Letters to the Editor June 24, 2019: Economic boon or more terrorism?

Readers of the Jerusalem Post have their say.

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June 23, 2019 17:12
Letters

Letters. (photo credit: PIXABAY)

 
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Economic boon or more terrorism?

Regarding “Kushner reveals peace plan to invest $50b. into region” (June 23), I hope this economic prosperity is not the gist of the peace plan. Palestinians commit acts of terrorism not because they are economically frustrated but because they are waging jihad.

MLADEN ANDRIJASEVIC

Beersheba


 

AOC concentration camp caper

Although the term conjures up images of places where six million Jews were exterminated, in “Now it’s ‘concentration camps’: The latest attack on Jewish history” (June 21), Seth Frantzman rightly states that strictly speaking, concentration camps were first used by the British in the Boar War.

However, as his article makes clear, meanings of words change over time and we – and all the world – know exactly what is now meant by the term. To claim otherwise is to manipulate history, but this is a common tactic by antisemites so it’s not surprising to hear Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doing so.

Anyone who would argue that she is right to use the original definition, should consider that not so many years ago (in 1934) Fred Astaire appeared in Gay Divorcee – and he was in no way playing the part of a homosexual.

As Lewis Carroll states in Through the Looking-Glass, “Words means just what I choose them to mean.” Ocasio-Cortez exposes her prejudice by using the term “concentration camps” as she does.

BOB KNIGHT

Modi’in


 

If only the Nazis had kept Jews in conditions that Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez glibly and disingenuously calls “concentration camps!” If so, there would probably be upwards of 50 million Jews in Europe and the world today, because the six million who would not have been forced into slave labor, starved and killed would have survived, thrived and had several generations of descendants by now.

Unfortunately, the Jewish populations of European countries were almost entirely exterminated and the pitiful remnant of Jews left in the world today are perennial easy targets for ignoramuses and bigots like Ocasio-Cortez.

BARRY SNYDER

Beit Shemesh


 

Pollard’s predicament

Thank you, Yaakov Katz, for visiting Jonathan Pollard and sharing details about his imprisonment and current living conditions (“A visit to Pollard’s Manhattan apartment,” June 21). I had no idea that he had apparently been tortured in a US prison to such a degree that he is permanently crippled as a result of that abuse. Nor did I realize how marginal his financial situation is now.

I hope that organizations or individuals that can help will contact him after reading your article and provide assistance – and let’s all urge US Donald Trump to do the right thing: step in and end this excessive punishment.

I pray that you will soon be able to write that he is on his way home to Israel.

MIRIAM MOSKOWITZ

Bnai Brak


 

Why not set up a fund for this man who tried to help Israel? He paid the price in prison; don’t we owe him as a fellow human some support?

Thanks in advance for maybe trying to set something up for this family.

JAYNE RICHMAN

Jerusalem


 

Sara’s criminal meals

As ridiculous as it seems, Sara Netanyahu has been indicted as a criminal for choosing to serve more elegant meals than what the state-hired chef provides. What normal hostess would not do the same?

Surely it is the obligation of the state to provide funds for meals that our prime minister serves to visiting dignitaries. According to “Court convicts Sara Netanyahu” (June 17), even the judge in the case concluded, “There was no doubt that the events were state events” with foreign dignitaries and not for her personal benefit.

Bibi Netanyahu has raised Israel from a small backwater into a world power; today we are considered on a par with the US, Russia, China and many others. Hosting the many leaders of countries that now come to conduct international affairs with us is part of the job.

It seems some errors in judgment were made, but what has become of us? We should all be embarrassed and ashamed at this parody of justice. Instead of a world power, we come out looking like fools arguing over nonsensical issues.

The real scandal is that the prosecution was able to waste hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ shekels over many years (I’m sure more than the fine), including constant harassment of the Netanyahu family over petty incidents that could have been handled otherwise. As they could not find any real criminal activity, they managed to make a mountain out of these insignificant issues.

The prosecution is clearly biased, abusing their power for political reasons. It is the prosecution that is corrupt and they should be indicted for wasting the public’s money for their personal agendas. Shame on them all. At the very least, the criminal case against Sara Netanyahu should be rescinded.

GITTI KORNFELD

Jerusalem


 

Ignorant Likud supporter

At the outset, let me make it clear, I am an “ignoramus” who votes Likud. (“PM calls Left arrogant after ex-Mossad chief’s remarks,” June 21).

I came to Israel in 1950. An ardent socialist, I wanted to join Mapam aka Meretz. I was rejected, because being because being ignorant I did not accept their theory of the structure of the Cosmos. While I, in my ignorance, believed that the sun shone from its position at the center on the planetary system, they, in their profound wisdom believed that it shone out of a part of Joseph Stalin’s anatomy.

After my army service, I got a job in a Histadrut enterprise and was proud to be helping to build socialism in Israel. Being an ignoramus, I could not understand why they had made a slight change in the Marxist principle. “From each according to his ability to each according to his need” had somehow become “From each according to his agility to each according to his greed.”

In those days, almost everyone had a standard of living that today would be described as being well below the poverty line. Virtually the only exceptions to this rule were Mapai, (aka Labour Party) officials. In my ignorance I could not understand how they could afford to drive cars, live in luxury houses and go abroad for holidays (at the expense of the taxpayer), while we ordinary folks could hardly afford to heat our two-room public housing flats. That was until one of these officials, far more intelligent than myself explained to me, “We don’t do it for ourselves, we do it so that we come to the office rested, so we can devote all our energies the helping ‘the worker.’”

It’s no good trying to convince that I’m wrong; as the saying goes, “Against ignorance even the gods themselves fight in vain.”

DAVID STEINHART

Clinical psychologist, Petah Tikva


 

Scoffing at the truth

Regarding “A week of Jew- and Israel-baiting in Londonistan” (June 21), Melanie Phillips in her final column for the Jerusalem Post (what a pity!) says, “sometimes a chilling reality is illuminated not so much by what someone says but by the laughter it provokes.”

I also heard laughter on the UK ITV morning breakfast show that week in London. Piers Morgan had interviewed Alan Sugar, a successful businessman and TV personality who is openly Jewish and was showing an excerpt from that interview. Alan Sugar would not get upset about the way his parents had treated him, as he said they had had a hard life. Piers Morgan comment on this was now put to the other people in the TV studio “ The only time Alan Sugar gets upset is when he is losing money” It was the smiles and laughter of the others that was very disturbing.

LYNETTE ORDMAN

Netanya


 

Antisemitism, as detailed by Melanie Phillips in her illuminating but disturbing piece is not only alive and unhealthily well in London but in many other parts of the UK, fueled by virulent specially invited speakers to enthusiastic like-minded audiences at various institutions and university campuses.

Truth telling appears to fall on deaf ears, whether it’s giving voice to the morality of the IDF or Israel’s right to a land they settled more than 3,000 years ago or the fact that as the only true democracy in the Middle East we actually do live side by side with Israeli Arabs, get treated by them in hospitals and enthusiastically cheer them when playing for our national football team.

As Phillips experienced – and as many of us do when either defending Israel or calling out many whose messages have clearly morphed into antisemitism – when confronted with the truth, Israel haters react with laughter of derision.

The truth is inconvenient for them, but we must continue to preach it whenever faced by those that are willing to spread falsehoods to the detriment of those they claim to support.

STEPHEN VISHNICK

Tel Aviv



Haredi/Religion topics

Baruch Hershcopf’s suggestions (“The haredim should negotiate directly with the people,” June 18), should be considered carefully. If would be wonderful if haredim could do National Service by conducting outreach to Israeli citizens who entered Israel under the Law of Return but are not Jewish according to Halacha. The goal would be easing the path to conversion for those who wish to be recognized by the state as Jews. The current situation, with the state rabbinate resisting conversion of hundreds of thousands of olim who are not halachicly Jewish is a disgrace.

TOBY F. BLOCK

Atlanta, GA


 

A democracy will continue to exist only until voters and elected officials discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.

This is now the case in Israel. Smaller parties are “bribed” to join a coalition. The party trying to form its coalition will always promise those parties funds from the public treasury and many other benefits that are not necessarily desired by the majority of the population.

As a result, our democracy is beginning to disintegrate. Small haredi parties, for example, many of whose youth do not serve in the army or do national service, control matters at the Western Wall. They control who is a Jew – even if that individual or their children consider themselves Jewish are in Israel and are serving or have served in the army.

Accordingly, many feel that our democracy is collapsing and we are living in a religious dictatorship!

ISSY DYKMAN

Ganei Tikva


 

 Rabbi Eli Kavon misses the mark in terming “fanaticism” Yeshayahu Leibowitz’s view that the “alien fire” of Nadav and Avihu constituted idolatry, teaching future generations “not to transform the worship of God into a means of release of one’s inner urges.” (“Yeshayahu Leibowitz: Idol smasher or idol maker?” June 23).

In fact, this is very similar to the view of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, as expressed in a reconstruction by Abraham Besdin on the current Torah portion, Korah, “The Common Sense Rebellion Against Torah Authority” published in Reflections of the Rav (1979).

Why, for example, asked Korah in the midrash, should a blue garment require tzizit, if the blue strand of tzizit is designed to inspire the wearer to think of heaven, infinity, and hence of God? If the entire garment is blue, tzizit are superfluous. This, the Rav said, views the mitzvah as “an external form of a spiritual experience.” To the contrary, it is the act of carrying out the divine commandment which is the true source of inspiration, not the inner emotion: “The color blue, as an aspect of kiyum hamitzvah, is a source of religious inspiration; but a blue garment that is not prescribed by the Torah merely contains a color and may produce many types of associations, some even vulgar and demeaning.”

Analyzing the several arguments of Korah, the Rav stresses the primacy of Halacha, which may itself be inspirational, but which, likened to a physics or mathematics with its own self-contained laws and inner consistency, yields nothing to it. Emotions are changing, volatile, and different for different people—they are inherently unstable and hence can never be determinative: “The emotion generated by the mitzvah is circumscribed and disciplined by the Halacha and its character is not left open to possible distortion by human desires and fantasies.”

Like Leibowitz, the Rav states, “This kind of ever-changing worship, which responds to varying sensations, is basically idolatrous.” It is a lesson no less relevant today than in the time of Korah.

IRVING WIESEN

Jerusalem


 

That’s entertainment

Howard Reich’s article praising Tony Bennett and other “elder” performers (“As Tony Bennett approaches 93, let’s hear it for the elders,” June 23) was so true in every way!

Those stars always gave us so much easy listening pleasure, with wonderful performances, programs, and appropriately attired – unlike so many of today’s artists who often look scruffy and unkempt or scantily dressed!

When are you coming again to Tel Aviv, Tony? I’ll be one of the first to buy a ticket!

You can probably tell that I’m an ‘elder’ – a still young-at-heart 85-year-old, continuing to enjoy life as much as possible while I can.

JOY COLLINS

Tel Mond

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