Letters to the Editor November 25, 2020: Incendiary zealotry

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters (photo credit: PIXABAY)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)
Incendiary zealotry
Regarding “The danger to US democracy is the Republican Party” (November 29) by Alon Ben-Meir, while I very much agree with having a free press, it is one thing to post differing opinions and another thing to print incendiary articles that state that half of America’s population is dangerous and evil. 
In recent days there has been great discussion of what that kind of rhetoric promotes violence, corruption and whatever it takes to permanently eradicate the other side. Consequently, America is more divided than ever and on the verge of real societal collapse. To import such articles here, where many ex-pat Americans live, is to further advance such disunity among the American Israeli population as well. 
As a registered Republican, I resent someone writing that I am a danger to the US democracy. It is anyone’s prerogative not to agree with Republican Party values, but it is completely unacceptable to call party members dangerous, subversive or evil. 
Bat Yam
Partisan zealotry is a danger to democracy, but partisan zealotry disguised as intellectual commentary is what Alon Ben Meir is trying to sell. Devoid of analytical thought, his articles instead rely on grandiose broad brush strokes to demonize those with whom he does not agree, all while parroting Media Matters talking points. 
He speaks of US President Donald Trumps’ “authoritarianism” while the courts consistently rule against him, the media freely attack his policies without fear of reprisal, and all democratic institutions are still in place despite Ben-Meir’s lament of conservatives judges being appointed legally under the Constitution. There is plenty with which to criticize Trump, but the accusations of authoritarianism are quite humorous – given that he has consistently resisted centralizing power during COVID-19, while Democrats and leaders around the world were clamoring for doing just that. 
Debates on policy based on actual facts should be encouraged. Decrying major issues such as poverty, racism, cases of police brutality, and poor education as problems uniquely created by the Republican Party is intellectually dishonest and negates the fact that many of these issues are present in places with complete Democratic control. Better to engage in thoughtful intellectual dialogue than to regurgitate partisan talking points.
Pardess Hanna
Biden staffer “lo b’seder”
Regarding “Reema Dodin to be first Palestinian-American White House staffer” (November 24), Dodin has been selected by President-elect Joe Biden to be deputy director of White House Legislative Affairs. 
In 2002, during the Second Intifada, she defended the massacre of Jews at the Park Hotel Seder by saying that terrorist bombings were “the last resort of a desperate people” – yet there are many desperate people in this world who do not enter hotels and murder 30 Jews and maim 140 others.
Dodin has never apologized to the victims and families of the massacre for the callousness and inhumanity of her remarks. Apparently she and the president elect are comfortable with the legacy of the Park Hotel and the mass slaughter of Jews by Muslims.
Margate, Florida
Pollard polarization and polemics
Regarding “Don’t give Pollard a hero’s welcome...” (November 25) Gil Troy should get a grip. He says that he “fears for Israel’s soul.” Really? And I object to his using incendiary phrases like “Likud thugs.”
“Who are we and what have we become?” Well, I can tell him. We are a varied nation. And as in any nation there are plenty of scoundrels. But there are hundreds of thousands of wonderful people – including doctors, social workers, nurses who are now on the front lines fighting the corona plague. These wonderful people include young parents just starting out and working on fascinating projects like the new  light rail system and erecting new apartment blocks for people to live in. What my grandmother referred to as “building up the country.”
How can someone who lives in Israel not see all this greatness in our land? Troy should take his own advice and fight his “phantom fears.” Yes, there is plenty wrong. But there are huge things going on here. The collective soul of Israel is doing fine.
Petah Tikva
Like the rest of the country, I am relieved that Jonathan Pollard’s ordeal has come to an end and that he can finally get on with his life. The admiration he deserves for somehow making it through an unfairly long imprisonment and then being tethered to a short leash during five-year probation cannot be measured. So, while I fully understand and to a considerable extent agree with the pointed rebuttals to Ehud Olmert’s (and Avigdor Liberman’s) somewhat exaggerated and overstated objections to embracing Pollard as a national hero, the bottom line should not be summarily rejected.
How, I’m curious to know, will Mr. Pollard’s espionage exploits be chronicled by Jewish communities throughout the world. Will he be put on the proverbial pedestal as, for example, was Nathan Hale (whose tale of patriotism, some researchers argue, may indeed be an old wives’ tale) or will he be vilified as a despicable traitor, as were Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. It’s telling, I think, that there has been relatively little reaction from the American Jewish community to Pollard’s newly acquired freedom. And this is the signal that we in Israel must pay close attention to.
Ticker tape parades and the like would simply reinforce the opinion that Israel encourages Jewish citizens throughout the world to betray the county they presently reside in, and I don’t believe we can afford to allow the creation of such an impression. There are many Jews in senior level and governmental positions – defense, intelligence, finance, research and development - who are no doubt privy to sensitive and highly classified information. These highly regarded professionals may very well find themselves uncomfortably constrained should Pollard be hailed in Israel as a conquering hero. Better that he be welcomed quietly as just another Jew returning to his homeland.
So, yes, let’s eagerly await his arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport and help him through immigration and provide him with transportation to the Kotel. But a single balloon – “Welcome Home, Jonathan and Anne” – is all that’s really needed.
Ginot Shomron
Has Israel become a vassal state that convicted former prime minister Ehud Olmert is so concerned about offending the incoming administration in Washington that Israel should prevent a proud Jew from making under the Law Of Return?
Pollard may have violated the law, but all countries, including the USA, spy on the activities of their friends and enemies. The responsible parties for this affair are both the United States and Israel. The USA reneged from its agreement with Israel to supply vital security intelligence information necessary to the safety of the Jewish State and was not openly pressed to do so as if the country was its vassal. The upper echelons of Israel foolishly accepted this position to their detriment. Pollard paid the price being initially subjected to some of the worst conditions of abuse of human rights: beatings, limbs broken, solitary confinement and more, resulting in 35 years of judicial confinement.
Accordingly, Pollard should receive a royal welcome upon landing in Israel. The carpet was put out for Anatoly Sharansky even though he was charged with multiple charges including high treason and spying for Americans by the USSR. He and three others were released in exchange for five Soviets held by the USA. Indeed, many USSR Prisoners of Zion on arrival in Israel did not have a red carpet laid out for them and were subject to bureaucratic abuse for many years. Jonathan should be greeted on arrival by the president, prime minister and full cabinet, the chairmen of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization, the chief rabbis and the heads of the political parties at Ben-Gurion Airport. Ehud Olmert should hide his head in shame.
As a token of gratitude and a magnanimous gesture, the prime minister should permit the Pollards to make use of his flat in Rechov Aza, Jerusalem, which has not been inhabited for many years.
Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, betrayed his country and his oath of allegiance. It should be shameful and an embarrassment to anyone who puts this man in the role of a hero and who is entitled to no respect. 
When he was being chased by USA law enforcement he was shut out from the Israeli Embassy. As then, so today, he should not be in any way welcomed to this country of Israel. Israel must not be seen as welcoming a criminal. 
I am shocked by those who apparently are planning a plunge into a political public stage play as he descends the steps from the airliner at Ben-Gurion airport with all the self-important politicians posing for publicity, waiting in line to shake their hero’s hand and embrace him in full view of the TV cameras. It would be a national disgrace and an insult to diplomatic decency.
Tel Aviv 
Save Sar-el
I am always surprised how many Israelis don’t know about the volunteer organization Sar-El (“After decades of bringing volunteers to Israel, Sar-El might close its doors,” November 26) I have been going to Sar-El since my retirement 11 years ago. In 2018 I had the privilege and honor of accompanying my 16-year old Canadian granddaughter Emma on a trip to Sar-El. Although some olim participate, the great majority come from many other countries, with France and the US competing for the highest numbers. Many of the volunteers are still working in their home countries, and so they are giving up a few weeks of their precious vacations in addition to paying their own airfares and other costs.
The volunteers are accompanied by IDF madrichot, and get to work alongside IDF and civilian workers. We sleep on base in barracks similar to those used by soldiers, and eat with them at the herderei ohel (dining rooms). In addition to the evening programs to tell new volunteers about things in Israel and the IDF, we are often visited by senior people in the army who tell us how much the volunteers’ efforts are appreciated. They mention the hasbara of having people come to work in Israel (both Jews and non-Jews alike) and then go home and tell friends and relatives about their positive experiences in Israel. 
In addition to this and other non-monetary benefits, we are told that the serious work we do means that the army doesn’t have to pay soldiers to do this often menial work. I would suggest that CEO Keren Dahan and other Sar-El board members take into account the large financial benefits the volunteers bring and enable the program to continue to operate in full once the effects of the pandemic are over.
Tamping down terror
Regarding “Terror-related deaths fall to five-year low” (November 26), it is noteworthy that four of those last five years were under the Trump administration. It is interesting to note that his foreign policy had this effect. Even Palestinian terror was, during this time, greatly reduced, despite the defunding of the PA by Trump and the refusal of the PA to even read his proposed “Peace to Prosperity” deal.
With Joe Biden now set to become the next US president, the PA wasted no time in sending him a list of their “demands,” having done nothing to earn the right to do so – and as if to underscore their intentions, suddenly a spate of car rammings occurs once again. Is there a connection here? On the one hand, a president who acted with a strong hand apparently kept a lid on violence. On the other, there is a president-elect whose number two, Kamala Harris promises to reinstate funding, and the result is immediate and deadly. Have the Democrats learned nothing during the time that they seemed only to have Trump in their sights?
May Biden use his wisdom to achieve great things, but the immediate results are not promising.
Tel Aviv
Train refrain
In “Wrong man for Yad Vashem” (November 20), Amotz Asael wrote, “Morally, one wonders what a Yad Vashem guide will tell a visiting group of the sort it hosts routinely when one of them – say a priest from Australia or a high-school teacher from Denmark – asks, while shown an exhibit of Jews being shoved onto trains: But isn’t that what your own chairman says that Israel should do with its Arab citizens?”
If I were that guide I would have no hesitation whatsoever as to how to answer such a visitor:
 “Our chairman ret. Brig.-Gen. Effi Eitam would not, in his wildest dreams “shove” Arabs onto trains; he would not pack them into cattle trucks full of the stench of their feces and corpses; he would not be sending them to an Auschwitz or a Bergen Belsen to be annihilated in gas ovens or starved to death after being stripped of all their possessions and separated from their loved ones. No, rather, he would wish them to be given enough funds to start a new life elsewhere together with all their families and earthly possessions, traveling in spacious, comfortable, modern railway carriages to their chosen destination.”
If, as a result of Eitam having his way, your loved one (or other Israelis) were spared from death in a terrorist attack, then his policies would have proven to be worthwhile – with the proviso that they were only used to evict families of Arabs who commit a terrorist act and would thus act as a deterrent and prevent some of the “pay to slay” consequences that are so abhorrent to us.
Zichron Yaakov
One strike and you’re out
In “Jews in high places” (November 27), Dore Gold is quoted as saying concerning Iran and the Obama nuclear deal that “I don’t think that American elites bought into the idea that the deal was an existential issue.”
Understandable. Positioned in a country of 350 million individuals stretching across an entire continent from the Pacific to the Atlantic, it’s hard for Americans to understand existential issues. The USA would recover from a single nuclear attack, just as Japan recovered from the two nuclear attacks that ended World War II. 
Israel would not recover from even a single nuclear attack sufficient to wipe out Tel Aviv and Jerusalem simultaneously. That’s why we cannot allow American elites, Jewish or otherwise, to control our destiny. That’s why the assassination of top Iranian nuclear scientists is justified.