Letters to the Editor July 19, 2021: Mass suicide is not painless

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 Mass suicide is not painless

I could never understand the Masada Worship Syndrome, so dangerously defeatist. Suicide is not to be idealized. There wouldn’t be a State of Israel if the small number of under-armed pioneers had given up without a fight in 1948. Ditto for the poor struggling State of Israel in June, 1967 when the United Nations followed Arab instructions and removed all of the “peacekeeping forces.”Israel hadn’t a single solitary human ally. Jews all over the world prayed, while international leaders and diplomats sat and waited to see how long it would take for the young State of Israel to be defeated and its citizens pushed into the sea to drown.

The National Unity Government did not order mass suicide, thank God. It took the first shot in a war that has become legendary. 

In both cases we miraculously won, which means that God joined in. What would have happened if in the days of Masada they had fought?BATYA MEDAD
Shiloh


At the helm of Helmsley’s hoard

I enjoyed reading “The accidental philanthropist” (July 18) about the more than colorful life of Leona Helmsley, whose reputation earned her the nickname “Queen of Mean” and once allegedly stated, “We don’t pay taxes; only the little people pay taxes.”
It is therefore ironic to learn that although in her lifetime she never visited Israel or bestowed any of her large fortune to Israeli causes, she entrusted Sandor Frankel, her lawyer for 18 years, as one of the executors of her estate, charged with the selling of her multi-billion-dollar holdings. 
Frankel states that he was granted the opportunity to use the largesse as he saw fit as long it was for the good of mankind. So far to date The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has donated over $410 million to Israeli causes.
Israel has certainly been in Frankel’s thoughts even if it wasn’t in Helmsley’s, however, his lending her name to Israeli causes will certainly mean her legacy here will be far from associated with mean.

STEPHEN VISHNICK 

Going for the gold

With all the doom and gloom regarding the Tokyo Olympic Games, the Friday Jerusalem Post supplement (July 16) was a very pleasant surprise. The 89 contestants from Israel in all their respective disciplines deserve credit for traveling to Japan despite COVID and we wish them the best of luck.

SALLY SHAW

Kfar Saba

You half to be wholly truthful

Douglas Bloomfield’s “Can Biden protect voting rights?” (July 15) is replete with half-truths, misinformation and insulting conclusory language. For example, he suggests that Republican opposition to the Democrat push to federalize election rules proves that they would oppose the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In fact, they oppose the new law because it would institutionalize voter fraud, making elections far less free, fair or transparent. This new act attempts to make permanent procedures that were adopted in 2020 because of the dislocations caused by the COVID epidemic. As the epidemic wanes, those emergency procedures are no longer needed. The proposed law is also possibly invalid under the Constitution, which reserves to the states the right to determine voting procedures. 

Bloomfield asserts without evidence that Republicans are intent on reducing the number of minority voters, cavalierly calling proposed state laws “voter suppression.” Republicans counter that their goal is to maintain the rights of all legal voters to cast ballots, while making it harder for illegal votes to be cast. Taken as a whole, Republican-proposed provisions to which Bloomfield objects without explanation evince a desire to preserve election integrity and restore public confidence in announced results. 

These include: Banning paid ballot harvesting; requiring voter ID and signature verification for mail-in ballots, consistent with requirements for in-person voting; maintaining strict chain of custody for all ballots upon submission; updating voter rolls regularly; setting uniform times for early voting, with expanded hours on weekends; allowing observers from all political sides to watch the vote count.

Bloomfield notes that the Justice Department is suing Georgia over its new voter law. This suit exemplifies a two-tiered justice system weaponized for political purposes. How else to explain that Delaware, controlled by Democrats and represented by Joe Biden for four decades, has election procedures far more restrictive than Georgia’s, yet has escaped similar coercive legal inquiry? 

Finally, Bloomfield castigates Republicans for blocking an “independent” investigation of the January 6 Capitol Hill riot, which he misleadingly calls a “deadly insurrection.” This fifth investigation of an event that lasted only a few hours is meant to demonize Donald Trump up to and beyond the 2022 elections, continuing four years of failed attempts to prove the “Russia collusion” fantasy. 

Escaped slave and leading abolitionist Frederick Douglass observed, “The life of a nation is secure only while a nation is honest, truthful and virtuous.” 
Sadly, Bloomfield and many of his Democrat comrades fail this test. 

EFRAIM A. COHEN

Assailing altruism

“Why Israel went to Surfside” (July 16) is a tribute of the highest order to the rescue teams from Israel. These teams included an Israeli task force, the IDF’s National Search and Rescue Unit, members of the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit of United Hatzalah, and volunteer members of ZAKA.
These amazing Israeli professional teams, working in tandem with all the teams in America and Mexico, began their rescue efforts within a day of the building collapse.
What was so shocking about the article were the “garden variety antisemites and anti-Zionists,” who claimed that Israel always has “an ulterior motive” in order to “distract people from its oppression of the Palestinians.” They seem to have, according to the writer, a “basic ignorance of ‘hesed’… the Jewish concept of… compassion.”
Really? I have never seen or heard of a “Palestinian delegation” going anywhere to help in an emergency situation. They can certainly fly to wherever on the same planes Israel uses. Indeed, they do not assist with their own people’s problems and expect Israel to bail them out whenever.
Israel must begin educating these political activists, journalists, and everyday Jew haters. Let them come here to see for themselves that there is no oppression of peoples.
The most impressive response to their ignorance can be found in one sentence within the article: “(Israel) responds immediately to emergencies around the world not because the victims are Jewish, but because they are human.”

DEBRA FORMAN

Modi’in

Making statements instead of supplications

Regarding “Orthodox agitators disrupt Conservative bar mitzvah at Western Wall” (July 12), the Kotel is not a neighborhood community center where men, women and children go to engage in religious, social and cultural activities. And while the Kotel most certainly does not belong to one single group or theology, it is not subject to dealer’s choice either. The sanctity of the remains of the Temple demands a very high level of respect and reverence, something which is, I’m afraid, being overlooked.
The recent skirmishes and violence taking place at the Kotel are more than a little disturbing. While I consider myself relatively open-minded and accept that there is no one specific structure that defines how prayer services should be conducted or how the Torah is to be respected, my openness stops at the perimeter of the Kotel. Conduct there should emulate as much as possible that which was the norm during the periods in which the Temple was operative. Contemporary or modernized versions of Judaism are perfectly fine as long as they remain within municipal boundaries; pluralism and diversity at the Kotel, I’m afraid, is not welcome and should not be encouraged.
Don’t misunderstand. I am by no means condoning the hijacking of the Conservative-based bar mitzvah that recently took place at the Kotel, and find such behavior repulsive, regardless of the venue. The Conservative and Reform communities, however, seem more interested in making political statements than in respecting the holiness of the place. There was no reason to make a young man entering into adulthood the center of a pointless tug-of-war. True, thuggishness is unacceptable, but so is davkaness. And that is precisely what our more liberal members of the tribe are engaged in.
Not a day goes by that we fail to pine for the rebuilding of the third Temple, and can hardly wait for it to once again become the center of Jewish activity. But until we set our differences aside and learn to live with each other, that day will not be arriving any time soon. The Kotel, I should think, would be a perfect place to begin setting things right.

BARRY NEWMAN

Ginot Shomron

Gershon gets Gaza

Gershon Baskin (“The conditions for returning to a two-state solution,” July 15) seems to be coming to the conclusion that most other people came to years ago, namely that the so-called “two-state solution” is a non-starter in the current Middle East reality. Of course it is, and not just for the reasons he gives, which are all correct. 

In reality the two-state solution is a four-state solution – Israel plus three Arab states: The state of Gaza, the state of Judea/Samaria (or “Palestine” as the Arabs of the area have incorrectly named it), and the 70% of the territory of Mandatory Palestine that was originally designated in international law as the Jewish Home, and was then called Transjordan and is now called  simply “Jordan.” 

Baskin clearly states why Gaza cannot be in a united polity with “Palestine” in the foreseeable future, namely because of its domination by Hamas and Iran and in this he is right. Interestingly, your own leader article on the same page clearly describes why Hamas and Iran are also the main blocks to any civil progress in Gaza (as Iran is also in its own country and Lebanon). I would add that Hamas is the reason why security instability and a tortured life are the lot of Israelis in at least half the country. 
So what is the inevitable conclusion? Hamas must be removed. We all know the reasons why this would be a costly operation. However, it must be the purpose of Israeli diplomacy to forge an alliance with the US, Egypt and the Gulf States (and perhaps Jordan)  which would permit the military defeat of Hamas and Iran, and transform the whole future of the area. This may be dismissed as fantasy, but not long ago the Abraham peace treaties were also a dream.
With Hamas gone and Iran humbled, the whole game changes.

ANTHONY LUDER

I do not usually read Gershon Baskin’s screeds, but this time I was curious. As soon as I got to “barbed wire and fences” I could not read further for my eyes filled with tears from laughter. Baskin should be reminded that the barbed wire and fences were put up not to “limit contact” with the so-called Palestinians out but to prevent them from killing us. We let many of them in routinely every day after security checks.
Here are seven conditions for returning to a two-state solution:
1. The Muslim Arabs must accept Israel as a nation state for the Jews.
2. They must accept Jews do not rule over Muslims in Israel and are equal citizens.
3. That we are not therefore an apartheid state that murders Arabs.
4. They must stop demonizing Israel and its people.
5. They must not threaten Jewish lives and stop paying to slay Jews.
6. They must abjure all forms of violence against the Jewish people.
7. The leaders must stop enriching themselves and start building a viable state.
When they meet the above conditions and are prepared to abandon their maximalist territorial claims for a reasonable and just compromise, there will be something to talk about.
Until then, I am not holding my breath.

EDMUND JONAH

Rishon LeZion

Stand back! Let’s try science

Regarding “Over 1,000 test positive for COVID in a single day” (July 18), I find it delightful to regularly read headlines in your newspaper about astounding anthropological and archaeological discoveries found just beneath the surface of this land. How great to hear of the discoveries from the digs. I only wish that the Post would do a little digging of its own on the COVID crisis, instead of acting as a mouth-piece and cheerleader for government policies.
How about a serious discussion on the well-proven alternate methods of lowering the risk of serious illness from any of the variants? For example, even before the vaccines were available here, it was known that having low vitamin D levels greatly increases one’s risk of illness and death from COVID. This is particularly relevant because the populations with the highest damage from COVID (the elderly, Arabs and haredim) also have the lowest vitamin D levels. How many lives could have been saved by raising the entire population’s vitamin D levels? Why is the Health Ministry still not championing such a simple and logical approach to disease prevention?   
I would expect the Post to spotlight the recent report by the Cochrane Library (a respected journal specializing in evaluating the pooled results of research) that concluded that there was a cheap, safe and effective oral medication that appears to greatly reduce the risk of catching COVID or becoming ill from it. When the media chatter is now about a booster vaccine and resistant strains, how newsworthy is that scientific advance! 
Just like with hidden archaeological finds, there’s a lot to write about regarding Israel’s handling of the pandemic, as wonderful as it appears, if only one digs a little below the surface.

DR. TED MILLER

A quarter are clueless

“One in four US Jews agrees to claims ‘Israel is apartheid state,’ ‘committing genocide’” (July 14) was naturally shocking and thought-provoking.
The first obvious conclusion is that one in four US Jews knows nothing at all about Israel, aside perhaps from what the media, quoting Palestinian propaganda lies, has reported.
The same one in four clearly has not experienced any hint of a home or other educational contact with the ethical and moral framework which are the essence of Jewish teachings and its recommended guidelines for a successful way of life. If they had, they would not blindly accept the above claims about the Jewish state without making their own unbiased inquiries to validate or invalidate what they heard.
Both crimes attributed to Israel in the headline are so totally divorced from reality that a minimal attempt to check them would suffice. The depressing truth, if the statistics are accurate, is therefore that one in four US Jews is totally ignorant about Israel and is too cognitively challenged to even be aware of the fact.

CHARLES SMITH

Shoresh


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