letters to the editor 88.
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Sir, - The fact that, after two months, high schools and junior highs are being forced to open their doors and teachers are being forced to teach is just a Pyrrhic victory.
The government can pat itself on the back knowing that teachers, who barely make NIS 4,500 a month, are essentially being told that this country doesn't care about its future. In the past two months, how many times was the school strike discussed on the radio? How often did it make the front page? Rarely. The plight of the teachers and the deteriorating school system was considered more of a nuisance than an issue to be dissected and fixed at its core.
Israel's school system is suffering and as a result our children and our wonderfully developed spot in the global marketplace will ultimately suffer. Why doesn't anyone want to fix the problem before Israel falls lower on the scale of global educational ranking?
The teachers are standing up for the future of this country and the future of its citizens. A quality education is the cornerstone to a successful future. Why not invest in it? Why not declare it a priority? Why does government funding go toward Volvos for dignitaries and not textbooks and curriculum development for students?
This court order is a silencer. It is the government's way of saying, "Stop whining, shut your mouths and get back to work." While it might be a victory for some, it is a shame for all. As a response to this court order of silence, teachers must give the government what it wants: silence. Every teacher must walk into the classroom tight-lipped and silent, just as the government demanded us to be.
A. CHAVA MOSKOWITZ
Sir, - Has anyone done a survey on the effect that the new incentives to bring back expatriates will have on those who never thought of leaving? Think: Two years spent in a quiet country, working, making money - and then a happy return. Tax-free appliances, a job, help with money owed for health benefits, treatment as a hero - not a deserter. What more can the government offer to get people to leave? ("Israel Zionist Council blasts cabinet over program to bring back expatriates," December 10.)
Sir, - Recently there have been a slew of press reports concerning elder abuse ("Assailants of helpless seniors are scourge on society, says Peres," "PM's adviser: Get tough with the elderly's attackers," December 11; "Prime minister chides police for weak response to attacks against the elderly," December 10), and I am particularly concerned over abuse which takes place under our very noses within homes for the aged.
Incontinence is a delicate subject and is not discussed very much. However, infections in hospitals are widely covered, as is the need for higher standards of hygiene. Has it ever been acknowledged that incontinence plays a great part in causing infections in hospital wards and nursing homes? Incontinence also causes painful sores, humiliation and discomfort. Yet it appears that the frail elderly are encouraged to become incontinent, since they are not taken to the toilet often enough and are left sitting uncomfortably for hours before staff make toileting rounds. In nursing homes, the residents are toileted about five-six times per day (if they are lucky).
I visit someone regularly in a nursing home and when I explain to the staff that this resident would like to have her tea and cake but needs to relieve herself first, the invariable answer I am given is, "Oh, but she has just been to the toilet." This attitude should not be tolerated. As a person gets older, the need for bodily relief becomes more acute.
Phased and confused
Sir, - For someone who has labored for so many years on Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations plagued by futility and disappointment, Uri Savir has still not reached the conclusion that peace will remain unattainable until the time passes for "detoxification" from the inculcated hatred of Israel which Palestinians have been exposed to from infancy.
His "four-phases" are rife with unrealistic expectations from the Palestinians ("The 'four phase' approach," December 11). Polls have consistently and reliably confirmed that the Palestinians are not ready to embrace the kind of coexistence with Israel which is so reminiscent of Peres's much-touted "new Middle East" in which he was convinced that the Palestinians would surely choose the option of cooperation to improve living conditions for both sides.
Does Savir truly believe that the Palestinians will finally and effectively "dismantle the terrorist infrastructure beginning with the West Bank?" Does he really envision a weakened Hamas following "progress in the political process?" Does Uri Savir see even a faint hope or prognosis that a future Palestinian state would be "a first Arab democracy?" And can there be any compromise on "borders, refugees and settlements" when the "moderate" Abbas has unequivocally reiterated his determination to stand firm on these contentious issues?
Of all the people closely involved in peace talks since Oslo I, Savir should be the most cognizant of the obstacles and negative ramifications inherent in a poorly planned and seemingly hastened process in which the Palestinians are far from acceding.
Sir, - Methinks Rabbi Emanuel Feldman doth protest too much in "Ground-breaking or heaven-breaking prayers" (December 12). He doesn't take to the contemporary commentary offered by the new Reform siddur? I don't see him complaining about the (very) Orthodox Artscroll prayer book using the commentary of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, Rabbi Soloveitchik and even present-day modern pulpit rabbis.
Today the Orthodox have every variation of siddur available to every group: men, children and, yes, a special one for women.
Rabbi Feldman even backtracks on his own hesitancy to support a bit of modern advertising to push authentic Judaism. Why not allow for the immediate pluses of the Reform siddur rather than resort to praise in a backhanded fashion?
Sir, - Ivan Myers ("Scourges discourage," Letters, December 11) advocates hanging for murder. Ignoring the religious implications of trying a capital case without a Sanhedrin of 71 dayanim (judges who all require real smicha, which no longer exists), and the fact that the Torah does not mandate hanging, does he really trust the politicized judiciary system in Israel to get it right?
Sir, - We took our seven-year-old granddaughter to the Jerusalem Theater this week to see the Israel Ballet perform the "Nutcracker." We were surrounded by hundreds of children her age. Their attention and good behavior was most gratifying. At the end, no one moved and the resounding applause called for an encore. There was no hurry to leave. I was so proud of them, our future leaders. Kol Hakavod!
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