Letters to the Editor November 9, 2020: Hail to the chief rabbi

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hail to the chief rabbi
In October 1999 our second Israeli grandson was born, and my late husband z’l and I were excited to arrive in Jerusalem for his forthcoming brit milah.
While waiting to check in at the hotel reception, I whispered to my husband that the gentleman in front of us looked like our chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, to which I got an equally whispered response that because he sported a beard, I thought everybody looked like a rabbi. However, when he turned round, it was Rabbi Sacks, who smiled, and I gushingly told him that we were also from London and had come for our family celebration. He then excused himself as he had been told a car was waiting for him.
It was with embarrassment that I later learned he had just come to Israel for the burial of Lord Jacobovits z’l, and was returning immediately to London. As we had been in Tel Aviv for a day or so, we were not even aware of this tragic passing.
On returning to London (we subsequently made aliyah in 2011) I penned a letter to the chief rabbi’s office to apologize for not being aware, or extolling the sadness of the news of the great man’s death. Never expecting a reply, it was one of my greatest treasures to receive a personal note from Sacks with thanks and a personal mazel tov to me and my family on our celebration!
This was a courtesy that I have never forgotten and will always treasure. A gentleman and a great orator whose wisdom will live on forever!
Tel Mond
Corbyn: Has-been
In “Good riddance” (November 8), Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is quoted as claiming that the report of his antisemitism is “dramatically overstated for political reasons.”
His mendacity is easily exposed by referencing news stories and pictures such as that of his laying a wreath at the graves at a memorial service for members of the Black September terror organization in Tunisia in 2014.
Beit Zayit
We all live in a plastic submarine
For some time now, I have been going to the demonstrations against Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government near Balfour on Saturday evenings. I joke and I tell my children that I am fighting for a revolution, for a better future for them and their children. I was born in France. I was not there in 1789 when the French had their revolution, but now I am here and I hope that things will change for a better world.
Unfortunately, I have seen the situation degrading and becoming slowly worse every week. On the Saturday night marking the 25th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, we sang songs and lit candles and there was a wonderful atmosphere. There were many beautiful young people. I call them our golden generation, most having served in the army, students with little jobs to survive and suddenly have no jobs, no money. I see them singing and dancing and letting their feelings out. Generally I leave before 10 p.m. to avoid any violence, but on this particular night, I went home and opened Facebook, which has become a way of seeing live what is happening. I saw that at around 3 p.m., a lovely man called Roy Peleg was walking with about 10 other friends on the side of the road, carrying one of the plastic submarines we all have seen in those demonstrations. They were quietly walking toward Zion Square and then Balfour. I have seen Roy Peleg at every demonstration and often exchanged a few words with him.
Suddenly the police arrived and told him that walking like was not legal and he could not continue. One policeman seized the bag he was carrying on his back and took him away in a police car. That evening I did not see Roy or his friends at the demonstration. Later that night I was told that Roy had spent five hours being interrogated at the police station. It seems that our prime minister has developed an allergy to plastic submarines.
(Electoral) College education
Regarding “Is this a repeat of 2016?” (November 5), the United States is not only a country of 331,000,000 people; it is also a union of states, and that is the reason that the Electoral College must remain as the body in which the president and vice-president are chosen.
When the US was founded, travel was difficult and there was no radio, television or Internet. The Constitution mandated that an Electoral College would be established, with each state having two electors (just as each state has two senators) and an additional number of electors (equal to the number of representatives that the state was granted, based on the state’s population). People campaigned in their states of residence to be chosen as electors who would travel to the designated place where the president and vice-president would be chosen.
Of course, it is now easy for candidates to travel across the US and to make presentations via mass media as well as in person. Yet, the Electoral College still serves the purpose of preserving the union as one of states as well as people. Consider two states: California and Wyoming. California has a population of 40,000,000 while Wyoming has a population of 550,000, a ratio of 73 Californians to one Wyomingite.
California and Wyoming each have two senators, but California has 53 members in the House of Representatives, whereas Montana has only one representative. Thus, the ratio of California’s electors to Wyoming’s electors is 55:3 or about 18:1. Without the Electoral College, candidates for president and vice-president could easily campaign in a small number of states with large populations and never address issues of importance to the smaller states. (One-third of the US population lives in one of four states: California, Texas, Florida and New York).
The Democrats never got over the fact that Hillary Clinton did not win the presidency in 2016 even though the Clinton/Kaine ticket won the popular vote. Instead of complaining, they should have worked at getting a constitutional amendment passed. But that might not have been popular with the two-thirds of the US population who don’t live in the four most populous states.
Atlanta, GA
Pandemic pandemonium
Gilad Sharon has it in for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic (“Leading with courage,” November 4). He asks why Israel (an island country due to its closed borders) is doing so poorly compared to other island countries, such as New Zealand, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore and South Korea (closed border with North Korea)?
It’s Netanyahu’s fault, of course. He lacks courage and leadership ability!
First of all, Israel’s borders are not closed; there is significant leakage from the West Bank and undivided Jerusalem. Second, the island countries mentioned above have mainly homogeneous populations. They do not possess minorities (21% Arab, 12% ultra-Orthodox in Israel) who have significant disregard for the health restrictions (prayers, weddings) and are the current main source of the continued spread of the virus.
Sharon should try to construct more objective, intelligent arguments if he wants to diminish Netanyahu. Otherwise it has the opposite effect.
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert recommends that the municipalities should be given control over how to handle the COVID-19 pandemic (“Let local municipalities take care of their own,” November 6) because they know best how to deal with their diverse populations.
This is a formula for total and utter chaos. A blue municipality will allow restaurants to open and the citizens in nearby red municipalities will stream in their masses to the “blue restaurants,” spreading the virus efficiently. Similar chaos will erupt for street stores, malls, swimming pools, gyms. The outcome will be obvious: the mayors in the red municipalities will quickly be forced to relax all restrictions.
Olmert’s suggestion is a by-product of his consuming hatred for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu and his government have failed to control the COVID-19 crisis. Olmert ignores the current situation in Europe, countries that are not managed by Netanyahu, are managed by respected efficient leaders, don’t have rebellious minorities ignoring health restrictions, yet somehow are failing to manage the pandemic.
US fall election fallout
Like many others, David Brinn seems to believe that criticizing President Trump’s style obviates the need to deal substantively with fundamental issues (“Hedging his bets,” November 5). Brinn claims that Trump’s allegations of ballot fraud are “irresponsible and unsuited for a president” but fails to respond at all to the basis of those allegations. Here’s what we know from reports:
There were at least four states in which Trump had substantial leads when ballots were counted immediately after the polls closed. The leads evaporated in all four during overnight counting of mail-in and drop-off ballots. Inexplicably, Republican poll watchers were prevented from observing the process of ballot review during which names are checked to make sure the voter is in fact eligible to vote, voters’ signatures are checked for authenticity, and “spoiled” ballots are rejected. In two instances, large batches of ballots (one representing 29,000 votes another representing 130,000) suddenly appeared and were reported as 100% (!) for Biden. What valid reason can there be for prohibiting a poll watcher from performing the function for which that position was created – guaranteeing the reliability of vote counts?
The writer argues that Trump should rely on the ballot tallies around the country, “including on FOX TV.”
Of course, FOX and the rest of the news media have nothing to do with vote counting. They simply add up the numbers that are fed to them by election officials. Trump’s plausible assertion is that those numbers were grossly inaccurate.
Trump’s statement may have been undiplomatic, but the issue he raised is of critical importance to millions of US voters and the rest of the world. The American people deserve to know for sure that their legal votes were not diluted and overturned by the inclusion of large numbers of invalid ballots under cover of night.
Zichron Yaakov
A brief and admittedly unscientific survey that I made among relatives and friends in the United States with regard to the recent election revealed an interesting and somewhat unsettling fact: No consideration was given to President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, his brokering of peace agreements with several Arab countries or any other policies. Nor was any consideration given to Joe Biden’s murky comments about eliminating the Electoral College or packing the Supreme Court.
Apparently many if not most voters made their choice either for or against Trump with little or no consideration of his policies or those of his opponent. Consideration was given exclusively to Trump’s personality and character. In other words, the criteria for choosing the leader of the free world were essentially and solely the same as one would use to select a marriage partner for one’s children.
This proves Winston Churchill’s statement that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.
Tovah Lazaroff correctly reports that Mahmoud Abbas considers the PA’s demand to control the entire “West Bank” and half of Jerusalem to be a compromise (“US electoral chaos = Mideast chaos,” November 6). But the facts are that the Arabs of Palestine never had self-rule, that Jordan’s illegal occupation of Judea, Samaria, and the Old City of Jerusalem didn’t create any legitimate Palestinian claim to the land, and that it certainly didn’t make Israel feel comfortable about the possible emergence of a Palestinian state that has given no sign of being willing to co-exist peacefully with the nation-state of the Jews.
PA leader Mahmoud Abbas needs to be reminded that people who take an “all or nothing” stance often end up with the latter. President Trump’s vision of a Palestinian state on 70% of the “West Bank” with a toehold in the outskirts of Jerusalem is a generous offer under the circumstances. The PA should begin reciprocating this generosity by stopping its efforts to delegitimize Israel and beginning to build a state in which its people (including the “refugees”) can become productive citizens.
Atlanta, GA
Is Seth Frantzman really serious in “Five Volatile Crises the Next President Faces” (November 6) when he states, “The Trump administration alienated the Abbas leadership of the PA so much that it couldn’t be brought on board for the Israel-UAE peace deal”?
Trump didn’t alienate the Palestinian leadership. He simply refused to continue to pander to them in order to entice them to negotiate peace with Israel – as was done to no avail by previous US presidents and the EU since the 1994 Oslo Accords.
More importantly, had the PA been on board for the peace deal, they would have sunk that ship!
More Japanese-Hebrew scholarship
Dr. Ury Epstein wrote on November 2 that Setsuzo Kotsuji was not the only Japanese Hebrew scholar (Zvi Hauser, October 29) and that Prince Mikasa was one, too.
Well, apparently there are more Hebrew scholars than assumed.
Muraoka Takamitsu, a scholar of “Hebrew and Aramaic linguistics and the ancient translation of the Bible,” was the head of the Middle Eastern Department of Melbourne University when I was a student there in the 1980s. Takamitsu obtained his PHD at Hebrew University of Jerusalem under the late Professor C. Rabin.
I was doing a bachelor’s degree in Hebrew and he taught us once a week instead of the regular teacher. His knowledge was immense; I always marveled at the fact that a Japanese professor was so knowledgeable in Hebrew. Once I went to consult with the professor in his office and his wall was lined with scholarly Hebrew books including a set of the Shas (Talmud). Naturally, I was astounded!
Moral of the story: instead of claiming someone is “the only one,” it is prudent to consider qualifying one’s statements – using language like “one of the only.”
Ramat Bet Shemesh