October 4, 2017: The Ostrich effect.

Readers of the Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Ostrich effect
I refer to the letter from Lord Winston regarding antisemitism and the UK Labour Party (“Labour disservice,” October 2).
Lord Winston may be right that the 3,000 delegates at the Labour Party Conference represented only 0.5% of the total party membership, but the leaders of the party are no friends of Israel or the Jewish people. I suspect there is an element of the “ostrich effect.”
Of two tongues
With regard to “‘Abbas condemns all violence’” (October 1), Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas may condemn violence in the western press, but what does he say in the Arabic press and in speeches to his countrymen?
Beit Shemesh
Still, the challenges
Your editorial “Season of our joy” (October 1) spells out reasons to be joyful on Sukkot.
Despite our pitiful pre-state helplessness, today we are sovereign and independent. We are successful in fighting terrorism and spared natural disasters. Israel provides medical and technical assistance during international disasters. Yes, we have a great deal to be proud of.
Yet Israel still faces many challenges.
Foremost is the world’s “refusal to come to terms with our existence.” UN resolutions repudiate our historical and archeological connections to Jerusalem.
On a positive note, the editorial notes MK Yair Lapid’s statement of the centrality of Jerusalem to the Jewish state. This reminds me of the 1978 peace accords with Egypt.
Then-president Jimmy Carter handed prime minister Menachem Begin a letter to sign.
After perusing the content, Begin returned the unsigned document.
President Carter asserted: “I did not ask you to give up Jerusalem. I only asked that you put it on the negotiating table.
Doesn’t Jewish law maintain that you must give up a limb in order to save the entire organism?” Yes, the prime minister rejoined, “but not if the limb is one’s heart. No human being can live without a heart. Jerusalem is the heart of the Jewish people.”
More good news
Kudos to Michael Ordman for his positive op-ed (“5777 – what a year that was,” Comment & Features, October 1).
We often spend too much time analyzing the negatives and failing to realize the many positives in our lives in Israel. We need to pay more attention to what is going on around us, not just the negative, sensationalist headlines.
Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) is a well-known Israeli-based international humanitarian charity providing life-saving heart surgery and follow-up care for children from developing countries, including Palestinians, regardless of race, religion, gender, nationality or financial status. Perhaps less well known is the training right here of medical personnel from partner sites around the world in all facets of pediatric cardiac care.
Yet another untold story is that of MASHAV, the educational arm of the Foreign Ministry. It offers courses to representatives of underdeveloped countries in such spheres as agriculture, entrepreneurship, innovation, empowerment, education, community development, medicine and public health. Many of the participants have risen to political power; I am convinced that this has resulted in the more favorable attitude toward Israel of many African countries.
I must also mention the trend of providing excellent care of “third agers” in Israel. Many of the new projects provide an excellent way to continue independent living in a sheltered environment.
The writer is chairman of CoHaV, a worldwide network of activists promoting the case for Israel.
Eat humble pie
In response to the comments by reader Jules Ehrman (“Loosen the grip,” Letters, October 1), the problem of integrating the haredim into Israeli society will not be solved until we ask ourselves where we went wrong.
The approach that led to the forceful cutting off of forelocks of new immigrants in the early days of the state – an approach that continues in a milder form to this day – has proved a complete failure. The reaction of the haredim was to develop a siege mentality. Frequent attacks against them in the media (e.g., Mr. Ehrman’s letter) merely make them circle the wagons even tighter.
Mr. Ehrman is right in saying that the haredim are ignorant of modern culture, but then most Israelis are ignorant of the culture that kept our people alive for the past 2,000 years. As he writes, their emissaries probably can’t read English, but then chances are he himself can’t read Hebrew in Rashi script.
If we really want to integrate the haredim into Israeli society, we must eat humble pie and stop talking down at them. We must talk to them as equals. Yes, they have a lot to learn from modern culture no less than we have a lot to learn from our ancient Jewish culture, but our future depends on it.
Petah Tikva
Democracy in Israel...
Israel’s politicians, supporters and media are constantly proclaiming that the country is not only a democratic state, but the only democratic state in the Middle East. It is my opinion that this claim is a self-delusion.
What is a democracy? The common definition is “a country or people governed by the people or a majority thereof through their elected representatives.” I understand that the Declaration of Independence made by David Ben-Gurion declared that Israel would be a Jewish, democratic state with equal rights for all citizens and freedom of religion.
Israel is not governed by the majority. Due to the ridiculous system of proportional representation, it is the minority parties in the governing coalition that exercise power far beyond the proportion of voters they represent.
Are all citizens equal regardless of gender, race or religion? Do all contribute equally? Do all benefit equally? It is my opinion that the answer to these questions is no.
Is there no leader in this country who will stand for election with a manifesto to make this a democratic country in the true sense of the word? Are there enough voters who care to give such a person the power to carry out this manifesto?
...and the Likud
May I suggest a crash course for all members of Knesset on the real meaning of democracy.
I have long felt that the term is bandied about by many of our politicians without their really understanding or accepting its true implications. I was therefore shocked – but not surprised – when coalition head MK David Bitan, referring to some of the people who recently tried to join the party, told Ynet in an interview: “First of all, the party needs to take care of itself internally. We are not a body that needs democracy.”
A slip of the tongue? I don’t think so. Unfortunately, MK Bitan is not alone in this misconception.
CLARIFICATION Columnist Gil Troy wishes to clarify: In “Boycotting the boycotters” (Center Field, September 27), I wrote that Prof. David Myers “was identified as an academic adviser in March, 2016, to the fanatic, blame Israel first, last, and always, destructive group Jewish Voices for Peace.”
JVP literature did identify him as such. However, Myers says: “I’ve never been involved with JVP in any way. They mistakenly listed me as a member of their advisory board.” I believe Myers, especially because I have seen other examples in which organizations like JVP proclaimed affiliations that didn’t exist.