July 9: Democracy in action

With regard to the ongoing events in Egypt, it should be apparent to all democrats that their first duty is to defend democracy against those who would overthrow it.

July 8, 2013 23:31

Letters 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )


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Democracy in action

Sir, – With regard to the ongoing events in Egypt, it should be apparent to all democrats that their first duty is to defend democracy against those who would overthrow it. But many, especially leftists, radical Muslims and the historically ignorant, seem to ignore this; hence, the outcry over what is happening.

While undoubtedly the democratic election of a leader is important, more significant is how this person governs. There is no more telling example than the fact that Adolf Hitler was elected democratically in 1933 – yet the first thing he did was do away with democracy.

It is quite apparent that the opponents of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi had learned this lesson and did not wish to repeat the tragic mistake of the 1930s. The current changes taking place in Egypt should be supported.

Tel Aviv

Sir, – Has anyone noticed the new democracy? Never before has the “power of the people” been able to vote its support or dislike for rulers.

Facebook and Twitter can fill a square within hours; by such force of numbers, unpopular regimes can be swept away. Dictators will be powerless.


Pusillanimous nonsense

Sir, – One keeps hearing from European politicians (“Britain wants EU ministers to break Hezbollah deadlock,” July 7) that they cannot proscribe the group’s military wing for fear of destabilizing Lebanon – as if Lebanon were not already destabilized more than sufficiently by Hezbollah’s actions in Syria.

What is the point of continuing to print this sort of pusillanimous nonsense, as if it has any meaning whatsoever? Better to concentrate on the illogical distinction that the rest of Europe’s leaders want to draw between the group’s military and political wings, where in all likelihood the Czechs are right – there is not any difference at all.


Cooking up attention

Sir, – To my great regret a number of people and institutions have taken offense at a picture shown in Süddeutsche Zeitung (“Major German newspaper publishes anti-Semitic cartoon,” July 5). As editor of the paper’s political book section I should like to let you know that the picture was drawn for another paper’s cooking column. The artist was in no way responsible for its placement in Süddeutsche.

The picture has to be regarded in context with the sub-headline: “Germany delivers. For decades Israel has been provided with weapons, sometimes without having to pay for them. Israel’s enemies consider the country as a voracious Moloch. Peter Beinart deplores this fact.”

Hence, only Israel’s enemies consider Israel to be a country comparable to the monster in question.

And the monster has not the faintest resemblance to stereotypical anti-Semitic pictures.

There is a long history of caricatures that depict human beings or, as in this case, monsters, as being representative of countries. Those pictures aim at the politics of the state in question, not the inhabitants. It needs to be underlined: Governments of the State of Israel or specific policies are not identical with the Jews in general.

In the light of the great misunderstandings this picture has caused, I deeply and truly regret having inserted it in the paper.

The mere idea was to attract readers’ attention to the article.


Happy all around

Sir, – Martin Sherman’s article about the hopelessness of whatever we decide to do (“Why Israel is lost,” Into the Fray, July 5) requires a comment.

Israel remains one state, a Jewish state. The Arabs don’t have to vote unless they want to agree to support the State of Israel and take advantage of the wonderful life available here. Otherwise, they have many other states to move to if they think life is better under Arab control.

Meanwhile, they are living here and working, and are loyal members of our country for the most part. They should be happy and so can we.


No self-respect

Sir, – As reported in “Turkish deputy PM blames ‘Diaspora Jews’ for protests” (July 3), Turkey’s Jewish community and chief rabbinate expressed “concern and regret that generalizations as such can be interpreted as including and targeting Jewish citizens of any country in the world, including us Turkish Jews.” A Jewish resident of Istanbul was quoted as saying: “We felt uncomfortable many times before but this was possibly unintentional, due to some people’s inability to differentiate between Israel and the Jews.

However, this [remark] is a first in terms of targeting us directly.”

It is disgraceful but unfortunately not a surprise to hear such comments, although to hear it from the country’s chief rabbinate is unforgivable. How can any self-respecting Jew separate him or herself from Israel? They are or should be the heart and limbs of each other, together a winning combination. Separate them and they are easily lost – which is what is happening with Turkish Jews.

I would have thought the natural thing for the country’s Jews would be to up and leave for their own land, or at the very least to stand with us and be happy not to be differentiated “between Israel and the Jews.”


Missing the meat

Sir, – Uriel Heilman’s article about Dr. Norman Lamm’s resignation as chancellor of Yeshiva University (“Resigning YU head admits failures over sex allegations,” July 2) missed the meat while playing with the bones.

Not only was it irresponsible to publish names of people who were never mentioned in Lamm’s astonishing letter of resignation, it was journalistically remiss not to question the underlying mystery that prompted it.

Anyone who knew Lamm during his productive years (we have known him for over 65 years) would realize that he would not have written that letter to his colleagues, students and alumni had he remained in good health. At the very least, one would have expected a journalist to probe the underlying circumstances.

What were the causes forcing the resignation agreement with him three years ago? What possible issues at Yeshiva University might have induced “family help” to produce that lengthy mea culpa in his name? In addition, with Heilman having critically named names, what were the relevant guidelines a generation ago for dealing with sexual accusations?


PM no fool

Sir, – In last month’s haftorah Balak, taken from the Book of Micah, the so-called minor prophet denounced the landgrabbing of the social leaders and their luxury living, and the venality of religious teachers.

Fast forward to modern Israel, where our Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Yona Metzger, is under investigation for bribery, fraud and money-laundering (“Chief Rabbi Metzger suspends himself from major duties,” June 24).

Perhaps, had he heeded Micah’s diatribe more carefully and learned from it, Metzger’s tenure would have been much more rewarding.

The post will soon be vacant.

Hopefully, Rabbi David Stav, an affable, liberal and learned rabbi, will be elected. He is favored by many coalition members with the exception of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Politics dictate the prime minister’s choice. They necessitate a haredi chief rabbi and a strong haredi party as allies in any sudden election. No fool, our Bibi.


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