Following higher orders
Sir, - On Monday, thanks to an Internet-correspondent of mine, I was privileged to see magnificent pictures of a rebuilt and restored synagogue in Berlin that had been utterly destroyed in Kristallnacht. This Jewish place of worship had been considered the jewel of Berlin synagogues.
The same day I was horrified by the news of two Jewish homes being destroyed - not in Berlin, but Negohot; not by crazed mobs, but by Jewish soldiers, young men who were just following orders.
Two families, one with many children, were left homeless before the winter. And then I learned that young soldiers who, anticipating similar orders, declared their refusal to follow such orders, have been imprisoned for insubordination. That is, they were following their consciences and refusing to follow orders that they considered immoral. And the army and all our leaders are up in arms at their daring action. ("More soldiers protest...." November 17.)
These young men were following higher orders, something they had been taught to do since childhood. Perhaps the government should rethink its policy of sending our sons in to destroy the homes of fellow Jews, lest our attempts at proper education be for naught.
Police should crack down on two wheels...
Sir, - It appears to me that the increase in insurance rates for motorcyclists ("Biker seriously hurt in motorcycle protest against insurance hike," November 16) is too small. In fact, perhaps it should be doubled.
I have lived here for three years and am astounded daily by the practices of many motorcyclists I have observed in all parts of the country. Perhaps as an alternative to increased insurance rates, the police must enforce traffic laws and insist that motorcyclists adhere to the same rules followed by automobile drivers. They need to remain in lanes, they need to stop weaving in and out of cars to get to the front of the line at traffic lights, they need to wait for the light to turn green before they dart ahead, and they need to stop driving their vehicles on the sidewalks. They also need to to follow speed limits and avoid using pedestrian crosswalks. And the list goes on.
Perhaps if motorcyclists were encouraged to obey the law through enforcement, insurance rates could be maintained, the coffers of the state could be filled through traffic tickets, and - most importantly - there might be a decline in serious injuries and accidents.
Sir, - I was stopped at the traffic light and looked into the rear-view mirror at the car behind. The driver was a young lady with a passenger sitting beside her. The driver had a mobile phone jammed between her cheek and shoulder. She was smoking a cigarette and, at the same time, eating something with a spoon, probably yogurt. When we drove off, she was still doing all of the above. How many offenses was she committing?
Doctors - overworked, perhaps, but not arrogant
Sir, - The recent correspondence in your columns regarding Israel's public hospitals has caught my attention.
In the 40 years we have lived in Israel, my family has had more than their share of hospitalization, in various departments, throughout the country.
Most were overcrowded, most needed more nurses, most needed the facilities upgraded, most could do with better catering - especially for specialized diets - and many of them needed to be kept cleaner.
But one thing about which I, nor any member of my family, will never comment adversely is the care, consideration dedication and high standard of the doctors themselves, who are overworked and underpaid. Not once have we encountered an "arrogant physician." ("Not Healthy Enough," Letters, November 16) Tired, yes. Overworked, yes. But arrogant? Never.
BARBARA A. PFEFFER
The solution to the Intel row: Compromise
Sir, - As a deeply devoted religious Jew, I believe that Judaism has an important message to humankind: to demonstrate to the world that respecting all men as created in God's image leads to a successful society. As hi-tech plays a central role today, it is an important venue for this message - especially in Jerusalem, which represents the spiritual center of Judaism.
Setting Shabbat aside for spiritual rejuvenation is fundamental to Judaism, as a reminder that faith in a Creator is the only rational basis for an absolute system of morality and ethics. This explains the importance of the Israeli law fixing Shabbat as a day of rest for Jewish workers. Not all those charged with the enforcement of this law are fully aware of the above. Hence it is not surprising that, for a while, this law fell into neglect.
A close colleague of mine, the late Prof. Ze'ev Lev - laureate of the Israel Prize and founder of the Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT) - often told me about his efforts in this area. One example: When a company claimed that it was technically impossible to shut down one day a week, he would locate a company in the same industry abroad to find out how they handled the problem. Frequently this led to technological solutions, since the foreign company was strongly motivated to work only six days a week. Thus he often managed to show that in working seven days a week, "the benefits drowned in the losses."
In conclusion, the "compromise" solution - specifically one in which only the gentile employees work on Shabbat ("Rivlin mediates between Intel and haredi protesters," November 16) - illustrates how problems can be resolved when there is good will on both sides.
PROF. YEHUDAH LEVI
Scotland's stand on Israel
Sir, - As honorary secretary of Scottish Friends of Israel, I have no particular axe to grind with any of the parliamentary parties represented at the Scottish parliament, so long as the individual members maintain honest and balanced views. The current parliament has a strong and personal relationship with the Scottish Jewish community, as did the previous, Labor-led administration.
When stating that Alex Salmond "will never take any sort of stand for Israel" ("The battle for Britain," November 16), Rob Brown should have made clear that foreign policy, as opposed to friendly foreign relations, is a devolved matter outwith the Scottish parliament's remit.
Unlike the Westminster parliament, there are no "friends" groups within the SNP, Labor or other parties in Scotland. The vast majority of MSPs have a reasonable idea of Israel and the problems it faces, and indicate their understanding by indifference to anti-Israel motions placed before them.
Scottish political parties are no different from others the world over, where even Granny is for sale if the price is right. But it is important to acknowledge that Scotland is one of the only countries in Europe that has not ethnically cleansed itself of Jews at any time in history.
Censors, you asked
Sir, - In light of the High Court decision forbidding the use of the word 'expulsion' vÃ¬s-Ã¢-vÃ¬s the disengagement ("High Court rules radio ads cannot describe Gaza disengagement as 'expulsion,'" November 16), I suggest a new spelling: e####sion. Lets give the practitioners of legal censorship a run for their money!