16 January: Calibrate first

Did not the actions taken by the Left impact deeply on the politics of the 1950s and ’60s?

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Calibrate first
Sir, – I have a few comments about “New regulation set for speed-monitoring laser guns” ( January 14).
To say that “complainants were able to hamper the work of traffic courts... regarding device reliability” is misleading, to say the least. First of all, it is not “hampering” when defendants use perfectly legitimate resources to defend themselves.
On the contrary, it is the obligation of the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the guilt of the defendant, even in a traffic case.
With regard to laser speed guns as well as other devices, there has been a long history of their incompetent, and conceivably inappropriate, use by traffic police.
A friend of mine was once stopped for speeding by a police officer using such a device. Being knowledgeable in the field of reliability standards, he asked the policeman to show him the calibration documents for the laser gun. It turned out that none existed. Furthermore, there were no facilities for ensuring such reliability, although Israeli weights and measuring standards require that all officially sanctioned measuring devices be certified at least once a year or in accordance with the manufacturer’s official documentation.
In the trial my friend requested, it transpired that the Hebrew translation used by the police deviated in at least one critical phrase from the original English instruction manual. It was also shown that the police demonstrated a marked ignorance in how to perform a quick calibration test prior to use in the field. The result was “case dismissed,” with the trial protocol being cited in the Israel Law Journal.
This event occurred something like 10 years ago, and I find it shocking (though not surprising) that it has taken 10 years for the government to come up with a fix.
From the wording of the article, it is still not entirely clear if the technical facilities for proving the reliability and accuracy of the laser guns have been established, or if we have yet another piece of paper that was filed and forgotten.
I, personally, would still ask a cop to produce the certification papers of any gadget used to catch me violating a traffic regulation.
“It’s okay because I say so” cannot be accepted as a reliability standard.
Stale handouts
Sir, – In “Exercising the right to vote” (Borderline Views, January 14), David Newman lectures the reader with a Stalinist polemic and writes that it is crucial that “citizens have a say in determining the future of the country,” even if they end up “standing in long lines and casting the ballot for people and for parties who have not been entirely convincing.”
As in every political system, the prime motivation of every politician is to keep his seat. Yet due to the principle of proportional representation in which candidates are nominated undemocratically, politicians can do the most outrageous actions and not bear the subsequent consequences.
Our most recent political history, still fresh in our minds, includes a prime minister reneging on a promise not to speak to Yasser Arafat, shaking his hand and concluding the Oslo Agreements, and a right-wing prime minister who not only betrayed his own voters and deported supporters from their homes in Gush Katif, but later inadequately assisted them in restarting their lives.
Regardless of my political positioning or sympathies, sorrowfully I write that voter betrayal would not happen in the UK. Politicians’ heads would roll and riots would ensue.
When I see the passion and sacrifice displayed in the US by voters after Hurricane Sandy, it is because, unlike here, citizens feel they have representation.
I suggest that Newman call for change to make the political system more meaningful and attractive to the voter, and not ask citizens to stand in the proverbial bread line for stale handouts.
One of her own
Sir, – In “Witch-hunt or proper civil service neutrality” (Think About It, January 14), Susan Hattis Rolef states that “today the radical Left is not engaged in witch-hunts....”
Are we living in the same reality? MK Avigdor Liberman was investigated for over a decade, to no avail. The instant the case against him was closed, and with elections having been announced, a new “case” was brought up, with no immediate end in sight, certainly not until the elections are over.
The Left has been “witchhunting” the Right constantly for as long as I can remember, not just “in the 1950s and 1960s,” but right up until today. A list of examples would be too long to print here.
Methinks the lady doeth protest too much – probably because one of her own got caught.
Sir, – Susan Hattis Rolef writes that “the wrongs of the Left in the past do not justify the wrongs of the Right today.”
Why, exactly? Did not the actions taken by the Left impact deeply on the politics of the 1950s and ’60s? There were farreaching effects, especially for those with a past in the Irgun or Lehi.
Now that the climate has changed, it is time for the Right to have its turn. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
There is no reason to suddenly change the rules, unless they are changed from the top down.
Confront and expose
Sir, – Regarding “A national emergency government” (Savir’s Corner, January 14), to consider Mahmoud Abbas a peace partner is not only delusional, but suicidal.
Despite, or perhaps because of, US President Barack Obama’s cabinet nominations and probable involvement in the Benghazi debacle, in which the US ambassador to Libya was slain, our leaders need to make the case for Jewish sovereignty throughout our land. They need to go beyond, and not just accept, the Levy Report. They need to stress how Torah values created America and formed the basis for Western values and peace in Europe.
We need to confront and expose, not appease, Obama’s Islamist proclivities.
A fine opera Sir, – Ury Eppstein’s review of Verdi’s Luisa Miller (Arts & Entertainment, January 13), while praising the orchestra and many of the singers, gave such a negative report on the opera itself that I would not have gone to see it on that basis. I assume that many people were turned off because of it.
Fortunately for me, I already had tickets and I did go with my wife and some friends – because otherwise we would have missed one of the finest opera evenings we have ever had at the New Israel Opera.
And we were not the only ones.
The opera was punctuated frequently by lengthy applause. At one point it really stopped the show, and at the end there was a thunderous ovation and numerous curtain calls.
Eppstein may think that Luisa Miller is “justifiably” forgotten, needs a red pencil and is lacking any hit tunes, but it certainly did not seem that way to any of us. There were wonderful, beautiful arias, exciting duets and a choral setting with a quartet at the end of the first half that was the match of anything Verdi wrote. It could easily have been compared to anything in his Requiem, which is saying something! This is Verdi at his best – and sometimes better than his best – with a freshness, simplicity and purity that was literally breathtaking. Just ask the packed houses of people who were fortunate enough to go despite the negative review.