I am sick and tired of seeing all the mudslinging and unjust criticism directed toward UNRWA (“Unnecessary UNRWA,” editorial, November 15). They are one of the few organizations worldwide to have fulfilled their mandate completely. They have succeeded most admirably and successfully in their intended goals.
They have kept the Arabs who fled the founding of the state perpetually poor and stateless, with no possibility of integration into the countries they find themselves in, successfully keeping these Arabs as a perpetual weapon against Israel. They have educated generations of children to be antisemitic racist extremists.
They have fostered a culture of dependency and slothfulness. They have provided Hamas with employment, places to hide weapons, and cover for the tunnel network. They have promoted the hopelessly impossible idea of the “Right of Return.” They have created a victim culture, where no responsibility whatsoever rests on the shoulders of Arabs.
Definitely, a record of outstanding accomplishments UNRWA can take immense pride in!
The Jerusalem Post editorial board is correct that UNRWA must be shut down. Every dictionary in the world defines refugee as someone who has fled their home because of religious or political persecution. “Fled” is the operative word. The war initiated by the Arabs on November 30, 1947 when they rejected partition and an independent state of Palestine ended in late 1948. Therefore any refugee from that war has to be 73 years old or older. It is unlikely there are more than 15,000 such refugees alive today. There may be less.
The rest of the five or six million Muslims on the UNRWA dole are not refugees. They did not flee from anywhere. Simply put, if you did not flee, you are not a refugee. These Palestinian Arabs are living where they were born.
They are no more refugees than a person born in Los Angeles in 1970 is a Polish refugee because his or her Polish grandparents fled the Holocaust in the 1930s.
UNRWA is a welfare agency for people who are overwhelmingly not refugees. The sooner it closes shop, the better.
In 1947 there were one million people in displaced persons camps all over Europe whose spouses, siblings and children had been murdered by the Germans. By 1953 those camps were empty. Without billions of dollars in UN welfare payments, those one million people got up, dusted themselves off and got on with their lives. There is no reason why UNRWA’s welfare campers cannot do the same.
Not Mata Hari
Regarding “Turkey allows visit by consul to jailed Israeli couple” (November 16), this whole incident is just too much. For heaven’s sake, if Israel can assassinate Mohsen Fakhrizadeh using a computerized machine gun, bring from Iran half a ton of nuclear files, disrupt the centrifuges through Stuxnet, then surely it does not need to photograph Erdogan’s palace from a TV tower.
We do not live in the times of Mata Hari and invisible ink, not even in the times of Richard Sorge or Eli Cohen, so what the Israeli media should have done is demonstrate how absurd the Turkish claims are.
It is also high time that Israelis become more conscious of the character of the countries they go on vacation to. Why pick one ruled by an Islamic fundamentalist with a very antagonistic attitude toward Israel when they can choose from a number of Mediterranean democracies? Appeasing dictators is never a good policy and that applies not only to governments but to their citizens too.
We can start by boycotting Turkish Airlines which has, I believe, ten daily flights to/from Tel Aviv.
And let’s not hear the ridiculous comment that if we boycott them then they’ll boycott us. Since when does anyone need a reason to boycott Israel! Plus let’s really let Erdogan have it. If we’re not going to stay home, Israelis should patronize Cyprus instead of Turkey!
There are three policy issues confronting Israel that demand a forceful response:
1. Unless the present regime in Ankara releases those two hapless Israelis (and apologizes for their detention), our government should ban all tourism to and imports from Turkey, also threatening diplomatic sanctions. Such measures, more radical than those suggested by Herb Keinon (“Avoid visiting Turkey,” November 15), are the very least that our self-respect demands.
2. The Israeli public is entitled to know which European governments are still funding undercover terrorist organizations that masquerade as Palestinian NGOs. As Becca Wertman-Traub, an expert researcher, points out (“European governments financing terror,” November 15), those particular governments have been made well aware of the facts, but choose to ignore them. Such double-dealing is intolerable and must be exposed through public pressure and enlightenment campaigns wherever necessary. Our self-respect demands no less.
3. Lastly, as your editorial (“Unnecessary UNRWA”) reminds us, the bogus “Palestinian refugee issue” has been kept alive, generation after generation, by corrupt, self-serving officials, under whose authority schools and textbooks continue to foment anti-Israel hatred and terror. UNRWA should have been abolished long ago, and the original 750,000 refugees – displaced by Arab wars of annihilation against Israel (and, incidentally, outnumbered by Jewish refugees from Arab lands) – might easily have been cared for by UNWRA, allowing them to become productive citizens of neighboring Arab states. Dismantling UNRWA would help to solve this problem, and Israel must insist on an international responsibility that is long overdue. Our self-respect demands no less.
DR. GABRIEL A. SIVAN
Quality, not quantity
Regarding “On a silver platter” (November 15), I read this article with some empathy, although in my case it is our daughter and son whom my late wife and I left in the Diaspora. Our parents had predeceased our aliyah. However, there was one statement in the article which was irritating, namely, that New York (the big apple) was the Jewish capital of the Diaspora. I come from Scotland, a country in the Diaspora and I can assure you that never at any time or in any way did we Scottish or for that matter British Jews consider New York to be anything other than an interesting place to visit. While the American Jewish community is certainly the largest Diaspora community it is not the only one. One is tempted to assert that it is quality not quantity that counts!
Calling the kettle black
Question for David Weinberg (“Might American Jewry do teshuva?” November 12): When will the Israeli Rabbinate and haredi communities do teshuva for having failed to welcome olim from the Former Soviet Union, working to introduce them to the Jewish way of life that was denied to them by their Soviet oppressors, whether those being persecuted as Jews were Jewish according to Halacha or not? Why didn’t the government and religious leaders consider that haredim who were reluctant to serve in the IDF could make their contribution to the state by doing National Service as teachers reaching out to both olim and to secular Israelis? When will the Orthodox rabbis and the state realize that converts cannot be expected to learn to grow in observance if they are kept in constant fear that a small misstep could result in their conversions being nullified, resulting in their descendants being declared “not Jewish” through no fault of their own?
Furthermore, vilifying women who want to pray as a group and read from a Sefer Torah as desecrating God’s name, especially when prayer sheets bearing God’s name are torn from the women’s hands and are destroyed. Such actions don’t bring people closer to Hashem.
Yes, assimilation is a problem in the US. But most Baalei Teshuva come from Conservative and Reform homes, not from completely secular backgrounds. Jews taking their first steps toward leading Jewish lives might feel more comfortable starting out in non-haredi (more “modern”) congregations.
TOBY F. BLOCK
Where are they?
In his article “The ever-bonded people” (November 10), Gil Troy strives to present a more positive picture of the feelings of American Jews, especially the young ones, toward Israel than is usually portrayed. As an example he cites the fact that 700,000 Jewish youth have participated in the Birthright program.
One wonders, however, where are these 700,000 now? Where are their voices protesting anti-Zionism on campus? Where are the marches and demonstrations they could be holding to show their support and love for Israel? If their visit here has enriched their Jewish identity and bond with their people, they seem quite passive about it.
Changing the narrative
Regarding “‘Blue Box’: A 14-year odyssey into a family’s Zionist history” (November 12), how very convenient to “forget” that the land was purchased with full compensation, not confiscated. The villagers were not thriving at all but very poor on the verge of collapse and very willing to sell.
How easy is it to change the narrative and believe that there is no one alive to dispute these so-called facts and a media who believe that while Jews were being slaughtered, the villains were the ones planting trees to reclaim the swamp.
I feel ashamed for Michal Weits who has dishonored her grandfather so.
Regarding “World Bank: Donor funding to PA has dropped by 85% since 2008” (November 10), the decrease in external funding was primarily from the Gulf states. The Arab brothers of Arab Palestinians obviously recognize how wasted their donations to the corrupt administration and intransigence of this group of “takers” are.
It is time for the rest of the western world, especially the UN, to recognize the facts. A group of people who are able to be educated, work and make reasonable strides for peace and do not, do not need donations; they need a wake up call.
An extension of Obama
Regarding “US Jerusalem consulate – the bottom line” (November 16), President Biden is proving once again that his administration is an extension of Obama’s. Obama turned away from Israel and toward Iran in his Middle East foreign policy. Aside from smuggling billions to the mullahs, in unmarked bills, like a drug dealer, he sabotaged Israel at the UN Security Council in his last days in office.
The US recently abstained from a typical anti-Israel UN vote that they had previously voted against. That’s no way to treat a friend.
Instead of discussing opening a consulate for Arabs in the disputed territories with Israel, Biden announced his plan publicly, showing the widening gap between Israel and America. It is little wonder Iran and Hamas feel emboldened to enhance terrorism in the region.
Under international law, Israel includes Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Only Israel can give part of it away, which it is willing to do. (See UN charter, article 80.) The Palestinian Authority has had many opportunities to make peace with Israel and to establish its own country. It has rejected every offer. Under the Oslo Accords, the PA was given control of parts of the territory until a settlement could be made.
The US has no right to establish any consulate anywhere in the world without the host country’s permission. It certainly cannot consider putting one in Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. A more logical local place would be Ramallah, which is the seat of government for the PA.
As I read the story, “Kosherfest 2021: Going kosher in New Jersey after pandemic hiatus” (November 15), I couldn’t help but remember the joke about a new cruise liner that specializes in Jewish passengers. The ship was named the SS Mein Kind (Yiddish for “Eat, eat, my child”). Having worked as a cantor for over three decades at Kutsher’s Country Club, one of the landmark hotels in the Jewish Catskill Mountains in New York, I can attest first-hand to the Jewish obsession with food.
Many a comedian performing at hotels in the Catskills had routines based on this obsession. As for me, with a mother born and raised in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, I had many a first-hand experience with this obsession. It was truly “Eat, eat, my child.”
MICHAEL D. HIRSCH