Letters to the Editor December 12, 2022: Represent all the people

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

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

Represent all the people

Benjamin Netanyahu requested another fourteen days for forming a government, and President Herzog gave him ten (“Netanyahu receives 10-day extension to form coalition,” December 11). The president also gave Mr. Netanyahu a pointed reminder about maintaining “a respectful and responsible dialogue between the authorities – executive, legislative, and judiciary” among other unsolicited wisdom. 

This may be as good a time as any to recall that the presidency of Israel was not intended as a political rostrum, and that even more than the prime minister, the president is supposed to represent all the people. It’s been many years since the national morale had the benefit of an apolitical president, but maybe next time won’t be too late.



Losing a benefit

Prof. Yedidia Stern (“Leave the Law of Return alone,” December 9) presents two reasons for not eliminating the “Grandchild Clause” of the Law of Return. The first is that “this would be tantamount to receiving a divorce decree from the state.” The second is that this matter should not be the subject of a “specific political position,” to be changed in accordance with the view of the government in power at a specific time.

The weaknesses of these arguments are to my mind quite apparent. As for the first argument, indeed the proposed change would send the message that these people are not Jewish. This is not a divorce. Rather it is a reality created by their fathers by marrying out.

Of course those affected by this change would be unhappy about it. Any group losing a benefit is unhappy about that. However that doesn’t mean that it is necessarily wrong to do so.

The second argument is circular. Because the law now is as Prof. Stern likes it, he says it shouldn’t be part of the political debate. By that logic it was wrong to pass the clause back in 1970. In a democracy it is legitimate for the government to propose to change matters of great significance, e.g. splitting the functions of the attorney-general into two, a change Prof. Stern is on record as supporting.



Rabbinic principle

While reading the lead story in Friday’s Post, “UTJ seeks way to ban egalitarian prayer at Kotel” (December 9), I literally had to “count to 10” a number of times. The amount of ignorance displayed by these supposedly ultra-Orthodox Jews is nothing short of mind-boggling.

I would expect a supposedly ultra-Orthodox Jew to be aware of the rabbinic principle that every Jew is responsible for every other Jew. Let us learn from our enemies/the Jew-haters: A Jew is a Jew is a Jew.


Tzur Yitzhak

Sharing shakshuka

Regarding “The Palestinians’ problem” (December 8): Have we reached the zenith of Mr. Baskin’s ramblings on the de facto situation on the ground regarding his so called friends, “The Palestinians?”

I fear not as he now recommends that they all prescribe to the notion that they should demand to receive full Israeli citizenship. This he states in his wisdom should be taken by us on trust as a full declaration of their intent to live in peace.

So if we take this script and run with it, without any formal agreement between parties in this sorry saga, which could have been resolved in 1948, he would now have us believe the situation could be instantly remedied by the possibility of millions of peaceful loving Palestinians wishing to partake in the sharing of shakshuka on Israeli streets. 

What next? I believe we will receive a call from Hollywood, where Mr. Baskin’s forte in writing fantasies could possibly find a more conducive and receptive audience.


Tel Aviv

Gershon Baskin’s article almost convinced me that he has seen the light. He talks about the Palestinians in the context of victimhood, which is known as being self-generated. (This is as opposed to victimization which is fostered on the victim.)

He accurately describes the current situation in which Palestinians have missed opportunities to negotiate for peace, and in which Israelis do not believe the Palestinians want peace. However, he then goes off the rails by asserting that the belief of Israelis that there is no negotiating partner for peace is a consistent lie.

So Gershon, you are challenged to suggest any credible person(s) with whom Israel could negotiate. If you can’t name anyone because you are concerned that they might be killed by the PLO, Hamas or some other terrorist organization, at least make the claim that you could name one or two.

The remainder of the article challenges the Palestinian people, stating that if they want to hold on to their decades-long dream of self-determination what they need to do is “to put forth a vision which should not only be convincing to themselves, it will also have to persuade the international community of its viability within a geopolitical reality in which the State of Israel continues to exist.”

We note sadly that Gershon does not seem to worry about whether this Palestinian “grass roots” vision has to be convincing to us Israelis.

But it gets worse, because Gershon then goes on to suggest the vision that the grass roots Palestinians should come up with, which seems to be a binational state with no notion of a State of Israel that continues to exist.

Implicit in this scheme is the one man one vote idea, which can sound nice but would be suicide for Israel. Ergo, there will not be much agreement among Israelis that this is in any way a viable solution from an Israeli perspective.

We can only hope that a vision could come from the Palestinian people that conforms with the criteria Gershon first specified, along with it being acceptable to Israelis as a basis for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.



Friends and visitors

I enjoyed, as usual, David Weinberg’s article this past week on his ascension to the Temple Mount (“My first Temple Mount ascent,” December 9).

And, while he mentions the reasons that it is important for us all to “go up,” he made it seem much more difficult, and restrictive than it is. For many years, pioneers like the late Rabbi Avi Isaacs ascended weekly, many times taking friends and other interested visitors.

Currently, Rabbi Yehuda Levi (highonthehar.com) ascends twice daily, with any interested visitors, and chaperons out-loud minyanim – in which I have participated, and even said Kaddish during mourning.

This is an ascent which is easy, and important – individually and for the Jewish people.



Radical leaders

Ruthie Blum’s headline states: “Lapid’s civil-war incitement won’t work” (December 9). But she’s wrong.

She’s wrong because 10% of the people’s representatives (and in one case: less than 1%) have control over policies that affect 90%. So, instead of there being “Center-Right” policies in place, there are radical leaders leading radical change against most of the people.

So, either the people take it on the chin or they rise up in rebellion, whether by simply saying “no” or taking to the streets.



His particular views

There has been a lot of hyperbole written in the last few weeks about purported loss of support for Israel by US Jewish leadership, because of a perceived future loss of “democracy” in our state.

Most blatant was the threat of condemnation by Abe Foxman, former national director of the Anti-Defamation League, and recipient of many honors (“Abe Foxman to ‘Post’: I won’t support a non-democratic Israel,” December 2). I recall him in my years of Jewish communal work in New York, as a larger than life figure and dominant voice in Jewish organizational life.

After making aliyah to Israel, however, I found his leadership less compelling, and the “facts on the ground” here in Israel took center focus. Therefore, I was not too concerned when I read his recent comments threatening to withdraw his unconditional support for Israel should the new government prove not to fulfill his particular views of democratic leadership.

Nor am I willing to accept the concept of our being held hostage by public figures, not committed to living the life here, no matter how luminous their background, especially when their accusations remain in the nebulous “maybe, if and when.”

We should remember that the definition of a democratic state lies not in any particular social agenda, but in a government duly elected by the citizens of that country.


Beit Shemesh

Cruise control

Regarding “Road rage and aggressive driving” (December 8): I often drive to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem. Lately the speed limit all along has been set to 90 km/h. In most cars nowadays, there is cruise control so one can set speed to 90 and be a law-abiding citizen.

This past week, I decided to notice what happens on the road.

Leaving Jerusalem by Rt. 16, before going up to Mevaseret, the road goes down. Behind me a huge truck apparently wanted to take advantage of the down slope to acquire as much inertia for the going up. He tailgated and honked furiously.

More to the point, I set cruise control to 90 and drove in the right lane. I never had to pass anybody but was continuously overtaken, cars and trucks whizzing by, some weaving in and out of their lanes.

I think that the only way to prevent this would be to control the average speed of each car, not its point velocity; set cameras at different points along the road (like on Rt. 6), record the time for the passage of each car and calculate the average speed. Anybody exceeding the speed limit by more that 5% should be charged heavily, repeat offenders even more.

I am sure that once motorists are used to driving at the speed limit, the acts of aggressive driving and road rage will subside.



Cowardly countries

Regarding “UNGA affirms that Israel must give up its nuclear weapons,” (December 8): I fail to understand where the United Nations gets off telling Israel it must place its security in their hands and trust the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons treaty to keep everyone honest.

Only Canada, Israel, Micronesia, Palau, the US and Liberia looked these fools in the eye and voted “no.” Twenty-six cowardly countries played politics and “abstained.” Another 146 voted, in effect, to destroy the Jewish state. Not one of the those 146 has attained Israel’s status.

Israel is considered the eighth most powerful nation in the world. It placed ninth on the happiness index, fifth in level of education and first in digital connectivity. It is the ninth safest vacation destination. (Canada is 21st. The US is 30th.)

While we all would like to see nuclear weapons abolished, in theory, there is only one UN member that has been threatened with nuclear annihilation, and that is Israel. Israel is the only country that absolutely requires nuclear weapons.

Israel has fought wars aimed at eliminating it in 1948, 1967 and 1973, in addition to the PLO/PA, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorism, and has handled them with conventional weapons.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is rushing to build a nuclear arsenal. It has sworn to nuke Israel. It brags that only one bomb will be required to incapacitate tiny Israel. It has no concern as to the fate of local Muslims. It expects a nuclear response from Israel, but, with 1,500,000,000 Muslims in the world, considers it to be an acceptable price for destroying the Little Satan.

Jews have 2,000 years of experience in trusting their security to Christians and Muslims. They have learned the lessons.



Jewish values

Regarding “Trump: Jewish leaders ‘lack loyalty,’ should be ‘ashamed of themselves’” (December 11): There are many reasons that Jews do not support former president Donald Trump and the Republican Party.

While democracy is an important Jewish value, Republicans are using the big lie that the 2020 election was rigged to try to prevent some groups from voting and to use other undemocratic means to thwart the wishes of the American people.

While health is an important Jewish value, Trump and other Republicans supported health legislation that would have deprived tens of millions of Americans of health insurance and increased health premiums for others.

Rather than supporting the rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure and making other improvements for Americans, Republicans have supported tax benefits for the wealthiest Americans and highly profitable corporations.

While Israel is especially threatened by climate change, as a rising Mediterranean Sea could inundate the coastal plain that contains most of Israel’s population and infrastructure, and a hotter and drier Middle East increases the chances for terrorism and war, Trump is in denial about climate change, appointed other climate deniers to key environmental positions, and did all he could to overturn or weaken legislation that reduced greenhouse gas emissions.



Their only real goal

I find it very peculiar that during President Herzog’s visit to Bahrain, the Bahraini Foreign Minister publicly hinged the success of the Abraham Accords on the creation of a Palestinian state, on land which belongs to Israel via Article 80 of the UN Charter (“Bahraini FM: Palestinian statehood bedrock of Abraham Accords’ success,” December 5).

This despite the sorry fact that the Palestinians have turned down every offer of their own state, because they don’t actually want one. Their only real goal is Israel’s destruction.

Imagine the reaction in Bahrain if Herzog had announced that the Abraham Accords hinged on Bahrain granting part of its territory to the Iran-backed Shi’ite terrorist insurgency plaguing that country. I suspect there would be an uproar.

What’s good for the goose, etc.


Williamsville, NY