Letters to the Editor: His two bits

Ban is soon finishing his term, and whoever chooses his replacement must make sure that this person speaks, reads and, most of all, understands the international language of English.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
His two bits
With regard to “Ban Ki-moon calls PM’s comments on ethnic cleansing ‘outrageous’” (September 16), the secretary-general of the United Nations, while agreeing that the UN is unfairly biased against Israel, has nevertheless put his two bits worth in.
As all critics have, Ban picked on the least important of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks and ignored the crux of his point: that the world ignores the proposed ethnic cleansing of Jews in a future Palestinian state and instead concentrates on the so-called settlements of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.
Netanyahu called it outrageous that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other members of the Palestinian leadership have said time and time again that no Jews would be allowed to live in a Palestinian state. He poured scorn on the smug nations of the world and called it outrageous that they ignored such statements.
Ban went on to call the towns and villages in Judea and Samaria “illegal,” a word even the US State Department refrains from using. The State Department uses the term “illegitimate,” which is quite different.
I am certain that 99.99% of all those who pontificate about the illegitimacy or illegality of the towns and villages in Judea and Samaria have never read the Geneva Conventions. Just because “everybody” says something, does not make it so.
Ban is soon finishing his term, and whoever chooses his replacement must make sure that this person speaks, reads and, most of all, understands the international language of English.
Not too late
Due to the mistaken belief that Israel is illegally occupying the West Bank and building illegal settlements there, much of the world, including the US, is experiencing an increase in the hatred of Israel, which frequently morphs into antisemitism.
At universities throughout the US, Jewish students are being harassed, intimidated and assaulted by Muslim students and their supporters who accuse Israel of stealing Palestinian land and being a brutal occupier of the indigenous inhabitants, the Palestinians.
Recent surveys have made it clear that Israel is losing support among the younger generation of Americans, including Jews. A new and serious development is the anti-Israel platform of the Black Lives Matter movement.
If recent trends continue, the American people’s decades-long support for Israel could be jeopardized.
Because of all the legal, historical, religious and moral considerations, Israel has a far superior claim to the West Bank than do the Palestinians. When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the UN later this month, he should proclaim to the world that Israel is not an occupier of the West Bank, and that the settlements are legal because Jews have had a continuous presence there for thousands of years. How can Israel be an occupier of its own land? Beyond this, the many American pro-Israel organizations could follow the prime minister’s lead with campaigns to educate the American people and the world about the truth of Israel’s right to be in the West Bank.
It’s late in the game, but not too late. Prime Minister Netanyahu, please provide the American Jewish community with the ammunition to combat the lies that the Palestinians and their supporters are repeatedly using to persuade more and more Americans to be anti-Israel.
MARTIN ZUKOFF Wilmington, Delaware
Deal a mixed bag
With regard to “Landmark defense deal for Israel signed in Washington” (September 15), the agreement is a mixed bag: It isn’t as good as it could have been, but it isn’t terrible. The question is, why did Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu want to conclude it with the administration of an outgoing president? Did Barack Obama put pressure on the prime minister so the US president could say at the end of his term in office that he was a very good friend of Israel? Does the prime minister worry about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s ties to Bernie Sanders and the far-Left wing of their party? Does he worry about Republican nominee Donald Trump’s analysis of how the Defense Department would operate under a Trump administration? Much goes into making such agreements, and much of it will never be made public. The signs, though, are very obvious – that Israel must, in the final analysis, carry the responsibility of defending itself and continue to develop its own defense systems.
The United States can only benefit if Israel continues to be its most reliable and effective ally in the Middle East.
Candidates’ health
Concern for the health of the US presidential candidates has been front-page news since Hillary Clinton’s recent fainting spell. Underlying this concern has been the assumption that if a person undergoes a routine physical examination and is found to not have any major medical problems, he or she is somehow guaranteed to remain in good health for the near and mid-range future.
This is simply not true.
By far, the major risk factor for death is age. The principal causes of death in developed countries are heart attack and cancer. The risk of death from these causes is 10 times as great in a 70-year old compared to a 40-year old.
Most people die in their 70s and 80s. Thus, both Mrs. Clinton, at 68, and Donald Trump, at 70, have a significant risk of developing a serious or fatal illness during the next four years just by virtue of their age – no matter how good their “numbers” and no matter how healthy they appear to be.
Statements by doctors that their 70-year old patient’s numbers are “astonishingly excellent” or that their patient has the health of a person half his or her age are meaningless at best, and in many cases deceptively misleading.
The writer is a retired cardiologist.
Be a better Jew
Would you like to be a better Jew? Here’s an easy way.
There’s no theology involved (you don’t have to believe anything).
No Hebrew (it’s in English). No giving money (it’s free). And it does not take a lot of your time (it takes about an hour).
Best of all, you help save a life – and nothing is more fundamentally Jewish than saving a life.
Also, it’s anonymous. The person you save will never know your name and never say thank you. Jewish tradition describes eight levels of charity. At the second-highest level, the donor and recipient are anonymous to each other. Rabbis have a discretionary fund to give this way.
So how do you secretly save the life of someone who will never thank you? Give blood.
In the hour it takes, you express the highest Jewish values.
Beyond saving a life and giving anonymously, your blood accomplishes real and immediate tikkun olam (repairing the world), Judaism’s overarching purpose.
Every day, someone’s beloved parent, child, spouse, lover or friend needs blood. We don’t know their names, but Judaism says this does not matter. All life is sacred.
Unselfish giving to save a stranger makes you a better Jew. Maybe the best.
DENNIS BRISKIN Palo Alto, California
This is excerpted from a piece written for the booklet the writer’s synagogue gives to members and guests during High Holy Day services