Legal and fair
Regarding “Churches to PM: Stop bill allowing confiscation of Christian property” (October 21), the proposed law to protect long-term residential lessees of church lands sold to private developers by authorizing the state to acquire such properties through eminent domain, does not “confiscate” church property.
Properties already sold to developers are no longer owned by the churches.
A law that allows the churches to renew ground leases or sell the property to the tenants at fair market value, would not damage the churches’ property rights.
Only if the churches could prove that the law artificially depressed their properties’ value or rendered them unmarketable, would they have a claim against the state for compensation, on a theory of indirect “taking.”(The writer is a retired attorney who, as a New York state assistant attorney general, defended eminent domain claims against the state.)
ROBERT S. HAMMER
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Regarding “Jordan to end 1994 peace treaty land-lease agreement” (October 22), as a Jordanian citizen, King Abdullah’s decision to reclaim Jordanian sovereignty over the Al Baqura territories fills me with pride.
Jordan has never relinquished its duty to honor its bilateral and multilateral agreements, to fulfill its international obligations, to address refugees’ concerns and provide them with a safe sanctuary since time immemorial, to cherish the sacredness of Islamic and Christian holy shrines in Jerusalem and the Holy Land and to be a central pillar in the war on terrorism.
On the contrary, what we have witnessed in return is more annexation of Arab territories, aggrandizement of Jewish settlements, the declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ceaseless attempt to ignite unholy war in the Holy Land.
Like father like son: King Abdullah II has proved once again that like the late King Hussein, he can be a lion in peace and war. DR. MUNJED FARID AL QUTOB
Shutter the ‘pseudo-embassy’
Regarding “Does US closure of “pseudo-embassy” to PA hint at one-state solution?” (October 21), This latest move by the Trump administration doesn’t close any doors. If the Palestinians ever set up the state they supposedly want, an American embassy can certainly be built within the borders of that state. However, the closure does signal that the Palestinian leaders must act.
If they want a state, they need to negotiate on Israeli proposals defining its parameters. The leaders also need to prepare their people to accept the truth; they will not be given the homes that they claim their forebears fled decades ago, but will become citizens of their own state, one willing to co-exist peacefully with the nation-state of the Jews.
TOBY F. BLOCK
The underlying problem
Chen Friedberg’s column (“A Weak and Inefficient Knesset,” October 19) totally misses the main and underlying problem that lies with Israel’s legislature.
Friedberg submits suggestions to improve the functioning of the Knesset, ranging from reducing the number of private members’ bills to “strengthening the oversight ability of the Knesset.”
He concludes, “In a democracy, parliaments are supposed to not only pass laws but also engage in oversight; that is, to ensure that legislation is implemented and identify deficiencies in the government’s work.”
I would suggest that in a genuine parliamentary democracy, the members of the parliament should represent and be responsive to the people who elect them. Whether we look at the US, Britain, France, or any other West European democracy, be it structured with proportional or direct representation, the representatives must periodically go back to their constituents to account for their behavior and voting record. Recently, a Democratic Senator from West Virginia voted in favor of installing Brett Kavanaugh on the US Supreme Court because he was more concerned about the wishes of the voters in his home state of West Virginia than the ideology of the leadership of the Democratic Party. Yes, district representation works and despite its flaws, is superior to and more democratic than Israel’s crony party list system where true inefficiency, corruption and most of all, unaccountability, reign supreme.
Parliamentary democracy must be anchored in the concept of a system whose representatives truly represent and are accountable, not to their political party’s bosses but to the people who elect them.
Oslo Accord lessons
Regarding “Israel should unilaterally withdraw from the West Bank” (October 22), Charles Freilich, a former security adviser, proposes the expulsion of hundreds of thousands residents of the West Bank because “maybe Palestinians will then come to the table,” even though he’s not banking on it.
What kind of reason is “maybe?”
As a strategic adviser, has he not learned anything from the failed Oslo Accords or the expulsion of the residents of Gush Katif. Without the Jewish communities of the West Bank, the rest of the country will be no different than those in the South of Israel on the Gaza border. That would be the fate of Israeli communities everywhere.
We all want a peaceful solution, but what Charles Freilich is advocating is a death sentence far greater than anything we have ever experienced before.
What part of Hamas’s and the PA’s statements refusing to accept that we have rights anywhere in this land, does Chuck Freilich not understand? If he called it by its correct name, Judea and Samaria, he might have a better understanding of our just rights to all of this land.
The PA calls it “high treason” for an Arab to sell land to an Israeli. After Israel arrested two senior PA officials for illegal activity, the PA said, “It’s a crime against the Palestinian leadership and our eternal capital, the occupied Arab city of Jerusalem.” Pretty clear language there about whose land they think it is.
Freilich talks of us never having been more secure and therefore able to show restraint. How secure is a people who cannot walk throughout their land without fear of attack; who see signs barring them from entering parts of their land; who have to rush to a shelter with seconds; who have to worry about being stabbed, lynched or shot in a restaurant or shopping center?
The ability of Hamas and Hezbollah to reach all parts of our Land is because of the restraint Israel has shown. We refuse to destroy Hamas and make idle threats that are never carried out. When Hamas and Abbas threaten, they mean it and show contempt for what they consider the “Zionist entity occupation of Arab land.”
Hamas harms Israel with ongoing attacks on our people and the burning of our land. In a sovereign state, one does not show restraint but restrains the enemy by destroying it. Our land must never ever be considered negotiable; surrender should not be in our vocabulary.
According to Lela Gilberts’ article (“China’s relentless assault on religious freedom,” October 21) “Judaism is not a recognized religion in China” and the small Jewish congregation in Kaifeng, whose premises was defaced, remains “afraid to gather for worship.”
In 2014, it was reported that the Chinese state-owned company called Bright Foods bought 56% of Tnuva.
When I do my food shopping, I make a real effort not to buy Tnuva products. I prefer buying products from exclusively Israeli, Jewish-owned manufacturers, even if the price is higher.
Consider doing the same! S. B. JACOB
After reading your October 17 and Dr Leci”s October 22 letter, I decided to write to you about the disaster of the high-speed railway link to Tel Aviv.
It is unbelievable that Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz could push to get the railway running when he must have known that essential components (such as power transformers for the sub-stations and carriages for the railway) were not to be delivered until mid 2019. After that, they have to be installed tested and commissioned.
Finally he had to put the blame on a pantograph (power collector for the locomotive or carriage motors).
This is more like a pantomime than reality and he is the rear-end of the horse. In my view, he should step down from his position.BOB GOLD
Retired electrical engineer
The emperor’s wardrobe
Regarding “Forget Melania’s outfit and its historical symbolism” (October 21), Again the IPPC warns of imminent catastrophes about to be caused by climate change. Never mind that it has made the same warnings in several previous years, each time with the dire results put off by a few more years, because previous predictions have not happened.
Temperatures have not increased significantly since 1998 in spite of a large percentage increase in atmospheric CO2; that’s why they call it climate change now, not global warming. Sea levels have not risen significantly and the polar bears are doing just fine. The IPPC is not a scientific institution; it’s a bureaucratic organization, struggling to justify its existence.
Africa’s problems have nothing to do with climate, it suffers from under development and poor governance.
Climate change is a natural phenomenon that has nothing to do with CO2 or human activity, and has been happening for millennia. How else to explain the warm period in the Middle Ages, and the mini Ice Age that followed? US President Donald Trump is to be commended for pointing out that the emperor has no clothes.
Warped Jordanian perspective
Regarding the letter “Jordanian perspective” (October 24), at least Dr. Munjed Farid Al Qutob is not a liar in one respect. He writes “Jordan has never relinquished to honor... agreements... to cherish the sacredness of Islamic and Christian holy shrines in Jerusalem...”
Please note the glaring omission – that he makes no mention of Jewish holy shrines, which Jordan did not cherish between 1948 and 1967. Not only did they not cherish the sacredness of these holy sites, they systematically destroyed them!
I also note that this fine Jordanian citizen apparently lives in London. Why not in his wonderful Hashemite Kingdom?AVRAHAM FRIEDMAN
(Formerly illegally occupied by Jordan)
If Dr Al Qutob is so convinced of Jordan’s honorable behavior concerning the sanctity of religious shrines in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, perhaps he might like to explain or justify Jordan’s extensive desecration of the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives – including gravestones removed from graves for use in pathways and interior walls of toilets in the Intercontinental Hotel – or of the wholesale demolition of scores of synagogues in the Old City?
As to whether His Majesty King Abdullah proves to be a “lion in peace and war,” we can but hope that he learns lessons from his father and his namesake grandfather in his dealings with the State of Israel.STANLEY COHEN
Gate wide open
Regarding “Hebrew U students greet Alqasem with signs: ‘Have you no shame?’” (October 22), the flyers posted by Hebrew University students are an obvious, natural and warranted reaction to the misguided decision of Israel’s judiciary in permitting this student, Lara Alqasem, ex-president of the University of Florida’s chapter of National Students for Justice in Palestine to enter Israel to study.
Her resume covering her support and allegiances should have been more than enough to bar her from entry, but in their wisdom, the judges of the Supreme Court felt otherwise.
For allowing in a person who had already established a well-versed apprenticeship in anti-Israel ideology, they should be hanging their heads in shame for this travesty of justice.
Tel AvivA pluralist reproach
As someone who regularly spends a significant amount of time in the United States, I am truly amazed by your editorial “A Pluralist Approach” (October 21). While the US Jewish press is full of articles/reports on the problems facing the Conservative and Reform branches (both in terms of number of members, as well as the growing number of synagogues/temples that are closing), your piece would have us believe that their Israeli counterparts should model themselves after their US “cousins.”
Far from it! If anything, if they believe there is a future for Conservative and/or Reform Judaism in Israel, they will have to learn from their cousins’ mistakes and failures.MICHAEL D. HIRSCH
Tzur YitzchakCriticizing the Supreme Court
Regarding “Hayut: Political criticism of judges ‘borders on incitement’” (October 24), Queen Esther Hayut seems to think that she presides over a monarchy that is beyond criticism. In a democracy freedom of speech in the body politic is not the same as “incitement.”
The Knesset members have been duly elected by the people and only they have the right to legislate. The judiciary, which has been appointed and not elected by the citizenry, must know that their role is limited and judicial activism as has been practiced by this Supreme Court is anti-democratic and deserving of opprobrium.
Hayut’s characterization of this as “violent discourse” sadly reflects on her need for instruction in basic civics.FRED EHRMAN
Ra’anana/New YorkDon’t cross Trump
Regarding “From the Great Wall to the Western Wall” (October 23), Israel has never had a more supportive US president than Donald Trump. Only Trump has punished the PA for their harmful words and actions, such as refusing to deal, but no one can be more vindictive if he feels betrayed.
Please, for the good of Israel, do not deal with the Chinese.
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