Letters to the Editor February 8th, 2021: Not much insight in sight

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Douglas Bloomfield (“No space for Jews,” February 4) seems not to recognize that antisemitism exists on both the Left and the Right. Instead, he uses this oldest of hatreds as a cudgel to attack Republicans, asserting (inter alia) that those who espouse antisemitism “dominate the Trumpist base,” while repeating the defamatory and demonstrably false canard that Trump failed to condemn neo-Nazis at Charlottesville. In the meantime, he ignores the blatant antisemitism of some of the most visible Democrats.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi excused Representative Ilhan Omar’s intolerable pattern of antisemitic pronouncements by asserting absurdly that, “[Omar] has a different experience in use of words. [She] doesn’t realize that some of them are fraught with meaning that she didn’t realize.”
There has been scant criticism of Rep. Rashida Tlaib for her close ties to unrepentant antisemite Louis Farrakhan. Nor have the Democrats censured her for anti-Israel libels such as, “Israel is a racist state and they [read the Jews] would deny Palestinians, like my grandmother, access to a vaccine. They don’t believe that she’s an equal human being that deserves to live, deserves to be able to be protected from this global pandemic.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has repeatedly defended Omar and Tlaib, has compared migrant facilities at the US-Mexico border to “concentration camps” – a form of Holocaust denial, and has praised support from numerous antisemitic groups for her letter criticizing Israel. Many Democrats support the BDS movement – recognized by the State Department as intrinsically antisemitic. They enthusiastically support Black Lives Matter founders with a record of antisemitism and close ties to terrorist Linda Sarsour. We saw no Democratic outrage when BLM supporters attacked Jewish institutions in California last summer.
None of this excuses or justifies antisemitism from the Right. However, if we are to successfully fight this growing scourge we must admit that it exists on both ends of the political spectrum. Maligning an entire party with unfounded accusations unnecessarily politicizes the problem, preventing cooperation in the fight against a common enemy while emboldening those whose antisemitic statements and actions are ignored.
Zichron Yaakov
Sitting by the phone...
My favorite Jerusalem Post columnist is Herb Keinon, the first to whom I turn for accurate news and intelligent analysis. However, I have a comment to make about his excellent “Fret less about when Biden will call” column of February 3.
Paraphrasing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Keinon writes, “A nation that feels free and strong and independent realizes that its fate is first and foremost is in its own hands, not in the hands of others, even the president of the United States.” Being familiar with past columns written by Keinon on various subjects, I am sure he is familiar with the biblical verse “a Land that Hashem, your God, seeks out; the eyes of Hashem, your God, are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to year’s end” (Deuteronomy 11:12).
Our fate is in the hands of another: a Being greater than even any president of the United States of America. As a reminder, simply review the Torah portions of the last month.
Ganei Modi’in
Warning about Warnock
In “Restored hope in the US Department of Justice” (February 7), Rabbi Avi Olitzky is ecstatic with the new appointments to the DoJ as well as the victory of Rafael Warnock, a black preacher who was elected to the US Senate. Olitzky is “thrilled” with the progress that has been made in Georgia. The only problem is that Warnock has a troubling record of hostility to Israel as well as Jews. Warnock is a friend of Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Nation of Islam head Louis Farrakhan. Warnock also has a record of domestic abuse.
These details don’t seem to matter to Olitzky because he’s “concerned” with the civil rights of others. The fact that 1,500 businesses were destroyed in his own home state during the recent riots is apparently of little interest to him. Rising crime, destroyed downtown areas, spreading homelessness, attacks on Jewish property by BLM, the cold-blooded murder of Jews, attacks of Jews on campuses, rising antisemitism in the Democratic Party aren’t even mentioned.
There’s something wrong with this picture.
Petah Tikva
There’s no place for home
It never ceases to amaze me that the government of Israel does not all refute all claims of illegality of Jews living Judea and Samaria by continually reiterating the San Remo Agreement.
In “Gutteres calls for UN, Quartet-led peace talks” (February 7), there are threats by UN secretary-general to creating a forum to force Israel to retreat to the 1949 armistice (“Auschwitz”) lines. There is no justification for this; there is and never was a Palestinian nation and any claim otherwise is patently false.
“In ICC declares it has jurisdiction,” we learn that that body may be poised to declare peaceful communities of Jews in their homeland “war crimes.”
Let’s face it, the only explanation is the overriding hatred of Jews and anything Jewish, including the State of Israel. One only has to look at the continuing rise of antisemitism acts in Europe, as well as what has happened over the past few years in the United States.
It is time for all Jews to stand up as one body. The infighting in Israel and the anti-Jewish sentiments among leftists in the US such as J Street and the like are fuel for our enemies. Have we learned nothing from pre-World War II?
Petah Tikva
Diplomacy delusions
In “Codifying the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism as a law” (February 7) Nadav Tamir writes that the way the media portrays “those who think that diplomacy is the most effective way to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons” is indicative of media shallowness.
Actually, the media does miss the boat, but not by shallowness. Anyone who has seen the material extracted from Iran in 2018 who still thinks that diplomacy is the most effective way to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is delusional.
Iran does not play by the same rules that the other signatories to the JCPOA do. Without significant changes in the scope and enforcement, a new treaty would be worse than useless, in that it would give the illusion that the matter is under control when it isn’t.
I am reminded of a story my late grandfather told me. In 1903 he was in the Russian army serving as a medical corpsman. He told me that in Europe, during a trench warfare battle, standard practice was that after an attack there would be a ceasefire to allow the medical personnel to go into no-mans-land and attend to the wounded. In the Russo-Japanese war, the Russians presumed that this was the norm, only to find that the Japanese thought that the medics were great targets and shot them. Thus, when he was ordered to the Eastern front, my progenitor went westward instead, to America.
Not to learn from history and to believe that everyone follows the same rules can result in disaster.
Petah Tikva
Put ICC decision on ice
Every reversal in life holds within it the seeds of an opportunity.
“ICC declares it has jurisdiction to probe war crimes against Israel” (February 7) tells us that “Israelis are a step closer to facing war crimes suits.” This ICC decision is indeed a reversal, though other articles and reports in the same issue illustrate a number of possibilities for countering or even overturning it.
What is rather skated over in the story is the opportunity it provides for bringing Hamas to account for launching in excess of 7,000 rockets and ballistic missiles indiscriminately at Israeli citizens – a truly criminal activity. The chance arises to see Hamas leaders in the dock attempting to answer charges of war crimes against Israelis.
More significantly, the ICC set to one side the question of whether the Palestinian Authority was the State of Palestine, the extent to which the jurisdictions established under the Oslo Accords bear on that issue, and consequently the territory over which the ICC itself has jurisdiction. These matters, it decided, would have to be determined if or when war crimes suits were filed against Israel or Israelis.
It is at that juncture that the opportunity would arise to argue in court that after Jordan seized the West Bank and east Jerusalem in its attack on Israel in 1948, it proceeded to annex them in a move recognized by no international body nor any states other than the UK and Pakistan. Thus when Israel recaptured them from the Jordanian army in 1967 they were, under international law, the sovereign territory of no state.
These and related matters are usually given scant attention in the media. The cloud of the ICC decision may have a silver lining.
Beit Shemesh
Kasztner complicity?
Amotz Asa-El devotes “Labor chooses nihilism” (February 5) to the demise of the Labor Party and the unlikelihood that MK Merav Michaeli will rescue Labor’s fortunes. Gratuitously, he noted that Michaeli was Rudolf Israel Kasztner’s granddaughter and mistakenly said that Kasztner was the victim of “baseless accusations of collaboration with the Nazis.”
Kasztner’s assassination was an unjustifiable despicable act of vigilante justice although, somewhat ironically, his family believes the Mapai Party was behind his murder because prime minister David Ben-Gurion pardoned his assassins a few years after they were convicted of his murder.
However, Asa-El’s claim that accusations against Kasztner of collaboration were baseless is refuted by the historical record. The Israeli Supreme Court ruled 5-0 after Kasztner’s death, that Kasztner had perjured himself when he lied in court in 1954 and claimed he did nothing to help SS General Kurt Becher obtain his freedom, despite knowing Becher was a mass murderer and a massive thief of Jewish property. The record reveals that Kasztner supplied three affidavits after the war to the authorities at Nuremberg to wrongly obtain Becher’s freedom. Not only did he lie about that in court, his affidavits violated Israeli laws forbidding its citizens from assisting former Nazis.
But it was not only the Israeli Supreme Court that condemned Kasztner as a collaborator. Kasztner admitted depriving the Jews of Kolozovar of the information they should have had to decide whether to flee or revolt and instead watched train after train leave toward Auschwitz. Meanwhile, about 400 Jews from his family and associates went west to Budapest. He was accused of collaboration by the mother of Hannah Szenes, who begged Kasztner to intervene on her daughter’s behalf. Kasztner refused to do so.
Rudolf Vrba, one of the heroic escapees from Auschwitz, accused Kasztner of suppressing his Auschwitz report for three crucial months in 1944 while the Nazis were murdering a half million Hungarian Jews, until Moshe Krauz smuggled the report into Switzerland and notified the world of what Auschwitz was all about.
Kasztner was often confronted by the few survivors from his hometown in Israel and accused of collaborating with the Nazis. He was accused by the esteemed Judge Benjamin Halevi of “selling his soul to Satan” when he worked with the Nazis to save 1,700 Jews while doing nothing to help hundreds of thousands of others.
The Kasztner affair is extremely complex. We should never forget it was the Germans and their Hungarian collaborators that were the murderers. The events of the last nine months or 1944 in Hungary occurred fast and furious. We still don’t have all the information because the Jewish Agency and Yad Vashem have, allegedly, not released all the documents they have on the Kasztner affair to researchers. However, to say that claims of Kasztner’s collaboration were “baseless” distorts the truth and is an insult to the hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews who lost their lives in the Shoah.
As Presiding Supreme Court Judge Olshin said in his opinion, there should be a public commission of inquiry about Kasztner’s activities and certainly Kasztner does not deserve “a clean bill of health.”
Not the same lame blame game
Kudos to Maayan Hoffman for telling it like it is in “Vaccination doesn’t equal liberation” (February 5).
With a reasoned, factual play-by-play explanation, she was able to describe the global nature of a pandemic whose virus keeps mutating and is unlikely to be contained in any one place or country for very long.
Her clarity in predicting the current “normal” was a welcome counterpoint to the finger-pointing and blame game that has been playing out for the last months, both in Israel and abroad. Instead of promoting hysteria and discord, she gave facts to inform an information-hungry public. It was journalism at its best.
Beit Shemesh
Regarding “As vaccine drive slows... we’re losing momentum” (February 4), there is an obvious reason for the slowdown. Why should a person take the trouble and the minor risk of getting vaccinated if there is no benefit?
There is now data showing that the vaccine is working amazingly well: 95% efficacy. If the government wants all the citizens of Israel to get vaccinated, show them the joy of it.
For example, fully vaccinated people should be allowed to sit inside their synagogues, mosques or churches instead of freezing to death outside. Fully vaccinated people should be allowed to attend weddings and dance. Fully vaccinated people should be allowed to frequent gyms and cafes.
None of this is rocket science but today the government seems to lack the courage to make sensible decisions.
PhD in Behavior and Ecology of Marine Organisms
Desert warfare strategy advances peace
Former president Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, Ambassador David Friedman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in changing the paradigm for peace in the Middle East with the Abraham Accords, represent a lasting legacy that petty impeachment politics cannot change (“President Biden: Please Don’t Derail Abraham Accord’s Momentum,” February 5).
Generations of cynics had preached that nothing could be achieved without first resolving the intentionally institutionalized victimhood – by UNRWA, the PA and so many NGOs – of the Palestinian Arabs. Instead, these men by emulating the genius of Ariel Sharon’s famed desert warfare strategy, achieved the Abraham Accords by going around a problem instead of getting enmeshed in it.
Margate, Florida
Keep ‘Pay for Slay’ at bay
Regarding “US to restore humanitarian aid to the Palestinians” (February 4), I can’t understand how aid to the PA can be called “humanitarian” when they still “pay to slay” Jews. Is this how the new American president shows friendship to the Jewish State?
As for Gershon Baskin, who finds PA leader Mahmoud Abbas sincere and genuine in his desire for peace with Israel (“Dear Mr. President,” February 4), has he forgotten that Abbas is the “Pay to Slay” architect who refuses to sit with the Israelis to come to a peace settlement?
Rishon Lezion