying to convince them to make the extra trip. In the end he succeeded: Three bus drivers returned to their buses to take us home. I want to thank these Egged people and express my deepest respect for their commitment and responsibility.
Let offenders pay...
Sir, - "Mofaz's new power" (Editorial, May 16) highlighted the lack of budgets to achieve the very urgent road accident reduction of 50% that has proven possible in France, England and Australia. The whole Israeli project can and should be self-funding, out of drivers' fines.
The private company that wins the project tender would invest in the speed cameras and traffic light cameras and also do the legal billing, which is technically possible, as proven by the Trans-Israel Highway billing system. Those who do not pay would be transferred to the police for collection.
In addition to hundreds of lives saved annually, the reduction in accidents would lead to fewer invalids and an easing of the heavy costs of the medical care and financial support they require.
...for speed cameras
Sir, - The failure to effectively use speed cameras demonstrates Israeli bureaucracy at its very best. The Marom Speed Camera was developed in Israel many years ago by Prof. Jerry Ben David and a group of local scientists. It also effectively detects tailgating.
The camera was very successfully tested on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway, with outstanding results in a project financed by the Ford Foundation.
Each camera operates on its own and can be placed anywhere. There is absolutely no justification for setting up research committees and other delaying tactics.
Three hundred cameras could be leased tomorrow and their rental covered many times over by the fines from each machine. In fact, the investment would be so successful that in a short time we could sell it to a foreign investor and channel the proceeds to other life-saving work.
Sir, - Discipline should begin at an early age. Since most parents seem either unwilling or unable to discipline their children, their offspring grow up without knowing right from wrong. Thus the seeds are already sown for our youth's "can't do wrong" and arrogant attitude on the roads.
Petty fines do not change attitudes. Discipline in the home and in the schools, tempered with parental approval, can go a long way to improving the present catastrophic reality ("Nine killed in car accidents since Friday," May 15).
Sir, - Headline on page 6: "'We still need you,' Halutz tells IDF reservists." Headline on page 7: "UTJ promised 5-year Tal Law extension." And it wasn't even your Purim edition (May 17).