The failure of Jewish Democrats to call for the removal of Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee is a stain which will never be removed from Democratic Jews (“Reflection, not celebration,” February 6).
They have failed both the Jewish people whom they represent and the State of Israel. Failing to vote for her removal opens up the Democratic Party to increased condemnation for the Jew-hatred of a significant portion of their party and their electorate.
This is a watershed moment in American Jewish politics which will negatively reverberate in the future.
Delray Beach, Florida
Quality of life
Regarding “Police arrest suspects in brutal rape of woman in her Gedera home” (February 5): When Rudy Giuliani became the mayor of New York, the city was in desperate shape. The streets were dirty. Abandoned buildings were everywhere. Crime was rampant. A ride on the subway was a test of faith.
What did mayor Giuliani do? He instructed the police to pursue “quality of life” crimes, like turnstile jumping to avoid paying a fare to ride the subway. What?! It seemed absurd, in light of what was going on, to care about such trivial matters.
But, he was right. His decision created a sense that law and order were in control. The arrest of those who committed quality of life crimes had an unintended consequence. It seems that those who disregard the so-called light laws are often those who commit more serious crimes.
Now those criminals were being apprehended. People began to feel safe again. The streets were returned to the citizens.
Seven years ago, I left New York to live in Jerusalem. For much of those years, I was a widow living alone. I reveled in my ability to go anywhere and to walk where I wanted without fear. My apartment has bars on the windows. How safe I felt, until recently.
I was the victim of a robbery. While away for several weeks, criminals entered my apartment by prying open the metal gates on the window and ripped the safe (70 kg) off the wall. In the safe was all my jewelry; jewelry that I inherited from my grandmother and mother, and jewelry that had been gifts from my late husband.
In many ways, that jewelry represented the story of my life. My grief over the loss is enormous.
It was obvious immediately that the police would do nothing to recover the jewelry or to apprehend the criminals. It is hard to believe that they did not have any idea of where to look.
It’s just that these crimes are not important. This is a story I have heard so many times as I discuss my robbery with friends and acquaintances.
And so, we create an atmosphere in which the law is disregarded. One can get away with almost anything. Robbery, go right ahead. Build an illegal settlement, it will be allowed to stand. And then, breaking into an apartment, raping a woman in the presence of her crying children and helping yourself to a beer becomes the logical outcome.
Acts of terrorism are horrific. We need to pursue and apprehend the terrorists with vigor. But we also need to make sure that the citizens of Israel feel safe and secure in their everyday lives.
What we need is a larger and more robust police force. We need to hire more police and pay them accordingly. And they need to be instructed to pursue crimes of quality of life as vigorously as they pursue terrorism.
Regarding ‘’The unending cycle’’ (February 2): Gershon Baskin, while unduly mitigating Palestinian terrorism, exaggerates the violence of Israeli settlers. He equates Palestinian terrorism with settlers’ terrorism, which is absurd.
The violence of the settlers is almost always directed at the property of Palestinians and stone-throwing, while the goal of the Palestinian terrorists is to slaughter Israeli civilians. Since 1948, a staggering thousands of civilians have been murdered at their hands. A similar situation exists in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Somalia where Islamic extremists have killed tens of thousands of civilians in bombings over the years. Sure, Israeli settlers have killed innocent Palestinians, but this is a tiny number.
For Baskin, the root cause of terrorism by Palestinians is that their West Bank has been “stolen” from them. The land was won by Israel in a defensive war in 1967. Why does Baskin not mention the Nakba of Sephardi Jews, from the 1940s to the 1960s, when their vast amount of property in Arab countries was stolen? Why didn’t the Palestinians attack Jordanians who ruled over them before 1967?
Palestinian terrorism has little to do with Israel holding on to the West Bank. Even before 1967, there was an unending series of terrorism by Palestinians. Two of their atrocities were the Ma’aleh Akrabim massacre in the Negev in 1954 when they killed 11 passengers on a bus, and in 1956 when they murdered five children and their teacher during prayer in Kfar Chabad.
Not if, but when
The unfolding catastrophe of the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria and the terrible cost in lives lost should be seen here in Israel as a shot across our bow (“Earthquakes kill thousands in Turkey and Syria,” February 7). We are sitting on a powder keg ready to explode at any time.
Israel sits on top of the Syrian African Rift that has a history of causing devastating earthquakes in the past, as recently as the 1995 Gulf of Aqaba quake, which measured 7.3 on the Richter scale.
We here in Israel also have tens of thousands of old apartment buildings all over the country. You know these buildings, as you most likely live in one or know people who do. These apartments were built in the late 1940s through the 1970s. They are built on pillars with a core stairwell, no elevator, usually three or four floors of apartments with the ground level empty, built using the building codes and inferior standards of that day. Today, many of these buildings are dilapidated and are literally falling apart.
Should a major earthquake hit Israel, these apartment buildings will collapse like pancakes, trapping and killing tens if not hundreds of thousands, God forbid.
The government’s TAMA 38/1 and 38/2 plans were supposed to cure this potential national catastrophe, but due to mismanagement of the city managers throughout the country, this ingenious program has all but ground to a halt.
What is needed is a new way of thinking, much like TAMA was.
The Israeli government should issue a new type of government bond, an Israeli Building Bond that could raise investment funds worldwide to finance the rebuilding of these dilapidated death traps of apartment buildings throughout the country and not just in the center of Israel.
Just like the Israel Bonds of yesteryear financed the building of our wonderful country, these bonds will finance the rebuilding of Israel. Many billions of dollars will be needed for this effort.
A national committee of leading Israeli businessmen, developers, architects and urban designers should be assembled in order to develop and coordinate this gargantuan effort. This would surely take many decades to complete, if ever, but must be started.
These deathtrap buildings, as many of them are, would be knocked down and rebuilt to current and future building standards to house the previous occupants who would be temporarily relocated as in the current TAMA 38/2 projects. Additional apartments could be built in each new constructed building, the proceeds of which would help pay back the bond investors.
To my knowledge, no one in government is speaking about this looming catastrophe facing us all. With this devastating news this week from Turkey and Syria, we here in Israel need to start doing something about this not today or tomorrow, but yesterday.
It’s not a matter of if a devastating earthquake will hit Israel, but rather when.
Checks and balances
The legal adviser of the Knesset and the attorney-general’s deputy – following the opinion of Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara – claimed vigorously that the legal reform initiated by the government will remove checks and balances from the Knesset and government (“Who’s upsetting balance of power? Rothman, gov’t lawyers point fingers,” February 6).
Let’s look at the current state of checks and balances today. The only institution which is not subject to checks and balances in Israel is the High Court. It can intervene in any matter of government policy or Knesset legislation. Furthermore, it can change and overrule laws according to its legal opinion if the judges regard them “unreasonable.”
Unlike the government and Knesset, the High Court is not accountable for its actions to any institution in Israel. So who really needs checks and balances today? First of all – the Supreme Court who, for too long, has overstepped its power of intervention.
Therefore, the legal reform is so important for imposing checks and balances and accountability on the High Court. I applaud MK Simcha Rothman’s efforts to restore the balance of power of the three branches of Israeli democracy.
Real threats to democracy
When I received the newspaper of February 6, I thought your Purim issue had arrived early. The headline about a decorated Israeli pilot calling for the assassination of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in order to protect Israel’s democracy was worthy of a Purim article (“Police investigate calls to use violence against gov’t officials: Ex-fighter pilot called to kill Netanyahu”).
While it may be almost 60 years since my political science classes in New York, I do not recall assassination of those with whom you do not agree, as part of the democratic process.
It would appear to me that those members of the opposition who call for violence against those with whom they disagree are the real threats to our democracy.
Lack of understanding
I find the almost universal condemnation of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s walk on the Temple Mount very disturbing. Najat Al-Saied (“Better public diplomacy,” February 2) writing that “Ben-Gvir stormed the courtyards of Temple Mount” is a perfect example of the general lack of understanding.
Storming? Did he enter with tanks or a platoon of soldiers with heavy artillery? No, he entered peacefully and quietly with a small group of people, as is his right.
The writer subsequently seems to concede that the “visit did not present a change in the status quo,” but nevertheless, “it is the attitude with which he entered... with the presence of Israeli forces to protect him and without any diplomatic coordination, that was so inflammatory.”
What nonsense! Any attempt to get “diplomatic coordination,” presumably with the Wakf or with Jordan, even if accepted, would have been reported to the world press and hundreds of reporters and cameramen would have been there to observe the inevitable clashes with the hired women of the Wakf.
And who knows how many terrorists would have come to attempt to assassinate him, or at least to cause a rumpus? He would then indeed have needed a huge Israeli military escort to protect him.
Unfortunately, the writer is not the only person who does not understand the meaning of status quo. The Biden administration has also joined in the chorus. Surely, they know that the status quo, which has been in force for years and was agreed upon with the Arabs, allows any Jew to walk on the Temple Mount, so why the fuss?