When the ‘asimon’ doesn’t fall
Regarding “President Biden still hasn’t called Prime Minister Netanyahu” (January 31), I’m sure the new US president will dial the phone just as soon as his new anti-Israel appointees (like Reema Dodin, deputy director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, for one appalling example) can think of something nice for him to say to us.
In other words, don’t hold your breath waiting.
The fatuous claims of Fatou Bensouda
By claiming that Israel committed war crimes “by transferring parts of its civilian population into occupied territory (“ICC Chamber decision is an irreparable stain on the court,” February 8),” ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has made clear that the ICC has become in some ways a second coming of the Nazi People’s Court – a sondergericht (“special court”) to persecute the Jews of Israel – with Bensouda enjoying her role as the Roland Freisler of the ICC.
However, the situation after the 1967 Six Day War was not like the transfer of civilians that the Geneva Convention envisioned, as when Hitler in 1939 moved German civilians into Czechoslovakia.
Jews had lived in Judea and Samaria for 4,000 years. In 1920 the victorious powers of World War I, including England, declared this land to be a sovereign Jewish homeland in the San Remo Agreement. In 1922 the League of Nations ratified this Jewish sovereignty. Then in 1946 the United Nations in Article 80 of its Charter – a document that supersedes any conflicting votes of the Security Council or the General Assembly – reconfirmed the sovereign Jewish status of Judea and Samaria.
Then in 1948 by force Jordan illegally occupied Judea and Samaria. Jordan changed the name to the “West Bank” (in the way that the British renamed many Irish towns: to destroy a culture) and ethnically cleansed the indigenous Jews from their homes in Judea and Samaria where they and their ancestors had lived for millennia.
In the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War, with Judea and Samaria liberated from illegal Jordanian occupation, Jews returned to the homes that they had been forced to leave 19 years earlier on land that had been declared by the international community sovereign Jewish territory three times (1920, 1922, 1946).
The Geneva Convention was never intended to make it a war crime for Jews to return to their historic homeland after ethnic cleansing. Only antisemites like Bensouda and Freisler would think so.
Under international law, the San Remo Accords, 1920, the League of Nations, 1922, the Anglo-American Agreement, 1924, and ratified by Article 80 of the United Nations charter in 1945, Israel includes Judea and Samaria and Gaza. There is no “State of Palestine.”
However, the Oslo Accords, agreed to by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1993, defined “disputed territories,” part of which are destined to become an Arab state when the Palestinian Authority and Israel make peace.
Instead of pursuing peace, the PA convinced ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to charge Israel with war crimes. Aside from the hypocrisy of the PA paying terrorists to kill Israelis and Hamas firing rockets into civilian areas, sheltering behind women and children and using mosques, schools and homes as military bases, all clearly war crimes, the ICC has no jurisdiction.
Israel is not a member of the ICC. It has a competent, functioning national court system. And, there is no “State of Palestine.”
This vendetta is another example of antisemitic attacks on Israel by international bodies, dominated by the 56-member Organization of Islamic cooperation.
As Abba Eban stated, “If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions.”
LEN BENNETT, AUTHOR OF UNFINISHED WORK
Two recent news items have me almost frothing at the mouth in anger and dismay.
In the first, the Palestinian Authority (PA) vows to charge Israel for war crimes in the International Criminal Court. Israel’s response should be to stop all contact and cooperation with the PA – financial, medical, humanitarian, travel, etc. We shouldn’t let them have it both ways. You can’t invite the person doing his best to besmirch and destroy you to a moonlight, romantic dinner.
In the second, UN Secretary General Guterres, in the 2021 opening session of the Committee on the Inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to destroy Israel, chastised Israel and demanded that Israel stop all acts of “violence” and other violations of humanitarian and human rights; drop all travel restrictions (code word for allowing redeployment of millions of so-called Palestinian refugees to Israel) and supply all Palestinians everywhere with COVID vaccines.
Our answer to Guterres should be to begin the dismemberment of the “so-called United Nations” as a first step to the creation of a truly non-partisan international body devoid of its anti-Israeli, antisemitic obsessions. For this courageous step, Guterres will surely be deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize.
Concerning “Guterres calls for UN, Quartet-led peace talks” in the February 7 issue, it is amazing that the UN still arrogantly maintains its position that any peace talks should be based on the “pre-1967 (1949 armistice) lines.”
Hasn’t the international community by now understood that those “Auschwitz lines” are red lines for Israel? Insisting on them is a non-starter, irrespective of who lives on Balfour Street in Jerusalem. You cannot start a discussion based on preconditions demanding capitulation to one party’s false narrative. Israel has repeatedly stated that it will start direct talks immediately, without preconditions. Why can’t the UN accept that?
It is equally amazing that the losing party in the wars (initiated to throw the Jews into the sea) gets to dictate conditions for surrender – including borders. This must be unique in world history. Did Germany get to dictate borders and other conditions to the victors in 1945? Of course not – the mere thought of that would be considered ridiculous by the same people and institutions that now want this to apply to the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Demonstrations and funerals
Cyril Atkins (Letters, February 3) has succinctly illustrated the bizarre situation that exists in this dysfunctional country. When the country goes to a military war the ultimate decision is left to the prime minister. However when the country is engaged with a war with an international virus pandemic the ultimate decision with respect to demonstrations adjacent to the official home of the prime minister is left in the hands of the peer-selected judges of the Supreme Court.
These judges consult their archaic statute books with respect to what is permissible in regard to demonstrations, but fail to take due cognizance that never in the preceding statutes was there a case during a pandemic. Such justice that ignores the serious health problems, the effect on the adjacent neighborhood residents of Komemiyut (Talbiyeh) and Rehavia of the constant repetitive sounds used by the demonstrators as a form of psychological warfare (to which the country’s health funds will ultimately bear the cost for suitable therapy) and the deliberate denial of the residents Basic Human Rights clearly shows the statute book sorely needs immediate revision.
The chief justice has failed in her role to ensure the law is equally applied.
DR COLIN L LECI
Sadly, people who insist on attending mass funerals during a pandemic show more respect for the dead than for the living.
Off-base case to save face
Well, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit has finally pushed the case against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the starting line (“Netanyahu Pretrial Hearing Today,” February 8).
Thus, has Mandelblit succeeded in blinding the people (and the Judicial system itself) and diverted everyone’s attention from his own legal misdeeds and manipulations, which would otherwise have brought him down and shown the people how far removed he himself is from the “Mr. Clean” that he tries to portray.
He had highly suspicious personal involvement in the Harpaz Affair and was not absolved from liability. It was never determined whether that case was closed for lack of guilt or for lack of evidence. That is damning and should have prevented his appointment as legal adviser to the government, so he tried to overturn it, but Shai Nitzan, who was the only person who could do this for him, kept this as a powerful threat and thereby engineered the indictment of Netanyahu.
Mandelblit may have charged the prime minister just to save his own skin, making legal history in Israel by charging bribery in circumstances where no money changed hands. He had not given the proper approval for launching the investigation; there was no written approval at all. He says he gave it verbally. His drafting of the charge sheet was so rash and careless that it tried to attribute actions of Netanyahu’s wife and son to try to attribute them to him – another legal precedent. The charge sheet was full of general accusations lacking specific details – yet another legal precedent.
Throughout the entire investigation we were “treated” to an unending flow of “leaks” from the police, the praklitut (state attorney), the press – all of which were hostile to the PM, yet another illegal precedent. Since when are police investigations a matter of public knowledge – one-sided knowledge at that?
All to save his face. Let’s look at the energies he expended to ensure the “friendly” appointment of Dan Eldar to replace Shai Nitzan, who retired. Against all odds he pushed to appoint a man who was strongly censored for his sexist remarks to his female staff right inside the government legal offices themselves. He needed support to continue to show that the case was closed for lack of guilt, rather than lack of evidence.
Well, we are not convinced and are angry that you have held the country on the edge of a political precipice for these past few horrible years.
Farewell to a friend
Regarding “Abraham Twerski, famed rabbi and psychiatrist, dies at age 90 of COVID-19” (February 1), it was a privilege to have known Rabbi Abraham J (Shia) Twerski, MD over 50 years in Pittsburgh, Monsey and Katamon. He was an iconoclast who brought his brand of Chernobler chasidus into expression in the practice of psychiatry, where he saw he could use the skills he learned from his father to bring comfort to the world.
He grew up in Milwaukee and attended the Chicago yeshiva. When he saw there were no more devotees to follow in his father’s footsteps as rebbe, he consulted the Steipler Gaon as to whether to go to medical school. The Steipler answered that a person needs a parnassa, not addressing Shia’s noble aspirations to help humanity, and gave him permission with the following conditions: Don’t miss minyan, mikve when necessary, daf yomi one hour a day, hassidut 15 minutes a day. I asked him would have gone on to med school without the Steipler’s permission – he said of course not.
He attended Marquette Med, then moved to University of Pittsburgh for his residency in psychiatry, never changing his hassidic garb. He specialized in drug and alcohol rehabilitation at St. Francis and went on to the renowned Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Pittsburgh. He was a sought-after lecturer – my psychiatrist uncle told me he couldn’t believe a hassid was stepping up to the lectern – and then he opened his mouth! What a great way to sanctify Hashem’s name, as was the comfort and healing he brought to his patients.
He loved to write, as attested to by his over 90 books, mostly on Torah subjects, but also on secular subjects, like his Peanuts series he did with Charles Schultz. His Twerski on Chumash is priceless, and he popularized Mesilas Yesharim of Ramchal. He spoke at the Great Synagogue Hoshana Rabba yearly and at first gave a musar shiur, which was great, but people wanted to hear more of his experiences so the next year he spoke on the lessons his addicted patients taught him about life. He often spoke on self-esteem, as in an excellent lecture at Mayanei Hayeshua last year, in which courageously spoke of his own early self-esteem issues.
He courageously took on the issue of spousal abuse in the Orthodox community in the face of withering opposition from many rabbis. His groundbreaking Shame Borne in Silence led to community awareness and action.
When I was in med school at the University of Chicago, I was averse to the teachings of psychiatry, which at that time, were basically Freudian analysis. My objections were a lack of scientific basis and a deterministic outlook that precluded the Jewish view of tikkun and teshuva. I asked Shia how he dealt with it; he told me he tried to introduce them to Victor Frankel, but they were not ready to hear it. He was not threatened as I was by the alien ideology because he was so grounded in our Torah tradition. Advances in cognitive behavioral therapy and positive psychology and psychopharmacology have rendered Freudianism obsolete in my opinion; Shia was able to use the discipline to achieve his goal of tikkun olam and kiddush hashem.
Rabbi Dr. Twerski passed away last week at the age of 90. He dictated that there be no eulogies at his funeral, just singing of a popular song he composed for his brother’s wedding that is still sung throughout the Jewish world: “Hoshia es Amecha” – “Save Your People” and bless Your inheritance, and see and exalt them forever (Psalms 28:9). His memory is indeed a blessing.
MOSHE KUHR, MD