Letters to the Editor May 2, 2021: Monstrous Meron misfortune

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters (photo credit: PIXABAY)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)
Monstrous Meron misfortune
As head of Pediatrics at Ziv Medical Center Safed for 28 years, I can testify to the fact that not a single year passes without injuries and accidents at the Meron Lag Ba’omer event. Indeed Ziv Hospital began operating in the wake of another huge tragedy at Meron in 1911.
Little has changed since then. Rarely does this earn wide reportage. Also not reported is the huge dislocation to local life, which causes massive traffic jams and long delays to patients trying to reach the hospital, with a price in health and life. Nine years ago the State Comptroller severely criticized the dangers, chaos and disorder involved in this event but little has been done and the police have demonstrated their usual lack of initiative and negligence combined with draconian and exaggerated petty restrictions.
Now we will face months if not years of a lawyers’, journalists’ and politicians’ circus as investigation upon enquiry will seek out who to blame. I can tell you already who will not be found guilty: 1) the haredi and religious “leadership” who have done nothing to restrain or limit the attendance at this massive idol-worship nor invest in safety improvements and 2) the dysfunctional governmental and political system that have led to zero responsibility and action over many decades.
Many other disasters, like the collapse at the Versailles wedding hall and the Maccabi games bridge, have clearly shown that something is rotten in our civic “it’ll be okay” culture. Unfortunately there are few signs of real change.
Rosh Pina
Apartheid? They lied
Regarding “HRW accuses Israel of ‘apartheid crimes’ for the first time” (April 27), Human Rights Watch has such a long history of anti-Israel bias that even its founder, Robert L. Bernstein, admitted that fact. In his October 2009 New York Times op-ed “Rights Watchdog: Lost in the Mideast” Bernstein highlighted HRW’s anti-Israeli bias:
“Israel, with a population of 7.4 million, is home to at least 80 human rights organizations, a vibrant free press, a democratically elected government, a judiciary that frequently rules against the government, a politically active academia, multiple political parties and, judging by the amount of news coverage, probably more journalists per capita than any other country in the world — many of whom are there expressly to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Meanwhile, the Arab and Iranian regimes rule over some 350 million people, and most remain brutal, closed and autocratic, permitting little or no internal dissent. The plight of their citizens who would most benefit from the kind of attention a large and well-financed international human rights organization can provide is being ignored as HRW’s Middle East division prepares report after report on Israel.
“HRW has lost critical perspective on a conflict in which Israel has been repeatedly attacked by Hamas and Hezbollah, organizations that go after Israeli citizens and use their own people as human shields. These groups are supported by the government of Iran, which has openly declared its intention not just to destroy Israel but to murder Jews everywhere. This incitement to genocide is a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”
To call Israel “apartheid” flies in the face of the term’s white South African derivation, which the public understands and HRW chooses to obfuscate. By law, blacks had no upward mobility in white South Africa; today in Israel the chairman of the board of Bank Leumi, Israel’s largest bank, is an Arab. In white South Africa, if a black stepped into a “white” bank, he or she could be arrested, imprisoned, tortured and murdered. Only in the biased judgment of HRW, as founder Robert Bernstein made clear, is an Arab “systematically oppressed” by the Israeli government by becoming CEO of Bank Leumi.
Omar Shakir, the author of the HRW report, has a long history of supporting Omar Barghouti’s BDS movement, beginning as a BDS leader at Stanford University. Barghouti has made clear that the sole purpose of BDS is the “euthanasia” of Israel. A student of history, Barghouti knows that the Nazi T4 Euthanasia program was the foundation of the Final Solution as enacted in the Wannsee Protocols in January 1942. His use of the term makes clear he founded BDS to continue to antisemitic eliminationist mission formalized at Wannsee.
In 2015, Shakir signed a petition pledging to honor the BDS movement and boycott the Shalom Institute’s Muslim-Jewish dialogue initiative.
The HRW report is consistent with its founder’s 2009 analysis and flies in the face of the fact that South African anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela in 1997 accepted an honorary doctorate from Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. No rational person would believe that Mandela would have ever accepted a degree from a country that practiced apartheid.

Margate, Florida
This HRW report may matter to antisemitic, left-wing and radical Islamic NGOs and media, but to honest people used to the incessant bleating of these biased activists, it’s just blah, blah, blah.
HRW hired an Arab, Omar Shakir, to skewer Israel with libels such as declaring it an “apartheid state.”
Israel, in reality, is the least apartheid state in the Mideast and North Africa, the only place where minorities, women and gays are free to pursue their dreams. Israeli Arabs are equally represented in academia and slightly over-represented in medical fields. They have members and parties in parliament. An Arab is a Supreme Court justice. Does this sound like discrimination?
If HRW is unhappy with the lives of those living under the PA and Hamas, perhaps they should get Omar Shakir to write another report – but then again, Palestinian on Palestinian misdeeds would hardly be newsworthy.

Ottawa, On.
PA vote: No go
The resident Arabs of Jerusalem cannot be permitted to vote in any PA election (“Abbas: Israel said no to PA elections in Jerusalem,” April 30).
Only citizens of a country may vote in its elections. If the Jerusalem Arabs of are permitted to vote, then they are de facto citizens of the PA. Not only must they be identified as such, but they must be permitted to vote in the same manner as American and Canadian expats – by mail only.
As resident Arabs generally have Jordanian passports, then, by normative law, contrary to Jordan’s ridiculous assertion that their passport confers travel rights but not citizenship, they are citizens of Jordan and can in no way be permitted to vote for a “country” they are not citizens of. Never mind the obvious undermining of Israel’s right to Jerusalem by any such voting.
Before all the progressives have a stroke, please be assured that the government of Israel will allow the resident Arabs to vote, because it does not have the courage of its convictions, and will inevitably fold, as it has on so many issues vital to the assertion of our authority and right to the Land of Israel.

Bar Orthodox conversions?
In “Time to reject Orthodox conversions” (April 27), Mark Lavie recommends that non-Orthodox movements stop recognizing Orthodox conversions in retaliation for the non-recognition of non-Orthodox conversions by Orthodox rabbis.
This is a non-starter from the get-go. It would be extremely difficult to find any Orthodox convert that would ever be upset because his conversion would not be accepted by non-Orthodox rabbis. And if you do find such a convert, the rabbi who converted him would likely admit the conversion was in error.
Lavie states, “Orthodox Judaism has built a wall between it and other Jews, calling into question their Jewishness on false pretenses and lashon hara (defamation)” without any explanation as to what those false pretenses are or examples of defamation. He acknowledges that he is Orthodox but not a rabbi. I can only guess that he has not delved too deeply into the halachic (legal) aspects of Judaism because if he did, he would realize that conversion is a process – if the process is followed, the non-Jew becomes a Jew; conversely, if the process is not followed, he remains a non-Jew. There is no free-for-all to converting non-Jews. It must be performed by someone fully knowledgeable with the process.
There can be differences of opinion on the process for conversion just as there are differences of opinion on any subject in Judaism; an acceptable opinion according to Orthodoxy must be based on legal precedents established by our sages over the millennia since receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai. In coming to an opinion on a particular issue, one can rely on any of a wide variety of opposing decisions made by sages in the Talmud as well as rabbis who are known for their legal expertise throughout the years. Any controversial decision made at any point in time must get the consensus of the other recognized legal experts in that generation.
The founders of these non-Orthodox movements decided to make their own rules and not follow the consensus. They had every right to do so. However, their followers must accept the consequences.
As a side note, the current controversy on conversion between the Modern Orthodox rabbis and the haredi chief rabbinate is a legitimate disagreement based on each side relying on differing decisions recorded by earlier Orthodox legal experts. The controversy will hopefully be resolved over time without serious repercussions.
Furthermore, Lavie incorrectly states that “The basis of [Rabbi David] Eliezrie’s rejection of liberal Jews is that they don’t believe the Torah is meant to be taken literally.” What Eliezrie did say is, “How can I accept the conversion from a rabbi who does not believe in the first of the Ten Commandments, ‘I am the Lord your God who took you out of Egypt?’”
That statement in no way proves that Eliezrie believes the Creation (the example given by Lavie) should be taken literally nor does it even prove that the story of the Exodus must be interpreted literally. All one can conclude from Eliezrie’s statement is that he believes in God and that God emancipated the Jews from slavery in Egypt – the first of the Ten Commandments. Prior to the founding of the non-Orthodox movements, no person calling himself a rabbi would say that “he doubts the Exodus ever happened” as expressed by the rabbi of LA’s largest Conservative congregation to Eliezrie.
Lavie misrepresented Eliezrie’s opinion.
How ironic. Mark Lavie suggests that the Reform Movement, so welcoming of all and sundry, Jew and non-Jew, bar Orthodox converts from its hallowed precincts. That would be some change to their policy of inclusivity.
What about tolerance? Oh, apparently that’s required only of the Orthodox.
Rockets: Anemic answer
Aren’t the people fed up yet being bombarded with rockets whenever Hamas feels the urge, knowing full well that there will be no price to pay other than hearing the nonsense coming from the government (“IDF poised for harsh response if rocket fire continues from Gaza,” April 27)?
Closing the fishing zone and then re opening it as happens at times like this is childish and pointless and once again lets the enemy see the Israeli government is weak and without resolve or courage to actually take the necessary steps just as any other country under rocket attack would do that had a modicum of pride and determination to protect its people.
Hamas as usual will set the agenda regarding the cessation of the present merciless attacks and the government will go along with it. Our current leader neither has the will nor the courage to do what’s necessary for the people to live in peace and security in their own land.
We did not make aliyah – nor were our people returned to our historic Land – to die at the hands of terrorist enemies that the government refuses to destroy.

Go nearer to a mirror
Perhaps Israelis have become accustomed to politicians shooting their mouths off at one another. Sometimes however, it is beneficial to take a step back, survey the terrain and then act or speak in an appropriate manner.
It is with envy that we in the Diaspora see you living in a Jewish state, away from many of the issues and factors we have to be wary of living in chutz laaretz.
I was particularly distressed to read Ehud Olmert’s “Dear Naftali Bennett” (April 23). Is Olmert not able to give Bennett advice without slighting the current prime minister of Israel? As things stand, it may be a touch premature and even ironic to be calling Benjamin Netanyahu a crook. Should Olmert maybe remove the glass window he is looking out of and replace it with a mirror? Why the repeated slander concerning Netanyahu’s wife? Does this add to Olmert’s character?
Netanyahu is carved from the same stone as Olmert. Is he trying to woo voters by mocking and attacking Yamina leader Naftali Bennett? Have politicians like Olmert and Netanyahu not learned the lesson of playing the ball, not the man? Their behavior is a chilul Hashem.
Prominent Israelis enable many of us in the Diaspora to hold our heads up with pride, knowing that Hashem’s country is being cared for by leaders of character and sensitivity. Olmert and Netanyahu need to step back and perform some serious introspection.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Nix needless nastiness
I am appalled at Gil Troy’s “Bibi is becoming a shark” (April 28). While purporting to taking “no joy in Bibi bashing,” he displays a full measure of joyful, spirited and injurious hatred for our prime minister.
Troy, like several other Jerusalem Post writers, breaches the codes of civility that are the hallmark of professional journalism. His newly coined term “Jew-jitsued” in regard to our prime minister’s negotiating strategies is blatantly antisemitic. As a “distinguished scholar,” Troy should offer an apology for this unforgivable slur, which weaponizes our enemies by presenting a disgusting new anti-Jewish reference.
May I humbly suggest that the standards required by your publication for letters to the editor (including “no nastiness”) should apply no less to your own writers, many of whom do not meet the standard guidelines of professional journalism nor your own rules for your readers.
Reform required
“Israel’s electoral system is in urgent need of reform” (April 29) raises an important topic. Unless our electoral system is changed, this series of frequent elections will continue. Raising the threshold will not solve the impasse because the votes lost by smaller parties will go to the larger parties on the political Left and Right, maintaining the evenly split status quo.
Our electoral system lacks the very basics of democracy, which is defined as “government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them through a system of representation.”
Our government consists of delegates from the parties, not representatives of the people. The party leaders choose for their list MKs who will be most likely to support their decisions. The citizens have no choice in the matter. That is not democracy.
Our legislators must be representatives of voting districts and promote the interests of their locality. In that way, any party may put up its candidate and the one who receives most votes goes forward to represent all his constituents. The winner is then accountable to the voters and not just a party leader.
Any such change would have to be enacted in the Knesset, so it is unlikely to happen soon. MKs do not want to take on additional accountability and responsibilities – they are like turkeys who would never vote for Thanksgiving.