CIA play book
Sir, – Former US vice president Dick Cheney says there is “no moral equivalence” in comparing CIA tactics after 9/11 to what “19 guys armed with airline tickets” inflicted on Washington and New York (“On CIA interrogation report, Cheney says ends justified the means,” December 15). Even as one who supports the strongest measures against terrorists, I was astounded at the level of barbarity perpetrated against those – some later found innocent – in CIA custody.
In Israel, not only are we prevented from using any form of torture, even when it might help prevent terrorist attacks, our soldiers are given strict instructions not to open fire unless their lives are at immediate risk. That means the IDF must go house to house in search of terrorists and thus inform the enemy when it will be attacking. This is to minimize casualties among so-called innocent civilians – a ludicrous and shameful edict that has caused many of our soldiers to lose their lives.
Perhaps we should be looking to the CIA as to how to protect the Jewish homeland.
Netanya Calling the shots
Sir, – Seth J. Frantzman’s depiction of the hostility of the old guard to the great unwashed as being a “civil war” is moral equivalence akin to what Israel is constantly subjected to vis a vis Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups (“Our big fat Zionist civil war,” Terra Incognita, December 15). What Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett and religious Zionists are receiving is the contempt of those who no longer run the show.
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The self-anointed aspect of the old guard and its unwillingness to brook any dissension or contravention goes back to the Labor Zionists’ treatment of the Revisionists.
It is the sense that power is somehow anointed that has sustained insidious class pressures, sanctioned an oligarchic, self-perpetuating left-wing Supreme Court largely drawn from the old guard, and enabled the counterproductive nepotism of Israeli politics.
American WASPs (White Anglo Saxon Protestants) have been displaced from hegemonic influence.
Unlike in America, Israeli WASPs (White Ashkenazi Secular poalim) have not quietly moved aside; instead, they fight a bitter, self-defeating and nasty rearguard against those who have replaced them. But the baton has passed, and the media obsession with Labor Party and opposition leader Isaac Herzog notwithstanding, the old guard, having played a historically important but now secondary role, is not coming back to power.
True Zionists of whatever persuasion would accept the mandate of the people of Israel and work for the growth and betterment of the nation, whether they are calling the shots or not.
Rosh Pina Real leadership
Sir, – The picture painted by Isi Leibler regarding the outcome of the next election (“A dysfunctional political system operated by self-serving mediocrities,” Candidly Speaking, December 11 ) is indeed glum.
Even supposing that the Likud under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ends up the largest single party, what chances are there for a coalition without the haredi parties despite the public abhorrence of a government dependent on haredim that Leibler refers to, or one that is basically no different from the current failed coalition? No doubt, the Israeli political system is dysfunctional. But it does lie in the electorate’s hands to make it as functional as possible despite the total failure of past governments to reform it. This can be achieved only if it votes in a way that resoundingly rejects narrow factional interests.
If political leaders cannot show real leadership, the public can – and should.
Tel Aviv Is it so difficult?
Sir, – If one had to search for a better and more efficient way to help hard-pressed families and the poor, the idea of removing the value added tax on food would be hard to beat. Yet in “Economists unenthusiastic over PM’s plan for zero VAT on food” (December 11), reporter Niv Elis writes about the experts’ main objections: The rich would benefit at least as much as the poor, and enforcing the system would be a bureaucratic nightmare. In other words, throw out the baby with bathwater.
In the UK, children’s clothing and fresh fruit and vegetables are zero-rated. Insurance policies bear three different rates. All of this is successfully administered with a population almost 10 times greater than that of Israel. Is our tax system so flawed that collecting different rates is not a viable option? One of my grandsons is studying economics. When posed a question, he replies: There is no answer, just an opinion, and two economists have three opinions.
Sir, – The governor of the Bank of Israel, Karnit Flug, has quite correctly objected to zero VAT on food and blamed the high cost of living on lack of productivity.
There might be some truth in her statement, but a much greater reason is the huge margins created between the prices paid in the big chains and the very low prices paid to food producers. The government’s mistaken protection of these chains and its restrictions on producers from selling directly to the public entail a monopolistic system based on the misconception that the public will somehow benefit from the chains’ huge profits.
Another factor is unemployment, which is much higher than the official figures. All that is needed is for the employment exchanges to open a website enabling those who are seeking work; the truth of how many are really unemployed would then be revealed.
If work is found for the many who want to work, the situation of the weaker people in our economy would be drastically improved, and productivity would definitely rise.DAVID GOSHEN
Kiryat Ono Lesser-known warriors
Sir, – With regard to “PM hails ‘godfather’ of IDF at interment ceremony” (December 5), the late John Henry Patterson, commander of World War I’s Jewish Legion, certainly deserves the title and honor. But it was the Zion Mule Corps that participated with distinction in the unsuccessful Gallipoli operation, as a transport unit. The Jewish Legion was formed only later to take part in the final phases of the war in the Middle East under Gen. Allenby.
In addition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should not have called this the “first Jewish fighting force in nearly two millenia.”
The Arab Israeli War 1948, by Irish historian Edgar O’Balance, records that in 1794, Berek Joselewicz formed a Jewish legion of 500 men in Poland and led them in a revolt against regular Russian troops. Also, it is not generally known that in 1809, Napoleon recruited an all-Jewish unit in Batavia. And in the Polish revolt of 1830-1831, another regiment of Jews, 800 strong, was formed to fight against the Russians.
It evoked admiration from the Poles, themselves notable fighters.
A bit too late
Sir, – With regard to “No more drunk sailors: Canadian navy bans drinking at sea” (December 14), the move comes 70 years too late.
In June 1944, my US Army signals unit boarded a Canadian landing ship at Southampton, England, on our way to Normandy.
I was below deck when we began to hear heavy bumping on the sides of the ship, and water began to leak in. As the water rose, we were ordered to leave the ship for another vessel.
When we asked what had happened, we were informed that the Canadian sailors steering the ship were drunk, had lost control and were floating about the harbor aimlessly.
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