Reading “Hefetz: Netanyahu was obsessed with media updates” (November 23) which details the first day of evidence by state witness Nir Hefetz in the Bibi trials, it brings to my mind a very apt quotation from the 18th-century essayist and political satirist Jonathan Swift in his epic social critique (wrongly considered a children’s story) Gulliver’s Travels.
The relevance of the quotation derives from my own revulsion, disgust and nausea when confronted by a man who has viciously betrayed the confidence placed in him by his employer, indeed his friend, and who deceitfully and secretly recorded every conversation, confidential as they may be, personal as they may be, just in order to prepare himself to use them against his employer and friend and thereby save his own skin.
The giant of Brobdingnag, looking down on the tiny people and their political shenanigans (so clearly demonstrated by the likes of Nir Hefetz) gave his opinion and said: “I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.”
Regarding “Beijing downgrades ties with Lithuania over Taiwan move,” (November 22), before any nation might successfully compel China to do anything it doesn’t really want to, we must at least possess a consumer base, thus trade import/export bargaining chips compatible with China’s nearly 1.5 billion consumers. Even then, China’s restrictive control over its own business sector may give it an edge over other, more free-trading nations.
Perhaps some securely allied nations combining their resources could go without the usual bully-nation China trade/investment tether they’d prefer to sever, instead trading necessary goods and services between themselves and other interested non-allied, non-China-bound nation economies.
Then, again, maybe such an alliance has already been covertly discussed but rejected due to Chinese government strategists knowing how to divide and conquer potential alliance nations by using door-wedge economic/political leverage custom-made for each nation.
Perhaps every country typically placing its own economic and big business bottom-line interests foremost may always be its, and therefore collectively our, Achilles’ heel to be exploited by huge-market nations like China. FRANK STERLE JR.
White Rock, British Columbia
Regarding “‘NYT’ report: Biden pressuring Israel not to undermine nuclear negotiations” (November 23), the Biden administration, overstaffed with Obama retreads, has shown considerable contempt, but little love, toward Israel .
A few flashpoints: Israel blacklisting PFLP-linked NGOs, Area C housing tenders within existing settlement boundaries, US abstaining on a UN General Assembly resolution affirming a Palestinian right of return, reportedly seeking to facilitate a Palestinian unity government, inclusive of Hamas, and, worst of all, the planned reopening of a western Jerusalem-located consulate for the Palestinians. That would not only call into question Israel’s overall sovereignty in its unified capital city, but even in the section it has controlled since independence. The consul general would report directly to Washington, bypassing the embassy. Not even little enthusiasm has been shown for the Abraham Accords.
Unresponsive to repeated Iranian provocations, the Biden administration continues to relentlessly pursue Iran’s return to the moribund JCPOA, whatever the cost. An unobtainable “longer and stronger” agreement has been downsized to “less for less,” and is soon likely, in Vienna, to disappear altogether. There is no Plan B, nor does Iran fear administration empty rhetoric or resolve. Pursuing its own “tactically satisfying, but ultimately counterproductive” inaction, it would deny Israeli disruptive actions.
How ludicrous are administration and “some IAEA” officials’ claims, that Iran was actually “ahead of where it would have been,” due to Israeli covert attacks on its nuclear facilities! Iran has stealthily stiffed the IAEA at every turn. Without access to sensitive sites and disconnected monitoring cameras, while not being dealt with in good faith, the IAEA is clueless as to Iran’s nuclear program’s progress.
Unless vigorously confronted, Iran is on a glide path to nuclear power status. Crushing sanctions must be imposed, buttressed by Congress passing a Massive Pressure Act, and joined, if possible, by the other P5+1 states. The Administration must ramp up its rhetoric, backed by reflexive responses to Iranian proxy militia attacks, so as to provide a credible threat of massive military action. America must act as a true ally, bolstering its own regional military assets, while strengthening Israel’s abilities to strike at extremists. The alternative is catastrophic regional conflict.
RICHARD D. WILKINS
Regarding “Popular rabbi rules vaccines that arrived on Shabbat can’t be used” (November 22), I was appalled to read Rabbi Hota’s “halachic decision” stating that children should not be vaccinated using the shipment that arrived in Israel on Shabbat. To set the halachic record straight, a Jew may benefit after Shabbat from a prohibited activity performed by another Jew on Shabbat, even intentionally, [Rambam, Shabbat 6:23; Shulchan Aruch OH, 318:1].
To suggest that children delay their upcoming vaccinations until the first shipment – which landed in Israel on Shabbat – has been used, is a perversion of Halacha and borders on hillul Hashem (desecration of God’s Name). The time framework of the full effectiveness of the vaccine is over a month. The Health Ministry feels that time is of the essence with the clock working against us in anticipation of a “children’s wave” entering into the winter months. The health ramifications are enormous, and, therefore, the situation clearly qualifies as a safek pikuach nefesh [doubtful emergency] which also overrides Shabbat considerations.
RABBI AARON ADLER
Ohel Nechama Community Synagogue
I’m somewhat undecided regarding the haredi protest over the newly legislated and implemented tax on disposable place settings and cutlery (“Stores say tax on disposable utensils has cut sales in half,” November 22). The legislation, to be sure, is important and critical to the well-being of our environment’s future, and appears, even at this early stage, to be achieving the desired results. This, though, doesn’t mean that differing opinions on the matter should be automatically discarded. On the contrary, the new “change” government ensures a 360-degree view of all issues, and, yes, even the view that comes from Mea She’arim or Bnei Brak must be considered.
On the one hand, I’m not at all displeased that the haredim’s demands and protests no longer have a bite and that they cannot threaten to bolt from the coalition if they don’t get their way. It’s fair to say, I think, that a year ago this tax would not have been placed on the Knesset agenda at all. The days of catering to special interests and narrow-minded thinking have been, for the time being anyway, replaced by the need to look out for the good of the people – all people.
On the other hand, a true democracy has an obligation to consider the desires and needs of the minority and not blindly enforce majority rule in each and every circumstance. It may very well be that the haredim will provide sound and valid reasons why this tax should not be implemented; the Bennett/Lapid government has the obligation to evaluate the merits of those arguments and, if necessary, recommend appropriate modifications or adjustments. Whether the haredim will quietly accept a decision that goes against their specific interests remains to be seen, but by now they should be aware that tantrums will be of no help.
I’d be interested in a follow up to this story three or four months from now. I’d be willing to wager that the higher cost of these plastic products will, sooner than later, be accepted with a shrug and the environment will not be much better off than it was before the tax was implemented. Habits and convenience are not easy to cast aside, regardless of the cost.
Terror is terror
Apparently the British are suddenly able to read Article 7 of the Hamas Charter which has never been revoked (“One-faced Hamas,” editorial, November 22), and after 34 years since the creation of Hamas have decided all of Hamas is a terroristic organization. Article 7 requires every member and supporter of Hamas which includes every member of Students for Justice in Palestine to murder every Jew on earth. Israel is not mentioned in Article 7. The Nazis in the Wannsee Protocols ‘only’ demanded the murder of every Jew in Europe. For thirty-four years the terroristic ambition of Hamas in terms of Jew-killing has far exceeded the Nazis. Did the British obtain a new ophthalmologist who suddenly enabled them to read Article 7? One can only speculate.
Big Bird’s vaccine
Maayan Hoffman reported in “Vaccine campaign for children ages 5 to 11 to kick off Tuesday” (November 21) that “[o]ne of the ideas that Bennett has is to set up vaccination complexes with kid stars near Hanukkah events to encourage parents to vaccinate their children.” To that I say, “No, no, and NO!” While we may be inured to companies indirectly pitching sweetened breakfast cereal and other products to parents by advertising them via their impressionable children, we should draw a clear line when it comes to government agencies promoting medical interventions in this manner. The choice to have one’s young child vaccinated for corona is for the child’s parents to decide, without the latter having to face pressure applied by their eight year old whose favorite Festigal star just sang about her recent jab.
Sesame Street’s Big Bird recently tweeted about his own “vaccination,” which was a source of much (deserved) ridicule in the United States. Let’s not make the same mistake here.
It never stopped
In answer to the headline “Everyone’s asking: Is it starting all over again?” (November 22), the answer is no because it never stopped. Doesn’t make sense to me that because there are not thousands of rockets fired upon us by Hamas as happened fairly recently, but only sporadic killings of Jews and of course the incendiary balloons and destruction of our land by fire, that is a sign of some sort of progress. Should we instead not be willing to accept even one death by an Arab of a Jew and rather than condemning so-called Jewish extremists for standing up proudly for their land, stop all concessions and surrenders to the terrorists. There is only one way to bring peace and security to the Jewish land and that is to make it absolutely clear to the Arabs and the world that this is indeed the one and only Jewish land for the Jewish people and was never intended to be otherwise. I made aliyah to what I believed was such a land. Had I wanted to live with Arabs and non-Jews, I would have chosen to remain in Britain. Unfortunately, from the very beginning when Ben-Gurion against the advice of Menachem Begin, agreed to accepting only part of the land designated by God for the Jewish people, and Britain stole Jewish land to make Transjordan, now called Jordan that is now in full control of the Temple Mount, we turned everything on its head and actually welcomed Arabs into the land, even after five Arab armies tried unsuccessfully to destroy us and with all the concessions, probably because of all the concessions, are still intent on our destruction. Go figure.
It is indeed a pity, as Cnaan Liphshiz, points out, (“A mile from Auschwitz, a restored synagogue recalls thriving Jewish life in Oswiecim,” November 21) that a Holocaust Museum in Budapest, that was designed to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust in Hungary, stands shuttered and unused due to disagreements about content.
I can understand the objections to the current government’s attempts at “whitewashing” Hungary’s complicity in the persecution and deporting the Jews to their deaths in Auschwitz. It is still a stain on the Hungarian government of the time, that they executed Hannah Szenes, out of the four paratroopers dropped into Europe by the British Command, in Budapest, while her appeal was still ongoing, and her mother on the way to the prison.
It is hoped that some compromise on the exhibitions for the museum may be found by the three exceptional Holocaust scholars brought to the table, Yitzchak Mais, David Marwell and Esther Farbstein.
It is essential to bring the history of the Holocaust to the young people in Hungary and indeed all of Europe today, lest the events of that tragic period be lost to memory entirely.