Letters to the Editor January 4, 2023: Immediate membership

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

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

Immediate membership

Gadi Ben-Yehuda’s description of the cause of antisemitism (“‘Jews not welcome,’” January 2) is both mistaken and dangerous. He asserts that the “fluidity of identity draws the ire of the right wing.” In fact, our spiritual and national constancy has been our hallmark. While this steadfastness throughout the ages has been a primary source for historical antisemitism, it has been an essential reason for our survival despite unending attacks. 

Perhaps the greatest example of antisemitism in modern history – the Shoah – was based on the Nazi assertion that immutable Jewish characteristics cannot be changed voluntarily and must therefore be expunged brutally. Yet the State of Israel – the nation-state of the Jewish people – was born just three years after our European brethren were virtually annihilated.

Ben-Yehuda cavalierly ignores Jewish nationhood.  He notes with strange pride that a “Jew born in Berlin can become an American.” He forgets the more important point: No matter one’s birthplace, a Jew gains immediate membership in the unified Jewish nation without regard to modern national boundaries.

The families of those who sublimate these fundamental Jewish principles, adopting the latest fad in order to fit in with their non-Jewish neighbors, are often the first to assimilate and lose all attachment to the Jewish people.

Ben-Yehuda briefly acknowledges antisemitism on the Left but then states “that it is the Right that presents the more immediate threat.” The event that leads his article – antisemitism at Walt Whitman High School – disproves this thesis. The school is located in Bethesda, MD, one of the country’s wealthiest and most Left-leaning communities. 

While Right antisemitism is dangerous to individuals and must be fought with every means possible, Left antisemitism, often masquerading as anti-Zionism, imperils the entire Jewish people. The existence of a modern Jewish state which has thrived despite ongoing threats to its very existence is a direct challenge to the Left’s ideology of post-nationalism.

In response, this covert antisemitism is especially dangerous because it is acceptable in polite society, has been adopted by international organizations, and infects the halls of academia where future leaders are trained.

We must teach all Jewish children what it means to be a part of the Jewish nation, while also proudly highlighting to non-Jews the many contributions that Judaism has made and that the modern world now takes for granted. 

EFRAIM COHEN

Zichron Ya’acov

Planning and implementation

Regarding “Give us a solution so we can drive less” (January 1): OK, here is a suggestion. Reinstate the smart transportation Tik Tak system, which was recently canceled in Jerusalem after a two-year trial period determined that it was a financial failure.

It is an alternative to both private vehicles and regular public transportation, based on the use of subsidized cooperative taxi-vans which take the passenger from his closest bus stop to the bus stop closest to his destination. Rides are ordered by using an app on one’s smartphone.

The system is gaining in popularity internationally. So why did it fail in our city? The issue was covered in a number of publications. Among the reasons given were a poor navigation system, the difficult topography of Jerusalem, arbitrary and harmful decisions about locations which would or would not be served, and times of operation.

Add on a very non-user-friendly application when ordering a ride, and the virtual absence of publicity to acquaint the riding public with the advantages of the system. Failure was almost inevitable.

Having been introduced to Tik Tak this summer by a friend, I used it happily for about five months and was dismayed to learn it would be canceled. Yes, I experienced each of the problems cited by the articles explaining its demise. But I believe it is worth a try to attempt to fix those problems. Improve the navigational system, simplify the app, and publicize the service, which was especially useful to schoolchildren and senior citizens.

If you have heard enough about Tik Tak to think it deserves a second chance, please speak out to Miri Regev, our newly installed transportation minister. Maybe with proper planning and implementation, many of us will enjoy an efficient and inexpensive way to get around.

JAN SOKOLOVSKY

Jerusalem

Implications of his actions

I am taken aback by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s instructions to his new ministry to prepare directives to cancel the tax on disposable plasticware and soft drinks (“Doctors furious as Finance Minister Smotrich cancels tax on soft drinks and plasticware,” January 2).

It does not take much to understand that disposable plasticware is harmful to the environment, and that soft drinks, with their high sugar content, are harmful to the health of individuals. The question is, why is Smotrich doing this? He has clearly not considered the implications of his actions.

SANDRA LEE BRAUDE

Shoresh

That Religious Zionist Party (RZP) chairman Bezalel Smotrich wants to immediately flex his newfound muscles as finance minister is understandable. And in this key, very important position, the minister has the opportunity to truly implement changes that will have a profound influence on the lifestyle and well being of the Israeli population. One would think, though, that his initial directives would not, albeit unintentionally, alienate those who voted for him.

The taxes which were levied on plastic tableware and sugary soft drinks were intended to reduce the use and dependence on both, thereby contributing to the lessening of pollution as well as the reduction of illness such as diabetes. When these specific taxes were first implemented, the haredim complained that it was a form of harassment from Avigdor Liberman, which was, of course, utter nonsense.

The taxes were, if anything, sound and responsible decisions grounded in scientific fact and based on the successful experience other nations had with similar policies. Smotrich’s electoral baseline, the national religious community, is more than a little concerned about the protection of our planet and fully appreciates the relationship between health and proper nutrition. This is still another example of how the current RZP has devolved from the once proud and socially conscious National Religious Party.

Besides, I’ve seen little evidence that the tax that was levied on those products have impacted sales in any appreciable way. The disposable goods aisles in supermarkets have not been removed or even shortened; on the contrary, from what I see in shopping carts, disposable dishes and flatware are still very much in demand. And I’d be prepared to wager that sugar-laded Coke still reigns as one of the top-selling consumer items in Israel.

So, if Smotrich is looking to take a giant first step as a symbol of his authority and power, he might be wise to find something that would be more universally appreciated; like maybe by eliminating the Value Added Tax (VAT) on milk or baby formula, which is something all segments of the Israeli population would more than welcome.

BARRY NEWMAN

Ginot Shomron

Inaction and bad actions

I agree with Housing Minister Yitzhak Goldknopf that increasing the Jewish population in Judea and Samaria would help to alleviate the shortage of affordable housing in other parts of Israel (“Housing Minister Goldknopf promises to help settle West Bank,” January 2).

Despite the misgivings of President Biden and the UN, an increase in the Jewish population of Area C is not what endangers the ultimate realization of “two states for two peoples.”

It has been three decades since the Oslo Accords were signed. Final status talks have never been completed, not because Jewish communities have been built on land of religious and historic importance to Jews, land liberated from illegal Jordanian occupation (in a defensive war), but because Palestinian leaders have refused all Israeli and American proposals for the establishment of the state the Palestinian leaders claim they want.

The stumbling block is that Israel has the temerity to expect that the new state will coexist, peacefully, with the nation-state of the Jews.

A first step in ending the stalemate would be for critics to stop focusing solely on Israeli actions and to begin bringing up Palestinian inaction (refusing to negotiate, not developing the economy in areas under PA administration) and bad actions (inciting violence and rewarding Palestinians who attack and murder Israelis, punishing Palestinians who dare to work with Israelis to reach an end to the conflict, and building illegally in Area C while failing to develop Areas A and B).

TOBY F. BLOCK

Atlanta

A role to play

Nachman Shai’s article “Next chapter of the Israel-Diaspora story” (December 29) carries a sub-headline that “Jewish media have an important part to play” in Israel-Diaspora relations. What the now-former Diaspora affairs minister failed to mention is that the Israeli media also have a role to play.

As a Jerusalem Post reader, this newspaper is my main source for news and information about Jewish communities abroad. It would have been appropriate for Shai to also call out to the Israeli media which hardly cover Jewish Diaspora communities.

RUTH KATZ

Tel Aviv 

Difficult and unnecessary

The answers to the questions posed by Yaakov Katz to the Religious Zionist Party (“Why is the Religious Zionist Party obsessed with LGBTQ+?” December 30) seem quite obvious. They are making these provocative statements to assure their “base” that they have not forgotten an issue which they consider of primary importance, hardly an “obsession.”

Gay people’s struggle to eliminate discrimination is understandable and deserves our full support. However, terms such as “LGBTQ+ equality” and “gay pride” have turned out to be covers for demands and practices which many, if not the majority, consider dangerous for their children and an “in your face” provocation.

Universally, developing a gender identity and understanding ones sexuality are the most sensitive and difficult aspects of the emerging personality. Explaining what a “gay parade” is all about, and of what these people are proud of, to ones underage children creates a difficult and unnecessary problem for many parents.

That the religious owner of a hotel should be compelled to rent his hall for a creative same-sex wedding violates his personal rights. Gays have an inalienable right to “come out of the closet,” but to insist on parading their socially deviant practices in the public square of the city holy to three biblically-based world religions is something else altogether.

This is the underlying issue. 

SHUBERT SPERO

Jerusalem

Somehow divine

Regarding “Lula returns to office in a troubled, divided Brazil,” January 2: No wonder Brazil is in political turmoil, having been threatened by the electoral defeat of Jair Bolsonaro, who maintains that socialism is the real danger.

Even before the election, he had publicly stated that if he lost, it would be due to electoral fraud. Sound familiar? But unlike Donald Trump, Bolsonaro reportedly had/has the support of most of the Brazilian police force and was busy getting the military on his side, as well. 

He’s the same despot who has allowed the Amazon rainforest to be razed by both meat farmers and wildfires. 

Disturbingly, in the midst of yet another unprecedented wildfire three summers ago, the evangelical Christian declared that his presidency – and, one presumes, all of the formidable environmental damage he has inflicted while in power – is somehow divine: “It is difficult to be president of Brazil because it is a president that has less authority,” he said. “I am fulfilling a mission from God.” 

Ironically, Christ’s teachings epitomize the primary component of socialism – do not hoard morbidly superfluous wealth in the midst of poverty; and he clearly would not tolerate the accumulation of tens of billions of dollars by individual people, especially while so many others go hungry and homeless.  

FRANK STERLE JR.

White Ro​ck, British Columbia