Letters to the Editor October 20, 2021: Tragic Mistakes

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters (photo credit: PIXABAY)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)

Tragic mistakes

Two headline articles on Sunday indicated the dangerous possibilities of Israel repeating two tragic mistakes.One headline, “Nation still divided over prisoner swap 10 years after Schalit deal” (October 18), suggested the nation was divided now about the outcome of the Schalit prisoner exchange. My impression is that there is almost unanimous agreement that returning terrorist murderers was a big mistake and shouldn’t be repeated, even though this would be heartbreaking to the families of the killed Israeli soldiers.

The other, even larger headline, “Bar Lev calls to ban Jewish prayer on Temple Mount” (October 18), reported on a government minister declaring that the terrible mistake made by General Dayan after the 1967 war to cede control of the Temple Mount area to the Jordanian Wakf should be continued, perpetuated.

There is a very well-known saying about repeating the same mistake. In the Temple Mount situation, the pronouncement is attributed to a man who is the son of the general whose “line” was supposed to defend Israel against Egyptian assault in 1973, and failed.

Appeasement is a failed policy. Repeating the mistakes of the past doesn’t work.


If the Wakf insists that Jewish prayer in the vicinity of the Temple Mount must be restricted to the Western Wall, the Wakf should insist, just as strongly, that Muslims respect the sanctity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and stop storing stones and other weapons there (in preparation for using those weapons to harass Jews praying at the Western Wall and to attack Israeli officers).


Really, what is the point of jail sentences to life plus in prison for terrorists who have committed the most  heinous crimes against our people and then releasing them on to our streets to commit further heinous crimes. Did Gilad Schalit or his family ever express remorse for the murders of Israelis carried out by released terrorists? (There was a time when Israel said it would never negotiate with terrorists. Obviously long forgotten.) Now we have negotiations for the release of the two bodies of the soldiers killed and abducted in Operation Protective Edge and hard as it must be for the families of the dead soldiers, I would hope they would not want terrorists released on to our streets who would continue killing Israelis. Strangely, no one has thought to challenge Netanyahu on this point as it was he who sent the soldiers into a war they were told not to win, Hamas having already been told by Netanyahu he would not destroy it. Soldiers died in that war for nothing and the bodies of the two soldiers were left behind because Netanyahu agreed to all Hamas ceasefires including the final ceasefire without demanding the return of the bodies.  That should have been one betrayal too much and should have had people demanding to know why terrorists still call the shots in the Jewish land. Why we are afraid to be sovereign in our own land? Seems like we have accepted defeat rather than fight to destroy our enemies which of course is the only way to stop the terror. We are a sad and humiliating reflection of what we once were and were supposed to be.


True hero

Regarding “Colin Powell: An officer, a gentleman and a friend of Israel” (October 19), I was fortunate to meet several exceptional people during my 25 years as an American diplomat, but none so impressive as Colin Powell. A leader without parallel, he was by far the best secretary of state under whom I was privileged to serve. (Interestingly, the only one who even came close was another person with a strong military background - Mike Pompeo.) When he entered a room you knew immediately that he was a person of substance. Two personal experiences demonstrate the man’s character:

I well remember the first time he spoke to the assembled foreign service officers at the Department of State. In the course of his remarks, he said simply, “You are professionals. So long as you do the job I will rely on you. If you mess up, you’ll be doing push-ups [a military term for training and discipline].’’ This told us exactly what was expected of us, and that we were valued for our expertise.

In 2004, while I was serving with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, secretary Powell came to visit and inspect the operation. In response to a question about the purpose of our mission, he said, “You are here to help the Iraqi people because that is what it means to be an American.’’ That one sentence put to rest any suggestion that we were there to rule the country for our own selfish economic purposes.

Unfortunately, he could not be convinced to run for the presidency himself. The Powell Doctrine - use of maximum force with maximum speed to accomplish a specified goal after frankly analyzing the risks and costs - is something that subsequent administrations would have done well to heed. The recent foreign policy disaster after 20 years in Afghanistan demonstrates his wisdom. 

The United States and the world have lost a true hero. He will be missed by all those who value freedom and integrity.

EFRAIM COHENZichron Ya’acov

Judaism is Zionism

Dov Fischer is correct that anti-Zionism is antisemitism, but he misses the main point in “Why anti-Zionism always is pure antisemitism” (October 17). Anti-Zionism is antisemitic because Judaism is Zionism. Judaism exists solely between the four squares of the Jewish Bible, the Tanach, the Old Testament. That Jewish Bible has only one foundational narrative: the Jewish people’s return to Zion. Zionism is Judaism. There is no other foundational narrative for the Jewish people. Therefore anti-Zionism is  anti-Judaism. It is not complicated.


I believe the greatest cause of the anti-Zionist rhetoric and antisemitism today has been overlooked.

Supporters of Israel who live outside Israel know that for many years the media have lied, reported with an anti-Israel bias and used every tactic imaginable to cast Israel in a bad light in the endless conflict with the Palestinians. Those of us who know the truth know that Israel’s actions are in retaliation for some Palestinian provocation or act, or in defense to prevent the same. But you would never know this from reading or watching what the media report. Even the most gruesome crimes committed by the Palestinians are usually reported in such a way to deflect their severity or make it look like it was Israel’s fault. Most Israelis don’t have a clue how serious this matter is and how demoralizing it is to Jews in the Diaspora.

The vast majority of people, unless they are Orthodox Jews, fundamentalist Christians or other friends of Israel, have no interest in what goes on in the Middle East. But when they see or read day after day after day, that Israel did this to the Palestinians or did that to the Palestinians, they form their negative opinions about Israel. And this leads to the BDS movement, unions, university professors, and liberal Jews all attacking Israel and poisoning the atmosphere for Jews everywhere. They all get their information from the media, and 99% of the media are anti-Israel.

Some of these people may already be antisemites. But when many of them say they are not antisemitic but just voicing a legitimate criticism of the Israeli government’s policies, they are likely telling the truth. In their view, the Israeli government is responsible for the horrible things that the media show everyone. But that’s exactly the problem – the media! No one has seriously challenged them. 

The antisemitism pervasive in the world today is the result of so many people hating Israel for what they think it is doing to the Palestinians. And the media is responsible for that. While Netanyahu was busy running the country like a dictator, caring only about consolidating power over his political adversaries and promoting issues that would give him a favorable legacy, his negligence in aggressively dealing with this very important problem years ago is responsible for much of the antisemitism in the world today. Had he done what he should have done, he could have changed the course of history for Israel and Jews everywhere.

ROB BENEDEKToronto/Givat Shmuel

Recognized capital

Regarding “A US consulate in Jerusalem extends the conflict” (October 17), the ambivalent behavior of our prime minister and foreign minister on this issue of opening a US consulate in Jerusalem is unheard of. Jerusalem is the recognized capital of Israel, where the US has opened its embassy. Therefore, there is no need or room for a US consulate in our sovereign capital. If the Palestinians are interested in a US consulate, the administration can open such consulate in Ramallah and provide the Palestinians with all consular services, as many Western countries are doing through their consulates in Ramallah.

The reply of our sovereign country and government must be a clear “no” to a US consulate in Jerusalem. Full stop.It seems that our leading politicians are not capable of transmitting such a clear and resonant message to the Americans. Visits by our prime minister and foreign minister to the US for PR purposes are not good enough.


Kudos to Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar for the affirmation of his commitment to Israel’s sovereignty in our united capital, Jerusalem. Less impressive are the gratuitous excuses that our prime minister and foreign minister relayed to the Biden administration about the danger to the stability of our coalition government resulting from the  opening of a US Consulate in Jerusalem for the non-Israeli Arab population residing in the disputed territories. Israel is not a vassal state subservient to the whims of an administration that seeks to reverse every positive step made by the previous one. Washington must be told in no uncertain terms that we will not brook any assault on the sovereignty of any part of Israel, and the so-called question of Jerusalem is to be taken off the table once and for all.On a separate note, your editorial of the same date makes mention of Sally Rooney and Catherine Connolly, two infamous Irish antisemites as well as the Axios interview with Ben and Jerry who also meet the criteria of antisemitism despite their lame denial. I would refer these four individuals to a verse from the weekly Torah portion read this past Shabbat, namely Genesis 12:3. In that context may the wrath of the Almighty be upon them and all anti-Semites in the Emerald Isle and beyond.


No return to Ireland

Regarding “Ireland’s got a problem” (editorial, October 15), I loved Ireland. Back in 2003, we took a lovely driving tour of Ireland, staying in bed and breakfasts.

The land is beautiful, the people were warm and friendly, and the beer and whiskey excellent. However, we never mentioned we were Jewish, just Canadian.

Our first inkling that all was not well was the armed guard at the entrance to the shul in Dublin. Driving along in the middle of nowhere, we came across a barn painted with letters two meters high with “Free Palestine.” We were shocked. How did this topic find its way into some farmer’s head ?

Since then we have been treated to many antisemitic statements from numerous sources in Ireland. The ADL Global Index states that 20% of the population has antisemitic opinions, but I suspect it’s much higher. Now they are taking cues from prominent politicians. So now what?

I have reluctantly given up all things Irish; no more whiskey and beer. Why should I support people who hate me and my country? 

I would love to go back but that will never happen now.


Shaked’s accent

Regarding “Give Shaked’s English a break” (October 18), I was born in Tel Aviv, Palestine British Mandate; lived in South Africa most of my life. I have an Afrikaans accent, my mother and father had Eastern European accents! Netanyahu has an American accent, the British have many varying accents, clip their words to the extent of not being understood and the upcoming youths slur their words and talk so fast that they become unintelligible, besides using words like LOL, which need a new dictionary! Ayelet speaks very clearly, so that she can easily be understood! Diction is the answer to clear speech, not accent!


I read Herb Keinon’s article on Mrs. Shaked’s linguistic problems with interest. In the main I agree with what he says but there are two items which I wish to draw to your readers’ attention. The first is an omission. Any one who mocks an intelligent and educated person because of her or his accent in a foreign language is a vulgar boor in need of an education in good manners. That should have been stated in the article.

The second is a misconception.  While I agree that both Mr. Bennett and Mr. Netanyahu are articulate, the language which they use when they address English-speakers would be better described as Americanese. I regret to say that I do not consider either to be exemplary orators.

Might I advise your readers that the only people who use English in an informed way is we Scots. This is probably why many Sassenachs (translation: people who live South of the River Tweed, the geographic border between England and Scotland: in other words English) fail to understand what we say. It fair scunners us.