January 16, 2019: Silver and gold friends

China has no history of antisemitism, has an affinity with Jewish culture, and takes a dim view of Islamic extremism.

Letters (photo credit: PIXABAY)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)
Silver and gold friends
While the Post’s January 13 editorial (“China’s basket of influence”) was prudent in cautioning against over-reliance on Chinese investment due to security considerations, there are positives in China’s foreign relations.
Despite being a Communist dictatorship, the Chinese have a venerable tradition of entrepreneurship and technological excellence. This is reflected in the fact that 120 of the top 500 global companies in 2018 were Chinese and despite the shackles of a socialist bureaucracy, China has become the world’s second-largest economy. The global center of economic gravity is now shifting from the West to Asia.
Unfortunately, the One Belt, One Road program has produced meager financial returns and should be considered more as an attempt at political influence than a moneymaking venture. But at least the means of influence is one of constructive engagement by building infrastructure and developing technologies for civilian use. Contrast that with the Russian approach of partnering with unpopular extremists in order to project her military might, while doing nothing for the countries involved. For example, recently the Russians sent two Blackjack nuclear-capable bombers to impoverished Venezuela as an intimidation tactic. The Russians rattle sabers, while the Chinese rattle coins.
Additionally, China has no history of antisemitism, has an affinity with Jewish culture, and takes a dim view of Islamic extremism. Israel and China are thus natural allies, a relationship that should be nurtured while still carefully protecting the American alliance. As the child’s rhyme goes: Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold.

Charleston, South Carolina
Real gesture for peace

Gershon Baskin continues to peddle his idealistic dreams for the future as he sees it, under the title “Encountering Peace.” It is time for him to see sense.
You cannot make real peace with people who speak only of a hudna – a truce, or a temporary ceasefire – fund terrorists and imprison those who sell land to Jews. When Arafat arrived back in the Holy Land, he publicly reminded the Arabs here of the fraudulent Kureish truce. We knew what he meant, even if the BBC and its fellows refuse to explain to their customers.
We must not (and I hope will not) commit suicide to suit delusional European governments, whose sole interests are oil and profits, and the lunatic Left, who believe that all humanity is about to sit down and sing “Kumbaya.”
Let Baskin challenge the Arabs to make some real gesture for peace other than not actually killing us for a while. When they respond with a meaningful action or willingness to compromise, we can consider reading him again. Until then, please take all those column inches of yours that he occupies and give them to others who have something original and interesting to say.

Master of misinformation
Now starting the 15th year of his four-year term, corrupt PA President Mahmoud Abbas is a bad joke whose staying power is fueled largely by the misinformation he creates and then repeats incessantly in the media until it sounds true.
Every Friday, thousands of violent Arabs armed with a broad range of cold and hot weaponry attack Israel’s southern border, endangering its defenders and the residents in nearby peaceful communities. Yet in “At UN, Abbas asks for protective force against Israel” (January 15), we see Abbas again claiming that his aggressive constituents are suffering from Israeli “violations.”
Hopefully, someone at the UN will finally call his bluff and tell him the truth. The troublemakers are the Arabs, not the Israelis. What is needed is not a “protective force” but an end to violent and dangerous Arab mass-provocations.
It is time for Abbas and his minions to stop complaining and positioning themselves as helpless victims. When they channel the billions of dollars of aid they receive into constructive, beneficial endeavors such as health, education and culture instead of corruption, propaganda, tunnels and missiles, there will be a new Middle East.

Not giving up hope
Regarding Yaakov Katz’s column, “The problem with a Messiah” (January 11), like many other readers, I was heartened to read about his daughter Miki Katz’s progress and the wonderful people who have been so supportive to the Katz family during the last year. It was good of Katz to share such tidings and to praise individuals so devoted to helping other people.
On the other hand, I was disappointed with several ideas in the first part of his piece.
Katz wrote, “They [Israelis] are not looking at party platforms or what candidates really say about issues, which should be among the nation’s core concerns: religion and state, the recent announcement of an economic slowdown, or the growing divide between those who have in this country and those who don’t. Sadly, it seems people simply don’t care anymore – or they have just given up hope on the possibility that anything will really ever change.”
I see two problems with this quote: First, this depiction of Israel’s economic performance is both misleading and incomplete; second, the impression created by the last sentence (“Sadly,..) is that things are bad and people have lost hope that they might improve.
Economic performance: Katz refer to “the recent announcement of an economic slowdown.” Why is this misleading? Usually, an “economic slowdown” refers to a recession, which is defined as two or more quarters of declining GDP, i.e. negative growth in GDP. The Central Bureau of Statistics recently issued preliminary estimates of 2018 GDP growth in Israel at 3.2%. Last week, the Bank of Israel reduced its forecast of GDP growth in 2019 from 3.6% to 3.4%, which is apparently the change Katz have characterized as “an announcement of an economic slowdown.” This is a forecast, something quite different from a policy “announcement” and is hardly a significant change. Katz must know that most OECD countries would be delighted with a 3.4% growth rate in 2019. He probably also know that Israel’s average rate of growth of GDP has been among the highest in the OECD during the last decade.
Related to Israel strong economic growth performance, our unemployment rate has been around 4% during much of 2018. This is remarkably good both in comparison to the unemployment rate experienced throughout Israel’s history and in comparison with unemployment rates in other countries. It should be mentioned that this low rate has not been accompanied so far by an increase in the rate of inflation.
Yes, Israel has greater income inequality that most Western countries, and this does warrant changes in its tax and income support policies and the adoption of measures to spur greater competition, all of which would reduce income inequality. But, overall, our economic performance in recent years is unmatched by many other countries.
The good news is not strictly economic. Israel’s life expectancy statistics are among the highest in the world and are continuing to increase. In part, this achievement reflects a strong, universal health care system that, despite certain shortcomings, seems to function reasonably well.
Reflecting the above very impressive statistics, Israel has ranked 11th in happiness for a number of years. It seems to me these results are at variance with Katz’s writing that Israelis have “just given up hope on the possibility that anything will really ever change.”
I realize that what Katz wrote probably reflects frustration with recent polls that suggest that the Likud will likely be able to form a coalition similar to the last one, despite the negatives associated with the investigations of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and with some of the decisions of the current government. However, I think Katz could have expressed himself with more nuance, which would have made his column a better example of good journalistic practice.

Nothing admirable about it

In “The gospel according to Tzipi” (January 4), Amotz Asa-El mentions that Tzipi Livni’s change in political leanings from Right to Left was done “curiously, but admirably.” This is wrong twice over.
First of all, the only curious thing about the inception of her metamorphosis was Ariel Sharon leading it in a 180-degree turnaround from his previous ideological convictions, an act whose rationale is still shrouded in mystery, whereas Livni’s motivation is entirely explicable: as demonstrated by her chronic party-hopping, she is a political leech, scrambling to latch onto whatever might get her more power.
Secondly, there was nothing admirable about this stinking maneuver, in which the prime minister and a chunk of cohorts split off from their own party after winning the premiership and an eye-popping 40 seats on the back of a political platform diametrically opposed to that of Labor’s Amram Mitzna, who vowed to uproot the Gaza settlements; then, after calling for a referendum to give their reversal legitimacy, backing down from their commitment to honor its results (which they lost) – all the while branding those Likudniks who did not play along with their betrayal of their voter base as “rebels” – culminating in said expulsion, a critical strategic error whose ramifications are still affecting us to this day.
Ramat Beit Shemesh
Kudos to Omer Adam
Regarding “Omer Adam: I won’t violate Shabbat to appear at Eurovision (January 13), I was pleased to see that this popular Israeli singer is prepared to pay a high professional price to take a principled stand and be true to his beliefs.
However, my question is why the Jewish nation has to put him in this position by making the event entail working on Shabbat at all. We are supposed to be a light that nations will strive to follow. Being a light does not mean only singing about how women are not sexual objects, which is a basic principle, but also showing the world that one day a week we can calm down from all the outer noise and distractions and focus on the inner meaning of life family, friends and ourselves.
If someone argues that an event of this magnitude can’t afford to stop for one day a week, then I say that if you truly believe in something you can move heaven and Earth to make it possible. I look forward to the day that we aren’t just a candle but a light.

Upper Nazareth
May vs. Chamberlain
Regarding “Brexit is in peril, May warns ahead of today’s vote” (January 15), the head of a business school in the UK has described Theresa May as “the worst prime minister in British history.”
I strongly disagree. While both leaders produced worthless letters from Europe, the Right Honourable (??) Neville Chamberlain was far worse.
Enough antisemitism
In “Identity politics, an American-Jewish response” (January 15), Ron Rubin states categorically that American Jewry is heading into steady spiritual oblivion due to the meritocracy of America’s open society. One gets the feeling that Rubin might almost prefer the oppression of Egypt, Babylon, Rome and even Nazi Germany in order to ensure the survival of the Jewish people in the US.
Rubin’s solution: religious education – daily chapters from the Bible and Talmud, reciting 100 blessings a day, Sabbath observance, avoiding selfishness, materialism and physicality. These suggestions are about as useful or about to happen as US president Barack Obama’s opening speeches in his presidency admiring the values of the Muslim world.
My suggestion: stop obsessing about the survival of the Jewish people. There will always be enough antisemitism to ensure our survival. You don’t have to be religious or even traditional to be a patriotic, non-assimilated Jew.
Resurging anti-Israelism?
In “A cautionary tale of European antisemitism” (January 15), the early history of the Nazi party during 1919 and 1920 is outlined. The seeds were there, but even after the hyperinflation of 1923 and growing unemployment, in the democratic German election of 1928, the Nazi party only managed to gather a paltry 12 seats out of 491 in the Reichstag (German parliament) i.e. just 2.6% of the vote.
However, in 1930, the Nazi party gained 18% of the vote and, in the July 1932 election, the Nazis increased this to 37% – although their vote in the November 1932 election dipped to 33%.
Having been asked by president Hindenburg to form a democratic government on January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler did so... and the rest is history.
What caused the 11-fold increase from under 3% to 33% of the vote in two short years? It seems it was largely the Great Depression that began in 1929 and caused havoc with the economies of the industrialized nations of the world.
After the current extended period of economic expansion, it is not unlikely that a recession is now looming on the economic horizon. If so, the current resurgence of antisemitism/ anti-Israelism is likely to grow in strength. We have been warned...