January 1, 2020: Bensouda Bias

Readers of the Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters (photo credit: PIXABAY)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)
Bensouda bias
“Israel and the ICC” (December 30) defends the International Criminal Court (ICC) and Chief Prosecutor Bensouda on their decision to investigate Israeli war crimes in the “so-called’ occupied territories.
To demonstrate the objectivity of Bensouda, the writer notes that Bensouda says “there is a reasonable basis to believe that Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups committed war crimes by intentionally directing attacks against civilians.” Do we need an ICC investigation to prove that more than 10,000 rockets have been fired against Israeli civilians in the past decade? Is this something upon which there is only a “reasonable basis” to believe?
To top it off, the writer avers that Bensouda was fired in 2000 for her support of human rights groups in Gambia, but neglects to mention that Bensouda served for two years as minister of justice under dictator Yahya Jammeh when the regime was notorious for systematic breach of human rights. Countless Gambians were tortured, murdered and deprived of rights for two years under her jurisdiction. Jammeh’s rule was widely denounced for its disrespect of human rights, considered as one of the worst dictatorships in the world. It took two years – and even then she did not resign but was fired. A moral human being would have resigned after one week or never have accepted the job.
This is the person who is going to investigate/prosecute Israel for war crimes? A former justice minister who served in one of the worst dictatorships in the world? What’s next? ISIS joins the ICC?
Horrors of hate violence
As a former Monsey resident, I was hit hard by the attack on Jews during a Hanukkah party at Rabbi Rottenberg’s home/synagogue, near where I lived. The first images I saw of the attack were online, where reference to “ultra-Orthodox Jews” was accompanied by a picture of a huge city building surrounded by Hassidic children – clearly not in Monsey at all.
The JPost subtitle regarding “Five ultra-Orthodox Jews” reminded me of the dangers of labeling Jews. As we saw in the Holocaust, antisemitism makes no distinctions between Jews of different religious observances.
That being said, whether the perpetrator of the recent antisemitic crime was mentally ill or a hard-core antisemite, it behooves the Jewish community at large to take positive action regarding this and other recent antisemitic acts. Yonah Jeremy Bob (“Will American Jews finally get the hint about the dangers they face?”) correctly recommends strict law enforcement and community education.
A stone’s throw from Rottenberg’s home, in Rockland Community College, is the new location of the Holocaust Museum and Study Center for Tolerance and Education, which my husband, Harry Reiss, founded.
The museum conducts school visits, including Holocaust survivor testimonies, and inter-group activities to teach the lessons of the Holocaust and to promote mutual respect and understanding among different ethnic and religious groups. It is only through constant vigilance and education that we can hope to combat the horrors of antisemitism.
Beit Shemesh
In “Immigrate to Israel, Liberman insists” (December 30), Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman urges all Jews to immigrate to Israel. Yet “Over a quarter of public ‘incapable’ of making ends meet” highlights the difficulties of so many people who just cannot cover their monthly household expenses.
This reflects the sad reality of trying to live here. My husband and I, fortunately, came some years ago, later in our lives, when we didn’t face the challenges that confront most people today. Too many people I know – including some of my own family – have either tried, failed and left, or seriously wish to come but haven’t found reasonable assurance that they can make a new life here.
It is disingenuous of the government to promote aliyah while making it so difficult, if not impossible to succeed. It’s tragic, since it’s most important for us to be here now, in the safest place on earth for the Jewish people. Promises, promises. The dream remains just that, and Mr. Liberman’s sentiment seems to be just “pie in the sky”.
The current rash of deadly attacks on Jewish houses of worship (“Monsey’s Jews defiant but searching for answers,” December 29) suggests that the proposed action against antisemitism by New York City Mayor De Blasio can hardly begin to address the problem.
The time of Im ein ani li, mi li? (If I am not for myself, who will be?) has arrived, demanding a new definition of a minyan: eight men plus two with sidearms. Only if the congregants of every synagogue, shul and shtibel worldwide will assume responsibility for their own safety can we begin to overcome this crisis.
“Fight the hate together” (December 20) includes “Islamists” as one of the sources of antisemitism, but omits others, such as Louis Farrakhan, an influential black Islamist whose widely viewed speeches call us “satanic” and more.  Facebook, Youtube and other social networks must shut down websites and media that promote incitement and hatred – and that includes hatred of Israel and of Jews.
Assaults on Jews are on the rise worldwide with no hope of them diminishing. Jews must learn to protect themselves. Every state in the US should supply legal cans of pepper spray to Jewish males and females over the age of 12. In addition, Jewish veterans, retired police officers and others who qualify should carry handguns when attending ceremonies such as Hanukkah lightings, synagogue services, weddings, etc.
The same goes for the UK, France and all other countries where our brethren are harassed and abused. No more turning the other cheek. No more reliance on the authorities only. We must learn to defend ourselves.
Yonah Jeremy Bob’s op-ed “Will American Jews finally get the hint about dangers they face?” (December 30) strikes a chord.
I was born and raised in South Africa and emigrated to the US in 1978. Despite many material benefits, many South African Jews learned to defend themselves out of necessity. I personally took up karate in my last year of high school.
By the time I left the country, I had been graded to second-degree black belt and had two dojos in Johannesburg. On arrival in San Francisco, I joined a shul and offered to teach a free class to congregants, especially the younger ones. I was given a polite audience and a ho-hum. Nobody wanted to hear that Jews needed to defend themselves. Perhaps they thought I was a kook with JDL tendencies, I don’t know.
Undeterred, I continued my own training and eventually began teaching again in Palo Alto in 1992. My original karate instructor, also Jewish, was, by then, growing a very large international group which I joined, becoming a senior member.
When I gave the same speech to my former Palo Alto congregation a few years ago, I received the same polite hearing and dismissal. Some people never learn. These reprobates who attack unarmed women, old men, gravestones and shop windows are not looking for a fight, they’re looking for victims. The simple start to defending yourself is to learn how not to be a victim.
Even though I’m a lawyer, I’m tired of giving speeches to clueless people. I now have a seventh-degree black belt and my own international karate organization. I teach karate at the Palo Alto JCC. So far, nobody has messed with me. The one fool who messed with one of my students lived to regret it. Too many Jews live in a bubble about their personal safety. It’s wake-up time.
San Mateo, CA
Vehicular violence
“End the Russian roulette on the roads!” (December 27) really touched home.
On an outing in the Galil on July 17, 2017, my daughter’s husband and four of her five children were broadsided by a large truck going too fast. Her husband (48) and her son (8) and her daughter (13) were killed; the other passengers were injured.
It doesn’t take much to make me cry these days, but your article did that. Thank you for writing it. I pray something can be done – the more I’m on the roads, the worse the drivers and aggression seem to be.
My daughter, Sarah Muchtar now has a photography exhibit in the museum at Hechal Shlomo, an important show of sorrow, strength and the aching vacuum of pieces that will always be missing. Everyone should see this exhibit to experience what the aftermath of road accidents can be, not just to the immediate families but the spiraling effect it has.
I know my life will never be the same, but with the help of God we go forward and pray for the safety of the people of Israel.
Gilo, Jerusalem
While fully supporting the comments and suggestions made in “Combating car carnage” (Letters, December 30) the tragic situation on our roads cannot be arrested just by more stringent law enforcement.
Comparative traffic accident figures between for 2016 (as published by the World Health Organization) show that Israel has nearly twice as many traffic fatalities per vehicle as the UK.
One of the major factors accounting for this shocking disparity is the lack of a Highway Code. This was introduced into the English legislation nearly 90 years ago. Its knowledge and operation is a key feature in passing a driving test and is endemic in the British driving culture.
Our government’s concern is somewhat pathetic, with the Ministry seeking plaudits for partially completing the Jerusalem-to-Tel Aviv high-speed rail line despite being 10 years overdue with a massive overspend on budget.
As a matter of urgency there should be established a National Commission into all aspects of highway safety before we face a national disaster.
Many in our country, particularly among the Senior Citizens, live in fear of driving on our highways.
One of the most frightening and dangerous habits of the Israeli driver is never mentioned in discussions of road accidents. I’m talking about drifting back and forth across the lines marking out traffic lanes.
Don’t driving instructors in Israel teach their students about the importance of staying within a lane? Driving in the middle lane of a 3-lane road and having the cars on the right and left both drift across the lines toward the center at the same time is an experience no one wants to have and one which better driver training could prevent.
We read with sadness “Four killed in crash near Ben-Gurion Airport” (December 24). I was surprised to see on TV that night that bus accidents were on top of the list of all accidents during in recent years.
That statistic includes an extraordinary accident that occurred in April 2018. An Egged bus crashed into my house garden! It smashed a wall, destroyed a two-meter tall hedge, demolished the watering pipes, crushed the garden lighting system and tore up the paving tiles leading to the house entrance. The bus finally came to a halt as it uprooted a 30-year-old palm tree.
Today, more than one and a half years later, we have not been reimbursed a penny by Egged. We have been informed by a reliable source that this procrastination and denial of culpability is standard behavior by an omnipotent mega-corporation against a common individual, outmaneuvered and out-spent by the corporate lawyers. They hope that we will just give up.
Compounding the insult of the crash, no representative of Egged approached us to enquire about our well-being and removed the bus from the smashed garden without permission to enter our private property.
While we have not surrendered and hopefully will eventually receive some compensation through our lawyers, we are disturbed by the fact that there are no punitive damages of liability in Israeli jurisprudence. If there were, this could possibly deter the unacceptable high-handedness and calculated delay by powerful corporations and thereby improve the chances of appropriate compensation to the small man financially ill-equipped to protect himself.
Here’s to Greer
Two readers (“Heard it through the Grapevine,” December 30) were rather critical of a view expressed by Greer Fay Cashman in her column. Regrettably! But that reminded me of my forgetfulness. For months, I have been intending to send a few lines to express my great respect and admiration for her journalistic skills. I am a world traveler, a 90-years-young Holocaust survivor, and have met countless journalists. Cashman is tops among them.
One personal experience: This year, at the end of a reception by the Polish Ambassador to Israel, I introduced myself to Cashman, speaking with her for less than a minute. She asked me if I was connected with a website. I mentioned one and said that I do international hasbara for Israel. That was all.
Two days later, she reported about me in detail – going back even to my childhood in Poland. Her acquisition of information was astonishing. How genuinely informative she was after just a greeting.
Reading Grapevine regularly, I notice that its author is extremely thorough, truthful and correct. There is hardly any happening that escapes her vigilance in Jerusalem and in Israel, with reference to the big world around us. For me Greer Fay Cashman is the best.
Pricy parking at hospitals
Israel has one of the best health systems in the world except in one area where there is an urgent need for modification: hospital parking fees.
Currently, those in greatest need of hospital care returning often on a daily basis are paying out hundreds of shekels for the privilege of arriving in their own vehicle.
Our government could do worse than to look at Britain’s new system of parking fees set to be introduced in April 2020 wherein those with the greatest need will benefit. For example, free parking will be extended to frequent outpatients who have to attend regular appointments to manage long-term conditions; holders of disabled badges; parents of sick children staying in hospital overnight; and staff working night shifts.
Any political party willing to give consideration to such changes would be certain to garner many votes in the upcoming elections.
Mevaseret Zion