Letters To The Editor


March 12, 2007

Zionism, morality aren't in conflict

After reading Yakov M. Rabkin's column "Gap among Jews widens on questions of Zionism" (Opinion

Commentary, March 8), I'm in quite a quandary about what he calls "the fracture between those who hold fast to Jewish moral tradition and the converts to Jewish nationalism," because I think this is a false dichotomy.

I don't mean that Israeli nationalists always behave properly or that certain forms of nationalism needn't be criticized, even halted. But thank God that in Israel, despite all its problems, the nationalist fanatics are a decided minority and seen by most as anathema.

I only wish this were more often the case in the Arab world.

To say that the realization of the national yearnings of a people who were deprived of their land - and as a result knew nothing but persecution for 2,000 years - runs against their deepest moral tradition is almost worse than those who say that because of their failings, Palestinians don't merit a land of their own, or that because, for more than 60 years, much of the Arab world has been unable to accept a tiny Jewish presence in its midst, Israel should not make peace if given proper opportunities.

I find Mr. Rabkin's false dichotomies inappropriate, untimely and hardly in the spirit of the reconciliation so long overdue in the Middle East.

Jack Eisenberg


Ordering treatment often doesn't work

In response to The Sun's editorial "Waiting for treatment" (March 5) and to Dan Rodricks' ongoing series about the consequences of drug addiction in Baltimore, I want to note a crucial point that The Sun continues to miss on drug treatment.

It is obvious that addicts need treatment. But for it to work, the addict must at least have a sincere desire to participate in a program, and not just be ordered into it.

Some studies indicate that more than 80 percent of people with antisocial personality disorders abuse drugs.

People with such psychological issues often have little interest in change. Their presence in a treatment program can easily ruin rehabilitation programs for those who are invested in trying to change.

Maybe it is time to include mental health care providers in courtroom assessments to best identify those who will benefit from addiction services.

With treatment beds in such short supply, let's assist addicts who want to achieve abstinence and not just issue "get out of jail" cards.

Some people deserve to be behind bars, not be free to frequent them.

Dr. Joel Hassman


The writer is a psychiatrist at Franklin Square Hospital.

Budget limits cap treatment capacity

Court-ordered commitments for treatment apply not just to those with addictions, as The Sun's editorial "Waiting for treatment" (March 5) notes, but also to the mentally ill and developmentally disabled.

The goal of this approach is to merge the social control of the criminal justice system with the assistance of the public health system. It is a function defined by law with prescribed roles for the state's executive branch, typically represented by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the judicial branch.

It is also a relationship that has limits.

DHMH works within the budget allocation approved by the legislature and within the practice standards of the specialty health areas.

When there are no funds to provide a particular service, or the service is not available because of full utilization, we have no authorization to spend more than what is allocated.

John M. Colmers


The writer is secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Abuse suits provide chance for justice

Offering a one-year or even a two-year window for childhood victims of sexual abuse to bring lawsuits would be an example of real justice ("Childhood abuse bill stirs debate," March 2).

The law proposed in Maryland, which is like one passed in California years ago, does not single out the Catholic Church or any other institution. Yet the Catholic Church, through its bishops, lawyers, lobbyists and the Maryland Catholic Conference, seems to want to use scare tactics in a disingenuous attempt to oppose such a bill.

C. M. Henry

Havertown, Pa.

Troubled youths still need a care facility

While it is very, very sad that Isaiah Simmons was killed in an isolated incident at Bowling Brook Preparatory School, it is also disturbing that the state is shutting down the school ("Unanswered questions," editorial, March 7).

Yes, incorrect restraint techniques were used by individuals who were hired to do a job they may not have been qualified to do. The state should replace them with others who are better qualified.

But to close the institution and send some of the youths back to their neighborhoods is negligent and dangerous. These young men have problems that cannot be properly addressed in their local schools or by their families.

And what about the rights of those members of the community who will be intimidated and possibly injured by some of these youths?

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