Walter's World with Walter Bingham - every Sunday on Israel National Radio

Walter Bingham is a veteran journalist and broadcaster from London who now lives in Jerusalem. His weekly radio programme, Walter´s World, can be heard on Israel National

Monday, April 30, 2007

There's a Jewish Museum in a Town Without Jews

Walter's World for Sunday April 29, 2007

Hohenems in Austria commemorates a Jewish heritage. And: How Prime Minister Olmert is putting a spin on the defeat in Lebanon. Also: The British capitulate to their Muslim residents. And: a tribute to the Jewish Hero of Virginia Tec.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

An Open Letter to Minister Rafi Eitan

An Open Letter to Minister Rafi Eitan
by Walter Bingham
Published: 09/14/06

I know that you are a member of the security cabinet, but that's a mistake. You and your ministry should concentrate on, and deal with, the matters for which the pensioners and their supporters have elected you: to help the underprivileged, the hungry and homeless, and, most of all, to obtain better conditions for the pensioners.

Dear Minister Eitan,

At the time of the last general election, I was unfortunately out of the country and could not vote. If as a pensioner, and I am four years your senior, I had voted for your party, the Pensioners party, I would today be extremely upset after having read your interview published in the Jerusalem Post this week.

You tried to resurrect the dead-and-buried, warped ideas of trying to achieve tranquillity in Israel, and among its enemies, by forcibly evicting Jewish residents from Judea and Samaria, with the exception of a few settlement blocks. Even Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has realised that punishing Israelis for the misdeeds of Arab terrorists is not the solution, but an invitation to more of the same. To give in to the enemy's demands, even on the basis of any vague promises, was proved in Munich to be a fatal mistake. You were about 10 years old at the time and, surprisingly, although it's in long-term memory, you don't seem to want to remember it. But I do, vividly, and I wouldn't want it to happen here.

You have obviously forgotten the glorious future that our government, backed by much of the world community, predicted for Gaza after we forcibly evicted 8,500 Jews who wanted nothing else but to conduct a peaceful life and go about their businesses that they built up over 20 or so years. What was the effect? What has been achieved? The area has became a haven for terrorists, the infrastructure of the extensive horticultural and agricultural enterprises have been reduced to rubble at the hands of the Palestinians charged to guard them, and their founders and staff have become a drain on the economy of our country, to which hitherto they contributed considerably.

Many of the other effects of the Gush Katif expulsion - such as interruption of children's schooling, the trauma, the homelessness - are all well documented. I suggest that you read up on it, if you have forgotten, before sprouting ideas that would bring disaster not upon 8,500, but on 10 fold that number of our citizens. All that has apparently slipped your aging mind.

How about the idea of Knesset Member Effie Eitam to expel the Arabs, rather than the Jews, from that region? I suppose you, in concert with our Arab MKs, are up in arms about such an idea. You'd consider it inconceivable; it would be a humanitarian crime, creating another refugee problem to add to the 60-year-old one that nobody cares about. But don't worry, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, known as UNWRA has been specifically established for that purpose. May I remind you that they are the only relief organisation in the world solely set up for one small group of people, Palestinian Arabs, who could have been absorbed a million times had their Arab ?friends' wanted to do so.

Seeing that Gazans are now looked after by Hamas, UNRWA can move off their comfortable chairs, get into their luxurious 4X4s, and earn their money - provided by the world's taxpayers - for a change. So, I support Effie Eitam's idea, because frankly, I cannot see the difference in humanitarian terms between expelling Jews or moving Arabs from their homes.

Actually, I just realised that there is a difference. The Palestinian Arabs have an internationally funded relief agency and the Jews have a bankrupt government that will do anything to distract from their corrupt activities, even to the detriment of its own people. Where else in the world are so many high-ranking government personalities, from the president down, under police investigation for alleged criminal activities? The British would call it: "Blow you, Jack, I'm alright."

Before anyone dares to suggest the creation of a massive Jewish refugee problem, let them first assess how the relatively 'small' one of Gush Katif and northern Samaria was mishandled and is still, to a large extent, unresolved.

That, Mr. Minister, is where you come in. I know that you are a member of the security cabinet, but that's a mistake. You and your ministry should concentrate on, and deal with, the matters for which the pensioners and their supporters have elected you: to help the underprivileged, the hungry and homeless, and, most of all, to obtain better conditions for the pensioners.

Are you aware that the Women's International Zionist Organization (WIZO), that hitherto commendable charitable organisation, is fighting in the courts to evict all the residents from its beautiful Beit Horim senior citizens home in Tel Aviv? You ask why? Well, it's the same corrupt streak that filters all the way down from the top: greed. The property is worth tens of millions of dollars that could help to finance an even bigger empire, generating even larger incomes for the boys and girls at the top. All that, at the cost of the quality of life of the old and frail, those who have given their life's work, and often military service, so that today's fat cats can exploit them with impunity. Their children are spending thousands of shekels of their hard-earned cash in the defence of their parents' quality of life. This is a job you should be doing, because you were elected for and by the pensioners, some of whom are now threatened with eviction.

And what about the hungry and homeless? Have you seen the recent statistics, or does your ancient mind not stretch to figures anymore?

Personally, I believe you resign and go spend your time on a golf course; especially after the kindest words you could find for the thousands of people affected by the rockets from Gaza and Lebanon were that the rockets were, and I quote from the Jerusalem Post, "a technical matter that needs to be overcome in one way or another.? It is a quote I would not even expect from a school child. You also said: "I can have influence, little by little, until people realise that if we don't withdraw, we won't be able to stay anywhere in Judea and Samaria." Don't kid yourself old man; we, our children, and their children will be there long after you and I have had to answer for our actions in this world.

Of course, it is much more glamorous and newsworthy to meddle in cabinet politics than to work for the mundane tasks of improving the lot of the underprivileged and old. But that's the job for which you were elected and, until you are demoted, be the chief in your own department and leave the others to theirs.

Yours is a very rewarding task. Fulfill it with honour.

Shalom and Shanah Tovah.

21 Elul 5766 / 14 September 06

Here is the News they Try to Suppress.

A7 Radio's "Walter's World" with Walter Bingham

Here is the News they Try to Suppress.

Only Heard on Walter's World This Month an Arab was President of the State of Israel and an Anti-Israel Arab was Speaker of the Knesset.
Also:You'll laugh at this Comedy until it hurts. And: Medieval Mikvoth (ritual baths) and more, in Germany for the Jewish Traveller.

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The New Terminal 1 at Ben Gurion Airport

A7 Radio's "Walter's World" with Walter Bingham

Today Walter is Reporting on the Opening of the Refurbished Domestic Terminal 1 at Ben Gurion Airport

Also: How everybody passes the buck about the inadequate Bus Services to the Airport. And: A Report from yet another hearing in the continual trial of Shimshon Cytryn.

Plus: A Klezmer Big Band.

All about Pesach and More

A7 Radio's "Walter's World" with Walter Bingham

An Exclusive and Frank Statement by Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, on his much discussed proposed candidacy as President of the State of Israel. Followed by his Sermon about Pessach. Also: An assessment of today's Israeli government and why they allowed the excursion to Chomesh. And: Pessach songs.

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Civil Disobedience or Blind Compliance? - opinion article

Civil Disobedience or Blind Compliance?
by Walter Bingham
Published: 04/13/07

Is there a right to engage in civil disobedience?

For a long time now, I have argued in my radio programmes that the only way to effect a change of policy of this government is by going out into the streets, and staying out, until our political rulers realise that the people no longer trust, respect or support them. In recent years, we have seen several such actions in other countries, with various systems of government, that were successful. Experience in 'democratic' Israel has shown that any attempts to act in this way have been unreasonably heavily punished by the courts.

So, what kind of consideration, if any, would make it morally right to engage in civil disobedience? When engaging in political philosophy one has to be clear about one's definition of politics. Broadly speaking, I see it as that part of human behaviour aimed at making people follow a path determined by others. For that reason, ever since Aristotle, men have asked, "In whose interest does the ruler rule?" They have analysed the comparative qualities of different systems of rule in terms of their own interest vis-a-vis other sections of the community. Their judgement, being subjective, is determined by their assessment of what constitutes a fair share of scarce value and whether they believe that they are getting it. These include a voice in the organisation of their society, as well as economic considerations, and involve both legal and moral matters. If we have delegated our legal right to the government, then we also have a moral right to expect its actions to conform to our wishesLegal, because it concerns the authority of the government to impose rules, and moral because they should be seen and believed to benefit all the people.

If we want to define the relevant considerations that would confer on us the moral right to engage in civil disobedience, then we first need to examine what kind of obligation we, as members of a state, have to the government and what the government's obligations are to us; also, what our rights are and how the ruling authority has acquired its right, if indeed it has one.
It can be argued, as the English philosopher John Locke did, that in a political society the people transfer certain natural rights to a representative to be 'in authority.' By such action, we have entered into a contractual obligation to abide by such laws as may be made by that authority, provided that they are for our benefit. It means that everyone who resides within the jurisdiction of our government has given at least their tacit consent and this is, therefore, a de jure authority. It follows that if what one considers to be 'the public good' is not being pursued by the government, then this consent can be withdrawn and the authority of that government need no longer be recognised; i.e. the contract is cancelled.

On the other hand, one may disagree with the contract theory, as the Scottish philosopher David Hume did. He held that those who give obedience to their ruler do so because they see it done by others and therefore feel obliged, rather as one is to parents. It then becomes a matter of familiarity with the practice. Hume said that "the mind is carried by habit." That model of authority is de facto, in which the government does not have the right to expect the obedience that it gets; but there seems to be an implied moral obligation to uphold the law, for the sake of the common interest, which is safeguarded by stability in government.

The foregoing are two different views concerning moral obligation of obedience to government. One which is direct and based on consent, the other an indirect obligation founded on the moral duty to further the common interest. According to Locke's account, the government rules of right, but the people also have the right to get the benefits that they expect. His concept of authority would therefore not allow for coercive power, because that would simply be an indication that the system has broken down and the contract would then be void. If a government uses its people's original consent for activities not expected by them - i.e., to hand territory to an enemy or to build fortifications instead of housing - then the moral obligation to obedience is removed. If the government defends such action as being in the national interest, then any moral justification for civil disobedience would hinge on the interpretation of, and the right to determine, the 'national interest.'

If we have delegated our legal right to the government, then we also have a moral right to expect its actions to conform to our wishes. We would therefore be justified to demonstrate this right. If, on the other hand, the government is thought to act as our representative, to do what it considers to be in our interest, then we are morally obliged to let it determine what our interest is. (Politicians always claim that it is their task to lead rather than to follow.) Civil disobedience would then be morally wrong.

This raises the important issue of a conflict between the moral obligation to comply with the law and our own concept of morality. It is arguable that a legal obligation to comply with the law is not, of itself, a moral one. If a law prescribes that a class of person shall be deprived of his home for no other reason that that he is a Jew living in a particular locality of the country, as happened in Gush Katif and the Shomron, then our concept of morality makes such a law devoid of that moral content, which would otherwise make obedience to it obligatory. Equally, in a de facto authority, on Hume's model, there can be no legal Both Locke Hume would have to condemn Sharon's actions. obligation and, by accepting the utilitarian principle of 'common interest' as the reason to obey the government, we also have a moral justification for disobedience if that interest is not served.

When Ariel Sharon expelled the Jews from Gush Katif, he did it, so it was implied, to advance the national interest, peace with our neighbours. If we accept the argument that the intended 'end' was moral, then the means were certainly not. Both Locke's and Hume's approach would have to condemn Sharon's actions. Even leaving aside the morality of the means, they were certainly not justified on the evidence of what is now seen to be the 'end.'

The question that arises is whether those who administered the law were acting morally towards its promised 'end', or whether they should have refused to carry out the means. If they sincerely believed that to remove 10,000 Jews from their homes would bring permanent peace with our neighbours, then, philosophically speaking, it could be argued that their actions served the common interest. But suppose that the IDF and police were convinced of the injustice of this law; they would then have been right to disobey for two reasons. Firstly, because the law was, in their eyes, now deprived of its moral force, and secondly because the obligation to administer justice exists independently of the law. Such a situation would then remove the utilitarian justification for such a law, because the consequences are not utilitarian.

If we live in a society where the right to settle in the area of one's choice is curtailed, then there is no freedom and we therefore cannot be deemed to have given our consent. That relieves us of the moral obligation of obedience to the law.

It is on this principle that I argue for continuing civil disobedience to force a change of government, to one that supports the permanent return to the destroyed areas of Gush Katif and the Shomron.

25 Nisan 5767 / 13 April 07

Jewish Wives Who Escape Abusive Muslim Husbands

Walter's World" with Walter Bingham

A replay of a classic Walter's World on this difficult subject with the Yad L'Achim chairman Rabbi Shalom Dov Lifschitz and the Jewish ex-wife of a Muslim husband.

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Latest Show - Interview with Yaffa Yarkoni, Queen of Israeli Song

Walter's World
with Walter Bingham
Live every Sunday at 10am NY time
5pm Israel time
April 22, 2007

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Interview with Yaffa Yarkoni, Queen of Israeli Song

Walter interviews one of the greats of Israeli music, Yaffa Yarkoni on her music, army life and Israeli history. A classic from the Walter's World archives.