Letters to the Editor July 22, 2020: Baskin: Bastion of truth

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Baskin: Bastion of truth
Many readers criticize Gershon Baskin for his views, but I agree wholeheartedly with a key statement of his in “We belong to this land” (July 16), when he stresses “the need for both parties to make substantial compromises.”
He could not be more right. The Israelis, the region’s indigenous people, have consistently offered substantial compromises in the disputed territory. For example, as prime minister, Ehud Barak offered to give away virtually all of Judea and Samaria with relatively minor land swaps.
Arafat’s response? He stalked off and launched a murderous intifada, underscoring the problem: that the Palestinians obstinately refuse to compromise at all – “not even one centimeter” of the land they disingenuously call “all theirs.” They prefer inciting violence and vilifying Israel as a tactic to avoid recognizing the legitimate and inalienable right of Jews to have a small peaceful state with defensible borders in their own native land.
Accordingly, the columnist has accurately identified the key chronic obstacle to peace in our region: when the Arabs, too, are prepared to substantially compromise, the conflict can be resolved.

Vexed over Wexner
Regarding Yaakov Katz’s analysis of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s outrageous tweet referencing the Wexner Foundation and Jeffrey Epstein (“It’s not a tweet, it’s desperation,” July 20), back in the 1980s in Canada, I was interviewed for a Wexner Foundation Fellowship. I was ultimately unable to finalize it, but it would have been a tremendous honor and I would have gained much from it. The Wexner Foundation should be applauded, not slandered. Attempting to denigrate all of its graduates by the ploy of guilt by association is disgusting and exceedingly low, especially from a prime minister who should be trying to unify our country.
Being a four-year oleh from Canada, I can attest that Canadian politics can get nasty, but it doesn’t come close to the dirty tactics that are bandied about here from both sides, but particularly from the coalition side and its PM. I am right-of-center and voted as such, but am fed up with the antics of the PM. It is right to demand that he be above the fray and take the high road, but expecting this is like whistling in the wind.
When will saner, braver voices in the Likud and Naftali Bennett’s progressive side of his party finally assert themselves and lead us to a better, gentler alternative,?


Yair Netanyahu is so misguided and wrong on so many occasions, but on attacking Wexner graduates, he excels himself. The opportunity of being a Wexner Scholar is fantastic. The possibility of spending a year in the JFK School at Harvard is unsurpassed, especially for Israelis who would be unlikely to be able to do so under any other circumstances.
These graduates leave Harvard with an excellent education and an unsurpassed insight into the world we all live in. They all return to Israel, enlightened and more than prepared to contribute even more to Israeli society in the best possible way.
Shame on you, Yair – and thank you, Leslie Wexner.


Continuing corona confusion
Regarding “PM to fire chair of Knesset coronavirus committee” (July 19), it is apparent that certain people on the coronavirus committee lack the most basic common-sense understanding of statistics.
They have said that the data indicate that only a small percentage of people are getting corona at pools, gyms and other activities, and therefore there is no reason to limit these activities. However, the issue is not the percentage of total people with COVID that got it (for example) at a pool. Rather, the relevant issue is the percentage of people that went to the pool who got sick.
There are very few people who go to a swimming pool (as a percentage of all Israelis). So it follows that a small percentage of the total sick would have gotten it at a pool. However, if just 20 people went to a swimming pool, and yet all 20 (100%) became sick with COVID, then it would follow that the swimming pool is a dangerous place to go. So, the relevant number is the percentage of people that engaged in a certain activity and got COVID (and not the percentage of all people that got COVID while engaging in a certain activity).

It’s not just about numbers. People say that millions died in previous plagues, so why the panic now? It’s because our expectations and attitudes have changed dramatically. Years ago, death was expected and more readily accepted because there were no cures for most major diseases. There was no question of overwhelming the health system because victims’ lives could not have been saved anyways.
We have come to value individual lives and to have cures for most disease, so each death now is seen as a failure of the medical system. Also, due to modern media, we hear about deaths all over the world instantly – including people whom we never knew or had only heard of. Long ago, news took weeks to travel. Now, everything is instant. We also want to push a button or take a pill and make everything all better.

There is a simple answer to the question posed by the op-ed headline “Is it [the coronavirus pandemic] an ‘act of God?’” (July 19).
No, it’s an act of China!

Beit Zayit

Incitement to murder
Susan Hattis Rolef (“Netanyahu teaches Israel a lesson on Keynesian economics,” July 19), condemns the verbal threats against the lives of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and of his immediate family members and calls for these threats to be investigated, but in the same breath she explains that they are made by people “who have lost all hope.”
With reference to Public Security Minister Amir Ohana’s remark that the incitement before prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s murder “pales into insignificance” in comparison with that against Netanyahu, she maintains that although no one at the time actually called for Rabin’s murder, the incitement then was much more serious. She asserts that there were rabbis who allegedly claimed that Rabin was a traitor for signing the Oslo Accords, and that he was liable (din rodef) to punishment by death.
It is interesting that in the case of the incitement before Rabin’s murder, Rolef does not say that it was initiated by people who had “lost all hope.” This despite the fact that between the Oslo Accords in September 1993 and Rabin’s murder in November 1995 almost 150 Israelis were killed in Palestinian terror attacks. During this period hardly a week went by without an Israeli being murdered or injured, often in the most horrific manner. This period also marked the beginning of the mass murders of Israelis in bus bombings. So if there was a time when one could say that people had lost hope it was then.
There is no justification for the horrendous crime of murdering a prime minister or for any form of threats to the lives of a prime minister or his family, no matter how much he may be loathed by sections of the population. No excuses of any sort can be made for such heinous behavior. Perhaps in the future Rolef would be wise not to attempt to find explanations for such threats.


Stamp collecting
Regarding “Not a rubber stamp” (July 20), what is the point of having a coalition if each member decides not to support the government? The governing majority has to be just that in order to govern, and they are in a sense yes men for the ruling government policy.
It is ridiculous for any government decision to become a free-for-all. If MK Yifat Sasha-Biton cannot abide by and advance our government’s policy, she should resign.

Petah Tikva

Trumpeting and trouncing Trump
What a fine piece of writing by Ambassador Zalman Shoval where he totally yet succinctly summarizes Israel’s status in Judea and Samaria. But I have to disagree with the title of the piece “It’s now or never” (July 20). He summarizes, “Time is not working in Israel’s favor, among other things because of the unclear political situation in the US.”
It’s my opinion that right now things couldn’t be clearer. Much has been done by the current US administration to reverse the horrors of the Obama/Biden years in Israel and throughout the Middle East. Maximum pressure has been placed on the sponsors of terror, Iran, and its proxies Hamas and Hezbollah; Egypt has been returned to the community of nations; the payments to terrorists and their families by the Palestinian Authority has been called for what it is; and the term “Islamic terrorism” has been rightfully returned to the lexicon. The Trump Peace Plan delivered earlier this year has reset the situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians. True, the Palestinians are not at the peace table now, but neither were they after Obama tried to deliver Israel on a plate during his eight years in power.
Just over three months to the election, the Democrats are doing everything to subsume ongoing events in their cause to remove the sitting president: riots, arson, murder and rape through many cities, the coronavirus, claims of sexual assault by their presumptive candidate all fall by the wayside in their mad dash to remove President Donald Trump.
Where does this leave Israel? If the government goes ahead with any sovereignty move in the current environment, this will be another clarion call in the run-up to the US elections, coalescing their need for yet another issue with the usual anti-Israel actors (Europe, etc.)
If Trump is reelected, Israel can continue as it sees fit. If Joe Biden takes the place, then we will be beholden to the far-left that he has sided with, and it’s best that we just keep our heads down for the duration. They will certainly have enough on their plate to reel their country back in from the horrific place that they are now.

Regarding “Poll: 56% of Israelis prefer Trump over Biden as next US president” (July 12) and “Niece’s book says Trump views “cheating as a way of life,’” as an oleh from the US in 2016, I find it very sad that Israel is likely the only country in the world where a majority of the citizens support Trump, when:
• He makes an average of 22 misstatements a day, according to independent fact checkers.
• Former Trump officials, including former National Security Advisor John Bolton and former Defense Secretary James Mattis, claim that Trump is not competent to be president.
• His incompetent handling of the coronavirus pandemic, including his long-time downplaying of the threats and the importance of wearing masks and observing social distancing, has resulted in tens of thousands of Americans dying unnecessarily.
• He is in denial of climate change, an existential threat to Israel and the world, and has been doing all he can to eliminate or weaken legislation designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
• His statements and actions regarding Israel have reduced prospects for an end of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and increased the potential for more Palestinian terrorism.
Professor Emeritus, College of Staten Island

Blacks and Jews
In order to properly understand “Black Lives Matter and the Jews” (July 14), we must appreciate the social dynamic that evolved at the black-Jewish interface over the last 100 or so years in the large cities of America. By and large, the white man that the black community was likely to interact with was Jewish. It began with the door-to-door peddler who sold via payments and appeared weekly or monthly to collect his pennies due. The landlord as well as the local shopkeeper were often Jews. The teachers and principals of the all-black schools were mostly Jewish. When it came to social mobility, the blacks found much less resistance in Jewish neighborhoods in contrast to violence encountered when attempting to move into other ethnic enclaves. Both Harlem and Crown Heights were predominantly Jewish neighborhoods
In their attempt to climb the socioeconomic ladder, the black community concluded that it was the Jew who occupied the next rung and was thereby blocking their ability to advance. This accounts for which stores were burned and looted as well as which educators were replaced.
Another source of friction originated in the difference between the two groups in how to achieve the American dream. The Jewish community asked for equal opportunity and exploited it with great success. The black community demands equal achievement because enslavement took away their ability to compete. This resulted in affirmative action, which has proven to be a failure.
As long as this resentment is allowed to fester, we will not see an end to this one-sided relationship.

Regarding Rabbi Avi Weiss’s letter of June 17, as a former Riverdalian, I used to look at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale from my terrace. Something is terribly wrong with New York. It isn’t the NYC that I grew up in. The AOCs, whose parents were let in by Mayor La Guardia, turned into bigots and hate mongers. Elliot Engel is no longer the congressman since he doesn’t have a constituency anymore. They all left.
When I first made aliyah in 1977, my father Z”L told me that the US doesn’t belong to us anymore. That even though we rode the buses in Alabama in protest, the day will come when we won’t be safe or wanted. He had those thoughts back in 1977. Look at NYC today, with the boarded up 5th Avenue stores, the looting, the attacks. Racial harmony and equality are good for all but us.
I think that Weiss should come and join his family in Efrat and repair the world from here. Only from here can we gain perspective on the rest of the world.
Ramat Raziel
Jews untethered
Omer Yankelevitch, Diaspora Affairs Minister, claims that four-fifths of the 6,088,000 North American Jews do not feel connected to Judaism and their Jewishness and are in danger of disappearing (“14,410,700 Jews around the world, 80% unconnected,” July 21). This claim has been bandied around for as long as I can remember, usually along with dire statistics on intermarriage.
On the other hand, Leonard Saxe, director of the Steinhardt Center of Brandeis University, says that the belief that USA Jews are a disappearing population is incorrect. He states, “The prophecy of the vanishing US Jew has not come to fruition.” His statistics are that 4.4 million (65 % of USA Jews) say their religion is Jewish; another 1.5 million consider themselves Jewish by background or other criteria; and 1.6 million children are being raised Jewish.
So what does the phrase “connected to Judaism” bandied about by Yankelevich really mean? I read The Jerusalem Post; am I connected to Judaism?
Maybe it’s just another example of “crying wolf.” Next year Yankelevitch can quote the Steinhardt Center statistics and proclaim a great victory.