February 27: Accountable MKs

Introducing a new word for "accountability" will not change the selfish and arrogant attitude of most of those elected to "represent" the voter.

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February 26, 2007 20:13
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Stop thief! Sir, - Re "New police unit created to stop rash of burglaries in capital" (February 26): This will help solve more serious crimes as well. The "broken windows" concept, increasing resources for tackling minor crimes, has been shown to sharply reduce overall crime and has often produced unexpected leads in solving major crimes. In addition, victims will be gratified to see the police following up on "routine" burglary instead of merely viewing it as an insurance issue. BENJAMIN LERNER Jerusalem Accountable MKs Sir, - David Horovitz's superb interview with Prof. Menachem Magidor made us realize what a wet lot we have in the Knesset ("Now it's up to us," February 23). Introducing a new word for "accountability" will not change the selfish and arrogant attitude of most of those elected to "represent" the voter. Back in the '50s, Ben-Gurion said: If the electoral system is not changed there will be a disaster." During the '70s many attempts were made to form a movement which would garner public support for change, as Magidor suggests. In 1978 the late Chaim Herzog founded the Committee of Concerned Citizens, initially made up of olim from Western backgrounds. At public appearances in packed halls he would say: "The glue that binds us, whether religious, secular, right-wing or left is the experience of having had reliable, responsive and accountable elected representatives." Israelis were hungry for change and responded to demos and petitions, but could not believe it would really happen. An across-the-board committee of MKs was formed and worked steadfastly until the outbreak of the first Lebanon war, which put everything on hold. Perhaps someone will come forward from inside the Knesset to continue the commendable efforts of Magidor and his colleagues, so that the Israeli public will finally be able to elect men and women they can trust and respect, who will be judged on their merits if they wish to stay in politics. Z. BITTERMAN Netanya From bad form... Sir, - I know it is bad form to speak ill of those with a physical disability. But it seems only just in the case of Tourism Minister-designate Estherina Tartman, who, following a serious car accident, has supposedly lost about 40% of her ability to function. After becoming a candidate for the Knesset she allegedly described Knesset work as "an easy job, not a steady [stream] of work, and mainly talk." According to "Lieberman taps Tartman for Tourism" (February 26), and quoting TV's Channel 2, "Tartman has medical documents stating that she is unable to work more than four hours a day, and that the disability is permanent." This is the person Avigdor Lieberman has chosen to fill an important cabinet post? LEONARD ZURAKOV Netanya ...to good shape? Sir, - I would be interested to hear whether Estherina Tartman is going to return the National Insurance disability compensation she has received. After all, she will now be getting a hefty salary (where is the loss of future "earning potential" referred to in your report?) and also be eligible for a large pension after a minimum of time spent on the job. I hope Ms. Tartman will be an example to the people by showing that she is able not only to overcome her disability, but also to demonstrate decent and moral behavior. ANGELA GROSSMAN Tel Aviv Wrongheaded Sir, - "When becoming a Jew depends on knowing the right bureaucrat" (February 23) exposed at last the serious disadvantage conversion candidates face in trying to get converted in Israel when they wish, afterwards, to return to their countries of origin. The "unofficial policy" that blocks conversion in such cases is ridiculous, especially as the Rabbinate is aware that there are many countries in the Diaspora not entitled or qualified to conduct Orthodox conversions. I became aware of this unacceptable discriminatory policy following the long, drawn-out struggle for conversion by a relative from one of the countries formerly part of Yugoslavia.She completed with distinction all the conversion requirements but one: She was obliged to return home to care for her mother, who was suffering from cancer. That resulted in her failing to obtain conversion. This policy is completely unacceptable in a time when Israel is supposed to be the center of the Jewish world, and should be interested in fulfilling its role as head of the Diaspora. DAVID GOSHEN Kiryat Ono For the record Sir, - In "Suddenly Begin is beloved by all" (February 22) Anshel Pfeffer stated that "The left wing will always be grateful to Begin for setting the historical precedent of trading territories for peace in the Camp David Accords." This is a widely-held belief, but inaccurate. Prime minister Menachem Begin gave up territory that was never claimed by ideologues as part of the Land of Israel. If there was a precedent, it was when the Left gave up the Sinai Peninsula in 1956 for a cease-fire. PM Begin did not give up any part of biblical Israel, nor of the League of Nations' authorized British Mandate of Palestine to set up a state for the Jews. The Left and others claimed Begin's move was a precedent in order to use him and his action as a pretext to justify giving up parts of Israel. A. GOLDBERG Hatzor Haglilit Wealth of health Sir, - For a long time now I have been wanting to write and tell you how much I enjoy reading Judy Siegel-Itzkovich's articles and news coverage in your newspaper. I avidly await Sunday's paper for her full page containing a wealth of health information. She writes very clearly and everything is well-researched so that a layman can understand many of the new scientific discoveries and research. If I remain in reasonably good health for my age, I believe it is due to the knowledge and advice your health and science reporter has given us over the years. ORA LESHEM Tel Aviv Sir, - In "The prognosis for medicine" (December 24) Judy Siegel-Itzkovich wrote about the dying breed of general practitioners. My father, a typical country doctor of the type that existed in Germany well into the 1930s, had to set broken bones, do urine tests, and be on call day and night to deliver babies. While others enjoyed a long weekend, Sunday was the busiest day at the surgery. Peasants traditionally changed their clothes on a Sunday, ready for church, so that was the day they also called on the doctor. GRETE ROESLER Nahariya

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