December 18, 2018: Suicide is painful

Smoke rises as Israeli forces blow up the house of Palestinian family Abu Humaid, in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank December 15, 2018 (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
Smoke rises as Israeli forces blow up the house of Palestinian family Abu Humaid, in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank December 15, 2018
Suicide is painful
Regarding “West Bank generals speak,” Editor’s Notes, by Yaakov Katz, December 14: The resolution of demographic issues between Jews and Arabs is not a Chelm-like solution whereby Jewish construction is restrained and Arab construction is unrestricted.
Divorce and separation sounds alright. But, who gets custody of the Jewish homeland?
Giving Arabs sovereignty over our land is a disastrous mistake.
Apartheid state? It already is within the land they control. Just travel along the roads of Judea and Samaria and notice the big red signs that say, “Israelis (meaning Jews) are not allowed to enter.”
Two other generals withdrew from southern Lebanon (Ehud Barak) and Gaza (Ariel Sharon). How did that work out? We got rockets, and missiles, and terror tunnels.
The response to the homicidal policies of our enemies should not be suicidal solutions.
Foreign origin
The Jerusalem Post reported on December 16 that the Palestinian who stabbed an IDF soldier turned himself in. Palestinian sources named the man as Mohammed al-Halabi. His surname implies his ancestors came from Halab [Aleppo] in the north of Syria. Such “foreign origin” names are common among the Palestinians.
For example, al-Masri means “Egyptian”, reflecting the large-scale settlement of Egyptians by Ibrahim Pasha in the 1830s. I once had a student from Gaza called al-Hindi and, when I remarked that it meant “Indian”, he indignantly replied he was “a Palestinian” with no Indian connection – but he did admit his ancestors originated from the Nile delta, presumably then!
So the Palestinian Arabs’ claim to be “an indigenous people displaced by recent colonial immigrants from Europe” is tendentious.
While etymology can be revealing, it is often used deliberately to mislead, as in the argument that, since Arabic is a Semitic language, restricting the term antisemitism to hatred of Jews discriminates against Arabs.
However, it was coined by Wilheim Marr in the 1870s as a euphemism for the German “Judenhass [hatred of Jews]” with no connection to language – most European Jews spoke “Aryan” languages, such as Yiddish.
Perhaps this distortion is best exposed by the word “pedophile” derived from Greek words meaning “one who loves children” but only used of child sexual molesters – never their loving parents.
Salford, England
A lot of hot air
In the international news from December 17, we are informed of the results of COP24 – the 24th conference on climate change sponsored by the United Nations. Delegates from 200 countries convened in Poland, hugged, and laughed in relief after an agreement was reached.
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
A UN commissioned report has earlier declared that keeping the Earth’s rise in temperature below 1.5°C would need “unprecedented changes in every aspect of society.”
Nobody has yet even dared to attempt to calculate the total cost or feasibility of such “unprecedented changes.”
Perhaps in the interests of efficiency the same COP24 delegates could have debated and released an additional document on achieving world peace.
Some overlap certainly occurs in the requirements of the “unprecedented changes.”
On the “world peace” issues, the delegate from Iran could chair the deliberations with co-chairs from North Korea and Syria.
In reference to the December 17 article, “Nations agree on global climate pact rules, but still seen as weak,” while it is positive that the almost 200 nations present at the Katowice, Poland, climate conference reached an agreement, it is very disappointing that it is far short of what is necessary to avert a climate catastrophe.
While a report released in October by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, based on a review of 30,000 scientific papers by 91 leading climate experts from 40 countries indicated that “unprecedented changes” are needed by 2030 to avert a temperature increase of 1.5° C, minimizing negative climate effects, the world is now on track for an increase of 3° to 4°.
While major decreases in greenhouse gas emissions are needed very soon, they actually increased by almost 4.5% in the past two years.
Israel is especially threatened. We are now in the sixth year of a drought, Lake Kinneret is at a dangerously low level, a rising Mediterranean Sea could inundate the coastal plane where much of the country’s population and infrastructure are located, and the hotter and drier Middle East that is projected make terrorism and war more likely.
Given the above and much more including many recent examples of severe climate events, it is essential that averting a climate catastrophe become a priority for civilization today.
Israel and Jews worldwide should play leading roles in helping shift our increasingly imperiled world onto a sustainable path.
The author is professor emeritus at College of Staten Island.
Half full
In reading Susan Hattis Rolef”s column “Are we racists?” I was brought to mind of an incident that happened to me a few weeks ago as I was driving in Jerusalem and getting lost.
Too lazy to put on Waze, I pulled up to the car next to me at the next traffic light, pulled down my window, motioning to the other driver to do so also and that I had a question. The young woman in the car, clearly in a Muslim head covering, ever so slightly smiled and motioned that she could not do so.
I eventually found my way, but the interchange stayed with me. It was reminiscent to me of the many times I found myself selecting clothes in fashion malls, alongside with Muslim women shoppers, without any kind of casual chat about the clothes that I had been accustomed to in New York.
On the other hand I thought that it was quite a positive thing just to be shopping together. Hattis Rolef”s interpretation of the many Arab doctors in Israel as showing, in her thinking, lack of other opportunities, fails to see the free and felicitous interactions between Arab and Jewish doctors and patients, on all levels.
Perhaps, as I have said before in these pages, we should look at the glass half full instead of half empty.
Beit Shemesh
Are we racists? Categorically no, the majority of us, I believe, are not and certainly from my experience have the attitude “live and let live.”
However, we are realists and are rightly circumspect of the Palestinians’ doctrine that is fed from their leaders down that their future only lies in the destruction of our nation-state and our removal from this land.
Until this message stops being taught from cradle to grave and the Palestinians concentrate more on building a better life for their people while not trying to destroy ours, these attitudes will unfortunately remain.
Tel Aviv
In Susan Hattis Rolef”s column “Are we racists?” the author readily accepts the results of the Guttman Center survey that conclude that the Israeli Jews’ anti-Israeli Arab sentiment is racism in a manner similar to that of European and world antisemitism.
If I see a group of football player-sized African-Americans in Jerusalem perusing a map, I will approach them and offer them aid in finding their destination. If I encounter the same group in New York, I will cross the street as fast as I can.
Does this make me a racist?
As a closing argument, the author uses the age-old canard of the Jews seeing themselves as the Chosen People. The Chosen People does not imply superiority and privilege but rather subservience to the will of the Torah and obligation to a way of life.
Play it again, Masa
My message to Masa regarding its settlement travel ban (“Masa bans travel to settlements, east Jerusalem due to security concerns,” December 17): in your effort to “protect” your participants by prohibiting their exploration of the Jewish ancestral homeland lying over the Green Line, you unwittingly hand Arab terrorists a victory while denying said participants an important experience.
Your misguided actions compromise your credibility and tarnish your heretofore good name.
In other words, you’ve been played.
Ginot Shomron
Don’t start with us
In The Jerusalem Post op-ed “Who Votes” (December 16) the editorial board “recommends that the government should also give some thought to legislation that would turn voting into a compulsory civic duty” – referring to Australia where voting is mandatory and where in 2016, 87% of their citizens voted.
There are many reasons why people don’t vote, including not liking our system where we only vote for a party, not an individual MK, and where we have found that a lot of our ministers are corrupt and have even been jailed.
If, however, some compulsory voting were introduced there would have to be provisions for people who would not be able to vote in the normal way. These include disabled people, who cannot get to a polling station, or people who are away on holiday, or people who are working away from home on polling day.
One possible way to deal with this would be to have postal voting like they have been doing for decades in the UK.
Finally, apart from Australia I am not aware of other countries that have compulsory voting, so why should it be introduced here?