Barbara Diamond (“Truth and fiction,” April 8) mistakenly rejects one of the primary tools at Israel’s disposal to fight the ever-growing BDS menace. She says, “It is critical to finally admit that this assault on Israelis not the fault of poor public diplomacy...
[T]hose who do not want to hear the amazing stories of the Israeli state would be deaf even to the finest PR.”
That there will always be those who hate Israel irrationally only heightens the importance of hasbara for Israel’s survival. While, as Diamond suggests, those who plant the seeds of BDS may not want a Jewish state to exist, the movement flourishes because many people around the world do not recognize the lies on which BDS rests.
Contrary to what many Israelis think, Israel is not the central issue on the minds of the vast majority of human beings.
Because of unfocused hasbara efforts until now, those who know little about this country have concluded that there is no valid defense to the unending criticisms being hurled at Israel at the UN and elsewhere.
Huge numbers of people have only the vaguest information about Israel (if any at all), and have yet to make up their minds about the issues facing this region. Israel’s public diplomacy must be directed toward these “undecideds.” If Israel wins them over, they will reject BDS and exert the necessary pressure on their governments and the media to oppose Israel’s enemies.
Diamond highlights Israel’s successes in making the desert bloom and producing medical and digital innovations. But people who support Israel only because of our technical skills will do so grudgingly, and will turn against us once another hi-tech country that matches their values comes on the scene.
Our public diplomacy can and must demonstrate convincingly that we are not only innovative, but moral. We deserve to be supported not because we invented the flash drive, but because we are a just, caring and ethical nation; a shining example of how a true democracy functions even when its very existence is threatened continuously.
Israel must compete in the public diplomacy arena with all its energy and resources. Strong hasbara by itself will not guarantee Israel’s survival. Without it, however, our enemies will win an uncontested victory.
EFRAIM A. COHEN
Susan Hattis Rolef wrote eloquently (“Bayit Yehudi and Democracy,” April 11) of the importance of balance of powers among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government to protect the rights of the minority and to avoid the tyranny of the majority. She does not, however, explain what checks exist on the power of the Israeli Supreme Court.
The United States Constitution also calls for checks and balances among the branches, with the Supreme Court able to invalidate legislative and executive actions, albeit not as expansively as in Israel, based on constitutional principles. In the American system, the check on the power of the court is that court members are appointed by the executive with the concurrence of the legislature, in contrast to Israel, where the Supreme Court has veto power over the appointment of new members.
The potential to change the direction of the US Supreme Court is the crux of the current battle regarding the replacement for Justice Scalia.
I wonder if the highly partisan Ms. Rolef would be equally sanguine about the Court if its rulings were not consistently in support of the left and against the current government.
Jerusalem Sanders blunders
Bernie Sanders got more than just the numbers wrong in his comments on Israeli actions during the 2014 war with Hamas (“Accusing Bernie Sanders of ‘blood libel,’” April 11) and in his follow-up.
Despite lowering his estimate of “innocent” Palestinian civilian casualties in the war from an outrageous 10,000 to something around 2,000, he nonetheless stated that Israel’s actions were “disproportionate”.
What he doesn’t seem to be aware of, and certainly fails to mention, is that Hamas fired more than 4,000 rockets from Gaza into populated areas of Israel in the first eight months of that year. If it weren’t for Israel’s achievement with the development of the Iron Dome, Israeli civilian casualties could have been many times that of those in Gaza.
Moreover, the Gazan casualties arose from Israel’s attempts to destroy the launchers shooting the rockets into Israel, launchers that Hamas had placed next to buildings, including schools and hospitals, in which they herded civilian Gazans as human shields.
Nor does Sanders mention that Israel gave notice that these buildings could be damaged and that those inside were at risk – by dropping leaflets and other means to get those inside to leave and save themselves. This Hamas prevented them from doing.
Clearly, Mr. Sanders needed to be better informed about all aspects of the situation before determining that the Israel response was “disproportionate.”
Modi’in Utter confusion
Help me to understand the incomprehensible statement of the Shin Bet official in your front page headline article (“Shin Bet official: Personal hardship behind majority of recent Palestinian attacks,” April 11).
According to the official, these horrific attacks stem from reasons of economic and personal hardships.
He also states that there has been a substantial decline in attacks in the past two weeks to two months, the conclusion being that we have succeeded in alleviating these economic and personal hardships.
What is this nonsense we are being fed?
How can anyone claim that there is systematic separation in hospitals here? (“Health Ministry to investigate reports of hospital racism,” April 8).
Years ago I was hospitalized due to a complicated pregnancy that eventually resulted in a difficult miscarriage. After the operation, on my return to my hospital bed in the middle of the night, I was shocked to find a large family talking loudly and laughing with the other patient in the room. After repeated attempts of calling on the staff to help create an environment in which I could rest and recover, it was blatantly obvious that they were powerless to remove them.
My repeated pleas to the family itself were just as useless. After quite some time they very curtly informed me that they would leave only when they were ready to and not before.
Leave they did, finally, but only after some hours, by which time I was in tears and desperate for some peace and quiet. It is most infuriating, to say the least, to be so helpless and ill in a hospital bed in such an intimidating situation.
The people involved were all Arab. Risking not being “correct” in today’s political climate, I need to say that I really do understand people who are Jewish Israelis not wanting to share a room with someone who 1) feels confident in their entitlement to behave however they wish, whenever they want wherever they may be (and in fact do so); and 2) might have friends and relatives who are, however distantly, connected to the ever-growing family of terrorists.
Separation in hospitals may not be the answer, but there must be adherence to fair rules to enforce common decency towards the ill.
SHOSH RINA BAT-ARIEH
In “Kishon River mosquito problem forces pesticide use along banks” (April 11), it was mistakenly reported that the mosquito problem need for pesticide was at the Kishon River, when it actually it was at the Yarkon River.