Letters to the editor: May 24

On Ya'alon's departure, and a controversial editorial.

Envelope (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Ya’alon’s departure
In Noam Amir’s analysis “Outgoing defense minister chose IDF generals over populism” (May 22), we learn that Moshe Ya’alon “never knew how to walk the tightrope between being the defense minister of the State of Israel and being a member of the Likud central committee.” That’s what makes him a lousy politician, Amir says.
Unfortunately, Israeli journalism abounds with this standpoint regarding politicians. Too often, we read similar Machiavellian views that equate good leadership with cunning and scheming.
But even Machiavelli would have rejected the idea to judge a politician by his acrobatic talents.
After all, he advised leaders that “the best fortress is to be found in the love of the people, for although you may have fortresses, they will not save you if you are hated by the people.”
Journalists should support an educational effort to enlighten younger generations that involvement in politics means serving the public interest. If such views are absorbed, Israeli politics would gain many capable and intelligent leaders who nowadays, disgusted by politics, turn to other careers.
I believe that this is a way that can bring us intelligence, integrity, justness and sensibility among our leadership. Naïve? Utopian? I know of a journalist who professed an even more naïve idea (“If you will it, it is no dream”). They say it worked.
Even Yehuda
I am not privy to the shenanigans and personal power politicking within the various parliamentary groups supposedly elected to represent our interests with a certain degree of integrity.
However, I share the mistrust and cynicism that resonate in “Lapid laments ‘sell-out of values’” (May 22), which struck a chord with regard to the treatment meted out to a venerable and, in my opinion, courageous and trustworthy patriot.
I wish Moshe Ya’alon well and hope he will successfully run the gauntlet of political adversaries to achieve a decisive role in the higher echelons of government, notwithstanding the grievous disillusionment to which he has been subjected .
I am resigning from the Likud Party and will not vote for it.
Until now, I believed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the only one who could represent Israel in the world and guarantee our security. He maneuvered his criticism of defense minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon in order to give Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman his post. Bogie justifiably resigned.
Menahem Begin’s Likud was rightist, but very liberal, not extreme in any way, and also democratic. Our future foreign minister (if one is ever appointed) will have a tough fight in retaining what US support we still have. Europe will demonize us, and our ambassadors will need to defend the new extreme right-wing/religious coalition’s activities against increasing odds.
Why now? The prime minister could have bought Liberman a year ago and saved all the abuse, as well as expanding his narrow majority.
I hope someone arises or something happens to save our nation from this new government, and at the soonest – even if it means new elections.
An Israeli citizen for 58 years, I have become more and more concerned with the political scene.
Why are there so many political parties and disrupting opinions? Why is religion allowed to be part of politics? Why do those who are supposed to represent us fail to listen, see or think before opening their mouths? In fact, where is education and intelligence, and the power of proper planning? There must be a vast improvement in our educational programs to prepare our youth for taking the future into their hands and making the required changes that, hopefully, will save our country.
Pardess Hanna
Specious reasoning
Your editorial of May 22 (“Revenge sentence”) has it exactly wrong.
It states: “The concept of deterrence... has been singularly misunderstood in Israeli discourse.
To deter means to prevent from happening. Executing a terrorist murderer cannot prevent a slaying that has already occurred, just as demolishing the family homes of some terrorist murderers does not deter others. Politicians say deterrence, but they mean revenge.”
When politicians say deterrence, that’s what they mean. Not revenge. Obviously, one cannot deter a past event; the punishment is meant to deter a future event. To say otherwise is to indulge in clever but unsound reasoning. It is your editorial writer who misunderstands the death sentence, not the Israeli citizen.
By the way, the example of “demolishing the family homes of some terrorist murderers does not deter others” is impossible to prove. We can never know how many would-be terrorists have changed their minds or had their minds changed for them by relatives.
When you say “Imposing the ultimate sanction would require deep thought and evaluation,” you are right. But let’s not use specious reasoning to come to a conclusion.
Alfei Menashe
In your editorial, you say: “To deter means to prevent from happening. Executing a terrorist murderer cannot prevent a slaying that has already occurred.”
The first statement is a correct definition; the second is a statement of the obvious. But both miss the point, either inadvertently or disingenuously.
The point is that the execution of a terrorist murderer might make the next terrorist think twice or three times about carrying out his nefarious act. That surely was then-MK Sharon Gal’s point.
The definition of deterrence, according to Merriam-Webster, is the inhibition of criminal behavior by fear, especially of punishment.
Executing terrorists and demolishing the homes of family members clearly fit into this category. Knowing they could face execution and/or that their families could lose their homes might deter some potential terrorists from actual acts of terrorism.
These actions also might reflect revenge. And there is a question whether executing terrorists and destroying the homes of family members are successful deterrents in our country’s fight against terrorism.
Please help raise the level of discussion on important questions for our nation, such as how best to maintain our security.
Please do not lower such discussions by ignoring clearly understood concepts that you might happen to disagree with.
Your editorial is hopelessly flawed, from the headline to the very end. There are a number of grievous errors, but I wish to focus only on its worst.
The editorial states, with regard to the execution of terrorists: “Politicians say deterrence, but they mean revenge.” At the end, it states that Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On said: “Killing for reasons of revenge is wrong. It is unwise and unjust, and its results were best described by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said that an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.”
Everyone who rails against what they call biblical vengeance, an eye for an eye, has failed to make one simple, yet so significant differentiation: If someone hits me and, in response, I strike his son, that’s revenge. But if someone hits me and I hit back, that’s called retaliation. There is a world of difference.
Executing terrorists is retaliation.
To deny a people the right to retaliate against those who would destroy it is to reject the right of self-defense. This is a serious error that requires a clear statement of biblical Jewish morality called “the mitzva to retaliate.”
The writer is a rabbi.