Between these extremes
Ted Lapkin’s article “The hidden stakes of Israel’s fifth election” (August 7) totally distorts the anti-Bibi issue and comes to the absurd conclusion that the “hidden stakes” is the clash of contending visions “between those who cherish Israel’s Zionist essence and those who seek to transform the world’s sole Jewish state into another non-denominational western democracy.”
Lapkin seems to believe that the only possibility for Israel is to be a non-denominational western democracy, or for its Jewish institutions to be strangled by the extreme haredi rabbinate as it was and will be under a Bibi-led government. Surely, there must be something better in between these extremes.
It’s not non-denominational to honor the Kotel agreement or to treat prospective converts with understanding and respect while staying within Jewish law. These are just two of the many improvements that can be made to our Jewish state without Shas, the Religious Zionist Party and United Torah Judaism in the government.
It seems that Lapkin’s conclusion was created to distract us from the real stakes of a fifth election: 1) a sixth election (which could cost the Israeli economy over NIS 3 billion) because Bibi refuses to relinquish his hold on power, or 2) a government with a prime minister whose first priority is to use his position to solve his legal problems and is beholden to haredi parties.
In forming his thesis, Lapkin erroneously claims that Bennett “cited those [Bibi’s] criminal charges as a rationale for boycotting a Netanyahu-led government.” Bennett never boycotted a Netanyahu-led government. In fact, before the last election, Bennett agreed to join Bibi’s coalition which brought the mandate count up to 59. Short of the 61 mandates needed to form a government, Bibi negotiated to add the Arab party Ra’am to his coalition.
This attempt to form a coalition fell apart only because Bibi’s coalition partner the Religious Zionists wouldn’t accept Ra’am. Bennett attempted to help form a Netanyahu-led government!
Also, Lapkin misplaces the blame for five elections in four years by placing it on the “anyone-but-Bibi” caucus. There is certainly a very large number of voters who only want Bibi. But there is also a very large number of voters in the “anyone-but-Bibi” crowd. What is really causing the endless elections is Bibi’s failure to step aside.
It is seriously dividing our country. The only certain solution to endless elections is for Bibi, for the sake of his country, to finally retire and endorse a successor in Likud who can carry on his policies. There are plenty of talented candidates. Are we asking too much of him?
I wish everyone in the higher echelons of the political world would speak so clearly and directly as does our UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan (“Islamic Jihad receives orders from Iran – Erdan,” August 9). His demonstration of the international double standard (the treatment of Israel by all foreign organizations, as compared to that of the rest of the world), is pointed out by Erdan in all its stark reality.
When the US assassinates arch-terrorist Ayman Zawahiri of al-Qaeda, the world applauds, but when, only days later, Israel assassinates two-arch terrorists Tayseer al-Jabari and Khaled Mansour, with pinpointed accuracy, thus avoiding innocent civilians, the world is aghast and the UN expresses “deep concern.” Nebich, what a pity!
The UN and many other European states employ the astonishing theory of “proportionality.” If there are fewer Israeli casualties than Arab casualties, then Israel has utilized “disproportionate force.”
What are they talking about? Do they want us to do a body count? Israel, in the last conflagration, destroyed 170 Jihad military targets and only 26 innocent bystanders were killed – and by whom? Well, 11 of them were killed by Israeli fire, mainly because they lived next to a weapons store or factory, strategically positioned in the heart of a civilian residential area.
The other 15 were killed by misfired rockets dispatched by Jihad itself. So, OK let’s do a body count: 15 to 11 in favor of the Arabs – well, now who is using disproportionate force?
Thank the Lord that we have the IDF and the technical brilliance of the Iron Dome. Otherwise, with the 1100 rockets that they threw at us, the body count would be so, so different. Let us all be proud and hope that this national pride may infiltrate the political arena which is in such need of a blood transfusion of social morality and mutual decency.
Forced to admit the truth
Regarding “How Israel dispelled false reports on Jabalya explosion” (August 8), Israeli public diplomacy has often been severely criticized for an ineffective response to unrelenting negative international media coverage. Thus, a truly impressive IDF informational success needs to be widely celebrated.
Even as the Palestinians were blaming Israeli air strikes for killing four children, the IDF released, within an hour of the incident, radar readings showing a rocket, launched from a Jabalya mosque, rising, stalling and then falling to earth. The resultant explosion killed several civilians, including those four children.
Faced with such incontrovertible evidence, even Palestinian propagandists, within and without Israel, were forced to admit the truth. This was a single example of just how important, and how powerful, swift responses can be, after untoward incidents, before negative world public opinion hardens.
So, copious kudos to the IDF. May it be just the first of many such informational successes.
RICHARD D. WILKINS
Syracuse, New York
Most radical people
Ruthie Blum’s article “Yair Lapid lays out his left-wing agenda” (August 5) implies that a “left-wing agenda” and progressive values are inconsistent with Jewish values and Israel’s interest. This is far from the truth.
Please consider that it is not the Left but sacred Jewish scriptures which state “Justice, justice shall you pursue,” ”Seek peace and pursue it,” “Do not oppress the stranger,” indicated in various formulations 36 times in the Torah, far more than any other teaching, and many other progressive values.
The biblical prophets were arguably the most radical people in history, challenging kings and priests and sometimes the entire Jewish people on behalf of the poor and the disadvantaged. The first Jew, Abraham, destroyed the idols of his society and even argued with God, asking “Shall the judge of all the earth not act justly?”
In this critical time, the world needs the application of Jewish values more than ever and, in many cases, they are progressive “left-wing” values.
RICHARD H. SCHWARTZ
The huge elephant in the room
I was waiting for Ari Gordon (“Interfaith fasts,” August 9) to admit the one big stumbling block in his idyllic, kumbaya atmosphere outlook. Well he didn’t address it, so I must.
Yes, similarities in dietary rules make it easier for Muslims to eat kosher food. Unfortunately it doesn’t work the other way around. But it can be a good discussion.
“70 faces, or ways of understanding Torah” holds when the bottom line of each is the absolute Divine source of the written and oral laws which are not subject to change. So diversity has a limitation for us, though again, it’s food for thought.
But the huge elephant in the room, especially with regard to Tisha Be’av, is that the Arab world must recognize the existence of the two Temples, and the sanctity of the mountain deriving from their having been there in the first place. A lot of the rhetoric heard from the Arab leaders is that we Jews have no historical claim to the area
And I always wondered about that. Why do they think that Muhammad, in his vision, came to that place in particular? Why, as the story developed over the years, was his horse tied up at the Western Wall? (I have heard that this part was a fairly modern touch, but I don’t really know.)
Well, we can certainly understand their mourning over the violence in 680 CE. That was a turning point in Muslim history.
Let them acknowledge our history as well, and we will have made progress.
Assume the burden
Regarding “Gaza power plant closes, leaving Palestinians with four daily hours of electricity” (August 8): The time for Gaza receiving anything from or through Israel has passed. Israel unilaterally withdrew and should have a closed border with Gaza.
Gazans have a border with their Muslim brothers in Egypt. Egypt has hospitals, oil and construction materials; let it assume the burden for Gaza.
Gaza ‘belonged’ to Egypt prior to 1967 and should have been returned to them. Perhaps this could still be done. Egypt would therefore be responsible for any aggression perpetrated by these purported Palestinians.
Enough is enough.
Day and night
As I read your extremely informative article regarding Jewish texts, “New tech hopes to change everything we know about Jewish texts” (August 8), I had a series of flashbacks of my own experiences with such texts. Throughout my years in grade school/high school/college, it was a progression of ever-improving texts.
The Talmud from which I learn today, published by Koren with an explanatory column by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, is literally a difference between day and night from that which I learned in my earlier years. The rabbinic directive “and you shall delve into it day and night” is now a most practical directive.
MICHAEL D. HIRSCH
‘Who will be for me?’
Gershon Baskin has it wrong (“No hope,” August 4). The problem isn’t Israel’s supposed indifference to Palestinian suffering. One problem is that the Palestinian leaders are indifferent to Palestinian suffering. And a bigger problem is that the Palestinian leaders are the cause of much of their people’s suffering.
Yet, even after writing several paragraphs of Palestinians complaining about the corruption of the PA and Hamas, Baskin tells us that the true problem is Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. And, furthermore, he doesn’t think the leaders are now stealing more of the people’s money than they have been doing all along. (Does he not realize that, as disgusted donor nations have cut their contributions to Palestinian leaders, the fixed amount of money being stolen is a larger portion of the shrunken pie?)
Baskin admits that Palestinians working in Israel earn higher salaries than they would if they were working in areas under Palestinian administration. But he laments that Palestinian youth are unable to aspire to more than being a construction worker or car washer. Yet he ignores the obvious solution – Palestinian leaders should be building the economies in Areas A and B and in Gaza and providing Palestinian children with the education needed to succeed in today’s high-tech world. Israel would be happy to participate in such efforts.
Baskin’s complaints about settler violence ring hollow in the face of the PA’s pay for slay policy. With very limited economic opportunity in Areas A and B, constant anti-Jewish propaganda spewing from Palestinian mosques, schoolrooms, and media outlets, is it any wonder that Israeli troops need to arrest people who have sought honor and reward by attacking and killing Jews? Israel certainly doesn’t encourage or reward its people to attack Palestinians, and reports of “settler violence” are often exaggerated.
Baskin ends with a litany of the many outsiders who have disappointed the Palestinians. But the Palestinians would be well advised to take Hillel’s dictum to heart. “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” True supporters of the Palestinian people need to urge Palestinian leaders to stop trying to destroy Israel and to start building a society in which their people can become productive citizens.
TOBY F. BLOCK