Letters to the Editor July 19, 2023: Essence of democracy

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

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

Essence of democracy

In “Making order of the facts” (July 17), Susan Hattis Rolef makes the following statement: “the legislative program that Justice Minister Yariv Levin presented on January 4... enables the introduction of an irreversible illiberal system of government,” by which I presume that she is referring to, among other things, changing the procedure for appointing justices.

First, let’s examine the two terms she uses to describe the process. First, “irreversible” which implies that she thinks that there is no realistic chance that there will be a government composed of centrists and/or leftists. Because, if there is such a chance, that government could appoint justices who conform to their beliefs. Second, “illiberal” is a term that means the opposite of “liberal” which describes the makeup of the current coalition and, therefore, is unnecessary and merely prejudicial.

Next, let’s look at the process of appointing justices in a country that all agree is democratic, the United States. According to its Constitution, justices are appointed by the president, a politician, with the “advice and consent” of the Senate, a group of politicians.

Proof of the ability of these politicians to change the makeup of the Supreme Court was recently given. In January 1973, the court ruled that the Constitution granted women the right to abortion and state laws forbidding it were null and void. Last year, the court reversed that ruling. This was a direct result of the Republican presidential appointment of conservative justices who replaced liberal justices, whose appointment became more possible during Democratic presidencies. I hope that the writer is wrong and that there will be governments in Israel that have more liberal views. If that is the case, the change to the selection system will enable the appointment of  justices compatible with the majority of electors at any given time. This is the essence of democracy.


Petah Tikva

Gone too far

Regarding “Reserve IDF doctors join threat to refuse volunteer service” (July 17): I am a doctor at one of the major hospitals in Israel. I will not mention which, since this is a personal letter and I do not want to drag the hospital into politics. The reason I mention this is due to the recent threat of IDF reserve doctors now refusing to give service.

I believe this business of disrupting people’s lives has gone too far. An innocent person going to a medical appointment cannot arrive, due to the road being blocked. A tourist who has saved and bought an (overpriced) plane ticket to and lodging in Israel, is then accosted at the airport. Loud demonstrations take place at Gan Sacher across from an old-age home late into the night.

This is insane. I am not sure if this is not a case of hot long summer days with people going wild or “useful idiots” being manipulated by people with personal political agendas, but common decency has been lost.

I understand people feel that democracy, as they perceive it, is in danger; but we are not talking about anything illegal. The reasonable override clause is after a bill is passed legally and the only objection is that an unelected judge does not like it. It seems to me that this is the opposite of democracy, and the word “coup” is more relevant to the demonstrators.

Protest and anger are understandable and acceptable. But to then make disrupt the lives of people who are just trying to get through their day is more than unacceptable. It is selfish and ugly.

I have lived 35 years in the US and 33 years here in Israel. I tell you from experience, we are in the best of places. It doesn’t matter if you are a Jew, Arab, black or white. People who protest and have no experience living elsewhere are destroying the good. We can always try to improve, but not to destroy what is wonderful. Perfect is the enemy of good.

I am willing to state that if the doctors go on strike and the IDF needs me, all they have to do is call. I have a feeling I will not be alone in that sentiment.



Keeping alive the memory

I read with much interest the article about the Munich Jewish Museum’s exhibit on post-war displaced person camps (“Landmark exhibits shed light on life in German displaced person camps after the Holocaust,” July 16). My father, uncle, and several of their friends spent three years, 1946-1949, ten miles south of Munich in the Fohrenwald DP camp.

Forhrenwald was the last camp to close, in 1957. The Jews were replaced, ironically enough, by Germans who were expelled by their former victims (Sudeten Czechs, for example). Two generations later, the grandchildren of those Germans are still there.

While many of the current residents would like nothing better than to forget the decade when Jews lived in their now-updated homes, one person fought to convert the Fohrenwald bathhouse into a museum, detailing the area’s history. It would not be exclusively about Jews, but we would be a major part of the story.

Dr. Sybille Krafft is the heroine of this struggle. And struggle it was, as Dr. Krafft had to fight against the opposition of not just many current residents, but also that of the local Catholic church. But she overcame the obstacles and a few years ago, the Fohrenwald museum was dedicated, under its tongue-twisting German name, Erinnerungsort Badehaus.

This museum was the reason for my first visit to Germany, a country I’d sworn I would never visit. But I wanted to thank Dr. Krafft personally for what she did to keep alive the memory of my father and his friends.



Ordinary citizen

Regarding “Congressional cancel culture” (editorial, July 17): I am waiting for a reporter to ask Rep. Rashida Tlaib the following question: Before you were in Congress, before you were involved with BDS, when you were just an ordinary citizen with a US passport and could enter Israel any time you wanted, how many times did you go to visit your beloved grandmother?

I will bet the answer is never.



Undoubtedly, the bond between Israel and the US must be cherished and strengthened, but the history of the relationship provides a reality check. In 1948, not only did the US not defend Israel, but it also enforced an arms embargo when Arab countries fought a war of extermination against the nascent Jewish state.

Contrast this with the Korean War, 1950-1953, when the US sacrificed 36,000 American soldiers fighting for an independent South Korea. Today, America provides the most sophisticated weapons for the defense of an independent Ukraine.

There’s the what-if of history. Had America furnished weapons for Israel in 1948, its border after the war would likely have been the Jordan River, not today’s jagged, indefensible border with the West Bank, and no issues of a disputed Jerusalem, settlements and settlers, with which the whole world is obsessed.

History turns on a dime, and Jews should be the first to be aware of this. Once Germany was the archenemy of the Jews, now both are very good friends; once Iran was a friend of Israel and Saudi Arabia was its archenemy, now it’s vice-versa; once in the US the Democrats were the most pro-Israel and Republicans less so; now it’s vice-versa. In the Book of Genesis, Joseph and his brethren lived peacefully in Egypt, but abruptly in the Book of Exodus, a new Pharaoh enslaved the Israelites and commanded the killing of all male babies.

Finally, it is difficult to understand why America is hesitant to admit Israel into the visa waiver program, when 40 countries are already accepted. The excuse is that Israel is strict with Palestinian Americans entering the country, but it is no different than the US when it comes to stringent security. Israel must not take for granted its relations with America.



Probably for naught

I read “Can we reverse climate change?” (July 17) with great interest. Nowhere in the article is it noted that population growth, if continued at the current rate, will negate all efforts to reduce climate change.

In ten years, 2013 to 2023, world population has increased from seven billion to eight billion. If this increase is not addressed, all the efforts at reducing greenhouse gases will probably be for naught. However if we promote small families and forestation, there is some chance that climate change could be halted or reversed. Unfortunately there now is no movement to halt population growth.



Pressure Palestinian leaders

Aliza Pilichowski (“I’m not an obstacle to peace,” July 16) is absolutely correct. It is Palestinian intransigence which has prolonged the conflict. President Biden needs to be told that he must stop criticizing only Israel for acting “unilaterally.”

After all, the Palestinian rejection of every peace proposal Israel and the US have proffered in the three decades since the Oslo process was started is an extreme example of unilateralism. And so too is the insistence that Israelis refrain from building on land that is of historic and religious significance to them, land from which Jews were ethnically cleansed during two decades of illegal Jordanian occupation, land which was liberated in a defensive war, land which Israel has offered to share with the Palestinians (whose leaders, very unilaterally, consider all of pre-1967 Israel to be “occupied Palestinian land”).

If President Biden is going to continue announcing that the conflict must be settled via negotiation, he should recognize that he needs to pressure the Palestinian leaders to return to the bargaining table, with the understanding that they, not only the Israelis, will need to make compromises to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.




Tom Friedman is a fair weather friend (“White House denies it is reevaluating ties: NYT’s Thomas Friedman warns of severe nonalignment between US, Netanyahu,” July 13). What nerve to chastise Israel for exercising its democratically-elected Knesset operations.

The UN is a  bastion of Israel-bashers. It singles out Israel, more than any other nation in the entire world, for condemnation. There are members of the UN which are guilty of every crime against their own people. They get a free ride. Look at what Russia is doing to the Ukraine. There are members of the United States Congress who are so anti-Israel, they accuse Israel of being racist.

We don’t need Tom Friedman’s approval for being the only democratic country in the entire Middle East.



Daf Yomi

Congratulations to Herb Keinon for bringing the study of Daf Yomi into the headlines (“When Daf Yomi meets headlines,” July 12).

Those of us who study, know that everyday one can find a parallel in today’s headlines from the daily study. When so many of your readers are Torah observant, it is good to see an article that is relevant to our lives.


San Diego

Fighting against ourselves

In answer to the question “What will happen to Israel if the PA falls?” (July 18): Surely it would mean the country will have fewer terrorists threatening it with destruction, to replace it with Palestine, and as Mahmoud Abbas has often said, to be free of even one Jew.

Therefore, I wonder how Zina Rakhamilova, who wrote the article, can believe that “one of the main reasons Abbas is unpopular is because he is one of the last politicians who – ostensibly – believes in normalization with Israel and calls for a two-state solution.” Fairy tales are for children but even children grow up; not so, apparently, in our part of the world.

Mahmoud Abbas denies that we have any right to any part of this land and insists that the “Palestinians,” born in 1967 by a political ploy of the Arab League, were here before us. It is unthinkable, or should have been, that Israelis bought into the insane idea that we are dependent on terrorists for our security. The Oslo Accords were a criminal act that should have been undone when the first rocket was fired from Gaza, and before the Palestinian-run territories became a haven for terrorists.

It is sad that Jews, who waited thousands of years to return to their historic land, so easily became the prey in that land with the overlords being the enemy. Rakhamilova finds it unnerving to think of what would happen if Israel loses its source of security coordination in the West Bank. Does she not know its correct name – Judea and Samaria?

Exactly what source of security is she talking about? Fatah only exists because we prop it up and support it, and the only “security” from them is due to their understanding that we will not let Hamas harm them. In fact we are fighting against ourselves.