March 25: Ideas are free for all

Not for a moment do I believe Naomi Ragen plagiarized anything. She is a very accomplished, successful author and has no need to stoop to such a level.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Ideas are for allWhen push comes to shove Sir, - Re Shira Lebowitz Schmidt and women's "empowerment" from sitting in the back of the bus ("Black hats in the front of the bus," March 20): I do not see how women can be empowered when it is they, not the men, who have to struggle to the back of the bus, pregnant and laden with shopping, strollers and toddlers. It is also a much bumpier ride at the back, so motion sickness can be added to the inconvenience and distress. The author suggested that Egged passengers have a choice between segregated and secular bus lines. Yet one of the main complaints has been about the company reducing some regular routes in favor of the segregated ones, making it impossible to get from point to point without changing buses - unless a woman is prepared to be pushed to the back of the bus. WENDY BLUMFIELD Haifa Sir, - I have an impressionable 18-year-old son, with whom we made aliya almost three years ago and who must travel to work through religious neighborhoods where bus segregation is strictly in force. He is at the stage of seeking God and His will while, at the same time, observing its more visible and seemingly active practitioners. This leaves indelible impressions. In the past year he has witnessed fires, burned cars, angry faces, and trash strewn everywhere, attributed to protesters against the gay parade; and, in the past three months, at least four tongue-lashings in which irate religious folks loudly berated women apparently too dumb to know where to sit. For my son, God is on trial, as is the religious community. I am hoping he will keep an open mind at this most pivotal time in his life; and praying that this community, which seems so good at exercising restraint and self-discipline in many matters, will learn to avert its collective eyes when a woman climbs aboard a bus. YITZCHAK MILLMAN Jerusalem Relying on religion Sir, - Gwynne Dyer's "God and good behavior" (March 22) resonated with me. In my rabbinical career in the Diaspora I was constantly propagating the claim that religion is good for you. In Israel, I still agree with myself. I think religion would be good for so many who have not yet tried it - not because of any instant guarantee that it will make everyone a better person, though this should happen in time, but because Israel would be a better place if there were more of God in public life, and if the representatives of religion set a better example. Israel should be able to address national issues with an awareness and acknowledgment of religious models of truth, justice and compassion. We should be able to rely on our religious leaders to bring God into the marketplace of ideas, instead of bringing religion into disrepute by bizarre acts and dogmatic unreasonableness. RABBI RAYMOND APPLE Jerusalem England & Israel Sir, - The names "England" and "Israel" have recently appeared together very often because of a football match ("England's fans coming to see more than just their team," March 22). But there is another reason why they should share media attention: They are both very small countries with very long cultural tentacles. The English language, the English parliamentary system, the English attitude to sport and English ideas of law - all from one tiny, little country - have permeated every corner of the globe. Similarly, from tiny Israel's land and people have come the major religious influences on the whole world. Regardless of who won the match, it is a joy and privilege to be part of both countries and see them together. RENEE BRAVO Asseret