Letters to the Editor, September 14, 2020: Going for (honest) broker

The readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters (photo credit: PIXABAY)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)
Going for (honest) broker
Regarding “Palestinians facing immense pressure to resume peace talks” (October 12) – finally! It is about time the world stops giving the Palestinians a free pass for all of their outrageous actions and delusional claims while relentlessly pressuring Israel to harm itself by giving away its strategic depth and inalienable rights to its indigenous homeland in return for essentially empty promises that can be rescinded whenever our opponent’s mood (or government) changes.
Abbas ridiculously asserts that the US cannot serve as an honest broker because of its “‘bias’ in favor of Israel and ‘hostility’ toward the Palestinians.”
Well, Israel should retort – with much more justification – that the EU, Russia and the UN (preferred by the PA) cannot serve as honest brokers due to their decades-long dismal track record of anti-Israel bias and hostility (“UN wrongs,” October 13).
We all look forward to the day the PA and Gaza leaders begin to show some evidence of reasonableness and good will. A bit of pressure on them can only be a good thing.
New York/Jerusalem
Tackling tough topics
Regarding “‘It’s not good to be alone’” (October 12), with great respect to Rabbi Benny Lau, whatever the context, conversion therapy should be outlawed. Bill C-6 was introduced in Canada on October 1, 2020 to outlaw conversion therapy. It should be “denounced” in order to protect the human dignity and equality of all citizens. I would include prayer or religious rites as any forms of a therapeutic attempt to change the sexual orientation of bisexual, gay and lesbian individuals to heterosexual.
There is no evidence that the negative effects of conversion or reparative therapy counterbalances the distress caused by the social stigma and prejudice individuals may feel. Is there an underlying ridiculous feeling that some kind of intentional delays will impede self-acceptance or someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation?
Kol hakavod to Rabbi Eli Kavon (“The end of the Chief Rabbinate,” October 13). Finally we hear from a rabbi the current truth about the Chief Rabbinate in Israel. There are so many issues facing the Jewish people in these modern times and there is zero leadership and guidance from this religious royalty.
What about the issue of agunot, woman chained to their marriage because the husband refuses to give a get? What are we doing with all of the loyal Soviet immigrants who need to be converted? Who made up the rule for a convert to pledge to follow every mitzva? Who is capable of that? Many of these immigrants are the most loyal citizens. They love their country, fight for it and die for it. Why is it that we can’t we or they come up with a solution that is both in line with our Jewish laws yet flexible enough to bring those into the fold that really want to be a full participant in the Jewish dream?
As the Jews in the Diaspora assimilate more and more and have 24-hour (if that) “quickie” conversion classes, isn’t it time to reverse the trend and bring in those who sincerely want to be Jewish and not just those who pass a tests just to make their spouses happy?
Haredim who crowd into synagogues during the pandemic seem to place priority on praying rather than on preserving life. They should follow the example that I witnessed at the start of the Yom Kippur War. I lived in Bayit Vegan in Jerusalem, which was then gradually becoming a religious neighborhood. On the morning of Yom Kippur in 1973, before I knew that we had again been forced into war, I was surprised by a sound that would not be expected that day, even in completely secular neighborhoods. Looking out the window I witnessed an unforgettable Yom Kippur sight: a clearly religious man speeding on a motorbike, his tzizit ritual fringes flying behind him. I later learned that synagogue services had been interrupted to mobilize reservists to defend their country. This of course took priority over prayer, as it should in the present crisis.
Without preserving life, who will be left to pray?
Har Adar
Gas bypass
Regarding “Chevron halts supply of gas to Israel Electric” (October 8), please have your economic reporters look deeper into the recent report regarding the electric company having to pay a high price for the Israeli natural gas from Chevron.
In the past we were told regarding the agreements with the natural gas investors:
• It would reduce our dependence on foreign oil companies
• It would lower costs of electricity (the main gas user) and other products manufactured using natural gas
• The government would earn royalties that would provide much-needed funds for the national budget
Now it seems as though the original investors were allowed to sell their interest leaving us at the mercy of a foreign oil company and all the cost savings and government revenues are in doubt.
Please continue to look into this and report further to the public.
Hairdos and don’ts
Regarding “Sara Netanyahu violated coronavirus restrictions” (October 8), Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom has made a number of appearances in public while the UK was/is in lockdown and hair salons not allowed to be open (and knighting “Col Tom” at Windsor, Trooping the Colour, granddaughter’s wedding, e.g.), as well as being seen addressing the nation on television and meeting people on Zoom. At each appearance her hair looks immaculate; of course a hairdresser visits her.
Sara Netanyahu is Israel’s first lady and may be called upon at short notice to meet foreign dignitaries; she cannot look a mess on these occasions and this haircut was totally justifiable/necessary.
Vile denial
Regarding “Facebook to ban content that denies or distorts the Holocaust” (October 13), it is a great victory for Jews everywhere and for all humanity that the social media giant has decided to prevent dissemination on its platform of content that denies or distorts the Holocaust. We all owe exceptional thanks to the people and organizations who participated in this struggle and are finally victorious.
But this is not enough. Some 16 European countries have laws criminalizing Holocaust denial specifically – and even more countries, hate speech in general. The European authors of Holocaust-denial posts in Facebook who reside in any of those countries, should be tracked down and hauled into court.
A single successful prosecution will have enormous effect on the social media degenerate rat-pack to the benefit of us all
Votes and (mis)quotes
The Jerusalem Post’s unmistakable and steady drift to the Left of was on full display on the front of the editorial pages today (October 13). Above and below the fold, we were treated to the tortuous logic of pro-Democratic Party writers. Nowhere in the issue was there a pro-Republican article.
In “Are Democratic Socialists driving Jewish voters away?” Bradley Honan and Elisabeth Zeche, who at least label themselves as biased try to justify why Jews should (and, unfortunately too often do) support policies and candidates that are inimical to Jewish interests. Their article left the question hanging.
Nadav Tamir (“A desperate attempt to decipher Trump’s foreign policy”) sets out to explain why US foreign policy is, in his estimation, irrational. The entire exposition beggars belief: Ask any Jerusalem cab driver what’s behind Trump’s foreign policy. The answer will be “Support for America’s friends and opposition to its enemies.” What was irrational, especially during the Obama years and with all his “experts,” was that the reverse was more often true.
While the editorial staff is certainly free to choose what it prints, it seems like a disservice to the readers to promote such fatuous drivel.
Nadav Tamir has written a piece trying to discern the motivating forces that lead US President Donald Trump to make the decisions he makes. One critical factor left out of the article: Trump follows through on what he promised to do.
He campaigned, won and then he started delivering. Simple. But so very complex for the political analysts and commentators. They don’t know what to do with a politician who keeps promises.
Trump is the most transparent politician in recent history, the voters knew what they were getting in terms of style, policy, and character. You don’t have to like what he promised to do, but he never kept it a secret and the majority voted for him. The alternative, Joe “the voters don’t deserve to know” Biden, is far more conniving, manipulative, secretive and scary.
When talking about US foreign policy, it would be wise to keep in mind the words of Robert Gates, defense secretary for the Obama administration: Biden has “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
Bat Yam
The venomous piece “Why Jews won’t vote for Trump” (October 1) by Douglas Bloomfield made me sick. He suggests that US President Donald Trump is an antisemite despite having a Jewish daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren. He quotes cliches allegedly showing Trump’s disdain for Jews, but without any source references.
He also accuses Trump of embracing white supremacists (never mind that White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany recently read out a long string of statements made by the president over time condemning white supremacy). As evidence to back his outrageous allegation Bloomfield says the eagle symbol resting on the US flag printed on Trump’s campaign shirts is similar to the eagle used by the Nazis. The eagle was chosen in 1782 as the emblem of the United States of America, because of its long life, great strength and majestic looks. There are at least 11 other countries that I know that use a similar eagle as national symbol.
Defending George Soros, the self-hating Jew, who allegedly was a Nazi informer in his native Hungary, places Bloomfield firmly in the camp of left-wing radicals.
Then there is his criticism of Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court to take the place of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who defended same-sex marriage, LGBT rights, etc., which Bloomfield called issues of importance to mainstream American Jewry. With 70% of intermarriage, who are the mainstream of American Jewry? As for Trump’s choice of Barrett, is he not entitled to act according to his political inclination, which is his right under the constitution?
It is surprising that Bloomfield hardly acknowledges Trump’s achievements for Israel. And why is the death rate in the US attributed to the coronavirus mainly the fault of Trump? How dare he accuse the president of following quacks and not scientists. That is not only without foundation, but also an insult to the experts who are working to contain the virus. COVID-19 is a global pandemic that has killed over a million people worldwide; even the most advanced Western countries have not been able to prevent comparable numbers of death whatever method they have tried. On the contrary, they are also experiencing a second wave. The fault for the slow progress in fighting this virus is the lack of discipline of the populations. The best example is Israel.
Finally, the insulting unbecoming Yiddish expressions with which he described Trump’s advisers lowers the high regard I had for him in the past. His article is the paradigm of baseless hatred.
Fear of ‘freiing’
There seems to be little doubt that in Israel today the dysfunctional political tensions within the government; the scope and persistence of anti-government demonstrations; and the level of intergroup conflict are of great concern. They appear to have exceeded the threshold beyond which the stability of the state and its major institutions, its economic life, civil society, and the individual’s sense of being a state citizen have come under threat.
As Roy Pinchot (“The ‘freier’ and the coronavirus,” October 10) points out, one could be forgiven for believing that many politicians are simply uneducated about what it takes to preserve the inherently fragile social harmony that is so essential to sustain and reproduce a liberal democracy over time.
Different writers have identified a number of elements of good character that need to be engendered and reinforced among the citizenry to ensure social reproduction. With a view to serving as a school for these politicians “while standing on one foot,” some of these virtues are summarized here for their enlightenment:
1) Law-abidingness
2) Tolerance of difference
3) Avoiding dependence on others
4) Loyalty to the core principles of the society
5) Willingness to defend one’s country
6) The work ethic
7) Respect for the rights of others and for the political leadership – the virtues of being able to forge a common purpose in a diverse society, being able to resist pandering to immoderate public demands, and narrowing the gap between what is popular and what is wise.
At some point, Israel will have to confront the challenges of reforming some of her major institutions – political, legal, educational and social – in order to strengthen these virtues if it is to ensure that the tears in its social fabric can be mended.