People of Israel
Sir, – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is just plain wrong: Israel is not the “nation of the Jewish people” (“‘Jewish state bill’ agitates coalition,” November 17) – Israel is the state of the people of Israel.
The people of Israel is made up of more peoples than just the Jews. It is true that Jews are by far the largest component, but there are others. It is inevitable in the course of a 4,000-year history that individual strands of the people of Israel have proceeded along different paths and timelines.
The Torah-keeping Israelite Samaritans are part of the people of Israel. They, unlike Jews, have never left the land. The Christians of Nazareth who are now sending their sons and daughters to the IDF are also part of the people of Israel.
If early Zionists such as Israel Belkind, David Ben-Gurion and Yitzhak Ben-Zvi are to be believed (and they should be), virtually all the Arabic-speaking inhabitants of Judea and Samaria are part of the people of Israel, too.
Indeed, it is from this very realization by both Jew and “Arab” that an equitable, honorable and permanent solution will emerge to their decades-long antagonism.
Sir, – With regard to “Ministerial panel approves price control unit” (November 17), have the good people of Chelm spoken? Instead of removing the highly regressive value-added tax from fruits and vegetables, our clever ministers will attack the price problem by substituting their wisdom for that of the market.
The real social wisdom would be to remove the VAT from all food and substitute a progressive income tax to cover the lost revenue.
‘Israel Hayom’ bill
Sir, – Susan Hattis Rolef kvells about legislation that should be a mark of shame on this country (“Sheldon Adelson and democracy,” Think About It, November 17).
In tried and true fashion, the Left has once again shown that when it comes to implementing its agenda, the ends justify the means, and the niceties of process and the pieties of respect for the little guy mean nothing.
(And to the non-Left supporters of this bill: You have shown your contempt for your citizens and thereby forfeit their support.) If the handout were a leftwing rag, the cry of totalitarianism, of blatant strong-arming, would be deafening. But freedom of press, freedom of access, a free market economy and providing something to anyone who wants it for free – none of this means anything if we can just shut down a rag that likes Bibi.
I just came back from the US, where folks from Left to Right kept asking me how Israel could pass such blatantly anti-free-market, anti-democratic legislation.
That is a question that cannot in conscience be answered.
With the initial passage of the anti-free newspaper bill, Israel can now proudly proclaim a new accolade for itself: banana republic of the Middle East.
Sir, – Susan Hattis Rolef and others seem to think that because something is free of charge everyone will take it. That is patent nonsense. Receiving something for free or having to pay for it does not mean that one suspends judgment or gives up the right to choose.
Sheldon Adelson is not putting a copy of his paper in every mailbox, nor is he forcing anyone to take a paper from one of his distributors.
As far as the price he charges for advertisements, if that constitutes unfair competition then there are overseers who are supposed to regulate it.
Of course, regulators haven’t proven very effective in other venues (dairy products come to mind), but this should require improvement on their end.
I would also like to challenge Ms. Rolef to show me where in Israel’s proclamation of independence there appears the word “democratic.” On the Knesset website one can find the full text in Hebrew. Nowhere am I able to find the word, although there are those who throw this around as if it were there.
HAIM SHALOM SNYDER
Sir, – Several months ago while driving to work, I heard talk-radio host Razi Barkai interviewing Labor MK Eitan Cabel. The subject was Cabel’s effort to prohibit the free distribution of Israel Hayom. Cabel has never made it to my favorites list and I figured this was just another crackpot idea of his. Was I ever mistaken! I grew up in Los Angeles with free newspapers. Were they pitching something? I couldn’t tell you. They were free and we got the news.
Israel has a serious image problem abroad. One positive point that we repeatedly use in our defense is that we are the sole democratic society in the entire Middle East. If passed, Cabel’s proposition would curtail our democratic process.
If Israel Hayom is offensive to Cabel and his cronies and they think it is too pro-Netanyahu, it would behoove them to follow the advice of the 19th-century American essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson: Go out and build a better mousetrap.
Sir, – Say goodbye and farewell to Israel’s title as “the only real democracy in the Middle East.”
Free speech has been egregiously crushed by a nefarious act of a Knesset run wild.
It is not too far-fetched to charge that this act of passing a law aimed at closing down a particular newspaper is decidedly an even greater blow to democracy than the 1988 ban on the Kach party. Kach might arguably have been anti-democratic in some of its principles, but how in heaven’s name can one justify silencing free-speech, particularly when the act has more than a bad smell of serving the powerful interests of other publishers? Let us hope that the Supreme Court, unbalanced in its judgments as it often is, will see this act as an assassination of free speech in our country.
Sir, – It’s quite easy for reader James Adler (“Jerusalem/Berlin,” Letters, November 17) to suggest from Cambridge, Massachusetts, that Israel must end the so-called occupation. He’s another “armchair Zionist” living abroad who feels that all Israel has to do is withdraw from Judea and Samaria and cooperate with the “peaceful Palestinian leader” Mahmoud Abbas in order to see the end of its isolation and status of pariah state.
The fact that Abbas actually incites Palestinians to kill and injure Israelis and to vandalize Israeli property, especially in Jerusalem, makes him a peaceful leader, one with whom Israel can negotiate with? Mr. Adler says that history suggests these conflicts worsen if they are not ended. So long as the Palestinians continue to misrepresent Jewish history, demonize Israel and vilify Jews as subhumans in their mosques, text books and media, there can be no successful negotiations.
We in Israel have learned from experience that every withdrawal, every compromise, every peaceful gesture on our part has only increased the appetite of the Palestinians for more, leading to increased vulnerability to Palestinian hostility.
If Mr. Adler lived here he could understand this.
Go to the museum!
Sir, – After reading “The history of ‘GI Jews’” (Arts & Entertainment, November 16), I would like to tell you there is a branch of Jewish war veterans in Jerusalem. And along with Emunah, we recently took a trip to the Jewish War Veterans museum in Latrun. It was wonderful.
Join us and go to the museum!