Popularity is just that
Sir, – Regarding “Kahlon, Erdan, Steinitz seen as best-performing ministers. Eli Yishai gets lowest rating” (December 7), lets be real! I am sure that if the pollsters called back all 500 respondents and asked them to name the portfolio each minister held, the people behind the survey would be surprised.
I wouldn’t be. Take the 30 names and try it.
I think the survey really showed that it is a matter of public relations – which is very sad – but also that there are way too many ministers in the government.SETH CLYMAN
Jerusalem Expect another clone
Sir – The first thing I thought about when I read that Interior Minister Eli Yishai decried the criticism heaped on him as a “lynching” (“MKs demand Yishai resign, debate government probe,” December 7) was that this was the reaction of then-defense minister Amir Peretz when he was forced to resign following the Second Lebanon War.
In both cases the ministerial appointments had been made for political reasons only, and in both cases the results were the loss of life.
We all witnessed what occurred when Tzipi Livni had the political courage to stand up to Shas and refuse to be blackmailed. She was denied the post of prime minister, and any hope of electoral reform was killed.
If Yishai is forced to resign – which is very unlikely – I can guarantee that a clone from Shas will take his place. As long as the people of Israel sit back and do not actively demand a change in the way the government is run, this unacceptable situation will continue.PAUL BERMAN
Sir, – Ministers of secondary parties are chosen for their party’s loyalty. Hence, the prime minister can’t fire them without risking the chance that his government will fall.
There will be no change in the quality of our government until ministers are chosen for their expertise from outside the party structure, like in the United States.BARRY LYNN
Efrat Waste of inquiry
Sir, – Many people, from the country’s leadership to its rank and file, have been urging the establishment of a commission of inquiry in order to understand what contributed to last week’s horrible catastrophe in the Carmel forest (“Learning from disaster,” Letters, December 7).
Our country excels at this sort of self-flagellation (and, to extend the cynicism, at its need for it). Unfortunately, it’s not always clear that the appropriate lessons are learned and applied.
We know there were major flaws that caused the disaster. We know what was missing. The government’s time and the taxpayers’ money would be wasted on a drawn-out analysis of the past.
Some might argue that it’s important to know where to lay the blame. But in recent history and with our mediocre level of leadership, the guilty parties aren’t sent packing.
We’d gain much more by getting on with making the necessary improvements. This would avoid another case of Nero fiddling while Rome burns.NACHAMA KANNER
Rehovot Let’s face it
Sir, – My congratulations to whomever wrote “Before it’s too late” (Editorial, December 7). He or she has articulated the main problems facing Israel today and in the future, and they’re not minor. The constant threat of massive fires and earthquakes, the miserable state of hospitals and other problems seem to be almost overwhelming when considered together. Yet they must be faced – and solved!
If other modern nations can do it, so can we. It only takes a wideawake government with members who care. If the present government does not fit the bill, we’d better have elections.LEONARD ZURAKOV
Sir, – Your December 7 editorial comments on several shortcomings in various areas. However, your criticism of the short duration of stay in hospitals implies that this is detrimental.
While I accept that some patients require longer stays, the prevalence of hospital-acquired infections is a major factor in increasing avoidable hospital deaths. Among the risk factors for such infections is “prolonged hospital stay.”
In the absence of reliable statistics from different centers, there is no evidence that repeated hospitalizations are an outcome of early discharge. Moreover, help from the National Insurance Institute can provide adequate care after hospital discharge, and I seriously doubt if such home care is available in Japan or in Switzerland, with which you make comparisons.
The shortage of hospital beds and overcrowding at in-patient facilities are factors regarding many patients who would benefit from hospitalization. This should indeed be remedied.MONTY M. ZION, MD
Tel Mond Yet another boycott?
Sir, – The Meretz members of Jerusalem’s city council are joining the ranks of those deluded professors of Israel’s universities who are calling on the international community to boycott Israel (“City councillors to Adidas: Boycott Jerusalem Marathon,” December 7).
While I am opposed to any activity in the streets of Jerusalem, such as marches and demonstrations that interfere with the regular flow of traffic, the call to boycott Israel for any reason sickens me.
It is one thing to criticize within the confines of one’s family, but to stridently take the criticism of ourselves to the international community, especially now, is the height of irresponsibility.CYRIL ATKINS
Beit Shemesh Good (rich) guy
Sir, – Regarding Shmuley Boteach’s “A different kind of rich guy: Michael Steinhardt at 70” (No Holds Barred, December 7), Steinhardt exemplifies a growing phenomenon in contemporary Judaism – Jewishness and non-theism.
All too many would say that such a combination is a contradiction in terms. But Steinhardt the person gives the lie to that. His deeply felt Jewishness in a vibrant mode of action should be a role model for the all-too-many Jews whose non-theism has helped push them into indifference.
Indifference deadens. But there is a spark of Jewishness in the heart of each non-theist that can be fanned for a brighter future, with Michael Steinhardt as a mentor.PROF. JOSEPH DAVID LEVINSON
Jerusalem Hitch that to your post
Sir, – I wish to offer an addendum to the Palestinian assertion that the Western Wall is where Mohammed tethered his winged steed Buraq, as cited in Alan Dershowitz’s keen analysis of the Israel-Palestinian impasse (“Whose fault is the continuing occupation of the West Bank?,” Comment & Features, December 7).
The Muslim link of Buraq with that shrine in the course of the prophet’s miraculous journey from Mecca to Jerusalem appeared for the first time in 1840 in a proclamation by Sherif Pasha, the governor- general of Syria, to his deputy in Jerusalem. It was issued during a period when the Western Wall assumed increased importance as the focus of Jewish spiritual and, later, national aspirations.
Earlier authoritative Muslim accounts that amplify the post- Koranic
narrative of Mohammed’s night journey make no mention of the Western
Wall. The 10th-century poet and literary scholar Ibn Abd Rabbih wrote
that “under the corner of the [al-Aksa] Mosque is the spot where the
Prophet tied up his steed.” In the 11th century, the traveler Nasir Ibn
Khusraw placed Buraq at the Dome of Gabriel on the Temple Mount, while
the noted 15th-century historian Mujir al-Din fixes the location as the
“south side” of the Dome of the Rock.JACK E. FRIEDMAN