Letters: February 1

'Jerusalem Post' readers weigh in on local, national stories.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Election threshold
Sir, – Gershon Baskin (“The peace bridge,” Encountering Peace, January 29) suggests that the real reason Israel raised its election threshold from two percent to 3.25% is anti-Arab racism on the part of Foreign Minister and Israel Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman.
To bolster his case, he quotes all sorts of questionable figures yet curiously ignores the fact that most developed countries using proportional representation employ a much higher election threshold. For example, Austria, Bulgaria, Norway, Sweden and Slovenia use a threshold of 4%, while Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia use a threshold of 5%.
These countries chose such election thresholds to ensure that their political systems are both stable (by eliminating small, unrepresentative parties) and democratic. By paying lip-service to Israel’s need for political stability, Baskin has shown that ultimately he more interested in aligning himself with its racist enemies than in acting honestly to reconcile the conflicting claims of democracy and stability in Israel.
Mazkeret Batya
Netanyahu’s speech
Sir, – That Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been invited to speak to the US Congress, and has accepted, is something to be extolled, not condemned.
The arguments presented in your editorial “Netanyahu’s speech” (January 26), repeated ad nauseam by his political opponents, concern the danger of alienating Israel’s strongest ally, a step we cannot afford.
However, the people of the United states, as represented in Congress, will not be upset by our premier’s expected opposition to the feckless policies adopted by the Obama administration. The ones who will be upset are Obama and his cronies.
It is no secret that there is no love to be lost between Netanyahu and Obama, or for that matter between Obama and the State of Israel. Therefore, there is little downside. On the other hand, it is also well known that the US electorate feels a strong affinity toward Israel; it is only this powerful feeling, as evident in Congress, that has restrained the administration from more overt actions against Israel’s interests.
Netanyahu will no doubt reinforce this positive sentiment in his congressional speech.
Presidents come and go, but the warmth between peoples remains. It is this warmth that Netanyahu’s speech will reinforce.
Ma’aleh Adumim
Sir, – Throughout his administration, US President Barack Obama has used the excuse that he did not know of an international or domestic foul-up until he read about it in the paper or was advised after the fact.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking before Congress, will spell out the danger of allowing Iran to go nuclear. If Obama allows this to happen, his legacy will be tarnished, much like Neville Chamberlain’s after Munich.
Sir, – It’s Netanyahu in Paris all over again.
He went there even though French President Francois Hollande asked him not to, and once there elbowed to the front. This was not about Israel. It was about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s inherent and so-foreseen gaucheness.
In the US, conservative columnist David Brooks called the prime minister’s planned speech to Congress “unwise” and “bad” for Israel. The ADL’s Abe Foxman slammed it. Fox News Channel’s Shepherd Smith said the Israelis seem to feel “we are just a bunch of complete morons.” FNC’s Chris Wallace even called it “wicked” that “Secretary of State John Kerry met with the Israeli ambassador to the United States for two hours on Tuesday [and] Ron Dermer the ambassador never mentioned” the trip.... I have to say I’m shocked.”
So it’s Paris all over again. And as one unnamed American official said of Netanyahu that he “spat in our face publicly,” it may be even worse.
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Look, then quote
Sir, – Martin Indyk weighed in with his predictably negative opinion of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to accept the invitation to speak at a joint session of Congress (“Netanyahu: I’ll go wherever I’m invited to defend Israel against Iran’s nuclear plans,” January 26). But his opinion should not be taken at face value.
Your reporter neglected to mention that Indyk has been for some time the vice president and director of foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution, which, according to an excellent New York Times investigative report, received $14 million dollars from Qatar, making it the think tank’s largest donor.
Indyk’s problematic role as envoy of the United States to Israel during the early stages of Operation Protective Edge last summer put him in an untenable conflict of interest, since Qatar is also widely accepted to be Hamas’s main financial backer.
Look before you quote. Context is everything.
Opposing view
Sir – I fully understand the policy of The Jerusalem Post of printing opposing opinions. But I question the choice of publishing Birte Brodkorb’s opinion (“If Palestine joins the ICC, then what?” Comment & Features, January 26), even as a balance to that of Alan Dershowitz, whose “The case against the International Criminal Court investigating Israel” appeared on the same page.
True, Dershowitz and Brodkorb are both lawyers with experience in criminal justice. But there the similarity in their qualifications seems to end. Brodkorb’s stance is based on her opinion, not facts.
Her article, which is based on her hatred for Israel, is filled with lies, untruths and accusations.
She writes that “when criminal acts are state practice, such as the construction of settlements or the targeting of civilians, it is unlikely that Israel or the PA will hold open judicial proceedings.” What an interesting statement! She doesn’t list any “criminal acts” committed by the Palestinians.
She lists the construction of settlements (which may not be nice, but is not illegal). She lists “targeting of civilians,” which is an outright lie. She claims that Israel is “unlikely” to open judicial proceedings,” which it routinely does. The only thing in that statement that has been proven true is that the Palestinian Authority is unlikely to do so.
Her concluding remark is the most ridiculous of all. “Although it is uncertain whether the step to join the ICC will lead to peace, it is certainly a peaceful step.” So the Palestinians are the ones promoting peace while Israel is committing war crimes! Shame on you, Ms. Brodkorb, for writing this, and shame on you, Jerusalem Post, for dignifying it.
Sir, – At first glance, the piece by Birte Brodkorb appears to be evenhanded. She even tries to curry favor by referring to the Israeli and American view that the ICC lacks impartiality. However, she shows exactly why Israel is concerned about impartiality when throughout she refers to the “occupied territories,” and to “Palestine” as though it is already a state.
If the piece had been written by a journalist, such comments could have been understood as pandering to a misguided world view. But it was written by someone who holds German and British law degrees and is pursuing a PhD in international criminal law – presumably, with a desire to appear before the ICC.
Maybe this shows why Israel’s distrust of international law is justified.
You’ve been warned
Sir, – In response to Shmuley Boteach’s “Why wives put on weight” (No Holds Barred, January 27), may I quote a wellknown saying: Women who carry a little extra weight live longer than husbands who mention it.