Letters to the Editor August 8, 2022: Seeing is believing

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

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

Gilboa scandal

Your editorial (“The Gilboa scandal,” August 4) and analysis by Shira Silkoff (“Prison officers are equally to blame,” August 3) brings moral clarity into the horrific episode of the Prisons Service. The gravity of the behavior of the wardens and officers in the Gilboa Prison is unbelievable to the ordinary citizen.

The reaction was a public outcry, and public shame, to what horrible moral nadir our police force/ Prisons Service has deteriorated. Just unbelievable.

It’s also unbelievable that Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev agreed to the Prisons Service demand to investigate this outrageous scandal themselves. [How is it that] this organization, which is internally corrupt and rotten, and probably enjoyed the tacit consent of the prosecution, is investigating its own crimes? Such an investigation can only be a “cover-up” investigation, to save as many officers as possible in their own organization. 

Only an outside military investigation, which is completely detached from the police and Prisons Service, has the objective possibility to reveal all the criminal officers and wardens in the Gilboa Prison, and clean up this whole organization with full moral and legal clarity from the top to the bottom. For such a decision, the involved ministers need civil and moral courage, which none of the above ministers have.

On Tisha Be’av, we finish our laments with the biblical sentence: Zion will be redeemed by the (truth) court. This seems not to be the case here.



Anglo perspective?

Fleur Hassan-Nahoum is hardly a household name. While she will more likely than not wind up in the Knesset, if and when a government is formed, I suspect that, despite her vision of what could be, she’ll wind up as an insignificant backbencher (“Political system here ignores English speakers,” August 5). 

Alas, the days of Likud “princes” are long past. What now comprises the Likud membership list, once headed by the majestic Menachem Begin, is more rhetoric than substance. The issues Hassan-Nahoum plans to focus on are all well and good; the extent to which she will be permitted to contribute to these lofty goals is subject to debate and speculation.

She surely must realize that the party’s stalwarts are currently counting the days when Bibi packs it in. Newcomers will be forced into the periphery with little chance to outshine and interfere with the aspiration of the veterans. I just hope she doesn’t turn into some sort of an embarrassing Likud caricature, as did the offensive Oren Hazan during the years he served in the Knesset.

That she is protecting Bibi’s legacy is understandable, but ignoring the smoke that inevitably means a fire of some sort is blatantly irresponsible. Does she in fact condone his dismissive attitude toward what happened at Mount Meron last year? In this case, Bibi threw the mud, and it most certainly is sticking.

In past years, Hassan-Nahoum would have benefited from my vote. This year, not. I’m sure she’s not losing any sleep over the fact that the slip I’ll be entering into the ballot box will not be for Likud, but she should keep in mind that my concerns are shared by many others – the “Anglo perspective”, maybe?


Ginot Shomron

UN apology

This “investigator” apologized for vocalizing his true opinion (“UN investigator sorry for ‘Jewish lobby’ remark,” August 5). Perhaps his “choice of words” were wrong, but he didn’t disavow his remark; he just once again blatantly lied about his anti-Israel and antisemitic prejudice. Were he to be removed, he would certainly be replaced by a similarly prejudiced “investigator.”


Putin’s desperation

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes in “How significant is the latest Russia-Iran satellite launch?” (August 4): “the Russian leader rarely admits actions his country takes.” Now that is an understatement! Russia for weeks denied that it was about to invade Ukraine and when it did, it denied that it ever invaded. 

Russian propaganda has reached unprecedented levels, as Predrag Petrović, the researcher at the Belgrade Center for Security Policy observes following the events in Kosovo: “Somewhere around half past seven on July 31, when sirens were activated in Kosovska, Mitrovica and other places in the North where Serbs live, and then barricades were erected, the information was still fresh and scarce, and militant Russian and pro-Russian Telegram channels actively entered the game, and for hours they are filled with a mixture of information, semi-information and complete disinformation and distortions.”

So, on the one hand, we have a desperate Putin who is losing the war in Ukraine, transferring troops from the Donbas to the Kherson area to prevent a Ukrainian counterattack; and on the other, we have an undeterrable Iran approaching the bomb and Russia launching an Iranian satellite.

Surely the answer to Bob’s question is a no-brainer? If this time, in contrast to 1938, the West is trying to prevent Putin from occupying Europe, they better stop Iran from destroying not only Europe but everyone. Have they learned anything from February 24?



Silent prayer

As a fan of Gil Troy’s, I am reluctant to cross swords with him, but in his article, “Bar and bat mitzvahs disrupted by haredim hooligans, August 3,” he followed the popularist headlines with no regard to the central issue.

He quotes Natan Sharansky, that it cannot be that “Israel, the Jewish state, is the only place in the world where women are arrested for praying Hallel.” No, Mr. Troy, they were probably not just “praying Hallel.” Tens of thousands of women have regularly prayed Hallel there without any opposition. 

These women were arrested, I imagine, because they caused a disturbance of the peace and a riot by bringing a Torah scroll for women to read from loudly, replacing long-established Jewish norms and traditions with “their form of prayer.” I am not trying to whitewash the wild behavior of some haredim, but their anger needs to be understood.

Similarly, Ellie Morris wrote in her letter (July 19) that, “the Women of the Wall are simply trying to pray the morning service. If left alone to pray in peace, the sounds would be no different from the men... on the other side of the mechitzah (partition).”

She fails to understand that it is precisely because the “women’s sounds” would be “no different from the men,” that is the start of the problem. Orthodox men praying on the other side of the mechitzah do not want to be able to hear the voices of women praying and singing, which Halacha regards as improper, particularly while praying. This is surely aggravated by their determination to flout their disrespect of tradition to show off by wearing tefillin (very often worn wrongly) and a tallit.

I remember both my elderly grandmothers always praying or reciting Psalms (not just once a month!) in deep concentration, with lips moving, but no sound could be heard. This was the traditional way Jewish women worshiped for thousands of years. If the WOW would accept these norms, there would be no problem. 


Beit Shemesh

Doron Perez laments the conflicts, political and religious, surrounding prayer at the Western Wall (“The Western Wall: place of prayer or political protest?” August 3). In the arguments surrounding ritual prayer at our sacred wall, the voice of the seculars has been, and is, totally ignored. 

Who gave the rabbis the right to turn the Western Wall into a synagogue? Who gave the rabbis the right to turn the Western Wall into a squabbling mess? The Western Wall and the surrounding area could have been turned into a magnificent museum of Jewish history, with tens of millions of visits of people from all stripes. 

It could have hosted plays, concerts and mass meetings for lectures by intellectual giants who want to do more than just pray. It could have been turned into one of the seven wonders of the world. 

Instead, it is a squabbling religious and political mess, a monument to the eternal Jewish psychology to bicker and insult. My suggestion – start over and reorganize. There are enough synagogues in Israel. Give the Western Wall back to the people. 



Bored of education

Regarding “How can Jewish schools be bad?” (July 29): I agree with Amotz Asa-El’s concern about the lack of excellence in Israel schools today. It was distressing to read of our poor ranking in English, mathematics and science in international assessments, and especially sad to read Asa-El’s depiction of the sorry state of unmotivated students in chaotic classrooms.

However, I differ with him on one vital point. Asa-El seems to blame the situation on the emergent teacher unions. I contend that the opposite is true. 

When I started teaching in the New York City Public School system many years ago, the teaching profession was at the bottom of the totem pole for most college graduates. Although required to have both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree, plus passage through a grueling examination process, teachers were forced to accept a salary far below that of college graduates with comparable education. Needless to say, many qualified candidates looked to other professions.

It was not until the formation of the United Federation of Teachers that the profession began to earn the recognition it deserved with appropriate salaries, working conditions and benefits. By the time I retired many years later, young talented teachers were flocking to the profession. 

I suggest that instead of condemning the attempts of teachers to organize, we encourage them to uplift their profession. In the end, it is the motivated teacher who will be the key to solving all of the problems that Asa-El deplores.


Beit Shemesh

Seeing is believing

I agree with much of Efraim Cohen’s letter (August 5) and Israel’s need for a better propaganda machine. I just think that he’s missed the main obstacle: apathy.

I’ve been writing a blog-like email for many years, attempting to “tell Israel’s story.” I’ll keep on at it, but it’s a never-ending task.

“It’s all going in one ear and out the other” is the reaction of most, if not all visitors to Israel. I’ve met many, almost all of whom exclaimed, “I never knew it would be like that!” They read all about Israel, and they know of Israel’s skills in hi-tech, irrigation, Eurovision and beautiful soldiers. So why are they so surprised to see a thriving country, with all the ups and downs of normality? 

Apathy, perhaps based on dormant antisemitism, appears to be the greatest obstacle to winning people over.

Welcoming them here to see what’s going on is perhaps the best public diplomacy we have. 


Tel Aviv