March 1, 2017: A capital’s ills

It’s about the need for accountability and putting the welfare of all above the self-interest of just a few.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A capital’s ills 
With regard to “Interior Ministry to allocate NIS 700m. for Jerusalem” (February 27), while no doubt every shekel allocated to the city of Jerusalem during its seemingly never-ending cycle of budgetary crises might help delay the next municipal workers’ strike or serious harmful action delivered upon its captive residents, one cannot help but be cynical about Interior Minister Arye Deri’s vow to devise a viable, long-term strategy.
Mayor Nir Barkat’s placing of his national political interests over the city’s welfare, combined with the self-interests of council members, serious city-wide infrastructure deterioration, inadequate tax revenues, a lack of municipal worker accountability, union demands and a failure to regularly re-evaluate programs all stand in the way of Deri’s goal for government grants to “help the municipality to provide residents with the highest quality of services, while continuing to strengthen and develop the city....”
At this point, the plan appears to be to rob Pinchas to pay Faivel by taking from various government agencies and non-government offices to place in the city’s coffers.
One cannot help but wonder whether members of the Knesset, cabinet ministers or local officials, let alone municipal department heads, ever leave their offices other than during election season or crises. They should drive through neighborhood by neighborhood other than their own to see the impact of poor municipal services and inadequate school facilities except in favored areas or educational institutions. They need to knock on doors and talk to residents one on one. They need to hear for themselves how suggestions are often laughed at and requests for assistance to local council offices within certain neighborhoods are simply passed up the chain and, with the exception of emergency situations, usually not responded to or even followed up.
Yes, there needs to be a strategic plan that addresses the underlying reasons for the crises, but it would be foolish to believe it’s about funding alone. It’s about the need for accountability and putting the welfare of all above the self-interest of just a few.
Choosing judges
Reader I. Gendelman (“Selecting judges,” Letters, February 26) opines that Israel should adopt the US judicial selection process. However, even US Supreme Court justices are essentially corrupt in that they vote politically as a block, and not judicially. Therefore, the selection system there is demonstrably corrupt in that the president chooses a candidate who would vote for his beliefs.
Israel should adopt the British system, where unelected judges can interpret the law, but Parliament has the final say.
It is time to declaw unelected Israeli judges.
Tel Aviv
On purity of policy...
The primary mission of any army is to both protect the civilian population and protect the protectors.
When an army turns a terrorist into a victim and the protector into a criminal, it distorts the clarity of this mission. Likewise, when the army uses terminology such as “purity of arms” and “neutralizing” a terrorist, it can confuse its soldiers and demoralize them.
A soldier might hesitate to use lethal force when appropriate, thus endangering his or her own life, as well as that of fellow soldiers.
The word “neutralizing” conveys the concept of not killing the terrorist, but instead making him neutral or “pareve” for that moment. Our rabbis in the Sanhedrin offered a different mindset: He who comes to kill you, kill him first.
Hopefully, the leaders of our army will offer a clarity and purity of policy.
...and distractions In 1973, a week before the outbreak of the disastrous Yom Kippur War, Palestinians hijacked a train in Austria filled with Jewish passengers from the Soviet Union heading to Israel. Some believe that the terrorism and the crisis that enveloped the government of Golda Meir was aimed to divert its attention from the build-up of Egyptian and Syrian forces set to launch a surprise attack.
In 2016 and 2017, the trial and subsequent conviction of soldier Elor Azaria for the killing of a terrorist – which would have been long forgotten in other western countries – preoccupied so much of the media in Israel that it diverted concern from a potential catastrophe: A study found that an attack either on an ammonia tank near the Port of Haifa or a on a ship transporting the chemical would kill thousands of people.
This scenario parallels a horrific event. Close to a century ago, during the First World War, on December 6, 1917, a French munitions ship packed with explosives collided with a vessel in the harbor of Halifax, Canada.
Almost 2,000 people were killed, 9,000 maimed, and much of the city was destroyed. It was the largest man-made explosion prior to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945.
Israel should heed this warning from history.
Pre-state volunteers
Regarding “Airplane like those used for covert Iraqi aliya arrives in Israel” (February 23), it is wonderful that Atlit is being used as a learning center for the aliya that came while Palestine was under British rule.
The Aliya Bet movement after World War II was a glorious time in the history of our country. The centering of this program in our consciousness by bringing the airplane to Atlit is the correct thing to do. Now it is time to create an exhibit that shows the enormous contribution of volunteers from the United States and Canada.
Some 10 vessels came, manned by volunteer men. Some of these volunteers had served on ships during World War II. Most of the rest were not experienced, but nonetheless volunteered to bring out of Europe over 50% of the “illegals.” All served without any financial payment, all under assumed names.
It was in part this large aliya that forced the British to go to the United Nations. The rest is history.
Making Atlit a center for showing the role played by volunteers will be doing them a great justice.
Tel Aviv
A local Singapore Oh my!
After reading Gershon Baskin’s “The fatal Israeli Gaza mistake” (Encountering Peace, February 23), I am crying glycerin tears for the poor people of Gaza.
They had it all except statehood.
They had their own airport, the beautiful capital of Gaza City, a port and beaches to dream about. They could have been the Singapore of the Middle East if it hadn’t been for those nasty Israelis who are enjoying themselves with the occupation. And yes, the tunnels – National Geographic magazine even wrote an essay about those brave diggers who risk their lives.
Don’t misunderstand me. The destruction in Gaza is terrible.
Children suffer from a lack of food and schools. If these children would only rebel against the stupidity of their parents, teachers and leaders, a local Singapore could be the reality.
Watch that airspeed!
I was sitting by the window on a recent flight between Tel Aviv and Eilat. Wishing to identify the lights below, I thought of using Waze to track the flight path.
I turned on the GPS – Airplane Mode was already activated – and turned on Waze. Sure enough, the phone picked up the GPS signal and a little blue dot tracked our path.
Then a warning sign popped up: “Speed camera ahead.”