Letters to the Editor: Shabbat construction

Dozens of settlements, in general, and in Hebron specifically, receive millions in US-tax-deductible funding annually.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Shabbat construction
With regard to “Defiant Israel Katz says Shabbat scandal won’t bring him down” (August 29), if the haredi parties are so willing to sacrifice millions of taxpayer shekels in order to halt work on the Tel Aviv fast rail during Shabbat, let them sacrifice it from the money they receive from the government to stay in the coalition.
There is a compelling case for working 24/7 to expedite completion of the Tel Aviv light rail and, for that matter, the fast rail line between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Modal shifts from car to rail reduce death risks by up to 90 percent, so there is an ethical cost from the delay in providing for more rail travel in and between cities.
Transportation Minister Israel Katz’s policies of raising the posted and enforced speed limits is the major reason for the sharp rise in road deaths in the past three years, from under 300 to more than 350. These policies have undone all the benefits from safer roads and vehicles, seatbelt laws and more.
Katz’s reckless disregard for human life is why he should be fired. In my opinion, he should also be investigated for willful neglect of everything known about the relationship between higher speed limits and increased death tolls. This should be the position of the health minister.
I call upon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to immediately order a lowering of the posted and enforced speed limits – and the firing of Katz.
The writer teaches occupational and environmental medicine at the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Public Health and Community Medicine.
Regarding the August 25 letter from reader Shimon Har-Even (“Daily road slaughter”), when traveling on Road 6, we pay for using the road. But we can watch the auto races for free! When we are tailgated by someone who is flashing his headlights, we should take it as a courtesy because we are on that driver’s personal race track.
Seriously, it is time that these reckless drivers were caught and heavily fined. In addition, the company operating Road 6 should sue reckless drivers who cause accidents, because these accidents lead to a road closures, which mean lost income.
Unified policies
Mark C. Toner, deputy spokesperson for the US State Department, recently condemned reported plans that Israel was planning on expanding settlement activity in Hebron, saying that “such moves are not consistent with Israel’s stated desire to achieve a two-state solution.”
Dozens of settlements, in general, and in Hebron specifically, receive millions in US-tax-deductible funding annually. One organization, the New Yorkbased Hebron Fund, shamelessly and prominently advertises its funding for Hebron (and other settlements), even offering “honorary citizenship” to donors.
This is unjust, illegal, immoral, misleading and self-defeating on so many fronts. An American non-profit offering “citizenship” in another country? American donors receiving tax deductions for violating international law? If America were deeply concerned about construction in Hebron (and other settlements), as Toner said it was, its politicians would immediately unify its foreign and tax policies and remove tax deductions for all NGOs supporting settlements in any manner. Until that time, America remains a co-enabler of Israel’s occupation of another people, of the Israeli government’s illegal and immoral policies against the Palestinians, and of Israel’s self-inflicted delegitimization throughout the world.
Getting equal time
B’nai Jeshurun, an independent congregation on New York City’s Upper West Side, is a big success.
It might not be exact with the hour it brings in Shabbat, but it gets a great crowd week after week.
I sometimes visit my brother, who lives nearby. One Saturday morning, I attended services there and it was very full. To my surprise, the rabbi gave the pulpit to MK Ahmad Tibi, who gave an impassioned speech about the peace treaty with Egypt.
At the conclusion of Tibi’s diatribe, I stood up in the middle of the synagogue and waved my hands. The rabbi was distracted and could not get me to sit down, and finally asked me what the problem was. I explained that I once heard that a Jew who has a complaint can stop the prayers in a synagogue – and I had a problem.
I explained that Tibi had mentioned Egypt and its president several times, but never mentioned that there had been a partner, Israel and its prime minister at the time, Menachem Begin. Everyone looked at me and Tibi jumped from his seat.
He said he was sorry and that, of course, there was Israel and prime minister Begin.
Allow me to tell you that not one person came up to me to say that my correction had been called for.
I’m not sure whether the congregation would ever invite anyone from the “other side” to speak.
Tel Aviv
Not much of a kick
In his quixotic quest to find the peace described in his delusional 1993 book The New Middle East, former president Shimon Peres may have overstepped his previous breaches of good taste and judgment with his decision to appoint soccer star Eran Zahavi as a peace envoy for the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation (“Peres to name soccer star as peace envoy,” August 26).
One can only wonder whether Zahavi will be able to find time to fulfill his commitment to this new assignment. After all, he abandoned our beleaguered homeland to kick a ball for Guangzhou R&F in China for a salary equivalent to NIS 60 million.
There is no mention as to whether the new position includes a salary, but the concept upon which it is based is certainly innovative.