Feburary 4, 2019: No one wanted to see it

Readers of the Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
No one wanted to see it
In “Five reasons to remember the Holocaust and watch for the signs today” (January 29), Jack Rosen writes, “No one saw it coming.” This is wrong. He should have written, “No one wanted to see it.”
Religious Jews knew the prophecies and educated Jews knew the history of violence against Jews. People I have spoken with from Germany and Eastern Europe between 1932 and 1945 have told me what they witnessed. They knew about Hitler and Nazism! Most assimilated German Jews thought that Hitler was a joke and didn’t believe Nazis could hurt them. Some were frightened and fled in the early 1930s. Zionists found it particularly opportune; Eastern European Jews who were less educated knew about Hitler but did not understand the possibilities. Hasidim devoted to Torah, Talmud and family had a don’t-bother-us-and-we-won’t-bother-you approach. Some governments, particularly the Soviet Union, restricted public information. Also, gun ownership was generally illegal and few Jews even wanted one until it was too late.
Western European Jews didn’t leave in the early 1930s when they might have been able to; Eastern European Jews who had heard rumors of Nazi massacres refused to believe them at first; by the time they knew for sure what was happening, they had no good options. Like today, split, indecisive and sometimes uninformed Jewish leadership failed to take decisive action – and six million of us were murdered.
Rockford, IL
I applaud Sam Sokol’s nuanced article (“Holocaust scholars worry that memory is a victim of Israel’s ties with Eastern Europe,” February 3) regarding the dangers of downplaying European culpability for the horrors of the Holocaust in favor of political exigency. Whereas in the body politic, Israel’s foreign relations with European governments are indeed important, we must not forget our responsibility to the memory of the six million Jews who died in the ghettos, killing pits and gas chambers. In the words of the Warsaw Ghetto’s “Oneg Shabbos” secret organization, led by Emmanuel Ringelblum, which gathered documents and artifacts in the ghetto to record the awful reality for posterity, we must continue to “scream the truth at the world.”
Beit Shemesh
Additional health issues
Yaakov Litzman is to be applauded for his efforts to improve the health care system (“Litzman’s diagnosis for an ailing country,” January 25). However, there are many other factors that affect our health besides the health care system. As much research has shown, a healthy lifestyle and social determinants typically have an even larger impact on the public’s health than the health care system.
Litzman is minister of health, not just of health care and medicine. It would have been helpful for the article to also focus on what is being done about challenges such as 1) smoking – tobacco usage rates in Israel outpace those in comparably developed countries and are rising and 2) societal inequalities across a number of dimensions which is a major problem that affects population health.
TIPHing point
Comments on the withdrawal of the international observer force from Hebron are presented fairly prominently in “EU, Italy concerned over TIPH ouster” (January 31).
One would expect an Israeli paper to first present persuasively Israel’s interests in the matter, i.e. her reasons for the move, rather than failing to forcefully influence public opinion positively on the matter.
The article opens with – and well over half of it covers – allegations of aggression and objections to the move by Israel’s regular detractors such as Abbas, the EU, the World Council of Churches and Norway, whose opinions are almost always strongly biased and their basis is often not reliable.
This is what the world absorbs from the incident, feeding the exponentially growing belief in the Western world that Israel should not exist, since it represents all that is decadent and the Palestinians are in desperate need of protection from Israeli “crimes.”
If, however, the picture of Israeli aggression and harassment of other residents of Hebron, as even pro-Israeli readers like myself may suspect from the article, turns out to be correct, then I very regretfully will have to withdraw my criticism of the article.
Moshav Shoresh
Quick remedy for shortage
The editorial “Heal health care” (January 31) examines a very timely, pressing problem in Israel. As a result of a severe physician shortage, the waiting time for a patient to see a specialist is excessive in many pressing cases. The inability to build new medical schools, largely because of political pressure from the existing schools, is part of the issue.
Of even greater significance is the mandatory retirement age in the public sector. I have encountered many highly qualified doctors in Israel, particularly experienced specialists, who are reaching retirement age and can only continue working in the profession as a private practitioner. Many Board-certified physicians who are coming on aliyah from Western countries cannot continue practicing here because of this blanket obstacle.
It would be relatively easy to have such candidates examined for continuing capacity to practice by a Board of peers or a written exam in the specialty, as is done routinely in the United States. In total, this would be a relatively inexpensive but professionally meaningful way to resolve the current famine of medical staffs – especially in outlying areas.
There is indeed much wrong with Israeli health care system. However, I present three immediate options to start to correct the shameful situation.
1. For the shortage of doctors, extend the mandatory retirement age. I know an experienced surgeon who made aliyah and at age 67 he has found himself unemployable.
2. For the shortage of health support staff, I know of another oleh, a PhD in Occupational Therapy with a focus on research on self-regulation interventions in the second year of life for premature babies.
Both recent immigrants can deal with Hebrew in their work, want to live in Israel, have years of valuable experience – and they are ready to go back to US, as they cannot find work.
3. For the shortage of hospital beds, Herzog Hospital has 250 beds ready to go, only lacking NIS 250,000, to open their doors. Patients are lying in hospital corridors on stretchers, while the government or a philanthropic donor could remedy at least some of the overload now.
Wishing good health to all.
Quick cure for Gaza
Regarding “Doctors without Borders: 6,174 Gazans wounded by IDF fire since March 30” (January 31), may I make a suggestion to that medical NGO?
Very simply, don’t let the Gazans demonstrate violently near the border and no one will be shot.
So very simple. No violence, no shooting.
Petah Tikva
Armenian dress rehearsal
The news and anticipation that relationships between Israel and Armenia are developing constructively is good news indeed (“Are Israeli-Armenian Relations Warming Up,” January 9), if only because the Armenian people are our true brothers in suffering major genocides in the 20th century. As the Armenian Genocide is considered by many scholars to have been a “dress rehearsal” for our Holocaust, there should be respectful and helpful relationships between the two peoples and their countries.
Dr. Chen Bram, the research fellow at Truman Institute, is so right when he calls for Israel’s foreign policy to be both value-based and in response to the realities of realpolitik. Even if Azerbaijan is an important ally for us, we should never put off recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
A correction to one major error in the valuable article: the expulsion and genocide of the Armenians by the Ottomans in 1915 was not in response to Armenians favoring the Russians in their war against the Ottomans. In fact, the Armenian Genocide really began in 1895 with the murder of 200,000 Armenians by the Ottomans – a fact that tells you that the subsequent continuation of the genocide sprang from demands for the exclusivity of pan-Turkism. Does the demand for exclusivity sound familiar?
Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide
Shalva Band: As a rule...
Regarding “Fan-favorite Shalva Band faces eurovision Shabbat conundrum” (January 31), one of the most uplifting stories on the Israeli scene is the tremendous accomplishments of the Shalva Band as it attempts to represent Israel in the Eurovision contest. While I would hope that any Shabbat observer would be able to compete without violating Shabbat, the special circumstances of the Shalva Band must be given extra consideration by the contest organizers.
If the Band wins the right to represent Israel in the contest, the inspiration that their appearance will provide to children with special needs around the world cannot be measured.
If rules must be stretched to permit their participation then bend the rules. If there is any truth in the old adage that rules are made to be broken, I suggest now is the proper time.
I recall just a few years ago when Maccabi Tel Aviv qualified for the Euroleague Championship game scheduled to start on Remembrance Day. Despite television schedules, contracts and other issues, the starting time was moved up several hours as Maccabi refused to play after Remembrance Day started.
If the Euroleague could do it, so can Eurovision.
Bet Shemesh
Protesting protest behavior
It is unfortunate that many policemen and officers are of a low professional and personal standard, as recent episodes of corruption, egregious violence against demonstrators, cruelty and rudeness show. Law-abiding citizens can testify to inefficiency, ignorance and plain bad manners in everyday encounters with the police. I state this with sadness, as the police role is vital.
Having stated this, the behavior of the Ethiopian demonstrators protesting against the police, as justified as their cause is, was unacceptable and outrageous. Blocking roads and junctions is social terrorism; ordinary citizens have rights no less than demonstrators. The violence, thuggery and vandalism that followed the protests was a blot on the Ethiopian culture.
Why should people not be able to reach the hospital or innocent schoolchildren be stuck in a bus for four hours? Why should people attending important meetings or visiting relatives and friends be made to suffer or their plans made impossible?
There is no justification for this disgraceful form of protest. No cause or episode can excuse it. On the contrary, it strengthens negative feelings against Ethiopians, however regrettable that is. Some Haredim and other groups also do it. The time has come to ensure that normal life is not disrupted by legitimate protests. Both are cardinal values in a democracy.
Rosh Pina
Good and bad on both sides
Isi Leibler’s latest assault against mainstream US Jewish organizational leaders is misinformed (“American Jewish Leaders: Where Are You?” January 31).
Leibler wrongly argues that no Jewish leaders in America are standing up against threats to Israel and the Jewish people from the far Left. As he gets around to attacking his favorite target, the Anti-Defamation League, he lays it on thick with falsehood after falsehood.
Let’s set the record straight. ADL, he says, has become “a radical extension of the Democratic party” (False: ADL is strictly nonpartisan, and has been for more than 100 years; we call out antisemitism no matter the political party); openly lobbied against the Senate confirmation of Mike Pompeo (False: Our letter to the Foreign Relations Committee raised concerns about past statements, but never questioned his qualifications); refused to endorse anti-BDS legislation (False: we have endorsed constitutionally sound federal legislation); and supports anti-Israel passages in the Movement for Black Lives platform (False: We spoke out loudly and publicly against those passages).
As to his larger argument that American organizations like ADL have soft-pedaled what he characterizes as the “greater threat” of antisemitism, from the Left: That’s also false. We call it as we see it. There’s antisemitism on the Left and Right; we are clear-eyed about both.
Leibler sees antisemitism as a “Left-only” problem. It’s not about Left and Right; it’s about right and wrong. Antisemitism comes in many forms. We, as Jews and as responsible citizens in a global community, must fight them all with equal vigor.
Director, Israel Office
Anti-Defamation League