letters pink 88.
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Sir, - Ask anyone from Britain over a certain age what they would do if they got warning of an attack, and most of them will tell you that they would instinctively dive under the nearest table. That is because in WWII, with its V1 and V2 rockets that were much like the Kassams in that there was very little warning, practically every home was equipped with a Morrison shelter, known as a "table shelter." It had a top and bottom made of sheet steel strong enough to provide shelter from a falling building, three sides made of steel mesh to resist blast damage and four stout steel-girder corners. Families kept mattresses and bedding inside and used the exterior, which was exactly the right height, as a table. These shelters, comparatively cheap and delivered in kit form, were quickly and easily assembled.
If cash-strapped, war-torn Britain of the 1940s could protect its citizens' lives with these simple shelters, why is it beyond our government's ability to provide each and every household in Sderot and other target areas with something similar? ("PM: We must be ready for 'long-term conflict,'" May 28.)
CHAIM AND YEHUDIT COLLINS
Israel's Arab minority
Sir, - Evelyn Gordon's "Kassaming coexistence" (May 24) distorted the demands recently outlined in four proposals by institutions representing the Arab minority in Israel. None of the four documents make reference to a goal to "eliminate," "eradicate," "destroy" or "eviscerate" the Jewish institutions of the state. To the contrary, they acknowledge the collective rights of the state's Jewish majority and call for official recognition of the history and collective rights of its indigenous Arab minority. Specifically, all call for equal allocation of symbolic, political, and material public resources; fair representation in decision-making bodies; equal employment opportunities; and educational and cultural self-management.
Successful democracy is based not only on rule of the majority, but also, very fundamentally, on protection of the rights of the minority. It is the constitutional guarantee to equality that permits the formation of a civic national identity, and, as a result, a situation wherein political diversity serves to build this identity, as opposed to undermining it.
In light of Gordon's commentary on immigration, premising a state's existence on control of its demography ensures the need to exercise perpetual repressive control over the minority population, a situation that will guarantee the state's instability.
Alternatively, building a strong civic national identity would guarantee the future not only of the state's Arab minority, but also of its Jewish majority. The Mossawa Center's "Equal Constitution" works to create such an identity by proposing minority protection measures for any future Israeli constitution.
Several members of the Knesset's Constitution Committee will speak at a conference hosted by Mossawa Center this coming Thursday in Tel Aviv, in the hopes of moving this discussion forward.
Director, Mossawa Center
'Peace' at any cost
Sir, - Kudos on Haviv Rettig's informative interview with Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch ("Got it?" May 22). Marcus laments the government's lack of interest in his materials documenting Palestinian hatred and incitement.
It is tragic that much of the Israeli political establishment and the media simply ignore this incitement that Palestinian religious and political leaders are preaching to their own people. These groups want a Palestinian state and "peace" at any cost - why, then, pay attention to inconvenient facts such as the virulent hatred Palestinians are teaching to their children?
Kids on Ritalin
Sir, - In "America's uninspired children" (May 28) Shmuley Boteach made a horrible mistake in implying that American children who use Ritalin, a mild central nervous stimulant, are "addicts." Before Ritalin is given, a child must be examined by a neurologist; and if he is found to have either ADD or ADHD, Ritalin is very often prescribed and controlled by a doctor. The patient is no more an addict than someone taking medication for high blood pressure or cancer.
That "one out of seven American kids" takes Ritalin means, to me, that parents care enough about their children to seek a medical answer when they become aware of a problem, and don't make believe it does not exist.
Rabbi Boteach's attitude to Ritalin is that of most people who have no medical understanding of its proper use.
P. BERMAN, Pharmacist
'Make Pollard pay'
Sir, - Ambassador Richard Jones has expressed regret for saying that the US showed clemency to Jonathan Pollard by not executing him; and that Pollard's crimes appeared especially heinous to many Americans because he was spying for a friendly power ("US envoy apologizes for Pollard remarks," May 24).
But what would Mr. Jones say about a number of American traitors who sold information to the Soviet Union and other potential enemies, resulting in the death of a number of friendly agents? If anything, it is those Americans who should have been executed.
Pollard was no traitor. He passed information to a strategic ally, information the US should have passed to Israel anyhow as it referred to an existential threat to our state.
But, unfortunately, in a country as great as the US, there were and still are those who wanted to make a showcase of "the jewboy" and "make him pay."
A lesser lagging
Sir, - Stephen Rosenberg's assertion that Great Britain became, in 1752, the last "major country" to adopt the Gregorian calendar is true only if one's attention is restricted to Western Europe. In much of Eastern Europe the Julian calendar continued to dominate until well into the 20th century.
Russia abandoned it only in 1918 with the rise of the Bolsheviks; Romania, Yugoslavia and Greece followed suit in the subsequent six years. Considering that during these centuries the vast majority of Jewish Europe was located in Russia and Poland (which had adopted the Gregorian calendar earlier but reverted to the Julian calendar in 1815, when it was annexed to Russia), Judaism's lag in adopting this reform is not as surprising as it may seem.
We may be behind the times, but not by two-and-a-half centuries ("The Jewish calendar is out of sync. Fix it," May 22).
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