January 23, 2018: The Netanyahu investigations

Several months ago, I watched, enraptured (as I am sure many other expats were), the Middle East visit of US President Donald Trump and his wife.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Netanyahu investigations
With regard to “Protesters blasted for harassing attorney-general while at worship” (January 21), have the demonstrations in Petah Tikva crossed a red line? Giving gifts to people who have to make decisions is illegal, since it is intended to affect their judgment. By the same logic, it should be illegal to demonstrate opposite the homes of people who have to make decisions since this, too, is intended to affect their judgment. Protesters can demonstrate elsewhere to state their opinions.
The demonstrations in Petah Tikva this year are similar to the difference between offering a friend one cigar and sending him boxes full of cigars.
I read with some incredulity Yonah Jeremy Bob’s analysis about a possible indictment and conviction for Sara Netanyahu over the matter of using take-out food versus food prepared by the cook at the Prime Minister’s Residence (“Sara Netanyahu could face no jail time even if convicted of an offense,” January 21).
Several months ago, I watched, enraptured (as I am sure many other expats were), the Middle East visit of US President Donald Trump and his wife. I was fascinated by their time in Saudi Arabia, where the very seats of the government building seemed to be made of gold, and continued to follow their arrival and welcome to Israel.
At the end of their first day in Israel, the TV cameras followed the presidential entourage into the Prime Minister’s Residence for the Trumps’ scheduled dinner with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sara. Not knowing what to expect but familiar with scenes of state dinners at the White House, I watched eagerly for similar signs of pomp and circumstance.
Imagine my surprise to observe that the Prime Minister’s Residence was pleasant and gracious, but in comparison with other state residences, a quite modest dwelling. There were no signs of ostentatious, high living or exceptional luxury.
Your article brings to mind the generous budgets allotted to the upkeep and ongoing renovations of the public and private quarters of the White House. It is hard, therefore, for me to fathom the pickiness into who ate what, when and prepared by which cook in the Prime Minister’s Residence.
Frugality might be considered by some a virtue, and parsimony a public benefit, but the lack thereof, even if true, seems hardly a topic for such lengthy and ongoing public discourse.
Beit Shemesh
What to do with the migrants?
With regard to “Nearly 500 professors send letter condemning gov’t plan for migrants” (January 21), when Rabbi Sarah Silverman asked the rabbis and educators who among them would be “willing to house” asylum seekers, how many responded? We don’t really know how many migrants are asylum seekers and how many came for economic reasons; after all, Israel is a paradise compared to their countries. We also don’t know much about the migrants because even if they do have identity papers, we don’t know if they are verifiable.
As we have seen in Europe, it is very easy for infiltrators to pass themselves off as asylum seekers, thus winning over the hearts of those who see this as a humane issue. But many other countries, including Israel, are justifiably more concerned about their citizens’ safety and the need to keep out those who pose a potential danger to society.
It behooves those who criticize the government to heed Rabbi Silverman’s request and volunteer to house the migrants. Then the government could reevaluate its policy. Until then, we have no choice but to protect ourselves from any potential danger some of them might pose.
I am a lecturer at a college in the North. If I had known about the petition of professors condemning the government plan for migrants, I would have signed it.
The government’s current “solution” makes my blood boil. Deporting people en masse is not a solution. Instead of using this potential gift to our country, the government chooses to think that everyone who is a black African refugee/migrant is an unwanted entity.
Israel is a country of immigrants, many of whom have made contributions of great importance to society. How can the government lump everyone from Eritrea, Sudan and other African countries together and declare each persona non grata? I am sure that if given the opportunity, many would become citizens who contribute to society in a positive way.
Do not condemn these desperate people to a life of poverty and misery (or worse) by sending them back to Africa. Just as previous governments accepted refugees and migrants, so should this government. Just because they aren’t Jewish doesn’t mean they aren’t human beings with the right to a decent life.
Halacha in civil law
I read with particular interest “Your estate plan needs an update, even if it is new” (Business & Finance, January 19). While the article is accurate regarding controlling US-based assets, it does not apply to those in Israel.
Since many readers of The Jerusalem Post are Israeli or Diaspora Jews owning property in Israel, the following points need to be emphasized: 1. For Jews, a will must be written according to Halacha (Jewish law). This does not mean that one cannot effectuate wishes that aim to distribute assets to a wife and daughter, and not just a son, in addition to biological grandchildren versus in-law children/grandchildren and their possible non-related families. The desired distribution can be accomplished, but the halachic language reflecting an inter vivos gift (matana m’chaim), contractual obligations (kinyan) and kosher witnesses needs to be written in a halachically legal will.
2. It should be pointed out that an independent trust vehicle (with a separate ID number), as it exists in the US, does not exist in Israel.
Here, there is an escrow account that is not an independent entity with its own ID number; therefore, it is not a halachically valid inter vivos gift and is easily violated.
3. Joint “ownership” of property (real estate/ bank accounts) is defined differently in Israel and the US. In the US, joint-tenancy by a married couple has a joint with rights of survivorship feature (i.e., each joint-tenant owns 100%), and probate is deferred until the second death.
In Israel, there is no such feature, so each joint tenant owns only 50%, and probate occurs after each death, during which the decedent’s 50% is frozen from transactions. In such a situation, besides secular ramifications, there are halachic issues to consider.
The writer is a halachic estate-planning attorney in Israel and the US.
Hoping Dublin’s not on the list
Regarding “Seven diplomatic missions to be closed abroad within 3 years” (January 14), as an Irish citizen, I am alarmed at the possibility of the Israeli embassy in Dublin being shut down. Such a move would only be a permanent damper in promoting any sort of positive Irish-Israeli relations.
I have had the pleasure of being acquainted with the former Israeli ambassador, Boaz Moda’i, and his wife, deputy ambassador Nurit Tinari-Moda’i, and with the current ambassador, Ze’ev Boker. All have fostered cordial relations.
The Palestinian Authority maintains a mission in Dublin. If Israel closes its embassy, that mission would have a unique advantage over Israel in burnishing its image as a diplomatic friend of Ireland.