The Jerusalem Post Letters to the Editor: Alarm signals

Politically, the whole Middle East is being rearranged. The only hope for peace will rest on the Muslims coming to grips with the fact that there are other religions that must be respected.

December 13, 2016 21:05

Letters. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Alarm signals

With reference to “Cairo, Istanbul attacks point to vulnerabilities across region” (Analysis, December 12), there is more violence every day that plagues the Middle East.

The attack on the Coptic church in Cairo should be setting off alarm signals in all areas of the Christian world. Imagine, in the year 2016, Muslims are taught that nothing shows adherence to their faith as much as killing Christians and Jews.

This belief has caused much hatred of other faiths. Christianity now is so weak and powerless that the pope can no longer claim that he protects Christian worshipers.

Politically, the whole Middle East is being rearranged. The only hope for peace will rest on the Muslims coming to grips with the fact that there are other religions that must be respected.

That day will not come soon, and we can only hope that politicians of the world will recognize this and stand firm about making any commitments to political agendas that do not recognize Islam as the main problem.


Acquiring fans

With great delight, I read Seth J.

Frantzman’s “How Israel’s Right and Left failed the Beduin” (Terra Incognita, December 12). It explains how flipping between patronizing and ignoring this sector has only created problems.

Frantzman’s strongest point is: “The state is capable of legalizing hundreds of Jewish communities in the West Bank, but somehow can’t legalize 40-60 communities in the Negev?” The disputed land is less than 3% of the Negev, he stresses.

I add that if Egyptian president Anwar Sadat was capable of changing things forever in one go by coming to the Knesset and extending his hand in peace, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can more easily do the same with the Beduin in Israel.

What an easy chance for our prime minister to acquire 100,000 new fans for life – members of the Beduin community, yet – in one swoop!


Seth J. Frantzman mentions that “indigenous people in Australia, Canada, the US and elsewhere suffer extreme discrimination, and have among the highest poverty, substance abuse and incarceration rates.”

Even the great western democracies have miserably failed to bring up to par their indigenous people, and they have had more than a few centuries to do it.

They are rich countries of immense land mass, with no problems of continuing wars or the threat of extinction faced by some of their neighbors.

How can Mr. Frantzman demand that poor, land-starved Israel do any better? It would have been more helpful to analyze the reasons the great western democracies have failed so miserably.


Interfaith greenery

Regarding “Christmas tree or Hanukka bush: Do they have their place in a Jewish home?” (December 11), when I was a very little girl, my mother, grandmother and I would walk every Christmas Eve admiring the beautiful, decorated trees in the windows. However, it never entered my mind that I wanted or needed one. I had dreidels, latkes and a little Hanukka gelt, as we were quite poor.

While Christmas trees are indeed beautiful, they evoke memories of Jewish slaughter throughout the centuries – the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Holocaust. The hanukkia, on the other hand, symbolizes centuries of Jewish survival.

We light its candles not only for ourselves, but for the six million who cannot.

Christmas trees, even beautiful ones, will ultimately give Hitler six million victories. (How ironic that the headline of the article above this one is “‘Mein Kampf’ voted top-10 book by Italian school children”!) There is great beauty in the world, as well as great ugliness.

You need to differentiate between them.

SARA SMITH Jerusalem

On Hanukka we thank God, who fought our battles to help deliver “many in the hands of the few, the unclean in the hands of the pure, the evil in the hands of the righteous.” It is precisely a holiday against assimilation.

It is a holiday commemorating when we rededicated our Temple in Jerusalem, which had been polluted by the pagans.

In 165 BCE, the Maccabees fought the Greek Assyrians, who tried to get our ancestors to adopt their pagan, Hellenistic ways. Because the Jews succeeded, we are here today. It was the beginning of the Second Temple- period, when we Jews again were independent of foreign rule in our homeland.

The Christmas tree is a pagan symbol adopted by Christians. A Jew who has a Christmas tree ( or so-called Hanukka bush), pretty as it might be, misses the point of Hanukka.

The Jerusalem Post should avoid writing such nonsense if it wants to keep its readers.


Goring an ox...

Headlines are screaming that Russian hackers tried to influence the outcome of the US presidential election (“CIA says Russia intervened to help Trump win White House,” International News, December 11) – an assertion that continues to be quite speculative at this time.

Does anyone remember when, not long ago, the Obama administration tried to influence the outcome of the Israeli election, with the goal of defeating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? In advising V15 and sending taxpayer funds to non-profit organizations, the charge that political consultants who had worked for President Barack Obama were participating in this effort is not speculative.

Whose ox is being gored?


...and tweeting away

Considering how often Donald Trump takes to Twitter and tweets a response to his critics, it appears that the greatest threat to mankind today is a US president-elect playing with his tweeter.

JOE SCHWARZ Penticton, British Columbia

The electoral system

Kudos to Avi Berkowitz for a level of sophisticated political theorizing that is rare today in Israeli newspapers (“We too need an electoral college,” Comment & Features, December 11).

Israel prides itself as the only democracy in the Middle East.

True. But compared to other democracies, it is sometimes embarrassingly inferior.

The geographic system that Berkowitz rightly recommends also results in voters voting for the specific individuals they want to see in office, and, no less important, voting their representatives out when they perform poorly. In Israel’s Knesset, there is no such thing as individual voters voting to remove individual MKs.

Moreover, in the US, anyone can call his congressman for help or to register a complaint – and at the same time threaten not to vote for him again. In Israel, the voter has no one to call. Israel is less a democracy than a partyocracy of political clubs.

No less, in the best democracies, the body politic mimics the bilateral human body and produces two opposing, major parties – one on the left and one of the right. They dominate politics. Now consider Israel, with its dozen-plus, constantly shifting party lists. It is not politically healthy to have so many.

Most important, election districts drafted by patriotic politicians can so gerrymander the voting maps that they can strengthen the power of the Jewish voter over the Arab voter. It would strengthen Israel as a democracy, and a Jewish one.

The trouble is, there is a Catch- 22: For Israel to become more truly democratic, the current political hacks in the parties would have to vote themselves out of office and appeal to the voters as individuals to return them. When it comes to this, no one should hold his breath.


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