April 10, 2017: Whither Germany?

While it is admirable that President Trump had the moral courage to strike against the Syrian government, one wonders at the silence of the European nations, especially Germany.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Whither Germany?
On April 7, you reported on your front page that US President Donald Trump was considering strikes against Syria in light of poison gas attacks against men, women and children by the Assad regime (“Trump planning strike against Assad”). One strike actually took place.
Reports have since surfaced that President Trump was particularly moved by horrific photographs of children who were murdered. More recent reports tell of Arab and western states voicing approval of these strikes.
While it is admirable that President Trump had the moral courage to strike against the Syrian government, one wonders at the silence of the European nations, especially Germany. After all, it was Germany that a mere 70 years ago committed genocide by gassing millions of people, mostly Jews, to death.
Should not Germany have taken the lead in voicing condemnation and initiating action against Syria? Should not the European nations have joined in a coalition with Germany? After all, they were all complicit in rounding up Jews for deposit at railway stations, knowing full well that the ultimate destination of these passengers was the gas chambers.
As our sages teach, true repentance comes about when an offender again finds himself in a similar situation and acts differently. Had Germany taken the lead in condemning the Assad regime, organizing a coalition and engaging in military action to stop the carnage, it could have finally demonstrated some measure of repentance.
Consequently, it should come as no surprise to us here in Israel and to Jews around the world that antisemitism remains rampant. The difference, however, is that today, we indeed have a truly courageous and principled friend in the current occupant of the White House, President Donald Trump.
Ulterior motive
There is nothing to celebrate in Russia’s announcement (“Moscow recognizes west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” April 7), and it would be a grievous mistake to imply that the step was adopted with the intention of improving relations with Israel.
The move was designed to promote the establishment of east Jerusalem as the capital of a proposed Palestinian state by divesting Israel of control over that part of the city. It is manifestly an anti-Israel move in accordance with the anti-Israel UN Security Council Resolution 2334, promoted so avidly by the Obama administration.
Jerusalem in its entirety is the capital of Israel, as the 1980 Knesset law proclaimed. Any move to detach east Jerusalem is designed to divide the city again, as it was divided during the 19 years between 1948 and 1967.
Undoubtedly, Israel will make clear that there is no such entity as “west Jerusalem” and will spurn any effort to establish an embassy assigned to such a limited designation. There is no better time for Israel to make this clear than the upcoming 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem and its reconfirmation as the undivided capital of the Jewish state.
The writer is James G. McDonald Professor of American History emeritus, former chairman of the Department of American Studies in the Faculty of Humanities at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and author of Jerusalem in America’s Foreign Policy.
Whose obsession?
Yaakov Katz’s beautiful “Netanyahu’s media obsession” (Editor’s Notes, April 7) could equally be headlined “The media’s Netanyahu obsession.” But I am more surprised that he did not look at the history of prime ministers of democracies through the ages.
Never mind overall history. Just look at the UK since the 1970s. There were two prime ministers, each with more than 10 years in office. Did either exit with a legacy of grace or favor? Categorically not!
My wife never hesitates to remind me regarding any project: Quit while you are ahead. This is the advice and admonition the press must tell our prime minister. (Actually, the prime minister of Israel has a bigger chance of leaving in unhappiness purely because proportional representation means more parties and more pacts with the devil!)
But we must not forget that Israel still has battles to fight internally against those who cannot, or refuse to, believe that our Arab neighbors (and others) survive only on the ethos that they will be bringing happiness to their peoples once Israel no longer exists. Vast fortunes are spent on this propaganda, but Israel does not spend enough time or money in letting it be known that were Israel to disappear, the Arab peoples’ problems would not.
Let me conclude with a warning to many of our home-grown left-wing detractors – the words attributed to Thomas Jefferson are more meaningful today than ever before: The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
Democratic rule is not perfect, but it is by far the most preferable platform of government. Yet it will collapse in a heap if those who want to be seen standing there expend their energies on uprooting its foundations.
Wishing us all peace – but not at any price!
‘Sufficient’ sum
In “Disabled vow more protests over minimum wage needs” (April 7), we learn that the monthly payment of NIS 2,342 for people with disabilities has been frozen for nearly 15 years, and that a bill to increase this amount is being blocked by the Finance Ministry.
Since the Treasury considers NIS 2,342 a sufficient sum on which to live, I suggest that the salaries of all ministry staff, including Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon himself, be changed to this figure forthwith, and that these salaries be frozen for 15 years.
The ability of the Finance Ministry to block legislation means that it is, to a large extent, running the country. I therefore further suggest that this intolerable situation be eliminated immediately by rescinding this power.
Beit Zayit