Letters to the editor December 15, 2021: I don't separate myself

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters (photo credit: PIXABAY)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)

It is inconceivable to me that anyone could object to the memorialization on the fast day of the Tenth of Tevet of the 33,771 Jewish men, women and children murdered in the pit of Babyn Yar (“Babyn Yar and Jerusalem,” December 14).

The Nazis chose the Jewish High Holy Day of erev Yom Kippur and Yom Kippur itself of 1941 for this tragic mass murder, as they did other significant days of the Jewish calendar for their most horrendous actions, such as the mass deportation of the Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka on the days between Tisha Be'Av and Yom Kippur of 1942.

As a Holocaust educator, I have always been struck during the reading of Eichah (The Book of Lamentations) by the heartbreaking similarities of the suffering, starvation and desolation of the Jews at that time with those who suffered in the Holocaust.

In my guiding at various Holocaust museums, l was once asked by a non-Jewish visitor: "How can you go home at night and separate yourself from what you see here?" I replied that I don't separate myself: "The memory of the Holocaust is part of who I am as a Jew."

What better way can there be to formally remember these horrors than on a solemn fast day of the Jewish calendar, as the Tenth of Tevet?


Beit Shemesh

Wrong newspaper?

Was Ahmed Charai’s opinion piece “The new normal” (December 13) perhaps misdirected and in fact intended for another publication in this region? The message, you know, is not really relevant for an Israeli audience. Israel has been hoping for the Abraham Accords – or something like them – long before Jared Kushner entered center stage. Israeli prime ministers and presidents have for decades been extolling the potential benefits of regional peace, and have repeatedly held out their hand in friendship. And more often than not attempts were made to bite it off. What Mr. Charai is saying is hardly new or novel, and it makes no difference to anyone in Israel that the words and thoughts are being expressed by an Arab.

Has, then, Mr. Charai endeavored to share his views with those who have traditionally regarded Israel as the enemy? His article, noteworthy as it may be, is basically preaching to the choir. I would think that his credentials as a scholar and political strategist would give him access to the media in places such as Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. Those are the venues where he would have a greater impact. Or should, theoretically. It’s not at all unlikely that he would be severely castigated for being an Arab Uncle Tom. And considering the readiness that the Arabs have shown for embracing violence, Mr. Charai might be better off letting discretion be the better part of valor.

Despite the author’s optimism, there has been no great rush from other Gulf and North African nations to become part of the Abraham Accords. The ice broken by the agreement with the UAE has widened, but only modestly. With Israel’s well-earned reputation as the Start-Up Nation and a world leader in medical and agricultural innovation, the advantages of academic, professional and cultural exchanges are substantial, and yet there is both reluctance and reticence.

Mr. Charai’s assessment that there is growing momentum in the Arab world for peace with Israel is, I believe, a bit overstated. I would love nothing better than to be wrong, but it’s still the threat of the big stick and not soft spoken overtures that controls the level of turbulence in this region. And I don’t, unfortunately, see that changing any time soon.


Ginot Shomron

Ahmed Charai is entirely correct in lauding the tremendous advances since the signing of the Abraham Accords. Charai suggests that, “In a better world [Jared Kushner] would share the Nobel Peace Prize” as the man behind this historic achievement. He also says that, “The Biden administration was right to signal its support for the signed peace agreements between Israel and Arab countries.”

Two critical words are missing from this positive review:  Donald Trump. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the author does not mention the single person most responsible for this paradigm shift in Arab-Israeli relations thereby enhancing the prospect for lasting Middle East peace.

We must not forget that it was Trump who saw the potential for peace between Arabs and Israel without first having to solve the seemingly intractable Palestinian dispute. Obama secretary of state John Kerry was just the most recent to have asserted that this course of action was doomed to fail.

Trump thought otherwise and gave his son-in-law Jared Kushner his marching orders – to figure out a way to make this vision a reality. Had Trump not seen the flaw in the previously conceived wisdom, and had Kushner not been given the imprimatur of the president of the United States, the Abraham Accords would never have come to fruition.

President Obama was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize just 11 days after taking office. Shockingly, he received the prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” How much more so does Donald Trump deserve that same prize for his courage and foresight that changed the face of the region and beyond?


Zichron Ya’acov

Replacing the West with a caliphate

Regarding “CAIR backs member who called Zionist groups enemies” (December 13), of course, CAIR backs enemies of Zionists.

CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations), the Muslim Students Associations (MSA) and Hamas are branches of the Muslim Brotherhood. The goal of the Brotherhood is to replace the decedent West with a caliphate. CAIR’s function is to infiltrate and influence western governments and militaries. MSA is responsible for spreading antisemitism on our campuses via the BDS and Israel Apartheid Week libels. Hamas’s goal, as per its charter, is to kill every Jew in the world. SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine) is Hamas’s representative in our universities.

Len Bennett


Major public culprits

Pious words even from our new president, (“President urges: ‘Think Good,’” December 9) will not help lower the very nasty tone of public language unless the focus is on the proper targets.

People, especially younger ones, follow the examples set by the alleged leaders. If it is acceptable for those in very public positions to insult and curse and attack and defame each other and have their words publicized on television and the front pages of newspapers, then why be bothered by a few untruthful insults on social media?

I hope our new president has sat down privately, away from the media, with the main public culprits, with the leaders of the haredi parties, Gafni, Pindrus, Litzman, Deri, with ex-prime minister Netanyahu, and with MK Raz, and told them bluntly to stop screaming hyperbole, to stop making deliberately provocative, extremist statements.

And if President Herzog hasn’t yet spoken individually and privately with these people, then he should.

Because that is where it starts – and that is where it has to stop.

The haredi leaders can whine about losing their monopolistic powers, ex-prime minister Netanyahu can complain about the ingratitude of the people in not giving him lifetime power, and blame those he alienated but are now in power, for his current situation. But all their disagreements and criticisms could actually be done using modest, decent language, without the grotesquely offensive insults that impress no intelligent person.



No such thing as legal

Regarding “UN General Assembly condemns ‘acts of terror by extremist settlers’” (December 12), these are not acts of terror but instead the actions of what any self-respecting person would do to save the lives of their people in their own land. An Israeli representative said that this condemnation was like numerous other UN resolutions such as the call on Israel to “lift the blockade” of the Gaza Strip, the condemnation of all “illegal” building of Jewish settlements (as far as they are concerned there is no such thing as legal building for Jews), complete cessation of excessive military action (in other words, take no action against terrorists), and affirming a commitment to UNWRA which continues to encourage incitement against Israel.

They also call for an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, with a clear goal: denying Israel’s right to exist as a secure, prosperous, and democratic state. In fact it is a complete denial of Israel’s right to exist, whether prosperous or not, but this I pin on the weakness of Israeli governments who continue to make concessions to the enemy and give the impression that we are actually occupiers of another’s land. One cannot and must not even try to placate, in any way, one’s enemy that has only one goal in life: Israel’s total destruction.



Recklessly behaving

Regarding “‘Fossil fuels will exist with renewable energy’” (December 10), here in the corporate-powered West, if the universal availability of green-energy alternatives would come at the expense of the traditional energy production companies, one can expect obstacles, including the political and regulatory sort. If something notably conflicts with corporate big-profit interests, even very progressive motions are greatly resisted, often enough successfully. And, of course, there will be those who will rebut the concept altogether, perhaps solely on the illogic that if it was possible, it would have been patented already and made a few people very wealthy.

As individual consumers, too many of us still recklessly behave as though throwing non-biodegradable garbage down a dark chute, or pollutants flushed down toilet/sink drainage pipes or emitted out of elevated exhaust pipes or spewed from sky-high jet engines and very tall smoke stacks – even the largest toxic-contaminant spills in rarely visited wilderness – can somehow be safely absorbed into the air, water, and land (i.e. out of sight, out of mind). It’s like we’re inconsequentially dispensing of that waste into a black-hole singularity, in which it’s compressed into nothing.​FRANK STERLE JR.

White Ro​ck, British Columbia

Peaceful use

Regarding “Only Israel voted at UN against ME nuclear-free zone” (December 8), Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Yet, Iran is working on enriching enough uranium to build a nuclear bomb (which, Iran tells us, will be sufficient to wipe Israel off the map). Given this behavior, we can put Iran’s vote to keep the Middle East nuclear-free into perspective. In Iran’s thinking, the vote means that Israel and the Arab nations of the Middle East should not have nuclear weapons, but it is quite alright for Iran to have them. After all, destroying Israel would be a peaceful use of Iran’s nuclear capability.

And this understanding of Iran’s way of thinking (and acting) should alleviate the agonizing over whether Netanyahu’s campaigning against the JCPOA and Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement accelerated Iran’s march toward going nuclear. It is highly probable that Iran was never in compliance with the agreement. Inspectors never had unlimited access to all Iranian nuclear sites. The agreement gave Iran the right to be informed of upcoming inspections and the right to deny inspectors’ access to various sites. Work on obtaining weapons-grade uranium likely never ceased.



Don’t panic

Well done by Nadav Tamir in his article “The danger of Israeli panic over Iran” (December. 8), in pointing out many key points that have been ignored by other articles and letters in The Jerusalem Post.

These include: “the pressure [former Prime Minister Netanyahu] exerted on the Trump administration to abandon the JCPOA was an egregious mistake that brought Iran dramatically closer to nuclear capacity... with severe repercussions that cannot be overstated.”

In addition, “the diplomatic channel, backed by other international capabilities, is still the preferred path to preventing Iran’s nuclear breakout.” That “ex-IDF, Mossad officials support US return to nuke deal” (February 23) is one of many indications that most of the world’s security advisers and intelligence agencies agree.

 Of course, Iran’s statements and actions must be strongly condemned, but attacking Iran would have many very negative consequences for Israel and the entire world. It would likely unleash an onslaught of thousands of rockets, from Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and soaring oil prices could cause a global recession. Therefore, every effort to reach a diplomatic solution must be made, with very strong sanctions applied to Iran if they refuse to comply.



Premeditated murder

It is mind-boggling that Gershon Baskin continues to spew forth, week after week, his definition of “persecuted Arabs” (“Deteriorating Israeli moral standards,” December 9).

We are not in an armed conflict of our making, but we are, as he well knows and says so, aggressively protecting our citizens against premeditated murderers. The lands that his beloved Arab Palestinians consider occupied, are not, and we all know well their rejection of any and numerous peace proposals.

The war against terror can be won with people sitting down together and enacting peace initiatives designed to have those peoples living side by side in peace. After just getting out of Hadassah Hospital after knee surgery, I urge Baskin to focus his devotion to the Arab doctors, nurses, cleaners and ancillary staff who were devoted and great caregivers. They were not on the streets looking to attack or kill Jews or others.

What chutzpah Baskin has in calling this an “armed conflict,” thereby turning the tables on the Israeli defenders of their people, by showcasing the perpetrators of these violent and extreme murders as occupied warriors. The Arabs created the codeword “occupation,” because there was no way they could call their failures defeat.

For Baskin to first say that possibly the criminal who attempted to kill an Israeli citizen, not a combatant, deserved to die, then state in the next sentence, “but he did not deserve to be executed,” as his action was a “consequence of war,” is disgusting.

His action was premeditated murder and had he had the opportunity, regardless of being down, would surely have attempted to kill more citizens. The “immoral” Israeli government, within a proper moral code of standards and codes of law, does not even put these murderers to death, and some are released to go on to kill again.

I couldn’t care less what was going through the mind of that killer, however, I’m so proud of our security forces for staying alert and relieving him of his “indecision,” of how many more Jews he could have killed.



If there was ever any doubt about where Gershon Baskin’s sympathies lie on the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that was entirely removed by his comments on the recent stabbing of Avraham Elmaliah by terrorist Mohammed Salameh at Damascus Gate.

After pro forma acknowledgment that violence against innocent Israeli non-combatants is not justified, Baskin proceeds to list several potential mitigating reasons for Palestinian violence against Israelis, including fighting against the Israeli occupation, for freedom and for liberation.

Further, having earlier stated that trying to understand what brought the terrorist Salameh to commit the stabbing is a moral concern, Baskin follows up with another list of possible personal motivations for Salameh’s attack, such as deep hatred for Israel; for Jews; a fight with his family; a lack of purpose in life; a love story; a distorted notion of how he could bring fame to himself or his family; or even mental illness. Has he left anything out?

On the other hand, Baskin makes no attempt whatsoever to find mitigating reasons for the Border Police shooting of Salameh while he was on the ground, allegedly harmless. Baskin offers no motivations for the officer who shot Salameh – perhaps a fight with his family; a lack of purpose in life; a love story; mental illness.

Or maybe, just maybe the officer on the scene, meters from the terrorist, saw or heard something that Baskin could not possibly see or hear second-hand in a YouTube video over his ipod in the comfort of his home kilometers away. Maybe the officer knew someone who had been killed by terrorists. Investigations will take their course.

But for Baskin, the Israeli shooting of the Palestinian is an open and shut case. He is prosecutor, witness and judge. He declares Salameh’s killing an execution, a war crime. No further discussion needed except for bashing Israel. The Palestinian’s attempted murder of an Israeli, however, is, for Baskin, a deep moral concern, to be discussed, to be understood, and perhaps, despite his denials, even to be justified. How else can we understand Baskin’s surfeit of excuses for Salameh? The Palestinians have so many reasons to kill us, after all.

Baskin would do better writing for the Ma’an News Agency than The Jerusalem Post.