February 19, 2017: Culture of pettiness

Our prime minister, like Brutus, is indeed “an honorable man.”

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Culture of pettiness
I was pleased to read your February 16 editorial “Israel’s own Air Force One,” which relates to the culture of pettiness that has engulfed our otherwise proud country.
Those of us who were privileged to watch and listen to our prime minister talking at the side of the president of the United States last week could not have been more proud that we have a statesman of international stature whose eloquence, diplomacy and sense of occasion are matched only by those of the legendary master of these same qualities, the late Abba Eban. Yet at home, pettiness prevails, and all Benjamin Netanyahu’s opponents can think about is his cigars and his wife’s champagne.
As Cassius said in Julius Caesar: “Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world / Like a Colossus, and we petty men / Walk under his huge legs and peep about / To find ourselves dishonorable graves.”
Our prime minister, like Brutus, is indeed “an honorable man.”
Let’s put an end to the pettiness around us.
Worth saving?
Israel is divided, fragmented and well-nigh psychotic. We don’t talk; we shout each other down. If you hold a view other than mine, who needs to listen? You’re a traitor, fanatic or imbecile, delegitimized and worthless.
For an iota of sanity to return, we need to grasp that even our own most dearly held beliefs might be flawed and that perhaps the views of our political opponents hold a grain of truth.
Real democracy means respect and listening. Is it worth saving a country where the terms yefe nefesh (good-souled person) and derech eretz (courtesy) have become insults?

Sonia’s greatness
With regard to the February 15 Grapevine feature, here’s more about Sonia Peres, who was our next door neighbor from 1969 to 1985, when our family of seven’s aliya was expedited by the technical team of Shimon Peres.
Sonia showed interest in all of us. She shared recipes and sponged the entrance floor, saying “Is this a jungle?” Her humility equaled that of Naomi Shemer, who lived in the adjacent building; she was warm and always congenial despite her many duties, and treated the guard outside her door as a friend.
Despite hosting world leaders, Sonia never played rank. She displayed gratitude and loyalty to her kibbutz upbringing. She collected clothing for the needy and delivered it herself in her wellworn little car, always doing her own cooking and baking for her family.
It is heartbreaking that her greatness was unknown during her gracious and important life. We will treasure her memory always.

He said what?
When reading “Settlements endanger Israel’s future, warns Herzog” (February 14), I felt I might have been reading an expression stated by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. But it was stated by Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog.
The ancestors of the Labor Party, who were extremely active in the 1970s and 1980s in promoting the settlement enterprise, must now be turning in their graves. At least Abbas can count on a fine partner in the Knesset who regards the settlement enterprise like Herzog does.
Maybe the opposition leader is now lobbying for Arab voters? After all, his faction is losing more and more votes, sliding toward a one-digit figure of representatives.


Absorbing territory
There are those who say that claiming sovereignty over areas that came under Israeli control in 1967 means that the Arab residents there will become citizens and change the demography of the country. These people either don’t know Israeli law or ignore its implications.
No non-Jew has the “right” to become a citizen of the State of Israel. There is a status known as “permanent resident.” It entitles the holder to vote in local elections (though not in national elections, and the holder cannot run for national office), but it requires the payment of taxes and adherence to the country’s laws.
The present occupants of territory that would become Israel should be given this status.
They should also be offered a path to citizenship that entails, among other things, being vetted by the security services and declaring loyalty to the State of Israel.
In the United States, when I lived there, the minimum period required before obtaining citizenship was five years. I don’t know what Israeli law presently says, but I’m sure that there is a minimum waiting period and that it can be changed by the Knesset if it is too short to allow for proper vetting. In any case, the Interior Ministry has the authority to grant or deny citizenship to any particular applicant.
The major downside to this solution is that it would allow freedom of movement within the country, possibly resulting in a decline in security. However, this problem already exists with the residents of east Jerusalem who decline to accept citizenship. The solutions applied there should be applied in any reclaimed areas.
Petah Tikva
New vision Thank you for publishing Dana Weiss’s “Start-up nation for all” (Comment & Features, February 14). It deserves wide distribution for covering a pragmatic program for implementing a new vision forward for Israel’s Beduin.


Tel Aviv
Facts and figures
Lior Akerman’s “We can’t let radical Islam take over the world” (Observations, February 10) has some recommendations that make sense. But I question his use of percentages when asking why people around the world live in such fear of radical Islam.
Akerman implies that a relatively small proportion of Muslims (at most 10%) support obliterating other religions. A very small proportion (0.1%) support terrorist organizations, and a far smaller proportion (0.01%) are actual terrorists. But what do these percentages mean in actual numbers? Taking his figure of 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, this means that 150 million support obliterating other religions, 1.5 million support terrorist organizations and 150,000 are terrorists.
This seems to be quite enough radical Islamic terrorists to be getting on with, but when you factor in the difficulty of discerning them among all the followers of Islam, there is a reason for fear (especially in politically correct Europe, which insists that radical Islam doesn’t exist and is an invention of racists).
If Europe wishes to live in a fool’s paradise, so be it. But please, don’t expect those of us here to commit suicide by inviting Hamas into Judea and Samaria.
Dangerous practice
It’s more than enough that our mailboxes are stuffed with unwanted ads and promotions almost daily. But to hang ads and put advertising magnets on our front doors is beyond acceptable.
I propose that some Knesset member will see fit to pass a law that makes this practice illegal.
Apart from unwanted strangers walking about the building, these ads and magnets are a sure sign of whether someone is home or not. When you are traveling abroad or even locally, signs and magnets hanging on your door are an incentive for burglaries.
I cannot stress enough how dangerous this practice is. It should be made unlawful. It cannot be that difficult, since a law was passed years ago that makes it an offense to place flyers under the windshield wipers of cars.