Letters to the Editor: Pittsburgh Shooting, Black Cube and Crybibi

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The municipality building in Tel Aviv lit in the colors of the American flag in honor of the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack, October 27, 2018
The municipality building in Tel Aviv lit in the colors of the American flag in honor of the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack, October 27, 2018Credit: Nir Elias/Reuters

Imagine if Rabin still led us

When I saw the picture of Yitzhak Rabin — a man who was fighting for peace and a new hope for Israel and her neighbors — portrayed in a Nazi uniform, this seemed the height of infantilism to me. From the articles in Friday’s newspaper, however, I now understand that — yes — it was two 15-year-old boys who were behind the use of these despicable and completely untrue pictures.

That Rabin, a great leader and soldier, was still ready to talk peace with the enemy, is the thinking of a mature and reasonable man. That the talks could take five or 50 years wasn’t important. The killings would (hopefully) stop, the talks would continue and enemies would slowly but surely get to know each other as human beings. This seems inevitable if you talk to someone for 50 years.

However, this was not to be. Those pictures, as childish and as untrue as they were, influenced older and (so-called) wiser people — and we know the results.

Imagine if Rabin was still leading us! Thousands of lives would have been saved, relations with the neighbors would have been on a more familiar footing and — let an old, humble voter assure you — Rabin was not about to give away anything of the Land of Israel. This was a convenient fiction thought up by those who were never interested in peace.

There are still those who believe that land is more valuable than life (as long as it isn’t the believer’s life), and this is the message that has taken precedence today. Let’s take the land, let’s fight, let us kill for land, but let others die for that land.

We haven’t given in to the enemy – we have become like him.

Mike Porter

Tel Aviv

The real problem

In response to “U.S. Jews’ despair over Pittsburgh atrocity is compounded by Trump’s complicity and Netanyahu’s hypocrisy” (Chemi Shalev, October 29)

OK. So [Robert Bowers] obviously wasn’t an anti-Semite before Trump became president, and attacks on Jewish institutions by mentally unstable anti-Semites didn’t happen before Trump became president. So all we have to do is get rid of Trump and we’ll all live together and sing “Kumbaya.”

The simplicity and inaccuracies in your story are scary. Every article you and The Forward write can have the same title: It’s Trump’s fault. The attack on the California Jewish community center during the Obama years: Trump’s fault. The attempted bombing of a synagogue in Aventura, Florida during Obama’s administration: Trump’s fault.

The only difference between this attack and scattered anti-Semitic attacks in every administration in modern times is that this one was more successful.

If you actually want to save Jewish lives rather than score political points, the only rational response is to increase security in our synagogues, JCCs and other Jewish institutions.

We could, and we should, pass dramatic gun-control legislation, and it would have minimal impact for the next two decades since there are 300 million guns in America. So get real and do your job.

In his social media, [Bowers] rants against Trump for being a globalist and letting Jews into his country. In other word, Mr. Trump is at fault, because in [Bowers’] deranged [mind], Trump was too good to the Jews and Israel. But the narrative is that Trump is encouraging neo-Nazis by demonstrating hatred to the “other.” So which is it? [Trump] is guilty because he hates Jews, or guilty because he loves Jews? Or answer, he’s guilty no matter what. You’re pitiful. There were school shootings during the Obama years, and he was not responsible for them. There was a school shooting during Trump’s administration and he’s not responsible for it. Yes access to guns is too easy and we must do something about it. It will take decades, so the only thing we can do right now while we try to limit guns is to increase security. I’ve been to synagogues with security. I find that offensive, irrational and completely naive. I recommend an increased tax on all guns and ammunition, and that money be used to subsidize security in churches, synagogues and mosques. Let’s address the real problem in this country: mental illness.

Ed Farber

via Haaretz.com

Dangerous simplification

In response to “$6 billion of Iranian money: why Israeli firm Black Cube really went after Obama's team” (Chaim Levinson and Hagar Shezaf, October 26)

What evidence did Stephen Flatow have to blame Iran for the terrorist attack that killed his daughter? Why is it that both Israel and the U.S. blame Iran for all sorts of terrorist acts? When Sunni Muslims have been implicated as suicide bombers in the Middle East, Africa (Boko Haram), Kenya, Indonesia, the Philippines, etc., there were no Shi’ite suicide bombers from Iran.

Iran’s government is abhorrent. It supports Hezbollah and Assad. But the U.S. supports Saudi Arabia, which uses American bombs to slaughter people in Yemen. So I suppose that with the logic that Iran is behind all the terrorist acts in the Middle East, then the U.S. is also a supporter of terrorism, by arming the Saudis. Therefore, why doesn’t Black Cube go after American assets as well as Iranian ones? Upshot: Black Cube’s spy game is simplifying complex international phenomena they don’t understand, and as a result, they taint Israel’s reputation in the world of nations, something Israel doesn’t need.


via Haaretz.com

An opera called ‘Miri McCarthy’

In response to “In Israel, it's loyalty’ or culture"(Editorial, October 21).

I had a dream, and in my dream I saw a festival called Loyalty in Culture Week, in which all of the players in the Israeli cultural scene participated: Habima, Cameri, the Palestinian National Theatre-El-Hakawati, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and artists from all religions, ethnic groups and nationalities. The festival would be dedicated to loyalty to democratic values, freedom of expression, peace, equality and, above all, truth.

It would feature performances of the classic plays of Hanoch Levin, especially “Queen of the Bathtub” and “Murder.” There would be readings of “Khirbet Khizeh” by S. Yizhar and the publications of B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence. There would be a docudrama based on Benny Morris’ “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949,” a musical on the life and works of Yeshayahu Leibowitz, a satirical show based on “The King’s Torah” and the writings of rabbis such as Dov Lior and Yitzchak Ginsburgh, an opera called “Miri McCarthy” and a multimedia extravaganza called “A Country of All Its Citizens.”

Then I woke up.

Dr. Shlomo Ariel

Ramat Gan

Danny Danon, hero

In response to “The real hero is the B'Tselem chief” (Gideon Levy, Opinion, October 21)

I believe I have now read it all. Not only does Levy state that B’Tselem head Hagai El-Ad is a real hero, but he confers a similar status on the demonstrators who regularly attempt illegal incursions at the Gaza border.

Thankfully, we and the world are kept fully aware of the exact nature of these matters through the likes of a true hero, our spokesman at the United Nations, Danny Danon.

But why let facts get in the way of a good story?

Stephen Vishnick

Tel Aviv

Separate and radically unequal

In response to “The problems of Israeli children, vs. the problems of Gazan children” (Gideon Levy, Opinion, October 25).

The Israeli child and his family know they live in freedom. There are no army raids on his home, and no one will come and demolish it. He is free to travel. He has clean water and sewage doesn’t run in his streets. The Palestinian child and his family haven’t known one day of freedom since 1948, when many of their families were ethnically cleansed into Gaza by the Haganah. Unlike the Palestinian child, the Israeli child does not live in what has accurately been described as the world’s largest outdoor prison, where the ever-present sound of Israeli drones remind the people of who is still occupying them. His friends have not died in Israeli bombings. His parents haven’t been killed by bombs. He lives a good life disturbed only by the smoke and fire that come from Gaza, where a good life is unknown to Palestinian children. If life was better for Palestinian children, life would be even better for Israeli children.


via Haaretz.com


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to bypass the mechanisms in the Basic Law on the Government for determining the prime minister after an election. This attempt is at the heart of the storm in which, according to Netanyahu, Gideon Sa’ar and President Reuven Rivlin concocted an arrangement whereby after Likud’s presumed election victory, Netanyahu would not be assigned to form the government.

The road to this fundamental change is based on a series of populist assumptions whose connection to reality and truth, is at best shaky, if it exists at all.

First, the claim that an attempt was made to undermine a serving prime minister is completely baseless; in a democratic system of government, the opposition will always work to bring down a serving prime minister. This claim by Netanyahu and his cronies was meant to prepare the ground for claiming the democratic process is illegitimate — or, in academic and political science terms, being a crybaby.

Another claim in this narrative is that the existing law is lacking. This was not raised when this same supposed deficiency allowed Netanyahu to serve as prime minister after past elections. There is a dual deception here. One is the claim that the party that wins the largest number of votes is the “winner” of the election, and the second is that the size of the parties in the coalition reflects the opinion of the majority — and this is not true.

The claim of “victory” is not true because the task of forming a government is difficult and exhausting, and only at the end is it possible to declare this same bittersweet victory. The size of the party reflects the amount of support of its voters only. In the proportional representation electoral system used in Israel, the prime minister does not enjoy the support of the majority of the public, and his appointment to the post is the result of coalition agreement. This is true for the present Knesset too: Likud won 30 Knesset seats, which represent 25 percent of the votes of those who exercised their right to vote. This means over 75 percent of the voting public actually did not vote for Netanyahu.

The attempt to revoke the president’s authority and force Israel to accept Netanyahu’s continued rule is unconstitutional. I would not be surprised if at the base of this idea lies an attempt to provide further protection to Netanyahu from criminal proceedings and their consequences.

Oded Baharav


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