June 25, 2018: Listening to the 'other'

Our readers have their say.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Listening to the ‘other’
Both Tova Hartman in “Conversing towards a shared homeland” and Gil Troy in “Letters to our extended family members” (June 20) talk of learning to understand the other’s narrative, but they do not mention the many projects that are doing just that.
Neve Shalom/Wahat al Salam was founded in the 1970s and Givat Aviva has been going even longer. There are mixed Jewish/Arab schools all over Israel plus many cultural and sports initiatives that influence the perception of and interactions with the “other.”
Give up, forget about what’s going on all around us or support one of the initiatives that are trying to do something about the increasing fear, hatred and racism. For our children and grandchildren’s sake let us start talking to the “other.” Let’s work at a grassroots level to sow the seeds for a just and equitable resolution to the conflict in the region.
Netanya and London
Herzog fit to serve?
On reading the fulsome praise for Isaac Herzog, the apparent new chairman of the Jewish Agency (“United Jews”, June 24), it seems we have all been afflicted with acute national amnesia. 
Doesn’t anyone remember the scandal in the 1999 elections, when Herzog was accused of streaming funds from a Canadian charitable trust to amutot created to support the campaign of Ehud Barak? Herzog was able to stymie a criminal investigation into violation of campaign financing laws by invoking his right to silence. It was widely reported that other witnesses, most of whom were out of the country, refused to testify, and so the case was closed. Since then, his career has had a positive trajectory.
Barely three and a half years ago, in connection with the charges against Faina Kirschenbaum, who also remained silent but resigned from the government, the Jerusalem Post published an excellent editorial suggesting that the right of silence should be applied more stringently for public officials accused of malfeasance in their public duties than for ordinary citizens (“Right of Silence,” January 17, 2015):
“To erase any doubt, the Knesset would do well to legislate special rules for holders of public office.
“Meanwhile, in the absence of clear legal guidelines, it must be said in Kirschenbaum’s favor that she understood the particular problematics of her position and quickly withdrew from politics. In a sense, by quitting public life, she had put herself in the same category as any ordinary member of the public.
“She did what some of our politicians – among them very prominent ones such as prime-ministerial aspirant Isaac Herzog of Labor – had failed to do. Herzog famously kept conspicuously silent in a case incomparably weightier than the one now facing Kirschenbaum.
“Dubbed by then-state comptroller Eliezer Goldberg the “greatest election scam ever,” it was spawned by the comptroller’s 2000 report that revealed a shocking, unprecedented network of nonprofit organizations – some falsely masquerading as charities – deliberately set up to funnel illicit funds into Labor’s 1999 campaign coffers.
“Herzog, a higher-up in Ehud Barak’s campaign, stayed as silent as Kirschenbaum now does, but he got away with it. For one thing, the eagerness evinced by the prosecution in other high-profile probes was notably missing in Labor’s case although all suspects demonstratively refused to cooperate with the investigation.
“Herzog wiggled out just barely because funding restrictions applied to parties in Knesset contests. He argued that the prime-ministerial races were exempt. An artificial distinction was thus drawn between the campaign of the party and that of the candidate it fielded – between closely interconnected campaigns.
“It is not solely a matter of double standards and possible political bias. The critical danger is that the citizenry will lose faith in the system and assume that the law is not quite as blind as it ought to be. It is such impressions that in the end do most to undermine the rule of law. “
Let’s hope there will be some acknowledgement by the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency that they considered this issue before confirming Herzog.
Pro and con trump
Elana Maryles Sztokman’s vitriolic criticism of President Trump’s policy regarding young illegal immigrants (“Standing by our values,” June 22), conveniently ignores the following critical facts: The practice of detaining minors who illegally enter the US was enforced strongly under the Obama administration. Of the approximately 12,000 minors detained by US authorities since Trump’s inauguration, over 80% arrived “unaccompanied,” i.e., their parents voluntarily sent them alone on a potentially deadly journey; 70% are males; nearly two thirds are over the age of 15; in nearly 15% of the cases in which “family units” cross the border, the adults are not in fact the children’s parents.
Sztokman makes the outrageous and dangerous assertion that “comparisons between Trump and Hitler abound.” Let us be clear. There is absolutely no parallel between the Nazis’ goals, methods, treatment of victims and ultimate outcome and those currently being employed by US immigration authorities. To assert such a relationship is a cynical and dangerous attempt to stifle all debate on immigration by branding one side as totally and irredeemably evil.
The logical outcome of this mischaracterization is that those who view themselves as moral, good people may feel justified in utilizing any means – including violence – to rid the US of the Trump “scourge.”
The Left now demands that any family unit that enters the US illegally be released immediately pending their asylum hearing in the distant future (at which they almost certainly will not appear). Such an obvious “open border” policy would provide a strong incentive for adults intending to breach the border to bring children with them to assure their free entry. In essence, children will become human shields for adult criminal behavior.
Family separation and child detention are terribly painful practices that should be avoided to the greatest extent possible. No doubt the Trump administration has handled the issue poorly. However, to demonize those who take opposing views while ignoring critical factors further inflames the dispute without bringing us any closer to a rational solution.
Zichron Yaakov
Now and again The Jerusalem Post publishes an article that lights up the darkness that so often surrounds us. Such an article was “Standing by our values,” (June 22), which had the added personal effect of showing me that I am not alone within the madness of the Israeli Trump cult.
I am embarrassed, not only as a human being by the shenanigans of US President Donald Trump and his unfeeling worldview, but even more so as an Israeli who will forever be tainted by association with the xenophobia, sexism, heartlessness and bully tactics endemic of Trump and his presidency. Have we become so uncaring, so un-Jewish, so parochial and so short-sighted that now is all-important and that “it will be okay” when tomorrow dawns? When Trump is history and we are left to pick up the pieces with a future Democratic administration, what will we say?
It’s not just the political fallout. What will we tell our children, who we bring up to be caring and to think about others? What do we say when our politicians and many of our newspaper articles are full of praise for the opposite of what we want our children (and ourselves) to be?
Ramat Hasharon
Baskin for it
I cannot believe that Gershon Baskin (“Incomprehensible,” 21/6) believes that the Gazans were “unarmed.” He might try being the object of their “peaceful” Molotov cocktails, explosive kites, stones, knives, guns and deathly slogans and see how comfortable he feels, and whether his life is worth saving using deterrents such as warning shots. Imagine if one of the kites had landed in a school and set it on fire with the children inside. Would Baskin say the same thing if it were his children being burned alive?
It is very painful to see a contributor to your paper writing positively about people who openly wish to destroy us.
Gershon Baskin has decided that with respect to Gaza, “We inhabit the same space and live in two different worlds.” We most certainly do not live in the same space, the fence demarcates a border between us – Israel, and them – Gazans. It seems that he is unsure of this important distinction (it is the definition of sovereignty).
As for living in two worlds, he is spot-on. We, Israel, live for most part in the 21st century, in the developed world.
They, Gaza, live in the 14th century, in the Islamic world. Baskin’s tears for the casualties suffered by the invading horde trying to breach the border makes one wonder which side he is with.
Next on the menu
I’ve read in “A-G files indictment against Sara Netanyahu for fraud” about Sara Netanyahu charging the state for NIS 359,000 in meals.
I certainly hope she’ll eventually receive her... just desserts.
British perfidy
Regarding “Life under British rule” (June 24), considering that:
 1) Britain was selected by the United Nations to ensure the enactment of the Mandate for Palestine which gave Jerusalem and the so-called “West Bank” to the Jewish people and that decision is still legal today; 2) the territory was territory unlawfully held by Transjordan (note the name); 3) Britain was only one of two countries in the world that, recognized it as Jordanian territory in spite of its knowledge of the Mandate for Palestine; 4) the “Palestinian people” never existed, except as an overall description of Jews, Muslims, Druse, Christian and other minorities who lived in the territory reserved for the Jewish people; 5) the “Palestinians” never had sovereignty over any land whatsoever; 6) the Israeli government cannot possibly be “occupying” its own sovereign territory, it is more than surprising that Britain’s Foreign Office would have the temerity to refer to any part of Jerusalem or, for that matter, any part of the territories laid down as Jewish land in the Mandate for Palestine, as being under occupation by Israel.
The reputation of Britain’s Foreign Office and, indeed of their country is at stake here. I look forward to hearing a retraction.
Calcutta/London/Rishon LeZion