Letters to the Editor May 15, 2022: Our imperiled planet

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

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

Kudos to health and wellness coach Alan Freishtat for his article “Changing the paradigm” (May 10), in which he explains that “by selecting most of your food from vegetable fruits, intact whole grains, legumes and a small amount of nuts and seeds,” one can lose weight and gain other health benefits.

I would like to reinforce his argument by pointing out that the paradigm shift away from animal-based diets to the foods he mentions would also be very beneficial for our imperiled planet.

It would reduce the very wasteful use of land, water, energy, and other resources. For example, it is shameful that, while over ten percent of the world’s people are chronically malnourished, about 70% of the grain produced in the US is used to fatten animals for slaughter and that, while water is becoming increasingly scarce in many areas of the world, it takes up to 13 times as much water for a person on an animal-based diet than for a person on a vegan diet.

It would also reduce the possibility of future pandemics. For example, as discussed in “Chicken coops riddled with health and safety concerns” (May 11), the widespread mistreatment and consumption of chickens increases risks for a bird-flu pandemic.

Most importantly, it would lessen risks of a future climate catastrophe by reducing emissions from cows of methane, a very potent greenhouse gas, and by enabling reforestation of the vast areas presently being used for grazing and raising feed crops for animals, would sequester much atmospheric CO2, and reduce it to a safe level.



Sweet anticipation

Regarding ''Death penalty for Elad terrorists'' (May 10): Kudos to Shmuley Boteach for his forceful column demanding capital punishment for the heinous murders of the three victims of the  Elad attack. Since life is sacred in Judaism, cold-blooded murderers deserve the utmost punishment of death. As the American Jewish writer Dennis Prager remarked, capital punishment is the only mitzvah in each of the five books of the Chumash (Pentateuch). As the Talmud declares on the infinite value of a life, ''Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world'' (Sanhedrin 37a).

It is unbelievable that Israel does not have the death penalty, even though three of the largest democracies – US, Japan, India – have it. Because of this policy, Israel's enemies have made it pay an enormous price. Barbaric Palestinian murderers of civilians have been released in exchanges of prisoners. Israel has been forewarned ever since Palestinians hijacked an El Al plane to Algeria in 1968 and it had to free16 Palestinian terrorists.

Of course, Israel had to obtain the freedom of soldier Gilad Schalit held in Gaza, even at a staggering price, in 2011. One has only to read the Wikipedia list of Palestinian prisoners, who perpetrated the most brutal murders, to rage at Israel's foolish obstinacy in banning the death penalty.

When I watch the many American court cases available on YouTube where judges sentence murderers to life imprisonment or impose the death penalty, I know American justice is final and not to be trifled with. Not so Israeli justice. The terrorist lives with the sweet anticipation that there may always be a prisoner exchange on the horizon and limitless freedom beyond his prison cell, lightening his ordeal.



Leaders who can do better

The editorial "Police accountability" (May 15) calls for the resignation of Kobi Shabtai, Israel's police commissioner, following the police violence at the funeral of Shireen Abu Akleh. The police should have known how to handle the thousands of rampaging Palestinians at the funeral without violence.

The Palestinians, in the meantime, are more than happy. They are winning the propaganda war and are ever-eager to provoke more violence, wherever and whenever they have the opportunity. To my mind, the only way to have avoided violence at the funeral would have been total absence of the police. Let them have their funeral. Some will say, of course, that this is a slippery slope, relinquishing Israeli sovereignty in the public places.

Everybody knew that there would be fierce rioting and police violence at the funeral. Everybody knew that the following day would see the world's newspapers full of condemnation from the EU, from the US.

Where is Prime Minister Bennett? Where is his responsibility and accountability? If he cannot do any better than this, he and Shabtai should hold a joint media appearance submitting their resignation. Get us some leaders who can do better. It can't be that this is the best we can do. 



Half-hearted hasbara

Mark Regev's insightful discussion of one of Israel's methods for preventing terror attacks before they occur ("Administrative detention," May 13) brought to mind my experience as a student at a leading American law school many years ago. While writing a research paper on this very subject, I contacted both Israeli and Palestinian officials to ask for their views on the practice. 

The Israeli officials responded with both voluminous printed materials and a clear statement asserting the justification for this policy. The Palestinians responded with a single letter.The letter stated that, since I was working under the guidance of a Jewish pro-Israel professor, I could not possibly be objective or fair-minded. They therefore refused to engage on the issue in any way. 

The Palestinian response guaranteed that my paper would contain quotes and observations from one side, with very little from the other. There was no way for me to include much if any source material from the Palestinian side.

No doubt Palestinian officials reading my finished product would say that it justified their refusal to participate because it was so one-sided. They would not admit that their own refusal to contribute virtually guaranteed that outcome. Others reading my paper would have no idea why there was a paucity of information presenting the Palestinian position.

A similar scenario played out regarding the UNHRC's 2009 investigation headed by Richard Goldstone into Operation Cast Lead. While Israel's hesitation to participate in the process was understandable in light of the UNHRC's previously demonstrated anti-Israel bias, its absence made the negative findings inevitable. 

Very few people who read the Goldstone report recognized that Israel had not participated on principle. Those who knew of Israel's absence could well take it as an admission of guilt. After all, if Israel had a convincing defense to the charges, why not shout it from the rooftops?

Much as it pains us to take part in what may seem to be exercises in futility, we cannot hope to win anyone over to our side if we do not defend ourselves forthrightly at every opportunity. Our failure to make the case forcefully opposing unjust actions taken against Israel encapsulates much of what has been wrong historically with Israel's half-hearted hasbara efforts.


Zichron Ya'acov

Huge propaganda victory

Regarding "Israel isn't winning the narrative battle on Shireen Abu Akleh – but it isn't losing either" (May 13), Michael Starr is being much too kind.

This international event was a made for Pallywood production. It was the Jihadi equivalent of The Sun Also Rises. Shireen Abu Akleh played the role of the tragic matador, gored to satisfy the bloodthirsty crowd.

This was cold, calculated murder. The media were lined up. The usual spokespersons had script in hand, ready to condemn Israel. The PA was in place. They carted off the body, did a secret autopsy and refused to share the evidence. Why?

Why are the media not following the trail? What facts could the bullet provide and why are the Arabs refusing to reveal it? What more are they hiding? The Pallywood terrorists scored a huge propaganda victory. For them the story is over. The victim’s family will be paid for her martyrdom. The jihadists will move on.

But, will the western media let it go?



PBS TV, the most respected television news outlet with a Center-Left political bias in the US, reported the shooting of Al Jazeera's Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin. They reported that it had not yet been determined with certainty who fired the shot. They reported that Israel wanted to conduct a joint investigation with the Palestinian Authority but that the PA refused to cooperate. 

They reported that Abu Akleh was a journalist and an American citizen but gave no other information about the context of the event. But they displayed bias in favor of the PA's version of events and strongly implied that Israel was responsible for the reporter's death. They emphasized their deep prejudice against Israel by punctuating their report with a film clip of PA soldiers at Arafat's mausoleum stamping their feet. It was as if someone from the PA wrote and directed that news report as a propaganda video.


Lake Forest Park, WA

Humanly devastating

Regarding "The abortion debate" (May 12): If only as much concern was given to the already born and breathing as is given the unborn. As a free-nation society, we cannot prevent anyone from bearing children, including those who insist upon procreating regardless of their inability to raise children in a psychologically functional/healthy manner. 

We can, however, educate all young people for the most important job ever, even those high-schoolers who plan to remain childless. If nothing else, such a curriculum could offer students an idea/clue as to whether they’re emotionally suited for the immense responsibility and strains of parenthood. But simply mindlessly "minding our own business" often proves humanly devastating.

As for abortion services, they, along with critical health services and long-term care residences, should never be a for-profit, let alone for big profit, medical procedure. But it seems there's nothing sufficiently sacred to be made hands-off to corporate interests.


White Ro​ck, B.C.

Much more relaxing

Rabbi Warren Goldstein asks “Can long weekend lower religious tensions?” (May 11). The answer is yes, but instituting a “Sunday” can do so much more. Over 30 years ago, a cousin from Israel was visiting us in Skokie and went to my son’s soccer game. While she was impressed that Jews and non-Jews were on the same team, she was even more fascinated that religious and non-religious Jewish kids were playing together. I told her that that was one of the benefits of Sunday, that everyone was off on this non-holy day. All kinds of kids could participate in activities together.

But there is another benefit to Sunday – to increase the enjoyment and quality of life for observant Jews who now have only one full day off of work and school (no, I’m not counting pressure-filled Friday). In 1991, Peter Sichrovsky published Abraham’s Children: Israel’s Young Generation. The book consisted of interviews with a whole range of Israelis.

Interestingly, those Israelis who were raised religious but gave it up later had a similar reason that pushed them in that direction: With only one full day off, there was no day to just enjoy themselves, to just go to the beach or the movies or drive to friends in another city. Something had to give, and that something was Shabbat.

For those who are worried about not achieving a 40-hour week the solution is simple: Hours on Monday through Thursday would be 8:30-5:30, making a 36-hour week. Friday would be 8-12 in the winter and 8:30-12:30 in the summer. Voila, 40 hours and a much more relaxing weekend.