April 2: 'Greater Israel'

"We've all been there: driving at a decent speed, only to get into massive traffic and an almost complete standstill."

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
'Greater Israel' Sir, - We've all been there: driving at a decent speed, only to get into massive traffic and an almost complete standstill. As we look at the clock and wonder when we'll get to where we need to be, we watch some inconsiderate fool pass us on the shoulder, deeming himself worthy of ignoring the traffic code that binds ordinary citizens. Many observe the perpetrator with disdain and hope he (or she) gets caught. This time a cop, volunteer Avidan Kalpa, was in the right place at the right time and stopped Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On's car illegally using the shoulder to circumvent a traffic jam caused by an accident. Angry at being detained, the minister exhibited no remorse nor offered any reason for his chauffeur's driving infringement. Hearing that the episode had gone immediately to the media, the powers that be then fired Mr. Kalpa, who was, after all, only trying to prevent accidents and help promote safer roads for us all. Two lessons can be gleaned from this episode: 1. The government lays down laws and we have to do as its members say, not as they themselves do. 2. A governmental position is something to strive for because it facilitates corruption, affords power of vengeance and enables a general lack of decency. I had always hoped for a "greater Israel" than that ("Police volunteer to appeal dismissal for stopping finance minister's car," April 1). PHYLLIS HECHT Hashmonaim Sderot in perspective Sir, - Further to "Great expectations" (Letter, April 1): All the visits to Sderot and the weekly purchasing taking place there by groups and individuals are helpful in boosting the residents' morale and bettering their economic position. But let's face it, our leaders themselves need to get up close. The way to view a sculpture is to walk around it so as to get a proper perspective and gain a better understanding of the work. I would propose that the Knesset leave its safe seating and relocate temporarily to Sderot so it can get a better perspective of the issues. My hope is that as a result of its sessions there, different understandings, evaluations and decisions would emerge to deal with the intolerable situation currently existing. ZEHAVA GROFF Jerusalem Sir, - Re "Sderot gets some good news - an advanced new MDA station" (April 1): Congratulations to Magen David Adom on this state-of-the-art emergency medical station in our community, vital because of the Kassam rocket attacks that continue to plague our city daily. We are also extremely proud of those in our student body who are trained MDA first-response volunteers. They courageously rush to the scene of rocket landings - as was the case when Osher and Rami Twito were severely wounded in a recent attack. At the same time, the Hesder continues to build in Sderot as the ultimate Zionistic response to the Kassam attacks. Several major projects are taking off on our campus, including the construction of "rocket-proof" housing units, a beit midrash and a pedagogical cultural center. Our enemies are trying to turn Sderot into a ghost town; we are determined not to let that happen. JOSH HASTEN, Public Relations Yeshivat Hesder Sderot Evenhandedness Sir, - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice seeks to ensure Israeli implementation of promised measures that aim to improve living conditions for the Palestinian population in the West Bank by monitoring Israel's removal of 50 roadblocks ("Rice believes deal can be reached before Bush arrives in May," March 31). The risk: Freedom of movement could increase terrorism. Secretary Rice can show evenhandedness by monitoring Palestinian Authority road map compliance in halting anti-Israel incitement and hate-mongering in the PA broadcast and print media. The risk: reduced terrorism. DAVID M. LEVIN Jerusalem Look before you leap Sir, - Re "MK Vilan: West Bank Evacuation Compensation Law closer than you think" (March 31): Have Vilan and those who think like him not learned anything from the Gaza disengagement? Surely they would not like to see more Israelis without homes or work, suffering from unknown illness - all caused by the same treatment the good people of Gush Katif received? May I suggest that the Left stop and think for a minute, even take time to visit these settlements to see how close they are to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Hamas makes the lives of the people in Sderot and Ashkelon miserable. They will be able to do the same to the residents of Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv area if we give up one corner of Judea and Samaria. JUDY FORD Petah Tikva Keeping tabs Sir, - Isi Leibler has ostensibly done us a wonderful service by confirming that our tax shekels did not pay for the Netanyahus' altruistic mission to defend Israel and raise the felled spirits of Anglo-Jewry during the Second Lebanon War ("The truth about the Bibi 'scandal,'" March 25). Unfortunately, I found little consolation in his revelations because the issue goes way beyond who picked up the tab for this extravaganza. Though Leibler acknowledged that 15,000 pounds sterling was a bit steep for a week in London, he implied that the trip's ostensible success justified the exorbitant outlays. Yet no public figure of Netanyahu's stature can plead innocence or cry foul when hauled over the coals for such ostentatious tastes, because in the Israeli social context it doesn't really matter who paid. People are angered by the total lack of humility and tact demonstrated by almost all of our privileged politicians, Netanyahu included, especially given the ever-growing socioeconomic gaps in this country. Netanyahu cannot expect to gain the confidence of many sectors of Israeli society by showing what amounts to a total lack of sensitivity - and perhaps even contempt - toward many segments of it, people who still feel harmed by his harsh economic policies. Finally, Netanyahu's and Leibler's complaints about press persecution are unjustified. The first order of leadership is taking full responsibility for one's actions, good or bad, and demonstrating empathy with one's constituents. Netanyahu has once again failed on both counts, and Leibler's defense of his actions served only to stir up even more anger and frustration. GERSHON HARRIS Hatzor Haglilit April fool? Sir, - I am presuming that "Pedestrians beware - walking with headphones on can result in fine" (March 31) was not intended as a lead-up to April 1. The accompanying picture, captioned "Pedestrians who cross the street with headphones in both ears have to pay NIS 100," was at odds with the text. Though draconian and perhaps more appropriate to other regimes, such a measure has some logic to it. The article, however, stated "that it is illegal to walk down the street - let alone cross it - with two headphones in one's ears." As one of thousands, perhaps millions, who enjoy music while walking or jogging, I think this is madness. "Police defended the crackdown as being for the pedestrians' benefit." Well, pedestrian accidents could be reduced even further by banning pedestrians from the street unless they have taken a test to show they have good sight, hearing and reaction times. I wonder what the millions of tourists will make of this law. I am inclined to think that some will choose a more intelligent environment for their holidays. IVOR LUNZER Jerusalem