Letters to the Editor: Aliyah, the Jerusalem Post and Netanyahu

A newly-arrived Jewish immigrant coming from North America with his family kisses the tarmac upon their arrival at the Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on July 23, 2013.
Jack Guez/ AFP Photo

I did not make aliyah for this

July 9, 2018 marks the beginning of the 34th year of my aliyah to Israel. The term aliyah means “to ascend.” I thought that moving to Israel in 1985 would be a symbol of my ascending or reaching my goal to live as a Jew in an open and democratic society. I assumed my ideals and values as a liberal civil-rights advocate in America could be influential in an Israel emerging from the euphoria of the 1967 Six-Day War. The atmosphere was exotic and I was heady with love for the new life I had chosen. I was a true Zionist.

Over the years I became disillusioned with the country I adopted and which adopted me. I attended rallies and demonstrations against the occupation. I joined organizations opposing the occupation and supporting equality in civil rights. I sat with Bedouins in solidarity as Israel appropriated the land they have lived on for generations. I stood at checkpoints and watched the daily humiliation of Palestinians as they pass into Israel from the West Bank to earn their meager salaries. I was certain my efforts for inclusion and tolerance in Israeli society would have an impact.

I did not expect the new nation-state law that was passed in July. I saw it coming, but I thought that logic and common sense would triumph over narrow-mindedness and racism. I believed that “Israel is the state of all its people.” The expulsion of asylum seekers is especially painful to me. How can we, as Jews, turn away people seeking asylum? I am embarrassed and ashamed of my government. 

Should I leave? The only outlet I have to make a difference is to stay and continue to fight the terrible radical turn Israel has taken. Israel is unquestionably the Jewish state. No one denies that. I continue to hope that I have the strength to fight, against all odds, the hatred and smugness of a government that cares only about preserving the fallacious idea that Israel is the state only for Jews. 

Marcia Greenman Lebeau

Jerusalem

The Jerusalem Post makes a mockery of free speech

The Jerusalem Post, which owns the Jerusalem Report magazine, fired the Report’s cartoonist of 19 years, Avi Katz, for depicting Netanyahu and other Likud leaders as pigs following the passage of the new Israeli apartheid law. Katz captioned his drawing “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.” Critics of the law say it discriminates against other minorities, encourages settlement expansion, and gives Israel the right to demand from social media giants like Facebook and Google the deletion of messages critical of Israel under the pretext that they incite anti-Semitism.

Even though the drawing was approved by the Jerusalem Report editor, the paper argued that the cartoon, which shows the Israeli leaders with pigs’ heads, causes harm and incitement, and has no place in their publications. The Jerusalem Post further argued that the cartoon was offensive and has ruffled feathers. A recent column by Post editor in chief Yaakov Katz, “Line Crossed,” explained the  decision. 

Obviously, the Post bends over backward to protect Netanyahu and the Likud party image. It is very unfair to the pigs to be compared to Netanyahu and company. Pigs do not kill people with impunity. The truth is, the Jerusalem Post has no sense of humor and by firing its cartoonist, it makes a mockery of free speech.

Mahmoud El-Yousseph 

Freelance Palestinian writer

Ohio 

Not my prime minister

In response to “I used to love Judaism – now I fear it” (Chemi Shalev, Opinion, August 1).

I find myself in a dilemma today: How can we justify the prime minister’s continuing support of the controversial nation-state law, which has been denounced by officers in the military, including Druze officers who have offered their resignations because of it, by members of the police force, by world-renowned authors, journalists and thousands of citizens of Israel, not to mention world leaders. Netanyahu claims he is the prime minister of all the people; well, he’s not mine, nor of all those others who object to his dictatorial behavior, his approval of laws that damage the very fiber of this country, and his disdain for and ease in ignoring the pain expressed by all those who feel disenfranchised by this discriminatory law, which mirrors the racism and radicalism of those who make up the coalition of this sad government.

I concur with Chemi Shalev and his statement that “I used to love Judaism – now I fear it.” I was raised in a similar household to his – an observant, kosher, synagogue-going family that loved getting together on Shabbat and holidays, eating, singing, praying and playing together. My beloved father, of blessed memory, was the most accepting, understanding and open person to all that crossed our lives, as was my late mother. People of all religions, colors and cultures crossed our threshold and were our friends. He instilled in us the longing for a Jewish homeland, a place where Jews could live freely alongside their neighbors and not be subject to pogroms, riots, book-burning and death with burial in mass graves, which is what happened to his father, sister, nieces and nephews. We followed his dream and came on aliyah to Israel. He would not believe what is happening here in these dark days. He would also not believe what is happening in the United States, whose leader, together with our leader, is systematically destroying every semblance of democracy, equality, human rights and all the qualities that made the USA a world leader and Israel a nation of which to be proud. Our government should recognize the rights of the Palestinians, stop encroaching on their land, destroying their houses, their agriculture, their livelihood. The government should stop talking peace and start working to achieve it.

My hope is that we will some day return to realize the dream and reinstate those laws that guaranteed equal rights to all regardless of race, religion. gender or country of origin. Bring back the Declaration of Independence and invalidate that destructive, disgusting nation-state law.

Judy Telman

Mevasseret Zion

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