October 12: American Dream

The core of the problem, I believe, is the fact that Jewish lay “leadership” is determined by one factor exclusively – wealth.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
American dream
Sir, – Stephen G. Donshik offers a much-needed critique of business-as-usual and the moral, ethical and fiscal shenanigans that are often rife at Jewish non-profits (“Confronting difficult conflicts: This is the time of year for organizational introspection,” Comment & Features, October 7).
The core of the problem, I believe, is the fact that Jewish lay “leadership” is determined by one factor exclusively – wealth.
Hence it is very difficult for the professional managers – especially those with their hands on the till – to resist the temptation to embezzle funds or canoodle with their colleagues when they know very well that their bosses are hardly exemplars of moral behavior and fiscal probity.
Nowhere is the sickness of internal rot more endemic than at the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
Its high-handed, hard-hearted and very well-heeled lay leaders sit on hundreds of millions of dollars that rightfully belong to the dwindling number of survivors, yet they make absolutely certain that precious little ends up benefiting them.
In fact, just this year the paltry benefits were cut back, even as the number of survivors dwindled exponentially.
One is hardly surprised over the rogue behavior of middle- level financial apparatchiks helping themselves to some of the frozen assets. After all, if the money is not going to be used to help an impecunious widow living in atrocious conditions in the Bronx, it might as well go into their own pockets. As far as they can see, this is the American dream.
One need look no farther than the Claims Conference’s own board of directors, people who have never had to worry where their next snack is coming from.
Road overkill
Sir, – I refer to the October 7 Cartoon Kronicles on Page 14, which I find to be in very bad taste. We have enough detractors without foolish cartoons like this.
I have driven in many parts of the world and have found that driving in Israel is no worse than most other countries. On a recent trip to Denmark I was surprised to see no police cars and no (obvious) radar traps. Everyone obeyed the speed limit. But the road death rate in Denmark is 5.4 per 100,000, whereas in Israel it is 4.1 per 100,000. We must be doing something right.
Enough self-flagellation!
Sir, – There is a new and rapidly growing menace on our roads and pavements. It is the electric bicycle.
These machines have invaded the space of pedestrians and are often ridden recklessly, in many cases by young, irresponsible youths who whiz along the sidewalk and around corners with gay abandon and scant regard for anyone.
I am 82 years old. I have had two encounters with such “whizbikes” and on each occasion the rider just rode away, unconcerned about what harm might have been caused.
May I suggest a three-pronged approach to this menace: First, make the licensing of all electric bicycles mandatory. Second, there should be a minimum age of at least 16. Third, a speed limit should be imposed on such bikes traveling on sidewalks.
I am not opposed to electric bicycles as a means of transportation.
Only to those that injure people.
Rishon Lezion
No surprise
Sir, – What you reported in “US government website erases 2015 Pollard release date” (October 6) should come as no surprise.
It is not US President Barack Obama who is holding up Jonathan Pollard’s freedom. Rather, it is the remaining senior Pentagon officials who worked under then-defense secretary Caspar Weinberger. They are the ones who over the years have threatened to resign if any presidents took this step.
What made Weinberger so determined to punish Pollard so fiercely? Pollard endangered Weinberger’s position and that of his senior staff. This came about because of a signed agreement between the US and Israel under which Washington was to provide it with satellite photos of sensitive military targets in Arab countries. It was no secret that Weinberger did not like cooperation with the Jewish state yet he could not prevent execution of the agreement.
He did, however, come up with a very creative solution. He gave instructions to his senior staff to doctor the satellite photos to prevent Israel from gleaning sensitive information. This would not have been discovered if Pollard did not carry out his spying. When the pictures from Pollard arrived in Israel and were compared to officially provided photos of a similar nature, the (illegal) manipulation was obvious.
Fortunately for Weinberger, then-prime minister Shimon Peres panicked. He did not demand a board of inquiry into the rogue spying operation, and no investigation was initiated in the US. Weinberger was saved, but his rage at having been exposed by Pollard was beyond all proportions.
Kiryat Ono
A misnomer
Sir, – Your article “PM’s Bible study group touches on God’s promise of Israel to the Jews” (October 6) cites a Latin American ambassador “informing” Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer that the term “Israel” means “to deceive.”
Since the article offered no clarification, the fact is, the name “Jacob” does indeed have the connotation of deception. However, following his struggle with the angel, Jacob’s name was changed. To quote Genesis 32:29: “No longer will it be said that your name is Jacob, but Israel: for you have striven with the Divine and with men, and you prevailed.”
Restored idealism
Sir, – President Reuven Rivlin’s gesture in inviting the young Arab boy to make a video with him (“Rivlin’s unifying message,” Reality Check, October 6) shows that he is walking in the footsteps of the great Nelson Mandela.
What magnificent behavior! He is really making us a light unto the nations. In one stroke he broke down political barriers as well as those of race and sex! That child has probably had his life changed in a very meaningful way. This is an example of the Jewish concept of tikkun olam (repairing the world).
We came on aliya from South Africa a year ago and felt that this country had lost its way! However, President Rivlin has restored our idealism.
Man or mouse
Sir, – With regard to “Unbridgeable divide” (Diplomacy, October 3) by Yossi Melman, while I am no backer of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, don’t blame him for the fact that Israel is now facing further isolation from the US. (In fact, rejoice in it!) It was US President Barack Obama who set the relationship into an irreversible decline through prejudice and ineptitude, direct and indirect, toward Israel. Tough as it might be for this country, how nice to have charge of our own destiny, security included, rather than be beholden to a president who will ensure that there is “any agreement” with Iran on the nuclear issue, no matter how bad.
President Obama needs success to show to the international community, looking bad and weak on just about everything else international to date. A bad agreement made to look good will put pressure on Netanyahu to acquiesce.
Soon it will be time for our prime minister to prove whether he is a “man or a mouse” and deal with the Iranian threat. If one is to blame him for anything, it is for listening to “experts” who predictably advised him wrong again.