Tire law no solution
Re: Make snow tires mandatory (Letters, Jan. 19). If Dale Untucht feels that someone should control every aspect of his and everyone else's life, he should move somewhere where they will accommodate him, such as Cuba or any Taliban-run or similar dictatorial state.
I would certainly like to see Manitoba Public Insurance statistics, if they exist, on how many cars that come in for damage appraisal have winter or all-season tires or worn-out, mismatched or under-inflated tires. I think these latter problems are more critical to the cause of accidents.
A winter-tire law will further hinder lower- income people from buying and maintaining a car, which is often critical to employment. The powerful rubber association is advocating a second set of tires for all cars to increase their membership's sales. I'm no great environmentalist but two sets of tires for every car just does not seem environmentally responsible.
I am upset by Dale Untucht's letter advocating mandatory winter tires. I have little doubt that winter tires do improve traction as advertised. However, there are so many other factors in vehicle and infrastructure design and maintenance that must be equally important to road safety.
I have seen many improvements in vehicle safety and performance in my 63 years of driving. Winter tires are only one of these improvements. Should we mandate the use of ABS braking systems?
Some drivers, of course, will use the added traction of winter tires as an excuse to drive faster and closer to the vehicle ahead of them. Every day we see drivers who drive beyond their level of competence.
This brings us to the subject of proper driver education, which some of us believe would do much more than changing tires to improve safety on the road.
While the appearance on the scene of extreme right-wing parties such as Bayit Yehudi may certainly be chilling as far as their potential influence on the viability of a two-state solution, I am puzzled as to where Gwynne Dyer has pulled some of the statistics he has presented in his Jan. 19 column, Election likely to confirm Israel's right shift.
First, Dyer describes the early post-independence waves of immigrants, mostly "oriental" (sic) Jews fleeing Arab countries. It is true that some 850,000 Sephardic and Mizrachi Jewish refugees did arrive in the years following independence. But he has left out the 170,000 Jews fleeing Nazi persecution, who arrived just before the Second World War, the approximately 100,000 who desperately attempted to break through the restrictive British immigration policies of the Mandate and the 325,000 Holocaust survivors who arrived after statehood.
As a group, unlike the premise Dyer puts forth, the Europeans would have primarily voted for the Labour party. For that matter, it was not until 1977 that the Sephardim changed the face of Israeli politics by throwing their support behind the Likud party, having been wooed away from Labour by Likud's charismatic leader, Menachem Begin.
Dyer states that "about 50 per cent of Israeli Jews now identify themselves as traditional, religious or ultra-Orthodox" and that "only 15 per cent describe themselves as secular." According to a survey by the Central Bureau of Statistics conducted in late 2010 and published in Haaretz, an Israeli daily, some 42 per cent of the Jewish population over age 20 characterize themselves as secular.
To describe the "new Israel," therefore, as capitalist, religious and, in many cases, ultra-nationalist, would be an erroneous picture of the reality on the ground.
BELLE JARNIEWSKI MILLO
Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada