letters to the editor 88.
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Time-bomb at Teddy
Sir, - Having felt the power of a crush at a basketball game many years ago in the US, I can assure you that the fright factor is incredible. Alone at the game and about to be trampled, I was saved by a kind fan who picked me up and carried me out of the gymnasium. When I attend games now I try to place myself by an exit, or leave early.
Teddy Stadium has been a time-bomb waiting to explode. For some reason fans believe it is their right to storm the field to mark certain triumphs or losses. As in this instance, only after the fact are steps taken to ensure "this never happens again."
Baseball player Hank Aaron once said: "The fans get what they want since they buy the tickets and use that as a reason to squeeze every moment out of the experience. For 60 years I have watched the raucousness of fans build. The owners are quiet; the police too; only tragedy brings people to their senses" ("Police, IFA to investigate stampede," May 8).
Sir, - Surely an objective observer would be appalled. Prime Minister Olmert made it clear to the visiting German foreign minister that "Israel would take military action in the Gaza Strip if a Kassam rocket kills Israelis." They spoke about how it was "a miracle that no one was killed when a rocket hit near a Sderot preschool on Monday."
It is indeed sad that were Israel to act now, based on the failed attempt of our enemies to kill young children, the operation would be seen as a "preemptive strike."
Children must die before we act? It is as if Israel existed on a different planet, surviving by different rules ("Olmert hints at military action to German FM," May 8).
Sir, - There's a maxim that says the best way to conceal foolishness is via a good education, and Yossi Beilin seems to be attempting to prove it ("Beilin calls to eliminate IDF draft," May 8). The good doctor is trying to destroy one of the best methods by which Israeli youngsters of all economic, social and ethnic communities can meet and learn to live together.
Has he considered the security fallout from ending compulsory service, and is he unaware that the backbone of the IDF is still the reservists, who far outnumber the standing army?
One thing is certain: If this enterprise bears fruit, God forbid, statues of Beilin will be erected throughout the Arab world.
Talk to Syria
Sir, - I have to admit that I don't understand Israeli confusion and reluctance over opening a dialogue with Syria ("Assessing Syria's true intentions a tricky task," Yaakov Katz, May 8).
Since for years Israel has been involved in a fruitless dialogue with first the PLO and now the PA, it's clear that such dialogue doesn't faze the political class, so what difference will another one make? And besides, Syrian overtures may just be genuine!
Sir, - Re "The anti-war message of Winograd" (Larry Derfner, May 2): The Winograd Committee was appointed by its principal target, Ehud Olmert. Thus while its members were admirably candid in their assessment of the prime minister's performance, their ideological roots were primarily to the left of the Israeli public's current stance. Moreover, the scope of the interim report was deliberately limited, focusing on the period from the IDF's withdrawal from Lebanon to the fifth day of the Second Lebanon War. Thus it did not assess Ehud Barak's decision to grant Hizbullah access to the Israeli-Lebanese border, or delve into the many serious errors of the last four weeks of the war - without which it is impossible to seriously assess the feasibility of the government's stated war objectives.
In brief, the committee's composition and the limited scope of the interim report almost guaranteed the dovish conclusions that Mr. Derfner applauds.
Teaneck, New Jersey
Sir, - "Jerusalem's Arab growth rate twice that of Jews" (May 8) is not surprising. Rent and property prices in haredi areas are now so high that established Israeli families, and new immigrants, have no choice but to make their homes in Betar, Modi'in Illit and Ramat Beit Shemesh.
I have met sixth-generation yerushalmi families of whom only the parents and one child - out of various generations numbering into the fifties - live in Jerusalem.
Sir, - El Al, in its infinite wisdom, has announced a 4% rise on all tickets. It's not enough that the company is battling other airlines or has troubles with its own workers; it has now decided to go after the consumer.
It's not because flights aren't full... they are. It's not because prices aren't high... they are. It's simply because Israel is the only country in the entire world whose airline fares are not in the national currency.
Ever bought a ticket in London? It's quoted in pounds. Ever bought a ticket in Jo'burg? It's quoted in rand. Ever bought a ticket in Botswana? It's quoted in pula. Yes, every single country on all seven continents uses its national currency. Only in Israel do we remain tied to the dollar. And it's gotten weaker ("Shekel-dollar rate dips below 4 for 1st time since 2000," May 8).
You'd think that after 59 years of independence the government would take note and pass legislation that airline tickets, like everything else in this country, be shekel-denominated.
Sir, - The shekel is a solid, non-fluctuating, respectable currency, and our economy is solid, with a healthy balance of payments situation. Has the time not arrived for our exporters to proudly quote their prices in shekels? The same goes for rents and other transactions.
If we believe in the shekel, let's act as if we do.
That ain't love, baby
Sir, - While reading the very brave article about the danger of shaking babies ("Loud statement made by a boy who cannot speak," May 6), I thought it timely to note three other practices which can cause lifelong damage to infants and heartache to their parents.
Some people throw babies up in the air as a game. This surely cannot be safe. It is also worrying to see very young children carrying tiny infants with no idea of how to support their heads and necks correctly.
Also many parents bring tiny babies to weddings where even we adults find the music deafening. Can this be good for babies, especially when they are joggled around in the arms of dancing parents?
Let babies be babies and have the rest and sleep they need to grow and develop safely. Weddings are for when they are older. May they all reach their own special day in good health.