Letters to the Editor, June 1, 2022: The other 99.9% 

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

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

The other 99.9% 

Regarding “Israel has a racism problem – it comes out on Jerusalem Day” by Yaakov Katz (May 30): Yaakov, while we both attended this year’s annual flag parade on Jerusalem Day in our capital city, it’s as if we were both at separate events. You came away believing that “Israel has a racism problem,” while I came away from the event more confident than ever, that the future of our country is in the good hands of proud young Zionists with deep ties to their heritage and homeland.

Let’s start with your “racism” claim. It’s undeniable that there were marchers in attendance who expressed clear anti-Arab sentiments. But why do the chants of a few dozen hooligans indicate that our country as a whole has a “problem?” 99.9% of the tens of thousands of marchers in attendance were peaceful and respectful, and repeatedly chanted the most popular slogan of the day: “Am Yisrael Chai,” the Nation of Israel Lives.

In your recap you also state that the problem is that when the government of Israel delegitimizes Arab politicians and the PA, “Why would they [these people] not turn to the far-Right.” First off, when many Arab politicians basically serve as PA emissaries in the Knesset, and as the PA itself continues to offer stipends to terrorists and their families, and incites to violence against Israel and the Jews on a daily basis, why is a rightward turn in the political landscape a surprise?

Even more relevant is the fact that the Israeli people have learned the hard way since the days of Oslo that concessions “for peace” in the form of land transfers to the PA only whets their appetite and leads to more terror and violence against Israeli civilians. Israeli voting patterns over the past two decades clearly indicate a rightward shift.  

Plus with 20 Israeli civilians and soldiers murdered in terror attacks or killed in anti-terror operations in the past two months alone, how does the current mentality of the general public come as a shock? Sadly we once again have learned how weakness breeds terror, while strength ensures our safety. Whether that translates into more votes for the Right or the so-called “far-Right” remains to be seen.

I do agree with you that the crowd at the parade was homogenous. It is a true shame that over 98% of those in attendance represent only the national religious public. In that regard I would say that our country and in particular our education system should place a greater emphasis on the miraculous victory during the 1967 six-day defensive war of survival. Perhaps then more diverse youth groups would decide to participate in the day’s festivities in the capital.

That being said, the march from Gan Sacher through the gates of the Old City and to the Western Wall, with thousands of blue and white clad youth singing and dancing, waving the Israeli flag featuring the Star of David and celebrating our liberation, was nothing short of inspiring.

It’s unfortunate that even as you admit “the march seemed to have passed quietly” the headline, and your bottom line, is that you feel Israel has a problem. On that point after still being on a post-Jerusalem Day high, I couldn’t disagree with you more.

JOSH HASTEN

Elazar

Yaakov Katz wonders why and how Jerusalem Day became virtually unmarked outside Jerusalem itself, some synagogues and schools, and even those almost exclusively in the religious Zionist sector. As he correctly notes, most of the country identifies Jerusalem Day as one of conflict with the Arab population and overridden by religious Zionist circles and youth, often stereotyped as right-wing extremists.

I believe that a good part of the answer to his question lies in the simple and very puzzling and unfortunate fact that no government, whether in 1967 or beyond, has ever seen fit to raise the status of Jerusalem Day to that of Israel Independence Day as an official national holiday. On both religious and national levels, there is no question that our victory in 1967 was no less, and some would say even greater, a miracle than 1948, with the return to Jewish hands of all of Jerusalem, which remained a divided city even after the War of Independence, with Jews being forbidden access to Judaism’s holiest sites.

Imagine how much more awareness this would inspire among all Israelis regarding Jerusalem and its central and unique importance to Judaism and Jews the world over. Making Jerusalem Day a national holiday would also lead to a greater and countrywide identification with Jerusalem and its history, beauty and status as the eternal capital of the state and people of Israel.

Jerusalem Day could, and should, be celebrated as a national holiday just like Independence Day, and the fact that it is not constitutes one of the greatest sins of omission of every government and Knesset elected over the past 55 years. In 1967, there was a national unity government that had been formed because of a united and clear understanding of the great danger facing the State of Israel at the time, which overrode even the most burning political differences and disputes. Furthermore, when all of Jerusalem was liberated, the tens of thousands who flocked to the Kotel to celebrate this miraculous victory came from every segment of Israeli society. 

It is shameful that 55 years later, this great unity and victory has become a very local and divisive legacy for Jerusalem only, with the only factor uniting all our illustrious leaders, past and present, is that they share equally in the blame. 

GERSHON HARRIS

Hatzor Haglilit

Wonderful happening

I strongly take issue with the headline “Jerusalem Day march marred by chants of ‘death to Arabs,’clashes” (May 30). It is so unJewish, unpatriotic, not kind, to start the article in a biased fashion.

This is something The New York Times would do. Your editorial staff could have decided to write in the text about the few troublemakers, rather than headlining the article to taint the entire march. The march was a wonderful happening and that should have been the emphasis.

STEVE JACOB 

Jerusalem

Protecting from themselves

In reference to “PA: Flag march failed to assert Israeli sovereignty” (May 30): Just like the Palestinian leadership speaks always of returning all the Palestinians that fled when the war that they initiated in 1948 turned against them, this statement in the headline is also incredibly pathetic to read – to see their world view and their mindset.

It is simply incredible that even 55 years since Jerusalem was unified, they still consistently refuse to work out a solution or to take responsibility for anything. They are determined to stay in refugee camps, the longest-term refugees in world history.

They live in their own bubble. Reality does not exist for them. Their rallying call is always about protecting al-Aqsa. From whom? Basically from themselves, who seem to have taken every opportunity to smash things within and outside of this, their very holy site.

 If they failed to see Israeli sovereignty in the many, many tens of thousands of blue and white flags being held on high with the Star of David on them, maybe one day they will come out of their bubble, join the real world, help solve their own problems and let the world find its peace.

SURA KATZ

Tel Aviv

As usual, ad infinitum

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is correct to point out that no one of any faith should be terrified to walk through any neighborhood in Jerusalem (“Jews are terrified to walk in Muslim Quarter,” May 31). However the truth is that the Jews and Christians who live in Jerusalem don’t terrorize anyone, by and large. It is primarily the Muslims of Jerusalem who do the terrorizing, and primarily of Jews anywhere in the Muslim Quarter.

This is an ugly reality which will not get any better with attempts to soft pedal it by calling for universal tolerance. If it is ever to change, the solution must start with correctly identifying this ugly problem for what it is – Islamic religious and ideological intolerance of Jews in particular, and of other religions in general.

The solution must be multifaceted. Israel must exert full control over its own capital city, which must begin with enforcing safety, law and order everywhere including in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem. Undoubtedly the Wakf will be outraged, Jordan will complain that Israel is upsetting the status quo of Jerusalem, Muslim Arab terrorists will yell and scream about Israel “storming” Muslim areas, and so on and so on, as usual, ad infinitum. Israel must steadfastly respond with an uncompromising stance that every country fully governs its entire capital city, and so will Israel.

Israel should also ally with well-meaning Muslim authorities like, for example, Imam Tawhidi who minces no words in condemning Muslim attacks on Israel and on Jews. Israeli envoy Noa Tishby should be brought on board a PR campaign to explain that Israel is fighting discrimination and antisemitism in its effort to enforce its law in its capital city.

To allow any area of Jerusalem to be effectively rendered off-limits to Jews is unacceptable, and a threat to Jerusalem’s unity and Israeli sovereignty. Rabbi Boteach’s column should serve as a wake-up call for Israel to put an end to this dangerous situation.

DANIEL H. TRIGOBOFF

Williamsville, New York

Fills me with despair

Andrea Samuels’ article “Basic rules for driving in Israel” (May 27) was both amusing and disturbing. Originating from the UK, I have been driving in both Great Britain and Israel since the 1970s. Now in my 80s, a resident in northern Israel, I find that my monthly visit by car to my family, who live in the center of the country, has become a terrifying experience. 

Andrea’s well-researched article does not mention that around 20% of Israeli drivers do not have insurance. That could have serious consequences if one is involved in an accident, as I have found out to my cost.

Most Israeli drivers fail to use the indicators, as if they did not exist. They tailgate, often at  high speed, which can be most disconcerting. If you do keep your distance from the car in front, the gap will be filled almost immediately. As a large proportion of the journey south is on Highway Six, the sight of cars weaving back and forth at high speed between three or four lanes fills me with despair.

There is a complete absence of police patrols, which appear only after an accident has already happened. Surely, if electronic means can be used to collect the tolls, they can be used to monitor reckless drivers (as used currently on motorways in the UK). Apart from increasing fines for offenders, serious offenses should result in suspension of the license for at least a year, its restoration dependent on taking a remedial driving course, and in serious cases the offender’s vehicle should be impounded.

In spite of the horrendous statistics of fatalities on the roads of Israel, it seems that the government does not seem inclined to tackle the problem any time soon.

Meanwhile, we can only hope and pray for a miracle in this regard.

SHIMON HAR-EVEN

Safed