Letters to the Editor
Let's have U.S.-style primaries
In response to "Primaries ruled by party hacks," November 30
I'm sorry to say that the editorial's suggestion of an "arrangement committee" combined with primaries is a failed Israeli idea, like the 1990s invention of the direct election of the prime minister. Why invent the wheel rather than learn from the U.S. primaries?
The Israeli primaries encourage vote contractors because they are held on a different day for each party's registered and dues-paying members. In the United States, the government holds primaries on one day for all parties.
A vote contractor in Israel can enlist primary voters for Party A among supporters of Party B, because the latter can, after three days, vote in the primary of Party B as well - as long as there is someone to register him and pay dues for him.
If this system is replaced by open primaries held by the government, in which every citizen can take part and choose only among the candidates of one party, without having to be a member and pay dues, the problem of vote contractors would disappear. Instead of a limited number of party members who travel far to vote, there would be polling stations on every corner, as on the day of the general election. And far more supporters of each party would vote, closer to the number of voters in the general election.
At Labor, 35,000 people voted in the primary, while according to the polls, over half a million people are expected to vote for that party in the election. Even if only half were to vote in the primary, all deals would be eliminated. In addition, state-sponsored primaries would make it possible to supervise the funding of intraparty election campaigning. It would also greatly limit the possibility of buying votes.
Dr. Reuven Shapira
Sowing fear and terror
In response to "It's time for Israel to talk to Hamas," December 4
The claim that Hamas is not a terror organization arouses serious questions about A.B. Yehoshua's judgment and his presumption of being a moral authority. Hamas has for years been attacking a civilian population in areas of no strategic military importance. The main reason for focusing on these areas is the organization's operational capability - its rocket arsenal and their range.
The objective in firing rockets at the communities near Gaza is not to achieve a tactical or strategic military advantage, but to sow fear and terror - an objective that posits Hamas as a terror organization. The comparison to the actions of Jordan's Arab Legion in 1948 is irrelevant since the rules and combat ethics, as well as the fighting methods, have changed unrecognizably.
Today no reasonable country would allow indiscriminate attacks on its civilian population, and a country that does will be very harshly criticized. I would like to know what Yehoshua would call an Israel Defense Forces operation that included indiscriminate shelling of the Gaza Strip.
Prof. Jacob Scheuer
In Nazi Germany it wasn't euthanasia
In response to "Dying with dignity," December 3
Dan Even's enlightening article, following the tragic case of Dr. Mordechai Shtalrid and his daughter, unfortunately contains a historical error. In Nazi Germany there were not hundreds of thousands of cases of euthanasia. Rather, large numbers of helpless people, most of them mentally ill, were murdered (via gas ). In the propaganda designed to prepare the ground for this activity, the humane aspect of euthanasia for humanitarian reasons was cynically exploited.
The operation (known by its code name T4 ) was done through coercion, without considering the wishes of those doomed or their families. The operation killed about 70,000 people.
After the operation, several SS doctors who specialized in medical murder were transferred to the death camps of our people and the Gypsies. That's how Dr. Irmfried Eberl was appointed Treblinka's first commandant.
Dr. Daniel Nadav
It's a known fact that we are born to die (and are also dying to live ). That's why there is no reason to fear death, because it's part of life. And just as we have the duty and privilege to choose life, there has to be the right to choose death, especially when living involves suffering. There is no point living in pain and suffering - whether we're talking about patients or their loved ones.
We should understand the other person and his choice. We are responsible for our bodies, and each person should decide based on his understanding of how to end his life calmly without pain and suffering.
Too many poor people
In response to "NII: Proportion of working poor grew in 2011," November 30
Last week the National Insurance Institute's 2011 poverty report was published; we see that in Israel - a democratic, Western, economically developed country - the percentage of poor people is increasing from one year to the next. There is also an increase in the number of working families and children living below the poverty line.
Meanwhile, ministers' salaries are steadily increasing, as are prices, which only exacerbates the situation of the poor, who suffer from deprivation, debts and daily hardships. I ask myself, where is the government in this story? And how can a properly administered country have almost 2 million poor people?
A doctor's humanity and empathy
I would like to praise the articles by Dr. Gidi Stein in the health section, which I read regularly. His writing is simple and clear; he is not condescending and shows that even doctors sometimes err or don't know the answer. His descriptions demonstrate his sensitivity to patients' distress. I'm sure his patients also receive the same humanity and empathy.