August 6: Newsworthy or not

As an Israeli I have no say in whom the Americans elect as president. Nevertheless, I have have a strong interest in the result.

Letters 521 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Letters 521
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Newsworthy or not
Sir, – Herb Keinon (“An accord short on fanfare, but not on meaning,” Diplomacy, August 3) is positive and enthusiastic about the new economic accord between Israel and the Palestinians.
He seems to think it is a meaningful agreement and laments the fact that the international press essentially ignored the signing ceremony.
It seems to me that the lack of attention emanated from the overall reality of relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority – which is to say, relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are dead.
The new economic agreement, while significant on some level, has no framework or context within which to function. It exists in the essential vacuum of Palestinian- Israeli relations.
Sir, – The reason the signing of the economic tax and trade accord with the Palestinians wasn’t big news is because editorial boards – like that of The New York Times – refuse to recognize that there is a dispute that won’t be solved by insisting that Israel return to the 1949 borders.
For the Times, political dogma trumps reality.
Those opportunities Sir, – Jay Bushinsky, who brings up the possibility of one state by annexation of the West Bank and repatriation of Arab refugees (“An alternative to the two-state solution,” Observations, August 3), makes one ask: Is this “veteran foreign correspondent” ignorant or naïve? What kind of single state does he envision, with more than half the population Arab, plus millions of Palestinian refugees who were weaned with their mother’s milk not only to hate Jews but to wantonly kill them? Bushinsky is right about two things, though – for over 60 years there has been no progress toward a two-state solution, and the Palestinians could benefit from the old saying: “When someone gives, take.”
They could have had a flourishing country by now. They refused to accept a state in 1947, when the UN partitioned Palestine, and for over 40 years they have repeatedly refused to build a state in the West Bank, which was offered to them as recently as 2000, with territorial adjustments.
In the words of the late Abba Eban, the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
A. HASSNER Rehovot
Obama and Israel Sir, – With regard to Hirsh Goodman’s “Mitt or ‘mittout’ Romney” (PostScript, August 3), US foreign policy is steered by a number of key people and by a variety of considerations. The influence of the president is strong but not necessarily overriding.
It is true that the US administration under Barack Obama has not been entirely unfriendly. Yet the Democrats recently lost a House seat in New York that had been held by Democrats since 1922; the reason for this loss – in a constituency with a high Jewish population – was attributed by most analysts to Obama’s unfriendly attitude toward Israel.
We know that in spite of the hysterical attacks on Israel and Israeli policies by the predominantly left-wing media, the majority of Americans hold a favorable view of Israel. This fact, which has not changed much over the years, ensures that whatever the president’s personal opinions, US policy will remain supportive of Israel. This has nothing to do with AIPAC or individual wealthy donors, just the average American voter’s perception of the shared values of the two countries.
This consideration will always have a strong influence on Congress, but less on a president who is in his second term, when electoral prospects no longer apply.
There are many reasons to believe that Obama’s personal attitude toward Israel is negative, whereas we have no reason to believe that Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, will be anything other than supportive of Israel’s needs, both diplomatic and in terms of security.
As an Israeli I have no say in whom the Americans elect as president. Nevertheless, I have have a strong interest in the result. I would rather see an American president with a positive or even neutral bias toward Israel then one who has been only reluctantly supportive due to his personal inclinations.
STEPHEN S. COHEN Ma’aleh Adumim
Sir, – Thanks are due Hirsh Goodman for putting the anti- Obama rhetoric in perspective.
The facts clearly support his thesis.
Unfortunately, too many commentators ignore them.
The American president’s first duty is to do that which is best for his country. Thankfully, this generally tends to coincide with our interests.
Thanks are also due The Jerusalem Post for printing an opinion that is critical of a Post editorial.
Talk about revenues...
Sir, – With regard to “Finance Committee approves raising VAT to 17% next month” (August 2), expenditures on basic essentials consume only a small proportion of the total disposable income of wealthy individuals – such as MKs, who earn more than NIS 37,000 a month and receive numerous allowances. They will hardly notice the additional 1% in VAT.
But these basic essentials consume the major proportion of the incomes of persons earning NIS 8,000 per month or less, and it is unconscionable that this extra 1% be imposed on their basic costs.
It is also callous to impose an extra 1% tax on workers who put in a hard day’s work yet receive a gross salary in excess of only NIS 8,891. Surely, this threshold should be raised to, say, NIS 10,000 per month, which is less than one-third the salary of an MK.
However, there is a much more effective way to increase state revenues without depriving the underprivileged. For the most part, cellphone use is a luxury choice, as is obvious from the number of adults and children seen chatting away on their cellphones while walking in the street. A levy of, say, half a shekel on every cellphone call would generate substantial income for the treasury while imposing an extra cost of only NIS 30 per month on an individual who makes two calls every day.
The fact that the government makes radio frequencies available to the cellphone companies justifies the imposition of a levy of this nature.
...and competition
Sir, – Regarding “Open Skies” (Editorial, August 1), I don’t think anyone has to be concerned about how the new agreement will affect El Al, Arkia or any other local airline. The proof is in the amazing revolution that has occurred in the cellular telephone field, thanks to bold initiatives by the minister of communications.
Despite the proliferation of new companies and unprecedented low prices for every sphere of telecommunications, no one has gone out of business.
Quite the contrary: Bezeq, Cellcom, Pelephone and Orange quickly jumped on the bandwagon in order to keep customers. (This is not to mention the more galling revelation of how much we were really being overcharged beforehand, since it is obvious that even at the new, super-low prices, everyone is still making a profit.) The Open Skies agreement will have the same effect – forcing our national carrier and others to provide better service at lower prices, which is exactly what the consumer deserves. If these companies don’t adapt themselves to the new reality, they don’t deserve to stay in business anyway.
GERSHON HARRIS Hatzor Haglilit