June 17: Visibility poor

Unless our deeply flawed electoral system is replaced, Joe Public will not be heard.

letters 88 NICE (photo credit: )
letters 88 NICE
(photo credit: )
Visibility poor Sir, - Shaul Mofaz is not hearing us ("The road not taken," Editorial, June 16). The transportation minister's valuable time seems to be taken up with playing political chess for personal gain, while deploying an effective camera network throughout the the country's traffic system is less of a priority. His ministry has been lobbied consistently - and unsuccessfully - by voluntary road safety organizations such as Metuna, but unless our deeply flawed electoral system is replaced by accountable and transparent representation, Joe Public will not be heard. And a maverick Shas minister without portfolio can stymie democracy-improving legislation, via electoral reform, to embellish his own credentials and party aspirations rather than the welfare of the deprived citizens he supposedly represents. GISH TRUMAN ROBBINS Pardesiya The right way to go... Sir, - The argument that we will never get better governance until we change the electoral system to (at least partial) direct election of our representatives in the Knesset is so conclusive it seems amazing it hasn't happened up to now ("Please, no more of the same," June 13). In the early 1980s I belonged to the Committee of Concerned Citizens (CCC), which championed the cause of electoral reform. We signed petitions and held large demos outside the Knesset, where Binyamin Netanyahu declared he fully supported us. The death knell came with the passing of the bill for direct election of the prime minister - a disaster if ever there was one! As David Horovitz pointed out, we have since suffered from one failed government after another. Of course, most of those sitting in the Knesset, enjoying their not inconsiderable perks, are not likely to vote themselves out. But why such apathy on the part of Israelis who, it has been shown, are far more savvy and intelligent than their leaders give them credit for? In the Ukraine, thousands of citizens stood outside parliament in all weathers to demonstrate that they would no longer tolerate a corrupt president. Perhaps we need people of the caliber of Profs. Reichman and Braverman to show the way. We need change now, and the people can bring it about if they have the will. MITZI KLEIN Jerusalem ...and the wrong way Sir, - David Horovitz writes that having no electoral districts, Israel elects its leaders by standards that "are not always, to put it mildly, the same qualities required for good governance." Look at the current election campaign in America, with its constituency-based system. Are the qualities on which the candidates there stand or fall - good looks, dry palms and glib speech-making - the qualities required for good governance? Horovitz laments the lack of single-party government and the possible return of Binyamin Netanyahu or Ehud Barak. Both those PMs alienated many citizens with their imperial style. Imagine their administrations if they had run single-party governments, with no dissenters to worry about. Our best premiers and lawmakers have been those who came up through the party ranks, learning the art of politics as they ascended, rather than leapfrogging to office on popular charisma. Personal elections for the Knesset are the wrong way to go. MARK L. LEVINSON Herzliya Sir, - It is ironic that the proposal to directly elect half the Knesset's representatives was just voted down by Shas, the party responsible for propping up a government that has nearly zero support of the people ("Shas vetoes direct regional elections," June 16). Shas is not protecting its "constituency of Sephardi, traditional and Orthodox voters," as it stated, but is more likely to do them greater harm since only a vibrant and democratic Israel can create the dynamic necessary to support the country's economic growth. In these difficult times, the passage of a bill for direct representation would have been a ray of light in the darkness. BARRY LYNN Efrat Sir, - In highlighting the chronic ineptitude and corruption in the Israeli government and emphasizing the need for a major overhaul, I believe David Horovitz in his June 13 column was expressing the views of the vast majority of Israelis. In the last election I decided to give my vote to Tafnit, a new party, one of whose main objectives was to fight corruption. However, whenever I mentioned this, I was told I was wasting my vote and that the party wouldn't get enough support to win a seat in the Knesset. Unfortunately, this proved the case, leading me to assume that while agreeing in principle that a drastic change is necessary, Israelis prefer to support a party, or perhaps personalities, they are familiar with. In other words, better the devil you know than the devil you don't know. I hope the next election will prove me wrong. ELIZABETH SEGAL Kiron Who were these masked attackers? Sir, - I was horrified to witness on BBC TV a video of masked youths advancing on an elderly Arab woman and beating her to cause serious injury. This was filmed by her daughter in the territories close to one of the settlements. Politically I would be on the Right and feel that, unfortunate as it is, collateral damage of innocents caused by retaliation to the terrorism of our enemies is inevitable and that we have the right, indeed the obligation, to defend ourselves. However, this barbaric act went against all the values that constitute the platform on which Israel and Diaspora Jewry rest. To preserve our high moral ground, the ugly perpetrators of this foul, criminal act must be brought to justice and severely dealt with. Justice must be seen - by the BBC and the rest of the world - to be done ("Police go undercover to identify masked attackers of Palestinians," June 16). FRED SPILKIN Herzliya Pituah Sir, - This story was carried by the BBC "exclusively" last Thursday on its Web site, and its reporter made no bones about pushing the B'Tselem line that these were Jewish settlers. I would invite your readers to look at the BBC clip and judge for themselves whether this video - grainy but curiously technically well made given who was supposed to have been shooting it and the circumstances in which it was shot - shows anything other than an attack by unidentified masked men on equally unidentifiable victims. I would also ask your readers to remember that this video came out just a few days after the Al-Dura fauxtography court appeal - a coincidence? NORMAN COHEN Ma'aleh Adumim Believing, or not Sir, - In "You don't have to believe in God to be Jewish" (June 16) Nigel Kersh failed to distinguish carefully between "Jew" and "Jewish," which have three meanings. One is belonging to the people or tribe known as Jews; one is cultural or ethnic - following the customs and practices of the Jews, and the third is religious - following the Jewish religion, which strictly requires belief in God. However, since Judaism is a religion of practice rather than belief, one can follow the practices of Judaism without believing in the deity. So there are three ways to be Jewish without believing in God. It is important to define one's terms since ambiguity, in this as in anything else, leads to misunderstanding. JACK COHEN Netanya Sir, - If God is with me, I can walk among my enemies and have no fear; but if He is angry with me, only a little, I am terrified, even in the safety of my own home. I cannot live without his love. He is my confidence, my hope, and I love Him more than anything. DAVID DOTHAGER Mulberry Grove, Illinois