December 25: Bennett’s words

We have, unfortunately, become accustomed to dishonesty and prevarication from our politicians.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Bennett’s words
Sir, – We have, unfortunately, become accustomed to dishonesty and prevarication from our politicians. Thus, the candor of Naftali Bennett’s responses to television host Nissim Mishal were shocking to viewers. However, the resulting brouhaha (“PM: Anyone who supports refusing army orders won’t be in my government,” December 23) added nothing positive to the standing of any of our less-forthright leaders. Their attacks were as specious as they were disingenuous.
Citizens in Western democracies acknowledge the right to conscientious objection. Most tend to admire people who have the guts to so act. We all respect people who not only have have an ideology, but are willing to act on their beliefs – and to take whatever consequences legitimately ensue.
(And one would hope we all decry the forceful uprooting of families from their homes. Even Jewish families!) Bennett did not call for a refusal to carry out orders in the IDF. He stated his own inability to carry out an order for reasons of conscience and cited an acceptable path he would take in the hypothetical event that he were to find himself in this untenable position. To assert, as other political and media figures did, that this was a call to rebellion or disobedience in the army is scurrilous. Furthermore, it obfuscates the fact that the issue is a very serious one.
We have an army of young, conscripted, citizen-soldiers who are proud to defend their people and their country. To be asked to act against their people in order to retreat from their country is an intolerable conflict.
I contend that such a task, if truly unavoidable, should never be given to soldiers. Rather, it is the police, Border Police, special operations units or even a volunteer corps that should be called on. That this was recognized by the army itself before the Gaza disengagement is clear from the fact that the IDF instituted a controversial program of psychological preparation for our young troops – which some called brainwashing – in order to help them carry out the task.
These traumatized young men and women, as well as the traumatized evacuees, continue to pay a heavy price for an evacuation that in fact failed to bring any of the benefits that might have mitigated the pain.
JEANETTE DERSHOWITZ
Jerusalem
The writer is a clinical psychologist
Sir, – The statement made by Naftali Bennett that he personally would not eject Jews from their homes was more a discretionary error of judgement than a political error.
Of course it aroused left-wing peace-seekers and was a political gift to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who sees Bennett as a threat because he can remove votes to his religious-nationalist party that otherwise might have gone to the Likud.
The real drift of Bennett’s contention is that there should not and cannot be a two-state solution.
Netanyahu’s “drive” for a two-state solution is an empty balloon meant to assuage world opinion; so far it has been a total failure, as the world’s censure of Israel has vehemently continued.
I cannot see that if we become honest with ourselves and the world that their hatred will become any greater. As I see it, in the words of Ben-Gurion we have to worry more about what’s good for the Jews and not care what the gentiles will say.
EDWIN HOFFENBERG
Haifa
Sir, – We now see that hypocrisy is no longer the exclusive domain of the Left.
For years, Binyamin Netanyahu and the Likud could not find the moral courage and sensitivity to prevent the unnecessary uprooting of Migron and Givat Ulpana, as well as the countless pre-dawn expulsions of Jews from outposts throughout Judea and Samaria. But when a political threat such as Naftali Bennett dares to speak his mind and take a controversial stand, they suddenly wake up and quickly calibrate their moral compass.
Perhaps Bennett did err by the rash words he uttered, but Netanyahu is far more guilty of the shameful deeds he repeatedly committed. Never should the pot call the kettle black.
MICHAEL GOTTLIEB
Ginot Shomron
Sir, – Shame, shame, shame on all those who pounced on Naftali Bennett because they fear the numbers he is about to receive in the upcoming elections.
He will certainly get my vote.
A. SCHONBRUNN
Petah Tikva

Egotistical snobs
Sir, – I was incensed to read the notification on Page 8 of your December 23 issue that the election debates planned for Haifa and Beersheba had been cancelled “due to the lack of sufficient participation of political parties.”
I challenge you to open your columns to these egotistical snobs to explain why we should vote for them. At the moment I can see no good reason to do so.
ALBERT JACOB
Beersheba
Matter of identity
Sir, – Regarding “Christmas tree at Jaffa Gate fails to produce yuletide cheer for haredim” (December 23), there is no positive reason for the Jerusalem Municipality to display a Christian symbol in an area where Jews congregate and which serves as a main thoroughfare for Jews going to the Kotel, the site for worship by Jews from throughout the world.
Those who want the Jewish nation to give up its holy city are aiming at the heart of the Jewish nation. Those who choose to diminish its Jewish identity likewise aim at the heart of the nation.
It’s not a haredi matter. It’s an identity matter. There is no place for a Christmas tree in the courtyard of the Holy Temple as well as in its antechambers. The photo of the people celebrating Christmas at the Mamilla Mall likewise galls.
I just returned from America.
There, Christmas features prominently in all malls and public places. America is a Christian country with a minority of Jews, and that is appropriate. But here, in the homeland of the Jewish people, it is inappropriate to create a spectacle of Christmas.
The Jaffa Gate is a public area.
Mayor Nir Barkat’s policies in diminishing the Jewish character of Jerusalem through so many areas is unfortunate. Jews of all persuasions should react to the diminishing of the Jewish character of Jerusalem. Placing a tree near the Jaffa Gate is one such instance.
YOCHEVED MIRIAM ZEMEL
Jerusalem
Sir, – On perusing your front page of December 23, the tenth of Tevet, I read a report about the Christmas tree at the Jaffa Gate and saw a picture of people dressed up as Santa Claus.
But there was not one mention of the significance of the date here in the one Jewish country in the world.
The fast day the tenth of Tevet commemorates the start of the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, which culminated in the destruction of the First Temple and the conquest of Judea. There was no mention that the State of Israel designated this day as an official day of mourning for victims of the Shoah and for those whose date of death is unknown.
RUTH COHN
Jerusalem
Exchangeable robots
Sir, – With regard to “Pnini back in training for Mac TA ahead of Ashdod game” (Sports, December 23), when I settled in Jerusalem in 1974, practically everybody was familiar with Maccabi Tel Aviv and its players.
Who does not remember Tal Brody, Mickey Berkowitz, Earl Williams and others? Today, the players seem to be just a bunch of exchangeable robots unless they do something very good or something very bad. They have no personality whatsoever. Maybe this is a sign of the times, but it is very sad.
RUTH SCHUELER
Jerusalem