March 15: 'Insulting criticism'

Clinton's phone call is a sign that this administration doesn't accept Israel’s democratic right to make decisions about the nation’s citizens and communities.

‘Insulting’ criticism
Sir, – As I read the reports of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chastising phone call to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (“Clinton terms Ramat Shlomo project ‘insulting,’” March 14), I recalled the words of the late prime minister Menachem Begin nearly 30 years earlier after a crisis erupted following disagreement with another American administration: “What kind of expression is this – ‘punishing Israel’? Are we a vassal state of yours? Are we a banana republic? Are we youths of 14 who, if they don’t behave properly, are slapped across the fingers?… The people of Israel has lived 3,700 years without a memorandum of understanding with America – and it will continue to live for another 3,700.”
While the timing of the announcement about future construction in a Jerusalem suburb two years from now during the vice president’s visit was regrettable, it was also an important signal to Israel’s neighbors and the American administration that while the Arabs continue to embrace any excuse to avoid direct negotiations, Israel’s government is not standing still on decisions vital to the security of its citizens.
The reportedly angry phone call from Clinton – and the subsequent remarks of her spokesman – is a troubling sign that this administration does not accept Israel’s democratic right and obligation to make decisions about the security needs of the nation’s citizens and communities.
As we watch Iran actively continuing to build its nuclear weapons and delivery capacity, and Palestinian and other Arab leaders refusing to end their hostile propaganda, incitement and rejectionism, the State Department’s diplomatic assault on its closest friend and ally in the region is deeply troubling.
    SETH EISENBERG     Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Sir, – I was shocked and annoyed to see that Clinton was “insulted” by the Ramat Shlomo project.
I could understand her being insulted if we had told her to stop building in Washington. We only announced that we were building in Jerusalem.
    IAN (YISRAEL) LAST     Kiryat Ata
Road to ruin?
Sir, – In light of your recent editorial (“Protection on the roads,” March 12) and front page article (“Drivers, not road infrastructure, to blame for deadly crashes, Transportation Ministry says,” March 14) pointing a finger at bad road infrastructure and reckless driving, there was a glaring absence of the role that cellphones play in causing traffic accidents.
I recently had an hour’s terrifying ride with an Israeli driver (two young children in the back seat) who simultaneously read GPS directions and made almost two dozen calls on her cellphone. In addition to swerving, she was totally oblivious to the car in front and would have plowed into it had I not shouted out, “Watch it!” at the last second.
When does a passenger, who is indebted to the driver for giving her a lift, switch from polite recipient of the favor to backseat driver?
When relating this harrowing experience to my daughter, she replied that she had been witness to many similar incidents and that this was the way Israelis lived – on the edge. A scary thought!
Where are the police to rein in this excessive cellphone abuse?
    FRAN GOLDSTEIN     Ginot Shomron
Sir, – My hearty congratulations on The Jerusalem Post’s editorial that strongly condemned the increasing murder and mayhem on our roads. The article mentioned the necessity of shock treatment for deterring such crimes, but did not specify what form of treatment.
I suggest that just as groups of schoolchildren are taken on organized tours of death camps in Europe to bring home the horror of Nazi atrocities, our young people should witness firsthand the horrific effects of reckless driving. School groups should be taken to tour hospitals and see for themselves the horrible injuries mindlessly inflicted by motorists. In addition, the unspeakable suffering of accident victims and their families should be regularly broadcast on television, since it’s hard to imagine injuries reported in such bland terms as “moderate,” “serious” and “critical.” Economics courses should stress the colossal damage, loss and waste inflicted on our economy because some people choose to disobey traffic laws.
If these measures prove ineffective, certainly “the book should be thrown at traffic offenders,” as the editorial urges.
    ROY RUNDS     Tel Aviv
Facts and figures
Sir, – I have noticed over the years that whenever a journalistic item contains mathematical figures – even something seemingly so simple as a reference to a person’s age matching his reported year of birth – too often there are errors or inconsistencies. At least three articles in last Wednesday’s Jerusalem Post, unfortunately, proved no exception to this rule.
First, one headline reads “Gov’t stats reveal settler population rose 4.9% in 2009,” but according to the second paragraph, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported “the Jewish population of Judea and Samaria grew from 290,400 on December 31, 2008, to 301,200 at the end of 2009.” That’s not 4.9%, it’s 3.7%. And the percentage increases calculated for the populations of three West Bank cities: all wrong (unless the reported populations are wrong). The fraction of the 10,700 population growth not located in those three cities: 49.5%, not 50.6%, as reported.
Then there’s “Knesset committee approves civil marriage bill for final reading” (March 10), in which ACRI reportedly opined that the civil marriage bill “would provide a solution for only about 170 couples, or 3.8% of all the couples who marry each year.” So, in other words, only 4,500 (+/-) couples get married in Israel each year, out of a total population of 7,400,000. The Web site of the Central Bureau of Statistics reports there were 46,448 marriages in 2007 (most recent year reported). Something in this article – either the percentage or the number of couples allegedly helped by the legislation – is off by a factor of 10.
And would you believe that Ikea’s “global earnings in 2009 equaled €22.7 billion” (“After four-year wait, Ikea opens in Rishon Lezion”)? I didn’t. That’s more than double Wal-Mart’s profit for the year and probably more than any retail company has ever earned during any single year of operations. It’s worth noting that the Web site reported that the company itself had released a statement that its gross sales (not profit) totaled €21.5 billion for a one-year period ending on August 31, 2009. The same Web site reported that a Swedish newspaper had estimated Ikea’s 2009 profit at a still-healthy €5.1 billion.
Sorry to be so picky, but the readers’ knowledge of the world and their opinions are influenced by the facts and figures they absorb from the newspaper. Therefore, it is important to double-check and make sure the figures are, in fact, factual.
The letters editor writes: You are correct in your calculations. The second article should have read, “only about 170 couples, or 3.8% of Israeli couples who marry abroad each year,” and the third article should, indeed, have said “sales” rather than earnings. Regarding the first article, the figures accurately reflected the numbers posted on the CBS Web site; the fault lay in the interpretation. The entire population of Judea and Samaria was 290,400 for 2008 and 301,200 for the first nine months of 2009, not for the entire year. The 4.9% increase in growth in 2009 is accurate, but does not relate to the 10,800 differential between those two numbers; rather it pertains to data not provided by the CBS, which compared the data at the end of September 2009 with that figure at the end of September 2008. The same paradigm should be used to explain the population numbers and percent increases for Modi’in Illit, Beitar Illit and Ma’aleh Adumim. (The CBS could not explain why it had a differential of 10,700, instead of 10,800 between their 2009 and 2008 population figures.)
A modest compromise
Sir,– Some feel it’s important for Israel’s image that people appear inpublic in the nude (“Photo finish,” March 14) and others believe thatwe require sex-segregated buses (“1,000 protest mehadrin lines incapital,” March 14).
Surely an obvious compromise would be to allow public nudity only on sex-segregated buses.