Letters to the Editor April 19, 2023: Survivors’ testimony

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

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

Survivors’ testimony

Regarding “Herzog: ‘We are one people, bound by history, hope and fate’” (April 18): Remembrance is indeed vital. The Holocaust Education Trust in the UK could serve as a fine example of best efforts to ensure that future generations will remember.

HET is funded by the community and the UK government. It has a network of survivors who speak to schools, universities, companies, government departments and others.

It arranges interviews of survivors on television and radio, and recently participated in a “virtual reality” project whereby survivors’ testimony will continue even after their lifetime.

My wife, Hannah Lewis (Szczuryk), is part of the HET program and when she speaks, the impact on audiences is intense. She survived the Adampol work camp near Sobibor and came to the UK in January 1949.

Israeli authorities and institutions could well follow this way of reaching out to the younger generation, and generations to come, to ensure remembrance.


Vibrancy of democracy

If you have to get your credit rating downgraded, Moody’s might be as good a choice as any of the rating agencies (“Moody’s: Main factor in Israel downgrade was threat to judiciary,” April 18).

Enron was rated investment-grade by Moody’s and others until four days before declaring bankruptcy. Subprime mortgage loans were rated AAA going into the 2008 financial meltdown. Lehman was rated “A” until one day before it collapsed.

Senior vice president Kathrin Muehlbronner is quoted as saying that if the duly elected members of the Israeli government will control the appointment of members of the Supreme Court, it would harm the independence of the judiciary. Apparently the unelected, self-appointed justices doing the appointing would make the court more independent; so much for their analytical abilities.

At the end of this latest saga, the vibrancy of Israel’s democracy will win out, while the ratings of the agencies, which get paid enormous fees by the corporations on whom they pass judgment, will have little long-term impact on Israel’s economy. This, as long as the brain power and free markets are maintained in this little democratic nation.


Although it’s been quite a number of years since I took a few basic courses on economic theory and monetary policy, I can still recognize the negative impact resulting from the downgrading by Moody’s of Israel’s credit outlook rating. Prime Minister Netanyahu, a trained and accomplished economist, will, of course, attempt to provide a technical spin as a means of damage control.

Finance Minister Smotrich, on the other hand, is attempting to convey the impression that this is nothing more than an inconsequential blip. I wonder how many bankers, industrialists, academics and investment brokers agree with that assessment. Not too many, I’d guess.

Not too many, it seems, are buying the coalition’s argument that the proposed judicial reforms will actually strengthen Israel’s democracy, as the prime minister repeatedly predicts. And, yes, Moody’s represents just the first domino; others will soon lose confidence as well. Which, if anything, should not be surprising.

From the moment the judicial reforms were introduced there were dire warnings of financial ramifications if the High Court’s critical check on legislation would be compromised. And just as investors are leery about moving currency into the banana republics of Central America or the despotic regimes of North Africa, they will now be thinking twice before committing resources to blue-and-white projects and innovations.

What not too long ago was hailed with admiration throughout the world as the highly regarded Start-Up Nation is becoming adrift, both politically and economically.

All, though, is not lost. There remains the opportunity to turn things around and earn the respect not only of Moody’s but of the entire international economic infrastructure. The world is well aware that Israel’s achievements over the last 75 years are by no means insignificant, even if there may be disagreement with regard to settlement and Palestinian policy.

What financial institutions cannot overlook is when the structure of democracy is being threatened. And until Netanyahu provides a less radical modification to the judicial reforms, our standing in the eyes of the world will ultimately go from bad to worse.


Guiltless claims

Regarding “Abandoning Jewish property in Poland – again” ( April 18): Thank you for bringing these negotiations to our attention. The Polish people seem to have short memories, they need a visit to Yad Vashem. Their Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki needs to face the facts.

We visited Poland a number of years ago. The evidence of the killing ground is all over, and some of the populace lie and hide behind the evil Nazi regime and claim they were the victims. It is a lack of education and continued antisemitism that are the cause of these preposterous guiltless claims regarding the killing of our Jewish brethren, and the theft of whatever they can get their hands on.

Yes, some saved Jews and we say thank you, but to allow a distortion of the truth to continue is a shame to the memory of those murdered.

May we see the time when all peoples will behave with care and concern for one another. The world now teeters on the brink of another holocaust. Let’s use Holocaust Remembrance Day to forge ahead with honesty and respect for each other on a global and individual level.

MARK PLATNICKRamat Beit Shemesh

Disastrous and deadly

I know this will come as a shock to Nitsan Joy Gordon, but there is no country called Palestine (“Why I’m hopeful,” April 17). It is however the historic Jewish Land of Israel, as promised to our forefathers and their progeny, the Jewish people, in perpetuity.

Gordon’s message of “hope” is what got us into the disastrous and deadly situation we are in now. Israel has done more than any other country would contemplate, in trying to see the other side’s pain. That “pain” is actually caused by not being able to annihilate us and take over our land which would then be called Palestine without any Jews.

The bottom line is that no other but the Jewish people have the God-given right to this land. Unfortunately, the Jewish people are infected with a virus called Diaspora mentality, which made them doubt God’s gift to them of the land, and instead they brought a Trojan horse into the land.

The thousands of graves in Israel, and counting, of men, women, children and babies, is the testament to that folly.


I’m not hopeful. I’m disgusted by the article, which equates the death of a terrorist resisting arrest in Nablus with the death of two young Jewish boys murdered by terrorists because they were Jews; there is no equivalence.

The conflict will end when the Arabs, the so-called Palestinians, stop killing us and accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state to which we have every legal and historical claim.


More than a figurehead

I agree with Gershon Baskin (“The reforms we do need,” March 30). Israel needs a constitution, or, at least, a complete set of Basic Laws working as a constitution. But no constitution can settle Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.

All Palestinians in Gaza, and the vast majority of Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria, are under the administration of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. It is Palestinian leaders who need to drop their efforts to delegitimize and destroy Israel and get their people ready for peaceful coexistence with the nation-state of the Jews.

That change in attitude would make it easier for Arabs in Jerusalem, who found themselves living in Israel following the Six-Day War, to participate more fully in Israeli life.

The primary focus of the people working to develop the constitution should be addressing flaws in the current system. To avoid the need to go to elections frequently, the constitution should set rules on how parties qualify to stand for election, with an eye to having fewer, but more stable, parties that would be around long enough for voters to hold them accountable for keeping their promises.

Perhaps, the framers of the constitution might consider shifting to the MMP system now used in New Zealand rather than sticking with the proportional representation system currently used in Israel. Such a change would require defining electoral districts and a mechanism for adjusting the boundaries of those districts as the population shifts.

The duties of the various branches of government should be defined. Perhaps an executive branch should be established that would be headed by an elected president who would be more than a figurehead. The executive branch would nominate judges with the approval of the legislature (Knesset).

The president would have the power to veto laws passed by the Knesset and there would be a mechanism by which the Knesset could override the veto. To ease the current burden on the High Court, the constitution could mandate the establishment of lower courts, defining a process by which the most difficult cases would be brought before the High Court. 

Obviously, the constitution should define the process by which the court could declare a law to be “unconstitutional” and the mechanism for the Knesset to attempt to override such a declaration. Each branch of government would thus act as part of a checks and balances among the other branches.


Propaganda organs

Salem Alketbi (“Democracy and tyranny face off,” April 14) combines confusion and ignorance when comparing China and the US. Referring to China’s “democratic governance model” is itself a cruel joke. China interns hundreds of thousands of Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in concentration camps. 

President Xi’s term was just extended unanimously by the CCP. The renewed focus on rigorous party control over civil society and free expression has resulted in human rights activists being imprisoned for the nebulous crime of “subversion of state authority.” 

Alketbi speaks of China’s “non-interference in other countries’ affairs,” apparently unaware of China’s unprecedented military exercises in preparation for its expected invasion of Taiwan. He says that the US has lost moral authority because it failed to take a leading role in fighting the COVID pandemic.

He forgets that the US produced three life-saving vaccines in record time while China hid critical information on the virus’s source and transmissibility, directly contributing to nearly seven million deaths worldwide.

That being said, Alketbi ignores America’s alarming drift toward Chinese-style totalitarianism. It is becoming increasingly clear that the crowd involved in the January 6 riot (not an insurrection) included numerous federal informants and agents provocateurs.

While virtually everyone arrested was charged with low-level offenses such as trespassing or unlawful entry, they have received obscenely long sentences; some have been held in solitary confinement. Like Chinese demonstrators, they are suffering excessive punishment for opposing the power elite.

The American system of “justice” has been politicized and weaponized to protect the ruling party. The leading opposition candidate for president is indicted on made-up charges while parents who want a say in their children’s education are labeled “domestic terrorists.”

Economically disastrous and ultimately ineffective COVID lockdowns demonstrated what can be done to a fearful and compliant populace. No wonder JPMorgan Chase’s CEO now suggests that the US Government and climate conscious corporations may need to seize citizens’ private property to enact climate initiatives.

As in China, the news media serve as propaganda organs for the ruling aristocracy. They willingly assist in silencing anyone who voices an opinion contrary to the dogma imposed from on high.

One hopes it is not too late to halt the US’s slide toward a police state in which ideology and group identity replace individual merit. Over 70% of Americans believe that the country is heading in the wrong direction. The next election may be the most consequential in the history of the country, indeed of the entire free world.

EFRAIM COHENZichron Ya’acov