The editorial “Electoral change” (June 19), while pointing to some of the defects of the existing system in Israel, omits an important issue which prevents efficient governance – the small number of MKs relative to the population and the workload. The result is that the important work of Knesset committees, where the details of legislation and parliamentary supervision of the government are supposed to take place, is severely affected.
Ministers and deputy ministers, as members of the executive, are not allowed to be members of committees, and the other MKs are each members of several committees, such that they cannot attend properly to their duties as representing the electorate. Indeed, many committee meetings are attended by the chairman and one or two MKs, and decisions are made by this tiny number of parliamentarians.
Indeed, the Knesset’s own Research Center reported, two years ago, that as a proportion of parliamentarians to population, Israel has one of the smallest legislatures of all parliamentary democracies.
Increasing the number of MKs, to 180, for example, would also enable MKs, even from the parties in government, to function as backbenchers, and not be continuously working to become cabinet members; it would also allow MKs to prove themselves before becoming ministers or deputy ministers directly after first being elected.
Direct constituency representation is also a necessary reform; but increasing the size of the Knesset should come first.
Taking the challenge
Regarding “Kahana, Amsalem controversies” (June 20): There are statements in the article I found unfairly inaccurate.
Susan Hattis Rolef writes: “There is no doubt that in both the Zionist and Palestinian narratives, there are numerous legends and inaccuracies, side by side with hard facts.” She refers to the Nakba (catastrophe), a term Palestinians use to describe the 1948 War of Independence.
She writes that those who term it nonsense and lies are in a denial of reality since it is an undeniable fact – says the writer – that as a result of our war of independence, the majority of the Arab inhabitants of what became the Jewish state either escaped or were thrown out of their homes by our forces or were turned into refugees.
Excuse me but my narrative is I think historically and factually correct and different from yours.
In 1937, the Peel Commission recommended the partition of Palestine. After the Second World War there were constant attempts to solve this problem, and the United Nations worked diligently to find a solution.
On November 29, 1947, Resolution 181 was brought to the UN for a vote. It proposed to divide the territory which had been under the British Mandate into two sovereign states: one, Jewish and one, Arab. The Jews, under David Ben-Gurion’s leadership, accepted the proposal even though it was not perfect, and the State of Israel was established.
The Arabs rejected the proposal and all Arab states together declared war on the infant State of Israel, including many Holocaust survivors and fighters with minimum military training. If the Arabs had at that time accepted a state which was offered them, maybe there never would have been a war that you now attribute to the refugee problem going on for 74 years.
Israel who took the challenge, established its state, fought its wars and has succeeded amazingly to create a tiny country which leads the world in so many spheres.
I would like to recommend a book by Eli Amir titled The Dove Flyer.
It’s the story of the Jews of Baghdad in 1950. Farhud was a pogrom, a violent dispossession carried out against the Jewish population of Baghdad on June 1-2, 1941.
The Arabs wanted the Jews out. Thousands of Muslims attacked the towns, murdering men, women and children within hours. Jews left property, money and belongings behind and got out of Baghdad. Very large numbers were absorbed immediately in Israel. They were helped to reestablish themselves and have not been kept as refugees for 74 years.
SURA KATZTel Aviv
Gershon Baskin asks in his column titled “Could it have been different?” (June 16): “Did Jews searching for a safe haven and a homeland have to enter into an existential conflict with the indigenous Palestinians who were already living in this land?”
Every single Israeli prime minister has acknowledged the necessity to find a solution for both peoples to live in peace. On six separate occasions, Israel submitted peace offers to the Palestinians and each time the Palestinian leadership refused without counter offers. The most generous offer was submitted by prime minister Ehud Olmert that would have ceded every square inch of the West Bank land plus additional tracts to the Palestinians. Yet, it was not even acknowledged by the Palestinians.
If the Palestinians want to extricate themselves from the existential conflict, they have to accept the reality of a Jewish state. Considering the intense competition between Hamas and the PA to show who is the true defender of Jerusalem, such recognition doesn’t appear imminent.
Don’t deserve power
Regarding “Trump aides tell January 6 probe he ignored their doubts of election fraud” (June 15): This serves as an example of how far former president Donald Trump and many Republican politicians were willing to go to overturn what an abundance of evidence has shown was a fair election.
Trump’s disregard for the rule of law and the truth has now penetrated deeply into the Republican Party, which is using outlandish conspiracy theories as a basis of trying to prevent certain groups from voting, trying to elect state officials who will overturn the results of democratic elections, and doing other things to undermine US democracy.
The “big lie” of a stolen election has become central to the Republican Party’s identity, with Republican politicians fearing Trump’s wrath and opposition if they dare to tell the truth.
Republican legislators are also opposing reasonable gun control legislation, steps to reduce climate change, and every Democratic initiative to improve the lives of Americans. Hence they certainly do not deserve to be returned to power in the 2022 midterms elections or the 2024 presidential election.
RICHARD H. SCHWARTZShoresh
Amotz Asa-El (“Has the Lebanese trauma been healed?” June 10) delineates actions that are damaging to social cohesion: “consciously pitting Israelis against Israelis while hammering at Israeli democracy’s pillars – first the media, then police, then the courts and now also the Knesset, whose election of someone else as prime minister he delegitimizes.”
This is a perfect description of the actions of President Biden and the Democratic Party.
The abortive “Disinformation Governance Board” (aka “Biden’s Ministry of Truth”) was a frontal assault on any individual or organization that had the temerity to question the administration line. The only reason that media powers – both legacy and social – are not more vehemently attacked is that they long ago became unabashed flacks for the Democratic Party.
Police are widely described as “systemically racist,” and the Defund the Police movement flourished until recently. Thousands of police were injured during the 2020 BLM/Antifa riots with no discernible Democratic condemnation or regret. The result is a national crime wave with record breaking murder rates.
Supreme Court justices have been threatened publicly by the Senate majority leader. Mobs supported by the White House seek to intimidate justices by demonstrating in front of their homes – a felony under federal law. Justice Brett Kavanaugh was the target of an assassination attempt. President Biden remains silent on these appalling developments, and a bill to increase security for justices and their families languishes in Congress, stalled by Nancy Pelosi.
Former president Trump is relentlessly attacked and demonized in hopes of preventing him from running again in 2024. (This included the “Russian collusion” hoax that we now know was initiated by Hillary Clinton to distract from her own legal problems.) Eighty million Trump voters are deemed, ipso facto, “insurrectionists” and potential “domestic terrorists.” Biden will not deign to use Trump’s name and deserved title, calling him only “my predecessor.”
Not surprisingly, the US is more polarized than at any time in living memory. The one thing that may yet unite the people is the growing recognition that Biden is an abject failure as evidenced by the numerous crises his policies have produced and to which he offers no solutions.
EFRAIM COHENZichron Yaakov
A public good
Regarding ‘’Yes, politicize the massacres’’ (June 8): In his column on gun violence plaguing the US, Dan Perry focuses on the massacres and school shootings. As horrific as they are, they are one-off events, but there is another murderous abomination. An expert has estimated that a shocking 3,000 to 4,000 serial killers roam the US – humans hunting humans.
That said, Perry discusses the “gun madness” in the US. Israel, too, has its own madness. No other country confronts such a constant threat of terrorists attempting to seize or actually seizing soldiers or civilians as hostages to demand the release of depraved murderers of civilians. Yet Israel is adamant in not imposing the death penalty on them.
Had Israel had the death penalty, the unspeakable horror of the Ma’alot school massacre in May 1974 could have been averted. Palestinian terrorists who held the students hostages demanded that Israel free jailed terrorists. Israel confronted a Sophie’s Choice: release the terrorists or storm the building to rescue the students.
Israeli forces did the latter; 22 students and three teachers were slaughtered by the terrorists. Storming an enclosed structure or trying to free hostages held by determined terrorists is enormously risky and usually ends in tragedy, which Israel should have known.
Two years earlier, a Belgian Sabena airplane bound for Tel Aviv was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists who demanded the release of jailed terrorists. Israeli commandos killed and captured the terrorists, but one passenger was also killed. In the same year, German sharpshooters failed to rescue the Israeli athletes held hostage by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Olympics who, again, demanded the release of jailed terrorists.
Had Israel put to death Palestinians who murdered civilians, it would never have had to face the agonizing dilemma of freeing murderous terrorists or attempting to rescue hostages. In these many situations, it could have freed Palestinians convicted of lesser crimes. Even the celebrated Israeli raid at Entebbe in 1976, where Palestinian and German terrorists demanded the release of Palestinian terrorists, resulted in the deaths of three hostages and the hero Yonatan Netanyahu. In short, capital punishment is a public good, just like public schools and parks, in that it safeguards life or its values.