The report “High Court criticizes Shaked’s quota for 5,000 Ukraine refugees” (March 22) once again highlights the general misconception of the status of the so-called refugees and fails to give the credit which is due to our interior minister for her steadfast resistance to undesired demographic changes in the basic framework of the Jewish homeland.
The people that are being discussed are not “refugees” in the strict legal (Geneva Convention) terminology. People become refugees immediately when they leave the borders of their residential country and enter a different country. They are refugees in that other country. They are not refugees if they then voluntarily choose to change this first “host” country for another which they may prefer.
In the case of Ukrainians who flee, since they all cross the border of Ukraine on foot, to Poland, Moldavia, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia or Belarus, these are their first host countries. The Geneva Convention applies very merit-worthy responsibilities on the first host country. It imposes no such responsibilities on other countries in which these people choose to resettle.
One can imagine the scene in which some refugees want to move on to better pastures, places with better employment chances, places with better climate, friendlier people, etc. All this is understandable and probably in their best interests. However, such wishes for resettlement in second or third “host countries” do not impose upon such countries the obligations of the Geneva Convention. Such other countries have to decide themselves, and try to balance the humanitarian needs of the new immigrants against the interests of that county.
Shaked makes a clear distinction involving those Ukrainians who are entitled under the Law of Return to settle and receive citizenship in Israel, and they have been welcomed by the minister with open arms, as have all entitled immigrants from every country in the world. The problem comes with Ukrainians who are not entitled under that law. Here it is a matter of policy and of the best interests of Israel. We are a Jewish country, set up as a Jewish country, established as a national home for the Jewish people.
We can dilute. Indeed we have already diluted with the huge number of immigrants from the former USSR who are not halachically Jewish. But there comes a time when the dilution exceeds the essence and it is against this undesirable consequence that our interior minister has to protect.
Regarding ‘’Partiality and unfairness’’ (March 18), as a right-wing Jew, I disagree with Lilac Sigan’s claim that The New York Times is an anti-Israel newspaper. It is certainly not an organ of the Likud Party, but of its three columnists who comment on Israel, Michelle Goldberg is highly critical of Israel, Thomas Friedman is sympathetic to Israel and Bret Stephens is a staunch defender of Israel.
Sigan complains that the Times didn’t cover dozens of stories on Israel in February, including a trivial one that Gazans snuck into Israel and burned a truck, all of which would have reflected badly on Israel’s violent foes. Sigan doesn’t understand that a print newspaper has limited space to cover news.
I find it bizarre that Sigan accuses the Times of not reporting the Amnesty International document on ‘’Apartheid Israel.’’ It is that very accusation that anti-Zionists used to prove that the daily is run by Zionists who didn’t want its readers to know that a top human rights organization has called Israel a rogue country.
Moreover, if the Times is anti-Israel, why didn’t it report at all of the Tantura massacre documentary, released in January, in which it is alleged that Israeli soldiers massacred some 250 Palestinians in Tantura, a village north of Caesarea, in 1948? The film by an Israeli Jewish director was celebrated by anti-Zionists for its portrayal of Israeli barbarism.
Sigan condemns the Times for publishing an article on an anti-Zionist Jew fired from teaching at a synagogue near New York City. Could it be that this was a noteworthy news item because, sadly, a growing number of young American Jews reject Israel?
Finally, the erroneous obsession with the Times detracts the focus from other elite newspapers actually hostile to Israel. Unlike the Times, The Guardian of Britain has no paywall which generates a large global readership. It was the first leading newspaper to describe Israel as a successor to Apartheid South Africa when in February 2006 it published two lengthy articles on the parallels between the two countries.
Off their backs
Regarding “Palestinians urge Biden to appoint Mideast peace envoy” (March 21), the Arabs who started calling themselves ‘Palestinians’ after the KGB formed the PLO in 1964 are salivating. Barak Hussein Obama is back – in spirit. The Biden administration, replete with recycled Obama staff is parroting the same old animosity toward Israel while courting Iran and their Palestinian pawns.
The Biden team did not invent the concept of a negotiated two-state solution. Trump offered the Peace to Prosperity plan based on the same idea. As with every other peace initiative, the PA refused to consider it or make a counter-proposal.
The State Department’s Jalina Porter simplistically stated, “Israelis and Palestinians alike equally deserve to live in security, prosperity and freedom.” So does everybody else in the world, but it’s not something the US can guarantee. Where does any Arab country offer that? Why does Porter think a Palestinian leadership will want that for their state? All Arab regimes are autocracies and kleptocracies.
It is not America, or anyone’s, choice to open a consulate in Jerusalem or Cairo or London. They need permission from Israel, Egypt or the UK to open any government office.
To improve living conditions of the Palestinians, the US must tailor donations to reform in the PA and Hamas. Graft and corruption must be reduced. The PA must end pay-to-slay, Hamas must end rocket attacks and UNRWA must be shut down. Incitement to violence cannot be tolerated as an excuse for covering Arab inadequacies.
Israeli “actions on the ground” are legal under international law. The PA can stop whining. It is they who have extended the status quo for these many years.
The world’s credibility is not at stake implementing the international legitimacy in Palestine because there is none. Read Article 80 of the UN charter, which every member, including the US and Europeans, has signed on to.
If there is to be a two-state solution, it will be due to Israel’s generosity and willingness to give away part of its sovereignty. It will do this to get the Palestinians off their backs. Meanwhile the Abraham Accord agreements and expansion are Israel’s priority.
Aren’t the Palestinian leaders concerned that the US expects the two-state solution to result in a situation in which Israelis, as well as Palestinians, will live in “security, prosperity, and freedom?” Will the Palestinians work with an American peace envoy who insists that the Palestinian state will have to coexist with the nation-state of the Jews? Will Palestinian leaders accept the US requirement that a solution be negotiated?
That would mean that Palestinians will have to return to the negotiating table recognizing that they, not only the Israelis, will need to make compromises. Furthermore, the Americans will probably expect the Palestinians to agree that the signing of a peace treaty does, in fact, end the conflict.
Palestinian leaders are the only people who can build the state they have been claiming to want for decades, while they have rejected Israeli and American proposals that could have led to the establishment of that state long ago. The Palestinian leaders need to resolve the Palestine refugee situation, cease attacking Israel directly and indirectly (via the honoring and rewarding of Palestinians who kill Israelis), and undo generations of anti-Jewish rhetoric that has spewed from schoolrooms, mosques and media outlets. Showing America that a peace envoy might have a chance at seeing the conflict end would be a good incentive for the Biden administration to appoint one.
TOBY F. BLOCK
Genius wrapped in humility
Regarding “The funeral as a statement” (March 21), tweets were furiously coming in this past Friday, from Israeli Knesset members to American politicians; the occasion, the passing of the greatest living Jewish sage of this generation, Reb Chaim Kanievsky, may his memory be a blessing.
There are two things to know about him that sum up the type of person that was lost, a genius wrapped in humility. His grasp of the Bible outmatched a computer. As Joe Berger from The New York Times reported, he was asked how many times the word Moses appears in the Bible and he said 97. The computer tabulated 99. The rabbi explained that those other two words of Moses are spelled the same but have different meanings.
In the area of humility, one needs only to hear this story. One of his students came to him to ask whether a certain girl should have arm surgery which the doctors ruled out as having any possibility of success. He told the student she should do it. The surgery was a success. The student then asked if he could publicize the rabbi’s recommendation along with a bracha from the rabbi. In Talmudic form, the rabbi answered that the blessing of a “layman” also has merit.
We have lost a great sage but are left with an example of how to conduct ourselves.
Our imperiled planet
As president emeritus of Jewish Veg, and author of three editions of Judaism and Vegetarianism, I want to strongly commend Alan Freishtat for his article “Yet another study that will be ignored” (March 20) which discusses the many health benefits of plant-based diets.
As he points out, a new study in the Public Library of Science Journal revealed that by switching to such diets, people added 10-13 years to their lives, if done by age 20; eight to nine years, if done by age 60; and even 3.5 years, if done by age 80. Many peer-reviewed articles in respected medical journals also discuss the many health benefits from animal-free diets.
In addition to these health benefits, eliminating or significantly reducing meat consumption would also sharply reduce climate threats and other environmental dangers, the inefficient use of land, energy, water and other resources, the widespread mistreatment of farmed animals, and the risks of future pandemics. And, it is much easier to do today because of the abundance of delicious plant-based substitutes for meat and other animal-based foods.
So for your health and that of our imperiled planet, please consider shifting toward a plant-based diet. Your body and future generations will thank you.
RICHARD H. SCHWARTZ, Ph.D.
Regarding “Zelensky criticizes Israel for not sanctioning Russia” (March 21), one can’t truly blame President Zelensky criticizing all who are willing to listen to his plight and fight against an illegitimate invader, who has declared war on his independent nation and people. The Ukrainians have with the assistance of arms from certain countries in the West put up a very brave fight against the might of Russian aggression.
Zelensky in his and his country’s hour of need is searching every avenue to gain access to weapons that will hopefully help stave off what most are predicting might well be defeat or capitulation to the Kremlin overlord. This war which is also being fought out on prime time television is a lesson and wake-up call to all in the so-called civilized world.
This is not a Hollywood blockbuster but reality, which as we have witnessed can find you in very difficult circumstances and unfortunately Home Alone.
Right on the head
The article “An end to Hollywood’s honeymoon with Putin” (March 20) hit the proverbial nail right on the head. All one need do is study his actions (performance?) for the past month to get a clear picture of the Russian leader.
He is clearly overwhelmed with himself. His suit of armor/personality makes him impervious to any sort of criticism. And if the world at large and politicians, in particular, have come to understand what makes Putin tick, all the better.
While Putin’s personal interests might be better served if he is successful in converting Russia back into the USSR, the rest of us would clearly be worse off.
MICHAEL D. HIRSCH