Letters to the Editor January 11, 2023: Straw man fallacy

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

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

Straw man fallacy

Your editorial “Careful reform” (January 9) contained some surprisingly glaring logical errors. Your “first” point, creating the foundation of your argument, was that, “the fact that a demonstration like this can take place – and it received broad media coverage – is a sign that democracy in Israel is alive and kicking.”

That is a classic straw man fallacy. The actual argument is not about Israel’s current democratic freedoms, it’s that the proposed judicial changes will erode them in the future.

Your second, “more important” point was even more troubling. Do you seriously want your readers to mindlessly accept the argument that these changes have validity merely because, “Levin has been working on his ideas regarding the judiciary for years?” Do we really need to spell out all of the horrible ideas that have been “worked on for years” by all sorts of characters seeking to undermine various aspects of our (or any) nation?

With this foundation, the entire editorial crumbles into a smoldering heap, completely obfuscating the important point at the end regarding “sincere dialogue.”

MICHAEL LIPKIN

Beit Shemesh

You editorial made some very valid points regarding a recent demonstration in Tel Aviv that drew a very sizeable 10,000 crowd, people who have concerns regarding judicial reforms which are scheduled to be implemented by new Justice Minister Yariv Levin.

I believe most who attended this event did not vote for the government in place and although forewarned that a number of radical changes were afoot, reality has now kicked in on hearing that those presently in high office might well attempt to implement the ideas on which they canvassed.

Yes, democracy is thankfully alive and well and living in Israel where everyone is able to voice an opinion and can hopefully be heard. However, where a government has a decent majority, it no doubt feels beholden to those of the populace who spoke with their feet and propelled them to these lofty positions.

Although in a democracy we hope new ministers might well be willing to listen to the opposition’s alternative ideas in this case of reform, and thereby possibly reach a compromise, with those in power being somewhat radical it is more than likely they will plow ahead with the mantra – “we told you so.”

Yes, as attributed to Winston Churchill, “democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried.”

STEPHEN VISHNICK

Tel Aviv

Cares so deeply

In her article “The first 11 days” (January 9), Susan Hattis Rolef is fearful because of the actions taken in the past week by members of the new government. She makes assumptions about Netanyahu’s ability to cope with these members and about his judgment, which she sees as a threat to the future.

What she does not appear to do is understand that no one in Netanyahu’s government will do anything without his support. Netanyahu cares so deeply for Israel, he understands the ramifications of everything that happens so clearly, that nothing will ever occur that threatens Israel in any way.

At last we have a government which does not fear the Muslims but clearly understands them. The judicial reforms and the agreement that Jews can visit the Temple Mount are purely recognition of the rights of every Jew to live peacefully in a free democratic country. 

I give Netanyahu credit for truly leading this government with strength and I wish him and his government every success.

BARAK SALAKOFF

Oranit

Follow him home

Pini Dunner (“Scrap the ‘grandchild clause,’” January 9) and other religious people have forgotten that in Israel, Jews are the majority population and Jewish culture is (rightly) dominant – i.e. the fulfillment of Zionism. Yet the Diaspora mentality of fear persists. What does he fear – that people will assimilate into the dominant culture here?

If Rabbi Dunner was really concerned about the demographics of Israel, he would leave the comforts of Beverly Hills and exchange them for the comforts of Israel, and also encourage his community to follow him home.

KOBI SIMPSON-LAVY

Rehovot

I’m in total agreement with Rabbi Dunner’s conclusion that the grandchild clause has created an unfortunately chaotic situation in Israel, and that the amendment should be removed as soon as possible. It would be an intolerable situation if rabbis here in Israel – both those who are official public servants as well as those pulpit rabbis who have been hired by private congregations – have to struggle with the dangers of intermarriage which has become prevalent throughout much of the world. Rabbi Dunner can attest, no doubt, to Jewish families that have been put under terrible stress by children who have decided to marry out.

The grandchild amendment was legislated in 1970. The decision to pass it involved consideration of the Soviet oppression of its Jewish population as well as the intense antisemitism of the Polish government, factors which apparently convinced the Israeli government of the need to grant citizenship to both the baby and the bathwater.

But as Rabbi Dunner points out, the danger to Jewish communities is no longer as intense as it was fifty-some years ago; the amendment is currently being used by many as nothing more than a gateway to a more economically viable society.

No one is denying the scientific, cultural and academic contributions that the non-Jewish immigrants from the Former Soviet Union have made to the State of Israel, but those contributions are not worth the confusion resulting from a distorted adaptation to the original Law of Return. Bringing an end to this troublesome amendment must be implemented before it gets too far out of hand.

BARRY NEWMAN

Ginot Shomron

Incite and abet

Regarding “Smotrich: No point in PA’s existence if it backs terror” (January 9): Isn’t this common sense? “There is no situation in the world where on one hand the PA is a partner that receives funds from us and on the other hand it is an enemy that is leading [terror activities] and supporting the murder of Israelis,” Smotrich said.

Separately, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir ordered the police to remove all Palestinian flags from the public domain and to halt any events of incitement against Israel. Ben-Gvir said: “It is inconceivable that lawbreakers should fly flags of terror, incite and abet terror.”

These are the two men against whom The Jerusalem Post continues to rail as ruining Israel’s democracy. Shakespeare said it best when he wrote: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

PETER RICE

San Diego

Play nice

It’s nice to read an op-ed article with which I agree wholeheartedly. Yes, David M. Weinberg’s “Strike while the iron is hot” (January 6) is a good piece. 

We Israelis will never get praise, support and sympathy from the world’s movers and shakers, so we may as well stop trying to make them happy. Let’s aim for survival, respect and fear. In Hebrew there’s a word that means both fear and respect; they aren’t two separate things. In the big international political arena fear is a requirement for respect.

Those of us old enough to have strong clear memories of the 1967 Six Day War know perfectly well that we didn’t have a single country as an ally. The “world” either supported the Arab aggressors, or sat around twiddling their thumbs awaiting Israel’s demise and destruction.

Israel’s totally unexpected and miraculous victory, thanks to God, caused our enemies to fear/respect us. Peace was so close, you could smell it. But then our politicians decided to be nice. They gave the Muslims our holy Temple Mount and kept reminding the world that we didn’t want all this land.

That’s why just six years later, we were attacked again on Yom Kippur, and now we have these “mini-wars” about once a year. It’s target practice by the terrorists. I am terrified of the day when the Arabs will decide that they’re ready for a big war.

Now Bibi is back in power, and the MKs who gave him the needed seats don’t want to play nice. It is such a breath of fresh air, and so much better for our security and future.

I didn’t vote for any of them, but they’re doing what I want them to do, and what’s best for the future of the State of Israel.

BATYA MEDAD

Shiloh

Illegal or unreasonable

Regarding “Levin fires first shot in fight over judicial revolution” (January 5): The new justice minister claims that since the electorate chose the government of which he is a part, it is justified in canceling the Supreme Court’s ability to prevent acts which the justices determine are illegal or unreasonable.

But the voters vote for the candidates who promise to fulfil their wishes, whether they are legal or not. Very few voters are experts in law and not all of them are guided by what is lawful. Some ministers may be such experts, but if there is a conflict between what is lawful and what serves their interests, it is clear what they will choose.

Therefore, there must be oversight by an independent judicial body to prevent the government from breaking national or international law. The members of this body cannot be chosen exclusively by those over whom they must supervise. Otherwise, we are in danger of having a totally corrupt government.

JEREMY TOPAZ

Rehovot

This basic tenet

I was impressed with the reasoned approach of Yaakov Katz in his article “Ben-Gvir should be allowed to visit the Temple Mount” (January 3) as he reviewed Israel’s modern history dating from 1967 with the victorious declaration that “The Temple Mount is in our hands.” 

We all know the deterioration of that initial victory over the years, culminating with  the headline on January 4: “US slams Ben-Gvir’s Temple Mount visit.” 

Whereas not all Jews today wish to visit the Mount, either for religious or political reasons, it still should be their right to choose whether or not to do so. Most importantly, there should be international recognition of its ancient significance to Judaism and ipso facto, to the Jewish state.

Perhaps the promulgation of this basic tenet to the world should become a key point of the new government’s agenda. Indeed, who better than Netanyahu can be tasked with drawing the proverbial red line for all to see, regarding the sacredness of the Temple Mount for Israel and for Jews everywhere.

MARION REISS

Beit Shemesh

Oversized power

Rabbi Yitz Greenberg is correct in his analysis (Smotrich’s Religious Zionist Party: The leader is turning it into a religious anti-Zionism party,” January 6), and the problems he brings up will not be addressed until Israel institutes electoral reforms.

The post-election wrangling often results in a coalition government that bears little resemblance to the government that voters envisioned as they cast their ballots on election day. Indeed, that is the heart of Rabbi Greenberg’s essay – the Religious Zionist Party has adopted the stance of the anti-Zionist haredi parties, for the sake of cobbling together a government that could be brought down by the defection of only a few MKs.

To keep Israel the homeland for all Jews, it is necessary to reduce the oversized power that small parties currently have in the Knesset. It should require time, work and money to form a party so that its members would be reluctant to see it disbanded.

Parties should be required to publish and circulate their platforms to the voting public. Parties should be required to participate in public debates which are followed by non-partisan polling. If the polls indicate a party is unlikely to reach the election threshold, it should be required to sit out the current election, although it would be eligible to try again when the next election is scheduled.

The goal is to have voters hold parties accountable for keeping their promises or not.

TOBY F. BLOCK

Atlanta