Letters to the Editor December 28, 2020: For whom the bell doesn’t toll

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters (photo credit: PIXABAY)
Letters
(photo credit: PIXABAY)
For whom the bell doesn’t toll
Amotz Asa-El’s recent takes on the ongoing pandemic have left me somewhat bewildered (“Benny Gantz: A political eulogy,” December 25).
While we all are hoping that the vaccination will bring this nightmare to an end, we’re not yet there by any means. Why, then, would Amotz suggest, as he did several weeks ago, that we will soon see the virus swinging on the gallows? And in his recent piece, the eulogy for Benny Gantz’s political life, he declared the pandemic defeated. Hardly a victory, since we are now beginning a new round of shutdown hide-and-seek with the virus, one that may last up to a month, and thousands of additional businesses are expected to be shuttered up. I can’t help but wonder which side of Alice’s looking glass Amotz is sharing his insights from.
That aside, the rushed-to-production vaccination has yet to be proven to be the panacea Amotz believes it to be. We’re not yet certain about how effective the vaccination will be. Already we’re receiving troubling signals involving unexpected virus mutations and, most recently, the expected percentage of the population with immunity from the virus required for herd immunity to kick in has risen from 60% to 80% and perhaps even 90%. The death knell for the virus has, unfortunately, not yet begun to ring.
Granted, there is a bit of light coming from the end of the tunnel, but it will be a while before the masks are removed and social distancing is a thing of the past. So, while optimism in the face of this crisis is healthy if not absolutely essential, ignoring realistic expectations can be drastically counterproductive. I would like nothing better, of course, to see these burdensome restrictions ended and we see the return of the old normal.
And I sincerely hope that it will not be too long before Amotz pens another eulogy – for COVID-19.
BARRY NEWMAN
Ginot Shomron
A genial agenda
In yet another column highly critical of the prime minister – no surprises here – Yaakov Katz writes, “[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu wants an immediate shutdown so that by the time Israelis go to the polls, the infection rate will have dramatically dropped” (“A government of one,” December 25). “Moreover, some two million Israelis are expected to have received the coronavirus vaccines by March 24, so the health and economic situation will have dramatically improved – as well as his chance of winning.”
Even setting aside the quote from corona czar Prof. Nachman Ash – not a politician – in your editorial in the same issue that “there is no escape from closure,” Netanyahu’s agenda reflects a clear-sighted understanding of what is urgently needed for the country.
Not so to Katz. One is left wondering what goals would he suggest: No dramatic drop of infection rate? No dramatic improvement of the health and economic situation? Or perhaps both?

PROF. EMANUEL KRASOVSKY
Tel Aviv University
Regarding “Third lockdown to cost NIS 3 billion a week.” (December 22), what is the value of a single life saved by the lockdown? How many lives will be saved? How many lives does it take to reach NIS 3 billion?
Stop pandering to commercial interests. Life is not something to be disregarded simply because nobody can put a value on it.
LESLIE PORTNOY
Netanya

The shot heard ‘round the world
As an olah from the United States, I have had occasion to compare the sometimes bureaucratic healthcare system here in Israel, with the more private one I was accustomed to in the US.
But in the current situation of dispensing the corona vaccinations, I have only praise for our Israel system. Only days after it was announced, I received my first dose, along with hundreds of others in my local kupat holim.
What a contrast it is to what my friends in the US are experiencing now, where to date, no one seems to know who will be able to get a vaccine shot, in what order, or even when or where.
Kudos to our Israel healthcare system for its speed and efficiency.
MARION REISS
Beit Shemesh
 Last night, my husband and I went for our COVID-19 vaccinations. When it was our turn, we sat in front of a nurse who did not “appear” Torah-observant. When she told us to roll up our sleeves, I said to my husband, “Since we’re right-handed, let’s take the vaccine in our left arms, in case we get a reaction.”
The nurse said to me, “You can take it in your left arm, but your husband should take it in his right one because he has to put on tefillin tomorrow morning!”
TIRTZA JOTKOWITZ
Jerusalem
Disillusion the Diaspora
In “Israel leaders must plan for divide with Diaspora that election will cause” (December 25), Dov Lipman is correct that the political shift to the Right in Israel is caused by the “Palestinians failure to accept Israeli overtures for peace.” He is also correct that much of the Diaspora fails to understand this reality.
Much of the Diaspora is still under the same delusion that much of Israel was under until the Second Intifada: that the Palestinian Arabs want peace when in fact their only goal is the annihilation of Israel. The intentional slaughter of Jews at discos, restaurants, on buses and Passover Seders cured many Israelis of the delusion that the Palestinian Arabs have any interest in peace with Jewish state.
The enabling document of the Palestinian Authority is the PLO Charter, which since 1964 has mandated the annihilation of every Jew in Israel. These annihilation clauses have never been revoked. Article 33 of the PLO Charter requires a ²⁄3 vote at a meeting specifically called to revoke the annihilation clauses. Such a meeting has never occurred.
Therefore every PA and PLO spokesperson today remains committed to the annihilation of Israel, even if the words coming out of their mouths sound like “peace.”
It is up to Israel’s leaders to remind Diaspora listeners that Israel has not had a partner for peace since November 30, 1947 when the Palestinian Arabs rejected the offer of the United Nations General Assembly of an independent country of Palestine. When their leader, the Nazi war criminal Grand Mufti Amin al-Husseini rejected the offer for a country, he commanded the Palestinian Arabs to “murder the Jews; murder all of them.” Since then the Palestinian Arabs and their allies have slaughtered more than 26,000 Jews.
Finally, Israeli leaders must remind the Diaspora of the words of PLO Executive Committee member Zahir Muhsein explaining the strategy of the Palestinian Arabs to the Dutch newspaper Troux in 1977:
“The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the State of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct “Palestinian people” to oppose Zionism.
“For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while I as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beersheba and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.”
RICHARD SHERMAN
Margate, Florida
I agree with Dov Lipman that many Jews living outside of Israel do not realize the lengths to which Israel has gone to achieve peace, only to have generous offers be rebuffed. Even the total unconditional withdrawal from Gaza was reciprocated by an increase in the number and types of attacks directed at Israeli population centers following Hamas’ coming to power in 2005.
Nothing will change as long as the Palestinian leadership clings to the idea of a solution: a Palestinian state from which all Jews have been banned and an Israel turned into a Muslim-majority state after being overrun by millions of Palestine people claiming descent from Arabs who fled in the 1940s or in 1967 (both resulting from Arab-initiated wars to exterminate Israel).
I hope Israeli leaders will make efforts to get the Israeli side of the story told to the world. But perhaps more importantly, I hope Israel will work with the Muslim countries that have begun normalizing relations with Israel, to end the limbo in which 6,000,000 Palestine “refugees” are now trapped. The major breakthrough needed to end the stalemate could be achieved if Israel’s new allies offered “refugees” the chance to begin rebuilding their lives as citizens in the several countries where they share their language, religion and culture with the populace.
TOBY F. BLOCK
Atlanta, GA
Walk of woe and willpower
While The Jerusalem Post generally reports the news accurately, I believe you missed the mark in “Settlement mourns woman killed in Samaria” (December 22). Esther Horgen was not killed. She was brutally murdered.
But more importantly, not only does her family and her community mourn her, but all women in the country (and I would conjecture to say that all women worldwide) who enjoy going for a calming walk and expect to arrive home safely to their families, mourn her.
Across the country, women took to the roads this week to walk and run in Esther’s memory, and in the belief it is an essential human right to walk freely near one’s home.
We will continue to walk, run and carry her spirit in our hearts.
May the family know no more sorrow.

KATHY BERGWERK (while walking near my home)
Nof Ayalon
Merry Disney
I am at a loss to understand the relevance of Alex Kirshner’s “Why Christmas is the best day to be a Jew” (December 21). The author is obviously unaware that Christmas for many generations has been a day with a propensity for pogroms and violence against Jews in Europe, so much that a custom to refrain from Torah learning on that day developed in some areas, due to the terrorism and mourning associated with Christmas. Perhaps it was due to the heavy drinking or the Christians’ anger at the Jews not accepting Jesus. A Jew could be forgiven if he didn’t feel so fortunate on Christmas.
Although the immigration of many Christians with Jewish ancestry from the FSU has made the appearance of Christmas trees more common in Israel, Christmas generally comes and goes without my notice. But as a preschooler in the US, I also compared the two “competing” season holidays and found Hanukkah lacking. Of course, there wasn’t much of a competition between the glittering Christmas symbols and the lackluster Hanukkah about which most people, Jews included, were clueless. But understanding that Hanukkah celebrates the military victory of Jews who refused to give up their Torah and mitzvot at the insistence of the Greeks and bravely fought, against all odds, for their tradition lends an irony to the modern phenomenon of Jews celebrating the Christmas in the same season as Hanukkah.
In great contrast, Kirshner shows us a portrait of a Jew who still identifies himself as such but clearly lacks appreciation of Jewish tradition, perhaps from ignorance, and is unlikely to have Jewish progeny. He exemplifies a sad state of affairs for American Jewry and I would only pray that he and other Jewish Americans spend at least as much time learning about his own religion before adopting that of their fellow Americans. I’ve come to notice that the invocation of the term “Tikkun Olam” really means the obliteration of all things Jewish in favor of a universal, “feel good” idealism that is only loosely associated with Judaism.
I will submit, however, that in the two years we spent in LA, we found Christmas to be an auspicious time to visit Disneyland with unusually short lines, so I could agree that “Christmas is the best day to be a Jew in Disneyland.”

SHARON LINDENBAUM
Rehovot
Regarding “Can we save the unity of the Jewish people” (December 24), Rabbi Yitz Greenberg has certainly come a long way since Yeshivas Beis Yosef Navaradok where he started out.
Why on earth he recommends Israel’s recognition of the clergy, conversions and marriages of movements that have deviated from traditional Jewish law is beyond me. It can’t be because of their brilliant success rate, considering the 70% intermarriage rate in the non-Orthodox Jewish population.
We love all Jews, but importing failed ideologies from the Diaspora to our holy land would serve no benefit and would do the opposite of unifying our people.
CHAVA LEBOWITZ
Jerusalem
In “‘Tis the season to nail Israel” (December 25), David Weinberg cites examples of how Israel haters use Christmas to demonize Jews and Israel to this day.
Among them is the current viral Twitter tweet: “If Joseph and Mary set off for Bethlehem today they would be met with 15 Israeli checkpoints.”  
Anyone with even a casual connection to the reality here knows that this egregious incitement is ridiculously inaccurate. The number “15” is completely imaginary (if anyone actually believes that there really are 15 checkpoints into Bethlehem, they are invited to try to identify their locations).
The truth? There is but one checkpoint into Bethlehem – just as there are checkpoints at political crossing points practically everywhere around the world. Only when Israel is involved is a checkpoint made to look evil, and it is telling that ridiculous claims like this one – which unsurprisingly are not tagged as untrue by Twitter “fact-checkers” – garner so many likes and retweets.
HARRY BROWN
Beit Shemesh
Correction
The article on Page 10 of Sunday’s paper should have been headlined ‘The Jewish community in Azerbaijan knows fears of cultural genocide in Nagorno-Karabakh are unfounded’ and not as printed. We regret the error.