Letters to the Editor, September 2, 2020: Eye on Dubai

The readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters (photo credit: PIXABAY)
Letters
(photo credit: PIXABAY)
Eye on Dubai
Regarding “Israel, UAE launch talks on embassy openings” (September 1), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not sell our birthright for a “mess of pottage” as in the biblical story of Jacob and Esau, but he does seem to have, in fact, sold it. However dazzling the deal with the UAE, and potentially with other Arab states, the opportunity to apply sovereignty to our settlements in Judea and Samaria should have been a priority.
This is not peace for peace, as Netanyahu claims, but peace for waiving our claims to our birthright, as if, as it seemed to Esau, it was of no value under the circumstances.
DONYA MEIJER
Jerusalem
Seth Frantzman (“Why aren’t prominent pro-peace voices celebrating the UAE-Israel normalization deal?” August 31) writes about why so many people and organizations find fault with the great treaty between Israel and the UAE.
Chalk it up to two factors:
1) The first is the anti-Trump feelings that dominate political thinking in the media, academics and many American Jewish groups. To agree with US President Donald Trump is considered so outrageous that, at best, people will remain silent and, at worst, disagree without any intellectual justification for their disdain. There is a tendency to deem anything the president favors wrong, no matter how good it is.
2) Organizations are formed to espouse a particular view. Organizations on the Left have a vested interest in publicizing how “evil” Israel is towards Palestinians; organizations on the Right are loathe to accept any compromise. Both have to be against this deal. Their jobs are at stake if they move from their set positions. Your left- and right-wing opinion writers follow this model.
Trump usually thinks out of the box. He wants solutions, not the continuation of the status quo. While some of his decisions may not be correct, many of them have been. And this may be one of the most important.
STEPHEN J. KOHN
Ra’anana

As more and more Arab states follow the lead taken by the UAE – and there will be more – the “Palestinian veto” becomes more irrelevant. This prospect is frightening not only to the PA, but is a terrifying course of events for their knee-jerk supporters.
Organizations such as J Street, Peace Now and individuals invested in the Left also become irrelevant to future discussions. This also impacts their livelihoods and life’s work.
Their fight is no longer for the Palestinian cause but is a matter of self-preservation. Their revenues and egos hang in the balance. They don’t know it yet, but they are the dinosaurs in the room.
The Palestinians still have a small window of opportunity to achieve a measure of the demands they continue to make. Time for a reality check, but time is running out.

M. LEVENTHAL
Toronto/Jerusalem

Reader talkback
This morning (August 31) I found myself talking back at your headlines.
• “Why aren’t prominent pro-peace voices celebrating the UAE-normalization deal?” Because it’s a feather in the cap of the prime minister and they insist that he’s all things evil. If someone from left of the Likud could take the credit, they’d be dancing on the rooftops.
• “Does Israel prefer peace with authoritarians?” To war with authoritarians, yes. Authoritarians are pretty much what we’ve got to choose from in the Middle East.
• “Movement for Black Lives moves past anti-Israeli rhetoric.” I would think that moving past the rhetoric would mean replacing it with fairer statements, but the movement has merely “steered clear of discussion of Israel in 2020.” Officially at least. Meanwhile, anti-Israeli and anti-semitic statements from its adherents have not been hard to find.
MARK L. LEVINSON
Herzliya

No fun in dysfunction
The editorial “Dysfunctional government” (August 31) bemoans the state of our current government, saying, “Despite this being a time when the country needs a strong, united leadership to meet all the challenges it is facing, this government is proving to be one of the worst in Israel’s history,” but it fails to address the true problem: a much needed change in Israel’s electoral system.
It has been obvious for years that the system is in desperate need of overhaul and that the old system of party lists is no longer viable.
To begin with, it is far too easy to form a party and have its list run in a given election. Instead of the current system of boutique parties, it should be required for a party to get a minimum number of signatures (say 200,000) before it is recognized and its list allowed to run for the Knesset.
Further, the electoral threshold needs to be raised so that there are no longer factions of fewer than 10 members that can sit and throw their weight around during coalition negotiations and votes in the plenum.
I haven’t even mentioned the matter of doing away with the list system and have a Knesset made up of representatives of delineated districts around the country.
Until a viable government can be put together by parties of serious size (Mapai had 46 seats in the first Knesset), nothing will really change, except for possibly getting even worse, Heaven forbid.

JOEL BLOCK
Haifa

Gaza: Fuel for the cruel?
Regarding “Israeli NGOs urge court to halt Gaza fuel ban” (September 1), the fuel bad was instituted in response to the violent cross-border attacks against Israeli civilians by Gaza terrorists – a war crime by any standards. Five Israeli NGOs have petitioned the High Court of Justice to lift the ban.
Without going into the details of all five NGOs, one of them is the Physicians for Human Rights Israel, headed by Dr. Ruchama Marton, who publicly supports the BDS movement, which claims that Israel is a fascist, apartheid state that must be replaced. One can only assume that Marton shares that opinion.
In the same article, Jamie McGoldrick, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Palestine, in a statement of unbelievable moral ambivalence, says that all parties must act to protect civilians. One wonders why McGoldrick has never called for the end of Hamas terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians at the beginning of the onslaught and prior to the Israeli response. Nor has he called for the immediate cessation of Hamas attack tunnels aimed at the kidnapping and murder of Israeli civilians.
In McGoldrick’s humanitarian world, Israeli citizens are of no value. For McGoldrick, Israeli lives don’t matter.

YIGAL HOROWITZ
Beersheba

Gaza and its leaders need to face some inconvenient truths:
1) There is no real blockade of Gaza. Israel simply tries to prevent entry of materials that can be used to attack Israelis.
2) If Hamas would put as much effort into developing the economy and creating jobs for the people in Gaza as it exerts in finding ways to subvert the embargo and murder Israelis, the people in Gaza could be living very well.

TOBY F. BLOCK
Atlanta, GA

Regarding “Israel blamed for Gaza coronavirus ‘catastrophe’” (August 28) – say what?
Our sworn enemy, who is intent on destroying Israel, claims that we are responsible for not saving them and that we will pay the price. They are launching rockets and balloons to force us to end our blockade.
They also have a border with their Egyptian “allies,” so why is Egypt not responsible? Why isn’t Hamas demanding that Egypt end its blockade and why aren’t they launching rockets and balloons in their direction? Because Egyptians are not bleeding hearts like we are. Egypt would ruthlessly bomb Hamas and not worry about who suffers.
“Hamas was holding contacts with many parties, including Egypt...” When they contacted Egypt, they apparently forgot to tell them to lift their embargo. They also forgot to tell Egypt to supply their electricity and all their other humanitarian needs – or they would pay the price!
I thought Israelis hate being freiers!

SAMMY HIRSCHMAN
Karnei Shomron

FFOs 2, Israel 0
Let’s compare two shockingly inequitable and painful decisions of the High Court of Justice.
In early August, the Court ruled against the demolition of the home of the terrorist murderer of soldier Amit Ben-Yigal z”l, because of concern for his family members. (“Court halts demolition...” August 11). Yet last week, they ordered the evacuation of more than 30 Israeli families from their homes in Mitzpe Kramim (“Court orders Mitzpe Kramim outpost evacuated” (August 28), despite the fact that they had lived there for over 20 years in homes built in good faith.
Obviously these rulings will strengthen the resolve to pass legislation permitting the Knesset to override High Court decisions in certain cases. However, the High Court is not the only problem. Each of these cases was filed by a foreign-funded organization registered in Israel, but really representing the foreign policy of their donor nations. The terrorist case was filed by HaMoked and the Mitze Kramim case was initiated in 1999 by Yesh Din.
These organizations, approximately 15, are usually referred to as NGOs, and their role in bringing these cases and hundreds more, is usually overlooked by the media. But the juxtaposition of the two recent rulings requires strong measures to stem the tide of foreign influence in our highest courts, with horrendous consequences almost always against the interests of the State of Israel.
Legislation requires a modicum of transparency for these groups, but the time has clearly come to block their access to the High Court. These groups are clearly not NGOs, non-governmental organizations, since most of their funding comes directly from foreign governments. So until the Knesset takes action, I propose that the media, and all of us, refer to them as FFOs, foreign-funded organizations, so the public understands who is financing these unacceptable anti-Israel petitions in our courts.

DR. JAN SOKOLOVSKY
Jerusalem

Textual quirks regarding the Turks
In “Restoring Turkey to greatness?” (November 1), the writer states that the battle of Manizikert in 1071 was the beginning of the end of the Holy Roman Empire. It was not. The Seljukid Turks in that battle defeated the army of the Byzantine (East Roman) Empire, not the Holy Roman Empire, which was based in Western Europe. He also states that the name of the capital of the Byzantine Empire was changed to Istanbul in 1453, the year the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople. The Ottomans retained the name Constantinople throughout its history. The name of the city was not changed to Istanbul until 1931, under the Turkish Republic led by Ataturk.
Finally, contrary to what was written, President Recep Erdogan does not see himself as the successor to Ataturk, who thoroughly secularized the former Ottoman Empire; he sees himself as the successor to the Ottoman sultans, who had appropriated the title of Caliph, or spiritual leader of all Muslims, after conquering Egypt in 1517.
NORMAN A. BAILEY, PH.D.
Netanya

A word from down under
The most notable aspects of Greer Fay Cashman’s broadside against the Australian Jewish Association (AJA) are the conjecture and non-sequiturs that plague her August 28 “Grapevine” column.
She concedes that our website and social media unambiguously describe us as politically conservative and guided by Torah values. Yet in her very next paragraph she claims that AJA conveys “the erroneous impression that this is an organization for Jews of all stripes.”  We welcome an explanation as to how we are self-avowed conservatives and non-partisan poseurs at one and the same time.
Worse is her speculation that we may have bamboozled MK Tehila Friedman into speaking at a recent AJA webinar. If Cashman had bothered to ask, we’d have readily shared our event invitation where the AJA is described as “a political advocacy organization that operates from a conservative and Torah-based perspective.” Cashman also takes issue with the fact that the AJA engages in political advocacy across the Australian political spectrum. Perhaps she is unaware that Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party controls a key voting bloc in the hung Australian Senate.
We think it naïve folly to spurn parliamentary support where it can be found. Again, had she bothered to enquire, we could have informed her of our meetings and broadcast interviews with politicians from the Labor Party, too. Incidentally, the criticism is demonstrably not shared by the Australian Jewish community, which has made AJA the largest Australian Jewish organization on social media.
David Ben-Gurion used to say, “The dogs may bark, but the caravan continues on its way.” And Cashman can be assured that the AJA will continue putting the pedal to the metal in pursuit of Jewish interests as we see them.

DAVID ADLER
President, Australian Jewish Association
Greer Fay Cashman responds, “The Merriam Webster dictionary defines ‘caravan’ as a company of travelers on a journey through desert or hostile regions; also, a train of pack animals. David Adler’s use of the word speaks for itself.”