Letters to the Editor August 31, 2020: Life trumps mass protests

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters (photo credit: PIXABAY)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)
Life trumps mass protests
The title “Forget Uman, there’s a pandemic to fight” (August 28) should be renamed “Forget Uman and forget protests, there’s a pandemic to fight.”
The writer says that traveling to Uman should not be allowed, yet protests of thousands of people, despite being a health hazard, are the price we have to pay to live in a democracy.
I disagree.
There is a pandemic to fight. This means that regardless of affiliations and personal values, crowds of people gathered together destroy the ability to fight this pandemic quickly and efficiently, endangering the lives of all of us.
The overriding value and priority of Am Yisrael at this point in the pandemic should be to save lives, not to exercise crowd democracy.
Without these mass protests, democracy can and will survive. The coronavirus pandemic is only temporary. But how many of our citizens as a result of these large gatherings across the country will become infected and not survive – and thus be deprived of enjoying life in our beautiful democratic country?
Regarding “Anti-Netanyahu protests held in 18 cities worldwide at same time” (August 29), all those demonstrators, local and overseas, need to know Israel is a democracy and our Supreme Court has confirmed that according to our laws, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can remain in his post even during his upcoming trial, which starts only in January 2021.
Regardless of whether or not I agree with these local weekend demonstrations, as long as they are held according to the police instructions, they can continue. But beyond the noise and traffic jams they cause, demonstrators will not bring down the government, as Israel is a democracy and not an autocratic regime.
Kiryat Motzkin
In “Will coronavirus ‘czar’ Gamzu pass the COVID-19 finish line?” (August 28), Prof. Shuki Shemer is quoted as saying that “all parties [need] to work together – the IDF, the municipalities, the government and the Knesset.” He omitted the most critical partner in all of this: the public.
 Sunday’s paper reports Prof. Ronni Gamzu claiming that most of the infections in Tira are because people do not follow Health Ministry directives. MK Ahmed Tibi said, “Those who violate quarantine and roam the streets are like criminals walking around with a gun and shooting at passersby.”
Unless and until every member of the public obeys the directives, we are all in a ship in which some members keep drilling holes. No, people should not go to Uman for Rosh HaShana. And, even if people are allowed their democratic rights to protest, everyone must wear masks properly (covering mouth and nose) and practice social distancing. That means two meters apart, not two centimeters!
Stop blaming the government and others for the closures and lockdowns. When you point a finger at someone, three fingers point back at you.
Rabbi Hillel said, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?”
Many happy returns
When I read that Yamina MK Bezalel Smotrich wants to amend the Law of Return because it permits so many non-Jews to enter the country (“Bill aims to alter Law of Return,” (August 26), I recalled an important conversation I had on that subject 21 years ago.
In late summer 1999, my lifelong friend, the very wise Danny Elazar, founder of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, was dying. People were coming from all over the world to have that last talk with him and to say goodbye. I wanted to see him as soon as possible, as I would be leaving shortly for a two-year stint in NY. One Shabbat his wife Harriet told me he was feeling better, and this would be a good time, so I went over.
 I was then involved in helping to absorb Russian immigrants in Jerusalem through Keren Klitah, and like Smotrich today, was concerned with the large number of non-Jews entering the country. I asked Danny if we should try to amend the Law of Return.
Danny listened, and then said, and I remember his words exactly, “Janny, do not attempt to amend the Law of Return, because it will allow others to totally abrogate it. That is my yerushah (bequest) to you and I want you to quote me.”
So I feel responsible to pass on his sage advice to MK Smotrich. It is not a simple thing to “alter” an existing law. And especially now, when there is so much controversy over the Nation-State Law, proposing to amend the Law of Return will only stoke the conflicts over our national identity.
Listen to Danny. Withdraw the bill.
Blowin’ in the wind
One reads with disturbing frequency in The Jerusalem Post headlines such as, “Israel IDF attacks Hamas targets in Gaza” in response to terror balloons causing damage in Israel.
Why do our actions always have to be in response? Israeli leaders keep saying that they know what to do. To me, it looks like they don’t. We need to take the initiative, not just respond ineffectively. I would love to see those in charge change places with one of the terrorized families for just one day. Let their families experience fear from the terror and maybe then they will “know what to do.”
Ma’aleh Adumim
End of the line
Your incisive editorial about the upcoming election in the United States “Win-win vote” (August 30) says that both US President Donald Trump and his opponent Joe Biden have Jewish grandchildren.
That is a fact that is irrelevant to the election, but since it was mentioned, it should be noted that there is a world of difference. Trump’s daughter converted and is raising her children as Jews, thus contributing to the continuity of the Jewish people. Biden’s grandchildren are being raised outside the faith, thus ending that particular Jewish line.
Say little and do much
Regarding “Israel working on ties with Bahrain, implementing UAE agreement” (August 16), don’t wait till just before November US elections for a peace deal with Bahrain, Oman or even Sudan.
Every time successive Israeli governments tried to move forward with their objectives by just making noise in the media, the PLO, UN, Hamas or Hezbollah derailed our plans.
We waited too long to apply sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria. Thus we gave enough time to our enemies to think, plan, strategize and garner enough international pressure against it. A lot of Israel’s diplomatic achievements have happened with less talk and more quick action. This includes moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, Israel implementing sovereignty over Golan Heights, the US accepting this sovereignty or even just our historical war achievements.
The PLO, Hamas, Turkey and Iran know that we are talking to Bahrain, Sudan and Oman. They are trying their best to stop our new friends from making peace with us. Delay will give rise to increased demands by these new friends as a condition for peace. We have already heavily compromised on a golden opportunity of sovereignty for a deal with UAE. Let’s not give anyone more reasons to up their demands for peace. I hope the government will announce these peace deals quickly instead of just talking about it in the media.
Murderers: Sane old, sane old
Written in the wake of Khalil Abd al-Khaliq Dweikat’s lethal stabbing of Rabbi Shai Ohayon, 39, father of four children, “Petah Tikva stabbing attack is a reality check for Israel” (August 27), misses the vital context of this murder, which is that his killer calmly walked away from the scene of the crime into the custody of police. Writer Herb Keinon neglects to remind the reader that the Palestinian Authority enforces an incentive that grants a financial gratuity for life for anyone who murders a Jew.
By PA law, that generous reward is provided to the killer and to the family of the killer – for life. A killer motivated a substantial financial incentive and status for conducting such an act of murder is perfectly sane.
Israel Resource News Agency
Black Lives Matter, sparked by a criminal dying by police action, hit the world headlines and went viral!
A Jewish rabbi, minding his own business, was stabbed multiple times by a terrorist (“Man killed in stabbing attack in central Israel, Palestinian arrested,” August 26). This got virtually no media coverage anywhere in the world except in the Israeli press!
Do Jews lives matter (JLM)? Obviously not; Jews have been used as cannon fodder since time immemorial!
Tel Aviv
Preach to the unconverted
Gershon Baskin starts “Judaism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and me,” (August 27) by talking about his “ambivalence toward religion in general and Judaism in particular.”
Here we have an oleh of 42 years who continues his saga of never-ending conflict toward the issue of the peace with our Arab neighbors and how he seems to feel that he alone might have achieved that goal, by citing all of his so-called accomplishments. However, not one of those accomplishments led to fruition for one reason: he refuses to acknowledge that the Arabs living in our land want only a solution that will ultimately leave us dead and gone.
He mentions the lack of kippah wearers during demonstrations against the “occupation,” yet never once mentions the joyful dancing in the Arab streets when a kippah wearer, soldier, or just someone in the sights of a terrorist is killed.
He needs to stop preaching to the Israeli people and start preaching forcefully to his close Arab buddies for them to be the initiators of peace, with no preconditions, willing to substantially compromise on their unrealistic maximalist positions.
That may go over as well as his new book, In Pursuit of Peace in Israel and Palestine, which is being published in Arabic, not in Palestine, but in Amman and Beirut.
Gershon Baskin graces us with a lesson in punctuation – calling for more question marks at the ends sentences instead of exclamation marks.
I have no doubt that he considers himself an Israeli patriot and, if Israel were suddenly invaded by Arab armies from the north, south, east and west, he would vehemently support Israel’s right to defend itself in order to survive!
On the other hand, one wonders whether he understands the subtleties of our current war with the Arab/Muslim world and the antisemites? Balloons have replaced artillery, knives and hit-and-kill cars have replaced tanks! BDS has replaced desecrated graves! We are at war – just as dangerous as the traditional type, maybe even more? Baskin’s keen desire for peace, understanding, nonviolence and respect for others may be commendable, but true peace will require realism (!) determination (!) and probably a decisive victory!?!
Innocent until named Bibi
Regarding “Ex-police chief: PM should resign before being convicted” (August 27), as an ex police chief, I think Roni Alshiech should know that only a court if law can convict an accused person.
Neither he nor the press nor the people protesting can decide if the person is guilty and convicted. It really causes me great concern that public lynching is becoming the new norm.
Petah Tikva
Raise the bar for bartenders
Regarding “Five minors to be charged in gang-rape of 16-year-old in Eilat” (August 30), in all the discussion about the horrendous rape of a 16 year old girl in Eilat, one aspect that we have not heard is where responsibility lies.
In British Columbia, Canada (and possibly in other provinces) any bartender continuing to serve a person who is inebriated and then goes out and kills someone in a car accident is held responsible for that death. That applies to any actions following the heavy drinking. So bartenders there are very careful to refuse alcoholic drinks when they realize the possible consequences that might follow.
The rape might not have happened if there had been a similar law in Israel.