June 3: Continuing crisis

I’ll eat my shtreimel if 70% percent of haredi 18-year-olds are drafted in three years.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Continuing crisis
Sir, – In regards to “‘Historic’ haredi draft bill approved by Peri Committee, ending coalition crisis,” (May 30) – the crisis is still bubbling on a hot plate, and I’ll eat my shtreimel if 70% percent of haredi 18-year-olds are drafted in three years, with or without criminal sanctions.
Testing time
Sir, – If daylight saving time is extended to the end of October, the time of sunrise then will be after 6:50 a.m., with a consequent large delay in the earliest time for morning prayers (“Daylight saving time to be extended by a month,” May 30).
It is typical of the Israeli Left that they simultaneously claim to need to put more of the religious community in the workforce, and then try to make it more difficult for religious Jews to get to work on time.
It would be better if they concentrated on reducing the traffic jams caused by the shifts in traffic light patterns every time the clock changes.

Cycle city
Sir, – As an elderly pedestrian who has frequently come very close to being knocked over by cyclists on Tel Aviv sidewalks, I was interested to read the article “Cyclists to ride on Friday in support of bike safety bill,” (May 30), which would “better regulate bike safety and comfort” for Israel’s 350,000 cyclists.
But, I asked myself, what about the safety and comfort of Tel Aviv’s pedestrians? As a former Tel Aviv resident and nowadays a weekly visitor to what was once my favorite town, I am shocked that no reference is made in the above bill to the extreme, non-stop dangers facing pedestrians since mass bicycle transportation was introduced into Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities.
The fear of being maimed or killed has caused me to tremble every time I set out to walk on a Tel Aviv street. The once joyful sauntering along that city’s streets has turned into a nightmare.
I would, therefore, like to suggest to the proponents of the “bike safety bill” that they add a few clauses for the safety and comfort of pedestrians.
For example that all bicycles, whether supplied by the city or privately owned, should have license plates and bells or horns, as well as a speed limit of no more than 10 kilometers an hour, and that every street have bicycle paths and that cyclists be forced to travel only on them and not on the rest of the pavement.
In fact, cyclists should be reminded that sidewalks were built for pedestrians and roads were built for vehicles. Any cyclist going over the speed limit or not cycling on bicycle paths should face tickets and large fines if they don’t keep to the “safety law.”
Kiryat Ono
Prepared to compromise
Sir, – The big question by Gershon Baskin in his article “Kerry can succeed,” (Encountering Peace, Comment and Features, May 30) depends how badly the two sides really want it, and how much they are prepared to compromise.
Two experts in this field are Prof.
Itamar Rabinovich, a noted scholar and diplomat who wrote the book Waging Peace, and Prof. Bernard Lewis of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, who understands the mentality of the Arabs.
Neither of these men would agree to returning to the pre-1967 lines after we took back the land conquered and occupied by the Jordanians for 19 years – which had been part of the Partition Plan as Judea in 1948. We found the destruction of synagogues and cemetery stones. Now Jerusalem is free for all three religions.
Kerry is trying to get negotiations going by running from room to room, instead of direct talks and compromises, which are the only way to reach an agreement between the two sides.
Whether he will win where so many others have failed remains to be seen, although he has tempted the Palestinians with a big economic gift, which may help.


Herzliya Pituah
Flawed priorities
Sir, – In her article “Women, the Wall and Judaism,” (Comment and Features, May 30) Sadeena Pinhasik seems to feel it is necessary to explain to a handful of women who showed up for Rosh Hodesh prayers at the Kotel the meaning and responsibilities associated with wearing tefillin.
I feel she would have been better off explaining the responsibilities of wearing the tefillin to the hundreds of haredi men who showed up at the Western Wall for the purpose of harassing the women.
It would appear that the teachers in the haredi community have made the commandments between God and man more important than the commandments between man and man.
Their priorities are flawed, because if a person has no respect for man, how can he have respect for its creator? Now that the haredi men are being forced to join the IDF and the workplace, maybe a new religious leadership will arise that will set future generations of ultra- Orthodox on the path to returning Judaism to a religion that is not distorted and not unrecognizable.


Sir, – How dare Sadeena Pinhasik assume that these women do not know enough to perform mitzvot that they feel comfortable doing? How dare haredi women attack other women when their own education is so lacking in the parts of Judaism that to many of us are basic and essential. Much of the Bible is not taught to them because it is not “pure” enough for their souls. It is time for them and all of us to realize that we are all Jews and must respect each other.
Beit Horon
Sir, – While many have questioned the purity of the motivation for the Women of the Wall’s disquiet at the Kotel, Sadeena Pinhasik’s “Women, the Wall and Judaism,” is a cut above all in asking vital questions about their publicly expressed faith.
Hopefully, there will not be universalist non-specific balmy replies which continue to make a mockery of millennia of serious attention to the crucial central issues at our nation’s Temple Mount.


Retiring role model
Sir, – We can only hope that the new generation of scientists, advocates and activists will continue the work of the Haifa based Coalition for Public Health, which is now closing (“Public Health Coalition announces closure, May 28).
The driving force of the coalition was its founder, Dr. Jimmy Krikun, a plant pathologist, who worked there until his retirement two years ago. Krikun’s work was guided by two simple axioms from baseball: keep your eye on the ball, and play to win.
Krikun’s simple, brilliant insight was that winning meant collecting data on the sources – the smokestacks and effluent pipes of the big industrial polluters in Haifa – and then going to court to eliminate the exposures by eliminating the sources.
To make his case, he did groundbreaking work on measuring cumulative pollution burdens of heavy metals and other pollutants in earth. He drew attention to the excess risks for mortality and morbidity from cancer and cardiovascular disease in the Haifa area, which he attributed to the cumulative pollution.
I had the privilege of working with him in examining the data he collected. The coalition under Krikun has been fearless. And its presence was felt everywhere – in regional councils, the board rooms, the Knesset and the media.
Krikun’s coalition remains the role model for the rest of us in identifying the big problems, documenting them and catalyzing the interventions needed to eliminate them.
The writer is a professor of occupational and environmental medicine at the Hebrew University- Hadassah School of Public Health and Community Medicine.