letters to the editor 88.
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Cloud in the sky
Sir, - I very happily watched Tuesday's wonderful Jerusalem Parade in which many Christians joyfully expressed their support for Israel and the Jewish people. But my pleasure was marred by a missionary group whose insensitive banners pushed beliefs which we have rejected, including via martyrdom, throughout the ages - to replace God with Jesus.
Here's my banner: "Leave us alone! You take Jesus, we'll take God!"
YAAKOV FOGELMAN, Editor
The Jerusalem Jewish Voice
The Accidental Worker
Sir, - Larry Derfner hit the nail on the head with "Israelis at work" (October 9). In many Western countries, in public organizations and the workplace, a mandatory, official Accident Book records all incidents, irrespective of magnitude. In case of fatality the organization must inform a health & safety executive, who undertakes an immediate investigation. The Accident Book is inspected once a year, and organizations can be fined or taken to court.
Such an executive branch does not appear to exist here, or if it does, it has no teeth. There are numerous examples besides those Larry Derfner cites which show an ambivalent attitude to risk: For example, in the public works preparing for the Jerusalem light rail system, electric cables and reinforcement bars have been left freely protruding on the sidewalk.
In the case involving Derfner's son, surely all the coach had to do was to take a sponja stick and rag and wipe the water off the gym floor before allowing the children access? As he did not consider such menial tasks his job, his ability to assess risk clearly calls for his position to be reassessed.
COLIN L LECI
Sir, - What could you have been thinking when you printed Larry Derfner's categorical dismissal of Israeli workers using a non-academic profession as an example? Based solely on his anecdotal experience he dismissed as irresponsible a whole category of people that includes well over half the working force of this country.
That there's room for great improvement in the Israeli work ethic goes without saying - so why say it precisely when our country is filled with thousands of people here for a week to admire and enjoy the beauty of Israel, its history and its people? Why disparage a whole class of Israeli worker, including many extraordinary human beings who would go to the ends of the earth to make sure that what they were doing for you was done in the best and most responsible way possible?
Sir, - My daughter fell off a jungle gym at school and broke her leg. Does that make all Americans, or all New Jerseyites, or all Highland Parkers irresponsible?
Highland Park, New Jersey
Sir, - In my experience, lower-level workers at McDonalds, in banks, on telephone help lines and in movie theaters do a very good job. They tend to monitor who queued first - as opposed to rewarding with service those cutting to the front of the line - and on the phone are helpful, quick and courteous.
If anything, it is management that is guilty of the complaints listed by Mr. Derfner, because managers have the luxury of hiding behind their workers, who must deal with frustrated customers, the victims of lousy management decisions.
This stain of shame...
Sir, - The Pollard case, reminiscent of the infamous Dreyfus case, continues to cast shame upon the US Justice Department, the government of Israel, and the organized American Jewish community. Differing from the Dreyfus case in that Pollard did, indeed, commit the crime, there still is no justification for the extreme imbalance of his sentence, especially in view of the US government's reneging on Jonathan Pollard's agreeing to plead guilty in return for a reduced sentence.
We have been severely derelict in pursuing this matter ("Release Pollard," Editorial, October 10).
HAIM M. LERNER
...is not your business
Sir, - Who do those demanding freedom for Jonathan Pollard think they are?
The name of my country is the United States of America. Israel is not one of these states, and its interests are quite frequently opposed to the best interests of the US.
When Dennis Ross involves himself on behalf of Pollard, he simply calls forth his undying fealty to Israel and points out to others that he is a charter member of the Israel Lobby, an American Jew who while in government operated as an Israel advocate - not, in my opinion, always in the best interests of the US, under the mistaken premise that what is good for Israel is good for the US. Put more bluntly, mind your own business.
La Mesa, California
'Look - one hand!'
Sir, - I agree that a major cause of road deaths is speed ("How many people do you want to kill?" October 6). However, having passed the driving test in Israel and the Advanced Motorists test in England, I am in a position to compare the two - and Israel comes out very badly.
I am astonished to see so many motorists here turning around in, or backing into, a main road. I am horrified by drivers stopping on a hill, perhaps for traffic lights, then backing about a foot before proceeding forwards because they do not use the handbrake. Using the horn is, in the UK, quite rightly forbidden if the car is stationary.
But worst of all here: Israeli drivers appear to have only one hand. One very rarely sees a driver with both hands on the wheel. The result is that road casualties in Israel are proportionately very much higher than in the UK.
NEVILLE C. GOLDREIN
Sir, - A low-cost suggestion for cutting the accident rate is to position flashing red and blue lights in many places. I bet that would make drivers slow down. I don't care who gets the credit and awards for this idea - just get it done, and allow me to live a little longer.
Sir, - With all due respect to legislation permanently revoking repeat offenders' driving licenses, it is clear that people committing criminal acts such as driving while drunk aren't concerned about having a valid license. The only surefire way to stop them driving is a device which enables auto ignition only after a fingerprint is identified.
Such a device could be easily invented for vehicles; it already exists elsewhere. Anyone banned from driving would have his fingerprint on a computerized list, and a red flag would render him unable to start any vehicle anywhere.
SUSAN SHOSHANA WEINSTEIN
Time to reflect
Sir, - Surely the time has come to charge drunken drivers with "murder aforethought"? Once a few of these deliberate lawbreakers are sent to prison for 20 years or more, others of their ilk will think twice before driving while under the influence.
When will our state prosecutors and judges learn that the best deterrent is a long prison sentence? These criminals should also be denied the right to refuse to supply a blood sample, claiming they are "frightened," as reported in "Despite police precautions, drunk drivers still wreak havoc" (October 9).