September 21: Road Carnage must end

A reader protests the relaxing of weapons restrictions in the West Bank; Wealth is an appropriate subject on the holidays.

Road carnage must end
Sir, – The Jerusalem Post misleads its readers in the article “Three young crash victims laid to rest” (September 17).
The first sentence highlights that some of the victims were not wearing seat belts, as if this were the most important aspect. However, the actual cause of the accident is obfuscated with the bland fact that they were “…injured in the collision with a tractor driven by a Palestinian man.”
They were killed because the tractor driver drove at night without using lights. We learn this in your editorial (“A road safety prayer for Yom Kippur) elsewhere in the same paper.
This is not the first time the Post deliberately ignores placing blame for these accidents. Typically, we read that “a motorist lost control of the vehicle” or that “the vehicle swerved suddenly into oncoming traffic,” as if these are random, spontaneous events outside a driver’s control.
Accidents happen in Israel for two major reasons: reckless driving and careless driving. This will stop when large numbers of drivers are jailed for manslaughter, and their insurance rates become prohibitively expensive.
Sir, – Kudos for your September 17 editorial on the scourge of Israel’s highways. Only a few prominent newspapers crusade for a cause, and The Jerusalem Post is one of them.
Now, if only two other groups would get on the bandwagon: haredim, who are haunted by the dead and obsessed with preventing autopsies and the removal of graves, and B’Tselem, which is consumed with championing the lives of the enemy.
Sir, – Regarding “Man with 123 traffic violations indicted” (September 14), why in heaven’s name was he behind the wheel in the first place? The man is nothing less than a terrorist, a threat to anyone and everyone in his vicinity.
What are the lawmakers and the courts doing if they fail to stop this human projectile after 15, 30 or more threats to life and limb of innocent citizens? How can we organize ourselves to put an end to having such a menace loose on our roads? Can we not get a law passed that after a certain number of moving violations, a driver is incarcerated and his vehicle impounded, or are we going to remain in state of somnambulism?
Sir, – If we really want the Tefilat Haderech (road safety prayer) to be effective, we need to concentrate all our energies on the hardcore minority of reckless Israeli drivers who see themselves as being completely above the law.
The following painful legislative steps need to be taken by our politicians: 1. Require every driver with enough serious driving offenses to display on his or her vehicle signs that warn the public to be extra cautious while in this person’s vicinity.
2. Enable law-abiding citizens to submit complaints against reckless drivers without having these complaints buried in the bureaucratic process. Such legislation exists in other Western countries.
3. Require police drivers to obey traffic laws to the letter – which is generally not the policy today.
4. Restrict the rights of serious driving offenders, e.g., in transporting children and in limiting their maximum speed.
5. Allow everyone access to the traffic records of drivers engaged in public transportation.
If our politicians do this, we can save hundreds of lives, have thousands fewer injured, and have plenty of money to improve infrastructure.
Settlers and firearms
Sir, – If Eli Yishai is guilty of anything, it is of speaking too soon when he first “promised” to relax weapons restrictions for residents of Judea and Samaria (“Yishai backs away from pledge to ease restrictions on firearms for settlers,” September 15).
Had he bothered to check the laws, he would probably understand that residents of Judea and Samaria already enjoy fewer restrictions than the rest of the country when applying for a gun license. No one questions the reasoning for this, given the added dangers and risks faced by Judea and Samaria residents. But the fact is, for most of Israel’s residents, only written certification/ proof/evidence that one’s job, location, status, security situation or other extenuating circumstance will be helpful in receiving police approval for a firearm – and even then nothing is guaranteed.
As someone who has worked with the Ministry of Interior for years, I have known cases where a person actually changed his or her address to somewhere in Judea and Samaria in order to make it easier to obtain a gun license! Your article clearly states that the late Yitzhak Imes did have a gun license, but for some reason it had been rescinded in November of last year. Ostensibly, the police had what they felt were legitimate reasons, just as they do with any citizen, so how can this be construed as an unjustified “restriction” on all residents of these areas? Only by knowing exactly why police rescinded Imes’s license can one pinpoint whether undue or overly stringent criteria had been applied to his case.
Also, attorney Yitzhak Bam’s unfortunate accusation that the police were acting in an “arbitrary manner” as instructed by attorney Shai Nitzan, head of the Special Task Force for Law Enforcement in Judea and Samaria, does not help matters.
Gun licenses are rescinded for many reasons, ranging from misuse and negligence to not maintaining the required schedule of periodic target range practice, or even just forgetting to renew one’s license. And though living in Judea and Samaria may be a justified reason for leniency in the initial granting of a firearm license, no person, regardless of address, can claim he or she is somehow “immune” from violating any number of gun-licensing requirements over time.
Which requirements should or could be waived or eased for residents of Judea and Samaria, if any? This is not a simple question and certainly cannot be decided solely on the basis of the recent terror attack and deaths of four innocent people, no matter how tragic. Even more problematic – given the fact that the gun-licensing issue suddenly burst forth because of the recent murderous attack – is the clear implication being touted by many that had Imes had his firearm with him, he and/or the others might still be alive today. That is treading on very thin ice, as many individuals in all parts of Israel have been murdered in terror attacks with their pistols still in their holsters, since it is the very element of surprise and ferocity that often renders defensive weapons totally ineffective. And it is more than pretentious in any case of tragedy and death to arrogantly and unequivocally determine exactly why a person died, not knowing exactly what would have prevented such consequences.
No matter how difficult, raw emotion must be removed as an element in making any far-reaching decisions regarding changes in gun-licensing laws and regulations for Judea and Samaria. Otherwise, there is a clear risk of going to the opposite extreme, where very arbitrary and politically motivated decisions could bring about more tragedy and harm.
GERSHON HARRIS Hatzor Haglilit
God and the rich
Sir, – I was amazed by the number of letters to the editor claiming that your September 8 supplement listing the world’s 50 richest Jews had been inappropriate prior to the holidays.
In the very sacred prayer of Netaneh Tokef, recited both on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, we are told that the Almighty decrees on the holiday who shall be rich and who shall be poor. There are other passages that pray for wealth and sustenance, and an abundance of prayers for the poor.
If the subject of wealth is appropriate on the holiday itself, it is certainly appropriate before the holiday.