Letters to the Editor December 30, 2019: Obdurate Olmert
Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.
By LETTERS TO THE EDITORObdurate OlmertIn “This may be only the beginning” (December 27), Ehud Olmert makes statements supporting the Arab positions against Israel and doesn’t refute them, saying only that that is their worldview. He says that where the Arabs are the majority, they are denied equal rights. He says the portrayal of Israel by the international community is “far from accurate,” but does not dispute it.Then he falsifies history, writing “...in the last 10 years, Israel has been the recalcitrant, aggressive party that lacks flexibility, and this is the reason that not only was a peace agreement never reached, but initial discussions never even got underway.” Did he forget that Netanyahu stopped all building in settlements for 10 months to get negotiations started (during the Obama administration), but Arabs ignored this gesture and chose not to negotiate? He ignores Arabs educating their next generation to hate Jews.Olmert then says settlements in Judea and Samaria are “no longer considered a violation of international law” now that Trump has declared them legitimate. He infers that all other American presidents did not feel this way. He doesn’t mention that experts on “international law” have different opinions about the legitimacy of these settlements. He would have us step in line with the political view of most nations regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict. He doesn’t understand that the real “concession” the Arabs want is the termination of the Jewish state.He argues, “If Israel were to courageously initiate serious and respectful talks today, it would not find itself being pushed to the margins of the international community and sued for war crimes at the ICC.” He also tells us the UK, France and Germany are our friends. Remind him that when the US wanted to fly arms to Israel during the 1973 war to help save us from destruction, none of these “friends” would allow flights to refuel at their airports or overfly their territory.Let us do all we can to keep Olmert in retirement.KLARA TYOMKINJerusalemShame on you Mr. Olmert. Your opinion piece is quite simply Bibi bashing. You were the prime minister, a leader vocally interested in peace. You made an unbelievably generous offer to the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians that was summarily rebuffed. There is no offer that can be made, short of driving ourselves into the Mediterranean, that will satisfy the Arabs – and unfortunately, more and more of the world.We no longer have the luxury of trying to satisfy the opinions of others; we are fighting for our lives. SAM ROSENBLUMBeit ShemeshMr. Olmert can express himself in The Jerusalem Post like other columnist, many of whom have views that I do not share. It would be nice if his articles were more informative and not diatribes against the prime minister.ZVI FINKModi’inDesignating decadesAmotz Asa-El begins his rather pessimistic view of the upcoming 2020s (“Can the 2020s roar?” December 27) with a comparison with the “Roaring 1920s” in the United States, starting with president Warren Harding’s “return to normalcy” phrase. What Asa-El does not mention is that the term itself was a reflection of a president whose futile search for the proper word came up with “normalcy,” which at first was mocked but later became part of the language.His “tarnished reputation” preceded his election; when asked prior to his nomination whether there were any scandals in his past that might prevent him from running, he hemmed and hawed and took two hours to think it over. He was followed by Calvin Coolidge, whose promises of a “chicken in every pot and a car in every garage” failed to provide for any such continuation in the future.Coolidge’s successor, Herbert Hoover, had talent, but could not deal with the suffering caused by the Great Depression. It remained for Franklin D. Roosevelt to reshape the social and economic landscape of the United States during his four terms of office.While presidents may vary in philosophy and ability, when the government institutions are solid, the body politic will prevail. Perhaps nostalgia for the “Roaring 20s” may be transformed into a more optimistic view for the next decade.MARION REISSBeit ShemeshEducational oxymoronProf. Eli Gottlieb, a visiting professor whose research concentrates on cognition, culture and identity, speculates about the failures of Israeli students on the PISA tests – not only relative to the other OECD countries but even relative to our own performance over the years. Gottlieb wants to set up an independent national body to advise the government on longstanding educational issues and provide reliable, updated data on our progress (“Leaning towers,” December 29).In the same edition, a nearby article describes Israel as the land of innovation and a top location for entrepreneurs. Israel is a technical powerhouse that maximizes the intellectual capacity of its people.How can one fathom these two opposing statements? It reminded me of a test many years ago developed by the American Institute of Physics that studied the correlation between student marks in graduate exams and future success as a physicist (measured by salary, number of patents, number of papers, leadership in their fields of endeavor, etc.). It turned out that there was a negative correlation; the lower the marks in the graduate courses, the higher the potential for success.Maybe the PISA tests don’t test the correct educational factors, perhaps there actually is not much of a correlation between career success and how you score in trigonometry or the history of the Norman invasion of England in the 15th century. Maybe the students who have a healthy chutzpah in school are the ones most likely to succeed. Maybe the PISA tests are a waste of time, money and effort. Maybe an independent national body will bring together a group of “so-called” experts who will squabble and babble for years and come up with nothing squared (which equals nothing).Maybe the independent national body should be composed mostly of students who score poorly on the PISA tests.YIGAL HOROWITZEmeritus Professor of Radiation PhysicsNot-so-fractured factionsShalom Gurevich deplores the divisions within Jewry (Letters, December 25), but he is being overly hard on us when he writes that we are the “most” factious… and divided of all the religions.Apart from the well-known Sunni and Shi’ite sects within Islam, there are over 70 other Muslim sects. To this must be added its “political” groups, of which there are numerous others in addition to Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, Taliban, Boko Harem, etc.Within the main Christian denominations of Catholic, Protestant and the Orthodox churches, there are hundreds of subdivisions. Nor are Hinduism and Buddhism homogeneous.However, more importantly, Jews do not go around killing each other for ideological or any other reason, unlike the millions of Muslims murdered by fellow Muslims over the centuries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, the huge numbers of Christians killed by fellow Christians in all of the European wars for 2,000 years and until recently, even in Northern Ireland. When it comes to the crunch, Jews of all sorts rush to help other Jews in troubled times.Gurevich is right to bemoan our lack of unity, but we still have a far superior record than most other religions.ALAN HALIBARDBet ShemeshCombating car carnageRegarding “End the Russian roulette on the roads!” (December 27), there are a number of things that can be done to relieve part of the problem.An electronic box can be added to every vehicle that monitors its behavior during the journey. If an accident occurs, the police can examine the data and see what caused the accident. If drivers know that this monitor is operating continuously, it may modify their behavior.Activities that do not attract points do not seem to be policed. That means you can travel on the main roads at up to 30 km/h above the speed limit with impunity. This can be addressed.Road layouts are conducive to accidents. For instance, many are designed to create crossing traffic. Vehicles are brought on to a main road at an intersection before the vehicles on the main road leave it. This causes the two streams of traffic to cross, setting up a potential accident. The people who lay out the roads need to consider these problems. There are many American-style cloverleaf interchanges with very tight curves that can cause problems if you enter at more than 40 km/h. A better solution would be the British interchange, with a straight run up to a traffic circle above the interchange. It is safer and it takes up less space. It also has the advantage that it takes traffic off at the interchange before it brings the new traffic on, so there is no crossing traffic and no conflict.Another problem which is not even considered is that leasing companies have no understanding of the tire requirements of modern cars. They replace single tires with a tire of a completely different and inappropriate profile, even though the law states that they must change two, and the police recommend that they exchange all four. There are a large number of leased cars in Israel due to company policy and most of them are driven by people who do not understand the physics of tires and wrongly trust the leasing companies and tire suppliers to give them the correct tires. In an emergency situation, if you are driving on an odd tire and you have to maneuver violently or you hit deep water at a high speed, you may spin out and cause a major accident.If courtesy and defensive driving were added to the driving test, that might also help to change attitudes.MARK SHERIDANChief Mechanical EngineerMEC Engineering SolutionsLiat Collins gave us a detailed recounting of the traffic tragedies that are happening in Israel.There is no single magic bullet that will reverse these devastating statistics, although legislation on key behavioral risk factors, including speed, drunken/drugged driving and failing to use motorcycle helmets, seat belts and child restraints is a critical component of an integrated strategy to prevent road deaths.Lane definition on all roads plus expansion of easily accessible public transport should be a priority and would be of major benefit. Likewise improving the level of instruction and those instructing would not go amiss.However, until the culture of wanting get there before the car in front is controlled, no amount of other changes will eliminate the far-too-many tragic headlines.ON ANOTHER topic, regarding the announcement of the limited suspension of regular weekly protests at the Gaza border, might this decision have something to do with the start of inclement weather we are currently experiencing, which is likely to improve greatly come March when these demonstrations are due to resume?People need motivating, especially when the cause is losing some of its impetus, so a dry protester is no doubt preferable to a wet one.STEPHEN VISHNICKTel AvivHeard it through the grapevineI was annoyed by Greer Fay Cashman’s comment in “Kindling in the capital” (December 27) that haredi men not being allowed to listen to women singing is “actually more in the nature of a compliment to women than an insult.” What is wrong with these men if just hearing a woman’s voice can arouse them sexually?A number of years ago, on a hot summer day in Jerusalem, my cousin was wearing a short dress and sandals and she was in an elevator on her way to an appointment. Two haredi men got into the elevator and looked at her from head to toes, and one of them said, “It’s shameful for a woman to walk around like that.”She looked right back at them and replied, “And isn’t it shameful for you to look at my legs?”Enough said.DR. ISABEL BERMANRa’ananaShame on Greer Fay Cashman for quoting the Christian Bible in her December 25 column. I didn’t make aliyah nine-and-a-half years ago to read a quote attributed to Jesus – in The Jerusalem Post, of all places.Furthermore, count me in with the “holier than thou readers” who have bristled over Ehud Olmert’s editorial. I don’t think he should be given a platform to comment on Israeli politics.NORMAN DEROVANMa’aleh AdumimGreer Fay Cashman responds:In the Ethics of the Fathers, we are instructed to build a fence around the Torah. That is what haredim are doing in their stringent effort to preserve Jewish law and tradition. It’s a pity that some liberal people can be so intolerant of the more observant members of their own tribe.As for quoting the Christian Bible, didn’t anyone tell you that Jesus was Jewish? If there were a “second coming,” he would probably appear as a Conservative rabbi. Regarding Ehud Olmert, he is certainly qualified to comment on Israeli politics. If you have no forgiveness in your soul, how can you ask for forgiveness for your own errors during the High Holy Day prayer services? That’s the essential difference between Hillel and Shamai; we are doomed if it stays that way.Divisions and discriminationRegarding “De Blasio orders increased police in NY Jewish neighborhoods” (December 29). every government has an instrumental role in protecting communities from the affliction of bigotry, religious hatred and intolerance.This is an opportunity to challenge hate crimes and celebrate our ethnic, social and religious mosaic. Regrettably, many people fall prey to such utterly abhorrent and despicable crimes, be they Muslims, Jews or Christians in the form of antisemitism and anti-Muslim prejudices.Time to denounce divisions and discrimination and instill harmonious interfaith relations in the Middle East and far beyond.DR. MUNJED FARID AL QUTOBLondon, United KingdomSarsour: Misgauging a misogynistIn criticizing Elle’s inclusion of Linda Sarsour on its Top 20 list, (“‘Elle’ Magazine slammed for including Linda Sarsour in top 20 people list,” December 23) CAMERA also highlighted Sarsour’s documented misogyny. For one example, as an adult she tweeted:“Brigit Gabriel = Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She’s asking 4 an a$$ whippin’. I wish I could take their vaginas away – they don’t deserve to be women.” CAMERA also pointed out that Sarsour has never apologized for threatening to sexually mutilate Brigitte Gabriel and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.It is beyond ironic that Elle would give any award to an unapologetic misogynist who is also a virulent antisemite.RICHARD SHERMANMargate, Florida