letters to the editor 88.
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Sir, - More young people join the statistics of terror on our roads, more families are devastated ("Two car crashes, two teenagers dead," May 14).
What a waste. How can we be so indifferent to this mayhem? There are 28 compulsory lessons before the driving test, and still the slaughter goes on. It makes one wonder just who the teachers are, how they are regulated, and what they actually teach.
Do they, for example, drum it into their students that they are going to be licensed to use a lethal weapon? Do they explain the consequences of bravado and try to instill a sense of responsibility?
Friends who visited recently from the US told us they weren't afraid to visit the country but found driving on our roads a truly terrifying experience. Too often has it been said: We don't need enemies - we are too busy killing ourselves.
Sir, - Re "Offenders now on the road to losing their vehicles" (May 12): Now let the police have the guts to deal with those who use hand-held mobile phones while driving by impounding them and slapping on a big fine as well.
Sir, - The state comptroller's report on road deaths, along with some comments on it, appear to have been looking for the right answers to the wrong questions ("'Government has failed to stop highway carnage,'" May 10).
Australia, the UK and France reduced their road death tolls immediately by 40-50% through killing speed via nationwide networks of speed cameras on highways, and speed calming with roundabouts in cities. Revenues from these networks covered costs five times over. Together with modal shifts to mass transit, separation of truck traffic, pedestrianization and a nationwide network of bike paths, such networks, if competently administered, should reduce our death tolls by much more than 50%.
Everything should be done to support the work of the fine groups of R&D experts who are putting together this most important and urgent public health and safety priority for the next decade.
Results from such programs have proven far superior to, and more cost-effective than, those projected for the Sheinin Plan, which is a fig leaf for the cost overruns of Asphalt Zionism - destroying more land, importing more cars, increasing our energy dependence and air pollution, widening the rich-poor gap in access to mobility, and setting the stage for legalized cost overruns to fund megalomaniac road building. Such cost overruns are a sophisticated tool for legalizing corruption big time.
It is not too late to kill the Sheinin Plan. The state comptroller should lead the way.
ELIHU D RICHTER MD, MPH
Center for Injury Prevention
Give it a try...
Sir, - In my previous letter, which you refrained from publishing for no obvious reason, I urged your new prime minister, Mr. Ehud Olmert, to seize this historic opportunity and secure the existence of the State of Israel for many centuries to come.
I reminded him of lost opportunities, and of how the late Menachem Begin was able to conclude peace with the biggest and mightiest Arab country, giving up Sinai, many times the area of the holy land.
It is widely believed that only right-wing governments can conclude peace, and unfortunately that is true to a great extent. Now here we have a right-wing government on the Palestinian side which will definitely support any "move" promoted by the Palestinian president and thus secure a Palestinian unanimity on any peace treaty brokered by the two sides.
Isn't that worth trying?
Sir, - That Israel and the international community are softening their attitude to the Hamas-led PA is no surprise. It is surprising, however, that it has taken so long. No suffering in the world - not Darfur, not the Congo, not the Pakistani earthquakes, not Aids in Africa, nor the tsunami in Asia - can be as bad as the suffering of the poor Palestinians, who democratically voted for the terrorist Hamas to lead them.
No other group has had so much misplaced sympathy, even to the extent of having its own UN refugee and relief agency. If the Israeli government thinks it will gain brownie points by being sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians, it should think again ("US vows to prevent use of Quartet funds for PA salaries," May 12).
Sir, - Evelyn Gordon was spot-on in focusing on "The mockery of funding PA salaries" (May 11). Certainly the money transferred to each salaried person will free up Hamas's income to continue its agenda. Won't this mean that the US and EU will be funding the Hamas plan to wipe Israel off the map? And does anyone believe the PA won't take the opportunity to pad its payroll?
How will "transparency" make it possible for the EU and US to ensure that monies are paid to genuine workers only?
JOCK L. FALKSON
UN in Wonderland
Sir, - In "Half the story" (Letters, April 28), UN communications director Edward Mortimer found it "surprising" that Nathan Guttman failed, in a report headlined "Iranian chosen vice president of UN disarmament panel" (April 21), to mention that Israel had been elected vice-chair of the UN Disarmament Commission, in addition to Iran.
Was Mr. Mortimer suggesting a comparison between democratic Israel and the terror state that is Iran? This is just the sort of mind-set which makes the UN the dysfunctional institution that it is. As long as there is inclusiveness, the thinking goes, everything is hunky-dory.
Never mind that a member state hell-bent on acquiring nuclear arms to destroy another member state sits alongside the state it declares it will destroy - and on a committee whose purpose is to prevent member states from acquiring the means to destroy other member states!
If this is the only defense the UN spin doctor can come up with to defend the Alice-in-Wonderland world that is the UN, I suggest he apply his talents to a clearer cause.
Even the tobacco lobby now admits that smoking causes cancer.
Sir, - Kudos to Caroline Glick, and to The Jerusalem Post for being the only paper I know that correctly interpreted Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's letter to President Bush. The letter was, according to Islamic scholar Robert Spencer, an invitation to convert to Islam, a da'wa or Islamic requirement before waging war against the unbelievers.
Ahmadinejad himself confirmed this interpretation in Indonesia:
"The letter was an invitation to monotheism and justice... common to all divine prophets. If the call is responded positively, there will be no more problems...."
In traditional Muslim belief only Islam guarantees "monotheism, worship of God, justice, respect for the dignity of man, belief in the Last Day."
Why is so much of the media reluctant to read up on how the people who want to destroy us think? ("America embraces the Hamas fantasy," May 12.)
Sensitive, but blind
Sir, - Thanks for Anshel Pfeffer's excellent analysis of the BBC's distorted attitude to our conflict with the Palestinians ("Bias vs balance at the BBC," May 5). The underlying mind-set is probably rooted in centuries of ethnocentric history, education and ideology.
Most British people's historical consciousness was formed by the two world wars. To their credit, most reject Nazi racial theories. So they think a multiracial society means being kind to all God's children because we are all human beings fashioned in God's image.
However, they seem blind to others' deeply felt cultural differences, including Muslims' belief in the righteousness of their own world view, which they use to justify acts of betrayal and slaughter.
Sir, - Reader Judy Telman is "appalled" at your May 10 report "Poll: Gov't should encourage Arabs to emigrate" (Letters, May 14). She asks: How could we even think of doing to others what was done to us?
But the question presumes to compare the persecution and expulsion of innocent Jews over 2,000 years of exile with a proposal to peacefully and humanely induce the departure of a population much of which is virulently hostile to its host country.
Neither the poll nor any serious policy thinker is suggesting a forced expulsion of Arabs from Israel, or putting them in cattle cars bound for death factories.
REUEL E. TOPAS
Lakewood, New Jersey
Sir, - When Ben-Gurion told the American Zionists that if they were real Zionists they would have to come to Israel to make their homes, he never mentioned getting rid of the Arabs. Nor did Herzl. Far from it. Even Jabotinsky, on the other end of the political spectrum, did not advocate that Israel should be Arab-rein. He knew what democracy meant, as did B-G.
Thus it comes as an unpleasant surprise that such a large percentage of Jewish Israelis would like to see all Arabs banished from our land.
If Israelis can be such anti-Semites, how can we complain about the non-Jewish ones?
Heads & hands
Sir, - The photo that accompanied "Judges criticize, but uphold, Tal Law" (May 12) said it all. At the Western Wall Plaza IDF soldiers stand around bareheaded, their caps under their epaulets instead of on their heads.
Is this the respect shown to our holy places? The chief of staff and the higher echelons of the IDF seem more concerned with the importance of a handshake.
Sir, - Once again the Tal Law is being resurrected in the courts and we are told about the haredim who don't serve in the army. But I do not see too many headlines about the 40% of non-religious boys who find ways of getting out of the army.
So please don't run down the haredim all the time.
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