Letters to the editor, August 26, 2020: For Balfour

The readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters (photo credit: PIXABAY)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)
For Balfour
In “Jabotinsky in the mirror of reality” (August 8), Yaacov Hagoel states that he Balfour Declaration of 1917 “was met by a complete refusal from the Arab world.”
Not so.
On January 4, 1919, Emir Faisal and Dr. Chaim Weizman signed the Faisal-Weizmann Agreement for Arab-Jewish Cooperation. In that agreement, Faisal, who was the third son of Hussein ibn al-Hashimi, King of the short-lived Kingdom of Hejaz, accepted the Balfour Declaration. Two weeks after signing the agreement, he led the Arab delegation to the Paris Peace Conference.
The following year, he was anointed King of Syria, although he was deposed months later when France took control of Syria and promptly invalidated the agreement. When he became King of Iraq in 1921, a position he held until 1933, he proclaimed, “freedom of religion, education and employment for the Jews of Baghdad, who had played such an important part in its welfare and progress.”
Although Hagoel’s statement that the Balfour Declaration was met by refusal from the Arab world is generally accurate, it was not a complete refusal; King Faisal I was the notable exception. As an Arab leader, he was a lonely voice of acceptance of Zionism and Jews.
Merion Station, PA

Peace train: All a board
In “Cops gone wild” (August 24), the policemen, trying to deal with the 10,000 or so “mostly peaceful” demonstrators, are castigated for their extreme violence. Protesters were shoved and even, in two cases, physically assaulted.
It’s not politically correct these days to try to justify police actions, but anyway, here is a story that describes the psychology of some (perhaps many, perhaps most) demonstrators.
Once students were demonstrating in my university by banging on the doors of the Senate Hall where members of the academic staff were being addressed by the university president. Nobody could hear anything. Finally, after about 30 minutes of deafening noise, I decided to act like a “cop” and I went outside and approached a student banging on a door with a large wooden board. I tried to catch the board before it hit the door. Big mistake.
The student, holding on to the board, lost his balance and fell to the floor. His face broke into a giant self-congratulatory smile of joy and pleasure. We both realized what had happened.
I was whisked away from the campus by friends in order to avoid the wrath of the “peaceful” students. The following day the newspapers were full of the story with the headline “Professor attacks student.” Although I was interrogated by the police, no charges were brought because the board refused to testify. The “peaceful” student also avoided censure by the university disciplinary board.
The moral of the story is that for many demonstrators (a small percent of 10,000 is sufficient to cause a riot) nothing will please them more than to be shoved, even hit, by the cops. The following day they are on TV as the “hero” guardians of democracy.
More on the rot in Eilat
Regarding “A blot on Eilat” (August 24), the letter writer correctly berates the parents of the boys involved for not instilling in them morals, a sense of decency and mutual respect.
However, I am also questioning the parents of their 16-year-old daughter for allowing her and a friend to go alone to a hotel! They apparently had not educated her in the consequences of overindulging in alcohol (drinking alcohol at 16 in itself questionable). At that age, would she know any better? Parental guidance was sadly lacking and the consequences were dire.
The reprehensible behavior of the boys cannot be condoned, but it will be the girl’s parents who will live with the results of this horrible situation and they bear a share of the responsibility for the outcome of their daughter’s experience.
Kfar Saba

Emily Schrader is one hundred percent correct when she calls for zero tolerance for any kind of sexual abuse (“You’re not to blame, you’re not alone” (August 25). It goes without saying that this includes the rape of a 16-year-old girl under the influence of alcohol, even and especially if she is unsupervised in a resort hotel. Her situation should have elicited help instead of abuse.
Nonetheless, I would not paint all of Israeli society with the brush strokes of the egregious behavior of that particular group of young men. Israeli/ Jewish society has always maintained a high standard of respect for women, as clearly evinced in comparison with other societies.
That being said, I think Schrader is right in pinpointing the problem of rape to police response. Many years ago, in New York, I was briefly a member of a task force to protect women and the greatest strides forward were made when we convinced the police to treat every incident of domestic violence as criminal instead of familial.
I hope that her words will have the effect she seeks in obtaining positive change in this regard.

Beit Shemesh

“Proper values” (August 23) asserts, “One of the ways to prevent attacks like this (the gang rape in Eilat) from happening is through education, teaching youth values, what is right and wrong, how to treat the other and more.” This widely held view is a necessary but hardly sufficient basis for changing behavior.
Simply teaching values is like pushing a string. Most of us have a pretty good sense of values, but all too few base our actions on those values. There is no necessity to do so. We know lying is unethical, but we resort to it when it is in our interest. We know cheating is unethical, but we do it all the time, from avoiding paying taxes to cheating on exams, and overcharging customers and clients. We know gossip is unethical, but who among us refrains from telling juicy stories to either harm someone, or to ridicule them? We know we should care for the other but our behavior, whether driving or refusing to socially distance and wear masks, goes against the ethics we have learned. The list goes on.
The only way to ensure that one will behave ethically is to be disciplined from the earliest age to do so. By following the examples of parents who behave ethically, or teachers, or well-chosen friends, and coming to learn that the restraints that oblige such behavior are worth adopting as our own, even if it entails giving up some of our so-called freedom, really license, there remains hope for social transformation.
We should pursue a more aggressive stance for building a truly ethical society. Our prophets, history and intelligence combine to give us a unique opportunity to walk away from the moral turpitude of much of today’s declining Western culture and to be a free and ethical nation in our own land.

Sedition erudition
I looked it up in the dictionary. What Gershon Baskin is proposing in his ghastly article (“Shocking the System,” August 21) is called “sedition.” The dictionary definition reads, “Incitement of discontent or rebellion against the government; action or language promoting such discontent or rebellion.” You would think that it would be against the law to publish this stuff and The Jerusalem Post should know better and not sully its good name.
Just a couple of choice examples of this article:
“At the time of Oslo there was hope, but then there was terrorism and there were bullets.” What did Baskin think we would do when our blood was running in the streets from blown-up buses? Did he think we shouldn’t resist these murderers? Did he think we should allow ourselves to be slaughtered?
Another juicy quote: “Israeli closures must not be observed. When a curfew is imposed, everyone takes to the streets.” As far as I know, we still have laws in our land that must be obeyed. Otherwise we have anarchy.
Somewhere in this unbelievable article Baskin says, “I apologize to my Palestinian brothers and sisters because we in Israel have failed to end the occupation.” What nonsense. Better he should apologize to his own Jewish brothers and sisters for lying and skewing the story of what has been going on in Israel since the beginning of the state and even before.
Petah Tikva

Chess stress
“Netanyahu and Trump’s three-month race for Israeli-Arab history” (August 25) makes some interesting observations regarding election timing in the US, sovereignty, the UAE and the many other moving parts in this three-dimensional game of chess.
Some questions need answering. If the UAE managed to get annexation taken off the table, what is the motivation for the next Arab country to sign a deal with Israel and the US? Will just economic, security and health matters be enough?
If reclaiming sovereignty is “temporarily suspended” (and in the life of a country and politics, that could mean for decades) then Israel should do the following but must cover all bases: Israel should implement a “temporary unilateral withdrawal” from areas it chooses. It can define its own borders and not give up on soft control of the remaining Area C and strategic parts of Areas A and B. It’s all about the optics. Israel would not be taking anything but would rather be considering giving certain areas to the Palestinians depending on conditions similar to those contained in Trump’s plan, such as the Palestinians must give up on violence and return of refugees; acknowledge Israel as the Jewish State; stop pay for slay; revamp hate-filled education and media programs, etc. If and when they meet these targets and more, then Areas A and B would be dealt with in an appropriate manner.
Israel risks signing with the UAE and possibly others only to have them use the peace accords as a future hammer on Israel’s head. The agreements could force Israel to make concessions that would never be considered today.
So beware before picking up that shiny object lying in the dust. It would be wise to make sure you are not pulling the pin of a hand grenade.
Toronto/ Jerusalem

Too many men in Uman
Coronavirus commissioner Ronni Gamzu was correct in condemning the pilgrimage to Uman and asking the Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to enforce a ban on these celebrations this year, which could “generate mass events of infection of tourists and local Ukrainian residents... while thousands more are expected to come back to Israel and further spread the virus” (“Its a great mitzvah to stay healthy,” August 25).
United Torah Judaism’s Construction and Housing Minister Ya’acov Litzman answered, “This is a slap in the face to the haredim” and called for Gamzu’s removal. Yet many rabbis have clearly stated that Rosh Hashanah is a time to be with family and not in Uman. Should they also be removed?
Too many people, not prepared to even consider the obvious dangers stated by Gamzu, could be bringing misfortune upon their own families. Who will they blame if on their return their family members become the victims of the horrendous and often fatal coronavirus?
Had Rabbi Nachman’s remains been brought to Israel when the Jewish state was established, the coffers would have risen in Israel and not in a foreign country and those haredim would have less reason to behave like spoiled children.

Another side of a Torah giant
Much has been written in the press about former Jerusalem chief justice and Talmudic Encyclopedia editor Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg since his recent passing. (“Former Jerusalem chief dayan Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg dies at 89,” August 23) Yet there is another side to Rabbi Goldberg’s legacy that merits greater public awareness.
As rosh yeshiva of the Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT) for decades, Goldberg played a central role in pioneering the institution’s dual commitment to Torah and academic excellence, a mission that carries significant socioeconomic benefits for Israel today.
Goldberg educated multiple generations of our students in an incredibly humble, pious and visionary manner. While he cultivated and helped them maintain their love for Torah, they simultaneously gained the knowledge and training to become skilled engineers and other contributors to Israel’s burgeoning science and hi-tech industries. In their careers and all aspects of their lives, Rabbi Goldberg’s students have sought to emulate his character traits and dedication to Torah.
In this way, Goldberg was among the unsung rabbinic and educational giants of his time. He was reluctant to see himself as a decision-maker on Jewish law, and as such he did not attach his name to the various groundbreaking policies that he contributed to through his thought leadership. But his legacy lives on through his students, who embody the vast potential of Torah-academic balance to elevate both the performance of Israel’s economy and the harmony in Israeli society.
Rabbi Goldberg is sorely missed, and his memory should be a blessing.

President, Jerusalem College of Technology