Keep your hands to yourself
Reading the article (“Nixing professional training for Gaza doctors,” August 16) on the problems encountered by the group of Israeli physicians who were trying to get permits for their Gazan colleagues to get training in Israel, I was quite sympathetic. After all, every doctor wants to save lives.
My positive feelings left me when I read the sentence, “After 15 years of Israeli blockades and repeated assaults, everyone who lives in Gaza knows that at any moment, Israel may decide to launch a renewed round of bombings and destruction.” That is an outright lie. After reading that, I began to suspect the truth of the entire article.
I may not live in Gaza, but, being a resident of Rehovot for about 50 years, I am quite aware of who begins the rounds of attacks and who defends. Yes, the Gazans need to know how to care for their sick and injured, but perhaps they should also learn what our parents taught us as children – keep your hands to yourself. And don’t say he hit me back first.
Lee Caspi’s disingenuous op-ed exhibits: a)willful ignorance; b)selective memory or lapse thereof; c) hypocrisy; d)all of the above. But then, in Caspi’s cohort, Israel bashing needn’t be based on truth and reality. The reality we face is an implacable, fanatical foe in Gaza that seeks our destruction, and since we are not inclined to commit collective suicide, various security measures have been put in place, among them the legal naval blockade. (Remember the Karine A?)
Despite the writer’s claims, Gaza shares an open border with Egypt through which doctors may seek advanced training at any destination. If Hamas would earmark its money for building hospitals, medical schools, etc., instead of building rockets and terror tunnels aimed at wreaking death and destruction on Israel’s civilian population, Gazan doctors could be better trained at home.
Israel’s actions are not “repeated assaults,” but a response to the criminal Hamas and PIJ indiscriminate rocket attacks, usually from within their own civilian population, aimed at Israel’s towns and cities. A government’s singular responsibility is to the safety and welfare of its people.
Lee Caspi’s Physicians for Human Rights Israel enjoys the protection provided by our government. Hamas has other priorities, notably the annihilation of Israel and its Jewish population.
So lacking in our nation
Jason Pearlman’s article on “The age of ‘mamlachti’” (August 16) hit the nail on the head and indeed goes to the very soul of Israeli society. It took Mr. Pearlman an entire column of your newspaper to describe what mamlachti is, as there really is no adequate shorter way of describing to your readers that very attribute which is so lacking in our nation.
His article was provoked by the name adopted by the new political party which Gadi Eisenkot is set to join: “The Mamlachti Camp,” to be known officially in English as National Unity Party. Ex-IDF chief of staff Eisenkot is justifiably presented as “Mister Mamlachti” – a man of strong opinions which are enunciated with politeness, reason and cogency. When was the last time we saw that in our Knesset?
But the quality of being mamlachti must not be not limited to the political arena – it must pervade the whole spectrum of social behavior, such as the avoidance of harsh and hurtful speech and courtesy on the roads (giving way to a car attempting to overtake, or to exit a minor road into a major road).
“After you” should be on the tip of everyone’s tongue at all times, listening to the other’s opinion with respect and disagreeing (if necessary) with politeness; respect for our school teachers and patience and consideration for our hospital staffs.
Most of the above are traits which many of your readers will have experienced in “the old country” from where they came. If we all try to adopt these values and attitudes of mutual respect, it may catch on and, who knows, you may even get a wave of acknowledgment from the driver of the car who you have let into the lane. And hopefully he will do the same to others in due course.
The recent addition of Gadi Eisenkot to the slate of election hopefuls has, if the recent polls are to be believed, done absolutely nothing to make a difference to the current political polarization of the Israeli public. Surprisingly, however, there are some segments of the population which are being studiously ignored by all of the parties and their hopefuls, and these are the segments of the population who are unilingual Anglophone and Francophone, i.e., those who have not yet acquired sufficient Hebrew language skills to be able to understand Hebrew language TV and newspapers.
I will explain: The difference in voting numbers is minuscule. And yet the politicians make no effort to reach out to segments of the population who could potentially help them. Why is it that at a time when small numbers of votes could make the difference between a majority government and a frozen, stalemated one, our politicians see no need to reach out to those who could be convinced to vote for them?
Is it arrogance? Do these politicians not really think that these voters’ votes are important? Even Benjamin Netanyahu and Yair Lapid, for example, who possess more than abundant oratorical skills in English, do not seem to have bestirred themselves in this way. I, for one, would love to attend a meeting at which Benny Gantz or Gadi Eisenkot could explain in English what they stand for.
The fact that they may not have developed the necessary language skills should not be an excuse. Let them learn the languages of all the people in order to earn the right to their votes. Are all new olim to be left in the dark without being able to hear from their representatives, or those hoping to be, until the necessary time to develop sufficient Hebrew language skills?
It seems to me that in order to get their message across, they should be reaching out by scheduling meetings with these segments of the public. If the politicians have already done this, I certainly have not heard about it. And if they have done it, they should do more of it. The next election will be decided by the tiniest number of voters. If there is no majority as a result, this is not the fault of the voters. The responsibility lies clearly with the politicians.
Mayhem on the roads
Regarding “End the carnage on the roads’’ (August 15): The horror on Israel’s roads never ends. A generation ago, in 1992, The New York Times published an article by its correspondent in Israel on the mayhem on its roads titled ‘’Who scares Israelis? An Israeli behind the wheel.’’
This was prompted by an unspeakable tragedy. A driver, 21, of a semi-trailer, speeding in the wrong lane with faulty brakes, plowed into a car dragging it more than 200 feet, killing the Hebrew University president Yoram Ben-Porath, his wife Yael and their 5-year-old son Yahali.
A Jew contemplating aliyah to Israel with his family must not only consider the danger of terrorism and war, but also the danger of its highways. It must also be mentioned that Israeli Arabs are disproportionately involved in car accidents.
Here, the land area of the province of Ontario (excluding its abundant lakes) is about 40 times that of Israel with the corresponding kilometers of roads more than Israel’s. Ontario’s population is 15 million, while Israel’s is 9.5 million. Yet in 2021, 315 were killed in car accidents in Ontario, 361 in Israel. Alternatively, per 100,000 cars per year, Israel’s death toll is higher than Canada’s, even though driving is more hazardous with its winter snowstorms and slippery roads.
While the rate of road fatalities in Israel is much lower than those in African countries – nothing to be proud of – it is higher than the rate in Scandinavian countries, for which Israel should strive.
Your editorial makes sobering reading, comparing the appalling number of accidents, many of them with fatal consequences, to “terrorism.”
It saddens me that once a likable neighbor or even a family member sits behind the wheel of a car, he often becomes a complete egotist with scant regard for traffic laws or other motorists.
Here is just some of the behavior you are likely to meet on the roads – speeding, weaving, failure to indicate, tailgating, driving slowly while answering the mobile phone or even texting.
I could go on while relating the terrifying conduct I frequently encounter when driving from our home in the north to visit our family in the center of the country.
There seems to be an almost total lack of enforcement of traffic laws on our roads – with the exception of parking tickets – except for the occasional instance of a driver who gets pulled over for speeding.
More rigorous enforcement could be achieved with unmarked police cars patrolling our major highways and accident black spots, and electronic surveillance which could be monitored from a central control facility. Perhaps soldiers from the IDF intelligence division could be seconded to participate in this work.
If only ten percent of the many hooligan drivers could be removed from our roads, there surely would be a significant fall in the number of accidents and the resulting injuries and fatalities.
The deal lives on
Regarding “PA slams Trump’s ‘annexation’ letter to Netanyahu” (August 16): The more things change, the more they remain the same. PA head Mahmoud Abbas has once again proved Abba Eban correct: “The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Yet Abbas errs in saying that the Palestinians succeeded in killing the “Deal of the Century.”
Yes, the Palestinians’ refusal to compromise meant that there is still no Arab State of Palestine (on essentially all the disputed land, with shared governance in parts of Jerusalem) and the Palestinians did not receive the fifty billion dollars proffered by the Trump administration to build the nascent state’s economy. But the deal lives on, in the Abraham Accords which have seen security and economic benefits for Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan.
TOBY F. BLOCK
Lost all credibility
Hidden among his condemnations of allegedly Republican-inspired events, Sherwin Pomerantz briefly mentions a law enforcement action of which he appears to approve – the FBI raid on Donald Trump’s Florida home (“Can America save itself?” August 15).
Equal justice under the law is a bedrock principle of American democracy. Three cases evince the FBI’s violation of this principle:
Hillary Clinton admitted destroying 30,000 documents under congressional subpoena. Of the documents that were recovered, many were classified “top secret.” There was no raid on her residence, nor did the FBI seize her private server on which the classified documents were allegedly stored illegally. She was never prosecuted.
President Obama took over 30 million pages of documents when he left office; certainly some of them were classified. There has been no demand for their return. No armed FBI agents raided his home.
The infamous Hunter Biden computer contains evidence of wide-ranging criminal activity. Two years after it first surfaced, there still have been no search warrant, no indictment, and no interest in pursuing any investigation of his father, the sitting president.
According to Attorney-General Merrick Garland, rather than a search, the Department of Justice uses “less intrusive means” where possible, and “narrowly scopes” any search. President Trump fully complied with an earlier subpoena, and offered to provide any further help if needed. Rather than request that help, an armed phalanx of FBI agents invaded Trump’s home. As to “narrow scope,” their warrant allowed seizure of “any government and/or presidential records created [during President Trump’s entire term in office].”
Some argue that the search was to recover classified documents. As the ultimate classification authority, the president could declassify any documents up to the moment he left office. No government agency has the power to question or overrule the president’s classification determinations.
The FBI lost all credibility or claim of impartiality long ago. Regarding Trump, the agency has a documented history of manufacturing evidence, lying to a federal judge to gain a warrant, and widely publicized armed arrests followed by unprecedented prosecutions of Trump advisers, while at the same time hiding information potentially embarrassing to certain people in power.
Unless and until there is proof that this show of force was justified, other objectives of the raid seem likely. It was a fishing expedition meant to create an illusion of criminality sullying a formidable 2024 presidential candidate. The breadth of the search suggests that the agents sought any documents that might be used as evidence of crimes identified in the future.
Just as importantly, the entrenched leadership class sought to intimidate supporters of the one man they fear most. Their threat: If we can do it to him, we can – and will – do it to you.