Letters to the editor: Feeling of outrage

It is barely possible to contain my feeling of outrage and shame

April 18, 2015 22:29

Letters. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Feeling of outrage
It is barely possible to contain my feeling of outrage and shame after reading “MK Shmuly seeks to erase ‘moral stain’ of poverty among Holocaust survivors” (April 16) and the recent report by the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel.

It is unconscionable that more than six decades after the establishment of the Jewish state, there are still countless aged Jews living in abject poverty and almost sub-human conditions in Israel. They often have to do without regular meals in order to pay for necessary medications! In order to give true meaning to Holocaust remembrance, it is incumbent on Israel that it take immediate action to build facilities that will provide for the care and well-being of these neglected, elderly survivors so they might live out their remaining years in dignity.

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Suspicious stats
The April 16 news item “Kantor report: Violent anti-Semitism surged 45% across the globe in 2014” claims that “Sweden rose from only three incidents in 2013 to 17 last year.”

According to the World Jewish Congress, the Swedish daily Expressen recently reported that there had been 137 incidents over the past two years in the Malmö area alone, where about one-third of the population is minimally-integrated Muslim immigrants. This figure is in line with the high rates of anti-Semitic attacks that are common there.

The figures cited by Expressen are most probably only a percentage of the actual hate crimes. In 2010, the rabbi of Malmö stated in an interview with the newspaper that whereas he had filed 15 reports of hate crimes that targeted him, police statistics showed he was only attacked three times. In 2013, The Local, an English-language Swedish daily, stated: “Statistics released earlier this year by the Swedish Crime Prevention Council...

revealed that of the 44 anti-Semitic hate crimes reported in Malmö in 2010 and 2011, not a single one made it to a prosecutor.”

There seems to be an active attempt on the part of Swedish authorities to sweep these unflattering statistics under the rug.

CHANAH STILLMAN Efrat , The writer is a former editor of the blog “Sweden Israel and the Jews.”

A few questions
Gershon Baskin often pens columns praising Palestinian leaders while decrying the actions of his own. He reaches a new level of what I regard as hubris in his latest (“The citizens’ challenge – from despair to hope,” Encountering Peace, April 16).

Baskin claims he maintains ongoing contact with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and meets with Gazans regularly. I would like him to answer the following: • Why – when at US President Barack Obama’s request, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to a 10-month freeze on construction in Judea and Samaria – did Abbas not agree to negotiations until only one month before the expiry of this freeze? • Why did Abbas refuse to accept the amazingly generous offers made by then-prime minister Ehud Olmert? • Why does he refuse to accept Israel as the sovereign state of the Jewish nation? • Why does he repeatedly state that a Palestinian state will have no Jews? • Why did he welcome home convicted murderers of Israelis? • Why did Baskin’s contacts in the Gaza Strip approve of frequent rocket attacks on Israeli citizens? I can think of many other questions, but space would not allow this.


Tedious debate
Without going into the long debate about Beitar Jerusalem being racist or not (“Beitar coach Levy under fire for racist remarks,” Sports, April 15), it is becoming tedious. Every new owner, manager and coach is asked the same question.

My question is, are all the companies that hire only those who have completed army service also racist? We all know why this is. Still, why aren’t the owners of these companies asked if they are racist?


Reestablishing sanity
The Zionist Union has shown its mettle by beavering away, calling in experts and concentrating on trying to counter the revanchist, narrow outlook of the other parties clamoring to be partners with the stale-looking Likud.

Naftali Bennett is worried that the Zionist Union’s attempt to create a new, more appealing scenario will get in his way. But we don’t want more of the same old way! We want to remove the tarnish caused by the Likud in our relationship with America.

The Zionist Union has a leader who attacks the fundamental problems facing our beleaguered nation. He doesn’t give way to panic or go for camel rides on Passover.

Let Herzog quietly reestablish our sanity – starting with our partner of long standing, the United States.


Right of reply

On February 13, 2004, while Bret Stephens was editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post, an editorial headlined “For a Zionist Left” appeared. The upshot of the editorial was that Israel needed a Zionist Left. One example was the author Amos Oz.

The first column by Stephens’s successor, David Horovitz, was “An editor’s responsibility” (October 1, 2004). In it, Horovitz pledged to “ensure that the Post serves as a platform for a wide range of opinion pieces [and] constructive dialogue drawn from across the political spectrum.”

He also wrote: “The greatest threat to our existence...

stems from internal hatreds, from an absence of moderation in our domestic climate of debate.... [from] incitement and... the vicious derision of those with differing views....”

One of the first columns by the Post’s current editor-in-chief, Steve Linde, was “Halting the hatred” (July 22, 2011). It began: “We... believe that hate speech harms the civil discourse in Israel; it poses a real danger to the country’s very existence as a democratic Jewish state.... In any dialogue about current events – no matter how much they rile us – we should treat one another with civility and courtesy.”

This is not about me. I hesitate to placate personal attackers. But for most of the Post’s readers, who probably have good will: I have condemned terrorism; rejected Apartheid-type analogies; called the blowing up of buses Nazi-like; endorsed Jonathan Pollard’s release; rejected blaming Israel for the Mavi Marmara; supported Cast Lead (while having reservations about the excesses); supported the security fence, Iron Dome and checkpoints; and called Kassam rocket attacks war crimes. I oppose BDS and oppose Israel’s delegitimization. I outlined liberalism’s case for Israel in “Positive ‘hasbara” (January 19, 2012).

Of course, I oppose the occupation and the settlements. This is consistent with the 2004 Post editorial (although I prefer the term “liberal Zionism” to “Zionist Left”).

The Right gets much more space in the Post’s letters column and op-ed pages. But many on the Right remain dissatisfied, seeming to demand it all. They apparently view the Post not as a normal newspaper, but as a private, exclusive club.

The Post’s Letters Editor has said on numerous occasions that he strives for “balance.” But then, why two days of personal attacks on his only regular liberal Zionist writer (“Worrying others,” April 13; “Come and see,” April 15)? He also sends out guidelines. They say no nastiness is allowed, although sarcasm is. I think it should say that sarcasm should be confined to issues, not fellow readers.

So much for Horovitz’s “editor’s responsibility.”

The Post and its readers need to do some soul-searching. And those who jeer should reconsider what Horovitz called “the greatest threat” to Israel.

JAMES ADLER Cambridge, Massachusetts

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