January 14, 2019: China syndrome

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters (photo credit: PIXABAY)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)
As Israel’s former ambassador to China and onetime deputy defense minister quite rightly admonishes us (“Vilna’i to ‘Post:’ Haifa Port deal with China ‘crazy,’ must be reversed,” January 9), “A national security asset should never be in the hands of a foreign country.”
Allowing a Chinese firm to manage the port of Haifa for 25 years is sheer madness. We, no less than the United States, should be aware of the dangers involved in such an agreement, despite any apparent benefits or need to foster ties with China.
The rapid growth of Chinese involvement in Israel’s commerce and economy has been obvious, but ignored, for some time past. In a letter to the editor published over 13 years ago (“Chinese syndrome,” November 4, 2005), I drew attention to the vast range of goods that Israel was importing from just one country (China) instead of diversifying our sources of supply. Enter any department store or market these days and you will find everything from footwear to foodstuffs, from clothing to cameras, rejoicing in famous brand names but manufactured in some Chinese factory. One result has been the near-demise of Israel’s own textile industry.
There’s an old saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” If Matan Vilna’i has correctly blamed a score of “lower-level officials” for these disastrous policies, then it’s surely time to remove the decision-making process from their hands. Otherwise, there may be worse to come.
Up in smoke
Regarding Reuven Hammer’s article, “Tobacco ad ban a rare legislative accomplishment” (January 6), I am a pulmonary physician who worked both in Israel and the US until retirement. In spite of my profession and specialty, I was a pack-a-day smoker for over 20 years, until I quit many years ago with the help of “Smokenders.” I paid my penalty by needing coronary artery bypass grafts. Luckily, the results have been excellent.
Not every smoker is as lucky. Over the years, I have seen the suffering of lots of smokers, with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: chronic bronchitis and emphysema and lung cancer) and suffered with them, trying to alleviate their condition, sometimes successfully, more often than not without success. I was deeply involved with quit-smoking programs, mainly in the context of Maccabi Health Services. There, too, there was a significant (but far from enough) percentage of quitters. Some of them remain in touch with me until today.
Then the tobacco companies developed their “cigarette substitutes” (electronic cigarettes), claiming they are safer and non-addictive. As with other forms of tobacco, they advertise them widely and attractively. I was dumbfounded to see several large attractive ads in The Jerusalem Post. At the bottom, much less obvious, there was a small disclaimer warning that tobacco can be dangerous to health).
I consider this a war with all of us – physicians, medical staff and volunteers – who try to assist smokers to quit and prevent younger people from becoming new smokers of any kind of tobacco device, including electronic. I am a Post reader of many years and have great respect for it and its contents, but upon seeing these advertisements, I considered canceling my subscription. I hope that Mr. Hammer’s article, as well as this letter – and hopefully other readers’ input – will encourage the management of the Post and other media outlets to announce that they will not carry any more advertising or promotion of this disease- and death-causing practice.
Hod Hasharon
Israel is not the US
Professor Israel Aumann, a 2005 Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics states, "Israeli universities should adopt differential payment for academic staff as is customary in the United States (“A unique place,” Grapevine, January 13). "Differential wages will lead to competition, new ideas, progress, which is how evolution and economics work."
I beg to differ. In Israeli universities, the struggle to be promoted through the lecturer, senior lecturer, associate professor, tenure, to full professor status is more than enough incentive to be a better lecturer and conduct high-quality research and far outweighs financial incentives. Salary increases are anyway achieved by promotions.
In addition, it is wrong to compare the US, with its thousands of universities and colleges, with Israel, which has far fewer institutions of higher learning. There is far less opportunity for Israeli academics to migrate competitively from university to university or from college to college. The economics of large numbers does not apply to the economics of small numbers.
In addition, in Israel, where everybody knows everybody else, it could set the stage for endless confrontations and manipulations.
Professor Emeritus of Radiation Physics
Trump a Russian agent?
If it’s true that the FBI initiated an investigation into whether President Trump was working as a Russian agent (“‘FBI probed Trump as working for Russia,’” January 13), obviously many of their thousands of agents are overpaid and underemployed.
If your boss wants to keep his conversation with Putin under wraps, you immediately decide that he may be a Russian agent because of:
A) Ideology: He has been a Communist Party member or sympathizer. (What? King of capitalists Donald Trump?).
B) Money: Putin may have offered him millions. (What? Billionaire Donald Trump?).
C) Power: Putin could offer to make him president of Ingusetia. (What? President of the United States Donald Trump?)
It wasn’t so long ago that I used to compare Israel unfavorably with the US or the Caliphate Formerly Known as Europe. Not anymore.
Not another Arab state
In “When Begin rejected Bibi’s good advice,” (January 10), Douglas Bloomfield makes the pronouncement, “Palestinian statehood… is the sine quo non for peace with the Palestinians.”
History does not support that opinion.
Arab leadership has rejected every opportunity to establish a Palestinian state since the Peel Commission of 1936. Actually, what they rejected, and continue to reject, is a Palestinian state along with a Jewish state.
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend to anyone that they establish another Arab state. There is no reason to believe that an Arab state established in the small area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea would be any better for most of its population than those Arab states that already exist in this region.
The Arabs who live in Judea and Samaria have a higher standard of living than those who live in the Middle East outside of the State of Israel, whereas those that live in Gaza have about the lowest of anywhere in the area. Israeli Arabs, especially the Christians, have continuously rejected being under the Palestinian Authority.
“Land for peace” is a cute slogan that has no basis in reality. When Israel exited Gaza in 2005, we were given an opportunity to observe its consequences. Enough said.
Petah Tikva
Flash of a neon light
Saeb Erekat recently asked, “Do you think Arabs wear a neon sign with the word stupid?” Sometimes I wonder if it is the Israelis who should wear such a sign.
In “Israeli prison standards to be lowered in effort to deter terrorism” (January 3), we read “Convicted terrorists often keep the water faucets open at all times of the day as an act of defiance,” wasting many “times more water than the average citizen.”
While my family and others like us do our best every moment of every day to conserve water, Arab convicts open the taps wide for hours or days on end? If prison authorities really can’t think of a way to prevent that, perhaps they should consider queuing up for those neon signs.
Kiryat Yam
New low in US Congress
Regarding “Tlaib starts term in Congress accusing Jewish state’s advocates of ‘dual loyalty’” (January 8) two women recently elected to the US Congress represent a new low in what used to be a very important part of the government of that great country.
Rashida Tlaib clearly has no understanding of American history and the American democratic tradition. Her strident foul-mouthed advocacy may have won approval from similar-minded people in her constituency, but is quite contrary to what is in the best interests of the country as a whole.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has surprised many who could not believe that such an ignorant person could be elected to the House just because she has a pretty face.
But as an oleh from Canada, I can easily understand. In Canada the country ejected the best prime minister the country had been privileged to have during the more than 40 years that I lived there – Stephen Harper – and instead put into place an empty-headed inarticulate ignoramus who had nothing more than youthful good looks, a famous name, oh, and a promise to legalize marijuana sales. Now, as Canada’s reputation and economic competitiveness sink by the day, the population can accept whatever befalls them blissfully, doped into oblivion.
Still too many
Regarding “Every Palestinian who killed an Israeli in 2018, dead or arrested” (January 11), we are encouraged to be relieved that there were only 14 people killed in terrorist attacks last year, the lowest number since 2013, but this number is still too high – especially for the bereaved families.
Were we to eliminate the terrorists in their entirety, all the sadly empty places in Jewish homes would not exist.
What we have instead is leadership that insists that the enemy must not be destroyed. Thus, for we still see thousands of Arabs taking part in the now regular violent Friday protests, launching rocks, firebombs and hand grenades toward our troops – trying to breach the security fence and sometimes succeeding. We, the people, in supporting the leadership that allows this, are complicit in the humiliation and disintegration of our Nation at the hands of our enemies as though we were still a helpless and stateless people. In fact, stateless is what we will be if the concessions and capitulation to our enemies do not end.
Light sentence
Regarding “Former cabinet minister Gonen Segev convicted of spying for Iran” (January 9), I sometimes wonder if this country is part of the same planet as other countries!
Segev, convicted of spying for one of our most dreaded enemies, is given only 11 years in prison! How lucky he is to be at the mercy of an Israeli government and not others – which would have had him shot or at the least given him life in prison without parole.
Mevaseret Zion