November 13, 2017: Equal to men, but still...

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Equal to men, but still...
In “Stop using double standards against female IDF soldiers” (Observations, November 10), Chaim Landau maintains that the policy of the IDF not to assign women soldiers to frontline combat units assumes inferior combat performance.
I consider women to be equal to men and in certain respects even superior. But I shudder when I think of the result if any of our brave front-line women soldiers were to become prisoners of war.
Petah Tikva
Let’s rise to the occasion
Gershon Baskin wrote very movingly about the dire state of our political system in “Israel’s political system is broken” (Encountering Peace, November 9) and in many other columns.
How can we be stuck in such an uninspiring place? We have been a start-up miracle for nearly 70 years and should be in an overwhelmingly happy frame of mind. Instead, we have a leader who has overstayed his time and is disgracing us on the world stage and at home.
Two British politicians recently bowed out with great haste and agility because they realized that they had behaved in a manner unbecoming of the high standards required of members of their government. Israelis are astounded watching people fall on their swords. Showing respect for high office is completely foreign to many in this country.
We are at such a low level. We don’t have politicians who present a clean, inspiring and cultured image at a time when we are thirsting for the highest caliber statesman to lead and transform us all.
We need to rise to the occasion and use our talents to break through the barriers that are preventing us from making peace. Let us clean up the corruption and prepare the ground for a shining new regime that shows the maturity of our 70 astounding years.
What a tribute it would be to all who suffered in the creation of Israel if we entered into a phase of peace, serenity and honesty on the eve of our eighth decade.
Unhappy El Al loyalist
Regarding “El Al CEO resigns” (November 8), it’s about time! I am a Matmid member close to Gold status. I fly six to eight times a year, exclusively on El Al.
I am always treated very nicely by the ground staff and flight attendants. The problem begins with the fleet of airplanes. I know, new ones are coming, but for years it has been awful having to constantly tolerate horrible seats, no leg room, the worst entertainment, toilets that don’t work.... Need I continue? Recently, I flew from Boston. The plane was so old it had ashtrays and provisions for razorblade disposal in the restrooms. There were no screens on the rear of the seats, only common screens for all the passengers. Or how about the newest route, to Miami. On the fourth flight, there was an entire entertainment black out.
These issues don’t even bring into play the pilots – who couldn’t give a damn about the comfort of passengers or the disruptions in travel plans with their sick-outs, slowdowns and strikes. It’s a known fact that El Al has more employees per plane than any other international carrier, and it is not just because of security.
With all the competition, one would think the airline might wake up and stop taking customer loyalty for granted. Perhaps with new leadership – preferably from outside the pampered and spoiled El Al family – things will start to change for the better.
Something’s being done!
On October 29, you published a letter from reader Jenny Shay about the risks to pedestrians in Jerusalem from electric and manual bicycles on sidewalks (“Stop the cyclists!”). This is a problem common to many cities in Israel, particularly Ra’anana.
Many sidewalk users are senior citizens who are at risk of being knocked down and injured by aggressive, irresponsible cyclists. To address this issue, we established a group of residents that has become known as RCR (Ra’anana Concerned Residents).
Over the past year and a half, we have taken the matter up with the municipality, meeting with the mayor, the chief of police and the security department, as well as with the heads of departments concerned with road safety and education. Our tenacity and perseverance are beginning to bear fruit. The issue has become a high priority for the municipality.
Publicity campaigns addressed at schools and parents have been launched. The municipality has undertaken to place security personnel on the streets to issue warnings to cyclists contravening recently published legislation, and starting in December, they will begin levying fines against offenders breaking the laws – such as two on a bike, talking on mobile phones, riding on the sidewalk and ignoring red lights.
We are hopeful that the introduction of these steps by the Ra’anana Municipality will enable our residents to reclaim their right to safety on the sidewalks. Ms. Shay should consider forming an action group among concerned residents of Jerusalem and liaising with city authorities there to address this serious problem.
The writer is a member of the board of RCR.
Bureaucratic millstones
I’m one of those you meant, so I was very pleased to read “User-friendly aliya” (Editorial, October 13). It summed up what the aliya process has now become. There’s so much red tape, it’s mind-blowing – even when you fulfill all their tasks, the aliya bureaucrats find more.
I’m British. After several years in Israel, I ended up in Belgium. From there I decided to make aliya. Stupid me. I thought all I had to do was contact the Jewish Agency. Boy was I wrong.
I spent over a year going through red tape in Brussels. I filled out hundreds of forms and certificates.
I had to visit the Israeli Embassy several times for officially stamped documents (that ultimately meant nothing). There were also security checks, not only with the Israel Police, but with New Scotland Yard, Interpol, the Belgian police and the British Embassy. The Jewish Agency finally said it was happy – but was still waiting for the Interior Ministry.
To shorten the process, I came to Ashdod to live with my sister and her family. I hoped the authorities could thus see me in person, and not at the other end of a computer screen or telephone line.
I’ve now been here for a year and a half. I work full time and pay taxes, National Insurance Institute payments and health insurance. I have a bank account, rent my own apartment and have store cards. So what do they want from me? The aliya lectures, films and brochures don’t touch the frustration of waiting in endless lines, collecting number after number – not to mention the time wasted from work – and then being told to wait again, that you must do this or that, even when you already did it some time ago. (And something I find particularly unfriendly is the number of times the bureaucrats remind me that I was not born a Jew. I remember my rabbi telling me that it’s not allowed to remind a Jew of his past, as we’re “all converts.”) I’m trying to get on with my life, but these “civil servants” are like a giant millstone around my neck.