letters to the editor.
(photo credit: )
49 against 1
Sir, - There is a lot of commentary in the media about the Annapolis conference. There are some 49 countries scheduled to attend, from the Middle East and other parts of the world. These countries have no special love for Israel, and are beholden to one or another Arab and/or Muslim nation.
It all calls to mind what was termed, in my younger days in New York City, a "gang-bang" ("From farce to real drama?" November 26.)
Sir, - As an American citizen, I want to go on record with the Israeli people that I do not agree with my government's position in the Annapolis conference. Forcing dangerous concessions is not something that a friend does to a friend. We have contacted the White House and our representatives repeatedly to urge them not to support pressuring Israel to give up its rightful heritage.
I want Israel to know that, as for my house, we will serve the Lord and support your people and their right to their God-given land.
Sir, - Whilst "Sense on settlements" (Editorial, November 23) was emphatic in recommending that some settlements in the West Bank be removed, it failed to relate to the terrible suffering this would inflict upon those who would lose their homes and find themselves no longer part of a close-knit community.
I would have expected the writer to spare a thought for the detrimental impact upon the evacuees of the disengagement from Gush Katif two years ago; family lives were massively disrupted and great difficulties encountered in finding jobs and permanent homes. Some of these difficulties persist today.
The promotion of further withdrawals is especially disturbing since our experience in withdrawing from Lebanon and Gaza has shown that ceding territory does not bring peace any closer, and only gives a fresh impetus to terrorist activity.
In such circumstances, I cannot agree that the suggestions put forward make "sense on settlements."
Sir, - Your account of Sunday night's One Jerusalem-sponsored rally against the division of Jerusalem offered another unfortunate example of selective political labeling ("Ya'alon warns against east Jerusalem pullout," November 26). While One Israel was routinely dismissed as a "right-wing organization," Ir Amim - which is at least as far to the left as One Israel is to the right - is listed as "an advocacy group that works for coexistence in Jerusalem." Was your reporter implying that opponents of repartitioning Israel's capital are opposed to coexistence with its Arab residents?
By the way, contrary to this account, the One Israel rally was not "sparsely attended." It was an indoor event, and virtually every available seat was filled, plus dozens of standees in the rear.
Remove all doubt
Sir, - How could Marilyn Henry write that in 1915 Leo Frank was "convicted of murdering a 13-year-old girl" without adding in parentheses that the real murderer, a custodian, confessed to the murder many years later? The fact that Frank was actually innocent underscores the anti-Semitism, and should have been noted. ("New York Jewry under siege?" - Metro, November 25)
Eye on the ball, please
Sir, - Sadly, Prof. David Shinar, the new chief scientist of the Road Safety Authority, projects a point of view which is substantially distorted in both direction and content ("Why are we such lunatics on the roads?" November 23).
Prof. Shinar was one of the members of the now-defunct Livne Commission, which voted for the "experiment" to raise speed limits - twice. One hopes he has now familiarized himself with the scientific literature on the dismal results of this 15-year experiment, which led to some 900 or more deaths.
Unfortunately, Shinar - a world expert on the driving task - made statements which sounded as though he considered Israel's road environment to be a simulator for experimentally testing the attention span and reaction times of what he calls "the Israeli driver." He totally ignored the spectacular, immediate and sustained impact of speed camera networks in reducing death tolls by some 40-50% in Australia, the UK and France; the need to crack down on low pay, shift work, long hours and productivity premiums on professional truck drivers - i.e., exploitation; the mushrooming problem of substance abuse, especially in young drivers; the need for a national bike path system; the need to stop road building and urban sprawl and continue to promote all forms of public transit; the need for a national bike path system and promoting the new national bike helmet law; also the need for street environments that protect pedestrians.
I totally agree that Israel's road environment is a mess. Speed cameras, along with seat-belt laws, bike helmet laws and other clear messages must become the centerpieces of that environment. Let's keep our eye on the ball: a 50% or more reduction in the body count in the next two years.
ELIHU D RICHTER MD MPH, Professor Emeritus
Injury Prevention Center
The author is a member of the editorial board of Injury Prevention and a member of EU Advanced Passive Safety Network.
For the record
Sir, - Re "Receiver-general accused of bribing Keren Hayesod" (November 25): Keren Hayesod rejects any attempt to damage its good name regarding the issue of property of Holocaust victims, which it views as one of the most important and sensitive matters on the public agenda. Whenever called upon, KH has always fully cooperated with MK Colette's Avital's committee on this matter.
KH worked hard and long to reach an agreement ensuring proper management of the America Zion Commonwealth Company's assets and subsequent distribution to the creditors. This agreement was reached and approved by the District Court in Jerusalem, and is advantageous not only to both parties but to all the company's creditors. Therefore KH found no reason to continue with costly court proceedings, resulting in the use of donor funds for legal fees.
KH deeply regrets that interested parties would use a matter of such moral importance as a platform for cheap and unfounded allegations, and will continue to cooperate with any relevant party on this important matter.
YEHOSHUA AMISHAV Spokesman
Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal
Sir, - My complements to JJ Gross on his very well-written and comprehensive letter dealing with exorbitantly-priced real estate in Jerusalem for wealthy overseas Jews ("Personal kosher playground," November 25).
I believe that the time has come for legislation to be passed limiting the right of property ownership in Israel to people who can demonstrate a minimal residency of 51% of the year in this country. If not, our Jerusalem will cease to exist as a vibrant living city and become an empty shell of unoccupied apartments belonging to affluent absentee landlords, government offices, museums; and housing for indigent populations.
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