January 2: He says it all...

In other words, haredim need a non-haredi host population that provides all the labor and funding to make haredi life sustainable.

Sir, – Shas’s leader (“Eli Yishai: Don’t separate haredim in Beit Shemesh,” December 30) urges haredim there not to agree to a division into haredi and nonharedi municipalities because it “would create a haredi city lacking income, property tax and other taxes with no industry.”
In other words, haredim need a non-haredi host population that provides all the labor and funding to make haredi life sustainable.
J.J. GROSS Jerusalem
...but there’s more
Sir, – What is the matter with us? Everyone from the prime minister to the head of the opposition and moderate religious leaders comes out against the malevolent influence of ultra- Orthodox extremists – whom they themselves have foisted upon us, with our collusion.
Secular politicians have consistently put buying support ahead of the good of the country, and religious politicians, hard-working people themselves, feel bound by a “them against us” mentality to insist on government support for a growing, unproductive sector that will eventually succeed where the combined Arab armies have failed.
Sir, – What is most disturbing about the situation with the ultra- Orthodox is that they have taken a beautiful religion and distorted it to the point where it is unrecognizable.
Instead of allowing Judaism to sprout wings and draw its followers upward, their interpretation has sprouted horns and dragged participants in the other direction.
The fast pace of change that has led us into the 21st Century has cast a light so bright that it has blinded this unfortunate group, which is still struggling to enter the 19th Century.
There is no fast solution. We must reach out to ultra-Orthodox leaders and convince them that they are on the verge of turning the very people they defend into a cult.
Writes well, too
Sir, – Rarely does a sentence appear that is magnificent in its brevity.
In “Palestine: What Sherlock Holmes Would Say” (Into the Fray, December 30), Martin Sherman writes: “...Indeed, it is neither pragmatic nor progressive to acknowledge ‘Palestinian nationalism.’” Then he writes it: “To the contrary, it reflects either inordinate credulity or complicity in undisguised complicity.”
Sherman does the English language honor.
More than just money
Sir, – With regard to “‘Not enough invested in child abuse prevention” (December 29), this is part of a wider, multifaceted issue. While there is a lack of funding, it cannot be the only blame. If society wants to ensure that children thrive and grow into educated, healthy, self-realized adults, it must also address the issues on a grassroots level.
This begins with parents and caregivers. Parents need to spend more quality time with their children, as this helps them thrive.
Children with a more positive home situation have better outcomes in school and as adults.
We see many children who act out in public and in school as a result of neglect and the fact that they are growing up without positive parental guidance. Parents are under stress for whatever valid reasons, and often children suffer the consequences.
There is much work to be done with schools as well. Teachers often lack of control of their classrooms, and in many cases just teach from textbooks, without much enhancement. These factors contribute to a child’s lack of motivation to stay in school.
Teachers need to invest more of themselves despite being underpaid.
Ensuring that a child is properly educated and cared for on a holistic level is a task for both parents and schools, and is more important than mere funding.
A protest too far Sir, – What is happening in Israel is mind-boggling. It seems that more and more groups are taking to the streets and protesting violently. The latest involves protests over the sand dunes near Eilat (“Green groups attempt to physically stop Samar sand mining,” December 29).
Where will this all lead? Will I be able to demonstrate against the notorious cracks that mar Jerusalem’s sidewalks, or should I wait to demonstrate against bus stops that are too far apart? We must have a system that makes demonstrations meaningful.
Otherwise we will have total anarchy.
Driving culture Sir, – “Changing the ‘driving culture’” (December 29) claims that “Israel has a high rate of road accidents.” Fortunately, the data do not support this widelyheld misconception.
Out of the 33 countries reporting to the International Traffic Safety Data and Analysis Group (IRTAD) in 2009 on the key index of road fatalities per 100,000 population, Israel placed an impressive fourth. It trailed slightly behind the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Sweden, and did far better than many European countries and the United States.
On the index of road fatalities per billion vehicle-kilometers, of the 24 countries reporting data Israel placed 11th, between Canada and Australia, and better than the US, Japan, France, Denmark and Belgium, among others.
No doubt there is room for improvement, but let’s stop the doom and gloom. Israel has a good record on road safety.
Sir, – In addition to all the traffic fines being given out, there should be an additional one for tailgating. A course in defensive driving should also be given, with all those who pass getting a discount on their insurance.
In addition, a bumper sticker saying “Being courteous does not make you a frier (sucker)” should be a compulsory addition to the rear of every vehicle. Maybe if the Israeli driver sees it often enough, it will sink in.
Must have context
Sir, – I respectfully disagree with Zalman Shoval’s assessment of the relevancy of the Palestinians being an invented people (“Why Gingrich is right – and wrong,” Comment & Features, December 28).
A reason often cited for hatred toward Israel, and for destructive acts toward Israel, is the perception that it is an occupier, that we have stolen land, that we have uprooted another people.
But if the Palestinians are an invented people, if there has never been a sovereign Palestinian entity, then Israel has not stolen land or uprooted people, and Israel is not an occupier.
There still remains the practical question of how to address our conflicts with the large number of people currently identifying themselves as Palestinians. However, without historical context, Israel’s concerns and demands can appear unreasonable and unjustified.
Without historical context, there is little understanding as to why concessions from the Israeli side can be so painful. Without historical context, pro-Palestinians are likely to continue to expect Israel to make concession after concession to the “people” that Israel has “wronged.”
Dem Bones
Sir, – It is very refreshing to see Dry Bones back in your newspaper.
Yaakov Kirschen’s cartoons are always up to date in a very humorous way.
Thank you very much. There’s now something additional to look forward to in the Friday edition.
Tel Aviv