March 14: Who's an extremist?

Over the years, Sheikh Raed Salah has added anti-Israel incitement and violence to his criminal record. "Extremist" and "racist" are apt descriptions of Salah, not of the bill outlawing his organization.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Who's an extremist? Sir, - MK Yisrael Katz proposed a bill outlawing the Islamic Movement's northern branch. Coalition Chairman Avigdor Yitzhaki chose to denounce it as "unconstitutional, extremist and racist," and his bullying tactics prevented a vote on the issue ("MKs protest Islamic Movement ban," March 13). Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the movement's northern branch, has been quoted in press reports as calling the Torah and Talmud "heretical," evil works that no Muslim can tolerate. He reached this conclusion after surveying "Jewish religious literature" in the space of a few hours. His tirade against the Bible was, of course, a pretext for vilifying Judaism and denying the Jews any historical connection with Jerusalem, especially the Temple Mount. Over the years, Salah has added numerous instances of anti-Israel incitement and violence to his criminal record. Where has Yitzhaki been living all this time? "Extremist" and "racist" are apt descriptions of Salah, not of the proposed bill. Imagine what would happen if I claimed at a public meeting that the Koran was full of heretical nonsense and distortion and that Muslims had no right to live and worship here. Steps would promptly be taken to have me jailed for religious and racial incitement. Unfortunately, as the old saying goes, there are none so blind as those who will not see. GABRIEL A. SIVAN Chairman, Jewish Bible Association Jerusalem For crying out loud Sir, - I am saddened to see Israel looking more and more like a country for anyone but the Jewish people. Here we have the non-Jews complaining about the dig near the Wailing Wall. When Muslims destroy all the stuff they dig up around you to make room for their place of worship, you do not hear such an outcry. Muslims are destroying anything that is not related to their religion, but the Jews have been very, very careful to preserve everything they dig up. When a Jew came to blow the shofar at the Wall he was arrested because an Arab said he was disturbing the peace. For crying out loud, man, if you cannot celebrate the Jewish faith in Israel, then what is the purpose of having your own country? You guys have lost millions of lives to get your country and faith back. I am for democracy - but not to the point that it removes everything I stand for ("Islamic leader's arraignment postponed," March 12). ROBERT BARRETT Fort Smith, Arkansas Sir, - To all of my Jewish brothers and sisters, with sincere love and solidarity: "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace." KENNI JO SHANEYFELT Hartselle, Alabama Sir, - As a US citizen and military veteran I wholeheartedly support the State of Israel and its right to exist primarily under the law of God, and also that of the world, according to the UN Proclamation of 1948 declaring the State of Israel an independent and fully recognized country by a majority democratic vote. I believe Israel has been a devout ally to the US and that it is not only our right but also our sacred obligation to support Israel by every means possible. LOUIS BAILEY Trenton, New Jersey Four saved a week Sir, - "'Driver who killed six in accident had alcohol and cocaine in his blood'" (March 12) misquoted my written statements. Four lives would be saved each week with a national speed camera network on both our interurban roads and urban roads. That adds up to more than 200 lives saved per year. Such a network would be far more effective in detection and deterrence than existing police patrol cars, not only in killing speed in everyone, but in catching speeding in drunk and addicted drivers, a high-risk group for this offense; and in getting these dangerous individuals off our roads. ELIHU D RICHTER MD, MPH Hebrew University-Hadassah Jerusalem Sir, - Re "Five to red" (Letters, March 12): I am quite surprised at the suggestion to lengthen the timing on the amber light. When I passed my driving test in the UK over 50 years ago, part of the test was knowledge of the "Highway Code," which stated specifically that "The amber light means Stop, unless it is dangerous to do so." I believe this still to be the case, in this country too. Unfortunately, the amber signal here in Israel seems to be interpreted as "Accelerate now to get over the crossing before the light turns red." Red and amber together seem to mean: Honk the guy in front so he will move before the green signal! CHAIM COLLINS Jerusalem Dew know? Sir, - Your March 6 issue reported on two students who won a competition on water for their design of a large inverted pyramid to collect dew ("Technion students exhibit in London after winning global competition"). Together with scientists from France, The Netherlands and Canada, I have been working on the passive collection of dew and fog water for regions suffering from water deficiency. Re dew, our studies have focused on improving dew collection efficiency through the testing of different designs (including inverted pyramids), materials and inclination angles. Information on our dew collection work can be found through the non-profit International Organization for Dew Utilization (OPUR), established by members of our group ( In 2004 I co-supervised Alon Gross in developing a portable fog and dew collector for camping and hiking for his final year design project at the Teachers College of Technology, Tel Aviv. His work won a 5,000-euro first prize in the 2004 Saint-Etienne Metropole Design international competition, held in France, on the theme of "Travel in a Sustainable World." His portable dew collector was in the form of an inverted pyramid. SIMON BERKOWICZ Arid Ecosystems Research Center Hebrew University Jerusalem Shul accessibility Sir,- "94% of shuls lack accessibility for disabled worshipers" (February 16). What a shameful statistic! Surely this reflects simple ignorance and not a deliberate desire to deny those in wheelchairs the right to worship. The above "Not Handicapped Accessible" sign is intended to make people aware. Volunteers are sought to place them on what should be the most public of public buildings. For a copy, email GERSHOM GALE Jerusalem The fifth question Sir, - A small item in your March 11 issue ended with the news that "Israel is due to move to daylight saving time on the last Friday of March" ("US 'springs forward'"). That's a few days before Seder night! We all know what it means to begin the Seder an hour late. The children are cranky, their parents and grandparents, likewise. Did no one have a Hebrew calendar when deciding such a thing? Hundreds of thousands of us will suffer needlessly. Surely they could wait a few more days. This stupidity can still be fixed. THELMA JACOBSON Petah Tikva