Letters to the Editor, June 27, 2022: Longstanding antisemitic tendencies

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

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

Longstanding antisemitic tendencies

Gershon Baskin (“Elephant in the room is still there,” June 23) correctly rejects the automatic labeling of legitimate criticism of Israel as antisemitic. The IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism, adopted by nearly 40 countries and hundreds of organizations around the world, expressly states, “Criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”

The problem is that Baskin seems never to have found a criticism of Israel that is not legitimate. He ignores explicit examples included in the IHRA definition of criticisms that may well be antisemitic. These include, “Applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation,” and, “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

Baskin writes as a proud participant in the “Independent Inquiry on the Occupied Territory, including east Jerusalem and Israel, established by the UN Human Rights Council.” This inquiry is a continuation of the UNHRC’s longstanding antisemitic tendencies. It assumes that Israel is guilty of all wrongs real and imagined, and that only Israel and no other country need be investigated.

Thus, Agenda Item 7 of the UNHRC requires consideration three times each year of “Human rights violations and implications of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.” There is no other permanent Agenda Item dedicated to a specific country. This is precisely the type of double standard contemplated by the IHRA examples.

Baskin also includes in his list of legitimate criticisms, “questioning Israel’s right to exist as a state with Jewish supremacy.” This is nothing more than “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination” in the IHRA definition’s examples. 

Many of the other criticisms in Baskin’s article follow the same pattern: It seems that any criticism of Israel must be ipso facto both legitimate and accurate.

Baskin’s method of evaluating Israel’s policies and actions is reminiscent of the famous statement by Lavrentiy Beria, head of the Soviet secret police under Joseph Stalin: “Show me the man and I will show you the crime.”


Zichron Ya’acov

The power of propaganda

While I appreciate Vas Shenoy’s global analysis in “The four horsemen of the Apocalypse” (June 26), what it fails to explain is how could Putin and China in the 21st century manage to turn the clock back to the mid-20th century. 

There have been endless debates over whether Putin wanted to restore back the USSR or Czarist Russia, whether the regime was communist or fascist or rashist and whether the Russians could have done anything to prevent this from happening. The consensus is that all started going downhill with Boris Yeltsin using force against the Russian parliament in 1993.

But what is lost in all these analyses is – how was it possible? Apparently, Russian propaganda the last two decades (since Putin came to power) surpassed the efficiency of the Soviet one, and this was completely missed by western analysts.

It is high time for us in the West to understand the power of propaganda – the fifth horseman of the Apocalypse.



Sick and false gibberish

Regarding “IDF troops likely killed Al Jazeera journalist – UN” (June 26): Of course they did. They also kill unarmed civilians and children and any other fabrication thought up by the UN; while the terrorists led by the one in a suit Mahmoud Abbas only want peace even as they mercilessly attack and kill Israelis. But that’s okay with the UN because after all they’re only fighting for the land they never had; as a people they never were.

Why won’t Abbas hand over the bullet that killed the journalist? Perhaps because he knows it’s one of their own. It’s a risky job being a journalist in a war zone and they know the danger of being killed but still want to do the job and that’s their decision to make. There have been lots of deaths of journalists in different countries but only when Israel is involved does it become a world priority.

Israel is fighting a war for survival and as UN bias is blatantly obvious, it should be told in no uncertain terms that it has better things to do than waste time on it’s sick and false gibberish.



This too shall pass

The editorial “Biden’s visit” (June 23) covers most aspects of the American president’s visit to the area a few short weeks away, but does not mention the elephant in the political arena. Biden’s extremely low polling, perhaps the lowest in the long history of polling in the US, is largely due to the cost of gas at the pump. 

Gas prices have risen during his presidency by a factor of more than two. He has tried to get more oil from America’s enemies, Venezuela and Iran, but without success. This leaves only Saudi Arabia to come to the aid of the beleaguered president and increase the supply of gas to America. 

Former US ambassador Dan Shapiro is quoted in the editorial, saying that Biden’s focus will be on building the Abraham Accords, although we may not hear this actual phrase from his lips. We can hope that this seismic shift to Israel-Arab relations will continue to improve our global situation. 

There is the real risk that Biden will take some token action in the Palestinian arena, in order to appease his partners on the far Left, some of whom have definite antisemitic tendencies. However, Israel is strong enough to weather whatever he might dish out.

We remember too well the former Democratic administration, of which Biden formed a part, when we survived what president Obama threw our way. After promising to “have Israel’s back,” he went out of his way to frustrate and avoid our duly elected leader, with his final act being to allow the passage of the anti-Israel UN Security Council resolution 2334.

This too shall pass.



Required reading

Lola Edry’s article “Why I’m quitting my teaching job” (June 23) should be required reading for all parents and anyone else interested in education. Do you want to know what the problem in our school system is? Do you want to know why students are doing so poorly in so many areas? Read her article.

Several years ago I eagerly accepted an invitation for seniors to attend high school classes. I was the only one who participated at a local high school and after the second year the program was discontinued. As a retired high school math teacher, I wanted to improve my Hebrew rather than learn material, and unfortunately I was prevented from doing that.

Why? Because of the behavior of the students in all three classes I took. The behavior was atrocious. Lack of self-control was obvious. Too many of these young people clearly believed that what they thought and wanted to say was more important than anything the teacher might want to impart.

Do teenagers really think that you can hear or learn something when you are shouting? And shouting is what they did, in order to be heard above the other voices. Almost half of each class was spent with the teacher trying to get attention – by clapping his hands, banging on a desk, or trying to outshout the students.

I wrote letters to the president and the Education Ministry as well as several letters to the editor that weren’t published. I suggested that the problem could be easily solved if all the teachers would agree on one rule: only one person speaks at a time. That’s it. 

Whether student or teacher, only one person can speak at a time. Children in school need to learn that it is possible to listen to only one person at a time, and that if they themselves are speaking, they cannot possibly hear anyone else.

If this one rule were adopted in elementary school, the lesson would be learned well before the students reached high school, and would undoubtedly completely change the atmosphere of university classes and the Knesset as well. When one is willing to listen to someone else, whether or not he or she agrees with what is being said, respect and self-respect can only increase.

Lola Edry is speaking of elementary school, where the problems are starting, but the same problems continue. In the high school I had to be extremely alert as students ran, punched, pushed, kicked each other and shouted, both in the hallway and on the stairs. 

Yes, increased salaries, credit for good teaching, smaller classes, and more authority for principals are all necessary. But even if all that happened, the schools would still be disaster areas because of the lack of respect and self-control by students.



I remember the first time I walked into an English language classroom in the early 80s. It was my first job in my new country. I could barely speak Hebrew. I hadn’t trained as a teacher. I’d been a nursery school teacher in Canada, but when someone in the Ministry of Education heard that I knew about what we called “reading readiness,” I received a message begging me to come for an interview. 

Not having decided what I was going to do with myself, I went. They were desperate for English teachers, and assigned me to an elementary school in the town near our moshav.

The first thing the principal said to me as we walked down the hall toward the first classroom was “don’t smile.” Not understanding how someone could not smile at 11-year-old children, I smiled as I walked in. My smile quickly faded as I beheld the scene before me. 

Even after 40 years, I remember one child with a great smirk on his face, walking across the top of the desks waiting to see how I would react. In stunned silence I watched his antics. Fortunately, the principal took him out. Later I was told that there was nothing to be done about him because his father was somebody important. I lasted two years in that school and (thankfully) was asked to leave at the end of it.

My next job was with post-army students who needed matriculation exams in order to continue their studies. I did well with them, but there was no possibility of tenure there, so I found a job through some friends at a high school. It wasn’t easy at the beginning.

In many of the classes the students behaved abominably, but I persisted and eventually discovered I could teach the lower level students by praising every small positive step they took. Even if it was one answer – correct or not –  or sitting quietly in class for five minutes.

I spent 10 years in that school and loved it. I enjoyed the more advanced classes, but my forte was with the slower learners. Then we returned to Canada where, with my shiny new master’s degree, I found work in a university and college.

We have been back in Israel now for 13 years. I’ve worked in two colleges here in the north and now have been told that it’s time to retire. I do so reluctantly.

Yes I began like you. I had lots of puppets, songs, and even skipping ropes (do they still exist?), but didn’t succeed in that milieu. It seems to me that just maybe by moving from elementary school to high school or college or even private lessons that perhaps, like me, you could find your place there.

I wish you luck, courage and hope that your “inner teacher” will prevail. You seem to me to be the kind of person needed in a classroom these days; someone who smiles and encourages students to succeed no matter how many small steps it takes.