Letters to the Editor January 25, 2023: Morning coffee

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

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

Morning coffee

Regarding “Envoy to Canada resigns in protest of Netanyahu gov’t” (January 23): The Israeli ambassadors to Canada and France have resigned. This, and the firing of cabinet minister Arye Deri have made the international news. Israelis around the world must be smiling as they read their local newspapers with their morning coffee. It is an attestation of Israel’s importance on the world stage.

It is not news when an American or British ambassador leaves a post. In Canada, all senior public servants hand in letters of resignation when a new government takes over. The prime minister decides which to accept or reject.

It was right for these ambassadors to resign, but undiplomatic of them to make public statements. This last gesture casts a shadow over their service.



Echoing the deception

The Post leads us into the Biden classified document story with the article “US Justice Department finds more classified items in Biden home search” (January 23). There are now some 30 such documents found at four different locations. The first round of top secret documents was found by his personal lawyers, who of course have no security clearance for handling any secure material.

The documents go back to Biden’s time as a senator and as vice president, which ended six years ago. Some were found at the Penn Biden Center and others in a garage at his Wilmington, Delaware home, locked away with his beloved 1967 Corvette Stingray. “It’s not like they’re sitting out on the street,” Biden opines. Security protocols would not agree.

The first tranche of documents was found shortly before November’s midterm elections, but this revelation was hidden from the American electorate by the administration, echoing the deception in falsely presenting the Hunter Biden laptop as Russian disinformation just prior to the 2020 presidential election.

The double standard between the treatment of Donald Trump and Joe Biden in their classified document situations comes into question, as we remember the apparently staged Mar-a-Lago photographs presented by the FBI in an attempt to embarrass former president Trump.

Now both have special counsels appointed to look at their respective document situations. Biden attempts to sweep his investigation under the rug, stating “there’s no there there. I have no regrets.”

If nothing else, it all promises to enliven the 2024 presidential race.



Wallenberg’s helpers

I do not wish to take anything away from Raoul Wallenberg, who is credited with saving ca. 100,000 Jews in Budapest from the Nazi murderers (“Remembering Raoul Wallenberg,” January 23). But it should be pointed out that he had several helpers without whom he could not have saved so many. 

One of these was Moshe Kraus, a young Hungarian Jew who spoke fluent German, who was tasked by Wallenberg to find a large building where many Jews could be accommodated. He found an unused Jewish-owned glass factory where three thousand Jews were housed, and it was called “The Glass House.” Kraus persuaded the Swiss vice consul Carl Lutz to declare it Swiss territory, and Lutz also issued 40,000 certificates granting Swiss nationality.

Kraus also persuaded the British Embassy to issue 1,500 certificates granting the holder entry to Palestine. Kraus had the reputation of being fearless and he would dress in a Wehrmacht officer’s uniform to transfer Jews around Budapest or to help them escape. He was often driven in a Swiss Embassy car flying the Swiss flag. According to Yad Vashem, Kraus may have been responsible for saving 40,000 Jewish lives.

Another young Hungarian Jew who helped Wallenberg was Pinchas Rosenbaum who wore an Arrow Cross Hungarian fascist uniform and distributed safe passes to every Jew he could find. Tova Singer, a 12-year-old girl, had a forged document saying that she was a Christian and managed to transport Jewish children from the ghetto to a Red Cross orphanage. 

Another helper was Giorgio Perlasca, an Italian working in Budapest. When the Italian dictator Mussolini was overthrown in July 1943 and the Germans invaded Italy, Perlasca found himself in a difficult situation. He approached the Spanish envoy in Budapest for a job. He was put in charge of the safe houses for Jews that Spain had opened throughout Budapest.

In November 1944 the Spanish envoy suddenly departed leaving him a note. Perlasca decided he would become the Spanish envoy and took upon himself the task of giving out protective passes with the official stamp with his signature. In the following months he cooperated with Wallenberg and the Red Cross and the Vatican envoy and it is estimated that he saved 3,500 Jewish lives. After the war, Perlasca returned to Padua, Italy.

These people are included in the second volume of Unsung Heroes of Jewish History that is about to be published.



Deadly rivalry

Because I didn’t recognize his name, Nadav Tamir’s “The flag hypocrisy” (January 22) left me wondering if the man had just had not just woken up from a 100-year coma. After reading Mr. Tamir’s association, it all became clear, and I had a clearer sense of what is dividing this country.

Mr. Tamir would have us believe that displaying the Palestinian flag has no symbolic significance, that it is just like displaying the American flag or even wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt, and that objecting to its display is a mark of hypocrisy. Could it possibly be that Mr. Tamir is oblivious to the fact that the State of Israel is engaged in a sometimes deadly rivalry with a nationalism that, if it truly had its druthers, would eliminate the Jewish state? Astounding, but it gets worse.

While I have no love for the present government, to regard its objection to waving the Palestinian flag as paranoid, hysterical populism and “hatred of others and their symbols” is a pernicious charge, one not worthy of consideration. One more thing: There is something disingenuous about Mr. Tamir claiming that the Palestinian flag is not only the flag of the Palestinian Authority but also of the Arab minority in Israel and that by honoring it, we will assist in assimilating Israeli Arabs into the larger society.

I would have Mr. Tamir come to the conclusion that the flag of the State of Israel is the flag of all its citizens.


Kfar Saba

Horrifying trend

During his short term as health minister, Arye Deri decided that placing diabetes and obesity at the top of his agenda was ample compensation for removing the additional tax on sugary soft drinks. Not a word was said on the growing number of violent incidents in hospitals and health care facilities (“Medical facilities to shut down today in protest of violence,” January 23).

Well, recent incidents in several different locations will make it very hard for his successor to pretend that there is no problem. What has been going on is hardly current events. On the contrary, hospital violence is an ongoing problem which academics, health care professionals and pundits – including myself, incidentally – have discussed and written about throughout the Hebrew, Russian and English language media. Our leaders, unfortunately, do little more about this horrifying trend than nod in sympathy.

I most certainly appreciate the frustration that those we rely on for our health and well-being are feeling, but I’m not sure that walking off the job is the appropriate course of action. I realize that the strike was designed to be “surgical” and that anyone in dire, critical need will not go unattended.

But a hospital or health maintenance clinic is not like unionized blue collar nine-to-fivers striking for better working conditions or teachers scheduling work stoppages as a means of receiving respectable salaries. Health is not something to be used as a bargaining chip, no matter how right the cause may be.

There is, to be sure, no easy answer. On site police presence and increased monitoring and surveillance would certainly help, and while profiling is somewhat trickier, security personnel should be trained to recognize potential violence from body language or other forms of aggressive behavior.

I’m not unaware that our newly anointed government is currently facing a crisis of confidence over the proposed judicial reforms, but time must be taken to ensure that our health professionals are not exposed to physical abuse and violence in the workplace. That’s not asking too much, is it?


Ginot Shomron

Rights of minorities

Regarding “‘End of democracy’ warnings are propaganda, says Netanyahu” (January 24): If the Knesset passes legislation enabling it to override High Court decisions with just 61 votes, there would be no check at all on Knesset decisions and democracy in Israel would be destroyed. Democracy involves not only majority rule but also protection of the rights of minorities. This would be lost by that Knesset legislation.

A related factor to consider is “Nides: Washington uses democracy as talking point to defend Israel” (also on January 24). The US would no longer be able to do that if the Knesset passed that override legislation.



Target and amplify

Martin Luther King once remarked that the US doesn’t have a race problem; it has a class problem. Similarly, the answer to “Where’s the outcry for Avera Mengistu?” (January 24), when you contrast it to the outcry for Gilad Schalit, isn’t only about race. 

The Schalit family was in a position to engage professional public relations experts to target and amplify their message, keep it alive in the media, and print it on placards, banners, T-shirts, and caps.

That kind of leverage is out of reach for the average Ethiopian Israeli, but the reason isn’t an excess of melanin; it’s a lack of capital and connections.



Emergency mitzvah

Regarding “Why we’re failing to support Holocaust survivors” (January 20): This is a subject that I am sure whatever your politics, the welfare of the 165,000 Holocaust survivors still living in Israel must now be a major priority. Simply put, how can we continue to raise the premise that the Holocaust itself must never become a footnote in the history of World War II while many of those who actually witnessed the horrors are struggling to survive with dignity on a daily basis.

Yes, no doubt and hopefully some are being cared for by their families, but it is known that either many have monetary struggles living on their own or their families are equally suffering financially in these inflationary times.

It is therefore vital, due to their obvious age factor, that immediate action is taken to bolster all the various needs of these survivors, as they surely deserve at the very least our compassion for the horrors they surely suffered and survived to relate.

It therefore cannot be beyond the acumen of this new government to devise a scheme to investigate if necessary by some form of “means test” what are the actual needs of each particular survivor and execute this immediately via positive action.

Time, as we know, is definitely not a luxury for many of these survivors and therefore treating this as an emergency is a mitzvah that can no longer be ignored.


Tel Aviv