Letters to the Editor February 1, 2021: Abiding Biden

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Abiding Biden
In “Israel needs to work with Biden, not against him” (January 29) Yaakov Katz ends with the question: Does Israel want to fight with the new administration? Katz said that IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi is wrong to make it seem like Iran is an Israeli problem. 
The triumvirate that gave us the Iran Deal – Barack Obama, John Kerry and Joe Biden – promised they would talk with us before dealing with Iran, whereas they were secretly talking to Iran behind our backs. How did it work out the last time? Did the $150 billion that the US gave Iran help out the Iranian people at all, or did it help Iran towards their plan to fund terrorism and develop nuclear weaponry? 
Biden said before, “They’re only folks, folk,” but nothing could be further from the truth. The intent of the deal was that the Iranian dictatorship would deal fairly and openly with the Western nations, that somehow the ayatollahs would become moderates. This did not happen.
While a presidential candidate, Biden promised he would return to the 2015 deal and then try to get better terms. Has the man never been to the souk? Iran ran circles around them last time in Obama and Kerry’s crazed quest for a legacy item.
Yes, Iran is an Israeli problem. Iran threatens us with obliteration, calling Israel a “one-bomb country” and continuing to fund the terrorist armies of Hezbollah and Hamas on our borders. We need to reverse the equation: Biden needs to work with Israel. Nothing ever came from weakness, and the US needs to stay the course of the previous administration’s campaign of “maximum strength.” 
In a weird way, the Iran deal has forced the strengthening of Israel’s relations with the Arab countries of the Abraham Accords and like-minded Arab and Muslim countries through the world. I really find it hard to see how America can help here at this time. Biden should stay home, where he has more pressing problems.
Why should be compliant in our own demise by working with Biden?
He is still following former president Barack Obama’s policies and does not understand that the world has moved on.
How many times must it be said that doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity and yet the op-ed expects – demands – we work with Biden even though it will be to our detriment.
Good for Kochavi who tells it as he sees it without having to bend to the whims of a government bent on throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Petah Tikva
Watch your language
The editorial “It’s the issues, stupid” (January 29) was spot on. What I take issue with and with Herb Keinon’s “Israel’s social contract is in need of repair” is the language.
True, there is very little dividing “center left” from “center right,” but how are we to come together so long as language is used to divide us? Are they really “Arabs” living in Israel, or Arab Israelis? Are they “settlers” living over the old “Green Line” or Israeli citizens living here, for example, in Efrat? Israel is not the “Jewish State,” but a Jewish and democratic state, or more exactly “The State of Israel” or just “Israel.” 
Why call them “haredim,” when they are clearly not – they’re Jews who just wish to live like in the old times. 
Words and names should be chosen and used carefully, or one simply fosters the divide.
Our traveling is unraveling
Seth Frantzman asks, “With airport closed and rioting, will I ever see my family again?” (January 28). Has he not woken up to the reality of 2021 throughout the world? Or does he lack the staying power, will – and optimism – to survive?
True, it might take a while until he can fly off to visit his loved ones, but chances are when he does see them they won’t be dead from COVID-19.
The last time there was a pandemic in the world, 20 to 50 million died. Or go back to the Black Plague where 75 to 100 million perished and see how lucky (but slightly inconvenienced) we really are.
The main complaint I have is that world leaders and scientists didn’t admit from the start, and continue today, that because this is a new virus they simply don’t have absolute answers. They are working on them – but do not have the years of experience to fall back on, to say that this is the proven way to handle COVID-19.
I realize that political leaders can’t say they don’t know – and doctors can’t admit (thus giving up their God-like status) that they don’t have the absolute answers. But Frantzman is still in a much better position (particularly with his two shots) than most of the world.
So pick up your head and be thankful. Stop looking at the other people’s seemingly greener pastures. And go on living.
Vile style
Regarding “The missed voice” (January 29), I think that there have been enough letters to the newspaper about Ehud Olmert’s totally malicious and vile articles. If The Jerusalem Post is not prepared to discontinue his columns, I shall have to consider dropping my decades-long subscription to the paper. The same applies to Gershon Baskin, who should be writing for The Ramallah Reporter or The Jordan Times. His views are not appropriate in a respectable paper.
As a matter of policy, I do not think that the Post should use expressions such as “West Bank” or “territories,” unless an explanation is added. “West Bank” is an expression coined by the Hashemite kingdom as an expression of their geographical views. It does not belong in an Israeli newspaper.
As the rush to elections heats up, I would appreciate more analyses of the various candidates’ platforms and less mudslinging and name-calling.
I commend The Jerusalem Post on its stated editorial policy cautioning letter writers to eschew “nastiness.”
Might I humbly suggest that this caution be extended to your columnists as well?
In this week’s diatribe, Ehud Olmert managed to dismiss pretty much the entire population of Israel calling us atrociously noisy, pushy, aggressive and annoying. He cries out that there is nowhere to go to escape from our raucousness and bad manners. Sound familiar? All of the above are well-established antisemitic tropes.
I’m sure we can all recommend alternatives to him to end his abysmal sufferings.
Regarding “Elections as a peacemaking opportunity” (January 28), as a faithful old-time reader of The Jerusalem Post, may I suggest that the time has come to say goodbye to Gershon Baskin?
I don’t mind that he has declared that he is no longer a Zionist (aping Peter Beinart). That is his right. (By the way, my reaction when I read his confession was the same as Clark Gable’s in Gone with the Wind – “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”).
The reason why I propose that Baskin should leave his place to another columnist, (who could be Zionist, non-Zionist or even anti-Zionist), is that Baskin, for a long time already, hasn’t had anything new to say.
We all know, before reading him (something I reluctantly do, and no longer succeed in reading him to the end) is that he invariably condemns Israel and whitewashes the Palestinians. If he were a musician, we would have to call him a “Johnny one-note.”
To summarize, he is boring! Reading him is a waste of time.
Enjoy Troy
I enjoyed Gil Troy’s column (“Finding a nation’s soul – and our own souls,” January 27) about the soul of our nation, but perhaps he could elevate his own soul a bit more if he showed that very Jewish value, hakarat hatov (gratitude). 
Instead of including a gratuitous stab at our prime minister, Troy should acknowledge that Israel’s success in its vaccination program, and its many other social and economic successes, with God’s help, come from a government led by the man Troy loves to hate – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Beit Shemesh
Old – and still bold
I was pleased to read, “At 87, activist rabbi Arthur Waskow is still protesting” (January 31). Having read many of his over two dozen books, he has greatly influenced my life in showing the relevance of Jewish eternal teachings to current issues.
Waskow recognizes that the word “Israel” means God wrestler and that has been his role in promoting Jewish teachings that can help improve the world. He recognizes that Judaism is a radical religion, in the best sense of the word “radical,” that stresses that Jews should pursue peace and justice, be kind to strangers (indicated in various ways 36 times in the Torah), love our neighbors as ourselves and many other positive teachings. Of course Jewish rituals are important but, among other things, they should serve as reminders that Jews are to be a ‘light unto the nations,” God’s witnesses, and co-workers with God in efforts to improve the world.
If his teachings and actions were more appreciated and followed by Jews, it would help bring alienated Jews back to Judaism and help shift our imperiled planet onto a sustainable path. 
Professor Emeritus, College of Staten Island
Pot luck
In “Israeli cannabis oil ‘espresso machine’ start-up smashes funding goal” (January 27), the reporter quoted, without critique or clarification, an interviewee’s statement that is misleading and incorrect: 
“When looking at countries that have chosen to legalize recreational cannabis, you can see the shift from smoking to oils happening. In every country that has done so, within around two to three years from the time the market is regulated, oils begin taking up north of 50% of the share of users.” 
First, only two countries so far have legalized recreational cannabis: Uruguay in 2014 and Canada in 2018. The USA has not; only 11 of its 50 states have recreational laws, and even there the product remains federally illegal (though that is only enforced in areas of solely federal jurisdiction, like airports). So, to write that “countries that have chosen to legalize” and “every country that has done so” gives a false impression that legalization is common, when in fact it remains extremely rare. 
Second, I am not aware of any countries where cannabis oil has surpassed dry cannabis for recreational use. In Uruguay, as I understand it, only dry cannabis has been legalized. Here in Canada, dry products retain the majority of the recreational market, with vape oils and edibles having significant but minority shares of sales. 
Conversely, oils are far more popular than dry cannabis among medical users. By the end of 2018, oils made up about 80% of Canada’s medical sales in product volume terms. 
I realize this was a business article focusing on a venture capital topic. But given the controversies and misinformation surrounding cannabis legalization, both pro and con, I think it is especially important for The Jerusalem Post to uphold its normally high editorial standards. 
Associate professor of business
International Holocaust Day redux
It passed unnoticed that Britain’s Jewish leaders have used the International Holocaust Day (January 27) to raise awareness about Uyghurs’ repression by the Chinese regime. Whether it is appropriate for anyone to make an analogy between the Nazi trial to wipe Jews from the face of the earth and other mass atrocities perpetrated by other regimes; it is indisputable that huge violations of human rights were committed toward Uyghurs in China. 
Over the past three years, China has incarcerated an estimated one million Uyghurs in the so-called reeducation camps, reminiscent of the extermination camps, subjected them to repression, torture and cultural and religious cleansing. Hasn’t time come to put human lives, rights and dignities before mere economic interests?
How can the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Japan and Lithuania write an article about the great Sugihara Chiune without paying tribute to the indispensable role of the Dutch businessman and hero Jan Zwartendik (“Remembering the ‘visas for life,’” January 27)?
Chiune could issue only transit visas, which allowed passage through Japan, and they were valid for just 21 days. One also needed an exit visa, which indicated the final destination of the bearer. 
Enter Zwartendik.
He became the acting Dutch consul in Kovno and was asked by two refugee yeshiva students if he could help them get to the Dutch island of Curacao, which technically did not require an entrance visa for aliens. He agreed, and ultimately issued several thousand such end-visas, many of which were actually invalid. Those who came to Chiune for transit visas for Japan already had the required stamped end-visa to Curacao.
Of course, no Sugihara Chiune refugee ever got even close to Curacao. Many of them found refuge in Shanghai, but none of them used the visas to “cross the ocean before they finally reached their destination, in North America.” Both Chiune and Zwartendik are recognized as Righteous among the Nations by Yad VaShem. 
It would therefore be appropriate for the above two foreign ministers to make note of the relevant facts invite the Dutch foreign minister to tell us the full story about Zwartendik.
The Jerusalem Robotic Post
After the initial hoo-ha that started over a century ago, Gwynne Dyer describes the reasons for the slow decline of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics in modern culture (“The first robots,” January 31) following Automation 1.0, which replaced millions of workers on Sisyphean assembly lines. 
Anybody with a smidgen of real intelligence (RI) knew that for the far forseeable future we would not be seeing robots handling classes of rowdy pupils unless the pupils were themselves robots and the humans were playing games on their laptops. We’ve all seen now how so-called “Zoom learning” also doesn’t work. 
Anybody with a kernel of common sense (CS) knew that we will not see robot cops administering tickets to robotic self-driving cars. Anybody with a kernel of know-how (KH) knew that robots would not be able to handle food preparation in homes or restaurants. 
What will robots be able to handle? Perhaps repeat demonstrations like at Balfour, releasing the human demonstrators for more constructive activity or possibly, just possibly, journalists. The robots could scan the archives, cut-paste and re-assemble what has been written many times before.