Letters to the Editor: Facing the truth

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Facing the truth
With regard to “Exposing the criminal society and the culture of death” (Candidly Speaking, August 25), congratulations to Isi Leibler for waking up and smelling the coffee. His column finally states the reality of the Palestinian situation. What took so long? It has been obvious to me that we will never achieve a peaceful solution with the Palestinians because their leadership has indoctrinated the under-20 generations to hate and eradicate Jews. Therefore, the next two generations, at least, will never accept a peaceful solution.
The next step in facing reality is how to reconcile this “revelation” and what to do about it. The solution stated in the Torah is to “destroy [kill] all the inhabitants in the land,” but this is at present politically unacceptable.
Expelling them is a more moderate alternative, and expelling them via a financial incentive to move might be more tolerated, although it is unlikely to eliminate the hardcore haters, who are willing to die to remain.
So we are faced with a distasteful situation that, at present, does not present an easy solution. But if we at least recognize the reality of the situation as described by Mr.
Leibler, we can begin to explore options.
I hope that the Israeli public will read this column and face the truth.
Laudable, but flawed
Like many Jerusalem Post readers, I look forward to Gershon Baskin’s weekly Encountering Peace columns. He has high standards, and his articles are carefully crafted, with extensive use of facts and figures.
Unfortunately, in “Preventing the next Gaza war” (August 25), he seems to have forgotten his standards.
Baskin cites facts and figures that are often half-truths and rely on statistics compiled by institutions or people with a long-tradition of anti-Israeli bias. Not surprisingly, many of the suggestions and conclusions he makes are illogical or inconsistent. To list them would require a letter considerably longer than the halfpage column itself. Instead, I shall illustrate the problems by analyzing just two examples.
Near the beginning, Baskin writes: “The policy of isolation is a dramatic failure and the situation for the people of Gaza has destroyed any sense of hope and desire to live.
Youth unemployment in Gaza is above 60 percent and over 100,000 university graduates have no chance at a better life. The water situation is on verge of a humanitarian catastrophe and raw sewage spills into our shared sea because of lack of power to run the treatment facilities.”
This picture of life in Gaza is heart-rending. But is it true? If the people in Gaza have no desire to live, one would expect a corresponding high suicide rate. Yet the latest figures record a total of 14 deaths by suicide in the past three years.
This is a suicide rate of 0.26 per 100,000 population per year. It’s not a particularly high rate, and in fact is probably one of the lowest in the world. (The latest suicide figures for Europe and Israel are, respectively, 10 and six per 100,000.) According to the International Labor Organization, in the years preceding the summer 2014 war, the average unemployment in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was 25 percent. This is not a low figure, but again, it compares very favorably with unemployment rates in Europe. (The rates in 2016 for Spain and Greece are, respectively, 22% and 23%.) A similar picture emerges if we compare youth unemployment in Gaza (60%) with the corresponding rates in Spain (45%) and Greece (50%).
It is, of course, true that in the aftermath of the 2014 war, unemployment in the Gaza Strip increased to 43%, according to Oxfam International.
However, this is probably a short-term effect, and the rate is expected to fall back to its previous level of 25%.
The unemployment figures quoted by Baskin also ignore the vast number of people who are secretly employed in constructing a network of tunnels for future attacks against Israel.
Assuming the presence of 30 tunnels and using a nominal figure of 150 to 300 people per tunnel would require that we reduce the number of unemployed Gazans considerably.
We might assume that the unemployment figures cited by Baskin are true. Unfortunately, they, too, are suspect.
The figures appeared originally in a World Bank report authored by Ajluni Salem, who for the past 19 years has worked exclusively for organizations with a clear anti-Israel bias, such as UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency).
Finally, toward the end of his column, Baskin writes that “almost nothing gets out of Gaza. The fastest remedy to Gaza’s economic woes is to end the failed policy of isolation and to reconnect Gaza to the economy of the West Bank, to Israel and to the world. Instead of bringing tomatoes from Turkey as Israel has done over the past weeks, tomatoes can once again be brought from Gaza. And not only tomatoes.”
His argument is certainly convincing. However, let us recall his own words when he describes the raw sewage spills in Gaza. It is difficult to believe that any country would be so foolish as to allow the import of foodstuffs from Gaza and risk mass food poisoning. Of course, the spills of raw sewage can be eliminated, and with this the risk of food poisoning. However, this takes time, money and a willingness to work with Israel.
Unfortunately, nothing in Baskin’s article suggests that either the Palestinian Authority or Hamas is willing to take any of these steps.
If this letter has a negative tone, it was not my intention.
I warmly commend Baskin for his efforts to make the people of Israel see and understand the other side. However, by accepting biased reports at face value and failing to place the facts and figures in their proper context, he does untold damage to his original aim, which is “preventing the next Gaza war.”
Mazkeret Batya
Learn from experience
I found your report “First high-speed train from J’lem to TA said to revolutionize travel” (August 23) very worrying.
According to the report, there was a seven-year delay because of difficulty in digging the tunnel. Was this bad planning, a bad choice of contractor or some other reason? The worry comes from the fact that the country has entered into another project where a long tunnel is being built.
The public should learn from the high-speed train project that building the light rail system in Tel Aviv will take a lot longer and cost the taxpayer a lot more than was predicted.
It is to be hoped that no one involved in the railway project is also involved in Tel Aviv’s light-rail project, and that the mistakes already made have been corrected.
Rishon Lezion
Irresponsible ads
I am appealing to those responsible at The Jerusalem Post for advertising Lite Talk, the program for improving one’s English.
There is an ad on television and radio that encourages learning English while driving.
Any distraction – talking, listening to music and the use of mobile phones – causes drivers to divert their attention. It is extremely irresponsible to promote any idea that distracts drivers!
Tel Aviv
The writer is co-founder of Metuna, a road-safety organization