(photo credit: Courtesy)
Doormats no more?
Sir, - What a voice of sanity! Eliezer Whartman's "Letter to the world from Jerusalem" (November 21) was as apt today as on the day it was written, 40 years ago. This letter should be compulsory reading for our politicians, who seem to have lost the plot. Their policy of pleasing and appeasing all and sundry is destroying our self-respect and self-image. If you behave like a doormat, you are treated like a doormat.
With Hanukka in the wings, let's restore our pride in ourselves as a nation, and affirm our-God given right to have Jerusalem as our undivided capital.
Sir, - Annapolis seems to be such an important conference. Yet who invites important delegates at the last minute? That only happens when you go to a funeral ("List of invitees to Annapolis," November 22).
When Ehud met Jerry
Sir, - How nice that Prime Minister Olmert found the time to meet with Jerry Seinfeld before heading off to Annapolis ("Seinfeld impressed by visit to Land of Milk and Honey," November 25). My 11th-grade son has had the same pleasure of meeting Mr. Seinfeld - every day for the last month and a half, on TV, when he should have been in a classroom. Maybe when our leader gets back from Annapolis, he can find the time to get our kids back to school.
Why the strike's still on
Sir, - The "original Dovrat vision" referred to in "Stop the strike" (Editorial, November 19th) is based on the original, workable reform advanced by the Union of Secondary School Teachers, which ran as a three-year pilot program in five schools. This is the true reform for which high school teachers are fighting today and its premise, at least, is simple and straightforward: Teachers will be present in school for 40 hours a week, during which they will carry out all the instructional, staff and preparatory work required of them. In return, they will receive the 50%-60% raise necessary to adjust their salaries to equal a full-time position at an average Israeli salary.
The Dovrat Commission adopted much of the union's reform format, which had already proven itself in the pilot schools through an overall rise in student grades, matriculation certificates and declines in the student-dropout rate and the incidence of violence. But the committee, under ministry instructions not to allow for any increased budget, made subtle and damaging changes to the reform plan: a disregard of the necessary curriculum reform, an unreasonable increase in high school frontal teaching hours from 24 to 33, and no budgetary solution for the lack of facilities to accommodate these changes.
The educators who are now striking have tried for over a year to resolve these issues with the government and begin a true reform process. But certain basic, essential conditions must first be reinstated: reduction of class size; return of 8.5 high school curriculum hours, and an immediate salary adjustment for teachers to reflect the work they currently do.
Recently we sat with over 150 teachers from Jerusalem high schools and tried to think of ways to get our message across, again. We have the energy and the will to transform the classroom for our children; we know how to get it started; we have outlined the basic, necessary working conditions and the premise for reform - and we are striking for as long as it takes the government to, at the very least, reverse the damage it has done to the educational process and let us get back to our classrooms and our jobs.
Department of English
Hebrew University High School
Sir, - Why is the school strike, affecting hundreds of thousands of people, not on the front page of the paper every day? This is the main issue of interest for parents, children and teachers. The press needs to recognize that it tops everyone's agenda - except, it seems, the politicians' and union officials'.
Home, unsafe home
Sir, - "Vigilante police" (Editorial, November 25) was relevant to many citizens, notably in Jerusalem, where many neighborhoods are insufficiently or ineptly protected. Home break-ins are to be expected. Bars, alarms and locks are worthless; no security can keep the burglars out. Police tell us that if they want to get into your property, they will. Many places have been entered two and three times.
But where is the outrage and cries for more and better police? One lone officer arriving on the scene hours after the crime can do little to stop the anarchy. Why is there no campaign in the press for a larger police presence? Why are residents not banging on the mayor's door?
I am writing this on my daughter's computer since mine was stolen last week.
Sir, - Kol hakavod to Amir Mizroch for "Why are we such lunatics on the road?" (November 23.) Dr. David Shinar deserves all our support in his endeavors to try to change the idiocy of our drivers; it is a long-term project requiring additional action to achieve success.
I know of no other country where a minimum of 28 lessons from a professional driving instructor are compulsory before taking the driving test. However, all instructors do is teach their pupils how to physically drive a car. They should have to include a course on "driving courtesy" and how to apply it to the rules of the road. Driving courtesy should be taught from kindergarten onwards - of course the teachers will have to be taught it first, so they can pass it on.
It is wonderful to have good laws, and Israel has many, but they are of no use if they are not enforced. The police must be made to apply the laws, and to issue fines to everyone who disobeys them. After a certain number of points, a "courtesy refresher" course should be obligatory.
If action is taken promptly, the ridiculously high death toll on our roads may diminish, we may live longer, and our children and grandchildren may be able to look forward to greater courtesy and safety.
Have a drink?
Sir, - What a pity that the "Heavy rains can't wash away experts' fear of a water crisis" (November 23). Perhaps they will, however, dilute the level of petrol in our drinking water, albeit temporarily.
Your article stated that "Israel consumes about 700m. cubic meters of pure drinking water a year." That's wishful thinking. As the records of the Water Authority clearly show, pollution from petrol stations and storage facilities continues to contaminate our precious water resources. Of 13 sites surveyed last year, 10 were found to be polluted.
Russians drink vodka? Well, Israelis drink petrol.
Sir, - Your travel adviser apparently believes that the citizens of Manchester are Manchurians ("$198 round trip to London? Don't expect flight miracles this Hanukka!" November 25). Jewish Mancunians will be surprised, I'm sure, to hear that their grandparents originated in the Far East. Would Mr. Feldman also claim that people living in Birmingham are Burmese?
GABRIEL A. SIVAN
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