October 2: Trajtenberg and change

No one can be abandoned, but there must be a system of private enterprise, rewards for initiative and a concern that the defense of Israel is primary.

Trajtenberg and change
Sir, – The Trajtenberg Commission (“Trajtenberg Report: Allocate NIS 60 billion for ‘social justice,” September 27) has called for some drastic changes in the tax structure and in welfare and housing programs. However, the Ministry of Defense cannot and should not bear the cost of social justice programs.
Israel is able to be a nation because of the Ministry of Defense. It is able to hold its own among all the nations that seek to destroy it – and that is an ever-present danger. We are not Norway, Sweden or Denmark.
No one can be abandoned, but there must be a system of private enterprise, rewards for initiative and a concern that the defense of Israel is primary.
The new year calls for an agonizing reappraisal and many changes. But above all, the existence of the State of Israel in a most hostile environment is primary.
Sir, – Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the defense establishment would need to make cuts to its budget despite the warnings from the IDF (“Top IDF source: Army will collapse if budget cut,” September 26).
We are at war and have been for 63 years, surrounded by maniacal enemies inside the country and out – and we are cutting the defense budget. The Arabs are being given notice: Just hang around and wait until Israel is so weak and defenseless that you can destroy us without too much effort.
Barak’s assessment should come as no surprise. It will make it easier for him when the time comes to retreat and surrender.
Is that not what his policy has been and still is? If there must be a cut, it should start with Barak. We need a strong defense minister with a strong army willing to fight and defeat the enemy, not the easily targeted settlers, as is his proclivity.
Sir, – Your editorial “Trajtenberg and fiscal responsibility” (September 27) seems to say it all. The recommendations of the committee are fine, but they don’t go far enough – at least not for the students and others preaching the same line.
It would be easy to recommend huge budget slashes in order to provide more and more money for those things people would like to see. But one has to think first: Where is all the money to come from? Increases in taxation for the filthy rich can go only so far.
There are limits.
We must for the time being be satisfied with the recommendations.
What to do
Sir, – In an article in which logic and reality, not to mention history, are turned on their heads, David Newman (“Actions, not slogans, for the New Year,” Comment & Features, September 27) takes up where Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas left off at the UN.
“What Israel should be doing is telling the world what it is prepared to do, not what it constantly opposes,” Newman writes. But where was he when Israel acted by evacuating itself from a hostile Lebanon and a voracious Gaza? Surely he saw the violence that resulted.
I would submit that arguments supporting a return to the Green Line, or to new borders with land swaps, as Newman proposes, is both futile and dangerous.
Abbas’s many vows to deny any Israeli presence in a Palestinian Arab state or his lament that the “Nakba” be reversed should be clues to Newman that Israel is the party being threatened, not the other way around.
Yes, it was a sad day at the UN.
But not, as Newman reasons, because no one takes Prime Minister Netanyahu’s peace pleas seriously. It is because lies, hatred and, yes, anti-Semitism rule the echelons of the UN today.
Sir, – Susan Hattis Rolef, in her op-ed of September 26 (“So what’s your plan, Mr. Prime Minister?”) poses the familiar, hackneyed question that the Left always pushes: What is the Netanyahu government willing to give the Palestinians to get the peace talks going? One has to ask Rolef where she was when there was a building freeze in Judea and Samaria, and when Israel withdrew from Gaza.
She makes no demands from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (whose presidency has run out), nor is she perturbed by the fact that Abbas does not even recognize the Jewish connection to this land.
Maybe she can offer some suggestions for a peace plan?
Those Israeli elbows
Sir, – Regarding “Expert deems Jerusalem Central Bus Station a ‘sick building’” (September 27), it is not a design fault that is causing pollution inside. Rather, it is the mentality of passengers who refuse to accept the system of waiting in orderly queues.
The Jerusalem station, similar to that of Haifa’s Hof Hacarmel, was designed so that passengers could wait in comfort inside an air conditioned building, similarly to the system in airports. There is limited seating available for the early arrivals, and once that is taken (hopefully given up for the elderly or disabled, or for parents with infants in arms) there is supposed to be a line formed in order of arrival.
The doors that open onto the bus platforms are intended to be kept closed until the vehicle arrives, when they are opened and an organized and orderly queue moves forward to get to the bus.
This is, however, far from the reality. More than 20 minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive, those with elbows open the doors and assemble on the highly polluted platform. Those who cannot or will not join the scrum are destined to be left behind in the building when the bus fills up – breathing in the pollution from outside.
Having experienced this a few times, I refuse to travel by bus from Haifa or Jerusalem. I use the train where possible or drive my car.
Bus service is intended to reduce traffic and pollution on the roads, but breathing in the fumes and struggling to get onto the bus at the bus station does not encourage passengers to use this mode of travel.
Whose Halacha?
Sir, – While Yad Sarah is to be commended for wanting synagogues to accommodate disabled people, it has joined numerous religious groups that emphasize their opinion by freely using the phrase “Halacha says...” (“Yad Sarah: Halacha says that synagogues should be accessible,” September 26).
Since when is Yad Sara a religious authority in Israel or elsewhere? Attending synagogue is certainly part and parcel of Jewish life but is by no means called for under Halacha. If one wishes to pray at home or is unable to go to a synagogue, he would not be violating Jewish law.
Two takes on Tom
Sir, – Martin Sherman’s “‘Ground Control to Major Tom (Friedman)’” (Into the Fray, September 23) is very disturbing.
Differences of opinion are legitimate.
However, when we attack our supporters with accusations of blood libel and anti-Semitism because they dare to disagree with us, we are in serious trouble.
In contrast to Friedman’s column, Sherman’s is the one any objective reader would call hysterical in its tone. It reeked of hatred and reached a disgusting low with the blood-in-the-matzo ending.
On what basis The Jerusalem Post allowed this type of writing to appear in its paper is beyond my understanding.
Sir, – After reading my psalms, I went through “‘Ground Control to Major Tom (Friedman)’” and laughed all the way. The end is a masterpiece.
I wish to thank Martin Sherman for writing it.