Letters to the editor, June 14

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Oh Kaye! Sir, - Your piece about the Kaye awards was a revelation to us lay people who are unaware of what goes on in our universities ("HU star researchers take Kaye Prizes for innovation," June 13). The research currently ongoing in Israeli centers of higher learning - in medicine, hi-tech and other fields - can have a vast future impact for good on the lives of millions of people around the world. It makes one wonder if those more-moral-than-thou academics and church leaders who voted to boycott Israeli academics will high-mindedly boycott the future use for themselves of any medical advances first made by Israelis. CYRIL ATKINS Beit Shemesh Disaster on wheels Sir, - Once again people's lives are cut unnecessarily short at a level crossing ("Five killed, 80 hurt in Netanya train crash," June 13). Sensors could be installed by Israel Railways to force trains to slow down or stop if the approaching level crossing is not clear. Virtually every parking garage and elevator door has them. AVI HABER-GOLDSTEIN Jerusalem Sir, - Whether the truck that caused the train wreck was bumped onto the tracks from the car behind or found itself there through some other circumstance, it is just so sad and frustrating that in Israel so many drivers feel they need to drive one inch away from the vehicle in front of them, even at 60 miles per hour. This rampant tailgating is dangerous, foolish, irresponsible and morally wrong, and must not be shrugged off by drivers. MATTHEW ROSEN Philadelphia/Givat Shmuel Sir, - So, another preventable train crash, though thankfully the number of casualties was far less than the carnage on our roads. I do not see why Israel Rail, of which I am a great fan, has to wait for a government budget allowance to improve safety at railway crossings. A small increase of NIS 1 per journey would raise millions, if not billions - enough to pay for bridges or underpasses. M. VEEDER Netanya Sir, - We all share the same sorrow over Monday's train/truck collision. When I lived in the US, a more safety-minded society than Israel by most accounts, these types of incidents also occurred with great regularity, every few months. If it is true that a truck was pushed onto the tracks by the vehicle behind it, then not much could have been done to avoid it short of building systems of overpasses or tunnels at every single rail crossing, which is prohibitively expensive. I wonder if Israel Railways would consider optical sensors ("electric eyes") placed at all junctions and an electronic signal sent to approaching trains if an object is detected on the tracks ahead. A video camera could be mounted above each junction and a video signal sent to the train driver so he/she can visually confirm that the junction ahead is clear. These solutions can be designed and implemented much more quickly and cheaply than major construction projects. With a bit of technology I believe we can make our rail system much safer. ERIC POLLY Beit Shemesh Olmert's agenda Sir, - Your editorial "Fight double standards" (June 13) should have been titled: "Fight for Israel." Why didn't Mr. Olmert, in his London meeting, mention the constant rain of Kassam rockets on Sderot and its citizens? Balanced against "world opinion," it seems he doesn't care. Will nothing get in the way of his convergence plan? ISRAEL ZVI Efrat Defeat 'em Sir, - Why should we even consider endangering our soldiers by sending ground forces into Gaza to stop the Kassam attacks? Two much simpler solutions exist but are hardly mentioned in the current debate: 1. Following each Kassam, including those that do no damage, choose a street in the town from or near which the Kassam originated, notify the residents that they have two hours to leave, and then level the street. 2. Following each Kassam, withhold electricity and water in Gaza for 10 hours. Give an hour's notice for hospitals to operate emergency generators (if they don't have these, supply them). There's no need for ground forces or fruitless searching for "partners." Let's finally stand up for ourselves and defeat the enemy ("Frustrated Sderot survives third day of rockets," June 13). YAACOV & SHARONA BEN-AVRAHAM Kfar Haroeh Mohawk Jews Sir, - Evelyn Gordon's plea that Israel return to emphasizing its previous position of having a legal right to the West Bank and Gaza ignored the shift of world opinion. The isolation and bombardment of Serbia was a key event. The US and most Western nations rejected Serbia's plea that it should retain control over Kosovo because of its historic connection to the area. The world effectively told the Serbs that all their history meant nothing if, in the intervening years, the cradle of Serbian civilization had become inhabited primarily by Albanians. Thus Israel's claim to an ancient historic precedent for its rights has begun to appear less and less valid - as if the Mohawks had decided to reclaim most of New York State. I don't think the Israeli leadership can be faulted for not taking a more robust position. The ground has shifted in the international perception of the right of nation-states to retain control over their ethnic and religious makeup. It will not be easy for Israel to retrace its steps, as Ms. Gordon suggested in "Israel's image - why the all-time low?" (June 8). J. W. BOYD London Nous accusons Sir, - Re the "shelling" of Gaza beach, does Israel's foreign minister intend demanding an immediate apology from the French government for its rush to blame Israel? And if not, why not? ("Olmert jets off to Britain, France under a cloud," June 11.) ELLIOT KRETZMER Kfar Saba Foolish little visit Sir, - I found it quite interesting that Benjamin Bright-Fishbein wandered into Nablus - that Mid-East terrorism capital, where numerous unfortunate Jews have been murdered for simply being there - because he heard it was an "interesting city." His foolish little visit, against all good sense and clear warnings by Israel to stay out of there, caused a great deal of worry and extra work by our already hard-pressed security forces ("'Post' intern released unharmed by Aksa Martyrs Brigades," June 12). STEWART WEISS Ra'anana Use with care Sir, - The author of your June 12 editorial "Noxious speech" is to be commended for thoughtful words about the misuse of our legal system in pursuit of offenders who "insult a public servant." Can it be that this asinine charge is being used to silence the free speech of an individual who is being forced to spend time and money on legal fees for a court reply? The editorial also discussed the crime of "incitement," which is selectively used by the legal authorities. Both charges, "insulting a public servant" and "incitement," should be used with great care in a democratic society. Where are the academics, the media and our political leaders on this vital issue? ARNOLD SULLUM Jerusalem We haven't heard the last word Sir, - As a religious football fan and English, for me Jeremy Last's words were a bitter pill to swallow ("England's excuses fail to impress," Sports, June 12). The England performance was lackluster, with shades of schoolboy errors evident. I wish I had substance to debate and argue with you over this, Jeremy. Perhaps I'll just say: Don't close the door on England completely - you may end up having to eat your own printed "last word." Not to forget a tiny fact, we won the game. MARTIN LEWIS Hod Hasharon