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December 6, 2017: Intriguing headline
Our readers sound off on the day's hot topics.
Intriguing headline

I found the lead headline in your December 4 edition rather intriguing (“Trump undecided on declaring J’lem as Israel’s capital”).

Indeed! Who declared Washington the capital of the United States (after Philadelphia had served as a temporary one) if not the United States itself? The French, and no one else, declared Paris their capital, as Italians did Rome and the Germans Berlin.

Just as those countries decided which city would serve as their capital and all – yes, all – other countries accepted their decision, so Israel decided that its capital is and will be Jerusalem, as it has been from time immemorial, since the days of King David, son of Jesse. And as the world’s nations recognize each other’s capitals, so should they recognize ours.


The news that US President Donald Trump aims to eventually transfer the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has been warmly greeted in Israel. The key question is: What does the move signify?

Will it denote that Washington recognizes all of Jerusalem as the united capital of Israel? Or will it mean that the United States recognizes west Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, with east Jerusalem undesignated at this point?

If it’s the latter, Israel will have to ask itself whether the move would be a positive or retrograde step.

The writer is James G. McDonald Professor of American History, emeritus; former chairman of the Department of American Studies in the Faculty of Humanities at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and author of Jerusalem in America’s Foreign Policy.

Ehud Barak = Hillary Clinton

Micah Halpern reports that Ehud Barak published an op-ed in The New York Times attacking Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and apparently hoping to deal him a death blow in the eyes of Jewish Americans by calling him Israel’s version of Trump (“Barak’s tactical mistake,” Above the Fold, December 4).

If Netanyahu can be compared to Trump, Barak can be compared to Hillary Clinton. She was completely out of touch with major streams of public opinion and gave many the impression that her main guiding principle had nothing to do with policy and everything to do with self-interest.

By the way, she lost to Trump.


Why show the wall?

The photograph chosen to illustrate Seth J. Frantzman’s “Can suffering be sexy? Pitfalls in monetizing the Palestinian struggle” (Terra Incognita, December 4) shows a section of the security barrier that is a high wall bearing the most spectacular graffiti.

We ought to remember that well over 90% of the barrier is not wall – it is a fence that would be invisible from any distance but for the sandy roadway that runs beside it to show traces of any attempt to cross.

Foreign media, in thrall to Arab lies, always show a photograph of that wall when writing about the barrier, which they invariable call “the separation wall,” with or without pejorative epithets. They follow the Arab line of obfuscating the motive for the erection of the barrier that consists of a wall rather than a fence: Without exception, the walls were built to protect against Arab sniper fire aimed at Israeli civilians or at cars on the roads below.

You have no business publishing Arab propaganda.



Not limited to Tel Aviv

With regard to “Thousands protest in TA against government corruption” (December 3), it would have been responsible reporting to note that thousands of protesters also demonstrated in Haifa, Jerusalem, Nahariya, Rosh Pina, Rehovot, Petah Tikva, Kiryat Gat, Modi’in and Netanya.

It would have been interesting to have a page of pictures and reports from all these demonstrations in order to prove that in Israel, the people still have power.


Disastrous US tax bill

“US Senate okays major tax cuts in Trump victory” (International News, December 3) shows that the Republican party wants to benefit the wealthiest Americans and highly profitable corporations rather than average Americans. Please consider: • It is the wealthiest Americans and highly profitable corporations – which have already greatly benefited economically in recent years – that will receive major tax breaks while many middle-class people will see few benefits and, in many cases, be faced with tax increases.

• Despite the Republicans’ long-time profession of concern about reducing deficits, the tax bill would greatly increase the national debt by about $1.5 trillion over 10 years. This in turn would provide an excuse for Republicans to reduce health, environmental and other benefits that most Americans depend on.

• The bill would eliminate the “individual mandate” of the Affordable Care Act, resulting in 13 million Americans losing health insurance, with health insurance premiums for others increasing sharply.

• At a time when it is essential that there be a major shift toward renewable energy sources to avert a climate catastrophe, the bill permits drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and reduces incentives for solar and wind energy projects.

Fortunately, there is still time to prevent such a tax bill from reaching the desk of President Donald Trump because the Senate and House have to reconcile the major differences in their bills and vote on a single final draft. For the reasons above – and many more – this disastrous bill, which was rushed through in a very undemocratic way without hearings or sufficient discussions, must be defeated.


An undiminished sense

Herb Keinon makes a strong case and brings much evidence to prove that Israel is far less isolated diplomatically than it has ever been, and that its people feel this (“A nation that dwells alone?” Frontlines, December 1). But he does not bring what I suggest is the decisive feeling for our continual sense of isolation – the fact that Israel is the only country in the world whose very existence is threatened by a major and growing power: Iran and its surrogates.

While noting our isolation in self-defense on the battlefield in the past, Keinon does not consider the real possibility that Israel will alone have to confront the Iranians on the battlefield. Here I would argue against reliance on our greatest friend, the United States, considering the Trump administration’s general reluctance to openly confront the Iranians or merely its failure to help the Kurds. Nor can we be encouraged by the silence of the world and even our friends when threats are openly proclaimed against our very existence.

So while we are in a far better position diplomatically than we have perhaps ever been, our sense of threat and isolation in this realm is not really diminished.



A nation that dwells alone? Not so! There is God!

Have we forgotten the Bible, His promises fulfilled and those to come?


CLARIFICATION The US congressman mentioned in “Longest-serving Jewish US rep retires” (December 5) is Sander Levin.

CORRECTION The December 3 Health Scan section incorrectly named the university where research into alcohol consumption during pregnancy is being conducted. It is Binghamton University (State University of New York).
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