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”.
Tonight is Tisha B’Av, it’s a fast that I have always felt should be eliminated. To me it has always been antithetical to basic Zionism to be mourning the loss of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago,when today it is once again under Israeli sovereignty. I understand those who said, that despite events of modern history, Jerusalem is far from living in peace. I have also understood the arguments about how we have to remember the events so we avoid the internecine hatred that to many was the cause of fall the Jerusalem. As many of you know my concern for the country that I live (Israel) is very real. Most of that concern is not from our external enemies but our internal problems, but strangely this Tisha B’ Av my concerns are more about the United States the land of my birth and less about Israel.
Something very dangerous occurred in the US this past week. While the whole candidacy of Donald Trump has been problematic and so many of his comments that he has made that are troubling have been too numerous to list, his comments in the last few days are very dangerous. I am not talking about his 2nd amendment comment, which while to most it’s clear what he meant, was at least ambiguous. No, it’s been his comments that the only way he can lose is if the election is stolen by his opponent. He repeated that on Thursday when he said that the only way he can lose Pennsylvania is if it’s stolen. Polls currently show him losing that state by11-16 points. He has requested that people sign up to be poll watchers so the election is not stolen by “crooked Hilary” . The United States is in uncharted territory. Months before an election the results are already be discredited. When what seems inevitable happen on November 8th and Donald Trump loses large number of his supporters will indeed believe that the election was stolen. They will believe that Hilary Clinton is not the legitimate President, and a few might take actions that I do not even want to imagine.
One of the most basic facts about United States history has been the peaceful transition of power after an election. The acceptance of the results. Even in the most divisive election in US history 1860 when Lincoln won, no one questions whether he had won or not. Some states were not willing to accept the results and therefore attempted to secede from the Union causing the Civil War. In the last 20 years there has been a troubling attempt to discredit and not truly accept the new President. We saw that to some extent with President Clinton with Whitewater and of course much more so with President Obama with the birther movement. One could rightly blame the Republican establishment from never totally disavowing the birther movement- and we can easily use the analogy of riding a tiger- that tiger has brought Trump. However, we cannot go back in history and undo the damage. Even if every Republican elected official comes out tomorrow and says that they respect the electoral process and have no fears that the election will be stolen it may be too late.
America is a strong a resident nation and in its 240 year history has endured many challenges. I lived through the turbulent 60’s and although I was a young boy remember 1968 well. Never in my life however have I feared for America as I have in this election and more so in the past week. I am confident that Trump will lose this election by close to a landslide- but fear two things: first that there are actually people after all that has occurred in the past two weeks who are planning to vote for him, second, that sometimes a bell cannot be unrung. The bells that Donald Trump has rung since beginning his campaign are going to be very difficult to unring. It will be up to President Clinton together with the Republican leadership after this election is over to find a way to the bring American people together. Today on Tisha B’Av I fear not for the disunity here in Israel- but rather for that in the United States.