June 4: Keeping doc safe

A "non-violence pact" could become a condition for receiving medical coverage.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Keeping doc safe Sir, - Re patient violence against doctors, a suggested deterrent: Any person (or family member) seeking treatment who attacks a medical staffer would be banned from his or her health fund. In fact, a "non-violence pact" could become a condition for receiving medical coverage in the first place. Anyone who has in the past attacked medical personnel would subsequently be allowed to enter an Israeli hospital only accompanied by a hospital guard, paid for by the attacker. His or her ID and photo would be pasted in all hospitals to prevent treatment without these conditions. In addition, the Israel Medical Association could establish a "patient ombudsman" to take calls from irate individuals and decide on the spot what, if any, steps should be taken. It is not enough for an attacker to be arrested. As in the current tragic case, the doctor may not be able to help others in the future, while the attacker will be free to "strike again" ("IMA demands solutions for violence against doctors," June 3). REUVEN YAGIL Beersheba Enough of these... Sir, - Further to "Another bad deal" (Editorial, June 3): No humanitarian concerns justify the release of Druse terrorist Samir Kuntar, a murderer who still thirsts for Jewish blood. To call Kuntar and his like "bestial" is an insult to the animal kingdom. They should be kept in solitary confinement and denied all privileges, family visits or hope of ever being freed. Hizbullah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad & Co. pour scorn on Israel because of our government's failure to insist on equitable deals. The Red Cross and various European go-betweens are also happy to negotiate the release of numerous live terrorists for two or three dead Israelis. We must call a halt to such trade-offs and elect a government with Jewish backbone that will exchange the living or the dead on a one-to-one basis only. GABRIEL A. SIVAN Jerusalem ...bad deals Sir, - Former chief of staff Dan Halutz, who says that "theoretically Israel can do without the Golan Heights," and other dreamers in Israel's military and government establishment are always too eager to concede real Israeli national assets and essential security safeguards in their ever-elusive search for a token movement in the "peace process." Liat Collins put it well with her classic "Well, theoretically anything is possible. It's the real life that worries me." It worries the vast majority of Israeli voters, too. Perhaps the latest crisis for Ehud Olmert and the ruling coalition will allow us, finally, to do something about it ("If I forget thee..." June 2). SHALOM HELMAN Jerusalem Sir, - Liat Collins's poetic "If I forget thee..." portrayed a deep love for the Golan which borders on the spiritual and can never come to terms with the idea of relinquishing the area, no matter what the circumstances. There is no doubt in my mind that there are many out there who share her view. RACHEL BIRATI Melbourne A mystery Sir, - I entirely agreed with Isi Leiber's excellent "End of the Olmert regime'' (June 3). One thing, however, mystifies me. Why hasn't the Olmert affair already been dealt with in the framework of the Asher Committee guidelines laid down 30 years ago, which leave no "wiggle-room''? These guidelines (see page 332 of the recently published Front Page Israel) explicitly forbade ministers to receive any outside salary or benefit, including the money that president Ezer Weizman received from a prominent businessmen while serving as a minister. They forbade ministers to receive money regardless of whether or not it was given in return for favors involving a minister's specific prerogatives. The committee's concern stemmed from fear of the slippery slope, down which improper behavior grows increasingly worse. JACK SHEBSON Efrat Vanunu's no whistle-blower Sir, - Once again I read in your paper the phrase "whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu" ("A pawn called Nasim Nisr," June 2). In every English dictionary I know a whistle-blower is defined as somebody who informs on illegal practices or some kind of breach of the law. Vanunu's letting out the information on Israel's alleged nuclear program might have been treasonous, unpleasant or stupid - but it was anything but whistle-blowing since Israel, which is not a party to the NPT, never broke any law. A small detail, perhaps, but it surely plays into the hands of Israel's enemies. RICHARD PRAGER Prague Taking the shakes out of quakes Sir, - Your probing and anguished contribution by my rabbi, the esteemed Natan Lopes Cardozo, had a serious flaw ("God and the earthquake," June 1). He wrote: "An incredible disaster has happened, and it was not wrought by man, but by Heaven." This is emphatically untrue. As with the tsunami a year ago, the toll of casualties of the quake in China was chiefly caused by man. There were no early-warning systems in place, no enforcement of stringent building codes from after the previous disaster there. In Turkey, during the earthquake a few years ago, some buildings completely collapsed next to other structures left unscathed, showing that sturdiness of structure is more important than force of quake. Such lack of prevention is caused by societies that care more about power and money than about their populations. (Similarly, most car crashes are man-made; as was the Holocaust, frequently blamed on the Almighty.) For years now there has been discussion in Israel on enforcing building norms. But little is done other than millions and billions spent on impressive stealth fighter planes, a prestigious light rail system and a ridiculous bridge. But when we get the Big One, Heaven forbid, everyone will exclaim: How can God allow this? I call it hutzpa. M.M. VAN ZUIDEN Jerusalem What Maccabi Tel Aviv means to this oleh Sir, - Re "Hapoel Holon makes history, wins first title" (May 30): I would like to explain why Maccabi Tel Aviv's loss was so significant. There are two times, I believe, when Israelis come together. One is during war, the other is for a Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball game. It is not just love of the sport that keeps fans such as myself emotionally attached to the team, but the history and legacy of Maccabi. I moved to Israel al year-and-a-half ago. Going to games and discussing them with my friends and colleagues in Israel gave me not only a social entry point but allowed me to become more Israeli in the same way as going to the army is supposed to. To attend a Maccabi game at Nokia Stadium on Purim and hear Maccabi Tel Aviv's own rabbi read the Book of Esther in front of a large crowd of fans before the game; to join in with the fans singing Purim songs about the "Maccabim" brought living in Israel as an observant Jew to a whole new level. Basketball brings all kinds of Jews together. For those four quarters of the game, it takes them out of the world of politics and financial problems into a new, bright reality. It is my hope that Maccabi Tel Aviv will rise like the phoenix and show us why it is Israel's number one team, making a comeback similar to the one it achieved 15 years ago after losing the championship. JEREMY WEISS Tel Aviv