December 12: Crossed lines

Does Condoleezza Rice feel that she has a monopoly on the race card?

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Crossed lines Sir, - Does Condoleezza Rice feel that she has a monopoly on the race card? My mother was raised in El Paso, Texas in the '30s and she was repeatedly discriminated against because of her dark skin. Yet while she experienced the same shame Rice waxed eloquently about, she would never say that her life reminded her of the "humiliation" that the Palestinians face waiting in line at checkpoints. She knows the checkpoints are made to keep out terrorists - whereas the lines of her childhood were simply a matter of keeping people as second class citizens. For Rice to then bow to the demands of the Saudis who insisted at Annapolis that Israelis not use the same door as them is unconscionable. That's straight out of her youth, but conveniently seemed not to bother her. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni complained: "Why won't anyone shake my hand?" The Saudis announced before the conference that they wouldn't shake her hand. If she'd had her wits about her, she would have told her counterpart that Rosa Parks was her heroine, and if the US did not intervene and allow her party to walk through that same door, they were going to leave. Instead, she showed weak leadership and walked through a service door. All signs thus far point to one thing - if anyone is guilty of prejudice, it is not the Israelis. They are only guilty of slave mentality. ESTHER KANDEL Los Angeles Greenest of all Sir, - In "Judaism and being Green" (December 9) Mr. Sinclair rejects the Green Hanukkia campaign and explains that the pollution created during a Tel Aviv-Jerusalem return journey by car is equal to that created by 1,400 hanukkia lighters. Some other articles and letters criticized the environmentalists' suggestion to light one less Hanukka candle per night, but not one advanced a counter proposal. Mr. Sinclair further mentions: "In Britain, the world's first Climate Change Bill mandating legally binding reductions in gases is currently before the House of Commons" for approval and implementation. This is inaccurate; the first step ever taken in this direction was the institution of Shabbat by the Torah. If Hanukka constitutes eight days of pollution, then the environmentalists should take into account the more than 60 days of pollution-free Shabbatot and holidays when observant Jews do not use cars. Judaism is much greener than the Green. JOSEPH GUEDJ Karmiel Sir, - A much better proposal than the environmentalists' suggestion to light fewer Hanukka candles in order to reduce carbon dioxide production will lead to happy faces and less global warming: one day a week without buses and cars. The Jews have a special name for this day: the Sabbath. MENACHEM STOPPELMAN Jerusalem Respectful agenda Sir, - I was surprised to hear Rabbi Shmuley Boteach call for "the universalization of the Jewish Sabbath" ("Sabbath for everyone," December 11). He uses the Talmud as a source for making Friday night romantic, but the same Talmud (Sanhedrin 58b) rules (as does Maimonides) that a non-Jew who observes the Sabbath is liable to capital punishment. While this is an admittedly extreme formulation, the idea is that Shabbat is the manifestation of a special relationship that comes as part of observing the whole Torah and living a Jewish life. If we want to illuminate the world, shouldn't we start by encouraging non-Jews to observe the laws that bind all humanity, i.e. justice, honesty, fidelity and the rest of the Noahide laws? I take great pride in the fact that Judaism does not have an agenda to get the entire world to stop eating bacon, kindle Hanukka lights - or rest on Shabbat. It's not "false dualism," but a respect for others. RABBI JOSEPH BLOCH Jerusalem Harmful exposure Sir, - I wish to clarify some points in "Bogged down by politics, Palestinian and Israeli doctors fail to agree on how to cure Gaza health woes" (December 11) on the WHO-Bridges meeting of Israeli and Palestinian doctors and health workers. Blood lead levels fell in Israel, Jordan and the PA mainly as a result of the phasing out of leaded gasoline, but a group headed by Dr. Jamal Safi of Gaza discovered "hot spots" of high toxic levels adjacent to battery plants and secondary smelters in Gaza. This group was part of a USAID-funded project for detection and prevention of lead poisoning in children, which I co-supervised. In 2000, the PA Health Ministry in Gaza declined my and Professor Amitai of the Israeli Health Ministry's invitation to use new chelators for children with highly toxic blood levels free of charge in Israeli hospitals. Now, for the majority of children in Gaza and the West Bank, exposure to incitement and hate language is even more toxic than their blood lead levels. Both WHO and Physicians for Human Rights are loudly silent on the toxic effects of exposure to incitement in schools, media and youth movements. Comments made at the meeting about the disastrous effect of "the occupation" on health in Gaza are selective and misleading. The infant mortality rate for 2002-2006 in Gaza was about 22.4 per 1,000 live births and in the West Bank was approximately 16 per 1,000 live births. In Syria it's 16.0; in Jordan,19.4; in Lebanon, 25.9; and in Egypt, 29.3 - all without the effects of "the occupation." By comparison, In Hong Kong, which is much more crowded than Gaza, the rate is 2.5 /1,000. In the US it is 6.3 and in Israel it is 4.7. The Palestinian establishment turned to incitement to distract attention from its failure - or lack of interest - in caring for the needs of its citizens. PROFESSOR ELIHU D. RICHTER Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Public Health and Community Medicine Cold response Sir, - The National Insurance Institute's English Web site is frozen ("National Insurance Institute's public hotline turns cold," December 6). The Israel Government Portal Web site states, "The National Insurance Institute (NII) of Israel has launched a new English language Web site in order to assist those entitled to receive the services and benefits provided by the NII who do not have command of the Hebrew language." Since I don't have command of the Hebrew language, I thought I would ask a simple question and hopefully get my answer back in English. Exactly two weeks later, I did get my answer; however, it was in Hebrew. ANDEE GOLDMAN Netanya Ol' Blue Eyes Sir, - World-renowned singer/actor/entertainer Frank Sinatra was born December 12, 1915. Let's take a moment or two to remember this remarkable man as we mark the anniversary of his 92nd birthday. I recall Frank's untiring efforts in raising funds for children's hospitals when Israel was presided over by David Ben-Gurion. On Wednesday, to mark the anniversary of his birthday, the US Postal Service will unveil a commemorative Frank Sinatra stamp with his children in attendance. Thank you Frank and have a very happy birthday in heaven! HERB STARK Massapequa, NY