Letters to the Editor August 1, 2022: Frank and honest criticism

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

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

I was disappointed to read “Genocide denial: It must be unacceptable to Jewish leaders,” by Ajla Delkic and Reuf Bajrovic (July 31), pertaining to a recent meeting I attended as chief executive officer of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations, with a high-level member of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s government.

The Conference of Presidents meets with a wide range of international officials. Some of those officials are friends, and some are not; some are paragons of virtue, and some are not. Such meetings do not, in and of themselves, constitute an endorsement of the leaders or the actions of their governments. 

We do not shrink from frank and honest criticism in such encounters, especially when core values, such as our commitment to human rights, and to the safety and security of the Jewish people, are at stake. 


Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

Having it both ways

I do agree with the conclusions you’ve drawn in the editorial titled “Stronger police” (July 31). The state comptroller’s report found deficiencies in the Israel Police, as demonstrated so shockingly during the riots of last year in the mixed cities of Lod, Jaffa and Acre. Indeed there are many improvements to be made and basic strategic changes to be introduced.

But once again your editorial has missed the point. The inherent internal danger of conflict between the two populations, Jewish and Arab, will not disappear because of stronger policing. What is needed is an upheaval in the system of judicial punishment, which needs to hang above the heads of those who wish to destroy us from within. This is not just hooliganism, but a concerted and planned uprising against Jewish presence in certain areas of our own land. 

The rioters are mainly young men, all of whom enjoy the benefits which the Jewish state bestows on them (as it does on all citizens): the right to work, the right to social benefits, child allowances, health services, free education, etc. It is my contention that punishment for participating in these anti-Jewish riots should include an immediate deprivation of these benefits.

They can’t have it both ways. One of the tenets of jurisprudential philosophy is the mutual interconnection between social rights and social duties. If you want the benefits, you must adopt the duties.

The courts need to throw aside the lily-livered approach that they have recently adopted in their punishment policies, use their judicial powers fearlessly and enforce the punishments referred to without fear of favor. Just the public awareness of the threat of this judicial turnaround should serve as a salutary deterrent to future riots.



Propensities toward excesses

Regarding “Government bans use of cash for purchases larger than NIS 6,000” (July 29): Having had cognizance over many taxpayer audits during my pre-aliyah career as an attorney for the US Internal Revenue Service, I fully appreciate the advantages that limits upon the use of cash for monetary transactions confer to tax enforcement and criminal law investigations.

Israel’s lowering of the maximum allowable cash transactions from NIS 11,000 to NIS 6,000 for ordinary commercial purchases has its downside, however. In Israel, where the authorities have been known to abuse their powers to freeze personal bank accounts, the new law effectively criminalizes normal life activities of innocent people whose bank accounts have been frozen, often without prior notification, because their financial situations were unstable to begin with.

The problem is not unique to Israel. In the United States, the IRS’s abuse of its seizure powers in connection with an analogous cash transactions limitation law had caused much undue and grievous anguish to individuals and small business owners, and has drawn the attention of the US Congress. Taxation bureaucracies in all countries have similar propensities toward excesses if allowed to run unchecked and untethered. 

The question now is what will be done to rein in the inherently abusive tendencies of the Israel Tax Authority and other governmental agencies?


Petah Tikva

Full and virtually permanent

In her latest article, “Yamina by any other name is still a lost cause” (July 29), Ruthie Blum shows much of the same hypocrisy of which she accuses Yamina, and in very galling terms. Among her other accusations, she declares that, along with other parties who were “self-described members of the ‘national camp,’” Yamina “actually stole the country –  astonishingly, from their own voters.”

This is an outrageous statement and harkens to Donald Trump’s ongoing allegations that the last presidential election was stolen from him, as well as Netanyahu’s insistence that the last government was illegitimate, because the Likud did receive the most votes. The fact is no one ‘stole’ anything because the blame for the instability and all-too-frequent elections in recent years can be unequivocally placed with the faulty coalition system of government, where the popular vote is only secondary at best, since any any party, no matter how small, can determine who will be prime minister by putting together a majority coalition, even of only one.

This absurd situation has been criticized by Blum herself over the years, yet when the loser is Netanyahu, and four times to boot, she sings a different tune and conveniently blames a particular party, knowing very well that, to paraphrase a now famous economic cliche, “it’s the system, stupid.”

In another illustration of blatant hypocrisy, she has the audacity to say that “there could have been a ‘stable national government’ three and a half years ago, if not for the ‘anybody but Bibi’ contingent on the right side of the pie chart,” and blames Avigdor Liberman as the culprit for this situation. She completely ignores that there were three more subsequent elections, for which Netanyahu was either supportive or even instigated, like the last one when he purposely refused to pass a budget to bring about this scenario. 

Whatever his true motives for doing so, he certainly counted on a fourth election to bring him back to full and virtually permanent power. To ignore Netanyahu’s primary role in bringing about the situation in which we now find ourselves is hypocritical and disingenuous.

Finally, if we are talking about hypocrisy, political flip-flops and breaking of promises, Netanyahu does this so often that even many supporters are wary of his word, since on every level he consistently reneges on promises, whether personal or collective, has been caught in lies like any other politician, and zigzags on even the most right-wing causes and parties.

Ironically, it was Netanyahu who insisted – in an interview with Dana Weiss in March 2020 – that the national unity government agreement with Benny Gantz, including rotation of the role of prime minister, would be honored “without tricks and without shticks.” Yet no one has broken this clear and televised promise over recent years other than Netanyahu himself.


Hatzor Haglilit

Far from convincing

A return to the JCPOA is nearly impossible” (July 26) is right on the mark. The last time around, in 2015, the Obama/Biden administration was desperate for a deal at any cost, giving in to the ayatollahs at every turn. Not on the table were the issues of their support for their terrorist proxies and their development of ballistic missiles to carry nuclear weapons. At the end, Iran got $150 billion, together with $1.8 billion in unmarked bills loaded into planes on pallets. 

Without doubt some of this money ended up in the hands of Iran’s proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah, the first of which has continued carrying out deadly attacks against Israelis, and the second (a non-state actor) having 150,000 rockets on Lebanon’s southern border threatening the Zionist state. It is therefore safe to say that the money America provided them went on to kill innocent Israelis.

The daring Mossad raid of April 2018 proved beyond doubt what many suspected, that Iran uses duplicitous means in their drive to attain nuclear weaponry. As the article describes, IAEA Director-General Grossi expresses his agency’s total frustration with Iran playing their cat and mouse game of avoiding any meaningful inspection regime. The main takeaway from the article was that “diplomacy only works with a credible military threat.”

Biden is desperately trying to renew the deal after the former president’s cancellation, but his recent statement on his trip here on the possible use of military force was far from convincing. Biden is displaying his weakness on every front, and the world’s bad actors are using this to their advantage while they can. It is telling that his administration has had no direct negotiations with Iran, and that no indirect contact has been held since March this year.

Iran threatens Israel with total annihilation, calling us a “one bomb” country. America has the luxury of strategic depth due to its enormous size. For Israel, Iran poses an existential threat. The Iranian leaders, by their actions, continuously demonstrate that they are not honest brokers on the world stage. The ancient wisdom of the Talmud tells us “if someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first.” That has to continue to be the guiding light of the modern Jewish state.



Drinking for breakfast

The opening paragraph of the latest harangue by Gershon Baskin on the so-called poor Palestinians (“The situation,” July 28) was almost enough for me to walk away from the article: “The most crucial issue facing Israel is not on the agenda of any political party that will lead the next government.” Re-evaluate your statement, Gershon. That is not the most crucial issue facing Israel at this time. Baskin, as usual, was talking about the current government and/or future governments having no “will to negotiate any kind of agreement with the Palestinian people.”

Does Baskin believe that “a former Israeli prime minister” asking him, Baskin, his opinion on whether there could be a third intifada, elevated Baskin to the status of the inner circle of those in the know? In Baskin’s modus operandi, the “I” pronoun is always in use.

He goes on in the article, ad nauseum, to “enlighten” us about the need to negotiate a two-state solution, so that his beloved Arabs can live in peace and tranquility. 

Really? Mr. Baskin, where have you been when Yasser Arafat launched the intifadas against Israel, instead of sitting down to a peace plan, or Mahmoud Abbas telling us he’ll never recognize anything but a “Juden-free state from the river to the sea.”

He continues to rant about the need for elections in Ramallah, but it is the corrupt authoritarian Abbas who announces elections and cancels elections, not the Israelis. Baskin’s goal for the implementation of this strategy is to campaign for the release of the murderer/terrorist Marwan Barghouti after he served “only” 25 years of a multiple life sentence. According to Baskin, he would be the ideal candidate to lead the Arabs by negotiation to resolve the conflict. What must Baskin be drinking for breakfast?

His last paragraph of the article, “keeping the mantra of two states while doing nothing about it,” can be paraphrased with a better mantra: To keep writing week after week about the same poor Arab/Palestinian does nothing for them or Israel. 

The Arabs must be the ones, not you or the Israelis, Mr. Baskin, to take the bull by the horns, have free democratic elections, create infrastructure, and sit down to negotiate a fair and just peace.

That will solve the problems, and you could then go on to write about other much more important things.