June 1: Clearing the smoke

I doubt that further restricting the areas in which smoking is permitted will have much effect, nor will procedures to make it more difficult to purchase cigarettes.

Clearing the smoke
Sir, – As a former cigarette addict, I can only applaud moves to reduce the extent of this noxious habit (“Gov’t approves widespread anti-smoking recommendations,” May 30). However, I doubt that further restricting the areas in which smoking is permitted will have much effect, nor will procedures to make it more difficult to purchase cigarettes.
Youngsters smoke because they think it’s cool and are not concerned that it will result in early death. To a teenager, 40 years down the road is beyond psychological comprehension.
It has been shown that the most powerful influence on youngsters is peer pressure and role models. Peer pressure is by definition uncontrollable, but role models can be a powerful influence.
Most secular teenagers admire sports stars. Visualize a TV program in which a star athlete, asked if he or she smokes, replies, “Are you crazy? I don’t know any world-class athlete who smokes!” For the haredim, rabbis should be asked to forbid those who have not yet started to smoke to begin, and if they themselves smoke, to publicly announce they will try to stop.
Politicians who smoke could also help by pledging to to stop and at least refrain from smoking in public.
Ideally, smoking will die out when it is considered as socially unacceptable in the general population as it is in educated circles in the Western world.
Ma’aleh Adumim
Sir, – I hope the new Health Ministry unit will enforce a ban on smoking in public parks – at least for those who are underage.
While attending a recent concert at Jerusalem’s Gan Sacher, my calculations revealed that 50 percent of the smokers robbing other attendees of their right to breathe clean air where underage.
That venue would have been an excellent opportunity to publicize the dangers of smoking.
The crowd of more than 20,000 cheered in support of Gilad Schalit. Our entire nation is brought to its knees over a lone soldier in captivity, but we look the other way as our youth commit suicide with cigarettes.
Sir, – Regarding your May 30 editorial (“Say ‘no’ to smoking”), there is a simple and, I believe, very effective way to discourage smoking: Limit the health benefits of a smoker.
Make the smoker share or pay for all smoking-related medical treatment. If a person is willing to risk health problems, why should our health funds pay for treatment?
Broken chain
Sir, – Regarding “Cameron steps down as JNF patron” (May 30), JNF UK was founded in 1901. A British prime minister has been an honorary trustee since that date.
In my tenure as president (1995 - 2008), Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were our patrons.
How sad it is that, whatever the reason, David Cameron has broken this chain.
Herzliya Pituah
Threat for 2012
Sir, – The item “Sarah Silverman to perform in Tel Aviv” (Arts in Brief, May 30) was notable for what it didn’t say.
The “sassy comedian” is best known for her instructions to young American Jews during the 2008 presidential elections: Tell your bubbies and zaydies you’ll never visit them again unless they vote for Obama.
Given President Obama’s attitudes and actions toward Israel, one can only hope Silverman’s advice in 2012 will be: Tell your bubbies and zaydies you’ll never visit them again unless they vote against Obama.
Reality and distortion
Sir, – Jeff Barak (“The limits of rhetoric,” Reality Check, May 30) is impressed with Ehud Olmert’s “elegant and incisive comments” about Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Washington speech.
“All the... world as well as the overwhelming majority of the American public support the separation of the Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem from Israeli sovereignty,” Olmert wrote in an opinion piece. Olmert indeed offered all that and much more – and PA President Mahmoud Abbas turned him down flat.
Barak writes that “Netanyahu’s remarks on Jerusalem slammed the door shut on any hope....”
But then-prime minister Ehud Barak opened the door wide – yet no positive response from the other side.
Netanyahu himself went farther than the two Ehuds by imposing a 10-month freeze – yet no response from the Arabs.
Barak should take the time to read Page 782 in Robert Wistrich’s monumental A Lethal Obsession. For his convenience, here is an excerpt: “A Palestinian state will never satisfy Iran, Hamas, or other Muslim militants, let alone most Palestinians, unless it is established on the ruins of Israel..... The West all too often prefers to turn a blind eye to such unpalatable facts.”
That is reality.
Sir, – Jeff Barak notes that “Netanyahu’s shriek of gevalt at the very mention of 1967 borders shows just how far he really is from any serious discussion with the Palestinians,” and that former prime minister Olmert “correctly argued that... Obama’s recent Middle East speeches did not represent any change in American policy.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu distorted for Obama the Clinton parameters. And more can be questioned: • Why did Netanyahu demand foreign recognition of a “Jewish state” rather than a normal sovereign state? The terms for Israeli- Jordanian peace are that the two exist in “harmony” and “recognize and respect each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence.”
• Netanyahu told Congress we are “not interlopers” in the West Bank. This is another distortion.
In May 2003, The Jerusalem Post quoted then-prime minister Ariel Sharon telling the Likud: “Occupation is terrible. You may not like the word, but to maintain 3.5 million Palestinians under occupation is terrible for Israel, the Palestinians and for the Israeli economy.”
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Road perils and pains
Sir, – I recently read “At least 8 killed on the roads over weekend” (May 29) and I am absolutely irate. Why? Because earlier in the day I saw that a man caught driving with a suspended license had been sentenced to 10 months in jail.
This miscreant had accumulated an incredible 117 traffic violations! What the devil was he doing on the roads at all? Large fines often go unpaid.
Suspending licenses has absolutely no effect. How about this: For a defined number of violations within a set period of time, the vehicle itself is impounded for an absolute minimum of six months.
Don’t give me baloney about depriving a driver of his livelihood.
Such a driver is too much of a threat to deprive others of a lot more than that.
Sir, – Having decided a short while after making aliya that the quality and behavior of Israeli drivers was so appalling that I would not buy a car, I was bemused by the statement from Egged’s Ron Ratner (“Egged to install sound systems for blind,” News in Brief, May 30).
Ratner said the company publishes guidelines to all drivers to declare the name of the current stop. He also noted that most do.
Though I make extensive use of their services, I have yet to hear an announcement from any Egged driver as to where we have stopped.
Egged has installed visual indicators on some routes, but most appear to be frozen on a destination slightly north of Ma’aleh Adumim or on someone’s shopping list.