Letters to the editor, May 24

What about Rafah? Sir, - Thank you for "A bitter end to a dream project" (May 22) about the problems in exporting Gaza's produce. I am very curious about one aspect of this story, not directly addressed by Rafael D. Frankel. My understanding is that the Rafah crossing from Gaza into Egypt is now under the control of the Palestinians, with some EU supervision. If so, why wasn't the produce from the Gaza greenhouses shipped via Egypt? AARON ROODMAN Stanford, California Direct aid to Palestinians Sir, - Because of their leadership, Palestinians are in a hopeless situation with extreme poverty, few paying jobs and no likelihood of improvement. In such conditions some might like to see a peaceful turnaround in their lives and the lives of their children. Would there be a practical way for Israel to offer funds directly to Palestinian families who would pledge not to support or participate in violence against Israel and would support Israel's right to exist? Practical mechanisms would have to be established to get the pledges and see that the funds went directly to those Palestinians. Granted, some might sign such a document for personal gain only, but I hope many would be willing to truly comply. Considering the vital importance of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, this idea is worth a try. At the very least it would dramatically demonstrate to Palestinians, and perhaps the world, that Israel does not really wish to hurt innocent Palestinians. Just as important, it hopefully would sensitize individual Palestinians to the need for improving relations with Israel, if only for their own benefit. BRUCE LANG Newport, Rhode Island Aiders & abettors Sir, - Cecilia Henry, along with your paper, rightly castigates the incessant anti-Israel and anti-Jewish boycott attempts of some sections of the British educational "elite" ("Depressing day," Letters, May 22; and "Intellectual dishonesty," Editorial, May 21). But may I remind readers of the aiding and abetting they receive from both Israeli and British Jews. A few nights ago I attended a meeting at the community center of the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council (GJRC), organized by a group of individuals generally held in contempt by this Scottish community for their deceit and misrepresentation of Israel hasbara groups - as evidenced by an audience of only 10. The principal speaker, Judith Keshet, a co-founder of Machsom Watch who had previously spoken at a meeting of the extremist, anti-Israel Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, claimed her organization was not a political movement. She spoke about the alleged violations of human rights of Palestinians at IDF checkpoints and described the Israel Defense Forces in such illuminating terms as "Every soldier has the feeling that he can do what he bloody likes," "checkpoints are the major tool of Israel's occupation... [and] for assassinations and house demolitions. Checkpoints create a breeding ground for terrorists." She described the checkpoints as "a form of ethnic cleansing." I urge Anglo-Israelis, particularly those from Scotland, to write to the Jewish Telegraph (mail@jewishtelegraph.com), which promoted this meeting, and to the GJRC (jrepcouncil@aol.com), which allowed our community center to be used by Israel's detractors. STANLEY GROSSMAN Scottish Friends of Israel Glasgow Prayer for a con artist Sir, - I fully agree with everything your correspondents wrote ("Serial offender with the title of 'rabbi,'" Letters, May 23). I just want to add that my heart goes out to those thousands of followers who had this man as their life-line to Judaism. This Shabbat I also comforted a rabbi who had defended him. Most people are defenseless against a con artist because one meets them rarely, while he meets naive people all day long. As a victim of another con artist, I can say that after a decade I still can't forgive him. However, this one didn't hurt me personally, so I'm praying for his recovery since I see there's no way he's gonna make it out of this mess on his own. M-M. VAN ZUIDEN Jerusalem The Jewish way is to save life Sir, - "Life-saving drugs" (Editorial, May 22), supporting the dramatic campaign of cancer suffers on hunger strike, was timely. Indeed, "the system should be changed so that life-saving drugs and treatments should receive greater priority as a matter of course." One important quibble: They should receive top priority. This would conform to pikuah nefesh - saving a life - one of Judaism's most treasured mitzvot. The Talmud is even more forceful: "He who saves one life, it is as if he saved the entire world." But in Israel, where Jewish values have the best chance of being institutionalized, our Knesset permits these folks to die because there's no money to pay for their life-saving drugs. Nonsense! With a health system guided by Judaism's life-saving principle, money will always be available for cancer sufferers and others whose lives are in danger. Shortage of funds will affect only those at the low end of priorities, people nowhere near death if the system cannot afford to treat them. JOCK L. FALKSON Ra'anana Sir, - As I read "Hunger-striking cancer patients reject 'ping-pong' treatment by government" (May 23) my ears perked up at radio reports of the Knesset Economics Committee and others trying desperately to find a way to reduce the costs of watching the World Cup games on cable/satellite TV. The sickest thing is that a solution will probably be found for the latter problem, while the hunger strikers, and other cancer patients, wait for a glimmer of hope. GERSHON HARRIS Hatzor Haglilit Hormone zone Sir, - Rebecca Anna Stoil revealed only the tip of the iceberg in her piece on road accidents in Israel ("Driven to distraction: The search for 'black spots,'" May 19). Yes, there are "black spots" needing attention, but they do not cause accidents, for the most part. It is more important to get to the core of the problem - hormonal drivers who think they are racing in the Indy 500. Ways to treat such drivers involved in accidents are: • stiffer fines; • higher insurance rates for drivers at risk of causing future accidents; • a mandatory driving course, including lectures on road safety; • immediate loss of the driver's license for a minimum 3 years; • immediate impounding of the vehicle, with the cost of release and other costs upon the offender and registrar of the vehicle; • mandatory community service; • possible jail time. L. BAKER Beersheba For Filipinos Sir, - I was very happy to read that people throughout the country are doing things to improve the working conditions of Filipinos and the quality of care for elders ("Classes for Filipinos sharpen their care-giving skills," May 19). We thought it was important to notify those Filipinos who are unable to join the course at Haifa University that they have another option. For over 25 years MELABEV (www.melabev.org) has been implementing innovative therapies and activities for memory-impaired elderly and now has nine clubs in the Jerusalem-Beit Shemesh areas. Three years ago we began a training program for Filipino homecare workers. Filipinos come from all over the country to our training sessions, held on Sundays, their day off, to learn more about such things as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, and first aid, as well as basic concepts of Jewish culture, tradition and holidays. They gain more knowledge, skills and confidence, which enhances their work with aging patients. Hundreds of foreign workers have completed this training. RAKEL BERENBAUM Coordinator of the Filipino Training Program MELABEV Jerusalem