Letters to the Editor: The coalition deals

With regard to “Netanyahu facing Likud rebellion over portfolios” (May 8), we finally seem to have a government – but at what cost?

President Reuven Rivlin tasks Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with forming Israel’s 34th government, March 25 (photo credit: PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON OFFICE)
President Reuven Rivlin tasks Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with forming Israel’s 34th government, March 25
The coalition deals
With regard to “Netanyahu facing Likud rebellion over portfolios” (May 8), we finally seem to have a government – but at what cost? If what we were subjected to over the past several weeks does not move us to change this dysfunctional electoral system, nothing will.
In this system, each small party makes demands way beyond the proportion of seats it won. Sadly, they – including one who is a convicted felon – get what they demand.
Now Netanyahu wants to expand the cabinet to satisfy more egos and give out more taxpayer-funded luxury cars. Again, at what cost? Unless we can elect a Knesset whose members care more about our future and the stability of our governments than themselves, we will remain mired in the same swamp. I only pray that we do not sink any deeper.
KURT SIMON Jerusalem
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Political commentators who have appeared in the Post over the past few days speculate about the lack of stability that will exist as a result of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu having negotiated a coalition of only a bare majority (“Netanyahu forms 61-member coalition just before deadline,” May 7). Some go as far as encouraging the addition of the Zionist Union, thereby broadening the coalition using the pretext of national unity – when circumstances requiring this do not exist.
On the other hand, UK Prime Minister David Cameron last week, against all opinion polls, managed to win an outright, although narrow, majority. Nonetheless, political and financial commentators there have been speculating on how stable such a government would be against internal revolts.
Ironically, the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition established after the previous election proved to be a most stable government because of specific provisions restraining both parties from seeking early elections.
If Prime Minister Netanyahu wants stability, why did he not insist on a similar provision? Was he so afraid that none of the other parties would agree – or, perhaps, that they would, thus constraining his own position?
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won the election and lost the nation. He sold his soul to build a coalition and sold out his supporters.
One step forward, two steps back. No shame.
In “Zionist Union declares war on Netanyahu government” (May 8), you quote Yair Lapid as asserting that the new government was “born in sin.” I believe it would be more accurate to say that it was dead on arrival.
No ‘landslide’
In the first sentence of “A wizard he was” (Analysis, May 8), Gil Hoffman talks about the “landslide” that Benjamin Netanyahu won in March 17’s election.
There has never been a “landslide” victory in Israel. In fact, no one party has ever achieved even a majority. Israel has always had coalition governments. The March election provided the Likud with fewer than half the seats necessary to form a majority government.
If an example of a landslide is required, you can look at last week’s UK elections, where the SNP won 56 out of 59 seats allotted to Scotland in the House of Commons. That was a landslide.
An analysis on the lack of knowledge of a population that chooses to support small parties, and the waste of money that ensues in every election, would have been a better use of frontpage space.
MICHAEL H. DAVIS Rishon Lezion
The other war
I read with interest Sana Britavksy’s “The day of our victory” (Observations, May 8), about the work of Genesis in partnership with Yad Vashem in documenting and commemorating the contribution of Soviet Jewry during World War II. This is very special, necessary and commendable work.
One person who immediately comes to mind is Col. Yefim Davidovich, a wartime Red Army hero and one of the most prominent Soviet Jews denied permission to emigrate to Israel. He was stripped of his rank and deprived of his officer’s pension, and died of a heart attack at 54, before he could realize his dream.
But what of the thousands of Jews who died in World War I? It is now 100 years since the beginning of that most devastating of wars. Ceremonies are taking place worldwide, but unless I have missed it, I haven’t seen anything in the Israeli media marking the great contribution made by thousands of Jews who lost their lives on the battlefields of Europe.
One such soldier was my mother’s cousin, Montague (Mordechai) Lichtenstein, a medical student from Manchester, UK, who died at 22 in battle at Arras, France. He has no grave, but we remember his yartzeit because the date is also my Hebrew birthday.
We should remember him and the thousands of other Jewish soldiers who sacrificed their lives in that war, but also those who survived.
I look forward to a similar project whereby information is collated so that these Jews, too, can be honored.
Glass half-full
I was disappointed to read Herb Keinon’s “Prime minister meets US congresswoman who skipped March address on Capitol Hill” (May 5).
Rep. Karen Bass, who represents California’s 37th District, has been a staunch supporter of the US-Israel relationship since her election to Congress in 2010, and was prior thereto.
Her actions include, but are not limited to, voting to approve approximately $3 billion in annual aid to Israel, as well as supplementary funding for missile defense systems; supporting Iran sanctions legislation; and supporting the Ros-Lehtinen/ Deutch US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act. She has consistently supported Israel’s right to self-defense.
Although Mr. Keinon quoted extensively from her press release, the following was omitted: “I will be unable to attend Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress because I will be in Los Angeles for an important election.... I am excited that a young man whom I have worked with for over 20 years is a leading candidate for an important Los Angeles City Council election.”
STEVEN USDAN Los Angeles The writer is a contributor to, and former constituent of, US Rep. Karen Bass.
Another hint
Reading “Bus service ‘Shabus’ begins Shabbat operations in Jerusalem” (May 3) reminds me of a story about Palestinian security prisoner Salah Ta’amri, who recounts seeing a guard eating pita on Passover.
Ta’amri asks the guard: “How can you eat what you are eating? Your Bible forbids your eating pita bread on Passover.”
The guard replies: “I couldn’t give a damn what a book written 4,000 years ago has to say about anything.” Ta’amri concluded: “If the Israelis don’t care what the Bible says about Passover, they won’t care about the Land of Israel either.”
The Shabus operators might believe they are performing a service for citizens for whom Shabbat is meaningless. At the same time, they might be strengthening our enemies’ belief that Israel will one day belong to them.
There were two errors on Page 23 of the May 8 Jerusalem Post. The column “Parshat Behar: One person for the other” was by Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz and not Mark Feldman, who writes the Post’s popular The Travel Adviser column and has not, at least to our knowledge, been appointed rabbi of the Western Wall.
Above that column, in the Grapevine feature (“Changing times and circumstances”), the photo captions were reversed; the first caption corresponds to the lower photo, and the second corresponds to the upper photo. We apologize for these errors.