March 19, 2018: Quite the philanthropist

Our readers weigh in on this week's news.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Quite the philanthropist
Your exclusive article “How a Soros NGO tried to pit one EU country against other” (March 16) describes George Soros as “a prominent philanthropist” whose “philanthropy has turned him a bogeyman for right-wing politicians in many countries.”
NGO Monitor states the Soros-supported New Israel Fund has contributed over $13 million to several Israeli NGOs, including Breaking the Silence and Adalah. The latter promulgates overt antisemitism and demonizes Israel. Soros has also contributed to pro-BDS organizations, including those accusing Israel of war crimes.
Your reporters’ portrayal of a kindly benefactor is heavily biased.
There have to be limits
In the context of ultra-Othodoxy’s attempt to blackmail the government for further draft exemptions (“Lessons from a stormy political week,” Middle Israel, March 16), it is enlightening to recall that in the early days of Israel, prime minister David Ben-Gurion agreed to the exemption of only 400 exceptional Torah scholars from army service.
Leveraging the difficulty of setting up governments in Israel, where Knesset elections are conducted using proportional representation, the ultra-Orthodox have created a situation in which the majority of yeshiva students are exempt. This makes it possible for young men to claim military exemptions when, in fact, they are not genuine students. It also allows yeshivas to claim subsidies for students who, in fact, do not study at a yeshiva.
To overcome this, I suggest the introduction of a “Torah knowledge” exam. Failure to pass would identify false students and the false claims for subsidies by yeshivas.
Beit Zayit
Totally different story
As a Jerusalem Post subscriber and a fan of Herb Keinon, I was disturbed by his recent analysis headlined “Poland, take note of Austrian chancellor’s speech: ‘My country was a Nazi perpetrator’” (March 15).
For decades, the Austrians promoted the historical myth of the “invasion, occupation and liberation” of their country between the years 1938 and 1945. It’s only been recently, culminating with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s speech last week, that the Austrian government has taken responsibility for events in the country during that time.
Poland is a totally different story. The Poles were truly invaded and occupied. In fact, the invasion of Poland is considered to have been the spark that set off that horrible conflict.
In those years, close to 3 million Polish non-Jews were killed by the Nazis. During the invasion alone, 200,000 Poles were killed, and the same number perished during the heroic Warsaw Uprising in 1944. The rest were murdered in prisons, concentration camps and mass executions. None of these events were paralleled by the Austrian experience.
Of course there were Jews in Poland who were betrayed and killed by their Polish neighbors. There were even some Jews who were murdered by Poles after they returned once the war was over. However, to compare what happened to Austria and Poland during World War II is like making a comparison between apples and oranges.
I agree that the recent Polish law dealing with Polish involvement in the Holocaust is despicable and should be changed. However, let’s try to do that using historical truth as opposed to historical fiction.
Something of an over-reaction?
I completely agree with reader Yohanan Av-Yair (“Putin’s ‘Jewish’ problem,” Letters, March 14), who says the Anti-Defamation League and similar Jewish organizations are so sensitive to anything even mildly critical of Jews and/or Israel that the source must immediately be accused of being antisemitic and/or anti-Israel.
On the very same day, you ran an article headlined “German envoy to Iran praises Holocaust denier.” It seems that the ambassador met with Ali Larijani, speaker of the Iranian parliament. Afterwards the ambassador tweeted in English and Farsi that he had “a good discussion with the speaker.” Later, the envoy met with Larijani’s assistant. Both are well known Holocaust deniers and both hate Jews and Israel.
But so what? Nothing new here! Is it not the ambassador’s job to meet with government officials of the host country?
The envoy’s “good discussion” was twisted into the headline’s “praise.” To equate “good discussion” with “praise” is absolutely absurd.
Indoctrinating Palestinian kids
I was shocked by the details in Earl Cox’s “Palestinian textbooks teach war, not peace” (Comment & Features, March 14), which outlines the misuse of foreign funding meant for educational purposes mainly because of the quotes from officials justifying the salaries paid to terrorists, and the curriculum of incitement in the educational system, which inevitably leads to more terrorism.
The next day, reporter Ilanit Chernick (“Israel- Apartheid Week on South African campuses,” March 15) quoted the ANC as saying that the continued imprisonment of 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi “is an example of the extreme and unacceptable abuse of child rights, human rights and international law by the Israeli government.” Having seen footage of attacks by Tamimi at various ages against soldiers who apparently were not involved in any dubious behavior, it is obvious that she was trained to behave this way by her family.
On to Lior Akerman’s “PA education and the future of peace” (Observations, March 16), in which he describes in detail the content of the latest editions of textbooks used in Palestinian classrooms. The horrifying glorification of violence and indoctrination to Jew-hatred is depressing.
All of this begs the question as to why organizations such as UNICEF and Save the Children are not badgering the Palestinian Authority to stop the indoctrination of a million and a half Palestinian children. These children really do have rights – the right to be brought up in a hate-free environment; the right to be educated to a high standard without discrimination against other people or religions; and the right to be able to develop socially without prejudice and indoctrination.
As Cox mentions, there was a US-Palestinian-Israeli committee to monitor incitement, but this has obviously not been effective. For everyone’s sake – particularly the children on both sides of the divide – something must be done quickly.
Tel Aviv
Giving Olmert a stage
I strongly protest that The Jerusalem Post has invited the ex-convict Ehud Olmert to be a speaker at its upcoming conference in New York City.
By having been found guilty of numerous criminal acts, one would presume that this crook, who was the prime minister of one of the greatest countries and greatest people in the world, would hide his head in shame for the rest of his life. But thanks to the Post, he is being rewarded.
He is still guilty of embarrassing every one of Israel’s 8 million citizens – and in front of whole world! How’s that for an audience?
Due to a typo, Dr. Qanta A. Ahmed was inadvertently referred to in the blurb following her opinion piece “Parkland and antisemitism” (Observations, March 16) as “he.” We apologize for the error.
The photo accompanying Melanie Phillips’s “The West pays the price for its decades of folly” (As I See It, March 16) shows a police tent said to be “covering the headstone of Alexander Skripal.” As of press time for the current issue of The Jerusalem Post, both Skripal and his daughter, who were poisoned with a deadly nerve agent in an attack attributed to Russia, were still fighting for their lives in a British hospital.