Letters to the Editor February 21, 2022: Not even a paper tiger

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters (photo credit: PIXABAY)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)

Not even a paper tiger

Defense Minister Benny Gantz told US Vice President Kamala Harris that any Iran deal must have IAEA ability to monitor compliance (“Any Iran deal must have IAEA enforcement, Gantz tells Harris,” February 20). The IAEA supposedly had similar powers in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2015 which has obviously failed and has led to the current talks. Unfortunately the IAEA is not even a paper tiger, a cute kitten at best. It is composed of an army of administrative technocrats who have no real powers. No army, no ability to freeze Iranian bank accounts, no ability to inspect Iranian nuclear facilities, hidden or otherwise, without Iranian consent. The upcoming Iranian deal should be directly monitored and enforced  by the major western powers: the US, Britain, France and Germany. Anything less is a cop-out with the Iranians chuckling and rubbing their hands with glee.


What is calm?

Not just the rule of law, but the maintenance of the rule of law, is of the utmost and basic importance in the democratic system. Without this there would be total bedlam, mayhem and social chaos. So why is it that “only in Israel” when both the state and the courts legally and constitutionally order the evacuation of people from properties which have been determined by law as being either illegally built (as in the case of the Bedouin settlement of Khan al-Ahmar) or as being property stolen from its Jewish owners (as in the present case of Sheikh Jarrah, everyone is on their feet protecting the perpetrators of the illegality (“Egypt mediating to prevent flareup in Sheikh Jarrah,” February 20).

 A CONFRONTATION takes place between Palestinian protesters and police in Sheikh Jarrah on Monday. (credit: YOSSI ZAMIR/FLASH90)
A CONFRONTATION takes place between Palestinian protesters and police in Sheikh Jarrah on Monday. (credit: YOSSI ZAMIR/FLASH90)

And when I say “everyone” I now have to include Egypt in the equation, as well as the media, the European Union (of course!) and NGO’s and even some ministers of the very same government which had made the evacuation order. And when we have someone (indeed a duly elected MK) who has the guts to stand up and be counted and jump to the assistance of the wronged parties, of those whose houses were burned to the ground and their cars set alight (nine times) in an attempt by the perpetrators to use brute force to flout the law of the land – what do “unnamed sources” in Israel say (as your editor-in-chief also said in his weekly Friday column)? – that it is a provocation and incitement. 

We are urged to exercise “containment,” like saying “sit tight and the problem will disappear.” Now, to cap it all, we read that security officials “will not allow any of the Knesset members to fan the flames in Sheikh Jarrah.” It is just unbelievable that the activities of the elected representatives of the people will be curtailed by none other than a policeman. 

I hope your readers will not have missed the comparison of this situation with the policies and thinking of Mr. Chamberlain in 1938, of Europe regarding Crimea in 2014 or indeed Biden and NATO in the Ukraine affair today.Containment does not work – give the criminal an inch and he will take a mile. Fighting for the rule of law is not incitement, not provocation, just concerned citizens doing what they can to ensure the social future for the next generation.


I was disgusted although unfortunately not surprised to read that the government told Egypt and no doubt Hamas, which continues to make our agenda, that it was taking measures to control Sheikh Jarrah. Those measures include “beefing up” security and continuing with groveling to our enemies, “preventing settlers from reaching the neighborhood and attacking Palestinians.” Security officials affirmed that Israel is keen on preserving the state of calm.Exactly what is this state of calm? Of course it’s when Hamas decides it needs a break to reinforce and decide on the next attack while Israel humbly acquiesces. Sad to see how we have legitimized those with no connection to the Jewish land and only exist through a declaration by the Arab League as a political move to destroy us. Boy has that worked!”


The earth is flat

The article “Israel’s apartheid conundrum” (February 18) regarding the accusations of apartheid leveled against our small country left me disappointed. Rather than discussing issues and reaching a fair conclusion, it simply regurgitated opinions from those who reject and those who accept these accusations.Moreover, by giving equal time to each side, it gave unfair weight to those who claim Israel is an apartheid state, when clearly it is not. I am sure that I could find two physicists who say the world is round, and two misguided flat-earthers who claim it is not. Would that make for an informative article?


Reckless and irresponsible

I will certainly not deny Amotz Asa-El the right to argue in favor of civil marriage (“Scenes from a marriage,” February 18), although I don’t quite understand how he differentiates between a ceremony conducted in Cyprus and one that takes place in a foreign embassy in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. What I will deny him, though, is the right to be misleading with regard to one of his more relevant arguments.

He’s not incorrect when he says that a model for a civil marriage had been jointly hammered out by the late law professor Ruth Gavison and the highly respected religious Zionist Rabbi Yaakov Medan, the co-rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion. What Asa-El conveniently omitted pointing out, however, was that this effort – Foundation for a New Covenant among Jews in Matters of Religion and State in Israel, The Gavison-Medan Covenant – was put together in 2004. I am not, admittedly, familiar with the contents of this covenant, but the fact that it has been lying dormant in a file cabinet or hard drive for eighteen years very strongly suggests that the model they put forth is unworkable. As will be, I’m afraid, any other.

A cynic might be excused for postulating that minister Kahana’s proposal is an awkward attempt to keep the issue of conversion reform under control, to some extent anyway. After all, the lower the number of immigrants entering Israel, the fewer headaches involving those who are not halachically Jewish. No matter; for all practical purposes, what Kahana has put forth for debate is nothing more than a lead balloon, and will wind up as a forgotten effort, sharing disk space with The Gavison-Medan covenant.

I am not unsympathetic to the quandary many bona fide citizens of Israel are facing. They serve in the military, they pay taxes, they proudly sing “Hatikvah” on Independence Day, and they are being prevented from marrying and starting a family. I am not prepared, though, to compromise the Jewish nature of Israel and add fodder to the already chaotic question of “Who Is a Jew.” The rules of the game are not new; the fact that non-Jewish immigrants chose to ignore them and expected something will be worked out was both reckless and irresponsible.

Asa-El is right that the Kahana proposal is a bad one. But not because the exchange of vows would take place in an embassy conference room. It’s bad because civil marriage in Israel should not be on the agenda at all. With or without any modification to the Law of Return.


No shame

I read with incredulity the article by Yossi Beilin (“Holy Land confederation,” February 18) with his latest solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem. This is the same Yossi Beilin who was the “mastermind” behind the Oslo Accords, the worst strategic error of Israel, for whose tragic consequences we are still paying.

Anybody else, but not Beilin, would silence himself after such a grievous, tragic error, which cost the lives of more than a thousand Israelis. Anybody else but Mr. Beilin would not have the chutzpah to offer any more of his irresponsible solutions.

I have two questions for Mr. Beilin: Have you no shame? Haven’t you done enough damage?


Here’s your calling

With Gershon Baskin’s latest article on February 17, “Time to organize in Jerusalem,” he may have finally found his true calling. His usual posts include, as always, Israel bashing, however this time he uses his Arabist views to suggest something no one has suggested before, at least no one from the Israeli side of the spectrum.

He proposes, his words mind you, that the Palestinian Arab community “put forth a candidate for the position of mayor” in Jerusalem in order to illustrate “the hypocrisy of  the Israeli law governing illegally annexed east Jerusalem.”

Although he lets us know that there are issues in the refugee camps that need addressing, and that being on the city council, especially, would surely bring these issues to the forefront of the world opinion of occupied Jerusalem, he offers no candidate for the running. Well, Mr. Baskin, here’s your calling. Take the challenge and run for mayor of your “occupied, divided Jerusalem,” or perhaps at least get on the city council, and finally have the chance to do what you do best.

Become a real honest-to-goodness member of the Arab community you so love and care about. Happy early Purim greetings from your Post readers who’d be delighted to get you off our Israeli pages.


Having read Gershon Baskin’s latest weekly diatribe, one is forced to rewrite his tagline: “The writer is a political and social entrepreneur who has dedicated his life to the Palestinian cause and is a prominent mouthpiece for promoting falsehoods on such.”


Depths of cynicism

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now plunging to the depths of cynicism with his video calling for the establishment of a commission of inquiry into the NSO Group spying saga. The article headed “Prosecution in Netanyahu trial: No laws were broken, witnesses should continue to testify” (February 17), linking his call for a commission of inquiry with his trial, is spot on target.

Netanyahu’s ultimate cynicism is illustrated in the words from his video quoted in the article, “We want a different country – a country with real rule of law, and not a country of falsehoods, lies and cover ups.” The alleged spying saga took place during Netanyahu’s watch as prime minister, which means he was the leader at a time of falsehoods, lies and cover-ups. The primary beneficiary of a commission of inquiry will be Netanyahu himself, as his defense can then rightly request that his trial be adjourned until the commission has made its findings.

Israelis must not allow themselves to be taken in by Netanyahu’s self-righteous indignation, and pander to his whims. Those days are long past. There is no doubt that Israel and its people owe much to Netanyahu for his significant achievements during his tenure as prime minister, but somewhere along the line it would seem that things went awry in his actions as a leader, and that is what needs to be fully ventilated. The best place for that to happen is in the courtroom where his trial is taking place, where he will either be vindicated or found to have been in violation of the law.


Meaningful experiences

The idea of requiring a full-year research paper from Israeli high school students is intriguing (“Are Israeli high school graduates ready for assessment?” February 13). When I was a social studies teacher at the Bronx High School of Science, a specialized high school for advanced academic students in New York City, the Westinghouse (later Intel) science research program helped students to prepare such a research project for national competition. It was originally designed for the pure sciences – biology, physics, chemistry, etc. 

I was charged with bringing the program to the social sciences, psychology, sociology, etc., as well. It was a wonderful educational experience for students and mentor alike, and the fact that we won repeatedly at the awards ceremony in Washington was an added motivation. 

However it was a time-consuming project, involving only several hundred of the several thousand students at the school who were able to commit to a year-long project which took many hours of after-school work at a partner research institution. This was also a great commitment on the part of the teacher-mentors, who, although assigned two of their five teaching periods a day to coach their assigned 30-40 students, spent countless after-school hours visiting their research venues and supervising each step of their research.

The process of doing a research project from identifying the subject, to creating the experiment, to critical review, etc. was probably one of the most meaningful experiences these students had, as anyone who went through the process will attest to even years later.

It would be wonderful for the Ministry of Education to initiate such a program in our high schools, but the time element for both students and teachers should be considered; perhaps a pilot project would be a good way to start. 

Kudos in any case for a creative educational vision.