May 24: We come first

Our first priority must always be the welfare and safety of our own citizens.

Letters 521 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Letters 521
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
We come first
Sir, – The article “Threats to deport Africans are only populist political talk, NGOs say” (May 22) confronts us with an extremely serious and growing problem.
Thousands of African infiltrators are streaming into Israel every month in ever-increasing numbers.
It may be nice that our reputation is such that some will risk everything, including death, to come, however as their numbers grow, the problems they cause are becoming progressively more serious.
Now the primary concern is a significant increase in violence.
Long-term there is a danger their numbers will not only overwhelm our social systems of medical care, education and police protection, they may even outnumber us so that we will no longer be the state of the Jewish people.
To say the solution is to help them find work is simple-minded and dangerous. To say the problem is “just petty theft” is ignoring reality.
We face both legal and moral problems. However, our first priority must always be the welfare and safety of our own citizens.
We have an urgent need for legislation that would enable us to immediately begin deporting the vast majority of infiltrators, regardless of what country they come from and starting with anyone who is connected in any way with violence or illegal activity.
Are we responsible for righting wrongs all over the world?
Checks and imbalances
Sir, – David Kirshenbaum (“Bad precedent: The Supreme Court and Beit El,” Comment & Features, May 22) maintains that Israel’s lack of a clear-cut written constitution such as that in the US and many other countries has permitted our top court to engage in “abusive and outsize power.”
He cites the manner in which other countries have evolved clear and concise language delegating distinctive powers to the three main branches of government by way of written constitutions.
But this clarity and orderliness has not always, or perhaps not very frequently, developed as intended.
The example of Germany in the 1930s, of course, stands out.
But even the sterling example of the US, it must be noted, went through an evolution that defined the actual meaning of its constitutional delegation of powers.
An outstanding illustration is that of President Andrew Jackson who, displeased with the court’s decision blocking the government’s removal of Cherokee Indians, said, “John Marshall [chief justice at the time] has made his decision; now let him enforce it,” and proceeded to ignore the ruling.
Rather than a planned and clearcut delegation of powers, what seems to evolve in various countries, even those with a written document, is a “system of workability,” one that “balances itself out” depending on how the various branches mature and become effective in a democratic manner.
What seems to be the case in Israel can readily be understood by the way in which the Knesset has evolved without really representing the people, but rather indirectly through powerful influences exerted by distinct sectors through the political parties.
Our Knesset members are beholden to their parties rather than to the people they presumably represent.
In this context it is not surprising to find that an activist court emerged to counter-balance an unrepresentative Knesset.
Through changes in how the Knesset is elected, a system can emerge in which the legislative branch takes on a clearer and stronger role that encourages the Supreme Court to modify its activism.
Explanations needed
Sir, – In his column of May 22 (“The Peace directive in the hands of the leaders,” Encountering Peace), Gershon Baskin maintains that all of the issues in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict have been worked out, and all that is needed is the political will by the leaders on both sides to reach an agreement. Really? Baskin forgets to point out that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has yet to be legally reelected and that the right of return is still a Palestinian demand. He also has never honestly explained why rockets are still being fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip after the disengagement of 2005.
Baskin also needs to tell us why the Palestinian leadership would opt for peace now when they turned it down in 1938, 1947, 1967, 2000 and 2008.
Remembering Munich
Sir, – Regarding “Pandora’s box” (Letters, May 22), the International Olympic Committee is focused only on the fact that “the show must go on.” It has given no thought to the horror in Munich in 1972 and doesn’t want the anniversary of the massacre to in any way disturb the glamor of the London games.
After all, the Olympics in modern times are focused on money and the drama of which country has the best athletes, not on the enhancement of sport.
It is to the credit of two congressman from America who have introduced a resolution calling for the Munich massacre to be remembered and, moreover, for the condemnation by one and all of the hatred that leads to violence (“US lawmakers urge Olympic moment of silence for ‘Munich 11,’” May 20).
Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter to the world about hatred that killed innocent Israeli who were engaged in bonding and brotherhood at the 1972 Olympics.
The cowardice of the Olympic Committee is just further evidence of this.
What good is sport where participants are murdered? What good is national pride when there is a winner from a country that will glorify death and destruction for the other?
Consumers...and suckers
Sir, – Your editorial “Kika’s mistakes” (May 11) highlights how vulnerable we are to exploitation by international businesses, which think we are a nation of shoppers and easy pickings for a fast buck.
Over the years major Israeli food producers and service providers have been acquired by overseas business conglomerates and venture capitalists, which has resulted in higher-than-acceptable prices. Some, like Apax Partners, a venture capital organization, have acquired our major landline telephone network (Bezeq), our major dairy producer (Tnuva) and our largest investment house for pensions and mutual funds (Psagot). Apax certainly did not make these investments out of Zionist aspirations but rather to increase its wealth and eventually sell these companies for a profit. In the case of Tnuva it took three years, which resulted in a huge 15-percent increase in the price of its products in one foul swoop.
Other major international conglomerates such as Nestle and Unilever have acquired companies like Osem, Elite, Vita and Vered Hagalil, and introduced some of their own brands, like Nescafe and Knorr, some manufactured in Israel and some imported, the latter being sold at twice the price as in Europe.
Unfortunately, these companies have not introduced into these businesses better quality control, customer service or standards, and have bamboozled consumers with packaging and labeling so that they can sell us sub-standard products they dare not sell in Europe.
In retrospect, the Anti-trust Authority should not have permitted these acquisitions. In raising problems regarding their products they treat the consumer with contempt and cite all sorts of Israeli laws to cover up poor product quality and labeling, knowing full well they are in the wrong and failing to offer tokens of goodwill as they do in Europe.
English and Arabic are both official second languages in Israel, but it is rare to find products labeled in these languages with the same coverage.
It is time for The Jerusalem Post to reintroduce a “Marketing with Martha”-type column for English- speaking residents; during its heyday the column made some companies sit up and take note of their malpractices.
COLIN L. LECI Jerusalem