Letters to the Editor September 13, 2023: Adding salt to the wound

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

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

Adding salt to the wound

In “Israel’s reforms, the UK’s reality” (September 11), Sam Brummer, admittedly “watching from afar,” makes a fair argument as to how the judicial reforms might make Israel more like the UK than the US. What this distant commenter appears to misunderstand, though, is both the perfidious nature of the current coalition and the theocratic threat that Israel faces.

It’s a similar trap into which many well-meaning analysts of the Israeli system fall. I suggest that he read one of the writings by Hebrew University legal scholar Netta Barak-Corren on the subject, in order to gain a better understanding of the situation from someone here on the ground who fully understands the issues with our system.

Adding salt to the wound, Brummer engages in the same type of condescension as do so many “pro-reform” interlocutors by asserting that the hundreds of thousands of weekly protesters have been “whipped into a frenzy” rather than actually understanding the serious threat these reforms pose to our country.


Beit Shemesh

Encourage excellence

I would like to add one more example to the tribute by Kenneth Brander about the extraordinary philanthropy, especially in the field of education, of Robert Beren (“What would Mr. Beren ask?” September 8).

One of the last positions I held in the New York City Board of Education was that of college counselor in a prominent high school. Since applying for college involved the senior class in the high school, I became involved in the committee which selected graduation awards for all kinds of excellence.

Most of the awards were presented at award assemblies, held close to the graduation date, but there was one award, known only as the Beren Award, that was exclusively presented at the graduation ceremony itself, and I was given the honor of making the presentation each year.

The criteria for the award were very specific and had to be meticulously documented; it was to be given to a student who had overcome some adversity in his/her life to achieve excellence. This award was kept secret till the moment it was announced and was one of the highlights of the graduation program. It not only was a sizable sum of money, but unlike many other monetary awards, it was not to be subtracted from the student’s other financial aid packages.

I later found out that our public school was among a few selected by the Beren committee to encourage excellence in public education.

Some time later, I found myself, at a family graduation at Yeshiva University, which was also the recipient of the Beren generosity, seated next to a large number of the Beren clan. I found them a most congenial and lively group, and they seemed to be really invested in the proceedings. 

It is yet an additional tribute to Robert Beren’s legacy that his family is continuing his philanthropic work and following his commitment to making the world a better place.


Beit Shemesh

All seemingly ignored

Regarding “‘Israel is continuing to neglect readiness’” (September 11): Despite all the dire warnings in real time and on the ground as evinced by the latest earthquake in Morocco, and issued by State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman concerning earthquake preparedness in Israel, it’s all seemingly ignored here, as usual.

Just as in the case of the economic situation, including our ridiculously high cost of living, etc., all that matters to this “government” is its obsession with judicial reform to benefit Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The fact that we have a blowhard as national security minister who has failed abysmally during the past nine months to rein in terror and violence in the Arab sector; a finance minister who is involving himself in matters outside his purview; and numerous other incidents of unacceptable behavior and statements to the media, is proof that this bunch doesn’t really care what damage it does to the state and its citizens.

 I can only hope that when the next election comes around, the electorate will remember what this government has done, and vote in a government representing both sides and not exclusively extreme Left or extreme Right.



Fully equal rights

It’s sickening to see Tamir Pardo’s nonsense accusations of Israeli apartheid (“Pardo’s libelous propaganda,” editorial, September 10). In fact, there is no Israeli apartheid. Arab Israelis are integrated fully into Israeli society. They are overrepresented in the Israeli medical fields as compared to their population percentage, serve with distinction and at high rank in the IDF, head up the largest bank in Israel, have served on the Israeli Supreme Court, and have fully equal legal and civil rights with all other Israelis.

Palestinians in Judea and Samaria are not Israeli citizens, but are instead governed by the Palestinian Authority, based in Areas A and B. Their rights, such as they are, are granted by that entity. The Palestinians themselves agreed to this arrangement.

Klaas Mokgomole, a black South African and former high ranking BDS activist there, surely knows apartheid when he sees it. He has now rejected BDS and its accusations of Israeli apartheid because he has learned the truth that there is no policy of apartheid implemented by Israel.

Nelson Mandela accepted an award in Israel during the late 1990s. He surely would not have done so if there was any Israeli apartheid then; there wasn’t, and isn’t any now.

Pardo appears to have joined the ranks of those who will say anything, no matter how false, to bring down the current Israeli government. This is a fundamentally anti-democratic maneuver, as the Israeli people elected their current government democratically. How ironic and unfortunate it is that Pardo is seeking to thwart the will of the Israeli electorate, while simultaneously and falsely accusing it of anti-democratic practices.


Williamsville, New York

A better strategic position

In “The peace process didn’t fail – it never existed” (September 7), Itamar Marcus provides convincing evidence that our Arab “peace partners” never intended to make peace with Israel; rather they openly planned to use the Oslo Accords to attain a better strategic position to harm/destroy us. Also, Israeli leaders wanted peace so badly that they, willingly or otherwise, allowed themselves to be gullibly deceived.

After 30 years of this embarrassing farce process, hopefully increasing numbers of Israelis will stop deceiving themselves and exit their reality distortion field into the bright (albeit perhaps a bit uncomfortable) light of truth and reality.



Foolishly and shortsightedly

Considering how long and impressive Alex Selsky’s CV is, his conclusions should be seriously taken into account (“Asking Israel to pay a high price,” September 12). He posits that Israel should not rush blindly into the proposed agreement for the international economic infrastructure project linking India to Europe via Israel. The price which it seems that Israel is being asked to pay, the limitations which are being proposed, and the consequent inherent dangers lying therein may well outweigh the advantages that the plan offers.

Let us not fall into the trap yet again, as we did so foolishly and shortsightedly in the past. In 1975, under pressure from Henry Kissinger, we gave up the enormous economic bonanza of the Abu Rudeis oil fields, and have spent the last 48 years regretting it. In 2005, we gave up Gush Katif which was a virtual social paradise of mutual cooperation between Jews and Arabs, and have not ceased to regret it.

Only last year, under the impetuosity of Yair Lapid, Israel signed away a huge tract of its oil-and-gas-rich sea territory on some flimsy, unbased pretext of “cooperation” with a country which is still in a state of war with us. And even today, Israel is being asked to give up a significant aspect of its internal security, with the US demanding, in exchange for non-visa entry to the US, that American Gazan Arabs be allowed free access to come and go through Ben-Gurion Airport and wander around our country with impunity, photographing and noting whatever they will.

And now comes Alex Selsky to show us clearly that we are again being asked to “pay a high price” for the privilege of acting as an international conduit for world traders.

No, let us not fall into the trap yet again. Israel’s piece in the international jigsaw puzzle is essential to complete the picture and without it, the project will fail. We do not need to beg and scrape. It is we who should be setting the conditions.



Real interests

International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Grossi is declaring that Iran routinely violates its nuclear obligations (“IAEA chief Grossi: Iran ‘routinizing’ nuke violations,” September 12).

Well, that is who Iran is. The problem is that Western governmental and business interests have lived with this fact for decades.

It’s like the US and Europe, in 2023, still hoping for a return to a two-state solution with the Palestinians, the people who have violated the Oslo Accords for decades.

The problems are the Western government’s real interests. Israel’s security and peace of mind are not their concern.



Positive lifestyle changes

As president emeritus of Jewish Veg and author of Vegan Revolution: Saving Our World, Revitalizing Judaism, I want to strongly commend Alan Freishtat, director of the Wellness Clinic, for his series of articles about the health benefits of whole foods, plant-based diets, and the importance of minimizing the consumption of meat and other animal products and processed foods.

His most recent article, “Learning from the past, preparing for the future” (September 10), discusses how people who came to his clinic with very unhealthy conditions gained greatly by shifting to such diets. Unfortunately, as Freishtat quoted Wendell Berry in a previous article, “People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.”

Freishtat is correct in asserting that science supports his nutrition recommendations. Many peer-reviewed articles in respected medical journals discuss the many health benefits of plant-based diets. Some indicate that some diseases, including heart disease and type-2 diabetes can not only be prevented, but can also be reversed by shifts to animal-free diets and other positive lifestyle changes.

And, consistent with God’s initial vegan dietary regiment (Genesis 1:29), modern science has found that we humans are much closer to herbivorous animals than omnivorous or carnivorous animals, in terms of our teeth, hands, intestinal systems, stomach acids, and other characteristics.

If doctors pointed out these facts to their patients, and if, as Freishtat suggests, we “all resolve to make preventive medicine our new priority this year,” we would have a much healthier population and sharply reduced medical expenditures.



A dynamic situation

Regarding “PM announces US trip, but still no word on Biden meeting” (September 11): Contrary to rumors that have been circulating lately, President Biden is neither entirely daft nor is he on the cusp of senility. He has accurately recognized that Prime Minister Netanyahu has been somewhat weakened by the ongoing protests over the judicial reform and that his coalition, though seemingly stable, is nonetheless forced to fend off one threat after another.

Mr. Biden waited long enough and has decided to express his feelings, I guess. Despite expectations, he has not extended to the prime minister an invitation to the White House. Any meeting between the two will likely take place in a UN corridor, which means there will be a minor photo opportunity and an exchange of no more than a few amenities; in other words, a presidential snub.

This is, of course, a dynamic situation that can very easily change at any time. The outcome of the High Court proceedings on the reasonableness standard in concert with a serious modification to the existing provisions, for example, could return Biden’s confidence in Israel’s commitment to democracy.

The tone and content of the prime minister’s address to the UN General Assembly next week might also have a bearing. It’s not impossible, in other words, that Bibi will get to pay a visit to the Oval Office before his return home.

Just how far Netanyahu is willing to bend to get that coveted invitation remains to be seen. It’s fair to assume that he’ll be asked to make some commitments to placate the concerns that his more extremist coalition partners have caused, as well as accept some troubling conditions in order to normalize relations with the Saudis.

Let’s just hope he doesn’t bring back with him too many moral transgressions that he’ll have to beg forgiveness for on Yom Kippur.


Ginot Shomron