November 16: In a Jewish state, why punish the religious?

November 16 In a Jewish

In a Jewish state, why punish the religious? Sir, - It is not only Intel that requires employees to work on Shabbat ("J'lem haredim prepare for Shabbat demo against Intel," November 13). Such policies penalize a whole section of the community and possibly hinders their advancement in the workplace. A few years ago, my grandson was looking for any kind of work to fill in a year between army service and university. Many employers refused him, as he is modern Orthodox and could not work on Shabbat. He offered to do extra shifts during the week to make up for it, but to no avail. These jobs included driving patrol cars and providing security for hotels. I was totally disillusioned by this state of affairs in the Jewish state. In contrast, my husband worked for non-Jewish firms in England all his life and never had the slightest problem regarding Shabbat, holidays or even leaving early on Friday during the winter months. Intel should rethink its policy - no company ever went broke for accommodating religious workers. JUDY PRAGER Petah Tikva Kol hakavod, Sar-El! Sir, - How wonderful to open The Jerusalem Post at Ben Gurion Airport and read "An unforgettable Sar-El experience" (November 15) on my way back to the US from my second Sar-El tour of duty. It must have been bashert to remind me to not only plan my next (third) tour, but to continue spreading the word. Most Israelis , let alone supporters of Israel abroad, know the program exists. Soldiers are often shocked to find out we pay for our flights and leave our comfortable homes and jobs to eat army food and live in the same conditions as they do for two or three weeks. The response is always "Kol hakavod." Sar-El puts you shoulder-to-shoulder with the young men and women bravely defending the state. Sending a check is easy. Filling sand bags and laying barbed wire makes it very personal. That bag may stop a bullet aimed at a soldier. JEFFREY D. URBACH Highland Park, New Jersey Right of reply Sir, - Anderson Harkov's article ("The problem with capital punishment," November 12), in which he argues against my recent call for Israel to reinstate the death penalty for convicted terrorists, ignores several salient points: Sentencing murderers to life in prison is acceptable - as I indicated - when it is reasonable that they will serve out the bulk of their sentence and essentially spend the rest of their lives in prison. But if these killers stand a good chance of an early release due to political considerations - or as part of a lopsided "prisoner exchange" - then justice will be severely perverted and the families of terror victims will undergo yet another undeserved trauma. As for Harkov's claim that capital punishment exists only "in uncivilized countries," he goes on to cite several death row cases in the United States, which has been executing murderers for more than two centuries and may soon be called upon to do so again, in the case of the Ft. Hood massacre. RABBI STEWART WEISS Jewish Outreach Center of Ra'anana Not healthy enough Sir, - After reading Chava Lehman's letter extolling Hadassah-University Hospital, Ein Kerem ("Healthier Hospitals," Letters, November 15), I felt compelled to reply. My husband's four hospitalizations in the last year were in three different hospitals, the worse of which was Kaplan in Rehovot. The over crowding was horrendous, with 13 patients in one large room. The physicians there were arrogant, as well. The best was Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv; the most efficient was Assaf Harofeh in Tzrifin. At the latter, the facilities needed upgrading, but the staff was wonderful. I cannot say the same for Kaplan. The Health Ministry and the kupot holim responsible for hospitals should perhaps look at the medical centers and standardize care and inpatient treatment. All hospitals should have an ombudsman to field patient complaints. All hospitals should have a dietician visiting new patients who have food issues related to their illnesses (in our case, diabetes). I was forced to bring meals for my husband, as the hospital did not provide special ones. It should become standard for bathrooms at hospitals to be cleaned every three hours if there are more than three patients to a room. And most importantly, there should be bathrooms on each floor for visitors only. I realize money is short, but sometimes it must be spent on the health and well-being of the public. A. WEINBERG Rehovot Shaky pillars... Sir, - Your editorial ("Samson's pillars," November 13) is generally reasonable, but when you say "the government [exercises its political will through the IDF] by protecting settlers against the wishes of some, and by dismantling outposts against the wishes of others," you make a false and immoral comparison. Dismantling outposts is a matter on which reasonable people can legitimately disagree. However, protecting settlers - citizens who live in areas governed by the IDF and mostly in communities blessed by previous governments - should not be a matter of debate. The mission of the IDF is to protect the integrity of the state and to protect its citizens. This should not be "against the wishes" of anyone. The Post should know better. ISRAEL PICKHOLTZ Jerusalem ...can bring the house down Sir, - It would seem that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are so anxious to keep the coalition together that they are prepared to go to almost any lengths ("Netanyahu, Barak hope overtures to PA, Syria will strengthen coalition," November 13). Netanyahu could have led Israel to a peaceful solution by showing faith and strength in our purpose, and with the right-wing coalition that voted him into power. Unfortunately our prime minister, like those before him, needs the adulation of the international community, and we the people of Eretz Yisrael will suffer immensely because of it. I believe that the Shimshon soldiers' protest ("Shimshon soldiers to be hailed at 'farbrengen,'" November 13) was a result of bad policies currently in practice, and although the book written by Rabbi Yizhak Shapira and Rabbi Yosef Elitzur, which condones killing gentiles under specific conditions and which was written in response to the moral dilemma facing IDF soldiers, seems to be an abomination at first glance, it is in fact only saying what the soldiers and many of us have come to realize: that their lives have been sacrificed on many occasions to save enemy lives and so as not to anger the rest of the world. This cannot be allowed to continue. EDITH OGNALL Netanya A tale of two Derfners Sir, - I'm convinced that there are two Larry Derfners at the Post. The Defner who claims that the Israeli police are too soft on the mafia ("Crush the Israeli mafia," December 18, 2003), would presumably be appalled by the very suggestion that the police should not provoke organized criminals by preventing them from obtaining arms, or that Israel should hand over land for an independent mafia state. The other Derfner writes articles claiming that terrorist organizations have the right to self-defense if Israel responds to terror attacks, and, recently, that Israel shouldn't prevent terrorists from obtaining arms, or rogue states who call for its annihilation from going nuclear ("Picking fights at sea," November 12). The first Derfner should talk some sense into the other one. YONATAN SILVER Jerusalem