April 28: A response to the produce ban

This industry employs thousands of Palestinian workers. I would therefore suggest we threaten to dismiss all Palestinian workers from these industries.

A response to the produce ban
Sir, – I was disgusted to read about the new PA ban on produce from the “settlements” and the threat by the PA to confiscate such merchandise from Palestinians who violate this law (“New Palestinian Authority law bans settlement products,” April 27). Apparently $1 million worth of merchandise from our “settlements” has been confiscated to date.
This industry employs thousands of Palestinian workers. I would therefore suggest that our response be to threaten to dismiss all Palestinian workers from these industries. Maybe then the Palestinians will wake up to the fact that they are being used as pawns by their leaders, and vent their anger and frustration on them instead of us.
    MARTA WISE    Jerusalem
Seconded: Electoral reform
Sir, – I wholeheartedly agree with Elaine Levitt’s reasoned argument concerning reform of our electoral system (“Needed: Electoral reform,” Letters, April 25).
Having worked for a cabinet minister and other British MPs at Westminster during the ’70’s and ’80’s, I was able to see firsthand how the constituency system works to the advantage of the entire population.
The British system not only produces strong government with a minimum of smaller political parties, but more importantly, it ensures that every single MP is responsible toward his or her constituents, and is in fact totally dependent upon them for reelection.
It is high time that our present outdated system of proportional representation was replaced by the constituency system, which has been proven to bring advantage and benefit to the electorate.
    JACKIE ALTMAN     Netanya
Corruption as cover-up?
Sir, – The Israeli media have just discovered America. Their latest revelation is that there is corruption in municipal management, particularly in the approval of zoning deviations for new housing construction (“Police suspect Olmert received bribe money via Zaken,” April 27). It is surprising that this is considered so newsworthy that it has obliterated all reference in the press as to the theft and smuggling of some 2,200 classified military documents, which, if allowed to fall into enemy hands, might seriously compromise our security and the lives of our soldiers.
For many of those allegedly involved in and affected by the briberies, it is a win-win situation. The more and larger the living units built, the higher the arnona (municipal tax), resulting in more funds for the municipality. This is especially true if they are purchased by absentee owners, to whom the city need not supply full services. The developers make much more money, even taking into consideration the additional cost of bribes. The government collects higher income taxes due to the increased profits, and bribes are not recognized costs. The prices paid by the purchasers are not affected by the bribes, as cost has no impact on price; it is determined only by what the market will bear.
Considering the above, it is not beyond comprehension that otherwise honest officials could be enticed to accept payments to themselves or for their pet charities and approve projects they may not otherwise have agreed to.
Thus, it would be expected that even a cub reporter could uncover such scandals in just about any city merely by reviewing the protocols of zoning board meetings that approved buildings which deviated significantly from their surroundings. Checking bank accounts and follow-up of tips from opponents are additional sources.
The Holyland project was an undertaking of many years. The question then presents itself: Why was the scandal revealed only at this junction? A possible conjecture is that the press, in order to squelch public criticism, highlighted municipal corruption to overshadow its alleged illegal and possibly seditious involvement in the military documents affair.
    TUVIA MUSKIN     Rehovot
The incorruptible Man...
Sir, – Jeff Barak’s accolade for Stanley Fisher was perspicacious and well-founded (“Stan’s the Man,” April 26). His gratuitous and indiscriminate swipe at our foreign minister was not.
Avigdor Lieberman holds one of the most important political offices in our government, and despite Mr. Barak’s expression of dislike, is respected by many both here and abroad.
    JEANETTE N. DERSHOWITZ     Jerusalem
Sir, – Kol hakavod to Jeff Barak for his excellent article about Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer. It could all have been summed up in one word: incorruptible. It shows what emanated from the middle of darkest Africa, when there was still a place called Rhodesia.
As someone who worked closely with his late mother, Anne, when she was engrossed in collecting subscriptions for membership in the local Bulawayo branch of Magen David Adom, I can say that she would have been very proud of him – as are all of us who hail from that place in the middle of the bundu.
Hamba gashle, Stanley.
    EDNA KAPLAN    Hod Hasharon
...and a green plan
Sir, – I was interested to read your editorial “Get out of the car” (April 23), which spoke of Israel’s recognition of the need for a greener approach
Some years ago, the Jerusalem Municipality was shown the London Plan (as green a public document as exists), which provides a blueprint for sustainable city living.
It included such items as utilizing waste to generate power, delivering an efficient and viable public transport system as a real alternative to the private car, and providing key worker accommodation in city center locations – all of which mirror Jerusalem’s own spatial planning challenges.
Unfortunately, at the time, this document, which was introduced to stimulate local and relevant debate, failed to capture the public imagination.
It’s not too late to revisit the London experience. One doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel.
    DANIEL DRUKARZ     London
Perfectly imperfect
Sir, – Ariella Barker has written a timely and pertinent article (“Lovevs Genetics,” April 26). For those who are not geneticists, it isperhaps worth stating that every human being carries harmful mutations(probably between seven and 10), but since most a very rare, theyrarely meet their mate and therefore are rarely expressed. So no one isgenetically “perfect” or genetically “defective.” We are all both ofthese; it’s part of our biology.
The mad scramble for “perfect” babies is certainly leading to manyunethical procedures and choices that, as technology advances rapidly,society is nowhere near coping with or even understanding. The historyof eugenics and racial engineering should give us pause, but the freemarket and fashion is usually oblivious to these considerations. Ofcourse, all the available tests do not guarantee a clever or prettybaby, nor even a mensch, but they do cause oftenconsiderable anxiety, since the interpretation of many tests isdifficult.
More stress should be placed on parenting and education, and less onthe genetic purity of babies. This is more practical, more effectiveand more moral.
    Department of Pediatrics and Genetics, Ziv Medical Center