Letters to the Editor, April 4 2022: Things are never the same

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

A resident extinguishes a fire after a bombing destroyed a family home in a northern district of Kharkiv as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine, March 24, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/THOMAS PETER)
A resident extinguishes a fire after a bombing destroyed a family home in a northern district of Kharkiv as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine, March 24, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/THOMAS PETER)

Things are never the same

There have been many comparisons made between the present Ukrainian crisis to past events, including Yoav Tenembaum’s analogies with the Blitz, Pearl Harbor, the Gulf War, et al (“The use of historical analogies in foreign policy,” March 28).

I would like to add another comparison. When I heard President Zelensky’s speech dramatically imploring for help against the Russian invasion by declaring the words “this may be the last time you see me alive,” I was brought back in history to another impassioned, emotionally-rending plea made by Haile Selassie, then emperor of Ethiopia, to the League of Nations in 1936.

Claiming a heritage from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, he had worked to bring his country into the modern era, when he was attacked by Italy which sought to add Ethiopian territory to its colony-building in Africa. Now, he pleaded with that international body to come to his aid.

 Despite brave fighting on a number of fronts, Selassie was forced by superior firepower to go into exile (at one point in what is now Israel), where he continued to speak on behalf of his country in various venues, including the United States, where he attained much popularity.

He returned to govern his nation after the defeat of Italy in WWII, but it was largely his unheeded cry to the world in 1936 that stands out in his legacy.

Things are never the same, but if we are looking for analogies in historical life-or-death speeches, perhaps we should include Haile Selassie.


 Commander-in-Chief of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Hossein Salami smiles during a joint exercise called the 'Great Prophet 17' in the southwest of Iran (credit: SAEED SAJJADI/FARS NEWS/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY)VIA REUTERS) Commander-in-Chief of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Hossein Salami smiles during a joint exercise called the 'Great Prophet 17' in the southwest of Iran (credit: SAEED SAJJADI/FARS NEWS/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY)VIA REUTERS)

Godly tizzy

Hossein Salami’s Dezful speech is not the first time an anti-Israel Muslim has welcomed an Israel expiry date (“IRGC chief: Israel has an ‘expiration date,’” March 25).

For most of the decades between 1948 and the Oslo process, the PLO publicly held that Israel could only last seventy years because that was the duration of the united Davidic kingdom and also the Maccabean kingdom. Well Israel is still here, and in forty years of enforced Islam, Iran has not created a household name nor anything but trouble for its neighbors.

Iran’s ayatollahs should also note that regimes that bound themselves into a godly tizzy about the House of Israel got it wrong. Iran’s guards are neither guards, nor revolutionary nor Islamic. They do not protect, do not present new ideas and are not peaceful. They can inflict lots of damage as did the Inquisition, Russia’s Okhrana and KGB, and the German Nazis, but at the end of it all, there will be only bomb sites in Tehran, or a medieval society closed against change, progress and reform just as Suleyman Kanuni’s code and ideology stagnated the Ottomans.


Dangerous suggestion

This is not the first time we read a headline in The Jerusalem Post that practically dares our enemies to attack us (“Israel braces for Ramadan tensions,” April 1). It is totally unnecessary and possibly even dangerous to make such a suggestion. Is the newspaper so anxious to sell copies that our security is of secondary importance?

Our enemies don’t need our encouragement. Please be more conscientious in the future even if it means that your headlines would be less sensational but more responsible.


‘Which way the wind blows’ 

You would think that there was more than enough news these days with the war in Ukraine and the continuation of terror attacks at home, without The Jerusalem Post needing to serve up Douglas Bloomfield’s regular diatribe against one side of American politics (“Mitch & Donald’s family feud,” March 31).

He did manage to cover the hearings for Biden’s Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, mentioning that Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) asked her if she was able to define the term “woman.” What Bloomfield failed to give us was the most important part, that Jackson was not able to give a definition, explaining that she was not a biologist. Kinda like Bob Dylan’s famous line in the song “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” “You don’t need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows.”

All the time we hear from Bloomfield about Trump (former president, that is) but hardly a mention of the incumbent Joe Biden. His various ramblings were not so significant previously to us here In Israel, but it’s a totally different matter now that the leader of the free world is dangerously skirting close to the start of World War III. 

In the run-up to the February 24 start of war in Ukraine, Biden said for Putin’s knowledge that minor incursions would be okay. Imagine anyone saying that to Hitler before the last world war?

I’m sure that Putin is picking up on the West’s weakness. (I’m old enough to remember the strength that president Kennedy showed in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.) All this had an obvious impact worldwide, but it is likely to have a lasting and major impact here in Israel, in the balance of power against Iran.


Head of the snake

Your editorial of March 31 (“Halt terrorism”) although welcome, completely missed the point, indeed in exactly the same way as our government is missing the point.

The recent spate of terror attacks on innocent Israeli citizens, in Beersheba, Hadera, Bnei Brak, Neve Daniel and other peace-loving townships has to be addressed by our leaders in a much more fundamental way than the steps now being considered and adopted and which you referred to in your editorial. Preventative incarcerations of those who pose a constant threat to our society and stringent supervision of those who have a history of terror-connected activity are all very well and indeed essential, even at the expense of the individual’s right to freedom of speech and movement. But that is not enough – it is the root of the evil that has to be destroyed, the head of the snake that has to be severed.

All the perpetrators of these acts of heinous barbarism, whether in Israel or in any of the European countries, where these attacks have also been experienced recently, have one thing in common: they are carried out by Muslims who have been “radicalized.” And what does that mean? They have come under the influence of the imams who deliver their venomous message of hate and murder in their weekly “sermons” in the mosques, in their “religious” instruction sessions in the schools and universities. To our shame, they are allowed to continue doing so by the authorities who are too scared to put a stop to their activities for fear of upsetting the delicate balance of religious differences and causing an outburst of religion-based rioting.

Well, it is too little and too late for the pussy-footing lame reactions of the authorities. These imams and radicalizers need to be vomited out of the country and dumped as far away as possible. They need to be aware that their families will have their citizenship (if any) canceled and will lose any social benefits which our society provides.

Then, when the head of the snake has been severed, perhaps the long, crawling body will ultimately stop twitching.


Meaningless guarantees 

Josep Borrell’s discussion of Russia’s Ukraine invasion (“Might makes not right,” March 1) lacks any mention of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum which resulted in Ukraine’s sending Soviet-era nuclear weapons on its territory to Russia in exchange for guarantees of its independence and territorial integrity, extended by the US, UK and Russia itself. If Ukraine still had those weapons, it is doubtful that Russia’s earlier invasion, never mind this one, would have happened. As an experienced diplomat, it’s doubtful Borrell is unaware of it, so the omission is presumably intentional. Why?

The essence of the memorandum was that a state gave up a tangible security asset in exchange for promises that turned out to be worthless when they were needed.

Something tangible in exchange for words – “commitments,” “promises,” etc., the term doesn’t matter – is a pretty good description of what the Iran deal proposes: Iran will receive relief from sanctions, something tangible, in exchange for promises that are at best ephemeral, and quite likely meaningless. Mentioning the Budapest Memorandum would have invited discussion of why the European Union continues to support renewing the JCPOA, which is a danger to most of the Middle East, and a reminder that western guarantees to the countries there are likely meaningless.


Cult of personality 

In “Words do matter” (March 31), Meira Lerner takes Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to task for using the term “West Bank” instead of Judea and Samaria at a news conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Ms. Lerner should have mentioned that former prime minister Netanyahu also used the term “West Bank” when speaking with foreign audiences.

Commentators on the Right, in attacking the present “partly left-wing” government, usually neglect to mention that in some ways Netanyahu was no better. In fact, Netanyahu loves to give himself a pass while rushing to attack others. In his many years in office, he was unable to bring “governability” to the Negev, was unable to gather illegal firearms from the Arab cities and villages.

Under his watch there was a “knife intifada,” with lone “knife-men” attacking Israelis day after day. The present government has to deal with the result of years of neglect in many areas of the previous government. We are better off without the “cult of personality” of Netanyahu, where if you attack him you are a “leftist.”


No afterlife rewards

Herb Keinon (“Fearing Ramadan,” March 31) put it well when he said that we shouldn’t get too excited about Mahmoud Abbas’s “condemnation” of the Bnei Brak terrorist which was quickly followed by a Fatah leader extolling him to a cheering crowd as a hero.

I would add that while the denunciations issued by other Arab and western countries were more sincere, they will not produce any significant effects. Only concrete measures to deter the criminals will effectuate results.

However, pressure should be brought upon Islamic religious authorities to express their views on the murder of innocent Israelis. To a large extent the killers are motivated by their belief that their horrible deeds will make them “martyrs” and earn them a blissful existence in the next world.

If authoritative Muslim theologians made it clear that their actions constitute a severe violation of that religion’s fundamental beliefs and will garner no afterlife rewards but only eternal damnation, it might give the would-be terrorists reason to pause and reconsider.


Skewered sense of reality

I truly wonder what universe Gershon Baskin is living in, because his continuous rantings about the poor Arab/Palestinian, this time in his article “A way forward” (March 31), has shown him to be hopelessly out of touch with reality.

To sum up this article’s subject matter, Baskin would still have us believing that the poor Arab Palestinians only want peace and a state next to ours. With the right of return and a shared capital, there is no reason for Israel not to want peace with its loving peaceful neighbors.

In addition to the above, Baskin wants us to “forget” the intifadas, forget the terrorist attacks, and simply move on. He had come to the above realization after the article written by him and Bassam Abu Sharif in 1988, during the First Intifada, was printed, advocating a peace between Israel and its Arab/Palestinian neighbors.

What chutzpah, what gall, what a skewered sense of reality, for him to believe that not only do the Arabs, who are killing us on an ongoing basis, want peace, but Israel would jump at the opportunity now. Yes, we want peace, but not until the social fabric of the Arab Palestinians beside us resolves the innate problem of teaching and encouraging Jew-hatred.

It is the Arab/Palestinian responsibility to provide infrastructure for its people, to provide education free of prejudice, and to make sure that all have the same freedoms afforded in any democratic state. They have done none of this and its leadership has done nothing but get rich on the “donations” made to improve their people’s lives.

I propose Baskin stop writing week after week about the same ridiculous and annoying articles of Arab/Palestinian peace, and instead find a way to convince his Arab friends that killing us only hardens our resolve.

We’ll never give up or give in!