Letters to the Editor May 17, 2023: Smaller and shorter

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

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

Smaller and shorter

Regarding “Op may test Iran’s ‘unity of front’ plan” (May 10): Now that the dust of Israel’s Shield and Arrow operation is settling, one can sit back and analyze its importance in the context of Tehran’s openly declared plan for unity of all fronts to be activated against Israel on the Day of Judgment.

Your analyst Seth Frantzman broached this matter up front at the very beginning of the operation against Islamic Jihad in Gaza. But why did Israel carry out a frontal attack on Islamic Jihad and not on Hamas when the former is the much smaller and shorter tentacle of the Iranian octopus?

My thirty-plus years of US foreign service dealing with international analyses lead me to a number of tentative conclusions.

If Hamas would stand aside militarily from the attacks on Islamic Jihad, this would supposedly be a win for Israel in the constellation of intra-Palestinian relations. But if it would jump in to the fray, such a wider operation would allow Israel to cut off two tentacles at a time – better now, so the theory goes, rather than later.

Possibly more important was the opportunity, at relatively lesser cost, for Israel to assert a new strategic posture involving the choice liquidation of all the  key terrorist leaders of one organization. More so, this proved achievable with astonishingly pinpoint accuracy in several separate attacks. One has only to listen to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah speaking in crouched terms from his bunker in Lebanon; what Israel demonstrated in Gaza is also applicable to the leadership of Iran’s Hezbollah tentacle. 

I would even venture to postulate that this same new Israeli message is being analyzed fearfully in Damascus, as well. It would not be too far afield for President Assad to worry now about a possible Israeli policy shift to include attacks on Syria’s Alawite terror army. The latter is the mainstay of all foreign, and especially Iranian, aggression against Israel, directly and by proxy.

Yet Israel’s operational arrow has still to be fully tested in Gaza, i.e. against Hamas, supposedly sooner better than later, before Tehran ramps up its anticipated nuclear cover.

For this to happen, however, Israeli leaders of whichever government should disabuse themselves of the notion that Hamas is to be seen in the framework of Palestine/Land of Israel, rather than in that of Iran; maintaining the rupture in Palestinian society at the far more serious expense of allowing the Hamas tentacle to remain intact, awaiting Tehran’s order to flay widely over Israel’s more southern and central airspace. Those Iron Dome batteries will then be needed for the north.

Such paradigm shift would have the added benefit of freeing Ramallah from the Hamas stranglehold on peace.


No solution

Zina Rakhamilova unfortunately stopped short in her article (“We are sick and tired of war,” May 16) and did not suggest her solution to the problems she described so well. Let’s say: OK, we accept their narrative and they accept ours, then what?

Their narrative is that Israel expelled them from their lands while our narrative is Israel defended itself from enemies trying to destroy it and, in their eyes, unfortunately won. Now what?

Surely Rakhamilova is hinting toward a two-state solution to end all wars forever. She should read the well-written article below her on the same page of your newspaper: “A tale of two worlds” by Micah Halpern.

Ehud Olmert offered Yasser Arafat all the land he demanded including half of Jerusalem but refused when the topic of return of their “refugees” was not agreed upon. Rakhamilova’s naiveness is appalling.

Of course the solution would be to force all of the terrorist backers to change their position and accept Israel. That will never happen even if hell freezes over. So what’s the solution? Who says that there is a solution?

Israel must forge ahead with life and be continuously prepared to ward off potential invaders by land, sea, or in the air as it has been doing these past 75 years.



Rule by fiat

Regarding “Municipalities threaten strike over gov’t city tax plan” (May 15):  The government’s program for the overhaul of the judiciary has been met with the furious resistance of the people. For many weeks, there have been weekly manifestations of this in the streets.

As many commentators have pointed out, it is due mainly to the extreme measures proposed without any prior endeavor to reach a consensus, whereas a more evolutionary approach together with a program to establish an Israeli constitution would have most probably been palatable.

The way that this program has been presented as a fiat has a collateral damage: the city tax plan. Here too our government is trying to rule by fiat when Finance Minister Smotrich claims “No surrender.” Of course municipalities will oppose it!

Israel taxes the income of individuals, their expenses via VAT, companies via taxes on their profits – and there, things start going wrong because of the many ways companies can get their taxes deferred or reduced, sometimes to nil, as an incentive.

Municipalities get their income from the Arnona (city tax) Fund. Some of it comes from homeowners and some from businesses, income which is not taxed. In fact, Arnona should be treated as the municipalities’ income and taxed accordingly.

Then the government can earmark this income from municipalities and redistribute the taxes to the benefit of enhancing the development of poorer towns. All this should not be done by imposing a decision from the top but by a public discussion to ascertain what to tax, how much, and where it goes, meaning to other well-defined municipalities and not siphoned off to benefit the constituents of such and such a minister.



Payback time

As you have rightly alluded (editorial, “Congressional catastrophe,” May 14), it is outrageous and shocking that Senator Bernie Sanders should go out of his way to assist and facilitate arrangements for a member of the so-called progressive wing of the Democratic Party, The Squad, to commemorate and celebrate Nakba Day.

However, it should not come as any real surprise as Mr. Sanders has history when it comes to attempting (so he believes) to be even-handed in his criticisms of Israel, which have been less than supportive even going as far as to preach to Congress to stop “supplying weapons to kill children in Gaza.”

When previously he put himself up for the presidency of the US, he called upon and received support for his candidacy from the likes of Rashida Tlaib and IIhan Omar. So, in his decision to assist them, it looks like payback time in his support for their anti-Israel event by this group, more than tainted by antisemitism.

It is therefore clearly transparent that with Jewish friends such as Senator Sanders, Israel does not need enemies.


Tel Aviv

Kilometers of green

Regarding “Israel did make the desert bloom” (May 2): About forty years ago, I was part of a group of members of the Canadian Institute of International Affairs that was on a study trip to the Middle East. The trip began in Egypt, then went on to Jordan and ended in Israel.

On the second day, we traveled in Jordan, from Jerash in the north to Petra in the south. It was almost a full day’s journey. On the bus, when I took a break from reading my book, I stared out of the window at a very boring scene.

Kilometers and more kilometers of sand. It was all desert. This went on for hours.

Finally, I turned my head to the right, stared out the window on the other side of the bus, and what did I see? The total area, kilometer after kilometer was green! It was an “aha moment.”

Now I knew what they meant when they said “Israel made the desert bloom.” So without a doubt, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has it right.



No comprehension

I am really quite amazed at the naivety of the author of the editorial headlined “End the cycle” (May 15). The author appears to have no understanding of what Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are all about and his belief that the UN can be part of the solution is simply folly.

There is a distinction between Muslims, Islamists and militant Islamists. A Muslim is a person whose religion is Islam. An Islamist is a Muslim (either Sunni or Shi’ite) who wants to spread Islam. A militant Islamist is a person who wants to spread Islam and is prepared to kill and be killed to further this goal.

Militant Islamists consider Jihad (dying for the sake of spreading Islam) as the highest form of sacrifice that will guarantee the martyr a place in heaven. When a group calls itself Palestinian Islamic Jihad, it is absolutely clear what their aims are.

Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood is a Sunni Islamist party founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna. He stated the following: “The nature of Islam is to dominate and not to be dominated, to impose its law on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet.” Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, a senior Moslem Brotherhood member, stated that “when the enemy enters the land of the Muslims, jihad becomes individually obligatory.”

Anyone who thinks that this kind of thinking can be the basis of a peace conference has no comprehension of the nature of militant Islamists and the radicalization of Islamist ideas to which they have been subjected. Both Hamas and PIJ are supported by Iran. Iran has constantly called for “death to Israel,” and this defines the reason for their support for Hamas and PIJ. It belies credibility to think that either Hamas or PIJ is a partner for peace with Israel.

The author concludes with the remarkable statement that “the message to Hamas, PIJ and other terrorist groups in Gaza is simple: no more attacks against Israel will be tolerated.” The author seems to be confusing a ceasefire with unconditional surrender.

When rockets are fired, there are only losses. Some lose more than others. Some lose their lives. There are no winners. The best that can be expected is that the latest Israeli response will act as a deterrent that will delay the next round of terrorism emanating from Gaza.


Too frequently interrupted

The article “Should Israel adopt a four-day workweek? Yes, here’s why” (May 9) makes a good deal of sense and definitely needs to be seriously considered. However, a major problem is not even mentioned. Yes, “Israel’s productivity, as measured in GDP per hour worked, is about 40% lower than the average of the top half of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development economies.” What could possibly be the reason for that?

Might it have anything at all to do with the enormous amount of time wasted by employees who are too frequently interrupted at work by their smartphones? Interruptions are huge time-wasters. Not only do we need to consider the actual time spent on the phone or texting, but also the minutes wasted in trying to remember what was being done before the phone call and what were the thoughts at that time.

I will never forget my first meeting with a bank manager prior to opening an account 17 years ago. To my surprise and horror, he answered his mobile, interrupting our meeting, to take two personal calls. This was not widely done in my previous experience in Canada and the US. It’s gotten much worse over the years.