December 24: Vive la difference

As an immigrant from America, I was happy to get away from the Christmas hype. To have it follow me here, to my Jewish country, is very discouraging.

letters 88 (photo credit: )
letters 88
(photo credit: )
Vive la difference Sir, - "Santa Claus and Judah Maccabee join forces in TA 'end of year' fair" (December 23) was one of the saddest items I've read in your newspaper in a long time. As an immigrant from America, I was happy to get away from the Christmas hype. To have it follow me here, to my Jewish country, is very discouraging. Admittedly, the attractions of Christmas in America could be somewhat inviting, but we must always remember that the source of the celebration is a religious one. It cannot be dismissed as purely secular. Whether those Israelis who are attracted to Christmas celebrations are religious or secular doesn't really matter. What does matter is their readiness to embrace an alien culture over their own without really understanding what Jewish culture is all about. Their charge that celebrating Hanukka to the exclusion of Christmas isolates us from the rest of the world is valid, and should be. We are different. And always should be. HAIM M. LERNER Ganei Tikva Two cheers Sir, - Can anyone explain why Mara Kochba's breathless and gushing account of her exciting adventure at the White House merited a seven-column front-page headline? ("'I have stars in my eyes,' I told Laura, 'whenever I see your husband," December 23). Sure, it's Hanukka, but with her custom-made, six-pointed-star lenses, I wonder what Bush must have thought of her. Give us a break! GERALD FLANZBAUM Givat Olga Macho-mad Sir, - Further to "Driver in tourist bus crash put under house arrest" (December 19): I have often tried to legally pass slow drivers, including buses, and suddenly found myself in a race with them. It seems that some Israeli drivers' macho image suffers if another driver manages to pass them - so they speed up in order to prevent that. I have no doubt this is what happened in the horrifying accident near Eilat. One arrogant and stupid bus driver wouldn't allow another one to pass him, and innocent people paid with their lives and in lifelong injuries. KENNETH BESIG Kiryat Arba Sir, - The killer driver responsible for the tragic deaths of 24 innocent Russian tourists who chose Israel as their holiday destination should be put behind bars for life. But as guilty as the driver is the bus company that employed someone with over 20 traffic violations. It too should be judged in court. When applying for a job, each driver should have to produce a certificate from the police traffic department indicating a clean driving record. Travel agents need to check out tour bus companies and their drivers before using their services. Severe punishment and the threat of unemployment may be the only way to control the way these maniacs drive. Also, where are the speed cameras that should be tracking these law-breakers? H. HERZBERGER Jerusalem Sir, - Would a pilot with the equivalent of 22 road traffic convictions be allowed to go on flying passenger aircraft? In Israel, a driver with 22 convictions continues driving - public transport vehicles, no less. When will those responsible for road safety legislation translate lip service into action? As a suggestion, maybe a driver's license could be permanently withdrawn after a certain number of violations. When all's said and done, a license is a privilege and not a right, and must be treated as such. FANNY MYERS Beit Zayit Sir, - Israel has always been justifiably proud of its medical care for the sick and wounded. Sadly, the same care is not taken in preventing injury and death on the roads. As an experienced driver from the UK who made aliya a year ago, I am appalled at the lack of driving skills shown by drivers, reflected in the high accident rate here. If one looks at a row of parked cars, it is rare to find an unmarked one. The tragic accident near Eilat demands that action be taken, and I would like to propose: • that an organization be set up here similar to the UK's Institute of Advanced Motorists, membership available only to motorists who pass a sophisticated advanced driving test and have a clean license. Members would be entitled to a 20 percent discount on their motor insurance, and anyone prosecuted for a serious driving offense would lose their membership. • that digital cameras be set up, firstly, in areas with high accident rates and thereafter as necessary. Certain offenses, such as speeding, would lead to a fixed penalty, including a fine. The proceeds of all motoring fines would be shared, half going to help fund the traffic police, and half to the organization responsible for road safety. Drivers have to realize that signs must be adhered to - for example, no overtaking on a particular stretch of road. Such signs are not optional, and ignoring them is a serious offense. Weaving in and out of traffic lanes is dangerous not only to the driver, but also to other road users. At all times it must be recognized that if a driver's maneuver forces another road user to brake, the driver was wrong in his action. RONNIE STEKEL Jerusalem Noses on faces Sir, - I would like to suggest that the people who think Binyamin Netanyahu has "cheated" them ("'Post' readers fault Bibi's post-primary antics," Letters, December 11) not cut off their noses to spite their faces. Who are they going to vote for instead? Bibi perhaps overreacted to the hysteria of the leftist media and parties by pushing Moshe Feiglin down the list to try to attract more votes, but I'm sure he did it for the Likud and not for himself, as is claimed. You can all get your own back by dafka voting Likud, and thereby increasing the chances of Feiglin being within the number of mandates won by the Likud in the next election. CECILIA HENRY Kfar Bialik Kibbutz with roots Sir, - I read "Looking past Mumbai" (December 5) with great interest. Just one point: When your writer mentioned the Indian irrigation firm Jain investing in NaanDan Irrigation Systems, he put Naan in the Jordan Valley. To the best of my knowledge, Kibbutz Naan has been near Rehovot for the last 70 years or so, and I have not heard that it moved. EDDI COHN Kibbutz Hatzor What a relief! Sir, - It was refreshing to learn all about "Who's a hoarder" (December 17). I have always thought of myself, shuffling though my folders, as a serious hoarder of papers. Thankfully, I have been set straight. According to Judy Montagu, as my house is neat, I don't fit the label. Yes, I do save a mind-boggling number of addresses, receipts and bills - too many, perhaps. But your columnist has relieved my mind, and I will joyfully continue to save them. THELMA BLUMBERG Kiryat Arba Sir, - I too am a hoarder. I am also a clinical psychologist. The only reason I don't treat myself is that I can't afford my prices. I hoard nuts, bolts, washers and screws of odd shapes and sizes, parts from electrical fittings and gadgets of all sorts. You name it, I hoard it. But you wouldn't notice when you come to visit as I'm only allowed to hoard things in the cupboards allotted for this purpose. The rule in our house is: What doesn't get put away, gets thrown away. DAVID STEINHART Petah Tikva Kudos Sir, - Liat Collins's writing is excellent. I always look forward to her pieces, and feel that I have read something of supreme quality. She is an excellent spokesperson for Israel - and, indeed, the entire world Jewish community ("Misplaced trust and trust funds," December 21). MICHAEL KIRMAYER New York