letters to the editor 88.
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Sir, - Winston Churchill said the mark of a civilized society is how it treats someone who is accused of a crime. In the case of Moshe Katsav, Israel has much to be ashamed of. The basic foundation of a free, just society is that anyone is innocent until proven guilty.
President Katsav has already been condemned by the media, by members of the judiciary and by our government. It may very well turn out that in court all the charges will be found to be without foundation. Then the slanderers will be confounded.
Sir, - I was prepared to listen to our president's side of the story; until he went into attack mode. His performance last week was appalling, attacking practically everybody and everything - the press, the law enforcement authorities, the attorney-general, etc. - complete with chest-beating, tears, and all. He has repeatedly said that the moment the attorney-general charges him, he will resign. Time will tell.
To my mind, this man is not fit to hold any office.
Sir, - As head of the state prosecution service, Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz has a number of legitimate options in dealing with the serious allegations against the president. Making his intentions known to the press is not one of them. We now have a media circus, with pundits, politicians and common citizens all passing judgment before a single formal charge has been brought.
Mazuz has brought great discredit on the state and its legal system, and should be replaced by someone who understands the principles of sub judice.
JONATHAN B. MARDER
Sir, - Am I the only one outraged at the thought of the Knesset amending a Basic Law simply so that Shimon Peres can be assured of winning the presidency? If he can't win a majority of the votes under current rules, he does not deserve to win! ("Peres loyalists confident of presidential victory this time," January 24.)
Sir, - In "Boker Tov, 'Economist'" (January 24) Elliot Jager chides The Economist for maintaining that Israel is totally secure since that assertion neglects the genocidal and nuclear intentions of Iran's Ahmadinejad. That was no minor oversight. I have found that The Economist consistently minimizes Israel's security challenges in its Mideast analyses, a stance which helps buttress its arguments for ever more concessions from Israel.
Sir, - Elliot Jager mentions many people of note and authority who have questioned the policies and conduct of the State of Israel. I was surprised that he did not include the present British chief rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks, who has spoken vehemently against many of the actions of the Israeli government, especially the misuse of religious power and the dangers of religious leaders using political methods. So did the previous chief rabbi, Lord Jakobovits, who wrote a whole book about this in the Seventies, titled If Only My People.
Neither of them denied the centrality of Israel to Jewish life, but that did not stop them speaking against Israel when the situation demanded it.
Fact and bigotry
Sir, - Re "The rule of lawyers" (January 23): I wish to question the factual veracity of Caroline Glick's statement that "one of the most important powers the state prosecution took from the government is the power to choose the attorney-general." Her statement contradicts Section 5 of The State Service (Appointments) Law, 5719-1959, which states that "The Government may prescribe the procedure and conditions for the appointment of the Attorney-General."
Far more disturbing than any legal misinterpretation is Ms. Glick's bigoted generalization of the Negev Beduin - something akin to comparing all West Bank settlers to several dozen hooligans who tear down Palestinian olive trees.
Finally, when Ms. Glick refers to "certain favored groups" receiving "legally negligent lenience from prosecutors," one can only presume she is referring to such groups as the aforementioned hooligans.
IAN JAFFE, Advocate
Caroline Glick responds:
The letter of the law is as Mr. Jaffe states. However, it is Mr. Jaffe who errs in concluding that this contradicts my reporting. Since 1997, the law cited by Mr. Jaffe has been interpreted as de facto requiring the government to appoint the candidate approved by a "professional" committee headed by a retired Supreme Court justice and staffed by other specific senior members of the legal community. In practice this means that the senior legal fraternity of the Justice Ministry, Supreme Court and Attorney-General's Office use the committee to ensure that only members of their club are appointed to these positions. This is precisely the problem I wrote of: The attorney-general and his coterie implement the laws in accordance with their ideological and personal preferences, and not as written.
As to the Beduin criminal gangs in the Negev, it is important not to engage in negative stereotyping and so I was careful to state, and now repeat, that I was not referring to all Beduin in the Negev, merely to those who illegally settle on state lands - which, according to the government and Beduin advocacy groups constitutes a majority of Beduin in the Negev - as well to Beduin who engage in other criminal acts.
As to Mr. Jaffe's contention about the manner in which the laws are enforced against Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria, it was not my claim, nor is it my view, that they receive lenience from state prosecutors.
Scene and herd
Sir, - While I am ambivalent about Naomi Ragen's campaign against segregated buses per se as there is an argument for respecting haredi sensibilities regarding modesty, there are serious issues that need to be addressed in pursuing this policy ("Bestselling author Naomi Ragen petitions court against segregated Egged bus lines," January 25).
Aside from the obvious, that no woman passenger should ever be harassed by "religious" men - unacceptable behavior, and not only for the religious - what bothers me is women being herded to the back, like so many cattle. If the men want segregation, let them sit at the back of the bus.
Egged drivers, and by extension the company, must also take some responsibility. It is their duty not just to get people to their destinations safely but to make sure they are not abused if they don't conform to other passengers' dress standards.
It is also a basic right of any passenger using public transport to travel in the cheapest and most direct manner possible. Why not have more private haredi lines?
Sir, - As a Naomi Ragen fan, it pains me that this talented novelist is so piqued by the establishment of "mehadrin" bus routes by the Egged and Dan bus companies that she has joined four other women in a lawsuit aimed at forcing the Transport Ministry to order an end to this arrangement, intended as a courtesy to ultra-orthodox bus riders.
Ragen and her confederates should understand that in Orthodox Jewish tradition separation of the sexes has nothing to do with racial or ethnic apartheid, male chauvinism or similar human emotions. The core issue is tzniut, sexual modesty, which in the haredi world includes bus segregation.