August 2, 2018: Achieving peace at an affordable price

Our readers respond.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Achieving peace at an affordable price 
One need not merit a Nobel prize to understand the simple logic that Nobel prize winner Prof. Yisrael Auman recommends applying for achieving peace at an affordable price (Nobel Advice: Israeli strength and peace, according to Prof. Auman). And while the opinions of most award winning scientists or other high profile individuals are completely irrelevant, being outside their area of expertise, and shouldn't even be reported, Auman's prize was awarded in precisely the field of game theory and negotiations, so his opinion deserves our attention.
Auman explains that the more desperately we seek out peace the more elusive that peace becomes. He brings the example of how one wishing to purchase an apartment, who incessantly speaks of the great value of the desired apartment and how extremely much he desires it, causes its price to rise to the level, he can no longer afford.
This mechanism operated in the Gilad Shalit deal, in which the Israeli population stupidly exhibited their fervent desire to have Shalit freed at any price, resulting in Hamas's demand of ten-fold the price of previous similar deals – over 1,000 prisoners, many with blood on their hands. Back when Shalit was being held by Hamas, I also inquired about the Torah approach concerning exorbitant ransoms. The sensible approach to this painful and delicate situation is as valid today as it was when the ancient rabbis dealt with it.
What Auman does not say, but probably knows, is that there are many more players and variables in this game. Netanyahu was justifiably opposed to the deal but capitulated to populist demands, resulting in more civilian deaths by freed terrorists. So the Israeli public is an independent game player which all politicians are forced to take into account. Too often a party or politician's own survival becomes the most dominant consideration.
Another player to be considered is "world opinion." Our leadership incessantly busies itself with assuring the world that we want peace. But not surprisingly, the various media outlets choose their facts according to their worldview and the truth has little connection to how we are depicted.  In time of war, we can circulate flyers warning citizens to flee, send our own soldiers house to house, significantly exposing them to danger in order to minimize civilian deaths, and the Israel haters will still portray Israel as executioners of massacres aiming to annihilate the Palestinians. Therefore for the sake of peace, it would be beneficial to remove world opinion from the equation and even local populist considerations, and instead focus on the two sides – the Palestinians and the Israelis. The government has been elected on a platform which places security concerns above achievement of peace at all costs.  Given those guidelines, it should devise an unwavering policy and adhere to it even when outside pressures tempt capitulation.
Call a spade a spade
A vigorous shoutout to Seth Frantzman for “Whitewashing far-right parties in the Middle East,” July 30). His insight that mainstream media fail to describe accurately political parties in most Middle East countries is worthy of praise.
I would suggest another, similar reason for the phenomenon: the bigotry of lowered expectations of political parties in mainly Islamic countries.
Perhaps Frantzman can develop a suitable vocabulary for more accurate descriptions of political parties in Muslim countries that will convince more of us to use.
Tarnished icons
The front-page articles in the July 29 issue highlight and encapsulate the willful violence and rhetoric that continues to pervade daily life in our region.
The Palestinians are threatening “fateful and dangerous decisions” via their aging empty vessel president. Meanwhile two 17-year-olds are being held up as icons of a violent society: 1) Mohammed Yousef, the terrorist who murdered a young father, Yotam Ovadia and 2) the “activist” Ahed Tamimi, now being released from prison having served her term for assaulting Israeli soldiers, whose image on a painted mural is being touted as a symbol of “resistance.”
With such leaders and revered personalities, the Palestinians are unfortunately on the road to nowhere. We who yearn for peace must hope that wiser heads will one day emerge in their society to show them the true path to a peaceful collaborative future.
Tel Aviv
Stuttering help
It was uplifting to read “Mount Sinai announces partnership with Israeli start-up” (July 29), about Novotalk establishing a partnership with Mount Sinai Health Systems in New York City. I have followed the development of Novotalk; they are doing great and innovative work to help not just people who stutter, but also people with other types of speech deficits.
In Israel the Israeli Stuttering Association is a great source of help, and here in the US there is the Jewish Stuttering Association, which aims to aid the worldwide community of Jewish people who stutter. Also, in the US there are many rabbis who publicly speak about their stuttering. For instance, Rabbi Mark Glickman of Congregation Kol Shalom in Bainbridge Island, Washington has been interviewed for articles on clergy who stutter, and wrote an essay entitled “Reflections of a Stuttering Rabbi”, which is available on the Internet.
People in Israel (1% of Israeli adults and 4% of children stutter) should know of the US-based international non-profit organization called The Stuttering Foundation whose website is famous for providing a slew of free resources.
Springfield, Massachusetts
Rebuild the Temple?
Nostalgia is part of Jewish tradition and the trauma of ancient Jewish defeats still rankles. But today we must reexamine ourselves and ask: do we really need a Third Temple in Jerusalem?
Rolling back Judaism 2,000 years to make Temple sacrifices once again the core of our religion, logically means the destruction and abandonment of everything produced by Jews since then: a vast corpus of literature and philosophy, Maimonides, Spinoza, not to speak of the Conservative and Reform movements and the variety of contemporary Jewish teaching in Israel and abroad. All of these will be declared irrelevant... and unJewish. One can already hear this sort of talk in ultra-Orthodox circles in Jerusalem.
How many Jews today have actually witnessed animal sacrifice in a temple? I have – in Nepal – where the gory scenes of blood, terrified animals and clouds of flies on the altars at Pashupatinath in Kathmandu made my stomach turn. Are Jews supposed to revert to what is essentially Hinduism? I shudder at the thought.
The synagogue wisely replaced slaughter with prayer and abolished the public abattoir.
But in fact we may not get as far as rebuilding the Temple if it means a War of Armageddon against all the Moslem world, which is already up in arms because of what is perceived as a threat to al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock.
Israel may not survive such a terrible war.
Let me then propose a new approach: the Dome stands over the Rock where Abraham was called to sacrifice his son. Abraham is revered as the founding father of all monotheisms and the Dome was built by the Moslems in his honor. Let us join our fellow monotheists – Moslems and Christians – in showing respect for Abraham in a spirit of mutual tolerance and forgiveness, and make Jerusalem into a real Holy City of Peace. Or are we doomed to let fanaticism decide our fate?
Children’s rights
Your editorial (“Surrogacy and equality: the acute emotional pain of childless families,” July 23) expresses great sensitivity and concern for the rights and feelings of homosexual men who want to have children, and the change in the law that occurred this past week expresses great sensitivity and concern for the rights and feelings of single women who want to have children.
There is one small detail, however, that all of this great sensitivity and concern seems to have forgotten about: the rights and feelings of the children themselves. Regardless of how one feels about single women and homosexuals having children, isn’t there value in every child having both a mother and a father? Of course, between people’s individual choices outside of marriage and the increased prevalence of divorce, more and more children are denied the ability to be raised by a mother and a father. But still, as a society, shouldn’t we try to preserve this ideal as much as possible?
The change in the law that now promotes and supports single women having children is insensitive and unconcerned for the rights of the children. To advocate for this to be extended to single men, whether homosexual or not, would simply extend this insensitivity and lack of concern to a larger number of children.
Beit Shemesh
I wholly disagree with Judy Lev’s letter (July 25). She seems not to object to children having two mummies but objects to two daddies. What’s the difference? These children grow up without silly ideas regarding gays. Maybe she didn’t realize that lesbians can have their own babies and live in a homosexual environment.
The law is a disgrace and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has once again broken a promise for the sake of his coalition.
Kiryat Ono
The Jerusalem Post has published a number of articles recently dealing with topics involving the LGBT community. I would like to know where Dr. Yitzchak Kadman of the Nation Council for the Child weighs in on same-sex families adopting children. When two men have a child together, who exactly is going to be the mother of that child? When two women adopt, who will be the father image for that child? It is bad enough when a spouse passes away and the remaining spouse has to bring up the child alone. But to intentionally do it to a child!! This is just mindboggling. Who is defending the rights of children to have a set of parents? Society these days is too busy defending the rights of people who have perverted human nature.
Bnei Brak
Beyond Mandela
Gil Troy’s article (“Palestinians need a Nelson Mandela,” July 25) is not altogether to the point.
Mandela was an extraordinary man. Virtually his entire life was spent in seeking freedom for his people. When he was freed after 27 years in jail on a charge of high treason, his party, the African National Congress, swept to power, and he became the first black President of South Africa. Despite his obvious suffering during his time of imprisonment, Mandela did not deviate from being a man of honor, dignity and commitment to the cause of freedom.
The atmosphere during the first democratic election in South Africa, in 1994, was euphoric. It is almost certain that the majority of black South Africans, and a significant percentage of the whites, were happy with the result.
The problem is that a vote for democracy does not necessarily produce democracy. Democracy is not something that can be given to people: it must be worked for, fought for, built up from the grassroots level.
With the demise of Mandela, unfortunately the situation in South Africa has deteriorated. A number of people have been voted into the presidency since his death, but the caliber has not been the same and socio-political problems have proliferated.
South Africans will not see another Mandela. What they need is to take responsibility for their own situation, and the best way to achieve this is through a fine and relevant education. This is also required for the Palestinians.