Saturday, January 22, 2005
We are a young country, with traditions and basic decency that are clearly an example for the world. Our President emphasized time and again “the principles of liberty and democracy” (Sharansky’s influence is evident) as the credo of our country and his Administration. His was an historic address, that outlined for the entire world a vision that is no less important than the Truman Doctrine and manifestos of other great Presidents who brought us victory in WW II, and the Cold War.
At this critical juncture in world history with the crisis in Iran and N Korea threatening world peace and stability I am grateful that George Bush and Dick Cheney are at the helm.
Though inauguration day should be a non-partisan celebration, it was sad to hear Cong Nancy Pelosi blast the President. Eight years ago partisan Republicans did not demonstrate against or attack Pres Bill Clinton on his Inauguration Day. I am not sure that the Democrats can reclaim power on anger alone. WHERE IS THE SENSE OF FAIR PLAY?
One final thought on the weeks events.
I turned to my wife after Condoleeza Rice concluded her introductory statement to the Foreign Relations Committee. I could not get over the clarity of her thoughts, and the eloquent manner in which she introduced her moving life story before discussing in a substantive manner world problems that she as the incoming Sec. of State would face.
I was truly proud. However, that pride turned to shock a while later, when Sen. Barbara Boxer blasted the Rice statement..Sen Boxer counted the lines and the words used by Ms. Rice in her introductory remarks, until she entered the body of her presentation and mentioned tsunami aid and Iraq etc. Boxer thought perhaps they should have been in the introductory paragraph.
HOW PETTY AND TRITE!
She is entitled to vote against Rice and oppose her policies but Boxer was over the line in impugning her integrity. It looks like we are in for a real partisan Congressional session.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
I recall years ago a Life Magazine headline and story by the noted historian Arnold Toynbee, that spoke to the rapid demise of the Jewish people. This was based upon many factors including assimilation, intermarriage, low fertility etc. It was a source of much debate and even today subconsciously impacts on the Jewish population studies done every ten years or so. (we fear we are becoming extinct)
Orthodox Judaism was considered an even more endangered species based upon the conversion of many Orthodox synagogues to Reform and Conservative in the 1890’s.
However, as any observer can point out our growth in a spiritual and physical sense continues with Jewish education, and all of the accoutrements of our torah way of life.
Thus it is critical to get a deeper evaluation of the claim that an Arab demographic time bomb is ticking in the Judea-Samaria and Gaza area. The number of Arabs is purported to be 3.8 million, and growing. (At this rate of growth in one or two decades they would dwarf the Jewish population of Israel). Absent a Palestinian state they could demand Israeli citizenship and then vote for an Islamic slate that would mark the end of Israel as a Jewish State.
Thus we are indeed fortunate that a new study has been released this week and presented to The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. Its findings are based upon actual population studies instead of 1997 projections based upon a Palestinian census and expected population growth.
The salient points include a lower birth rate among the Palestinians which goes along with a lower fertility rate in the 1990’s in Arab countries.
A net emigration of 10,000 Palestinians per year instead of immigration.
210,000 Jerusalem Arabs were double-counted (Israel and Palestinian) census counts.
The counting of Palestinians living abroad for more than one year were included.
150,000 PA Arabs who have legally relocated to Israel since 1993 were counted.
Retrospective alterations in birth certificates.
THUS THE TOTAL RESIDENT POPULATION OF ARABS IN JANUARY 2004 WAS 2.4 MILLION (1.35 IN THE WEST BANK AND 1.07 IN GAZA)
Though this is still a problem, it is not a ticking bomb, because these figures and ratios have not worsened. In fact, the growth rate of Jews in Israel is the highest among western democracies. Incidentally the Palestinians central election commission acknowledged that THERE WERE 200,000 PALESTINIANS LIVING ABROAD.
One final thought-this reminds me of the claims of the Muslim community in the U.S. regarding their population figures. Their goal is to show both a rapid growth and a larger population figure than the Jewish community. Thus every few months they claim another million members-(now up to 5 million). Objective studies show they are less than half that..
BEWARE OF FIGURES -THEY DON’T LIE,- BUT LIARS KNOW HOW TO FIGURE
I am indebted to my friend Ambassador Yoram Ettinger (firstname.lastname@example.org) for keeping me abreast of his study.
Monday, January 17, 2005
Note: this op-ed has been accepted by the JEWISH PRESS for its Feb 4 edition
The election of Mahmoud Abbas as Palestinian President has been preceded and followed by much optimism and even euphoria.
Initially the N.Y. Times seemed to highlight the convicted terrorist Barghouti as one who could bring the proper style, leadership and vision to bring an end to the conflict, if only the Israelis would release him from his confinement. With his recusal, the mantle of hope and moderation has been passed along to Mr Abbas. Despite his rhetoric during the end of the campaign in which he called Israel the “Zionist enemy,” and his embracing of armed thugs, his western dress and call for peace have captured the imagination of the usual cast of characters, but also that of Pres. Bush.
Even though it is a little disconcerting to have him promise not to disarm terrorists, the desire by people of good will for peace in the area, is so strong, that they are prepared to delude themselves, hoping against hope that Abbas is really not Arafat, in belief, style or message. If only Mr. Abbas would stay on message, and utter a few chosen words on American TV, he could bring the region back to the “road map.” Of course the Israelis have to make concessions such as removing roadblocks, freeing prisoners, stopping construction of the fence, and above all else turn a blind eye as kassam rockets hit Israel and Hamas keeps up the attacks. In other words negotiate and make concessions under terrorist onslaughts.
But why would Prime Minister Sharon the architect of the settlement movement agree to disengage either unilaterally or in tandem with the Palestinian Authority?
I believe it is a combination of many factors in addition to arrogance and ego that have brought Sharon to the conclusion that he and he alone can save Israel. Time is not on the side of Israel goes his logic.
The clock is ticking from many different sources. The world and especially old Europe, the U.N. and the Arab world are going to place unbearable pressure on Pres. Bush as he begins his second term to rein in Sharon as part of the price of normalizing relations between them and the U.S. Their goal no matter what Sharon does is a total withdrawal back to pre-1967 lines.
The demographic clock is reaching a critical juncture. Should the Palestinians give up on their goal of a separate state, they would demand in the name of democracy one man one vote as Israeli citizens. Which in essence is the last election of a Jewish state.
The P.M. believes that his is an extraordinary relationship with the Pres. (perhaps factoring in the Sharansky-Chaney/Rice relationship) which would allow his disengagement plan to proceed not as the first stage, but a final stage of withdrawal. The President's June 24 statement would in essence mean that the Israelis would have an infinite amount of time before the Israeli-Palestinian relationship resembled the US Canadian one (if ever) before further issues would have to be discussed (no matter what the Europeans and, the UN desired).
Under his plan, which allegedly has President Bush’s agreement 180-195,000 Israelis in the Gush, Ariel and Maale Adumim area will never be threatened. With American support, the security fence and more defensible area for the IDF it all becomes strategically worthwhile, albeit painful.
Mr. Sharon further believes that no future PM, whether it be Netanyahu, Olmert Barak or anyone else can maintain this special relationship as he can.
All of this is despite the knowledge that Kassam rockets will surely increase after disengagement. His goal however is to gain those few weeks of quiet that would give him the political cover to proceed either unilaterally or together with Mr. Abbas. To date, unfortunately for Mr Sharon, Hamas has not cooperated.
But what will be Israel’s response after disengagement when the rockets not only increase in intensity but in closer proximity to Ashdod and Ashkelon? Over the past year or so I attended a number of briefings on disengagement and always asked the speaker that exact question. The typical answer is one that I received from defense Minister Mofaz who said, “We will know what we will have to do,” implying a massive incursion into Gaza for a few months to wipe out the terrorist bases, withdraw until the next round.
To me it is Vietnam all over again. As American troops invaded an enemy town or village they sustained casualties even as they were victorious. Shortly thereafter they withdrew, until a new round of enemy activity necessitated a renewed visit in force to the town.
I have always believed that the negotiating model Israel should use should be based on Panama, (Panama-U.S), Hong Kong (China- U.K.) and Macau (China-Portugal) where extensive negotiations took place before comprehensive agreements were signed and trial periods of years allowed the parties to see if they could live under the new pact. Any other approach as we witnessed in the past would foster negotiations with recriminations, on a daily basis violence etc, (Oslo,Taba,Wye etc.) and immediately thereafter the parties would act upon any limited agreement. This is a recipe for disaster and war.
Let us return to Pres. Abbas to try to understand who is he and what we should expect from him. In preparing for my autobiography, JOURNEY THROUGH THE MINEFIELDS, I came across the program of the White House lawn ceremony on Sept. 12, 1993 when Oslo was signed. I was shocked to be reminded that the third speaker that afternoon was Abu Mazen (Mr. Abbas). I had totally forgotten that Abu Mazen, a product of the KGB was a graduate of Lumbumba University in Moscow where he received his PHD. His thesis was the ”relationship between Nazism and Zionism.” This holocaust denier was a constant partner of Mr Arafat. The latter a gangster in military uniform with a gun in his belt, while the former a well dressed intellectual who provided the cerebral contributions for terror. He advocates an end to murder of Jews, not based on morality but on public relations. He seeks to bring terror groups within his administration-the classical fox guarding the chicken coop, but never disarming them. And, certainly not arresting them.
We hear nothing about an end to incitement. To the contrary his people are egged on by the Egyptians who blame Israel, the US and India for the Tsunami. His platform is totally Mr. Arafat’s—Jerusalem as a Palestinian capitol, right of return, eliminate both the security fence and settlement activity, etc.
Ambassador Dore Gold points out that at Camp David it was Abu Mazen who passionately prevented compromises on the issue of the Temple Mount and refugees.
Mr. Sharon may have his reasons to proceed even if a new demographic study shows the Arab population problem not to be as critical as first thought (2.4 million Arabs instead of 3.8 million –which was referred to as a demographic time bomb). But, in my humble opinion, no matter how much he believes that he can avoid draconian pressures on Israel by unilateral disengagement it requires almost an act of faith to be assured that will not come to pass... Europe, the UN, the Arabs (and the NY TIMES) are going to keep up the pressure. Bush with one eye on history will find it difficult not to succumb to the world’s criteria for a full peace which would necessitate a full withdrawal. And then again Bush will not be President forever, nor will Ariel Sharon be Prime Minister forever. Once withdrawal has taken place short of war it is irreversible, while the activities of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Abbas are reversible in hours and days.
Ehud Olmert threw out a trial balloon in this regard as did Elliot Abrams of the National Security Council. There is too much at stake to trust any one person's intentions, even if they are those of a friend such as Pres. Bush.
The absence of true reform in the Palestinian policy, along with continued corruption, incitement, terror and no disarmament indicates that Israel has no partner for peace and no reason to initiate unilateral concessions. Disengagement today absent the above factors is only a guarantee for a full war in a few years.
Mr. Abbas is not the savior or the solution, but the problem. He is Mr. Arafat in a suit. Let us not get complacent-nothing has changed.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Sounds Great !
To my eyes and ears, an even cursory examination of TV, radio, movies, popular magazines and the heroes that we as a society look up to, make it difficult for me to appreciate any trend toward those family values that are alluded to. To the contrary, a sense of hedonism seems to permeate our super-materialistic society that places greed, sex, voyeurism, and economic gain ahead of good taste, morality or family values. Take Fox cable network and Amber Frey, newly published author, sitting with her new clothes, hairdo and lawyer, tearfully and seriously informing us of the exact moment she suspected Scott Peterson of terrible crimes and thus started taping his calls. Surely it was not in the first few minutes of her first date, because she was busy having sex with him. Based upon the time Fox granted to interviewing Amber (as did all the other networks news and talk shows), Amber is really someone we should look up to and place on a pedestal!!
Yes I can understand some interest but wouldn’t a three minute segment suffice.
The hottest trend in entertainment are the so called “reality shows.” Whose reality are these unscripted shows emulating? What lessons are we trying to teach our children with these forms of entertainment? The typical scenario, a handsome rugged looking man of 30 who has not yet found himself surrounded by 23 pretty women of all backgrounds vying to be chosen as the next soul-mate for life of our hero. REALITY?
Similarly is the reality show Wife-Swapping (notice the suggestive title, which I am sure the producers never thought of) REALITY? So important is this for the viewing public to be exposed to that the heroine is featured on CNN in the afternoon to hype the show. What major news story in our time would necessitate People Magazine stopping the presses, discarding the cover and on an emergency basis to get the magazine out days early to beat the competition? Tsunami? Iraq? No silly-it’s the story of the breakup of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston which is certainly so earth shaking that no citizen should be allowed to go an extra 24 hours without understanding its causes and ramifications.
We live vicariously, as we adulate movie stars, and the pampered overpaid professional sports figures who are our heroes. Moreover, we make sure that our children and grandchildren can spend every free moment watching sports.
The fantasy world of the Sports Illustrated swim suit issue or the Victoria Secrets’ annual event is a part of our culture like the fourth of July.
Does all this mean that we are not a moral society or that family values are unimportant? I think not. But I believe we are a society are of two minds.
In the public policy arena our basic approach is that our society demands a value system originating in the bible. Marriage as an institution can never be other than between a husband and wife (man and woman). In addition the sanctity of human life is such that we cannot allow abortion on demand to be an alternative to birth control or promiscuity. When a Willie Horton is portrayed as representing the problem of the revolving door of criminals easily released-from jail and given leave by liberal judges, only to return to crime, it is pretty clear to Americans what is wrong, and who is to blame.
However, in our daily lives, we have been overcome by changing mores, without realizing or appreciating that these societal changes have captured our lives, our souls and our values. MTV has become the bible of our generation. We are slaves to fashion designers who must shock in order to succeed. Young high school girls go to school with tight t-shirts that end above their navels, with dresses whose hems are above their thighs.,which leave little to the imagination of young hormonally charged male students. Tatoos, nasal and belly-button rings etc. are the norm, and parents have almost no input. Their dress is provocative, but after all the teen magazines are pushing this look as are their heroes from Hollywood.
Even as we demand that marriage remain sacrosanct as an institution between man and woman, we think nothing of men and women living together for years without commitments. After all, TV has 2 women and a man sharing an apartment, and it's funny. It is no longer a shame to have children born to single parents.
Americans have much leisure time, and are easily bored by books or current events. I am not advocating censorship which never works anyway. I am advocating an adult revolution that would cause us to observe what our children are watching on TV and the internet.
It is time to institute uniforms for elementary and high school students as we see in some catholic schools, both for uniformity and modesty. I am advocating telling sponsors that the shows they are sponsoring are an insult to good taste and artistic quality. We do not need organized boycotts, but rather we can vote with our credit cards and a note to the corporation why we have ceased supporting their products.
Above all it is time for us to act as educated consumers of the values that affect ourselves and our families. Of course it is so much easier to go with the flow, but how our children and grandchildren turn out will depend upon us and the type of society we demand.
Sunday, January 09, 2005
(Hudson Valley Political Action Committee) and nine other pro-Israel political action committees in addition to AIPAC, ( The American Israel Public Affairs Committee) of federal election law violations. The accusers were a group of pro-Arabists including former Congressman, Paul Findley, who in the early 80’s was known as “Arafat’s man in Congress,” and former Under Secretary of State George Ball. The latter had previously written an article in Foreign Affairs magazine entitled, "We must help Israel in spite of itself."
Evidently the group felt they could help Israel the most by destroying the pro-Israel political community. Thankfully, we were vindicated, although a portion of the legal issues went all the way to the to the U.S Supreme Court to adjudicate. Thus, I look with a jaundiced eye at the current publicity surrounding an investigation by The Justice Dept. against AIPAC. Although I know none of the facts, I am well acquainted with the leadership of AIPAC, including most of those named in the newspapers. These are smart, experienced and seasoned leaders. They have a proven record of dealing intelligently and honestly with both public and private information.
True, I was in effect nurtured by AIPAC from the days in 1982 when I began my involvement in the national pro-Israel community. I learned that they have always emphasized the legal ramifications of each and every action taken. This is not primarily because of fear of overstepping the legal boundaries in the extremely murky field of lobbying, but because, as our 1989 encounter illustrated, we are under a magnifying glass. There are elements that watch our every movement, study every press release and document, and are ready to destroy us through any means possible; their hope is to silence us, creating a vacuum that they could use to change the landscape in Congress regarding Israel and its neighbors.
I am saddened to read the Anglo-Jewish newspapers describing a doomsday scenario for AIPAC.
Firstly I have full confidence in the outcome; our people are too smart and too professional to have violated any laws.
Secondly, even if some individual(s) was found to have violated a law (inadvertently or otherwise) our community must never lose sight of the overall record of AIPAC’s 55 years of courageous leadership and accomplishments. No organization could achieve so much in the public arena without gaining criticism and enemies in addition to supporters. If there were no AIPAC we would have to create one. How else could you deal with 435 House members and 100 Senators, plus staff, on a daily, and sometimes hourly, basis to inform, educate, and yes lobby. Lobbying for and asserting ones beliefs is a very American way of doing things. We must not allow ourselves to be bullied or intimidated or to become defensive.
I have served in many Jewish organizations as a lay and professional leader, and have always believed that AIPAC is our communities’ most important and well run organization.
There are those who believe that the goal of this investigation is to force AIPAC to register as a lobby for a foreign government. This, if true, is an extremely dangerous and serious matter. It is essentially a malevolent accusation of dual loyalty and is not only an attack on AIPAC, but places in danger each American Jew and organization that speaks out on behalf of the U.S.-Israel relationship.
In addition, similar questions of dual loyalty might be raised regarding pro-Israel PACs (although PACs cannot lobby by law). The necessity of having single issue PACs and a lobby (in this case in support of Israel) was underscored many years ago by such groups as pro and anti–abortion and, environmentalists etc. who found out that you cannot maintain a cohesive multi-issue political group for long. Thus, our advocacy of but a single issue is a tactical one to maintain the largest constituency possible, rather than one of misplaced loyalty. There are ample groups (similarly single issue in nature) that we can join advocating on a myriad of other issues if we feel passionate enough to join.
We must vociferously reject any such notion as being offensive to us as loyal citizens. I am a Vietnam Veteran and am proud of both my service and my pro-Israel sentiments. Those sentiments were never questioned when I was in Vietnam.
It is time for the Justice Department to end the rumors and come forward with its findings, so we can put this behind us. The road for pro-Israel activists will be extremely difficult in the months ahead without these uncertainties hanging over our head.
1. Senator Barbara Boxer should be ashamed of herself for her charade on Thursday when she objected to certifying the election of President Bush (Cong Anthony Weiner, for his part has nothing to be proud of). If she desired a debate on election reform, this was the wrong time and the wrong platform. Someone should tell her the election is over and the people have spoken. The subsequent proceedings on this issue reminded me of my high school days in Student Council-not the Congress of the U.S.
2. I spent a good part of the day listening to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s questioning of Judge Gonzales during his nomination hearings, I was shocked to hear Sen. Kennedy lecture the nominee on the morality of putting water down a prisoner’s mouth and causing a drowning-like sensation. My first thought was Mary Jo --- need I say more?
After a day of Senate discussion on torture, I found little enlightenment on the subject. Of course everyone is against torturing prisoners, but that is not the issue. If a terrorist, who does not wear a uniform, nor serves in the armed services of a country has potential information that could save the world, a country, a city or innocent individuals by coercing him (or her) or by using appropriate and necessary torture how many would object?
The Talmud tells us of our obligation to kill those that seek to kill you. Surely we can use methods with less finality than death to save human life. If I or my family were the intended victim of a terrorists attack (sitting on a targeted airline etc.) I would want the interrogators to go all the way.
The difference between our society and that of the terrorists is the sanctity of human life.
Let us stop the hi-fallutin preaching on morality and let us change the Geneva Convention to reflect the situation at hand. -Open-ended torture--never; torture of prisoners who have no further information--an abomination; however, terrorists with real and potential information-let us trust our professionals provided they have supervision at the highest level of the chain of command, with a system of checks and balances (by special secret judicial panels) that corroborate the need in each specific case.
Our security demands no less and our civil rights as a society will be preserved. In these days of nuclear, biological and mass murder (9/11 ) threats, the old rules are great for a debating society.
Monday, January 03, 2005
Although I have no intention to use this site to review movies etc., I must commend the film PAPER CLIPS as a must-see for each adult and child above 11-12, Jewish or gentile. Tears will roll down your cheeks as you view this sensitive and moving story of a school in
CONG. ROBERT MATSUI
It was sad to learn of the passing yesterday of Cong. Robert Matsui D. - Calif . He was a warm and gentle individual who worked tirelessly on behalf of the U.S.-Israel relationship. I had the pleasure of meeting with him twice in 2004 in N.Y. and Washington, the latter at the HUVPAC annual mission. He spent a great deal of time educating many of his Democratic colleagues (who somehow did not appreciate the nuances of the middle east.) the key role of
The terrible disaster of this past week brings to mind the prayer of Yom Kippur, Mi Bamayim, who will face their moment of death by water. Certainly we look to the almighty to respond to our prayers our repentance and our charity.
My late grandfather, Menachem Mendel Ganchrow, of blessed memory was a Lubavitcher chasid and was named for the alte rebbe.
Sheila and I had the opportunity this past year to avail ourselves of Chabad hospitality in
Their 24-hour phone 661-837-7618.
The American Joint Distributions is providing relief directly or you can contact the OU 212-563-4000.
When I was at the RZA I initiated an emergency fund as part of the maot chitim campaign I believe whatever is in the account would be well spent in this disaster.
Whenever there is a natural disaster
A desecration of g-ds name is the only way to describe the scandal reported in today Jerusalem Post regarding the violence in the Ponovitz Yeshiva in
As in every scandal the goal should not be cover-up and censor, but investigate and expel those responsible for the threats and violence (for the purpose of having their rebbe give a coveted shiur (class)).
Great torah leaders need do more than give the most intellectually challenging class. they must lead the torah life by example.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS for this initial effort—Abu Mazen (ABBAS} is not the hope for the future. Though he wears a business suit, and does not use the word JIHAD, the language, intent and policies are those of Arafat. His call for an end to violence has to do with public relations, not morality. It is unconscionable to see a headline that the Israeli gov’t. is thinking to allow him to make a campaign stop on the