Israel faces a severe manpower shortage in the hi-tech sector and other fields. Offering higher education to people of all ages would solve this problem.
By LETTERS TO THE EDITORFor healthier kids“Israeli kids live less healthy” (April 3) touches on only one of the reasons for this – and apparently as an afterthought in the final paragraph – namely, an insufficient amount of physical activity.Walking around the neighborhood, I am appalled by the proliferation of electric bicycles, scooters and Segway-like two-wheelers that the kids are riding (usually on sidewalks and often to the annoyance of, and danger to, pedestrians) instead of the far more healthy mode of transport provided by walking and running, as most of us did when we were young.I blame parents for indulging their children (keeping up with the Cohens?), and perhaps schools, too, for allowing them to travel to and from school on their obesity- and laziness-inducing machines.LEON BENNETTNetanya Cost of knowledge...In “Toward a higher education for all” (Comment & Features, April 3) Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel writes that a plan to offer free preparatory higher education courses to teenagers who would otherwise be unable to pay the costs of between NIS 5,000 and NIS 10,000 is a “revolutionary move.” Since when is taking two steps back and one step forward revolutionary? Following the large-scale privatization of higher education, the costs of university studies have skyrocketed to over 100,000 shekels a year. If higher education is “for all,” why charge fees that few can afford in the first place? The minister then makes an allusion to Jews being the “People of the Book.” However, scholarships are granted only to people under 30 years of age.Judaism emphasizes life-long study, not restricting education to those under 30.Israel faces a severe manpower shortage in the hi-tech sector and other fields. Offering higher education to people of all ages would solve this problem.ASAF SHIMONIDafna ...and elder careI am a relatively new resident in an assisted living facility.The main attractions of residence in an assisted living facility are security and gracious living.Security is provided by the fulltime, in-house availability of basic medical and social-work facilities, as well as provisions for basic home maintenance. Gracious living is provided by the availability of facilities for physical and cultural activities.The above benefits do come with a cost that many retirees find difficult to afford. This could be the reason for the relatively low percentage of retirees residing in assisted living facilities.The costs consist of basic monthly charges of rent for maintenance and utilities beyond a deposit payable upon entry.The deposit, a large sum of money, is an interest-free loan granted to the owner of the facility for the period of residence. It is usually met from life savings for retirement or from the sale of a home. In addition, the deposit is depreciated by 3% annually for up to 12 years, providing additional income to the owner of the facility. It is fair to say that this is paid by the future generation, as it reduces the amount of the legacy available upon the demise of the tenant or upon his leaving the facility.What is grossly unfair is that the depreciation is taxable and subject to VAT, whose charge is passed on to the tenants annually.As the deposit generally comes from life savings from employment – which were already taxed – we have double taxation in old age as a reward for our working life. The annual charge of VAT is a raid on the meager income of the elderly from the old-age benefit paid by the National Insurance Institute and/or payment of restitutions for Holocaust survivors.The time has come for the Finance and Social Services ministries to review this paradox of hurting the elderly by additional taxation, and to offer a remedy.MICHAEL ALBERTBitanAharon Decide already!With regard to “Deal ends coalition crisis over public broadcasting” (March 31), what is being overlooked is not that there was a crisis, but that our leaders do not know what they want.All too often, we read about a proposed bill. Most of us immediately agree with it or disagree with it, although politicians know that to pass legislation, deals often have to be struck.Bills become watered down, sometimes unrecognizable.That’s politics. But when a decision is made, that should be it (unless it’s deemed illegal).In this case, we were told that the Israel Broadcasting Authority had become too unwieldy and overly expensive primarily due to a bloated staff and archaic work agreements. There was also the unpopular broadcasting tax and threats of televisions and radios being impounded for non-payment.So an alternative was agreed upon and set up. People were hired and contracts were signed.We were told that the new entity would offer us at least some of the quality programming that public broadcasting entities are known for, and less of the commercial pap we get from Channel 2 and Channel 10. Fine! Then what happens? Some of our leaders have second thoughts. There’s talk about whether they can properly control the new entity. There’s worry that a political rival will be able to take more credit.Who remembers the initial natural- gas outline? Decision were made. Contracts were signed.Then our leaders started having second thoughts. For a while, who would have wanted to do business with a country led by people who have no idea what they want?ARI BEN-SENDERJerusalemNot a suicide pactRegarding Hagai El-Ad’s “The only democracy... right” (Observations, March 31), the Wiemar Republic, the name of Germany’s post-World War I democracy, did nothing to limit the rise of the Nazis because such a step would have limited Hitler’s democratic right to free speech.The constitution (democracy) is not a suicide pact, said US Supreme Court justice Robert H.Jackson in a dissenting opinion in Terminiello v. Chicago, a 1949 free-speech case decided by the top court.DAVID STEINHARTPetah Tikva The right to talk Yaakov Katz is right that “Diaspora Jewry has a responsibility for Israel, but Israelis have no less a responsibility for the Jews of the Diaspora” (“Trump’s process to peace,” Editor’s Notes, March 31).Few deny that Israel should speak to American Jews, but many right-wingers deny that we – especially American liberals – should speak to Israel. Using double standards, they don’t criticize conservatives who could be driving Israel into a dangerous regional war, civil unrest or a one-state solution,yet think that liberals have no right to warn that Israel should beware of these threats.Also, many Israeli liberals agree with us and want us to speak out – they make speaking tours to encourage us to.Why would American liberals know less than conservatives? And why would American conservatives know less than Israel’s own liberals? Why would politically conservative American Jews or fundamentalist Christians who know fundamentalist doctrines but don’t live “on location” know more than American liberal Jews? Or know more than Israeli liberal Jews who actually live “on location”? Or know more than Israeli Arabs and occupied Palestinians who also live “on location”? This doesn’t mean conservatives or liberals are right. And location has relatively little to do with it. Rather, it is dialogue among ourselves – and, to add to Katz, among our non-Jewish neighbors, who, as he says, share a solemn and caring responsibility for each other.JAMES ADLERCambridge, Massachusetts
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