Self Indulgent Reflections

Today is my  birthday and I thought it would be appropriate to spend  few minutes reflecting on the year that has gone past, not so much personally although its been an interesting if not economically challenging year, but more from a professional perspective.

Many of you reading this have known me for long time- a few probably going all the way back to elementary school, and of course many of you are new readers who I have never met.  When people asked what I do over the years it has never been a simple answer.  I am sure my children sometimes are jealous of their friends who can answer the question what does your Father do, by simply saying doctor, lawyer, businessman etc.  My identity is more complicated.  Am I an educator, a historian, a software developer, developer,businessman, political activist, or a journalist?  Over the last 40 years I have been a little of all of these things to a greater or lesser degree.  Circumstances of my life at various points have changed that mix, and in the last year that mix has clearly changed- today journalist probably comes first, with historian and software developer coming after.

My identity as a journalist developed rather late in life- a little over ten years ago, when I first started writing my Israel Update, that soon became a weekly radio appearance and three years ago I started writing a regular column for Newsweek.  Today,  I am also  an economic correspondent for subscription web site on emerging markets, plus a regular guest on i24News where I appear on a regular basis, mostly talking about the election and of course since the Trump inauguration about the Trump Presidency.

Which brings me to what I actually wanted to write about and that is reflecting on being a journalist is such partisan times.  Being a historian is easy.  I am one of those people who do not believe in relativist history, at least for events that have taken place during the last 200 years.  Events are events, we have enough information today to say that with the exception of a few security related events there is not such thing has fake history.  Yes, history can be interpreted differently, ie how much weight should we give to the economic causes of the Revolutionary War as opposed to the political need of people to feel represented.  However, two hundred years later I have no problem laying out the facts and giving my interpretation, but so labeling it.

My role as a journalist seems more complicated. First, of course we do not have perfect information on events that are taking place. Second when you report news you are being selective.   My column in Newsweek is a perfect example.  I have had the luxury of having a regular column titled Tel Aviv Diary which appears under opinion.  That luxury frees me from having to be comprehensive and allows me to add opinion to what I write.  But what should I write about?  How critical should I allow myself to be of my own government?  It’s always a difficult line.  If I was writing in Hebrew for an Israeli daily or Israeli web site, there is no question I would be much more critical than I am in Newsweek.  There is little that I like about our current government in Israel, and no one with the exception of President Rivlin who I respect.  How strongly should that come through in my writing?  What stories should I write about- both keeping into account what is interesting  and what might be of interest to readers of Newsweek?

When I lived in the US there was always the question- what right did I have to criticize? After all I was not living in Israel.   But now that we have been back for over five years those questions are no longer relevant- but still it’s sometimes hard to be as critical as I would like to be or maybe should be.

Which brings me to the last question and that is about the Trump Presidency.  I have had a section on my web site about Presidential elections since 1995 and have written a book on the History of Presidential Elections, thus I have tried to be as non partisan as possible about American politics.  However, as the recent election campaign was reaching towards its conclusion and I began to fear that there was an actual chance that Donald Trump could win, I felt I had to write an article on Why a Jew Should Not Vote For Trump.  It ended up being one of the most read articles in the Times of Israel in 2016, and while it did not accomplish its goal it propel me into the partisan maelstrom.  In my many appearances on i24 News I have worn two very different hats, that of a historian of the Presidency, which of course come natural and as a foil to a guest Mark Zell who is the Head of the Republican Party in Israel.  I have been amazed at thr slavish support that Zell and others have given to Trump.  On Wednesday I listened as he said that Trump has been acting very Presidential since day one- and that his inaugural address was not dark, after all he was there and I was not.  What position should I take to the person I believe is a danger to the world and should never have been elected to the Oval Office?  The detached historian? the partisan journalist? The political activist? Difficult choices in very complex times.

I live in a country I love and have loved almost all of my life, but it is led by a Prime Minister who is under criminal investigation and in all likelihood is going to be indicted sooner rather than later.  My country of birth, whose history I have studied my whole life and who I have always thought to be the greatest country on earth is being led by a man who is wholly unequipped to do so, and whose corruption may be deeper and wider than anyone can imagine.

The Chinese have the curse – you should live in interesting times – For journalists this is always far from true, but sometimes even for a journalist/news junkie like me it becomes more than even we want to deal with.  As I enter the 63rd year of my life – I am not sure what to hope for both for America and for Israel.  Living in Israel is never boring, but today that can be said for events throughout the globe.  I can just hope in the next year that I can do a good job explaining these events to my readers and listeners. It will be  a challenge.

My beautiful picture
With My Mother when I was less than one.
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Trump Week One- Bibi Near the End

It’s been a difficult week.  As someone who is an American Israeli whose specialty is American history and to a lesser extent the Presidency, it has been like watching a car crash in slow motion.  Of course things in Israel have not been better as it’s become clear that the level of corruption in our government is greater than we thought – but more on that later.

Last friday night, the last chance that this was going to be a normal presidency ended with the inaugural address. I won’t repeat what I wrote in my Newsweek article about the address or what I said on the air afterwards on i24, but suffice it to say it was the most divisive inaugural address in American history.  It went downhill from there. Saturday was his speech at the CIA where we learned how obsessed he was about the size of the crowds at the inauguration, and where one of the least appropriate places he attacked the media.  A few hours later his spokesman made a fool of himself giving a briefing stating that Trump had the largest crowds at any inauguration.  So the week went – a hissy fit when Mexico would not agree to pay for the wall that he wants to build, more obsessive talk about him winning the popular vote if only the illegals did not vote. Of course the best for last his Friday announcement on banning all admission  including those holding green cards from 7 Muslim nations.  There was the minor issue of the White House issuing a proclamation on the Holocaust without mentioning Jews.  In case one was to think that it was merely an oversight, the White House clarified that it was deliberate, since not just Jews died in the Holocaust, but at least Trump is “not an antisemite like Obama”.

The three most problematic aspects of what has happened in the last week are: 1) Everything seems to be done without proper staff work.  Decisions of the magnitude that Trump has been making are usually done only after widespread review, and input from the relevant agencies of the government. He is using his reputed intuition to make world shattering decisions.  2) The Republicans in Congress seem to be going along, almost none willing to take stands against actions that go against everything they have ever said they believe in.  When former Vice President Dick Cheney is making the strongest statements criticizing Trump’s actions, we know we are in bad shape. 3) Finally, the realization that being President is not going to change Trump for the better. He will not grow into the job.  He will not spend the time needed getting up to speed on matters that he does not know, and he will never be willing to make decisions based on the proper staff work.  One final note on Trump: the announcement that Bannon will become one of the principles of the National Security Council is frightening.  The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces is out and Bannon is in.

As to Israel it was incredibly disturbing to see Netanyahu come out with a Tweet in support of Trump’s wall.  Netanyahu has clearly decided that the views of American Jewry or the 50% of Americans who oppose Trump are unimportant.  I will be writing an article for Newsweek tomorrow on the subject. Any input would be welcome. In the meantime the legal system is closing in on Netanyahu.  It’s becoming clear that the cases against him are strong and it’s only a matter of time until he is indicted.  He will try to stay on, the law is grey, but the precedent is not.  Who will replace him is unclear but an era is coming to an end.

POTUS_Speech2

 

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Dangers Incorporated in Trump’s Inaugural Address

As an American expat sitting in Tel Aviv and listening to the inaugural address delivered by President Donald J. Trump was a very unsettling experience. I paid attention to his words wearing many hats —  American, Israeli, American historian, and that of someone about to go on air shortly afterward to try to make sense of what the freshly-minted president had said. By the time Trump ended his speech, every part of me was troubled. Many have written how poorly Trump’s speech compared to previous inaugural addresses (undoubtedly true). Others  expressed concern the President chose not use the opportunity of his inaugural to reach out to the rest of the country — the majority of whom did not vote for him (also true). However, to me, as someone who has divided my life between living in Israel and the US, what frightened me most was Trump’s use of the phrase, “America First,” and the pointed meaning he gave to those words. Trump proclaimed: “Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.” He went on to declare: “Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.” In a mere few sentences, Trump undermined the basis of the world system that the US has championed since World War II.

America has always seen itself as more than the sum of its parts. Even from those first moments, when the first colonies were starting, Governor Winthrop of Massachusetts referred to Boston, which was yet to be established, stating: “We shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us.” Since then, Presidents and leaders — including JFK and Ronald Reagan — have referred to that as an essential aspect of what it means to be an American.  The American role has always been to be that light in the world. In the post-war world, there has been universal consensus that America might be required to make sacrifices (as the strongest nation on earth), in order to ensure that the horrors of the two world wars did not repeat — and though sometimes those sacrifices would result in short time pain, those actions are healthy for the United States as well.

And so, it’s been over the course of more than 70 years, since the guns of World War II were silenced. The  world has not always been peaceful, but the horrors of the World Wars have not returned — more importantly, the world and the United States have prospered. The United States GNP (adjusted for inflation) has grown from $2.2 Trillion in 1946 to $16.7 Trillion in 2016; and the world GDP rose from USD $5.3 Trillion to $73 Trillion today (keep in mind that immediately after World War II much of the world’s industry outside of the US lay in ruins). The world and the United States have both been enriched economically and while America’s percentage of world GNP has gone down from the world ravaged by World War II, America has steadily become more wealthy. There is not a reputable economist in the world today who believes protectionism is a good economic policy, for any country — except possibly, for the youngest emerging economies, but certainly not for a country like the United States.

The American economy is not perfect. Trump is certainly not wrong to point out many of the problems that exist throughout America’s middle-West, in former industrial cities, who today, are mere hollow version of their former selves. It is true that some of the economic damage has been caused by Globalization. However, the majority of these hardships are the result of technological transformations that have eliminated jobs, while allowing production to continually increase. True, there are problems in America, but none of them rise to the level of “carnage,” as it was so labelled by President Trump.

Many in Israel enthusiastically welcomed the election of President Trump. They believed the words he spoke about moving the embassy to Jerusalem were different than those of his predecessors. They believed that having a pro-settlement US ambassador would make all the difference. What they did not — and still do not — understand is what it means to have a President who speaks about “America First” and carries out a foreign policy reflective of that worldview — i.e., having a President who stated in an interview for the Times of London and the German newspaper Bild: “I think people want, people want their own identity, so if you ask me, others, I believe others will leave,” undermines the global order that has kept peace and insured prosperity … and moreover, that peace and global order have, despite conflicts with its neighbors, have been the bedrock upon which a strong and prosperous Israel has been built. The day before the Trump inauguration, Nadav Eyal, lead foreign affairs correspondent for Israel’s Channel 10 News stated that Presidents tend to try to actually implement the ideas they put forward in their inaugural addresses. Today, after the fact, much of Israel and the world hope Trump’s words were as his supporters often state, just a stake in the ground to open negotiations, and not the real policies he hopes to implement.POTUS_Speech2

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The over the top reaction to the UN Resolution

Since yesterday  the Jewish world as well as the Israeli political world has been obsessed with the UN vote and the fact that the US did not exercise its veto in the vote.  Israeli ministers including Netanyahu himself, called it the knife in the back of Israel and a very anti Israeli resolution.  Prime Minister Netanyahu stated tonight that “ Obama administration has carried out an underhanded and an anti-Israel maneuver at the UN Security Council.”  Nothing about the nations like Russia who actually voted for the resolution and did not abstain.  My twitter feed has been full statements from many of the Republicans that I follow ( yes I follow people I usually do not agree with) about what terrible act this was- how this proves how anti- Israeli Obama is.

 

Wow is all I can say- people seem to have lost their mind, on many levels.  Lets start with the fact that even if you do not agree with the resolution, it is a resolution under Article 6, which means there are no enforcement mechanism.  Second there was hardly anything new in the resolution-it says that the UN and the world does not recognize any activity beyond the 67 lines as legal.  Nothing new in that, and clearly under international law it’s clearly true.  The only really negative thing for Israel is the fact it calls on the world to differentiate between products produced in the West Bank ( 4% of Israel’s export) and those in Israel proper.  In a strange way while some people think this might help the BDS movement, in fact it could have the opposite impact since that same differentiation between Israel proper and the territories could serve as a break to general BDS against Israel.

The most absurd aspect of the reaction is the fact that two weeks ago Prime Minister Netanyahu who  initially opposed the passage of the law that would legalize the building on private Palestinian lines, warned that if it was passed there would be a UN  resolution. For internal political reasons he supported the misguided law and what he warned in fact has taken place . Read my article in Newsweek from two weeks ago- it explains all of this.

I also find the statements that this resolution is going to hurt the chance for peace- Really-  I am not a big believer in peace.  I am sad to say I do not believe there will peace in my lifetime, I do not see the Palestinians making the concession necessary, and neither do I see us making the needed concessions, so saying this resolution will decrease the chances of peace is absurd.  I am still waiting for Israel’s peace initiative.

Finally, to all the lovers of Israel in America- understand that if you carefully read this resolution that other then the reference to East Jerusalem at least half of Israelis would agree with it.  This resolution deals almost exclusively with the settlement in the West Bank, settlements that have grown not because most Israelis want them to, but because of the nature of the Israeli political system that give extreme views greater weight.  Obama is no more a hater of Israel then every voter of Meretz and the Labor Party.  His speech at Peres funeral was one of the best Zionist speeches that I have heard in a long time-  It easily could have been given by Ben Gurion or any of that generation.  Yes its not the speech the Bibi would give- and Bibi is our Prime Minister- but its a long road to go from thinking that Bibi is a problematic Prime Minister to saying that someone is anti Israel or worse anti semitic.

 

On a related note, I went tonight to a press conference by Yair Lapid- the person with the best chance of unseating Prime Minister Netanyahu.  I tweeted before the press conference began the question will he break right or will he break left-  I actually knew the answer in advance based on what he said to me after the Iran deal was announced-he was going to break right- and indeed he did- saying he had worked  with the government to stop the the resolution, and attacking the “left “ for celebrating the passage of the law.  He did attack the Netanyahu government for not being prepared and for the fact that there is no foreign Minister at the moment.  He said that Netanyahu had complained of a tense relationship with Obama, but wrongly claimed that our relations with other countries was much better.  I asked him what exactly was bad in the resolution- and there he fudged his answer- stating   that the resolution calls for a return to Six Day War borders, does not allow for building a terrace on a house in the territories, and finally calls on Israel to accept the Arab Peace initiative as it is, without dealing with refugees.  All of which is inaccurate-the resolution lists a long list of proposals and calls on the sides to use them as a basis of negotiations.  As to the Six Day War borders it is like every other resolution or position of almost every government in the world it says that any agreement must be based on those borders with changes agreed to by the parties.  Lapid however, is trying once again to make sure he is the alternative of Netanyahu and is convinced that the only alternative that can win is one that leans right, he may be right.

img_5862

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

What Have We Done?

I have been struggling whether to write this article since last night.  I knew I did not want to put it into my Newsweek column.  Last weeks column was difficult enough to file.  I am also working on another article for Newsweek that will not make many people happy, so I almost wrote the following for the Times of Israel, but even there I did not feel comfortable writing this so here it is on my little  blog.

What spurred me to write this were the Tweets last night be Israelis including MK Herzog decrying that fact that the world was not doing enough for the those trapped in Aleppo.  I replied that that might be true but what have we done?  For the last few years as I hear our leaders talk about the holocaust and how the world did not do enough I have cringed.  What gives us with the largest and most effective military in the Middle East the right to talk about what the world has not done- when the only thing we have done is give some medical aid to those who arrive at our border.  Our Prime Minister is too afraid of his relationship with Putin to even condemn the indiscriminate Russian bombings of hospitals.  I understand all the very good reasons why we should not intervene, why we did not even create a safe haven next to the Golan Heights.  It was clearly not  in our “interests”.  When discussing with friends I get should our children risk their lives for people who hate us? Its all true but….

The but is that the Allies, in World war II had many legitimate reasons for not changing their war plans that were after all aimed at toppling Hitler.  So it’s time for us to stop decrying the fact that the world did not do enough to save the Jews during the holocaust.  They did not.  And the world has not done enough to stop the murderous Assad regime with the help of the Iranians and Russians for killing his own people.  They have not.  But what did we do?  We could have grounded the Syrian Air Force in five minutes, we could have saved thousands if not tens of thousands of lives, but it was not in our interests.  None of us really wanted to risk our children or take the chance that Hezbollah would start firing missiles to save some Sunni Arabs who were being slaughtered.  That is reality, and it’s not a very moral reality that we live in.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit in the United States to speak in front of the Congress. In the photo: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speech at the AIPAC conference. øàù äîîùìä áðéîéï ðúðéäå ááé÷åøå áàøöåú äáøéú òì îðú ìðàåí îåì ä÷åðâøñ. áúîåðä: øàù äîîùìä áðéîéï ðúðéäå áðàåîå áëðñ àéôà"÷.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Rabin Memorial and Reflections on an Article That Went Viral

I just returned from the Rabin Memorial in Rabin Square, after years in which it was a totally apolitical affair, tonight it became something else.  It did so largely because the traditional organizers did not have the money to organize and in the last moment the Zionist Union stepped forward to become the sponsor.  In many ways I actually think this was more proper.  Over the years when all the youth movements sponsored it, the event became too parve.  It was too important not to insult anyone and be in the consensus that included Betar and Bnei Akiva than to present anything but the most general educational message against violence.  When they organized it there could be no hint that the assassin was rightwing, or had religious motives. Tonight was different. The Zionist Union took a risk organizing the event- were people going to show up?  They received a great assist from the head of the government coalition today when he gave a talk and said the assassination of Rabin was not a political act.  It was of course the most successful political assassination in recent history.  The crowds came – the square was full, between 50 – 70,000 people turned out.  Recent actions by the government to silence the opposition were very much on the minds of the people who came and the people who spoke. The music was good but the best speech by far was given surprisingly by Tzpi Livni, who spoke about the values of Zionism. She said Zionism was not attacking the press, Zionism was not attacking the courts, and Zionism was not living in a country where we become the minority.

Of course events in Israel are eclipsed by American politics. Its been an interesting few days for me. I was reluctant to write my article on Trump and the Jews and said so at the very beginning of the article.  I felt I had no choice since, however small my soapbox was I have at least a small following and maybe I can do my part.  I was shocked when my article went viral – and has now been shared 33,000 times.  At this point it is the most read article on the Time of Israel today, this week, and this month and it shows no signs of slowing.  I have to hope that most of the people who shared the article agree with it.  So I guess I did my part.  On the other hand, when you look at the responses that the article has garnered and the names I have been called it’s very impressive.  It’s interesting how most of the people just call me names and don’t try to refute the facts.  I am also always struck by the amount of hate out there and how much nonsense people repeat.  I am cautiously optimistic that Hilary will win, and yet I fear she might not, since I truly cannot understand how anyone could vote for Trump, so maybe I am truly underestimating his support.Rabin Square

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Ari Shavit and Sexual Harrassment

The Israeli world of journalism and politics is an uproar today, not over the fate of the Supreme Court or of the settlement of Armona and certainly not over the latest anti-Israel decision as Unesco.  But rather at something more prosaic and maybe over something more important in some way-the accusation by an American Jewish Journalist, Danielle Berrin that she was sexually assaulted by a prominent Israeli journalist later self identified as Ari Shavit.  Frankly I am not surprised, not that I know Shavit personally, but rather I spent a fair amount of time around places where Israeli males met American Jewish female professional and have seen what the results have been.  Of course my experience is from another era- I worked in the American/Israeli/Jewish years when I was young 17-20 and than later in my mid 30’s and it was a different time with different expectations.  Certainly during my service in the Israeli Air Force I saw things that in todays world, would  end careers.  But during my years working for Jewish Agency I saw first hand the actions of Israeli visitors.  It was still the years of the macho Israeli soldier, and they felt free to get their way with often willing American Jewish women students and professionals.  Many of the women were willing participants, although in retrospect since many of the sinners were their bosses or other in a hierarchy above them in many of the case one can not speak about willing consent, others less so. It was widespread, and reached to people today who hold some of the highest positions in the government.

I think it is better today, although I obviously cannot be sure.  My daughters did not experience in the army any of what I saw when I was serving. The problem seems to be greater among older Israeli men who seem to be stuck in the past, a past that might have been pleasant for them but not for women who were on the receiving ends of unwanted attention or much more.  We cannot be a society that tolerates this sort to behavior in any way.  Ari Shavit role as the spokesman for the liberal Israel is over.  Its too bad he was not a bad spokesman.  Hopefully American won’t elect someone to be President who is guilty of as much or more than Shavit- but  its irrelevant- there can be no excuses, no questions, sexual harassment is a career ender however talented an individual may be.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Five Years in Israel

Today marks the fifth anniversary of our return to Israel. Our landing was tough having arrived soon after my Mom passed away and watching in the first  months we were here my Fathers health deteriorate to the point that he died three months after we arrived.  Living here continues to be struggle financially, but that has unfortunately been my fate most of my life. Moving back and forth between between Israel and US probably never  helped that.  This is my first experience living in Tel Aviv and I must say that while in my high school year book I have a quote that says that even though I was not born in Jerusalem, I have felt a Jerusalemite my whole life, today it’s Tel Aviv that I love more than any other city in the world.  Becoming a Newsweek columnist with a column called Tel Aviv Diary has certainly cemented that relationship. The research for our App Journey Tel Aviv combined with my column has allowed me to know the city from the top( I interviewed the mayor) and the bottom( I have walked almost all the city adding locations to our App).

Being in Israel has also resulted in another change.  Its very much in vogue today to write how people will need multiple careers.  While that is certainly true for the future, that has certainly been true for me.  While one hand I have been involved in the development of software for three decades and the writing of history even longer, what defines my prime activities in life has changed a number of times over the years.  Much to my surprise and certainly not something that I would have guessed before we came, I am now more of a journalist than anything else.  While having a regular column in Newsweek has certainly given me both access and a certain level of prestige, it was not until I started working for European economic web site, who are actually paying me to file multiple stories a day that it became clear that today I am primarily a journalist.  I probably still spend more time a day working on software and history, but its become my writings that defines me today

I was worried about returning here this late in life, I was 56 when we came back and was concerned about being the outsider.  That is the one worry that was unnecessary.  The combination of having been in the IDF, having two children who have served, and having a third on the way has eliminated any concern in that direction. Of course it helps to be fluent in Hebrew and have a dog, but there is no question that I feel totally at home as if I lived in Tel Aviv all my life and am thankful every day that we live here. We have made many friends, and have access to all aspects of life in Tel Aviv. (Well almost every  we will never be a 20-30 year old single).

One finally thought, none of this would have been possible without my family,  Amy who has always been at my side and been my partner in everything I have done these last 25+ years  and three great kids.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Some Random Thoughts Before Rosh Hashanah

Its been a while since I wrote a blog piece.  For the last month since I stated working for Emerging Market Reports plus started MYIsraelNews I have gone from writing one or two articles top for Newsweek plus a blog piece or two every week, to writing on average ten stories a day.  While I am enjoying it and Emerging Markets is helping to pay our bills,  writing a blog article which is more writing sometime seems like a mountain too high to climb. Since we are effectively in the midst of a five day weekend in Israel and I cannot imagine there will be any economic news until Wednesday to write about and hopefully no political military news, I thought I would take a few minutes to share some thoughts. Furthermore I am hopeful that this will be a quiet week and my Newsweek article long planned but not yet written will be this week about the Jewish vote in the US.  On Wednesday we will have been back in Israel for five year, I hope to reflect on that then, so here are some random thoughts that I did not want to write for Newsweek as a new Jewish year begins

First on the decision of the Joint Arab List not to attend Peres funeral: it was in my mind one of the stupidest  things I have seen lately, and while they are not part of the traditional left in this country it is another example of the left committing collective suicide.  The Left including the Arabs seem more concerned about being right than accomplishing anything.  Accomplishing something is a matter of convincing voters.  You do not convince voters this way.  You do not convince the average Israelis that is ever a chance at reconciliation when you effectively say that even Peres who spent the last quarter of his life trying to find a way to achieve peace cannot be forgiven for earlier “mistakes” than how do you ever reach peace.  It was terrible decision and will effectively delegitimize the Joint List further.

 

The decision of the White House to correct the Email to the press: I am officially a member of the White House press corp- (because of my section on the web site on the Obama Presidency. ) I along with the rest of the Press Corp received Friday night an Email that corrected an earlier E-mail with Obama remarks at the funeral.  The original one said Mt Herzl Jerusalem, Israel the corrected one marked out Israel .One has to keep in mind this has been US policy since Harry TrumanI checked back at all my E mails from the earlier visit and everything said Jerusalem without Israel. My daughters passports say Jerusalem and not Israel as place of birth. The US never officially recognized any de jure borders beyond the 1947 partition plan and Jerusalem was suppose to an international city under that plan, This time it was a mistake that should have just been left alone. President Obama left behind good will with his speech, it was partially undermined by this correction

A few thoughts on the death of President Peres: Israel faces a real crisis.  When I was speaking to Herzog on Thursday night he compared it to the US after the Founding Fathers, but I mentioned to him that did not go that well for the US- He agreed and said that was our challenge.  It really is a problem for the country, after Netanyahu the other leaders of Likud are not very competent people to say the least.  That does not bode well for the future. They say the whole world suffers from a lock of leaders, our suffering is worse than many places.

One comment on the US elections: I am astounded that there are people who are actually planning to vote for Trump.  Its seems inconceivable that anyone can think after all we have seen that this man should be in the Oval Office.  There has never been someone less prepared and less suited for the Presidency.  You can agree or disagree with policy but I am not sure how anyone can disagree about the man fitness to be President.  A further issue for  Jews remains the fact that he brings out the worse in Americans, including a level of anti-semitism that we may have all thought existed but are shocked to see out in the open the United States

My last thought Before Rosh Hashanah relates to Syria.  As an American and as an Israelis I am ashamed.  We have been spending the past 70 years saying never again, and yet when it comes down to it, its Never Again only when its easy- or maybe when its Jews, I am not sure which.  There are only two countries that could have stopped the at least part of the slaughter in Syria, the US and Israel. The US for reasons I will never fathom did not because of President Obama’s unwillingness to use conventional force, has led to his decision not to even threaten the use of forces, and Israel because it’s not in our interest.  From the Israeli perspective we need to stop talking about how the world did not do enough during the World War II  to stop the holocaust.  It was not in their military interest to do more, even if they could have, which is a highly disputed historic point . It’s not in our national interest to get involved, but if we wanted to we could ground the Syrian air force in a matter of minutes.

7969001484_86f1599e5f_k

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Silence is Deafening

I have not written much in the past few weeks, but that is about to end.  As of September 1 I will for the first time being writing professional (being paid) for regular reporting primarily economic news from Israel- more about that later in the week.  At the same time I will be launching a new mini web site of news from Israel- more on that later as well.  Tonight I wanted to write about something that has been bothering more and more lately- The daily killing that has been going on to the North of us in Syria. Of course it’s nothing new its been going on for 5 years, but somehow in the last few days some of the pictures posted in my Twitter feed of the kids being killed in Syria have stuck a new chord with me.  Maybe its my son preparing for what is a right of passage in this country a trip to Poland that has once again made me reflect on the meaning of the trip and the meaning of the lessons of  the holocaust.

The horrific killing in Syria go on year after year.  The use of the illegal chemical weapons continue despite the so called agreement to remove them, and no one seems to care.  Yes people want to stop ISIS and they are doing what they can do to attack it, but as to the deliberate killing of civilians- nothing.  Two days ago the Syrians took an Israeli tactic and perversely stood it on its head.  Israel is known of the doubt tap on the roof when it wants to attack a building.  A small bomb that does no damage to warn people to get out and then the real bomb a few minutes later.  The Syrians instead double tapped by attacking a hospital and then coming back and attacking the funeral of those being buried as a result of the first attack.  The UN has just concluded that the Syrian government has continued to use Chlorine Gas as a weapon- Where is the outrage?  The Russians bomb civilians and the world is silent. Where are the people out in the streets of Europe in front of the Russian embassy’s?Where are the crowds demanding that the Iranians stop supporting Assad.  I do not see anyone demonstrating in front of the White House demanding the US ground the Syrian airforce. As a matter of fact I do not see anyone here doing the same.  In Israel the Syrian story has almost disappeared from the newspapers.  Unless an errant shell falls on the Golan Heights- no one cares?

During World war II the world could say they did not know- at least until it was too late they did not know- and once they knew there was little that they could have been done.  But the whole world has been seeing what has been going on in Syria-  WE all know and yet we are all complicit.  President Obama, Chancellor Merkel, President Putin, Prime Minister Netanyahu and you and me are all complicit in the crimes that have taken place 80 miles Northeast of my apartment.  We do not care- We will continue to memorialize the holocaust but as we do so we continue to dishwner the memory of those who died, because instead of Never Again  we have been saying “Never Again to the Jews”.

The Silence is Deafening

August 28, 2016
August 28, 2016
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail