November 23: Residents and strikes

Physicians need another way to air their grievances and put forth their demands. But they cannot strike. The cost to the rest of us is simply too high.

Letters 58 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Letters 58
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Residents and strikes
Sir, – Regarding “Medical residents agree to return to talks with Treasury” (November 21), when light rail drivers go on strike, many people are inconvenienced.
When sanitation workers strike, garbage piles up.
Inconvenience. When postal workers strike, our mail gets delayed. Usually, not a big deal.
When medical personnel strike, though, lives are put in jeopardy.
That is totally unacceptable.
Physicians need another way to air their grievances and put forth their demands. But they cannot strike. The cost to the rest of us is simply too high.
Sir, – It is with increasing disgust that I continue to read about the ongoing travesty vis a vis Israel’s medical residents.
From afar, it would appear that, both individually and collectively, the residents have no rights. The Finance Ministry and deputy health minister seem to routinely flex their muscles instead of attempting to reach a compromise.
The Israel Medical Association seems to have abandoned all sense in agreeing to a nine-year contract.
In short, this is a contest of wills, and the state and existing physicians are winning against the individual. Shame! I walked out on strike in 1980 here in Ontario, as did thousands of my fellow medical residents, after much soul-searching.
Thirty years later, the residents of today benefit from that action.
ALBERT KIRSHEN Toronto The writer is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto
Is he for real?
Sir, – Regarding “Gantz warns of possible Gaza offensive” (November 21), I wonder what it would take to actually force this initiative – perhaps dozens of Israeli deaths or the population becoming raving lunatics for having to live under daily bombardments while those in charge continue to abide by rules that exist in no other country? Our chief of staff says: “If we don’t have a choice we’ll know how to operate in Gaza.” There has been no choice for years (and our top soldiers have the chutzpah to tell us they called off a military operation due to an Egyptian request to give ceasefire efforts a chance!).
Is this guy for real or does he actually not see that it is our enemies setting the timetable and rules?
Women and song
Sir, – Regarding “IDF chief of staff rejects rabbi’s remarks on singing women” (November 21), isn’t there anyone in the upper echelons of the IDF with an ounce of common sense? Does it really make sense to create a miserable rift in the military by obdurately insisting that soldiers listen to singing, by females or not, at the cost of offending the principles of a number of them, often the cream of the crop? Assuming that such programs are intended to contribute to esprit de corps, they are apparently having the opposite effect.
If someone up there would have a mind to ban the wearing of tefillin on the grounds that they are not part of the uniform, or order the cutting off of sidelocks as not being militarily correct, I am sure all of Israeli society would be appalled.
Sir, – The words of Rabbi Elyakim Levanon (“Chief rabbi of Samaria region: Better that soldiers face the firing squad than listen to a woman sing,” November 20) follow on sayings of the sages that are still observed: The voice of a woman is erva (sexually exciting), the hair of a woman is erva. With separate seating in synagogues, at weddings and other religious functions, it is presumed that the body of a woman is also erva.
I wonder were it that, heaven forefend, the rabbi suddenly had cardiac arrest and the only instant medical help available was a woman. Would he prefer to meet the Angel of Death, his sword at the ready, rather than subject himself to cardio-pulmonary resuscitation at hands of a woman? SONIA GOLDREIN Jerusalem Not ‘far-fetched’ Sir, – James Adler (“Serious charges,” Letters, November 21) says that accusing Arabs of wanting to blow up buses is “grievous” and “far-fetched.” Really? Anyone who lived through that awful time will never forget it.
Our lives and the lives of our children were in mortal danger every time we got on a bus. We never knew if we would step off at our destination or be scraped off.
Yes, I “understand the other side.” While the Palestinians have now stopped blowing up buses, they are actively supporting the monsters who were responsible. The PA is financially supporting them with housing and naming streets after them.
In other words, Palestinian society still, either actively or passively, supports vicious criminals.
Adler is asking us for empathy for the “other side.” Not on my life. Not on the life of my children.
Sir, – A knee-jerk query to letter- writer James Adler is irresistible: Where are the other side’s partners in “empathic reciprocal understanding” for our maze of J Street, Peace Now, Physicians/Rabbis for Human Rights, Adallah, Ir Amin, ISM, the Sheikh Jarrah protesters, B’Tselem, ACRI, ACLU, the Israel Policy Forum and very many more? Bus bombing may seem “farfetched” in far-off Massachusetts, but no one seriously can claim it is “frivolous.”
Comic relief
Sir, – Liat Collins wrote a very interesting piece (“Not-so-easy riders,” My Word, November 20) in which she discusses the absurdity of Israel’s policies.
It is incomprehensible how Israel has managed to exist in relative and absolute terms. It is surrounded by constant enemies, including Iran, which has trained Palestinian terrorists. We have Arab representatives in Knesset who refuse to swear allegiance to the State of Israel.
Now the government allows an Arab bus with anti-Israel slogans on it to ride blissfully through the land until it reaches a Jerusalem checkpoint. Only Israel has this comic relief.
Thank God we live in a land that has a sense of humor about its fate.
Damned anyway
Sir, – Your article “By next decade, over half of citizens won’t do IDF service – top officer” (November 18) states that among males, “the largest number of exemptions is given to the haredi sector, which constitutes 13% of draft-dodgers.” According to the math that I learned, this means that the other 87% aren’t haredi. Why don’t we hear about them? The same article also mentions allegations that the IDF is “being overrun by religious extremists.”
The religious sector is denounced if its members don’t serve, and excoriated if they do.
Schonfeld kinder
Sir, – I was on the first kindertransport arranged by Rabbi Dr.
Solomon Schonfeld, which left Vienna on December 20, 1938.
After that there were many children who were brought to the UK by Rabbi Schonfeld in organized kindertransports or as individuals before, during and after the war.
On February 27/Adar 4 we will mark the 100th anniversary of his birth. I hope to arrange a memorial tribute on that date in Jerusalem and wish to invite Schonfeld kinder who would like to attend.
I can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or by mail at PO Box 18279, Jerusalem 91182.