December 13: Banking on blood

How distressing that our politicians first initiate a crisis and then perpetuate it, using tactics that are patently populist.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Banking on blood
Sir, – If indeed Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein ordered Magen David Adom blood collectors to vacate the premises because they upheld Health Ministry regulation (“MDA stand ordered to leave Knesset after discouraging Ethiopian MK from donating blood,” December 12), he runs the risk of being responsible, together with provocateur MK Pnina Tamnu- Shata, for the death of thousands of Israelis.
If the public sees in its politicians’ actions a call to desist from donating blood because of what Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat calls “racist and humiliating policy,” babies, cancer patients, trauma victims and numerous other sick patients in Israeli hospitals will surely die because of blood shortages that will develop in a matter of weeks.
How distressing that our politicians first initiate a crisis and then perpetuate it, using tactics that are patently populist and, worse, ill-informed and plain ignorant. Blood donors are screened and tested on the basis of epidemiology and statistical probability of carrying an infection that may be transmitted by blood and thus endanger the lives of recipients, not by color or creed.
The MDA blood services should be lauded, and the Israeli public should be proud of this institution, which works tirelessly to provide this life-saving resource of the highest quality possible.
Ra’anana The writer, a physician, is head of the hematology institute and blood bank at Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, and secretary of the Israel Society of Hematology and Blood Transfusion.
Sir, – As an ex-Briton who lived in the UK from January 1 until July 26, 1980, I, too, have been banned from donating blood all these years, which has caused me irritation.
The scientific basis for this ban is, in my view, very skimpy and grossly exaggerated. Nevertheless, the hysterical reactions of MK Pnina Tamnu-Shata and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein were unprofessional and damaging.
Our so-called representatives should grow up and act like responsible adults, not spoiled children. If they have a problem with MDA (as do I), they should take it up through the right channels.
ANTHONY LUDER Rosh Pina The writer is a physician and head of pediatrics at Ziv Medical Center in Safed.
Sir, – In “Haredim protest again in Mea She’arim against military enlistment” (December 11), you report that one placard read as follows: “We will fill up the military and civilian prisons but we will never betray our faith and report… at IDF enlistment offices.”
In order to avoid the headache and expense of jailing thousands of yeshiva draft dodgers, I suggest the government announce that anyone sentenced for refusing to enlist will not necessarily be provided with kosher prison meals. I suspect that most of these young men will choose to enlist rather than risk Divine wrath for eating questionable food.KENNY FISHER Jerusalem
‘Ghost’ properties
Sir, – The report “Finance Committee approves doubling property tax on ‘ghost apartments’” (December 10) leaves me baffled. On what grounds does Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar base his belief that the measure would force “some absentee homeowners to rent out their residences…”? The usual return on residential properties here is four percent. Taking a typical “ghost” apartment valued at $500,000, this results in a monthly rent of some NIS 7,200. Add to this the commensurately high levels of arnona (property taxes) and service charges.
How many students or middle-income families can afford such rents? Rather than peddling political claptrap, Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Ofer Berkowitz would be better advised to enforce arnona collection from thousands of unregistered properties in east Jerusalem. He might also consider taking vigorous steps to streamline the city’s bizarre planning process, which would accelerate construction.
Of course, fleecing wealthy Diaspora sheep is so much easier. Why bother sweating the hard stuff?