October 26, 2016: Bitan and B’Tselem

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Bitan and B’Tselem
Your editorial “Bitan and democracy” (October 25) criticizes Likud MK David Bitan because he’s proposed that B’Tselem executive director Hagai El-Ad be punished for testifying before the UN Security Council and urging that it take immediate action against Israel’s settlements.
We know exactly what El-Ad’s words were meant to convey in that appearance. To express one’s opinion in this country is covered under “free speech.”
However, if a person goes to the enemy of his country, an enemy whose aim is to subvert his country, and he urges it to do so, then it is an entirely different matter and goes far beyond free speech. Such actions would be defined as treason.
Make no mistake: The different agencies of the United Nations, whether the Security Council, the General Assembly or UNESCO, have proven over and over again to be enemies of the State of Israel.
Beit Shemesh

Hagai El-Ad committed several serious criminal offenses under sections 97-100 of the Criminal Code headed “Treason,” with the penalty of death or life imprisonment. In fact, Labor Party activist Yuval Mor Mosli has filed several formal complaints with the police relating to activities of B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence.
Some of Mosli’s complaints were rejected on the grounds of freedom of speech. This is a baseless argument precisely because the law was intended to define the limits of free speech.
Nonetheless, it is highly unlikely that the left-leaning State Prosecutor’s Office or the courts will indict or convict B’Tselem and its cohorts under these laws.
MK David Bitan is simply relating to the question of the appropriate penalty for these criminals.
The criminal law, as noted, calls for the most severe penalties.
Bitan has suggested something more lenient – the revocation of citizenship.
It is instructive to note that two great democracies provide for precisely the type of penalty proposed by Bitan. In the UK, Immigration Act 2014 permits the government to remove citizenship (known as “deprivation”) from British nationals if they have acted in a manner that is seriously prejudicial to the UK’s vital interests. Since 2010, that power has been used approximately 40 times. Section 349 of the US Immigration and Naturalization Act provides that a person could lose his or her citizenship if convicted of treason.
If UK or US law were applied, Mr. El-Ad would have to turn over his Israeli citizenship and passport – the very passport that allows him to travel to the US and commit treason against his homeland.
You use platitudes like “Bitan’s undemocratic aspirations,” “hard earned freedoms” and “liberal principles.” Before you spout forth great ideas about democracy, freedom and law, check the sources. You will find that you simply don’t know what you are talking about.
The writer is an attorney.
You explain your opposition to MK David Bitan’s proposal by saying he apparently “fails to understand – or appreciate – a few basics about living in a liberal democracy.”
Freedom of speech is surely one of the cornerstones of democracy. Obviously, it doesn’t cover treasonous speech. The question is where do we draw the line? Bitan has chosen to draw the line at advocating against Israel in international forums.
B’Tselem was not protesting against the democratically-elected Israeli government, something Bitan has no problem with.
This was an attempt to arm foreign agents with the ammunition they need to punish or harm Israel. This is a perfectly reasonable line to draw.
Your claim that “The Jewish state was created to provide a home for all Jews regardless of their political affiliation or personal beliefs” is true. But when that affiliation takes the form of helping our enemies attack us, it is treason, not an individual right.

You have delivered a crushing blow to democracy. You defend Hagai El-Ad’s right to express his passionate opposition to settlements by appealing to the UN to impose its (and his) will on our country. He wants to undo the democratic decision of the majority of Israel’s citizens by appealing to a notoriously hostile body.
The Jerusalem Post and El-Ad have no respect for the will of the people of Israel as expressed democratically at the polls.
When you confront a policy you are opposed to, all undemocratic and treasonous methods become kosher. You invoke democracy to subvert democracy.
That’s hypocrisy.
Read your editorial again and apologize to MK David Bitan and the people of Israel.

Ignoring American?
“A new year and a new cycle of world travel” (The Travel Adviser, October 25) deals with, among other things, travel to New York, and Mark Feldman mentions flights with El Al, United, Delta and the European carriers, as well as with Aeroflot and Royal Jordanian. No mention is made of American Airlines, the largest US carrier, which offers numerous connecting flights through its codeshare agreement with El Al at very attractive prices.
I believe this is not a chance omission. Mr. Feldman has in the past written detrimental articles about American Airlines and TAL Aviation, its official representative in Israel.
Tel Aviv
The writer is manager of customer relations for TAL Aviation.

Mark Feldman responds:

I was discussing airlines that fly from Israel, something American Airlines does not do. American provides a wonderful, inexpensive service and utilizes many foreign airlines to connect with it in Europe to dozens of cities in both North and South America.
Customer satisfaction remains quite high on its trans-Atlantic services in spite of the burden of having to switch terminals and airlines in its European hubs.

Consular woes
I wholeheartedly agree with Ruthie Blum’s “A passport for disaster” (Right from Wrong, October 23). Our family endured a similar nightmare.
Several years ago, our son, his Israeli wife and their toddler were sent to the US as emissaries.
After a few months, our daughter-in-law was told to return to Israel in order to complete paperwork for her Green Card. She had to relinquish her passport until the paperwork was finished, being told it would be up to a week’s wait.
A week later, when we didn’t hear anything, she tried to inquire but was told that communication could only be via email. The emailed response said it had been sent. Still nothing.
Eventually, we contacted our state senator, who was also told it had been sent. To make matters worse, after a week here, her little girl, still in the US, was rushed to the hospital, gravely ill.
On a cold, windy Friday morning, after three weeks of agonized waiting, we took matters into our own hands and appeared at the door of the US Consulate in Jerusalem.
In tears, my daughter-in-law explained the situation. The clerk sent us to the central post office in downtown Jerusalem, stating that the material had been mailed. We raced to the post office only to be told, “Not here, never was!” As we returned to the consulate, she got a phone call saying, “Oh, we found it on a shelf in the office. Come get it.”
Within two days, mom and daughter, much healthier, thank God, were reunited.
Ms. Blum’s words “begging for someone simply to check to see if perhaps an error had been made” echo our event. Sadly, it seems that nothing has changed.


Karnei Shomron