Gershon Baskin and I have something in common – we were in our early teenage years in the late 60s during the Vietnam War – but that is where our commonality starts and ends (“War and peace,” March 9).
Baskin’s article, in trying to equate 1975 Vietnam to 2023 Israel, is rife with inaccuracies, revisionism and blatant omissions.
The war between the US and Vietnam was in actuality a civil war between the north and south that the (French as colonialist and subsequently the) Americans got caught up in as defenders of the ill-conceived domino theory.
The US did not lose the war in any sense – since it was not their war to lose and it theoretically ended not “when a right-wing US president [aka Richard Nixon]... declared victory,” but rather with the Paris Peace Accords which were signed (by both North and South Vietnam and the US) on January 27, 1973. Two months later the last of the American combat troops would leave – North Vietnam would eventually attack, with Saigon and South Vietnam ultimately falling in April of 1975.
Baskin wants to use the convoluted mess of Vietnam as a framework for an Israel/Palestinian peace; forgetting that both the north and the south were already established societies; the south – cosmopolitan, while the north was more agrarian. But they at least had infrastructures of which the West Bank’s Palestinians have none.
There are no sea or air ports, highways, utilities and enough teachers and engineers to build them. They would need to rely completely on Israel to provide them with the expertise. And still could we trust their leadership whose raison d’etre is to keep the status quo, the populous ignorant and in the dark, while they hoard billions of foreign aid dollars?
Baskin takes us back 48 years – we need only go back 18 – when Israel relinquished Gaza. It proved to only add more instability to the region. And with Hezbollah’s Lebanon in the north and Assad’s (population-cleansed) Syria to the northeast – do we really want another volatile regime, this one right in our midst?
Gershon Baskin is absolutely correct to state that Israel and the Palestinian Arabs have no choice but to live together in peace. But he is mistaken to explain the failure to bring the conflict to an end as being due to lack of maturity and intelligence. The prevailing problem is not lack of maturity and intelligence but to cultural differences that are much harder to overcome.
An example is Israel’s peace agreement with Egypt. Israel was the conqueror that had defeated Egypt multiple times and the only way Egypt could negotiate peace with honor was to defeat Israel on the battlefield which it almost did in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Unlike the Israel-Jewish culture in which honor plays no role, the Arab culture is all about honor and shame. The shame of making concessions to their conqueror is too much for the Palestinians to bear; that’s why the Palestinians have rejected Israel’s peace offers and why they will continue to reject them. No concession Israel can make will change this.
Suggesting that Israel shares the blame for the impasse while factually incorrect is a negotiating strategy to partially help restore some honor to the Palestinians. So far it’s not working. They need a far greater victory than that and at this point it’s difficult to know what that could be.
A full circle
I would like to commend Yehuda Weinraub’s excellent survey of the series of checks of balances in the US Constitution outlining the balance of power among the three branches of government (“The adoption of the US Constitution,” March 12). With the current attempt to overhaul the role of the judiciary in Israel today, it bears examination.
In the US, the executive appoints the justices of the Supreme Court, but they must be approved by the legislature (Congress). The Supreme Court in turn may overturn a particular law passed by the legislature through a process of judicial review. Finally the legislature (together with the states) may reverse the judiciary by passing a constitutional amendment, thus drawing a full circle.
As Weinraub points out, this process was not written into the original constitution but came about as a result of a case brought before chief justice John Marshall regarding a last minute appointment of the “midnight judges,” which asserted the right of the court to review the constitutionality of laws passed. Of course, this was dependent upon the existence of a written constitution.
Nonetheless since most cases began with a challenge to a particular law and had to proceed through the lower courts, a whole body of jurisprudence would develop from which the justices could arrive at their decisions. In addition, as pointed out in the article, the main guarantees of civil and individual rights came not from the original constitution, but from the amendments subsequently passed, notably the first ten and the fourteenth.
With so much passion being expressed in Israel today about judicial reform, it is important to read such a reasoned and analytical article.
Forfeit our identity
In Amotz Asa-El ’s “Who wants civil war III?” (March 10), his very inappropriate analogy of the parties involved leads to the implication that those who are protesting against the new government’s judicial reform proposals are the equivalent of the Romans, to whom the rest of us must forfeit our identity and best interests in order to prevent them from destroying us. Quite an apt analogy, although it is doubtful that’s what he really means to say.
It is becoming clearer by the day that, as Herb Keinon has astutely pointed out, the protests may have something to do with the judicial reforms, but they are most certainly not only about the judicial reforms. They are in fact protesting the democratic decision of the voters to elect a government that will make important and necessary changes, including, but definitely not limited to, the proposed judicial reforms.
Most of the people protesting in the name of democracy don’t have a clue what the reforms are actually meant to accomplish and how – with the necessary tweaking that will come only when their leaders come to the negotiating table to work out the fine details – they will improve and increase the quality of our democracy. Indeed, who wants civil war? It’s looking more and more like it’s the leadership of the protesters, and unfortunately the protesters themselves are following their lead.
In “IDF service as a tool to impact policy” (March 10), Herb Keinon writes that amid “the rage that has exploded on Israel’s streets,” the sides “do not fall – as they often have in the past – into neat pigeonholes: Right vs Left, Ashkenazi vs Mizrahi, religious vs secular.”
It seems to me that the voices are coming from pigeonholes of the very recent past. It’s the “just not Bibi” people raging against the “just Bibi” people again, but carrying a different set of placards. In fact, sometimes they’re even carrying the same old placards.
I’ve yet to notice a pro-Bibi voter opposing the judicial reform, or an anti-Bibi voter supporting it.
MARK L. LEVINSON
Regarding “The implications of China in Ukraine,” (March 10): China could have an additional motivation to arming Russia for its war in Ukraine. China has seen how Russian weapons have fared against EU and American weapons in Ukraine.
Since China is contemplating taking Taiwan, even possibly by force, and since Taiwan is armed by the United States, China might be extremely interested in observing how Chinese weapons perform against US and EU weapons in Ukraine.
Friday’s headline cites President Isaac Herzog calling the judicial reforms a nightmare (“Herzog calls judicial reforms a ‘nightmare,’” March 10). Even further, according to him, the legislation being prepared is “wrong, predatory and dismantles our democratic foundations.”
Wow, his true colors finally came out. While until now he played the role of a mediator without taking sides in the dispute, even proposing a five-part plan, his background as a former member of the Labor party has now showed up.
His plan was not adopted for consideration, so as a kid who decides to play ball as he sees fit, he now takes the ball and goes home.
The country deserves a better leader.
The liberal assimilated Berlin Jews of the 1930s thought there could be an accommodation with people whose stated goal was their annihilation (“No rift this wide,” March 7).
Today in the identical fashion, the liberal Jews of the Diaspora especially in America – just like their assimilated 1930s Berlin forbears – believe that the Jews of Israel can reach an accommodation with people whose stated goal by their words and their charters is the annihilation of every Jew in Israel if not the world.
Israel is in an existential battle for survival with Jewish civilians murdered by guns and knives and car-rammings on a weekly basis, even at synagogues by Islamic fascists.
The liberal assimilated Diaspora Jews are sipping chardonnay in tree-lined safe suburbs of Westchester and Westwood and Walnut Creek and pontificating, while clueless about what it means to survive in that foxhole called Israel.
For the liberal assimilated Diaspora, having not traveled that existential Israeli road has made all the myopic difference.
Everybody is worried about the direction of Israel. Court reforms or revolution, democracy or dictatorship. In “Protests or anarchy?” (March 12), Moshe Dann tries vainly to take a healing approach on how we should go about designing and living in our “Jewish democratic state.” The problem is that the word-combo of Jewish and democratic is the ultimate oxymoron.
If it’s Jewish, it can’t be democratic. What about the non-Jews, or the secular Jews who don’t identify with ritualistic, Orthodox Judaism ? Who will decide what is “Jewish?”
We can’t even decide what is a Jewish person, much less a Jewish state. In the US, we already have the ultra-Orthodox, the Orthodox, the modern Orthodox, the Reform, the Conservative, the Reconstructionist. Some of these agree to meet with Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, some won’t.
Some drive on Saturday, some don’t. Some eat kosher, some don’t. Even us Jews will not be able to square this circle. Israel must strive to be a democratic state, hopefully with a majority of Jews if we can somehow learn to live together, not separately.
Drop the combo.
Jerusalem Post analyst Seth J. Frantzman does a good job of detailing the serious poisoning of Iranian schoolgirls, with all of the regime’s misinformation and blaming of others, including of course Israel (“Iran mobilizes misinformation about school poisonings,” March 6).
However, it’s worthwhile in recognizing what is happening across the Atlantic with Israel’s “closest ally.” Ever since Donald Trump and his wife Melania descended the elevator of Trump Tower in June of 2015 to announce his candidacy to run for US president things have not been the same.
A number of things have occurred which were formerly described as conspiracy theories, but it has now become clear that they were in fact actual conspiracies carried out by the Democratic Party, and their leftist co-conspirators. Immediately after Trump’s announcement, all through his campaign, and into his early years as president, he was targeted as being a Russian agent by the Hillary Clinton campaign, aided and abetted by the FBI.
We now know that this was a total and malicious fabrication. Coming in second in the 2016 race, Clinton never missed an opportunity to call Trump, “America’s illegitimate president.”
Other similar events include the COVID-19 lab-leak “conspiracy,” which is now gaining traction as being factual, the Hunter Biden laptop revelations which were successfully hidden from the sight of American voters, with the collusion of the FBI, social media companies and an amazing group of 51 former intelligence officials. Then we have the clearing of DC’s “Lafayette Square for Trump’s photo-op,” which has now been proven only to be a smear against the president, and then the Covington boys who were denigrated by hostile media while watching a Native American elder perform, and who only garnered interest because they wore Trump’s red MAGA hats. CNN has made an out-of-court settlement to one of the boys.
And so it goes on. Only last week, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg showed up weeks late at the devastating train derailment at East Palestine, Ohio, only to blame Trump for the catastrophe, which – you got it – was quickly shown to be untrue.
And yet since Israel held its election four months ago and the results were not to its liking, the Biden administration has not ceased to pile on against Israel, as this being the end of democracy. What hypocrisy.