Letters to the Editor: Israel Fires, the Submarines Affair and Steve Bannon

Rabbi Dov "Dubi" Hayun holds up the cover of a destroyed prayer book at Congregation Moriah in Haifa, November 28, 2016.
Rabbi Dov "Dubi" Hayun holds up the cover of a destroyed prayer book at Congregation Moriah in Haifa, November 28, 2016. Rami Shllush

Grace and generosity under fire

In response to “Oldest active Conservative shul emerges from fire, charred and without book trove” (Nov. 30) 

Judy Maltz’s article on the fire that caused serious and irrevocable damage to a Conservative synagogue in Haifa, its library of irreplaceable treasures and other artifacts generated a series of feelings. Sorrow and concern for the damage and the losses, and then a feeling of pride in the response of Rabbi Dov Hayun and the congregation.

I was especially touched by the story of the table that the rabbi wanted built in order to perform a circumcision ceremony; the baby’s parents had counted on having the ceremony at the synagogue. Due to the fact that all of the tables were destroyed in the fire, and the rabbi didn’t want to disappoint the new parents, he turned to a friend, a carpenter, and asked if he could build a table in a couple of days. When the carpenter heard the story he said that he would do so without charging due to the circumstances, but would have to charge for the materials.

The story that moved me to tears was that of those who were to provide the materials who, after hearing the reason those materials were needed, stated that there would be no charge. The two suppliers were from the Arab towns of Baka al-Garbiyeh and Umm al-Fahm.

This story belongs on the front page of the paper and the lead story on every news broadcast. When will we ever learn?

Judy Telman
Mevasseret Zion

Clear conflict of interest

In response to “What is a conflict of interests?” (Nov. 25)

Oded Gazit argues that there is no serious conflict of interest in David Shimron representing both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as his personal attorney and businessman Miki Ganor, the Israeli who represents the German shipyard ThyssenKrupp that sells submarines and missile boats to Israel. However, judging from his article there are loopholes in Israeli law that make cases of conflict of interest difficult to prosecute.

As a lawyer in “breach of trust cases” and “once Netanyahu in another case,” Ganor likely underestimates the matter’s seriousness.

Whether or not Shimron discussed the affairs with Netanyahu, there is no doubt that he exploited or could have exploited his closeness to Netanyahu for personal or corporate benefit. This is a potential conflict of interest which may not be criminal in Israel but which certainly is “inappropriate,” to use Gazit’s own expression, and therefore should be banned. The least one would expect from Netanyahu now, when he knows about Shimron’s double role, is to fire him. 

But it gets much worse. If Ganor is remunerated generously by the German company for promoting its sales to Israel, Shimron is probably remunerated by Ganor for helping him. This he did, according to media reports, over sale of missile boats to protect Israeli drilling platforms. Under pressure by Netanyahu and against the advice of the Defense Ministry, a tender for the boats was canceled in favor of ThyssenKrupp, the company his own lawyer indirectly represented.

Allegedly ThyssenKrupp lowered its offer by 7 percent, but this was hardly a valid reason to cancel the tender, thereby eliminating fair competition among bidders. Had a tender been held, another bidder might have offered an economically more advantageous tender in terms of price and quality. What happened runs against the market economy and good governance and those who benefited from it were the German company, its representative Ganor and possibly also Netanhahu’s personal attorney.

Mose Apelblat
former European Commission official
Haifa

Bannon’s useful Jewish idiots

I grew up in a German social democratic family in Lubeck. My father was detained and tortured by the Gestapo for information about his collaboration with Herbert Frahm, who went on to become German Chancellor Willy Brandt. My father told me that nearly everybody went to the Jewish dentist in the village, had normal relations with their Jewish neighbors and some of them were even good friends. But that didn’t prevent most of them from electing the Nazi Party. The Jews as a whole had a negative connotation. The German people believed the “authorities.”

And so do the readers of Breitbart News. What matters is Steve Bannon the public person. The private person uses Jews like Breitbart editor Joel Pollak as “useful idiots.” So does Donald Trump: The influence of his son-in-law Jared Kushner regarding Jewish affairs is obviously very limited, as Bannon’s appointment shows. Let us have no illusions!

Dr. Marlis Rossbach
Kibbutz Ma’ayan Tzvi and Hamburg, Germany

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