Letters to the Editor February 6, 2023: Marius and Sulla

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

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

Marius and Sulla

Regarding “An argument for civil debate” (February 5): As I look at the recurring weekly headlines regarding judicial reform protests, I wonder how many of these thousands who come out to march in the streets, sometimes accompanied by musical instruments, have actually analyzed the particulars of the measures under consideration now, or of the concepts of judicial review and of checks and balances.

Certainly if they have read The Jerusalem Post in recent weeks, they would have been exposed to many articles clarifying these issues, in Israel and in comparison to the United States and Canada.

What I find concerning is not the issue of judicial reform itself but the means that the protesters have chosen to express their political beliefs. The sign of an orderly democracy is expression through the political process; debate, the press, and of course, the vote.

Taking to the streets is reminiscent of the decline of democracy going back to the Roman Empire, where the riots and marches on Rome by the adherents of the rivals Marius and Sulla, in the late second to first century BCE, ushered in a new era in the formerly solid Roman Republic, where catering to the mob replaced the orderly transition of power to the consuls. This eventually weakened the republic, leading to the rise of dictators in Rome. 

I would urge all sides of this and any other political issue to direct their political viewpoints to the public and members of government through reasonable and civil discourse.


Beit Shemesh

Revealing and terrifying

Your editorial “Omar and Congress” (February 5) was revealing and terrifying at the same time. It was revealing because despite her blatant antisemitism, Rep. Ilhan Omar has convinced herself she was unaware her comments could be construed in such a fashion (as if insulting and stereotyping Jews is just fine), and she is on that woke journey of discovery.

It was terrifying because no Democrats voted to have her removed despite their clear understanding of what she was saying. Imagine her comments had been directed toward any other minority; it would have been unanimous to remove her.

But in the US today, Jews are fair game. American Jewry needs to wake up and “smell the roses.”


Zichron Ya’acov

The decision to remove the congresswoman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, from the very powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee was way overdue. Her blatant bigotry toward Israel and unabashed antisemitism disqualify her from participating in any policy the committee pursues or recommendation it renders.

The decision to remove her from the committee says, loudly and unequivocally, that the House of Representatives has zero tolerance for ethnic, religious or national hatred; there are, in other words, limits to free speech and expression.

Troubling, though, was your editorial’s somewhat nonchalant mention that the vote to remove her was along party lines. This means that the 27 Jewish Democrats currently serving in the House of Representatives opposed the resolution. I’d be curious to know if they were “whipped” to vote along party lines, or if they are the sort of people who refuse to acknowledge their Jewishness or the malignancy of antisemitism.

At any rate, I certainly hope that their vote on this issue will not be forgotten or overlooked the next time they run for reelection.

In an earlier article of this subject, the purportedly pro-Israel Jewish Democratic Council of America CEO Halie Soifer expressed her dismay over the decision to remove Omar from the committee, and chided the Republicans of the House for their lack of “good governance or democratic norms.” I really know very little of Ms. Soifer or the organization she runs, but, as the saying goes, with friends like her who needs enemies.

I wonder if the 27 Jewish House representatives who support Rep. Omar agree with those Muslim Americans who claim that the vote was the result of Islamophobia. Almost makes me wish I didn’t register as a Democrat all those many years ago.


Ginot Shomron

Not in a bubble

The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln is one of the world’s shortest, yet most remembered, speeches. This came to mind when I read Yaakov Katz’s opinion speech, “Blinken’s visit might be a watershed moment” (February 3).

Within a much longer article, he wrote: “What is not right is to assume that the government can make all these decisions and the world will just have to be okay with it. This is an arrogant approach that misunderstands Israel’s standing on the global stage. Ministers can go ahead and decide what they want; they should just not feign surprise when the international price becomes clear.”

I completely understand the sentiments of National Missions Minister Orit Struck and others. For thousands of years Jews lived in other people’s lands, and all of our decisions – when allowed –  were made within this context. Now, we live in our own land, and while we can now do what we want, as Mr. Katz noted, we do not live in a bubble. The rest of the world cares – if not unusually so.

Moreover, within the State of Israel itself (and Judea and Samaria) we live with other Jews who, like other countries, have their own opinions. Right now, the large ruling party, Likud, depends on its most extreme members (within the party and without) and this is where much of the (excess) friction arises.

When Jews of similar but somewhat different political persuasions learn to live together (e.g., Likud and Yesh Atid), then the tails will no longer wag the dog. At that time, we might find greater peace among ourselves, if not other nations.



Operative realities

Amotz Asa-El’s “When Orit met Antony” (February 3) explicitly asserts: “Washington invested in the Jewish state enormously... and it is its duty to the American people to verify that their investment meets its aims, which includes its ally’s embrace of America’s ideals.” This attitude is implicit in various other articles and editorials in the same edition of the Post, and, to be sure, is quite valid.

But it is a theme that must be understood in the context of the operative realities:

  • (1) Much of the US foreign aid dollars received by Israel are required to be applied toward purchasing American-manufactured military materiel, thereby creating jobs for Americans. Indeed, I had cognizance over some US foreign military sales to Israel during my time as a contracting officer and as an analyst for the US Defense Department.
  • (2) Unlike the mass-production manufacture of items such as kitchen utensils, furniture or clothing, the manufacture of military assets such as aircraft, ships or radar systems entails continuing updates and modifications throughout the production run, as the user experiences give rise to design modifications, and even retrofitting systems that already have been delivered to the customer.

Prior to the Abraham Accords, the wars fought by Israel were proxy battles between the United States and the Soviet Union, in which the US gained invaluable knowledge from Israel’s real time use of the military hardware it had purchased from American industry with US foreign aid dollars.

(My father, an electronics engineer who specialized in aircraft radar systems, had many occasions to state that he was working on a project for “our friends,” a term we understood to refer to Israel – though he obviously did not divulge too many details. Following his passing, I found among his papers some letters of appreciation from the Israel Defense Ministry.)

  • (3) One reason for the US foreign aid largesse is to ensure that its allies remain dependent upon it.

If America’s Jewish community has the right to concern itself with Israel’s internal politics, then there is no reason why Israelis should not reciprocate.


Petah Tikva

Again I must point out my disappointment with Amotz Asa-el’s column. His inferiority complex toward the constant abuse by the State Department toward Israeli domestic politics is appalling. When Benjamin Netanyahu came to power in 1996, one of his first attempts at foreign policy was asking the US to discontinue foreign aid to Israel. Then-president Bill Clinton fought against this, vehemently realizing that he and all subsequent American administrations needed to subsidize the US industrial complex far more than Israel needed it.

This foreign aid has been continued since the mid-70’s and unsurprisingly can only be spent in US dollars and only by buying US merchandise. By insisting that Israel must withstand verbal abuse from the US Government over its domestic politics, Asa-el is distorting and misrepresenting the “special” relationship that Israel has with Washington.

No other country that receives foreign aid from the US suffers the same demeaning verbal abuse and debasement that Israel does. Israeli politicians are just as much to blame for this shameful relationship. Israel has nothing to be ashamed of in the amount of valuable information that it supplies the US Armed Forces, intelligence community and military industrial complex.

No other country is able to supply the valuable information gleaned from the hands on experience of the IDF in its daily use of American weaponry. This is value that is paid for in Israeli blood.  

Instead of criticizing Israel for attempting to correct its domestic politics, Antony Blinken would be better advised to try to correct the immigration catastrophe being created on the US southern border.


Kibbutz Kfar Etzion

Reaching the pinnacle

Great praise has already been heaped on Linoy Ashram and rightly so, but should be even more so as we learn of the hoops she had to jump through (not drop) for this inspirational gold medal-Olympian to reach the pinnacle of her sport (“Believe in yourself,” February 3).

There is an abundance of characteristics required to produce a champion and, as she points out, confidence is a major component.

As a brand ambassador for the “Academy of Self-Confidence,” she rightly highlights the issue of self-esteem in this case among girls but I am sure it equally applies to boys.

It’s a tough world out there and very few get a free ride, so although educational success might not be the absolute requisite, it certainly counts when completing a CV for job interviews.

However, academic achievements aside Ms. Ashram proved that threatened with defeat on dropping a hoop, she dug deep and with self-belief and a large spoonful of confidence moved on to that golden summit.

For many of all ages it would be a message well learned, but especially for the young as they start out in life, to come out from behind those computer screens and cell phones. Learn one-to-one communication skills and seek to be ambitious while taking on board that mistakes are nothing more than a learning curve, that resilience will propel you to the next rung of success.

We may not all become Olympic champions but there are, with determination and lessons learned, metaphoric gold medals to be earned in many other spheres.


Tel Aviv

Destroy the country

It’s remarkable to read the account of Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas’s meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, because Abbas engaged in a blame festival (“Abbas meets Blinken, blames Israel for violence,” February 1). According to him, the problems of the Palestinians are the fault of the US, the international community, and (of course) Israel. So let’s review what each of these parties has done for the Palestinians.

The US gives them hundreds of millions of dollars a year, in violation of the 2018 Taylor Force Act. The international community gives them still more money, largely cooperates with anti-Israel pillorying at the UN, and conspires with them to take over territory illegally in Area C.

Israel granted Palestinians control of territory for the first time in their history, and still stands ready to live in peace with them despite their unceasing warfare to destroy the country. Talk about biting the hands that feed you.

Of course there is one responsible party Abbas failed to mention – the Palestinians themselves. Their plight is exclusively their own fault, as they have rejected multiple generous offers of peace and their own state. That’s because they actually couldn’t care less about a state of their own if it isn’t accompanied by Israel’s destruction.

As long as they are mired into this toxic and violent agenda they will continue to suffer, regardless of how many external parties they find to blame for their own self-generated misery.


Williamsville, NY