Facts vs. emotions
Your editorial on speed limits (“Katz’s choice,” December 2) objects to raising the speed limit on Route 6. When I taught math, I would frequently bring newspaper articles such as this one to teach my math students how not to think.
The article stated that the number of deaths on Israeli roads has been increasing since 2012. That may be true but it proves nothing. I don’t have the statistics, but I venture to say that the number of cars and the population have also increased. What is the “rate of increase” per population or per automobile or per passenger kilometer? No attempt at real analysis was made. It is possible that rate of increase has been small or non-existent.
The article goes on to state: “Everywhere, speed kills and more speed kills more.” Apparently the author did not read the entire article on December 1 (“Speed limit raised on part of Route 6”), which stated “past speed limit increases from 100 to 110 have not resulted in any negative impact on driver safety.”
While I recognize that an editorial is an opinion, it still needs to present the relevant facts and argue them on a logical and scientific rationale and not on an ideological or emotional basis.
GEORGE LEBOVITZ Jerusalem Haredi society
British philanthropist Leo Noe’s good intentions (“Government must do more to increase haredi employment, says philanthropist,” December 3) are outweighed by his ignorance of how haredi society in Israel works, or rather doesn’t work.
In theory, at least, a Jewish citizen of Israel cannot begin working in earnest until after having served in the IDF, which is required by law. Haredim are given an exemption from military service if they are engaged full-time in Torah study.
Hence if they are not full-time scholars they must either enlist in the IDF or live – as many do – the lie of being full-time Torah students.
The genesis of this sordid state of affairs harks back to a more innocent time when first prime minister David Ben-Gurion agreed to allow a very limited number of haredi scholars to avoid army service in order to study Torah full time. In this they were no different than gifted violinists who are considered a national treasure and cannot juggle both their artistry and army service.
Today the situation is totally reversed. Instead of avoiding the army in order to study Torah, haredim claim to study Torah in order to avoid the army. Universal draft evasion has become the bedrock of haredi society at the behest of its haredi rabbinic leadership.
I am sure the haredi leadership is very happy to squander Noe’s $60 million – as it does billions of Israeli taxpayers hard-earned money – in myriad programs that ultimately are little more than pipelines for sustaining their current lifestyle.
Noe’s money would be far better spent by offering a serious, family-sustaining stipend to any haredi who enlists in the IDF.
Such an effort would eventually result in a critical mass of haredim in the work force thereby offering others a role model to emulate.
JJ GROSS Jerusalem Coptic pilgrimage
The visit by Coptic Pope Tawadros to Jerusalem is a welcome development (“Coptic Pope Tawadros’s Jerusalem visit ‘will create huge firestorm in Egypt,” November 27). However it is not the first Coptic pilgrimage to the Holy City.
As consul-general of Israel in Alexandria, I assisted Bishop Benjamin of that city – at the request of the local community and with his blessing – in organizing a well-attended visit to Jerusalem by bus. About 5,000 people took part.
The pilgrimage came about suddenly when I was unexpectedly invited by local church leaders to a festive dinner.
When I asked what was the occasion, I was told with a smile that it was “to congratulate the Israelis for the massacre of Muslims in Hebron’s Tomb of Abraham...,” referring to Baruch Goldstein’s terrorist attack at the Cave of the Patriarchs in 1994, killing 29 Palestinian Muslim worshipers and wounding another 125.
I was genuinely shocked.
When I explained that the Israeli government condemned such actions, it was the Copts’ turn to register amazement.
Under former president Hosni Mubarak’s regime, they said, they were badly treated and Muslim-Christian relations were far from good.
Our meeting led eventually to the Alexandrian Coptic request for assistance with the pilgrimage and the consulate obliged by issuing group visas.
The pilgrimage was then coordinated with the Ministry of Religious Affairs in Jerusalem.
DAVID ZOHAR Jerusalem: The writer is a retired Israeli diplomat.Incorrect seal
The caption under the picture in Ruthie Blum’s column (“Way to go, Obama,” Right from Wrong, November 30) reads “...logo of the US State Department.”
Actually it’s a photo of the Presidential Seal.
URI HIRSCH NetanyaIsrael-bashing
Usually after reading one of Gershon Baskin’s columns I get to wondering what he is smoking and hope that it is medicinal.
His latest Israel-bashing article (“Israel - my sad home,” Encountering Peace, December 3) is no different.
After having made aliya almost five and a half years ago, my family and I love living here in Israel.
It has been the fulfillment of a life long dream to actually merit living here.
Like Baskin, I too discovered Israel 45 years ago in 1970 when I spent the summer here.
Yes, it was a different country back then, just as France and the US were different countries 45 years ago.
It seems to me that if our cousins – the so-called “Palestinians” – wanted the separation wall to be taken down, they should stop their terrorist activities completely and just accept the fact that we Jews are here to stay in our ancestral home, Israel.
NORMAN DEROVAN Ma’aleh Adumim Horse feathers
If we thought we had hit bottom in the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions mugging of Israeli academic and research centers by their counterparts in Europe and America, along comes Dr. Marsha Levine, a retired Cambridge University authority on “horse domestication.”
She informs us that in the compelling interest of demonizing the Jewish state, even intellectual child abuse must be deemed permissible (“Ex-Cambridge academic boycotts questions by 13-year-old Israeli,” December 2).
Her reply, moreover, to 13-year-old Shachar Rabinovitz’s request for assistance in a class assignment relevant to Levine’s expertise – “I’ll answer your questions when there is peace and justice for Palestinians in Palestine” – suggests that mere Israel-hatred by this particular Jew has morphed into an obsession devoid of any sense of proportion.
It’s reflected in her admission that she would have responded positively to a similar request from a 13-year-old in any country other than Israel.
Presumably, those would include, inter alia, China, occupier of Tibet, and Russia, which has subtracted the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine.
Levine is well within her rights in declaring “I don’t want to help Israelis,” but her conflation of the latter with a horse domestication inquiry clearly reveals it is she who really needs the help.
BILL MEHLMAN Efrat