Sunday, September 26, 2021

Letters to the Editor September 15, 2021: Antisemitism variant


Antisemitism variant

Barry Newman writes a great article lamenting the fact that everybody is talking about antisemitism but nobody is doing anything about it – like the weather (“A mixed forecast for antisemitism,” September 14). 

Newman is optimistic. The Jewish people can and will withstand the hate thrown at us as we have done in the past and survived and even flourished. The old type of antisemitic “No dogs or Jews allowed” signs have largely disappeared in the Western world and Jews study at universities in far greater numbers than their relative percentage in the population. 

However, there is a new variant of antisemitism, a viral strain fed and nurtured by social media, a relatively new phenomenon. There are tens, even hundreds, of thousands of misfits on social media with a desperate desire to say something, anything, in order to be noticed. What better than an antisemitic post? The World Wide Web has unleashed the fury of these miscreants. If they are somehow left to flood the world with their misguided hatred and spitefulness, there is no way to predict where it will end. Not only for Jews for everybody everywhere. 

YIGAL HOROWITZ, PHD

Beersheba

It’s right to fight

The title of Adam Milstein’s article “1,000 reasons why not to fight antisemitism,” was exaggerated. It should have been only “five reasons…” In fact it was a rehash of all the old galut mentality reasons for keeping quiet and not upsetting the goyim. 

Of course, we should fight antisemitism, it is our right and our responsibility. Of course, anti-Israelism is another aspect of antisemitism, modernized for the ignorant and stupid. Antisemitism may be with us forever, as long as there are Jews, but we should continue to fight it for the sake of our children and future generations, otherwise there might not be any.

JACK COHEN

Beersheba

Dream scheme

The plans presented by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to bring about peace between the Gaza Strip and Israel “Lapid: We’ll defeat Hamas via economy and diplomacy” (September 13), are all highly worthy and paint a dream scenario to anyone dedicated to produce harmony within the region.

However, you always need two to tango in a peace process. Both sides have to be committed to the project and should one have a dedicated aim to destroy the other, any such plans are unfortunately likely to be stillborn.

Economic and diplomatic channels are certainly worth pursuing, especially when support and encouragement is forthcoming from the likes of Egypt and the international scene. However, while rockets continue to rain down on us any type of peace initiative is doomed to be nothing more than an adventure “through the looking glass.”

STEPHEN VISHNICK

Tel Aviv

Stale jail tale

While the capture of four of the six escaped prisoners is welcome news (“Zubeidi, three other Gilboa fugitives captured,” September 12), the preface to this saga that has left a large dose of egg on the faces of those who run the Prison Service was written long ago when policy was put in place that served to enable the audacity that led up to the excavation of the escape tunnel and successful accomplishment of the feat.

Over a year ago, while serving as minister of public security, Gilad Erdan empaneled a commission to examine the policies and practices of the Israel Prison Service. The commission’s report was published, but most unfortunately, its recommendations never implemented.

Among the panel’s findings was the fact that the Prison Service views its mission as the rehabilitation of the incarcerated, making no distinction between felons and terrorists. It is beyond absurd to expect the rehabilitation of an inveterate terrorist whose main goal is the murder of Israelis, be they Jews, Christians, Muslims, etc. Punishment, not rehabilitation, is the proper course of action.

Secondly, the High Court is the ultimate arbiter of the conditions of terrorist prisoners’ incarceration and its lenient decisions are beyond accountability. As a result, all sorts of appliances, canteen privileges and other perks convert Gilboa Prison into the Gilboa Hilton. 

It is obvious that the Prison Service is more interested in “industrial quiet” than their more vital mission. Hence the threat of a violent uprising is sufficient to win more and more concessions. In essence, the inmates have become the warden and complacency born of boring routine is the rot that has infected the system.

I believe that a total shake up of the IPS is long overdue. The aforementioned panel should be reconvened to assess what changes must be implemented in the conditions of terrorists’ imprisonment. I suggest that first and foremost, the principle of punishment, not rehabilitation (they will never love us) be its primary mission. Furthermore, I believe the confinement conditions prevailing at Guantanamo ought to be the gold standard. Hence, one prisoner per cell, three meals per day served on a tray to each cell, one hour per day of exercise in fresh air. Perhaps knowing what awaits the potential terrorist if caught, he/she might be deterred and Israeli lives saved.

JOEL KUTNER

Jerusalem

A haven for the craven

Steven Groves asks, “Are we forgetting the central lesson of 9/11?” (September 10). We need look no further than the Biden administration’s actions of the past month for the alarming answer. 

Two essential facts must be remembered in order to prevent a repeat of that terrible day: What happened and who is responsible. Despite the many ceremonies recalling the horrific events, the administration seems to have forgotten that the murderers of 3,000 Americans were given safe haven by the same Taliban who once again rule Afghanistan.

Their return to power is due in no small part to the almost unimaginable incompetence of Biden and his senior advisors. Biden and his handlers seem blissfully unaware that Kabul security is now controlled by the terrorist Haqqani network, which has been intertwined with al-Qaeda for decades. The Interior Minister is a known terrorist with a $5 million bounty on his head, yet a US National Security Council spokesperson stated, “[The Taliban] have shown flexibility, and they have been businesslike and professional in our dealing with them [in allowing a few Americans to leave].” 

Forgotten are the many other Americans and Green Card holders who remain virtual hostages while thousands of Afghan allies are being hunted for certain elimination. 

Feckless Secretary of State Antony Blinken says, “Our engagement with the Taliban will be for purposes of advancing the national interest.” What possible national interest can there be in supporting the return of an organization that protected bin-Laden, treats women with brutal contempt, murders anyone who cooperated with the US, and celebrates al-Qaeda’s crimes on 9/11? 

Blinken assures us that the US will “remain vigilant in monitoring threats.” This monitoring was made immensely more difficult by the mindless decision to relinquish Bagram air base with its massive intelligence-gathering capabilities.

The US has abandoned its allies as it actively works with its enemies. A force of thousands of Afghan soldiers continues to fight the Taliban in the Panjshir Valley. The US has refused to provide any support for this remnant of the Afghan army confronted with Taliban fighters now armed with weapons inexplicably left behind by retreating US forces.

The answer to Groves’s question is as obvious as it is disheartening. Far from learning the lessons of 9/11, the Biden administration seems to be in bed with the enemy. The apparently inevitable formal recognition of the Taliban’s “Islamic Emirates” is morally disgraceful. Biden’s weakness is plain for the world to see in the rush to hand al-Qaeda its ultimate victory. 

EFRAIM COHEN

Zichron Yaakov 

COVID by the numbers

Shmuley Boteach doesn’t like the way Australia is controlling the COVID-19 pandemic (“Has Australia gone too far in stifling prayer?” September 14). Due to the lockdown there, Orthodox Jewish prayer services have been restricted. Synagogues and churches have been shut down entirely. People are in desperate need of prayer! Australia has become a hermit continent! 

In the meantime Israel with a population of nine million has had 7,400 COVID-19 deaths. Australia, with a population of 25.7 million, has had 1,102 deaths. Normalized to population, the total number of deaths in Israel is 20 times higher here than in Australia. Let’s look at the numbers in a different manner. If Australia had Israel’s death rate the number of deaths there would be 20,560. 

The Australian restrictions have so far saved the lives of 19,460 people. Enough to populate a town. If Israel had Australia’s death rate, the number of deaths would be 370 instead of 7,400. Over 7,000 Israelis would be alive today. Where would you prefer to live during the pandemic? I vote for Australia. Unfortunately, the Aussies are not letting Israelis or other corona carriers into their country…

BARRY MESSER

Beersheba

Chickening out

Writer Aaron Reich did a great job explaining the concerns that humane Jews have regarding fellow Jews harming animals (“Ahead of Yom Kippur, Jewish activists debunk Kapparot misconceptions” September 13) in the name of our religion.

I would have liked to think that no fellow Jew would harm any sentient being, just not wanting to cause gratuitous suffering.

But because this is evidently an insufficient reason for some observant Jews to continue abusing animals, I would like to plead one other reason for the Orthodoxy to switch to using money in the Yom Kippur kapparot tradition in lieu of chickens: Shanda fur die goyim.

With antisemitic acts on the rise around the globe, can we all agree that we don’t need to be torturing animals, making all Jews look inhumane?

JAYN BROTMAN

Cincinnati, Ohio

BDS: Beaver dam situation

Burlington, Vermont Council Member Ali Deng made a wise decision to withdraw his BDS resolution. (“Burlington BDS resolution to be pulled, sponsor cites antisemitism fears,” September 14).

Since BDS founder Omar Barghouti has said its sole purpose is the elimination of Israel and its Jewish population, it is appropriate for Deng to focus his political concerns on the potholes and damaged beaver dams in Burlington.

RICHARD SHERMAN

Margate, Florida

War of the words

Amotz Asa-El’s interesting and pertinent article “Welcome to World War III” (September 10) was somewhat marred by his subtle change of history in order to support his argument. It was unnecessary, since such a change weakens his point, rather than strengthening it.

Comparing the error of the term “the war on terror” as akin to the British people being falsely told that in the Battle of Britain the “enemy is not Nazism, but the Messerschmitt” is a comparison not only invalid, but also historically incorrect. The British were told in no uncertain terms throughout the war that the enemy was Germany. The Allies were not fighting Nazism or fascism, but Germany. 

So yes, “Churchill and Stalin were not united by a shared idea, but by a common enemy.” This common enemy was Germany, and both peoples were aware of this throughout, just as during the First World War it was clear who the enemy was.

In light of this, one must wonder at Asa-El’s comment about “Tanks, jets, howitzers and submarines [being] good for fighting Hitler…” Can one imagine any comparable comment referring to “fighting the Kaiser” in the First World War”?

Changing the past does not help us change our present. It simply muddies the water.

RONALD GREEN

Ramat Hasharon

Disconsolate consulate

The editorial “Jerusalem consulate” (September 14) is spot-on. 

The Biden administration has gotten so many things wrong already in foreign policy. Opening a consulate compound in Jerusalem to serve a non-nation would compound their errors, cause damage to the cause of peace and undermine Israel’s sovereignty.

OFER LEVI

Jerusalem

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and US President Joe Biden know each other’s stances on the Palestinian issues and will “muddle through” their disagreements. Nevertheless, at their meeting, the president reaffirmed his view that “a negotiated two-state solution is the only viable path to conflict resolution.” 

The issue of opening a Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem also arose at their conference, Bennett saying he is opposed. But Bennett’s political advisers seem to have shunted the PM into a Hobson’s-Choice pen, namely:  consulate for settlement[s] or settlement[s] for consulate.

Bennett was eight years old when former US president Jimmy Carter’s (Democratic) administration supported a March 1, 1980, anti-Israel UN Security Council settlement vote. Carter’s action led to hearings on Capitol Hill during which “the two most painful expressions of anti-settlement sentiment came from Democratic Senators Frank Church (Chairman Foreign Relations Committee) and Joseph Biden, a ranking member of the panel.”

Then-senator Biden insisted that then-premier Menachem Begin “seriously underestimates the depth of opposition” to the settlements. “I’m mad as a devil,” said Biden, explaining, “The settlements more than any other issue [including oil] were eroding Israel’s popularity among US public opinion.” He added that in his conversations with American Jews, “Half of the ones I talk to fear and resent settlements as much as I do.” 

That was 28 years prior to the election of president Obama and vice-president Biden; both serving eight years culminating with their endorsement of the rabidly anti-settlement Resolution 2334 (“ settlements have no legal validity…”).

Biden’s bias is well documented. Bennett must continue to support the growth of Jewish communities and oppose the consulate.

KARL HUTTENBAUER

Berlin

Herzog’s hush-hush huddle

Regarding “Herzog secretly meets Abdullah” September 5), I think very highly of President Isaac Herzog and am aware of the tremendous good he has done in the service of Israel over the years. Nonetheless, there is something inherently wrong, when the president of Israel feels it appropriate/necessary to arrange and carry out a meeting with a leader of another country in secret. The days of Moshe Dayan traveling “in mufti” are long gone. 

Our president should always “go in the front door.” That is the Israeliyut I am proud of.

STUART A. BECKER, MD

Rehovot

Red zone: Your car may be toad

Regarding “Water near Dead Sea turns blood red” (September 14), as long as it is not followed by a plague of frogs, we probably have nothing to worry about.

ARTHUR GRANAT

Ramat Aviv





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