Letters to the Editor December 14, 2020: The beauty of Bhutan

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
Letters
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The beauty of Bhutan
Suddenly I am feeling popular as an Israeli.
On the heels of Israel’s new ties with the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and most recently Morocco, Israel is now one of a relatively few nations to be honored to have diplomatic ties with Bhutan (“Israel established full relations with Bhutan,” December 13.)
The nation of Bhutan is something of a mystery to most people, but in embracing its decision to normalize ties with Israel, we look forward to welcoming visitors from that south Asian country and hope to be able to visit them in return.
The connection between our two countries is mutually beneficial. Tourists from that beautiful landlocked Bhutan can enjoy Israel’s fabulous Mediterranean beaches and Israelis can hopefully learn something from Bhutan’s political culture, as Bhutan has been ranked as the least corrupt country in its region.
Two additional interesting facts: 1) Environmentally conscious Bhutan is considered the only carbon-negative country in the world, and 2) Bhutan is one of the minority of countries that did not support the 2018 United Nations resolution against the decision of the USA to establish an embassy in Jerusalem.
Bhutan, we salute you and look forward to a long and warm friendship!
NACHSHON KOREN
Ramat Gan


A Sa’ary state of affairs
Regarding “Gideon Sa’ar quits Likud, slams Netanyahu, announces new party (December 8), I must commend yur publication for keeping its readers current on the latest developments on the Israeli political scene.
I was intrigued to read about efforts to establish an Anglo party (“Does Anglo Vision have the vision to succeed?” November 26), as well as the bombshell news that Likud veteran Gideon Sa’ar is abandoning the Likud to create the New Hope Party.
I wish Sa’ar the best, but perhaps a review of the party’s name is in order. It sounds clichéd in the extreme; one of the Star War films is entitled A New Hope.
May I suggest a subtle name change to the Bob Hope party? This would capture the essence of the original name while attracting the Anglo vote that is itching to have its voice heard in the political arena.
Hey, who doesn’t love Bob Hope?
KENNY FISHER
Jerusalem
To borrow from a Yiddish expression, the Israeli public currently needs another new political party like “Ich darf es vi a loch in kop” (I need it like a hole in the head).
When will our politicians realize that actions speak louder than words and in the case of political parties, less is likely to mean more?
STEPHEN VISHNICK
Tel Aviv
Sickplomacy: Seeing red
Regarding “UAE’s status as ‘red country’ held up for diplomatic reasons” (December 10), if tens of thousands of Israelis are presently traveling in – or planning to travel soon to – the UAE and in fact the UAE is “red” and not “green,” although designated “green” for political purposes, and said travelers need not quarantine themselves on their return, how many returnees infected with corona will then mingle with the general Israeli public and pass this special travel souvenir on to them?
Aren’t we supposed to revere the sanctity of life? The Foreign Ministry, which requested the change in status from red to green, will have blood on their hands, if this request is granted.
How can any of us continue to have respect for our leaders? This is truly outrageous.
BARBARA KALMAN
Rehovot
Obdurate Abdullah
Regarding “Abdullah: Jordan won’t accept undermining of control of holy sites” (December 11) , it is amazing that Jordan’s King Abdullah calls for an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.
Where was this “state” before 1967?
Jordan had control of this area when it invaded Israel in 1967. Only after Israel liberated Judea and Samaria while successfully defending itself from attack did Jordan decide that the Palestinian Arabs had “national” rights? Suddenly they want the Palestinians – the same ones who were there under Jordanian control before 1967 – to have their “just” and “legitimate” rights?
The only reason our region continues to suffer conflict and instability is the fact that the “refugees” and their progeny were never rehabilitated and continue to deny the right of the Jewish people to have a state of their own.
UNWRA, instead of resettling them, exacerbated the problem.

FREYA BINENFELD
Petah Tikva
Supremely injudicial overreach
As if we needed another reason for judicial renewal and evolution, our Supreme Court provides us with yet another one (“High Court to government: Appoint a police chief now,” December 3). It has ordered the government to appoint a permanent police chief.
Now, in the backward, clearly undemocratic country of my birth, Canada, the Supreme Court involves itself with ruling on matters of law after cases have made their way through the various courts. It also rules and advises on the constitutionality of laws passed or proposed. As far as I know, it does not rule on government bureaucratic regulations, unless they have the force of law.
If our government, for whatever reason, valid or not, chooses not to appoint a permanent police chief, have they broken the law or not? I have not seen where our Supreme Court has ruled on this, just that the appointment should be done.
If the law has been broken, there is no such thing as the government not obeying the Court as soon as possible. But if no law has been broken, by what right/law has our Supreme Court the jurisdiction to comment, let alone intervene, in a matter that is not in their purview?
Of course, if our Supreme Court has the supreme right to intervene in any matter whatsoever and then to issue directives, then is it obvious we can dispense with elections, as we already have 15 wise humans to lead us.
YISRAEL GUTTMAN
Jerusalem
Rushin’ to conclusions?
Regarding “Russian envoy: Israel-Arab issues, not Iran, is main problem in Mideast” (December 9), wow – I never realized that the killing of about 500,000 Syrians and displacing a few million more is but a “minor problem.” Who knew that Turkey interfering with Greece, Cyprus, Syria, Ethiopia, Sudan and other nations in the area is also a minor problem? Russian intervention in Syria and Armenia and the Crimea is obviously just a minor problem too, as is Iran developing nuclear weapon capabilities with its past record of supporting Hezbollah and vowing to wipe Israel off the globe.
It turns out that the one and only major problem in the Middle East according to Russian Ambassador Anatoly Victorov is the ongoing conflict between the Arabs and Israel – which in numerical terms has had less than 1% of the casualties of any of those “minor” problems.
The true reason why Russia wants to promulgate such blatant falsehoods most probably will be shortly revealed and isn’t likely to favor Israel.
FRANK BERGER
Jerusalem
Let me avail of this opportunity to make clarifications regarding my interview, which was published on December 9. I would like to emphasize that my words presented in the quotation marks in the publication were said during the interview. The rest of the text, including remarks or personal conclusions regarding regional agenda like “Israel destabilizes the Middle East more than Iran” and others were never mentioned during the meeting with the journalist.
Russian-Israeli constructive dialogue is founded on a solid base of partnership in various spheres. The Russian Federation will continue to further develop and expand bilateral ties with Israeli counterparts in order to achieve lasting peace and stability in the Middle East for the benefit of the peoples of the region.
AMBASSADOR ANATOLY VIKTOROV
Sheer Sharansky
In his December 9 article (“Natan Sharansky’s real-life Hanukkah fairy tale”), Gil Troy adds a gem to the collection of stories about this remarkable individual.
Along with the courage and moral clarity Sharansky displayed throughout his nine-year captivity in the gulag, he also maintained a fine sense of humor and a keen awareness of the absurdity of the Soviet tyranny and of those who administered it.
With these personal qualities, Sharansky could engage in pranks, such as duping his camp commander to light candles with him on the eighth night of Hanukkah (despite the fact that his hanukkiah had been confiscated earlier), as detailed by Troy in his priceless account.
BRUCE WARSHAVSKY
Modi’in

Gil Troy’s adulation of Sharansky is well understood since Troy was a co-author of a book by Sharansky and in a sense a book “bed-fellow.”
Regrettably, life is not always black and white. Rather, it is a mixture that distorts and colors the picture.
 In this context, in terms of Troy and Sharansky, there is an Achilles heel – the issue of Jonathan Pollard. Troy’s previous article disparages the welcoming to Israel of Pollard, an Israeli patriot who was concerned with the security and welfare of the State of Israel. As such, Troy’s article is most disappointing.
In terms of Sharansky and his abandonment of Pollard throughout Pollard’s many years of hardship, Troy and Sharansky remained silent as a Sphinx, happily standing by and doing nothing to alleviate the injustice of the case.
In this regard, Troy and Sharansky do not bring honor to the holiday of Hanukkah. They are not in “Center Field” but rather in “Left Field.”

I. GENDELMAN
Jerusalem

Shul shell
In “Save the Maghen Abraham Synagogue in Beirut” (December 10), Itzhak Levanon passionately pleas for restoration of Beirut’s landmark synagogue, which was damaged in the August port blast. Levanon says that we in Israel should take action to protect and preserve the building as the only remaining vestige of a vibrant and Zionist community.
On the contrary, the building should be left as a monument to the destruction of not only the robust Jewish community but to Lebanon itself – once a modern, progressive, successful, multi-faceted country taken over by Islamic extremists whose objective in life is mayhem and suffering inflicted on as many as possible in Lebanon and its surrounds.
YIGAL HOROWITZ
Beersheba
Gaza grievances
Regarding “EU promises COVID-19 vaccines, clean water for Gaza” (December 9), I suppose it is a step forward that EU Representative Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorf admits that Hamas and the PA have some responsibility for the situation of the people in Gaza. Yet, the EU offers no new ideas. It will supply the authorities with vaccines and funds and hope that a bit of the largesse will trickle down to the people.
Burgsdorf tells us that Gaza must be part of an independent, contiguous and democratic state. He neglects to mention that this state must agree to co-exist, peacefully, with the nation-state of the Jews. Nor does he even dare to suggest that the leaders should agree that non-Muslims who choose to live within the borders of the new state will have full civil rights, just as non-Jews have full civil rights in Israel.
Burgsdorf recommends increasing UNRWA’s funding to alleviate the “suffering” of the many Palestine “refugees” in Gaza. Although few of the 700,000 or so who Arabs fled Palestine in the 1940s are still alive, UNRWA today has nearly 6,000,000 refugees on its rolls. Arab leaders insist that Israel must give the refugees homes they claim their parents/ grandparents/ great-grandparents lost when Israel was reborn. The leaders have fed the refugees a constant diet of anti-Jewish invective, while highly honoring and richly rewarding people who answer the call to violently resist the “occupation.”
Reality check: Israel is not going to let millions of “refugees” in. The solution to the problem is for the Palestinian leaders and leaders of other Arab countries to do the right thing. In the first three decades following its rebirth, Israel absorbed 800,000 Mizrachi Jewish refugees expelled from their homes in the Muslim countries of the Middle East and North Africa. UNRWA should be shut down and the Palestine refugees offered the choice of participating in the building of the first-ever-to-exist Arab State in the West Bank and Gaza, or accepting citizenship in another Arab country.
TOBY F. BLOCK
Atlanta, GA
‘Til we meat again
 I read with interest, “Change Israel’s kashrut supervision policy” (December 9), which discussed several scandals related to kosher supervision in the Haifa area, including supervisors “failing to show up at places they are assigned to supervise.”
Coincidentally, in the same issue, Rabbi Raymond Apple’s article, “No chicken for Shabbat?” mentioned that Jews need not eat meat on Shabbat, or any other day, and that, “Vegetarian Shabbat meals are quite practicable, enjoyable and filling.”
Many plant-based meat substitutes today have texture and taste so similar to meat from animals that even long-time meat eaters can’t tell the difference between the plant-based version and the animal-based one.
Therefore, as president emeritus of Jewish Veg and author most recently of the book Vegan Revolution: Saving Our World, Revitalizing Judaism, I wonder, respectfully, why Jews continue to eat meat, when animal-based diets and agriculture contribute substantially to an epidemic of life-threatening diseases, climate change and other environmental threats to humanity – the wasteful use of land, energy, water and other resources, and the massive mistreatment of animals, thereby violating basic Jewish teachings on health, environmental sustainability, conservation, and compassion.

RICHARD H. SCHWARTZ, PH.D.
Professor Emeritus, College of Staten Island
While The Jerusalem Post ran an article on Human Rights Day in 2019, it is pity that Human Rights Day this year (December 10) passed unnoticed.
2020 has been exceptional in myriad ways. The coronavirus pandemic has taken its heavy toll, wrecking communities and leaving behind death, desolation and despair, vividly illustrating the mighty power of Mother Nature, the indivisibility of humanity and the soaring greed of multinational corporations spoiling nature to make the way for development projects.
The pestilence has accentuated structural, systematic and intergenerational inequalities, hunger, unemployment, homelessness, gender-based violence, economic turbulence, sexual slavery, xenophobia, antisemitism, marginalization, trans-boundary diseases, racism – all a painful legacy of colonialism and patriarchy.
This is an opportunity to incorporate human rights in regional, national and global policies and work tenaciously to create a better, fairer and healthier world for all.
DR MUNJED FARID AL QUTOB
London, United Kingdom