LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

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

Baltimore

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

Reisterstown

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

Baltimore

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?

Bowling Brook should stay open until a replacement facility is up and running with qualified staff.

Closing it is a disservice to the youths who are troubled as well as to the kids who are just trying to live a good life.

Bonnie C. Allan

Garrison

Local VA facilities offer excellent care

It is unfortunate that the Walter Reed Army Medical Center has been getting some bad press recently ("Fix for Walter Reed pledged," March 7). But a word must be said to compliment the Department of Veterans Affairs' local facilities.

As an Army veteran of World War II, I have had the privilege to be an outpatient at the old Fort Howard Hospital (now closed) and the main downtown VA Medical Center on Greene Street, as well as the Loch Raven Outpatient Clinic.

I can say without hesitation that my care at these locations has been excellent. Appointments are kept on time. The personnel, both administrative and medical, are polite, caring and capable and do not treat patients as just another number. The buildings here, of course, are in new condition compared with those at Walter Reed. But it is the caring for the patients that really counts.

I think credit should be given where credit is due.

Henry Seim

Parkville

High cost causes admissions slump?

I think The Sun's article "Sports museums suffering at gate" (March 8) overlooked one piece of the slumping attendance puzzle at Sports Legends at Camden Yards: the price of admission.

Sports Legends' admission price is $10 for adults.

At a time when many other museums across the city and country are moving toward free admission, Sports Legends just can't compete for my museum-going time.

Perhaps gate receipts would go up if the museum lowered the cost of entry.

Jonathan M. Sussman

Baltimore

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