Letters to the editor July 24, 2023: Not a numbers game

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

Israeli protesters are seen on Tel Aviv's Kaplan Interchange on July 1, 2023 (photo credit: GILAD FURST)
Israeli protesters are seen on Tel Aviv's Kaplan Interchange on July 1, 2023
(photo credit: GILAD FURST)

Not a numbers game

David Weinberg’s article discussing the refusal to report for reserve duty of many Israelis (“The refusal-to-serve festival,” July 21) asserts that the media have not been reporting on the many reservists who have promised to continue carrying out their reserve duties – and that this group far outnumbers the others.

Mr. Weinberg, this is not a numbers game. The actual number of people on both sides of this issue is not particularly important. What is important – no, critical – is that some thousands of reservists say that they will refuse to report for duty if the current overhaul legislation passes, that this number is increasing, and that some have already so refused.

News reports state that some of those refusing are in key positions in the armed forces. This is a potential military crisis regardless of the respective numbers.

I agree with those whose position is that members of the armed forces must serve regardless of the nature of the current government. Refusing to serve is hugely dangerous for our country. Arguing about numbers is irrelevant. 

 GOLANI SOLDIERS take part in a training exercise, 2021. This week, hundreds of Golani reservists have been participating in a massive training exercise, and not a single reserve soldier refused to show-up for duty, according to their commander (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
GOLANI SOLDIERS take part in a training exercise, 2021. This week, hundreds of Golani reservists have been participating in a massive training exercise, and not a single reserve soldier refused to show-up for duty, according to their commander (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)



Protest against protesting

I’m fed up with the endless protest demonstrations here in my beloved Israel (”March reaches Knesset, protests swell nationwide,” July 23). However, it makes no sense to protest against protesting. Instead, I propose that everyone who feels as I do simply write on social media and to their newspapers.

Enough of the protests!



Conspiracy nutcase

Regarding “RFK Jr. gets around to blaming the Jews” (July 23): We made aliyah 13 years ago and I have not been keeping up with all the minor political players in America. I can barely keep track of all the political players here in Israel.

When I saw that RFK Jr. threw his hat into the ring and would be challenging Biden for the Democratic Party nomination for president next year, I at first thought: Well, that’s good, someone else besides Biden and Harris might be the nominee in 2024.

As soon as RFK Jr. came out with that ridiculous obviously antisemitic statement about COVID-19 having been engineered to avoid Chinese people and Ashkenazi Jews, I realized that his campaign as well as his political career was over. I must admit that I’ve been wrong about this stuff in the past. I remember thinking the very same thing years ago about Bill Clinton when the Monica Lewinsky affair came to light, even before he lied to the world about it, wagging his finger at us all.

Since then, I have been educated by the press as to what kind of a conspiracy nutcase RFK Jr. is. In any event, what he said does not bring any solace to the families of Ashkenazi Jews that I personally know here in Israel and in Los Angeles who succumbed to COVID-19 during the height of that pandemic, let alone the unknown number of Chinese who died from COVID-19. It seems that whatever “ethnically targeted microbes” were inserted into COVID-19 didn’t even work.

I just wonder what the backlash would have been had he said “blacks” instead of “Ashkenazi Jews.”


Ma’aleh Adumim

Save democracy

Obviously I agree with the heading of the editorial “On the brink” (July 23) and that the situation is very “scary.” No thinking person in this country would disagree with this assessment.   However, I am scared about something different from that which disturbs your editor and brings him to implore Netanyahu that he “must act now.”

Has your editor considered carefully the implications and consequences of the prime minister bowing to the will of a very loud demonstrating mob, who illegally block the country’s main highways and prevent ambulances from getting their emergency patients to a hospital? Does your editor realize that Netanyahu has no alternative and no option available to him to stop or even delay the impending legislation?

 Netanyahu speaks at the cabinet meeting on July 17, 2023. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SETUP)
Netanyahu speaks at the cabinet meeting on July 17, 2023. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SETUP)

If he does so, not only is he finished and his government finished, but the rule of all democratically elected future governments is also endangered to the extent of being neutered, gelded and emasculated, always aware of the possibility of an impromptu social-media-initiated mob screaming “dic-tat-or-ship” and bringing them down.

Indeed the only way that our prime minister can save democracy is to go ahead with putting into effect the policies for which he was elected by a very comfortable majority of the voting public.



Poisonous positions

I was not anticipating that President Herzog’s address to the United States Congress would be anthologized in a collection of great speeches of the 21st century (“President speaks to joint session of Congress: Vilifying Israel is antisemitism,” July 20). So I was neither enthralled nor disappointed. And while there was no flamboyant oratory in the style of “I have a dream,” he touched on the right issues and exhibited the appropriate level of emotion and feeling.

There was, though, one exception. The president had an extraordinary opportunity to turn the political insult of members of the House of Representatives from the “Squad,” who did not attend his address, into a diplomatic triumph, but neither he – nor anybody involved in the drafting of his speech –  was sufficiently farsighted to see the potential.

His sole reference to the boycott was an insistence that refusing to accept the right of Israel to exist as a free nation is not only unacceptable criticism but is in fact an expression of antisemitism. He’s right, of course, but I suspect there are more than a handful of US legislators – both Jewish and not Jewish – who quietly and discreetly take issue with that position. Far better to neutralize the Squad and their poisonous positions than to introduce troublesome talking points. How different would the perspective be if he had said instead:

“Several of your colleagues have decided to absent themselves rather than attend the remarks of the president of Israel, which is indeed unfortunate. The first crucial step in achieving mutual understanding and respect is open and honest communication. I am therefore prepared to meet personally with those honorable members of the United States Congress and engage in conversation and discussion on the matters that they find most problematic. I have no doubt that they, too, would not long after find inconceivable the notion of accusing the State of Israel of being racist or of implementing apartheid policies.”

Israel’s president is, after all, a statesman and diplomat, not an elected politician. As he stated in his address, his objective is to achieve peace, particularly with those who have traditionally rebuffed such attempts.


Ginot Shomron

Follow the money

Regarding your Friday back page (July 21): I’ll start with Avi Mayer, who is ignoring the big picture (“What Israel needs right now”). The anti-judicial reform protests are being directed/funded, etc. by the same people who brought us the anti-Bibi protests during his previous times as prime minister. Now the pockets are deeper and the slogan has changed.

If Mayer wants his time as editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post to be something really special, he should follow the money. Put together a brave, hard-working crew of investigative reporters to find out who/what’s really behind these dangerously infantile riots/rallies and the laughable charges against Netanyahu.

Back page columnist Liat Collins has some very big shoes to fill, and she’s inching her way up to two stupendous predecessors, Caroline Glick and Ruthie Blum. I hope that Mayer read the article by Collins, “Look back in wonder,” because she hit a very important point. Israel’s Left, the old time Labor establishment and those to the Left of it, still hasn’t made peace with their 1977 defeat to Menachem Begin’s Likud.

Since then, most Israeli elections have gone to the Right, rather than the Left, and the old political parties are at most shadows of their former selves or ghosts trying to control Israel from the netherworld. Not even the chameleon-like National Religious Party has survived.

Collins mentioned the 1973 Yom Kippur War which showed how incompetent our defense thinkers really are and how unreliable our American “allies” are. Nothing has changed since. It took a few years for the Israeli public to realize that we needed new rulers, after the State of Israel was almost destroyed.

The old time leftist/socialist elite can’t win elections any more, and they only got into power a couple of years ago, because right-wing Yamina leader Naftali Bennett managed to put together a very unlikely coalition, which held until Bibi’s dirty tricks tore it apart. Yes, read that sentence again. I’m not a Bibi supporter. I think his behavior while Bennett was prime minister was totally disgusting and unacceptable, but it wasn’t illegal. 

Before closing, I must point out that David Weinberg’s opinion piece about the media and the truth about IDF reserve attendance is excellent, a definite must-read.



Wishing to unseat them

When I saw the headline “Protest leaders: March from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is ‘historic’” (July 20), I thought back to the time when my grandchildren participated in such hikes as part of their school or extracurricular “chug” programs. I too remember the pride I felt then, but it was a pride of their learning about and loving their land, not of disruption and hostility.

The owners of the house where the marchers enjoyed pizza, music, and treats, are quoted as expressing pride in being part of “something great.” But I wonder if they have considered that supporting a march that is trying to govern by force instead of ballot is really what they want to see as the future of their country. Have they considered a time when the candidates they voted for are in office but are disrupted by demonstrators wishing to unseat them?

 Democracy means government elected by universal suffrage, governing by orderly legislation, not by violence on the streets and highways.

 Well meaning citizens should reflect on the longterm effects of such disruption, both internally and outside of the country, on the viability of their nation. Especially in this week of the anniversary of the destruction of our nation 2000 years ago, we should be wary of bringing such havoc down upon ourselves again. 

As president Lyndon Johnson of the US would often quote: “Let us sit down and reason together.”


Beit Shemesh

Handful of Democrats

US House Speaker McCarthy: ‘Democrats need to fight antisemitism in their party’” (July 20) deserves a response. Democrats have often spoken out against the handful of Democrats who have made antisemitic statements, most recently against Rep. Pramila Jayapal who said that Israel is a racist state, and then retracted it because of the criticism.

The vast majority of Democratic legislators, including all the party leaders and committee chairs, are strongly pro-Israel and have always supported our right to exist and defend ourselves. They have consistently backed aid for Israel, including for the Iron Dome that has saved many Israeli lives. It was not Democrats but Republican Senator Rand Paul who blocked funding for it four times. During the Obama administration legislation was passed providing $38 billion in aid to Israel over ten years.

Recently the most comprehensive program to combat antisemitism was released by the Biden administration. It has received much praise from US and Israeli leaders and organizations. Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, US Vice President Kamala Harris’s Jewish husband, has worked extensively with Jewish organizations and has traveled widely to combat antisemitism.

Speaker McCarthy and other Republicans have consistently failed to speak out against the many examples of antisemitism on the Republican side. For example, former president Trump has often implied that US Jews have double loyalty with regard to Israel, and even that we care more about Israel than about the US. Except for a handful, they were also silent when Trump met with known virulent antisemites at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump has characterized marchers carrying torches chanting “Jews will not replace us” as “very fine people.” Republicans cannot bring themselves to unequivocally condemn the ongoing antisemitism of the favorite for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.

Recent polling shows that Jewish voters trust Democrats more than Republicans to fight antisemitism by a 52%-20% margin. By a 61%-24% margin, Jewish voters are more concerned about antisemitism originating from right-wing groups and individuals than from left-wing groups and individuals.