March 6: Helmets, or not

The Knesset obviously feels we are living in a cartoon, where great harm is inflicted and the victims get up and carry on.

Helmets, or not
Sir, – Despite worldwide figures showing that cyclists are much safer if they wear helmets, the Knesset seeks to grant an exemption to certain riders (“Volunteer organization fights efforts to gut bicycle helmet law,” March 3).
I have fallen off my bike many times and know of many friends who would have been very badly hurt with head injuries, but for a proper safety helmet. The Knesset obviously feels we are living in a cartoon, where great harm is inflicted and the victims get up and carry on.
It is obvious that drivers have a visual blind spot when it comes to cyclists and motorcyclists. Hitting a bike at even 10 kilometers an hour can kill an unprotected cyclist.
Perhaps the MKs need to do some bike riding to see how dangerous it is on any Israeli road, urban or rural.
Sir, – I am no expert on the usefulness of bicycle helmets, but during recent visits to safety-conscious Switzerland, where I grew up, I saw that most bicycle riders do not wear them. I myself rode a bicycle for many years without a helmet, to school and later to university or wherever I had to go.
I do not know if any rules exist in Israel, but the way riders here behave is irresponsible and extremely dangerous. They do not keep to the right and they ride over sidewalks, endangering pedestrians. They do not care about one-way streets. They listen to iPods and use mobile phones.
Many bikes lack lights and reflectors, and are invisible at night. I could go on and on.
In Switzerland, all road users, including bicycle riders, obey the same traffic laws. Here it is a freefor- all.
Lone voice of reason
Sir, – Regarding Isi Leibler’s latest column (“The incredible Rabbi Shlomo Riskin,” Candidly Speaking, March 3), one must meet, hear and learn with Rabbi Riskin in order for him to become credible rather than incredible! Rabbi Riskin is a lone voice of reason in the muddled and befuddled religious establishment in the modern State of Israel. Where extremism, ignorance and distortions prevail, he is the beacon of light that can make Orthodox Judaism relevant in Israel and the Diaspora. He is the personification of kiddush hashem, the sanctification of God’s name.
Ganei Tikva
Watching Libya
Sir, – Your story “Human Rights Watch should have been keeping tabs on Libya” (March 2) is at complete odds with the fact that Human Rights Watch has done more than any other group to document human rights abuses in Libya, with all reporting available at africa/libya.
Our work on Libya since 2005, when we first gained access to the country, includes more than 100 news releases, letters and op-eds, eight full-length reports and six chapters in Human Rights Watch’s annual World Report. We have full confidence in our Middle East and North Africa director and have no intention of seeking her resignation.
Human Rights Watch researchers are on the ground in the Middle East covering government crackdowns on peaceful protests in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Libya, Morocco and other countries. Our reporting and analysis from the region have been widely cited by governments and the press around the world – including The Jerusalem Post. Indeed, your paper used our Libya reporting as an authoritative news source on the death toll and arrests of activists in Tripoli and Benghazi in more than a dozen news stories in the month of February alone.
New York
The writer is deputy executive director for program at Human Rights Watch
Just say we’re ready
Sir, – In “PM mulling new initiative on Palestinian statehood” (March 2), Herb Keinon reports that Binyamin Netanyahu is seriously considering making a major policy address to launch another peace initiative, in part to reduce some of the international pressure on Israel.
I suggest that he change his mind. He will never control what the nations of the world do.
The prime minister does not need to make any new, unilateral offers. Instead, he should announce that Israel will talk to the Palestinian Authority when the Palestinians returns to the table without preconditions. There will be no offers until the PA takes that step because without the PA at the table, there is no one to talk to.
Then Netanyahu should say, “I announce to the world that Israel is ready. The ball in now in your court, Mr. Abbas.”
Ma’aleh Adumim
Reason for worry
Sir, – According to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, “the Syrians are signaling in more ways than one that they want to reach an agreement” (“Barak: Opportunity exists for peace talks with Syria,” March 1).
An ordinary citizen, I can detect the following signals from Syria: increasing its naval cooperation with Tehran by hosting two vessels in its Mediterranean port; secretly building two or three nuclear installations, probably with North Korean and Iranian support; smuggling Iranian missiles to Hezbollah; and providing political and logistic support to transform Lebanon into a Hezbollah state.
If these are the signals Barak is referring to, I am very worried – not about Syria, but about our defense minister.

Waiting for Boteach
Sir, – Shmuley Boteach, in his column “Waiting for Obama” (No Holds Barred, March 1), laments the president’s “failure to champion human rights in Libya.” An earlier column of his (January 11) was titled “Only moral courage can make rabbis relevant.” He is right.
Rabbis must speak out on vital issues or remain mute functionaries.
But Boteach, like fellow Orthodox rabbis (and like American Jewish organizations), has not said a word about the anti-Jewish discrimination by haredim against Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and secular Jews in Israel and abroad. I sent him a registered letter months ago asking him to publicly condemn this bigotry. So far, there has been only silence.
Beit Shemesh
Sir, – Regarding Shmuley Boteach’s latest column, I wish people would stop tolerating negative references to the US president’s skin color. How would we feel if people constantly connected criticism of the performance of a Jewish politician with his or her Jewishness?
Paper with a mission
Sir, – People buy The Jerusalem Post to read the Israeli point of view – the Arab version is printed in every Arab paper, and also in the world media, which seldom, if ever, give the Israeli version.
Yet every day, the Post prints several articles by Israeli Jews and Arabs who present the Arab case.
This policy is justified in a perfect world, but not in today’s world, since it strengthens Arab efforts to destroy Israel.
As the sole English-language newspaper in Israel publishing original news, the Post should expose the myths and lies presented by our enemies instead of repeating and thus endorsing them.

Just do it
Sir, – Gershon Baskin’s column “Learning from J Street” (Encountering Peace, March 1) raises a question: Why can’t we bring 2,000 Israelis together for an intensive three-day seminar on justice, democracy, peace and security? Are we afraid to open our mouths, afraid to be labeled, or just putting heads in the sand? Let’s go for it, or as the Nike ad goes, “Just do it.” We may be pleasantly surprised.
Tel Aviv