December 12, 2016: Whose obsession?

The headline of your December 8 editorial, “Press obsession,” is ambiguous.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Whose obsession?
The headline of your December 8 editorial, “Press obsession,” is ambiguous.
At first, I thought it might be about the media’s obsession with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal life and the compromises he feels he must make to sustain his coalition.
However, it turned out to be the opposite, and was about the prime minister’s obsession with the press.
It is true that the prime minister has shown excessive sensitivity to criticism in the press and elsewhere, and has on occasion maligned fine journalists for doing their job, as your editorial quite correctly points out. But the editorial writer stops there.
Is there not sufficient evidence to demonstrate that much, if not most, of the time, the press has adopted an ideologically slanted view of the Center-Right coalition that Prime Minister Netanyahu has headed quite successfully for a rather long time, and has used him as its punching bag? As an example, the publisher of Haaretz has asserted on a number of occasions that his goal is to use his newspaper not to serve as an “objective watchdog,” which your writer asserts is the function of a responsible press, but rather as an attack dog against this prime minister and his government. And the buck does not stop with Haaretz.
You are entitled to your opinion, but an editorial of this sort simply reinforces the prime minister’s obsession. Perhaps it is time for the press, including the The Jerusalem Post, to look more carefully at its own obsession and biases, just as The New York Times has been doing since recognizing its serious shortcomings in reporting on the recent election in the US.
This, too, is what “a democracy needs to thrive.”

Not amused
Your political cartoon of December 8 shows Syrian President Bashar Assad standing over a bloodied body, with a caption above saying: “SOMEONE ELSE WHO PROBABLY DIDN’T WIN THE POPULAR VOTE.” This is a clear comparison of Assad to US President- elect Donald Trump.
Assad is a dictator and a murderer.
The worst you can say about Trump is that you disagree with his manner of speaking and/or his political agenda. I doubt he has ever killed anyone or will become a dictator.
Last week, one of your cartoons compared Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Fidel Castro – another murdering dictator. Who is the next victim of this sordid journalism? It is time for the Israeli press as a whole to take a good look at itself and its manner of expression.
I found your December 8 cartoon very disturbing.
Hillary Clinton won the popular vote thanks to the state of California and maybe New York. The whole point of having electors in the first place is so bigger states with more population won’t nullify the votes of the people in the smaller states. But to compare that with Assad and Syria? Donald Trump won! Give the man a chance! Maybe America will be great again!


Petah Tikva
Facing reality
I write in regard to “Ivanka Trump is Jewish after all, says Chief Rabbinate” (December 8).
We are taught that Moses’s authority was derived from the people’s acceptance, not from a commandment from God.
Similarly, the Chief Rabbinate and the rabbis who serve in various capacities in that organization, from the chief rabbis on down, must recognize that their authority derives from the same source.
The institution of the Chief Rabbinate has become increasingly controversial in the past few years. Its handling of conversion, kashrut, marriage, divorce and other religious issues has become increasingly divisive. The haredi community does not trust its kashrut standards; they insist on their own Mehadrin and Badatz certifications.
At the end of the article, your reporter states that the chief rabbis plan to hold a conference to address the issue of conversions. I applaud this plan and hope they continue in this vein to address other, similarly divisive issues.
The chief rabbis must face reality. Their authority as Jewish leaders to “determine” current Jewish law and practices is derived from the acceptance by the Jewish people to follow their directives. If they continue to distance themselves from this reality, their authority will weaken and become even more divisive.
Letters about letters
In response to “Sleeping with baby” (Letters, December 6), I tend to disagree with the notion that it is not risky to sleep with your baby.
The recently updated guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics address the situation of tired mothers falling asleep while breastfeeding.
The guidelines call for mothers to breastfeed in bed, not on a couch or sofa, if they sense they might fall asleep.
There is an elevated risk level (x 21) associated with sleeping with a baby on a couch or sofa. Falling asleep with a baby in bed is the lesser risk (although it’s still very risky).
As soon as a parent who falls asleep with a baby (on a couch, sofa or bed) awakes, he or she should put the baby back in its crib. The safest place for babies to sleep is in a separate bed or crib in the parents’ room for at least the first six months, and preferably until the baby is a year old.
Tel Aviv
The writer is an ear, nose and throat surgeon and chairs the Israeli Foundation for the Study and Prevention of Sudden Infant Death.
Reader Efraim A. Cohen (“Matter of land,” Letters, December 6) states that the taking of private land for the benefit of a specific community (Amona) is unfair, and in his indignation has the temerity to compare it to the Nazis’ confiscation of Jewish property.
Some people will go to any extreme to win people over to their point of view.
As an American-trained attorney, Mr. Cohen knows very well that taking land for public use has often resulted in land being confiscated from private individuals for the benefit of a small segment of society and being turned over to private developers or deeded to individuals.
Not only are there innumerable cases of such confiscation and turnover, but they have been upheld by the highest courts as being in the interest of the public.
The right of eminent domain is embedded in the US Constitution’s 5th Amendment, proscribing that private property may not be taken for public use without just compensation.
This was required to be worded in such a way because the English common law system, upon which US law was based, allowed for the confiscation of private property by the sovereign without compensation.
Taking land from private owners with payment (if the owners can be identified) for a project that is in the public interest is not foreign or reprehensible to American democracy (which is certainly not worse than Israeli democracy), and certainly should not be compared to Nazi confiscation of Jewish property.
If the Israeli government has the right to confiscate land for military reasons, this right would apply to any public purpose. The issue is only political.
The writer is a former deputy attorney-general of the State of New Jersey, with experience in the confiscation of various types of property, including real estate, for just compensation.