An Israel Divided Against Itself

More from our inbox:

  • Ron DeSantis and Black History in Florida
  • Legacy Admissions
  • ‘Prostitution Is Cruelty’

Protests in Jerusalem went late on Monday night.Credit…Ilan Rosenberg/Reuters

To the Editor:

Re “As Israel Churns, Lawmakers Pass Court Overhaul” (front page, July 25):

While the hard-liners in Israel may have won their battle to neuter the Supreme Court, one can ask whether or not the victory was really worth the loss of comity among the Israeli people, as the legitimacy of the government is now in question.

Whatever happens next, it is a sad day for Israel and the American people who support the country, because as Abraham Lincoln once warned, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

One can only hope that Israelis can find a way to step back and regain the sense of common purpose that has been the north star of the country’s existence.

Michael Scott
San Francisco

To the Editor:

I am a Los Angeles native and a Jew. Given the history of Jewish persecution, I have always taken comfort in knowing that Israel is there for me just in case something terrible were ever to happen to jeopardize a safe Jewish existence in the U.S.

Now that safe haven is undermined by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s revision of what Israel stands for. I no longer trust that Israel represents a safe haven.

It no longer enshrines a respect for the checks and balances that preserve democratic norms. Curtailing the powers of the Supreme Court is the first step to control opposition. Israel is becoming a state that serves Mr. Netanyahu and an ultra-Orthodox, ultraright agenda.

Jews around the world have lost the one place they assumed would never forsake them, thanks to a corrupt power grab by a corrupt power-hungry leader.

William Goldman
Los Angeles

To the Editor:

Re “Netanyahu Ushers In a Precarious New Era” (news analysis, front page, July 25):

The program of gutting the judiciary by the Netanyahu government is the natural outcome of the occupation of the West Bank. By continuing to sanction the building and expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Israel has emboldened the nationalist fundamentalist forces that are now threatening the democratic values of the state.

They will not stop until they have achieved their objective of degrading democracy because their vision of Israel is fundamentally at odds with a pluralistic democratic state and a two-state solution, which is now an impossibility because of their insistence that the West Bank is a biblical part of the Land of Israel that cannot be given up.

Israel therefore is headed for dark days as a compromise is impossible between the forces of a secular democratic state and those who believe that religious and nationalistic values should dominate, even if that means destroying the rule of law and abolishing checks on government power.

Steven E. Cerier

To the Editor:

Re “Does Israel Need So Much Aid?,” by Nicholas Kristof (column, July 23):

This article making the case for reducing American aid to Israel continues the overwhelmingly negative reporting on Israel by The New York Times.

The United States benefits more from the aid it gives to Israel than it benefits from aid given to any other country. Israel shares its highly respected military intelligence and technological innovations (military and civilian) with the United States. Both save lives and money.

Israel combats the military influence of Iran in the Middle East, reducing the need for American military intervention in the region. Aid to Israel is not charity. It is a clearheaded strategy to protect American and Western interests.

Jerry Freedman
Los Angeles

To the Editor:

As a dual citizen who has served in the Israeli military, I am mortified by the Netanyahu right wing’s proposed takeover of the judicial branch. There is no more opportune time to curtail our military aid to Israel.

American Jews should use their voices to protest against an authoritarian Israel. Considering that Israel doesn’t need our arms and Ukraine does, this kind of “tough love” would be the least the U.S. can do.

Benjamin Metrick
New York

Ron DeSantis and Black History in Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis has set to overhaul education in Florida.Credit…Kathryn Gamble for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “DeSantis Faces Criticism Over Florida’s Standards for Black History” (news article, July 24):

Florida’s new standards for middle schoolers studying African American history requires that they be instructed that “slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

That sentiment contains a glib dismissal of a 250-year stain on America and should have never been written, much less applied.

It reflects extreme ignorance of history and is hateful.

It diminishes us.

Robert Wagner
New York

Legacy Admissions

Wesleyan University joins M.I.T. and Amherst in not using legacy preferences.Credit…Bea Oyster for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Officials End Preferences for Alumni at Wesleyan” (news article, July 20):

The significant coverage of Wesleyan University and other campuses announcing the end of legacy admissions signals an important shift in practice at these institutions — one that has long been adopted by many other colleges and universities. In fact, many higher education institutions, like Bryn Mawr College, do not advantage children of alumnae/i during the admissions process.

For some institutions, the Supreme Court decision on affirmative action added a challenge to advancing diversity on their campuses. However, there is plenty that higher education can do from the inside to increase equitable access to college for all.

Ending practices like legacy admissions, adjusting financial aid policies to help lower student debt and increase affordability, creating community-based partnerships to help students from all backgrounds and ZIP codes discover more college options, and providing specific programming to support the transition to college for students who are the first in their families to pursue higher education are all essential steps to increasing opportunity for diverse and deserving young people.

Kimberly Cassidy
Bryn Mawr, Pa.
The writer is the president of Bryn Mawr College.

‘Prostitution Is Cruelty’

Melanie Thompson was trafficked for sex as a teenager.Credit…Jenica Heintzelman for The New York Times

To the Editor:

I read “When Children Are Bought and Sold,” by Nicholas Kristof (column, July 21), with relief. Prostitution is cruelty and abuse to the women and children used in it.

I know this to be true from the 4,000 survivors who came to our doors at the Council for Prostitution Alternatives, or C.P.A., over an 11-year period in Portland, Ore.

The C.P.A. offered as many survivors as we could anything they needed to get out, including cash, housing, food, counseling and other resources over months and years. Most were homeless, without a basic education. Most had been victims of horrific and ongoing childhood sexual abuse. Most were pimped. The average age of entry was 9. Some were in their 50s before they found us.

The perpetrators were dangerous sexual predators known euphemistically as “customers” who not only committed the crime of “bought and sold rape” but often also assaulted, kidnapped, robbed and attempted to murder their victims.

Prostitution is a crime against humanity, period. Victims should be offered resources, not arrested. Perpetrators should be held accountable.

Mr. Kristof reports that Norway and Sweden “do not arrest prostitutes (instead offering them social services) but do prosecute pimps and johns.”

Norway, Sweden and Mr. Kristof got it right.

Susan Kay Hunter
Portland, Ore.
The writer was the executive director and founder of the Council for Prostitution Alternatives.

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