March 6, 2019: Remembering Levi Eshkol

Readers of 'The Jerusalem Post' have their say.

Letters (photo credit: PIXABAY)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)
Remembering Levi Eshkol
I was heartened to read Amotz Asa-El’s article ‘The Israeli premiership’s finest hour’ (March 1), as I have long felt that Levi Eshkol was Israel’s finest prime minister. This unassuming, modest man, a poor speaker and lacking charisma and a university education, guided Israel superbly through some of its most difficult times.
It was Eshkol who had the foresight to realize that the French arms connection would not continue indefinitely, and who forged a close relationship with US President Lyndon Johnson, which paid dividends when the USA, which had hitherto refused to provide Israel with heavy weaponry apart from a limited number of Hawk anti-aircraft missiles, began supplying Patton tanks, self-propelled guns and Skyhawk bombers in the mid 1960s. It was thanks to Eshkol that the IDF was fully prepared for the 1967 War.
His remarkable level-headedness to withstand unbearable pressure from the military hierarchy to launch an attack until all other avenues to resolve the crisis had first been explored resulted in the USA supporting Israel in the war’s aftermath. Moshe Dayan, who replaced Eshkol as Minister of Defense less than a week before war broke out, received the praise in the wake of Israel’s victory that should rightly have gone to Eshkol.
Levi Eshkol governed this country with wisdom, common sense, humor and the ability to work harmoniously with his political opponents. His attributes and abilities are missed more than ever in the current political climate.
A pious pope?
We welcome Pope Francis’s decision to open the Vatican archives (“Vatican to open secret WWII archives of wartime Pontiff Pius XII,” March 5). This can enable historians to understand the role played by this highly controversial figure.
In 2014, The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation launched its “Houses of Life” program, aimed at identifying and marking physical sites that provide refuge to the victims of Nazism, mostly to children, left by their parents facing deportation to death camps.
In the past five years, we have managed to locate more than 500 Houses of Life in various countries, including Italy, France, Belgium, Poland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Denmark, Greece and Albania. One of the striking conclusions is that a great number of those sites belonged to the Catholic Church, a fact that could indicate an orchestrated effort from the highest Vatican echelons to save lives during the Shoah.
What role Pius XII played in this life-saving operation is unknown. Hopefully, unfettered access to Vatican archives will enable historians to reach sound conclusions based on facts.
International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation
Regarding “How Christians went from enemies to best friends” (March 5), although I completely agree with the main points of this column, it contains a number of errors:
(1) To refer to Pious XII as “Hitler’s Pope” is to pre-judge a matter of serous controversy which will soon be clarified with the promised release of his papacy’s secret archives by the Vatican.
(2) The current Pope’s name in English is Francis, not Frances.
(3) Most significant is the sentence “Christian Crusader armies murdered hundreds of thousands of Jews and fake Catholics – like the arch-fraudsters Ferdinand and Isabella, referred to till today almost comically as “the Catholic monarchs” – expelled all their Jews and burned thousands at the stake.” The Crusaders of the first Crusade certainly murdered a large number of Jews on their way to the Holy Land, but none of the historical estimates come close to “hundreds of thousands.” Ferdinand and Isabella were king and queen of Spain, not “fraudsters” and were certainly real, not “fake” Catholics. Why their being referred to as “Los Reyes Católicos” is comical is completely unclear. They certainly expelled the Jews who refused to convert to Christianity, but many did, so it is incorrect to say that they expelled “...all their Jews.”
Since the Inquisition mainly prosecuted converted Jews who were accused of continuing to practice Judaism secretly, they certainly did not “...burn thousands at the stake” or most likely any at all. In the multi-secular history of the Inquisition, only a few hundred were actually executed by being burned at the stake (“auto da fe”).
University of Haifa, National Security Studies Center
Healthy grasp of reality
Regarding “Young Israel communities call on central organization to halt political statements” (March 3), there are some 150 Young Israel synagogues in the United States, so a group of 22 rabbis and synagogue presidents is not terribly representative of the organization.
Furthermore, the following sentence is cause for great concern, “His (Netanyahu’s) efforts were strongly criticized by numerous Jewish American organizations including AJC, AIPAC, ADL and the Reform and Conservative movements.” For me, that would be sufficient reason to run in the other direction. First, it smacks of a “politically correct” posture. Rabbis have to be courageous and not succumb to what the pack is saying. Second, those groups were fervently and tragically in favor of the Oslo Accords (Young Israel was opposed) and the disastrous Gaza Disengagement (Young Israel was opposed).
Young Israel was able to maintain an independent position that reflected a healthy grasp of reality. It was not swept away with the hallucination of “peace in our time,” “a hundred years of strife has ended” and all the other messianic hype for Oslo and Gaza.
Did the 22 poll the rest of their rabbinic colleges for their take as well?
King Solomon in Kohelet says “God always seeks the pursued.” Prime Minister Netanyahu has been pursued relentlessly, viciously and venomously by those who have never accepted him as the democratically elected prime minister. History will remember him as one of the most effective and successful of our leaders.
Beware of those on the Left who believe in democracy if it comes out like they want it – and attempt to crush it when it doesn’t.
Rabbi Emeritus, Young Israel of Har Nof
Kehillat Zichron Yoseph, Jerusalem
Think different
Regarding “Abbas’s legacy” (March 5), people serious about resolving the “intractable” Israel-Arab issue, should consider thinking realistically and creatively.
For example, with Egypt’s cooperation, a parcel of land adjacent to Gaza in the Sinai could be given to the Palestinians. Security and airspace would be controlled by Egypt on Sinai side and by Israel on our side.
The West Bank (Judea and Samaria) should be integrated into Israel. Palestinians can stay and become Israeli citizens, go to the nearby Gaza/Sinai state or emigrate to elsewhere.
Some $25 billion from an Arab coalition and others can be donated for infrastructure and democratic elections but not military apparatus.
Jerusalem is not negotiable; a reasonable “right of return” can be negotiated in the future with Egypt and Israel, depending on security and sustainable population growth.
Bottom line, unless one side actually prefers perpetuating conflict, this problem can be resolved.
Falsified data
Regarding “Fake news unlimited: From politics to science,” (March 4), it was disconcerting to read the article by Boaz Golany, the vice president for external relations and resource development of my alma mater, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.
In his comprehensive article, Golany should have at least mentioned the ultimate “fake science” of the 20th and 21st centuries: “global warming.” (This phenomenon was renamed “climate change” when the predictions of the model simply did not take place.)
I suggest that Golany discuss this matter with Prof. Giora Shaviv, a world-famous astrophysicist from the Technion, and his son, Prof. Nir Shaviv, head of the Racah Institute of Physics in Hebrew University to hear what they say about this theory being based on falsified data and faulty mathematical models.
Dr. of Science, Technion, 1968
Threat of denuclearization
Regarding “Trump scraps Korea summit” (March 1), US steps to achieve a comprehensive agreement with North Korea are again inconclusive as President Donald Trump rightly adds “a walk” to his negotiating stance.
The media are abuzz with conjecture that the sticking points are full nuclear disarmament of the North, sanction relief, the fears of allies and other issues. What is little mentioned, if at all, is Pyongyang’s game plan of full nuclear disarmament – Korean and American – of the entire peninsula and surrounding areas, including withdrawal of US forces from the South. Should North Korean Kim Jong-un achieve this, it could be a prelude to the North’s conventional invasion of the South to unite the country.
My August 12 article in The Jerusalem Post – “The Korean Denuclearization Threat” – expanded on this danger. It proposed that the only safe resolution of such conundrum would be a progressive and full conventional demilitarization of all of Korea, to the applause of both China and Japan, among others.
This is consequential to Israel in light of the ongoing nuclear and ballistic cooperation between Pyongyang and Tehran. Eventual intimidation of both America and Israel is the name of the Korean-Iranian game, given that the flight distance is the same between each rogue capital and Los Angeles and New York, respectively going east and west around the globe.
Massacre and repercussions
Regarding “Former US diplomat release classified Hebron massacre cables (March 5), when the 1994 Hebron massacre occurred I was serving as Israel’s Consul-General in Alexandria.
As the shocking news spread throughout the Moslem world, a large crowd gathered outside the Consulate screaming for revenge. It was morning. Our security officer phoned the Alexandria police to ask for protection, then opened his safe, which contained an Uzi submachine gun and a Beretta pistol. We locked our doors and prepared for the worst. My wife and 10-year-old son hid in the bathroom. I had the pistol and my colleague took the Uzi. I asked my colleague what he thought would happen and he replied tersely, “Massada.”
Thanks to the Egyptian police, the mob was stopped and so our lives were saved.
Oddly, during those tense hours a small boy rang the doorbell. Through the intercom, he said that he was bringing an invitation to dinner the next day from his father, a senior official in the Coptic Church. This was surprising, as that church had always avoided all contact with us, apparently for theological reasons.
We accepted, and the following evening went to the dinner. A huge table spread with food was surrounded by senior Coptic clergy in their robes decorated with golden crosses.
Somewhat perplexed, I asked our host what they were celebrating. They answered in unison, “The bravery of Baruch Goldstein, who did to the Moslems that which we always dreamed of doing because of their crimes against the Christians.”
Shocked, I said that Israel condemns all massacres – particularly of people at prayer. I then invented an excuse to leave immediately. On the way out, a Coptic priest hissed: “You Israelis do not understand the Middle East…”
The next day the secretary to Bishop Benjamin, head of the Copts in Alexandria, called to ask if I could help organize a mass pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and some time later, 5,000 Copts went by bus to Israel to pray at the Holy Sepulchre.
The Bishop himself was excoriated by his superior Archbiship Shenouda for “collaboration with the enemy” and the pilgrims were threatened with excommunication and burial outside church cemeteries.
Pilgrimage figures indeed dropped – until Shenouda passed away.
Diplomatic life is certainly not a cocktail party…
Retired diplomat
Satisfaction and pride
It was with great satisfaction and pride that I read the article, “I pray to God that I can help whoever needs me” (March 5) about Sanaa Mahameed, the first Muslim woman in Israel to become a volunteer in United Hatzalah – and now the first Muslim woman to ride a Hatzalah ambucycle.
This is the true face of Israel, a country by and for all of its citizens and it puts the lie to all of the “apartheid” charges leveled against us.
Focus on Otzma
Unlike other letter writers (“Wizards of Otzma,” Letters, February 24), I find fault with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s willingness to accept the outspokenly racist Otzma Yehudit Party, the successor to the Kach Party that was outlawed in Israel and considered a terrorist organization by the US government.
Conservative former editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post and often a past Netanyahu supporter, David Horovitz, published a column whose title speaks for itself: “Netanyahu’s despicable push to bring racists into Israel’s political mainstream.”
His likewise conservative predecessor at the Post, Bret Stephens, also often a past Netanyahu supporter, in a column called “Time for Netanyahu to go,” calls Otzma Yehudit “a racist party descended from Rabbi Meir Kahane’s outlawed Kach Party.”
An Israeli PM putting the Kahanist Michael Ben Ari in his circle would be like an American president empowering former Klansman David Duke.
Cambridge, MA
Where there’s smoke
Regarding the large cigarette company advertisement in The Jerusalem Post (March 4), many countries around the world have woken up to the fact that cigarette smoking is a major contributory fact to numerous cancer incidents and have decided that banning advertising of smoking products is an essential step toward addressing this issue, especially where youth education is concerned.
No doubt many in Israel, not least the health industry (there’s a misnomer), are aware that smoking causes a wide variety of preventable diseases, however, major advertising spreads continue to appear in Israeli publications two decades after other countries have taken relevant proactive action.
Any new Knesset after the April elections must make it a priority not to allow agencies to put profit before the health of the nation.
Tel Aviv
Do you want fewer readers? When approximately 9,000 Israelis die from smoking-related illnesses every year, it is impossible to understand how you again and again run a large colored ad for cigarettes in your paper. Why do you have full pages exploring health issues and at the same time promote such an obvious life-endangering product?