Letters to the Editor October 4, 2021: Don't embarrass Harris

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

US Vice President Kamala Harris speaks about the $1.9 trillion "American Rescue Plan Act" as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) listens during an event to celebrate the legislation in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, US, March 12, 2021.  (photo credit: REUTERS/TOM BRENNER)
US Vice President Kamala Harris speaks about the $1.9 trillion "American Rescue Plan Act" as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) listens during an event to celebrate the legislation in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, US, March 12, 2021.
(photo credit: REUTERS/TOM BRENNER)

Don’t embarrass Harris

We read in “VP Harris ‘strongly disagrees’ with student who slandered Israel” (October 3) that US Vice President Kamala Harris’s office is trying to minimize the damage caused when Harris’s appalling response to a student who accused Israel of “ethnic suicide” was “Your truth should not be suppressed.”

It should be noted that anti-Israel sentiment runs deep in the Harris family. For example, the VP’s niece Meena Harris publicly wrote last year, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. I stand in solidarity with the Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah” – apparently not bothered by minor troublesome and “irrelevant” details such that the residents the niece was championing were squatters who refused to pay even minimal rent.

Apparently feeling that her niece’s “truth” should not be “suppressed” the VP never responded to her own niece’s slander against Israel.

Kol ha kavod to Rabbi David Wolpe, who answered as the vice president should have: “The idea that Israel has committed genocide against the Palestinians is not someone’s truth, it is someone’s lie.”

Either the VP’s support for Israel is frighteningly shallow, or her reactions to slander are appallingly slow (and hastily covered up by her support staff).

CINDY BEN DAVID

Jerusalem

The reach of each speech

In “An accidental PM competing with shadows” (October 1) Herb Keinon tries to analyze why PM Naftali Bennett’s speech at the UN lacks the punch of speeches by former PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Acknowledging that Bennett’s English is just as good, he feels the weakness is in Bennett’s delivery: pacing, voice, etc. However, as co-author of a study of Netanyahu’s speeches, I suggest that the answer lies in Netanyahu’s rhetorical choices, which invite cooperation, empathy, and friendship with the audience, such as: 

• “I was deeply moved” (UN 2012); 

• “Can diplomacy stop this threat? Well, the only diplomatic solution that would work is one that fully dismantles Iran’s nuclear weapons program” (UN 2013); 

• “Let us realize the vision of Isaiah” (UN 2011); 

• “Would any of you bring danger so close to your cities, to your families? Would you act so recklessly with the lives of your citizens?” (UN 2011). 

• “I extend my hand to the Palestinian people, with whom we seek a just and lasting peace. (UN 2011). 

BEVERLY A. LEWIN, PH.D. 

Ramat Hasharon

It was such a relief to read David M. Weinberg’s “scorecard” on Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s first 100 days in power (“Rating Bennett’s premiership after 100 days in power,” September 30). Too many people are searching for faults. 

Remember that 100 days ago all we kept hearing was that the Bennett-Lapid government wouldn’t survive a month, and that was the polite reaction. The screaming and cursing we heard from the MKs and former ministers who had been counting on remaining in that “twilight zone” of power forever proved to many of us that they had been in power many years too many.

Weinberg’s points are all excellent. 

About Bennett’s UNGA speech, it was fine and gave the world a chance to meet him. Of course Naftali Bennett can’t compete with Binyamin Netanyahu’s skills as an orator. Honestly, I don’t know if anyone in the world can. Netanyahu is an extraordinarily gifted orator – among the very best in the world. That’s no reason for him to stay prime minister.

But there’s one thing that Naftali Bennett can do that his predecessor can’t. Bennett can get along with people. I wish our PM success – and just hope it doesn’t go to his head...

BATYA MEDAD

Shiloh

Killing their own kind

 “Haifa man is 100th Arab Israeli killed this year” (October 3) further emphasizes the phenomenon of Arabs murdering Arabs and the general recent spate of violent crime in the Arab sphere in Israel. The question is being debated in the media and fingers are being pointed at suggested excuses, such as too few police, or police stations or even the indifference of the authorities. Proposals are being mooted from setting up a separate ministry to deal with the problem, to a grand-scale operation to collect all illegal arms.

But all this ignores the basic problem in all its starkness. Judaism has a precept that when one saves a human life one saves a whole world. Not so the Arab world; the value put on human life by the Arab world sometimes borders on zero.

One need not look further than the executions and kangaroo courts of people suspected of selling land to Jews, or of “snitching” on imminent terror attacks, torturing to death of one who dares to express moderate ideas, the liquidation of journalists who do not toe the line, the numerous outright murders (in the name of family honor) of young women who are suspected of infidelity – and, while mentioning the word “infidelity” we need not look further than the general ideology of “kill the infidel.”

None of the actions being proposed will bring an end to the murder of Arabs by Arabs – and I am afraid that not even education will help much either. Disregard of human life is ingrained and (to use the terminology of prime minister Yitzhak Shamir) imbibed with their mothers’ milk.

LAURENCE BECKER

Jerusalem

Nixing mixing

In my 85 years of living, I have seen all too often that when couples of different customs and religions marry, or even enter a relationship, it usually does not work out. 

Rachel Hartman (“I’m engaged to a gentile, my sister fights intermarriage, but we’re still family,” October 3), takes the side of intermarriage because she has formed a relationship with a “non-Jew.” She is careful not to mention his background, which raises the suspicion that he is a Muslim Arab, perhaps a “Palestinian.” I wonder if she knows that Arab “Palestinians” did not exist before the mid-1960s and that, in fact, before Israel came into being, the Jews living here were the Palestinians. The Arabs shunned the name. They took it up, by their own admission, as a political tool to rid the land of the Jews. 

If indeed, her relationship is with a Muslim Arab, I urge her to proceed with extreme caution. Women have very limited rights in their society. While a few “Palestinians” would be willing to live alongside Jews, most have been brainwashed in their homes and in their schools to hate Jews and to want them removed from Middle Eastern soil. Even those who are apparently Westernized conform to the mores they live under when they re-enter their own society. 

I would recommend that Hartman view the film Not Without My Daughter. It is fact-based and is what happens all too often.

I am not a racist; just a realist. I am not against marriage to black, green, yellow, red, brown, beige or white Jews. I said the same to my children and now say it to my grandchildren, whether their attention may focus on Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu or Bahai. Stick within your own comfort zone, stay with your own people with whom you have a common understanding.

EDMUND JONAH

Rishon Lezion

Driving us nuts

The tragic accident in the Galilee (“Israeli bus drivers after deadly accident: ‘Root of the problem’ must be treated,” October 1) points to several questions that require answers to ensure such an event does not happen again.

1. Was the vehicle roadworthy? Many similar vehicles on Israel’s roads, including heavy lorries, appear not to have been subjected to proper inspection and certification. One has only to look at cars on the road with numerous indications of damaged bodywork to conclude something is amiss. 

2. Should drivers above normal retirement age be permitted to drive public transportation vehicles, coaches /buses and heavy-goods vehicles – especially those with trailers – given that their reaction rates decrease with age?

3. The continuous hours a driver of public transportation vehicles, coaches /buses and heavy goods vehicles must be limited as in major Western countries by means of a tachometer installed in the cab of the vehicle.

4. From injuries described by the passengers it would appear they did not wear their seat belts. In most countries, this is a mandatory requirement! Or is this ignored because inspection is difficult to regulate? In many cases, the safety seat belts do not even operate properly. The onus of liability rests with the coach operators.

The overall callousness of Israeli drivers to abide by the law designed to ensure the safety of all road users and their passengers is to be deplored.

BARNEY KAYE

Jerusalem

 Fire and Rescue, Magen David Adom and United Hatzalah paramedics are trying to evacuate the victims of a deadly crash in the Galilee when a bus collided with a van and car, killing at least five and injuring dozens. (credit: UNITED HATZALAH‏) Fire and Rescue, Magen David Adom and United Hatzalah paramedics are trying to evacuate the victims of a deadly crash in the Galilee when a bus collided with a van and car, killing at least five and injuring dozens. (credit: UNITED HATZALAH‏)

Something is badly wrong with our system for penalizing criminal drivers of motor vehicles.

In broad daylight on Yom Kippur, on a highway virtually empty of other traffic, a 12-year-old boy riding his bicycle was run down and killed by a driver who is suspected of having been driving under the influence of alcohol. You report that the suspect driver has two previous convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol.

In “At least 5 dead, dozens injured in bus crash in North” (September 30) you report on the casualties, many of them children, killed or injured – again in broad daylight– while riding on a bus that left its lane, collided with two other vehicles and rolled over at least three times. That driver was reported to have 51 previous convictions for motoring offenses.

The judiciary dealing with such crimes must stop sympathizing with the driver whose livelihood is at risk, and start thinking about his victims. On the limited evidence already available, both of these drivers should have lost their driving licenses permanently sometime in the past.

LESLIE PORTNOY

Netanya

With regard to the reported bus crash in the North, it was reported that the bus driver who apparently caused the accident resulting in five deaths and many injured was 76 years old and already had 51 traffic violations to his name. Why on earth was this guy still allowed on the road, let alone driving a bus with nearly 60 souls riding in the bus behind him?

This is a big problem in Israel. Drivers are repeatedly convicted of traffic violations, including serious ones, but given only temporary suspension of their driver’s license. 

Years ago, I contested a speeding ticket in Rehovot. For various reasons, I had to appear in the Rishon courthouse three times before my case was heard. Hence, I sat through approximately 15 hours of numerous traffic court cases. One of them I still remember well. It involved a truck driver who was involved in a collision with a private car, resulting in the death of at least one person. The driver’s lawyer argued that his client should not permanently lose his license, in spite of his causing a death and having numerous prior convictions for various traffic violations. 

In the end, to the astonishment of almost everyone in the court, the judge suspended the truck driver’s license for only one year. I only hope that the driver did not cause any more heartache to another family after his license was restored. 

DON SHRENSKY

Jerusalem

The rejection connection

Regarding “Iron Dome: How Israel’s stunning success turned into a colossal failure” (September 29), toward the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency, he received a phone call from Yasser Arafat. Arafat told Clinton, “You are a great man.” Clinton replied, “I am a failure. And it is you who made me a failure.” The reference, of course, was to Arafat’s rejection of US-brokered efforts to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. 

Clinton realized the truth to which Nadav Tamir has blinded himself. Israel, which has proffered plans that could have led to the establishment of the first-ever-to-exist Arab State of Palestine, ceded land and evacuated Jewish communities from disputed areas, is not the obstacle to achieving peace; Arab rejectionism is the problem.  Palestinian leaders still dream of a Palestinian state that has replaced the nation-state of the Jews, not a Palestinian state co-existing peacefully with the world’s only Jewish state.

TOBY F. BLOCK

Atlanta, GA

To deny the Big Lie

Regarding “We need better Hasbara. Here’s how” (September 30), I applaud David Levine’s bringing to light the need for Israel to have better hasbara. Forming a “council of umbrella Jewish and Israeli organizations (nonprofit and as well professional marketing/advertising /public relations firms)” is an excellent way to execute fighting the Big Lie.

My quarrel with Levine’s approach is the message he wants to repeat frequently: “Who ya gonna believe – them or yourself? Verify it!” This message is out of step with today’s world of post-modernism – where truth and verification are no longer valued. They have been replaced by “my narrative… my view of reality.” 

Therefore, an emotional message needs to be repeated over and over. How about “Free Palestine from Its Ruthless Leaders!” 

Posters and bumper stickers can be placed on college campuses, along with this message ringing throughout social media. Let’s deflate the Big Lie by getting the Israeli narrative out there: the Palestinian people are victims of their own leaders. 

GINGER PINCHOT

Netanya

The odd Squad

The virulent antisemitism of the Squad of the Democratic Party (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressly, Jamaal Bowman and Cori Bush) is nothing new (“Progressive influence taught Israel it needs more independence,” September 28).

 On September 11, 1941, Charles Lindbergh spoke at Des Moines, Iowa on behalf of America’s antisemites. After president Harry Truman recognized Israel on May 14, 1948, the virulently antisemitic American State Department placed an arms embargo on nascent Israel as Arab countries representing millions of Arabs launched a genocidal war on Israel. Fortunately, Israel was able to find Russian arms in Czechoslovakia. Even some famous actors – unlike present-day antisemitic Hollywood celebrities – helped smuggle arms to Israel.

Today the Squad has chosen to support Hamas, whose Charter in Article 7 demands the murder of every Jew on earth. Fortunately, for 73 years the wise leadership of Israel – to paraphrase Oliver Cromwell – “has put its trust in Hashem and kept its powder dry.

RICHARD SHERMAN

Margate, Florida

Keep “pay for slay” at bay

Concerning “Meretz ministers Horowitz and Frej to meet with PA’s Abbas,” (September 30), the question remains: Will Prime Minister Naftali Bennett order his cabinet members to use the venue of a meeting with Abbas to demand that Abbas cancel the unprecedented PA law which provides a salary for anyone who kills a Jew and a salary for life for the family of the murderer? The “pay for slay” law was enacted by the PA in 2015 and is published in English and in Hebrew by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. 

Israel has yet to ask that Abbas cancel this law.

DAVID BEDEIN

Director, Near East Policy Research Center

It’s time we spoke Woke

Rather than using “progressive” or “regressive” as an epithet for the “Squad,” perhaps we should use something much more “woke.”

How about “transgressive…”

RICHARD RINBERG

Ra’anana