Letters to the Editor: October 22, 2018

Readers of the Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Supreme follies
So Lara Alqasem is allowed by the Supreme Court to enter the country (“Lara Alqasem tied to anti-Israel group later than she claimed in court,” October 21).
I find this beyond the pale. The fact that the government cannot decide who is and who is not allowed into the country is rather bizarre. Countries all over the world on a daily basis, deny entry to those it considers a threat or otherwise deny entry to all kinds of people based on a myriad of reasons all of which go the core of the elected government’s philosophy.
Here in Canada there are literally tens of thousands of Canadians who are denied entry to the United States by border officials who have the ultimate discretion without any court or appeal oversight. Why is Israel singled out and put on a world stage for denying entry to this person. Whether she is a BDS, reformed BDS or otherwise, who really cares. The heart of the issue is that the government does not want her. Period.
The Supreme Court should have no jurisdiction over such a matter. The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled on a political issue that surely is not within its role. Political issues should remain and be a part of the government and who is and who is not allowed into a country should be at the discretion of the government of Israel, just like in most civilized countries of the world.
The Supreme Court’s decision to allow Lara Alqasem into the country to study was the correct one, proving that Israel has an independent high court. That alone should counter the biased arguments of many BDSers.
Alqasem will now have a ringside opportunity to experience life in Israel. Let’s hope she uses the opportunity to learn and be objective.
Inhuman rights
Regarding “Netanyahu: B’tselem helping Israel’s enemies” (October 18), who defined B’Tselem as Israel’s leading human rights group?
Was it self-defined or was it the EU, which funds it and the illegal construction of Arab settlements in the disputed territories?
B’tselem is a foreign-funded group with a strange concept of “human rights.” Its main function is to discredit Israel. It has also worked to entrap Arabs who sold, or planned to sell land to Jews, a capital offence under the PA. Those turned in to the PA can expect torture and execution.
That is not my idea of human rights.
Peace doesn’t pay
Regarding “If not for UNRWA, there would be no Palestinian refugee problem” (October 15), whereas I agree with Zalman Shoval’s premise, I think that he has missed a simpler explanation of that problem.
Think what would happen to UNRWA the day after the last Palestinian refugee has been “saved.” It would be redundant. Its 30,000 employees would find themselves out of work. As a result of this, there is a genuine conflict of interest in the UNRWA. If it fulfills its mission, it will cease to exist.
Unless the 30,000 employees are independently wealthy and/or extremely altruistic, they would be foolish to “solve” the Palestinian refugee problem – and apparently they are neither. They are avidly working in their own best interests and therefore the number of refugees grows and their conditions worsen.
Since this conflict of interest has existed since the establishment of the agency, one must presume that its existence is an expression of the will not to end the Israel-Palestine conflict and is another expression of the fact that relationship between the United Nations and peace is ephemeral at best.
Petah Tikva
Jerry Epstein’s piece on Ethiopian Jewry (“Enough promises – act now!” October 21) was far too kind to the American Jewish community. Among its many scheduled sessions at this week’s Federation General Assembly, none is devoted the appalling situation of the Jews left behind in Ethiopia.
Peer-reviewed studies show that more than 50% of Ethiopian Jewish children aged five years and younger awaiting aliyah in Gondar are significantly chronically malnourished, a condition which often leads to irreversible mental and physical damage.
Nevertheless, neither JDC nor JAFI – organizations whose funding comes principally from the Jewish Federations – has been willing to provide any assistance to these children. Federation leaders have said that they cannot aid this impoverished Jewish community until Israel decides they are eligible for aliyah.
Such a government decision exists, but even if it didn’t, is there any other place in the world other than Ethiopia where American Jewish humanitarian assistance is conditioned on aliyah? Why are the Federations allowing Interior Ministry bureaucrats determine who is a Jew in the Diaspora? It certainly is inconsistent with the claim that American Jews are entitled to a voice in determining who is a Jew in Israel.
If JDC and JAFI remain unwilling to aid the religiously Jewish community in Ethiopia, where prayer services are held three times daily and members observe the Sabbath and the laws of kashrut, the Federations should fund other organizations, such as SSEJ and NACOEJ, which are trying to fill the gap.
Counsel to SSEJ
Music to our ears
Regarding the entertainment listings in Billboard, why does Israel Radio discriminate against Anglo musicians?
London-born David Ben Reuven is a leading Anglo-Israeli singer-songwriter with over 250 great songs on the YouTube. Nobody in Israel has that many. His songs, which are widely admired, cover life in Israel from the Israeli flag and Herzl and Ben-Gurion to Purim, the Israel Football team and aliyah, to say nothing of his one-man shows on rescuers of the Holocaust like Raoul Wallenberg and Carl Lutz. His voice has been compared to that of Elvis and Johnny Cash. Yet you will never hear any of his amazing and inspiring songs on Israel Radio or Israel Army Radio.
The same goes for the outstanding songs of superbly gifted South African-born composer Michael Graff and many other fine Anglo singers and composers. Is this blatant discrimination and woeful disregard of an entire branch of significant Israeli music and culture – which deprives the listening public of some of the very best songs and singers in Israel – just because they happen to be Anglos in origin?
Kol Israel, we want to hear these things at long last!
Killer heat waves
In “Forget Melania’s outfit and its historical symbolism – The Trump administration is killing Africa today” (October 21), Tal Harris argues that the Trump administration by its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is killing Africans.
“Every coal miner that Mr. Trump sends back to work is another child in Africa sentenced to misery and death.”
There is no way to check the accuracy of this statement, but one can check the accuracy of some of the other statements. Harris says that due to the claimed one degree centigrade rise in global average temperature over the past century, “we are already experiencing fires, hurricanes, and an arctic meltdown with rising sea levels threatening entire populations.”
Excerpting from Wikipedia, “As disruptive as the droughts of the late 20th century were, evidence of past droughts recorded in Ghanaian lake sediments suggest that multi-decadal megadroughts were common in West Africa over the past 3,000 years and that several droughts lasted far longer and were far more severe.”
As a Greenpeace volunteer who lives in Senegal, Harris is obviously passionate about global climate change, but as a PhD candidate, he has to improve on the objectivity and reliability of his statements.
The fiasco over the new “low speed” Jerusalem-Tel Aviv railway bodes ill for the citizens of Israel as a prime example of incompetent management of major infrastructure projects (“Not so revolutionary,” October 17). We saw the same thing happen with the Jerusalem Light Rail, originally five lines cut back to one, which then went through the same type of incompetence, including Olmert’s folly Bridge of Strings, eventually costing double at $40 million while the poor of Jerusalem went hungry.
It appears this has been followed by the appointment of Amir Yaron, whose specialty is asset pricing, econometrics, international finance, macro-finance, risk return strategies and applied time series econometrics to be governor of the Bank of Israel. Yaron has been out of the country for 21 years, has no business experience or experience of monetary policy or sovereign risk. Comparing his CV with that of the likes of the Governor of the Bank of England is the difference between chalk and cheese.
Let us hope the Bank of Israel and those involved in Yaron’s selection do not follow the fiasco of Israel Railways.
Only Israel
It is a known fact that Israel was a “land of milk & honey,” but for millennia lay barren. It was with aid from “Blue Box” funding by the world’s Jewish community that the forests were planted. We all bought trees!
Now, the Hamas is burning it all up again in order to return the area to desert conditions! Where is the world community of “Greens” who normally demonstrate for the smallest reasons?
I tend to think because we are “only Israel” that we do not deserve their attention! The noxious tire burning is also ignored by this body and the global media! Where is the UN?
Their opinions are not voiced if they cannot vilify Israel.
Tel Aviv
Parking problems
We, Birgit and Steinar Opheim from Norway, came to Israel to show the country to our fourth child. Upon arriving at the airport we rented a car in my husbands name.
Steinar, who at the age of 52, has had only a single parking ticket in Norway in his life, got two in a single week in Israel. As no parking permits can be bought where needed, we downloaded the available apps for parking, Pango and Cellopark. As it turns out, Pango doesn’t accept foreign telephone numbers, whereas Cellopark responds that our Norwegian cellphone number is invalid.
This left us in Jerusalem feeling helpless, angry and annoyed. We consider this unfair and unjust treatment of warm friends of the country. Can nothing be done to meet the needs of tourists from overseas?