Letters to the Editor: That’s democracy?

Many totalitarian regimes hold elections, but where the candidates are preselected by the existing regime or only one party is permitted to run.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
That’s democracy?
The commentary by Turkey’s chargé d’affaires in Israel (“Strength and resilience of Turkish democracy,” Comment & Features, August 3) is based on a common misunderstanding – that democracy consists only of holding of elections.
Many totalitarian regimes hold elections, but where the candidates are preselected by the existing regime or only one party is permitted to run, or voters are intimidated by violence or the threat of it, only the most cynical would call it democracy.
Democracy requires three more elements, all of which should be safeguarded by constitutional provisions: freedom of association, including the liberty to form political parties; freedom of expression, including a free press; and, above all, an independent judiciary, whose powers should include supervision of elections.
The independence of judges requires a selection process on the basis of their legal acumen and personal integrity alone, without regard for their politics, together with tenure and a constitutionally protected ban on the removal of judges (who are subject to dismissal only after due process by a tribunal within the judicial system for disciplinary infractions).
Any regime that closes newspapers and television stations because they oppose the government, and which arrests or dismisses judges for political reasons only, has no business calling itself democratic.
The writer served as a judge of the Jerusalem Family Court for 17 years.
Not like ISIS, but...
Please allow me to agree with readers Batya Berlinger and Ze’ev M. Shandalov (“Faulty comparison,” Letters, August 2), who disagreed with writer Yossi Melman regarding his comparison of our hilltop youth to Islamic State. ISIS has reached such a degree of barbarism that nothing can compare to it.
This being said, I also disagree with them. Between the lines, they give these youths a much better image than they deserve.
Forcibly contravening the authority of the state is bad. It is extremely pretentious for anyone to believe that they know better than our political leaders, none of whom (from Left to Right) condones their doings.
Painting slogans on walls is reprehensible. Damaging the tires of Palestinians’ cars is bad, and burning those cars is worse.
Burning mosques is unforgivable (“do not do unto others...”). But the pinnacle of the abomination is burning alive a human being.
So ISIS they are not, but a shame and an infamy to Judaism, Zionism and the State of Israel they certainly are.
Tel Aviv
US campaign
Jeff Barak’s claim that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supports Hillary Clinton (“Netanyahu for Hillary,” Reality Check, August 1) is not substantiated, and certainly wasn’t reciprocated when the administrations of Clinton’s husband and the incumbent Barack Obama interfered in Israeli elections to have Mr. Netanyahu defeated.
Both Obama and Clinton support the Iran deal, which gives the ayatollah terror regime over $150 billion without any credible inspection of its nuclear and missile development programs. Donald Trump, on the other hand, says that as president, he would tear up this dangerous agreement.
If there is a question about “consistency and credibility,” one should look at Clinton’s claim that the consulate in Benghazi was attacked because of a video, and her lies to the FBI and Congress regarding the e-mail scandal.
There is a price to pay for American financial assistance, and that price is Israel’s independence to act in its own self-interest to survive.
Will this “huge package” enable Obama – after Election Day – to go along with a UN vote to establish a Palestinian state based upon the 1948 cease-fire lines, since it will have already “set the seal on Obama’s pro Israel legacy”?
In response to Jeff Barak’s claim that “no one has a real clue as to where [US Republican presidential nominee Donald] Trump stands on issues of vital importance to Israel,” does it really matter where Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton says she stands? Clinton’s record shows that her word is less than reliable and that she’ll say whatever she needs to in order to get elected. Where’s the sense of security for Israel in that?
The American presidential campaign is causing much anguish and concern among Israelis (as it is among US voters and in the international community).
Many Israelis view the possible election of Hillary Clinton to be a mortal danger to the state, as it will merely continue the eightyear Obama policy of Arab appeasement. As secretary of state, Clinton was directly responsible for carrying out the odious orders of her boss to weaken Israel and strengthen its enemies.
Yet this year brings us the unbelievable specter of Donald Trump emerging as Clinton’s rival.
Trump, the populist billionaire, defeated the entire gamut of primary candidates to win the nomination despite the fact that he has never held public office. But most importantly, this man has ranted and raved in his speeches against invented “enemies,” with insults and lies, thereby revealing a personality totally unfit for the US presidency. He has also praised Vladamir Putin and shown signs of an authoritarian dictatorship by a racist and cruel temperament.
It is in this reality that we must view his candidacy.
As dangerous as a Hillary Clinton presidency would be for Israel, can we allow an unstable demagogue and narcissist to be an American commander in chief and have Israel’s back? Are we to rely on his ever-changing statements and ignorant passions? All registered US voters here in Israel are facing a dilemma never before seen in modern western history. Two dangers face Israel.
Both candidates are certifiable liars, but only one will be the next president. Be careful whom you vote for because you might just get him (or her).
Petri dish potential
Regarding “Schnitzel from a petri dish?” (July 13), this could potentially ameliorate catastrophic climate change and water shortages, which we are already beginning to witness.
In 2006, the UN published a report titled “Rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gases then driving cars.” Actually, at 18 percent, it’s more than the entire transportation sector, with 13%.
On our watch, we are facing an extinction we haven’t seen since the dinosaurs disappeared. When whole countries go under water because of a rise in sea level, and when entire populations begin to migrate due to drought, we are going to have climate wars.
Companies like Supermeat theoretically might make a huge difference, but only if it makes a commitment to consult with leading health food experts and environmentalists.
Mevaseret Zion
Space vs. dementia
I have been told that a British newspaper reported that scientists had discovered a cure for dementia, called LMTX. However, it will not be available to treat patients for approximately 20 years. My husband, now 90, was recently diagnosed with rapidly developing dementia, so it is highly unlikely that he will be able to benefit from this discovery.
My question is: Why has this cure taken so long? Why was it not discovered 20 or even 30 years ago? Perhaps the answer lies in funding for useless journeys into space instead of scientific research so that my husband and thousands – maybe millions – like him could live out their last years with sound minds on planet Earth.
Some years ago, my husband actually coined a phrase: More microscopes, fewer telescopes.
How right he was!