Letters to the Editor, September 16, 2020: While my Qatar gently winks

The readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
While my Qatar gently winks
Israel and Qatar have an unlikely partnership for dealing with Gaza” (September 10), which actually praises Qatar, represents short-term thinking at best.
The newest report on the Palestinian Authority schoolbooks, released on September 9, 2020, researched by the Center for Near East Policy Research and published by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, documents that Qatar funds 364 Palestinian Authority textbooks that motivate the new generation to “liberate” Palestine – all of Palestine – by force of arms.
As we bless our children and grandchildren in the new year with a message of peace, this Israel military analyst sanctions, in the name of stability, an entity that brainwashes and motivates children for jihad from age six.
Director, Israel Resource News Agency
Worrisome UAE-Iran ties
Signing a normalization agreement with the UAE should be treated with caution, particularly from an economic standpoint.
The UAE is the world’s 26th largest exporter/re-exporter of products and services – about $130b. However, Israel’s sworn enemy that threatens to destroy us, Iran, is one of UAE’s export markets, importing as much as nearly 10% of their exports. Given that Iran’s reported total imports are $50b., exports from UAE represent a quarter to a half of all Iranian imports! “Alarmist,” one may say, but to put it in perspective, EU exports to Iran are miniscule compared with those of the UAE.
In addition to services, what multi-use materials are being imported by Iran from the UAE and are they properly inspected and scrutinized? As recently as last month, it was reported the USA slapped sanctions on two UAE aviation companies with respect to work for an Iranian airline already under US sanctions. Concurrently, US federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against one of the companies for violations of US export control regulations, imposing penalties on the firms and Iranian owner of one of them for providing parts and logistics services to Iran’s Mahan Air, which has been subject to US counterterrorism sanctions, as it transported Iranian Revolutionary Guard-supplied weapons and personnel from Iran to support Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, while sending personnel and equipment to Venezuela. UAE airports served as a hub for such flights!
Need one say more?
ET, phone Venus
Regarding “Scientists find potential sign of life detected on Venus (September 15) about possible evidence of chemical signatures of life on that planet, please note that I qualified for the first NASA Scientist-Astronaut Program in 1967 to coordinate this search for biochemicals extraterrestrially. It soon became apparent that a Sabbath launch could be a problem, so I left the program. However, while associated with the NASA Program and completing my PhD two years earlier in Berkeley on the subject of the primoridial origin of life, I learned a great deal about this question.
Many basic chemicals can react spontaneously with heat and ultraviolet light to form simple biochemicals (e.g., amino acids, carbohydrates and fatty acids) without the intervention of living cells. The most difficult question is how these inanimate processes led to living, reproducible cells. The key is the formation of nucleic acids organized into information-bearing specific sequences of units. This is how today’s cells store and pass on basic life-forming processes.
Until we resolve this question, the discovery of life-like compounds may just be fortuitous.
Reject rejectionism
Regarding “Palestinian rejectionism” (September 14), we are currently experiencing an unprecedented wave of Middle East nations facing reality and coming to terms with the fact that normalizing relations with Israel is a win-win for all concerned.
Unfortunately, the more this peace talk evolves, the more the Palestinian leaders reject negotiations and actively foment violence.
In a Mafia-type society it is not easy to break the silence and speak out against those that will threaten you with retribution, but fortune favors the brave and therefore it’s well past the time for the local Arab people to demand a progressive future for themselves and their next generations.
Believing and clinging to hatred of the other will in this age of cooperating states leave the Palestinians as an entity that possibly garners pity but very little else.
Tel Aviv
Party time
In “It’s our turn to make politicians aware of English speakers’ power” (September 14), former deputy minister Michael Oren says it is time for the Anglos to have their own political party. Is this what the Israeli political scene really needs – another party promoting their self-interests?
What are the Anglo interests or ideals that are not represented by the many other parties?
More baseball and football coverage in the media? More apple pie? Less matcot, more volleyball on the beaches? Public transportation on the Sabbath or no transportation, public or private, on the Sabbath? A two-state non-solution or a one-state non-solution? I personally would like to see more bacon, lettuce and tomato (BLT) sandwiches on restaurant menus. Do we like Trump or hate Trump?
Anglos, unlike the Russians and the Ethiopians, are not an under-privileged or outsider group that needs special representation. Israel has more than enough political parties. Lets not add to the confusion.
Love those we disagree with
Susan Hattis Rolef takes “A critical look at the Balfour demonstrations” (September 14), but first she can’t resist a review of her own reasons for the support of the demonstrations:
• No PM under indictment on criminal charges should continue to serve. Whatever happened to the pillar of democratic ideals that every person is innocent until proven guilty?
• Netanyahu is not proper or stately in his attacks on the law enforcement establishment. Netanyahu and family have been under constant vicious attack for years. Why should he respond in a stately manner? Furthermore, given the recent Umm al-Hiran incident maybe he is right in his criticism of some in the law enforcement/justice complex.
• He’s lost all sense of what is true or false. Who says so? Truth is often in the eyes of the beholder.
• He has demonstrated a total lack of leadership in dealing with the corona crisis. The whole world is in a similar crisis dealing with the pandemic, some countries are better off, many are less. Most of the ones who are better off don’t have unruly, rebellious, minorities with whom to deal.
On one issue I totally agree with Rolef: the demonstrations have turned into licentious carnivals. The behavior of the “peace and democracy” demonstrators is repulsive and disgusting. If anything, they will increase support for Bibi.
Finally, is it in line with democratic ideals for ten thousand demonstrators, no matter how passionate they are, to bring down a duly elected head of government? How many does it take? 1,000, 5,000, 10,000? And how many weekends before the resignation? Five, ten?
Rabbi Marc Schneier’s commentary (“Years in the making: Bahrain and Israel establish relations,” September 12) about his role in the Bahrain/Israel relationship was excellent. What a demonstration of his clear focus on what is possible and avoiding the stereotypes that blind us with hatred.
But Susan Hattis Rolef’s comments (“A critical look at the Balfour demonstrations,” September 14) were spoiled by her gratuitous insult about US President Donald Trump that was unrelated to the context of the column.
Next were negative letters about Women of the Wall (WOW). My comment is not about the issue, but about the derogatory assumptions the letter writers made. How do the writers know how many times a day people pray, or that their real objective is raising money for the Masorati movement or that they are “self-serving, destructive, and hateful.” No one can claim to know the women’s “motivation in prayer.” One letter writer say WOW has “blinding hatred for all who don’t agree with them.”
If writers can’t make their case without blind hatred, which did in our nation two millennia ago, maybe the editors should screen and edit commentary and letters more carefully – not for the views, but for the civility in presenting them.
Regarding “Religious life in Jerusalem and Women of the Wall” (September 13), the writer’s concern with the methods of the Women of the Wall to obtain a place for worship at the Kotel is that they are, in essence, rude and demanding.
I encourage the writer to look around at our country, where being rude and demanding is the way of the land and part of the fabric of the culture – for good or for bad. One can hardly participate in the public arena without experiencing such behavior without provocation. Yet the authorities have seemingly deliberately not repaired a section of the Wall that had been promised to the WOW group for more than two years, which is provocative. Had the needed repairs been in the men’s section, they would certainly have been fast-tracked.
As Torah-observant Jews, particularly this time of year, is it not incumbent of us to love those with whom we have even strong disagreements? Ha Tzaddik R. Avraham Yitzchak Kook zt”l was prescient in his love and embrace of the non-observant as we have come to see with the success of decades of the ba’al t’shuva movement – bringing generations closer to Torah. These women (and the men who support them) actually believe in serving Hashem, unlike many with whom R. Kook sought out. We should support their love of Hashem, even if it does not accord with our own.
COVID, protests and closures
I have always respected Judaism as a fundamentally humanistic religion. Yet when I see thousands of ultra-Orthodox (haredi) worshipers gathering for prayers I am dismayed. Don’t they realize that they are risking spreading the coronavirus and causing suffering and possibly death to their own beloved family as well as to their neighbor?
But it’s not only the haredim. I see pictures of mainly leftists demonstrating against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who are supposed to be humanistic, yet are putting their political considerations above the suffering and potential death of themselves and their neighbors.
This is why there has been an alarming increase in infection rates and why the government is forced to introduce another lockdown. Even if you don’t care about your own health or that of your family, please consider my beloved family. Obey the rules, wear masks and don’t gather together in large numbers, even for prayer or protest.
What does the government think a three-week lockdown will achieve?
I have read that 30,000 or so Israelis plan to leave the country on Thursday for a holiday. Great for them. Instead of being able to go to closed-down Eilat, they will benefit the economies of Greece and other such countries who value their tourism business and who know that you cannot lock down a virus. Even if they self-isolate for two weeks on their return, they will still have done better than the rest of us stuck with an absurd three-week lockdown here.
This is not the way to run a country. Any government that pretends it has the ability to control a virus and by resorting to bad laws to try to achieve the impossible does not merit being in power at all. There is no point blaming the people who choose to ignore stupid laws and refuse to be left in a ghetto 500 meters from their homes – as if 600 meters or one kilometer are any different. There is simply no scientific or any other justification for 500 meters or any other of the restrictions to micro-manage people lives.
Bravo to Minister Yaakov Litzman for resigning and not being part of such folly. The majority of people are perfectly able to judge what element of risk they should take to keep themselves as safe as possible regarding this virus and do not need to be told by a government what they can and cannot do.
If there is no vaccine by Hanukkah or indeed Passover, something none of us knows, no doubt the same medicine will be prescribed by this government until they wake up to the fact that they are responsible for bankrupting this country.
Baskin: Baskin’ in praise
Perhaps I’ve been unfair in thinking for so long that all of Gershon Baskin’s columns are wearyingly repetitive exercises in self-delusion.
In “What concerns our neighbors” (September 10), he raises several salient points, such as:
1) Many Palestinians “wish that the Palestinian leadership would come up with a constructive response rather than always saying no.”
2) Palestinians resent their “worsening economic reality” together with “PA corruption and abuses by people in power.”
3) It is dangerous for Palestinians to post anything critical on the social media due to repression by the PA against opposition.
4) The PA police are not at all reluctant to use violence to limit freedom of protest.
Baskin seems to be not as divorced from reality as I believed he was. Is it possible that if I keep reading former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s articles long enough I will one day find something accurate, valuable and redeeming in his words, too?
Bat Yam