Meretz merits mention
Regarding “ICC investigation of Israel is justified, says Meretz leader” (March 7), Meretz leader Etan Horowitz should be ashamed of himself for supporting the intent of Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to proceed with a war crimes investigation of Israel.
Horowitz may oppose any and all Israeli policies that he may desire – that is his democratic right and I assume he will be repudiated at the polls – but supporting the ICC decision to continue its criminal probe is not an expression of his opinion on Israel’s policies. It is an expression of agreement with an antisemitic attack on Israel.
I have read the jurisdictional sections of the Rome Statute many times and there is no reason, other than antisemitism, that the ICC can claim jurisdiction in this matter.
The second sentence of the preamble to the Rome Statute explaining the reason for the establishment of the court states, “Mindful that during this century millions of children, women and men have been victims of unimaginable atrocities that deeply shock the conscience of humanity” gives any rationally thinking individual a clear and concise explanation of the statute’s intent.
Horowitz may disagree with Israeli policies but to even suggest that these policies are “unimaginable atrocities that deeply shock the conscience of humanity” is to side with antisemitic enemies of Israel and the Jewish people.
Nadav Tamir (“Israel received a wake-up call from the Hague,” March 5) should have considered three specific examples from the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism before cavalierly dismissing assertions that the ICC’s decision to investigate alleged Israeli war crimes is antisemitic:
• Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
• Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination.
• Applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
The ICC was founded as a direct response to and a means to prevent another Holocaust. For the ICC to place Israel in the dock is a subliminal statement that actions of the world’s only Jewish nation may be similar to the Nazis’ heinous policies.
In order for the ICC to consider settlement activity in the disputed territories and building in Jerusalem as a war crime, it must first delineate the borders of an imaginary Palestinian state – a determination that the Palestinians had agreed should be made only by the parties themselves. An ICC pronouncement on borders without Israeli agreement is tantamount to a denial of the Jewish right to self-determination in our indigenous ancestral homeland.
The ICC may only investigate and prosecute crimes committed within member states (i.e., countries that have ratified the Rome Statute), or crimes committed by nationals of member states. Israel is not an ICC member. In order to accept the case the ICC had to both assert jurisdiction over a non-member state (Israel) and recognize a non-existent state (“Palestine”).
Intended to complement existing national judicial systems, the ICC may exercise its jurisdiction only when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals. Israel’s courts are not only willing and able; they already have investigated numerous charges of improper IDF actions, and have upheld the legality of settlements and building in Jerusalem.
There are only two ways that the ICC could convict:
1) Reject the independence of Israel’s court system (the IDF and Israeli civilian government would be shocked), or
2) Find Israeli court decisions invalid (for the first time, the ICC would be acting as an international appellate court, overturning substantive decisions by fully capable and independent domestic courts).
The ICC action reveals a plan to ignore its own rules and procedures in order to hold Israel to a higher standard than it would for any other democratic country. Alarmingly, it may already have decided to find Israel guilty, even if that requires overturning decisions by a fully functioning judicial system. At best, this will be a wasteful exercise entered into by the ICC for purely political reasons.
EFRAIM A. COHEN
In ”A wake-up call from the Hague” (March 5), Nadav Tamir goes off in two directions, leading us to believe first in his “great appreciation for the IDF’s role in defending Israel” and then seamlessly moving to his take on “past and present military personnel… paying the price for the arrogance, distorted values and stupidity of the political echelon.”
He continues denigrating the Israeli public and the government for the indifference of the “occupation.” He talks about recognizing Palestinian sovereignty, but over what? There has not been an established state of Palestine, due to their intransigence in sitting down to a negotiated solution.
The fact that they see themselves under occupation doesn’t stop them from using international funds to pay to slay Israelis, instead of improving life and infrastructure for their people responsibly and with transparency.
His proposal to call on the IDF to investigate alleged wrongdoings? Been there, done that.
Tamir would do well to distance himself from the Jewish self-hating J Street and start looking at Israel through the eyes of a real Zionist who truly would “cringe” at the possibility of the great defenders of our country being “imprisoned and locked up.”
A mask – need you ask?
In “Ash: Another holiday curfew may be needed for Pessah” (March 8), Prof. Nachman Ash is quoted as saying, “the requirement for people to always wear a mask outdoors could be canceled, as their [the masks] effectiveness is limited.” Ash then continues that despite the fact that masks do nothing outside, the regulation of wearing a mask will not be changed because it will “produce further confusion.”
Instead, he says, the rule will continue, but the police shouldn’t enforce it. Ash is saying that we, the citizens of this country, are too stupid to understand a rule that makes sense, like wearing a mask when inside but not outside.
This is explicitly stating what we have known now for a long time. The rules dictated for the corona situation are largely arbitrary, based on little sense. They have caused unwarranted pain and suffering to many. It is not the virus that has devastated us, it is the lockdowns ordered by the state. The government, with the help of the media, terrified us, and through fear we allowed the government to steal our freedom.
DIANA BARSHAW, PHD
I have read with great interest about the transfer of COVID-19 antibodies from the vaccinated mother to the baby via breast milk (“Vaccinated nursing moms can pas antibodies to babies,” March 8).
There have been at least five research reports, including ours from Hadassah Hospital, that babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first full year of life develop autism much less frequently.
IGF1 (insulin-like growth factor-1) is necessary for the functional development of circuitry in the baby’s nervous system, especially the brain. Human milk in particular is an excellent source of IGF1.
GARY STEINMAN, MD, PHD
With 1) more than five million Israelis now inoculated against corona, 2) another million or so who got it, recovered and are immune, and 3) others strictly observing social distancing and precautions, one almost has to sympathize with the virus. It must be getting harder and harder for it to find new victims.
Are we really almost turning the page on the disease?
They choose to be Jews
As The Jerusalem Post reported, the High Court of Justice ruled that Reform and Masorti conversions in Israel are acceptable under the Law of Return. This was to remove the anomaly that had existed whereby such conversions outside Israel were accepted. However, it made the proviso that this ruling should not have any bearing on “Who is a Jew” for religious purposes.
As Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau stated, those who converted through Reform conversions and the like are not Jewish and no High Court decision will change that fact.
The Reform and Masorti movements differ significantly from Judaism, so I think this is a perfectly valid stance. So long as such “converts” are not entered in the population registry as Jews, there is no real problem.
The only way to a long-term solution is for the Israeli Reform and Masorti movements to set themselves up as independent religious entities like, for example, the Roman Catholic and Armenian Orthodox churches. They would then be free to admit as members, and marry them, according to whatever criteria they see fit, rather than to try to foist their “converts” on the Orthodox rabbinate which cannot possibly consider them to be Jews according to Halacha (Jewish law).
MARTIN D. STERN
This decades’ long debate as to “Who is a Jew?” is flaring its ugly head once again (“Citizen pain,” Letters, March 8). Some of my fellow Orthodox brethren may take umbrage at my answer, but I believe the response is quite simple: if this individual would have been deemed eligible to be tossed into a gas chamber by the Nazis, then he/she is a Jew!
MICHAEL D. HIRSCH
Regarding “Pandemic deals blow to working women” (March 8), International Women’s Day has again passed virtually unnoticed. Regrettably, it has become a rhetorical exercise with no substance within it.
Women worldwide grapple with myriad human rights violations from mass poverty and unemployment to gender inequalities, sexual harassment, discrimination, genital mutilation, social marginalization, honor killings, mental ill-health and a widening pay gap, to name only a few societal, health and cultural ailments. Moreover, they continue to be traumatized with the scars of gruesome atrocities in war-ravaged societies.
These have been aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic, when women are disproportionately disaffected. Despite giant leaps toward women’s empowerment and gender equality, politicians continue to pay lip service to ameliorating such gaps. Hasn’t time come to create a fairer society where men and women are recognized as equal partners?
DR MUNJED FARID AL QUTOB
London, United Kingdom
In “Why women’s representation matters” (March 9) Emily Schrader bemoans the lack of female representation as CEOs (one in six), in the Knesset (25%) and in other positions of leadership and power.
The situation is considerably worse in the academic/scientific world. Stanford University has recently released an exhaustive list that names the top 2% of the most-cited scientists in various disciplines. The exhaustive list has 159,683 persons. In this list there are 1,009 Israeli scientists – 0.0063% – which is pretty good considering that Israel’s share of the world population is about 0.001%, six times less.
But of the 1009 Israeli scientists there are fewer than 100 women (identified by first name), 10% instead of the 50% expected on the basis of gender equality. One can only wonder whether any country in the world, even progressive countries like Sweden, have achieved 50% status for women or even close.
PROF. EMERITUS YIGAL HOROWITZ
Women of the Wall: Please do something useful. Instead of wasting your time fighting to destroy Jewish tradition, fight the unjust pay gap, which makes employers think it is acceptable to pay women 1/3 less for the same work as men. This is a real injustice!
Regarding “Why the fully vaccinated can still get the virus” (March 9), we would like to clarify that the clinical trials for Moderna and Pfizer indicate that the vaccine is 95% efficient in protecting against the disease – meaning, according to Johns Hopkins University, that about one out of 20 vaccinated people may not be protected and could still get sick.
The efficacy of protection is calculated based on the number of people who were actually infected in the clinical trials, not on the total number of those that were vaccinated.
It should also be noted that 95% efficacy does not mean that 5% of the people in the Pfizer clinical trial caught coronavirus. According to an article published by Live Science, the percentage was much less - around 0.04%.
Cash for killing
“PA, Israel partners in ensuring stability – new Civil Administration head” (February 10) avoids any mention of the PA “law” that provides unprecedented financial gifts and honor for anyone who murders a Jew, which functions as an incentive to kill.
That PA law legislates a generous automatic gratuity to the killer for life and payment to the family of the murderer for perpetuity.
So long as the Israel Civil Administration does not arrest those who pay for murder, and so long as the Israel Civil Administration does not impound fees for murder, this is hardly a formula for ensuring stability. Instead, this is a form of collaboration with a law that represents a crime against humanity.
I expect based on the surveys being thrown about that we are again in for another (fifth) election.
Why doesn’t the Knesset amend the Basic Law to provide that if an election fails to clearly designate a winner, that one month later there will be a run-off election between the leaders of the two parties that received the most votes in the indecisive election?
The winner would be designated prime minister for a fixed term.
SHIMON GALITZER CPA, JD
Enough Israelis have already been vaccinated to see significant benefits: the steep reduction of serious cases requiring hospitalization or worse. It ill behooves any COVID czar to entertain the idea of imposing a fourth lockdown.
Why some million eligible Israelis are unwilling to be vaccinated is beyond my comprehension, but in any event, whatever their reasons are, they should not think that they can hold the rest of the society ransom and lockdown the country totally unnecessarily. If they insist on not getting vaccinated then they must face the consequences. If as a result too many do get COVID seriously, they cannot expect the health system to treat them beyond its normal resources.
Far better for the COVID czar to pull no punches on the subject and concentrate on getting those under 16 vaccinated as soon as possible.