Letters to the editor: May 23, 2018

Our readers have their say.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
Letters
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Override Clause musings
In the Meshilut supplement, distributed with the paper on May 18, it is stated that Israeli citizens elect representatives to the Knesset to pass laws, manage the country’s affairs, and rule in accordance with their values and views. The writer intends “their” to refer to “Israeli citizens,” but in practice, it applies to the members of the Knesset. In judging the extent to which the members of Knesset pass laws in accordance with the values and views of the citizens, and indeed the extent to which they are qualified to do this, one should bear in mind the following:
Politics is one of the few professions in which practitioners are not required to undertake any course of study or obtain any formal qualifications. This is in contrast to the requirements applying to practitioners of the law (and therefore to members of the High Court of Justice) who are required to qualify and demonstrate the standard of their powers of judgment.
 Since the elections to the Knesset are conducted in accordance with the system of proportional representation, candidates are actually chosen by the political bosses and the party machines. In contrast, in the constituency system, candidates are chosen by local party committees, and the public is given the chance to meet and question candidates. It is also possible to write to one’s member of parliament and even request a personal interview.
The bills and their provisions put forward for adoption by the Knesset are formulated following inter-party bargaining and do not therefore necessarily operate so as to promote the welfare of citizens in the best possible way.
I personally consider that, on balance, the disqualification of laws by the Supreme Court, as noted in this supplement, was a good thing. I therefore oppose the Override Clause.
GERRY MYERS
Beit Zayit

That Armenian genocide
It seems that every time Mr. Erdogan and his Islamofascist supporters subject Israel to venomous abuse, the call is renewed for Israel to accord official recognition to the Armenian genocide. The United States, an incomparably more powerful country, very far from the dangerous neighborhood of the Middle East, still refuses to do this, ostensibly because of Turkey’s key role in NATO. Turkey has purged its military and civil society of most opposition to Erdogan’s dictatorship. It should be recalled that Jews have close and old Turkish friends, and more and more Turkish writers and scholars, often at great personal risk, are confronting the darker chapters of the Ottoman past. The relationship between Turks and other civilized people is irrevocable. But it seems to me most unlikely that the Turkish state and Israel will be allies again in the foreseeable future. Turkey is at present more a danger than an asset to NATO; and with the recent expulsion of the US Ambassador from Ankara, one expects that US President Donald Trump, who is not controlled by the deep-state establishment, will take appropriate measures at the proper time.
Recognition of the Armenian genocide (the event for which Raphael Lemkin coined the word “genocide” in the first place) is not a matter of realpolitik, however, but of morality and historical truth. The Armenian massacres were a blueprint for the fledgling Nazi party in its plans for the Jews. Franz Werfel’s novel about it, The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, inspired fellow Jews to fight the Nazis in the ghettos of Eastern Europe. The Yishuv, preparing a last stand on Mt. Carmel should the Germans break through, had as their own model and inspiration both Musa Dagh and Masada.
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where I hold the post of Distinguished Visiting Professor, officially commemorates the Armenian genocide every year, even though the permanent exhibit at Yad Vashem contains not one word about it. The Armenian genocide of 1915 was the first in which a modern state employed the benefits of technology to target for destruction an entire group of its own citizens; such crimes have only multiplied since World War I, and considering that, as Hannah Arendt predicted, antisemitism has indeed been the only -ism of the 20th century to continue unchanged into the 21st.
The State of Israel, “the first flower of our redemption,” might well mark our 70th birthday with an act of truth and virtue –official recognition and remembrance of the Armenian Genocide – inspiring America (whose name in Hebrew is no less than “the Lands of the Covenant”), the rock of liberty on earth, to do the same.
JAMES R. RUSSELL
Fresno, California

Vacation blues solution
We are a family that loves to experience Israel through its nature reserves, national parks, and historic and military sites. We have visited countless places and have many more we’d like to see. But the situation on vacation days has become unbearable.
On Passover, we spent two hours instead of 40 minutes to get to Einot Tzukim, we waited outside for 25 minutes before we were able to get in (with what felt like thousands of other people). And then we got stuck on Route 90 for over three hours going home. On Independence Day, it took us two hours instead of half an hour to get to Tel Nof. We were not able to get in and we turned around and went home frustrated and disappointed. These are just two examples of many. Every family I know has experienced this and it is so unnecessary.
I would like to propose an idea that is simple and realistic to implement, and may help. Most visitor centers have a user-friendly computerized registration system. If the army, Matmon, KK”L, even the beaches, were to use something like this, the pressure would be significantly reduced. Anyone could go on the site and chose a day and time, reserving spots for however many cars and people. When the site hits a predetermined maximum, registration is stopped. A minor fee could even be charged to assure that people are committed to their reservations.
The people at the place would expect a rational number of visitors at any given time, and the visitors would know that if they are registered, they are guaranteed spots. A website like this would not cost too much to set up and run. I know it won’t solve the problem entirely, but it would certainly make a difference. Most importantly, many more people would calmly be able to enjoy these special days in our country.
YONINA SIMON
Hashmonaim

What is a Jewish state?
As I read articles and letters in the Jerusalem Post, I realize there is no definition of what a “Jewish” state is.
The original Zionists were not for the most part religious but secular and they sought a homeland for people persecuted both for their religion and for their ethnicity. If Israel is to be a Jewish state (religiously) it will be an anachronism like the Iranian state and like Saudi Arabia.
I think Israel is and must be a state for Jews defined as a nationality or ethnicity; otherwise it will have no meaning. Therefore all conflicts about conversion to Judaism and who is or is not a Jew would become meaningless. A Jew is someone who believes he belongs to a national group called Jewish, which began as both a religious identity and an ethnic one, which was common in the ancient world.
Jews in America generally believe they are part of an ethnic group, as are Italian-Americans and Greek-Americans. Some think they are a religious group only, but what is their nationality? There is no American nationality apart from Native Americans. Everyone has a nationality from another continent.
Since few American Jews are really religious and most marry people who are not Jewish, being Jewish in America can only be an ethnic identity. Your family may have originally been Moravian Jewish or Latvian Jewish and now they are American Jewish; it is not a religious identity and most Americans are slowly becoming secular and non religious.
For Israel to claim to be a Jewish state in the religious sense only alienates Jews outside of Israel and makes the state of Israel medieval like Iran.
NORMAN RAVITCH
Savannah, GA

Cold Turkey

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said “It is unacceptable that the Israeli ambassador in Ankara is humiliated at the airport in Istanbul.” Of course it is and should always be unacceptable (“Row with Turkey over Gaza gets ugly,” 17 May).
Unfortunately, Ankara humiliating Israel is not new, as they are continually blasting us for things that actually they are guilty of, but neither is Netanyahu humiliating Israel new, so really the trend has been set. I’m sure we all remember how he apologized to Erdogan for our soldiers trying to save their lives when attacked by Turkish terrorists on the illegal Mavi Marmara. He even paid a large sum in compensation to the families of the terrorists killed by our soldiers where it was kill or be killed.
What is also even more unacceptable are bullets hitting several homes in Sderot – fired of course by those peace-loving Arabs from Gaza (“Rare machine-gun fire from Gaza hits Sderot,” 17 May). The IDF responding fairly quickly with tank fire against two observation posts in southern Gaza is insufficient, according to Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi, and of course he is absolutely right when he says, “The response for a bullet must be the same as the response for a rocket.” He bemoans the fact that it could become the new reality where it is accepted and commonplace, and “we cannot allow this to happen.”
The people need to call out Netanyahu on his weak responses to the attacks and killings that have plagued us for years and certainly all the too many years he has been in power. Any leader worth his mettle would have destroyed Hamas and Fatah long ago instead of continuing to make concessions to them in a vain attempt to win approval from the world. Any fool can see it will never make any difference to a hostile world.
We are at war and in any war, only one side can be left standing. Even WWI and WWII had an ending, whereas ours does not – and our graveyards tell the story.
EDITH OGNALL
Netanya

I believe that the Jewish 3,000-year unbroken connection to Jerusalem is far superior than Turkey’s 600-year-old conquest of Constantinople.
ED BIELAWSKI
Netanya

Modern-day miracle
No people has ever been exiled and then returned to their homeland, except of course the Jews who did it more than once. Ben-Gurion, who was an atheist, called this a miracle.
There was so much more. A tiny nation of diverse immigrants managed to survive and thrive in a desert without natural resources and build a thriving country in just a few years. All this while fighting numerous bitter wars of survival. It took a mere 19 years (from 1948 to 1967) to become a super power from scratch, in spite of everything.
When it comes to Zionism’s goal of providing a safe haven for Jews, that part of the dream is failing. Most Jews killed in the past 70 years have been in Israel and right-wing Zionism is creating antisemitism. In the past it was Christianity that caused most of the problems; Christianity has now changed.
Many say, “to hell with them – they have always hated us so we have to be hard to survive.” Unfortunately, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy where we do not see a way to find peace and provoke more war. The fallout following the embassy move is causing problems for Jews here in South Africa!
Menachem Begin, was a right winger who strongly espoused this tough approach. Yet he gave back land and made peace with Egypt, which was formerly our largest enemy.
MARTIN ZAGNOEV
Johannesburg

I frankly do not understand the article by Ido Levy and confess to being sure at some point it would become apparent it was some kind of bizarre joke (“My fellow Americans let’s not be so quick to condemn Israel,” May 21).
Levy does grant Israel some leeway in looking out for our security and not holding us fully responsible for the suffering of the poor Gazans. Gee thanks. She mentions Hamas forcing its people to act as human shields. These points she submits are all valid but they don’t get to the core of the matter and this is where sanity ends and insanity begins.
Levy writes, “I will address Israel’s part in the suffering for Gaza’s population. As humanitarian liberals and progressives, as citizens of the world’s greatest democracy, this is after all what really gets to us. We know that Israel occupied Gaza by force of arms, constructed settlements there and then left it in a poor state, only to amplify its misfortune by blockading it and limiting its population’s freedom of movement with a security fence. Worse, Israel periodically conducts incursions into Gaza causing thousands of Palestinian casualties. This shocks our humanitarian sensibilities.”
This absolute garbage should shock every fiber of our being. Unless there is more than one Gaza, which of course there is not, then the Gaza was that of a hard-working Jewish population who were forcibly thrown out of their homes and thriving businesses as a surrender to the Arabs in the hope they would continue what the Jewish population was suddenly deprived of. Instead, everything was demolished and the land used as launching sites to attack and murder Israelis.
Sadly we have allowed this tragedy to grow like a malignancy that eats away at the very foundations of decency and everything we strive for and should be a stark reminder that not one dunam of Jewish Land should be surrendered to our enemies and whatever has already been surrendered must be taken back and the illegal occupiers therein, removed by whatever means necessary.
EDITH OGNALL
Netanya

Am I missing something here - is there something I do not understand?
Let me recap: World slams disproportionate force in Gaza!
South Africa recalls its ambassador,German neo-Nazis wave PLO flags and antisemitic banners, France agrees that retaliation was disproportionate! Even the Eurovision Contest was dragged in with the Dublin mayor advising his country to boycott next year’s event in Jerusalem and I am sure the UN can’t wait to convene!
Yes, of course, it is a tragedy that 55 are dead in Gaza and many wounded, but the blame lies absolutely on the heads of the Hamas – not with our own brave soldiers of the IDF.
This was no peaceful protest by 40,000 Gazans. This was a protest of violent demonstrations throwing explosive devices, firebombs, burning tires giving rise to  lethal smoke, kites with burning fuel that destroyed more than 4,000 dunams of agricultural fields. 
Our soldiers were carrying out their orders to defend our borders. Who would have demonstrated for us poor Jews who would have been murdered if the soldiers had not carried out their duty?
I am sick and tired of the reaction of most of the European leaders. When we hear about the huge sums of money being paid to the families of the “martyrs” who died in this “peaceful protest,” we will wonder with great sadness why this money could not have been used to build universities in Gaza to educate these young people on the real truth of the situation in the Middle East. Raising these young people on violence and lies all their lives will never give us peace. Hamas does not want peace at any price, they want us dead. World leaders are missing the point. 
God Bless America and US President Donald Trump.
LINDA HIRSCH
Netanya