A wave of overwhelming negative response has come in the wake of President Trump’s announcement declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The EU condemned the move, saying “recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel ends hope of resolving the conflict peacefully and that it has divided the international community”. Numerous Arab countries have called for ‘three days of rage’, and the terror organization ‘Hamas’ has called for a Third Intifada. Chillingly this past Saturday marked the 30th anniversary of the 1st Intifada, which infamously led to the creation of Hamas.
Surrounded by so many that are hell-bent on her destruction, Israel has always been a hotbed for terrorist activity. It all began when the First Intifada introduced to the world radical terrorism as an alternative to conventional warfare. We have seen the carnage left after attacks on innocent civilians, it is very clear that extremists find everything and everyone a fair target. I was studying in an academic institution in Jerusalem during the Second Intifada. The chilling sound of the Eged #1 bus line exploding with the piercing sound of sirens that followed still give me the chills.
Upon the ashes of the Holocaust and the David and Goliath type persona displayed by the Israeli army in her two wars, the world looked upon the Jewish people and her State with sympathy. As the violent aggression of the Palestinians pressed on during the First Intifada the perception of many had biasedly reversed. Twistedly, the victim is blamed for instigating the violence through her ‘oppressive’ ’behavior towards the Palestinian people.
Accredited to the First Intifada, the Oslo Accords has since influenced the world’s governing bodies that the only doctrine for peace is some manifestation of ‘land for peace’. How well has that worked out so far? After all the concessions Israel’s has made, her security remains in peril and is subject to scorn by the international community. Many Palestinian and Arab leaders don’t even pretend to hide behind the ‘peace’ rhetoric, as they have unabashedly voiced their intent to annihilate Israel.
Raja Shehadeh, a Palestinian woman wrote in a Guardian op-ed “For many in Palestine, like me and my neighbors, who have already lived through two uprisings with no positive change, the prospect of a third is disquieting. For there can be no assurances whatsoever that it would be different this time around. But then with the world abandoning us, what other options are left?”
In responding forcefully to terror attacks the Jewish State is not held to the same standards as other countries. Despite the international community’s verbal condemnation of terrorism, Israel often finds herself defending the restrained countermeasures she has taken to secure the safety of her citizens. Particularly in the UN, she relentlessly continues to be condemned for any move that does not fully satiate the demands of the greater Arab world.
My Twitter feed just beeped with the news that a security guard was just stabbed at the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem. Dare say the truth, that the unspoken sentiment behind all the terrorist condemnations, is that the shedding of innocent blood is unacceptable - - unless they are Jews.
Last Friday, Former NSA Director Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to one charge of lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak. According to court documents released to the public, Flynn was directed by a “very senior member” of the presidential transition team, (reported to be President Trumps son-in-law, Jared Kushner) to contact the Russians in an effort to delay until after Trump takes office the vote on the United Nations resolution condemning Israel’s settlement activity. These efforts failed, and the motion passed in the last month of then President Obama’s term because Israel’s closest ally turned its back on her by refraining to veto.
To throw fuel onto the fire, the NY Times reported that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigators “have learned through witnesses and documents that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel asked the Trump transition team to lobby other countries to help Israel, according to two people briefed on the inquiry. Investigators have learned that Mr. Flynn and Mr. Kushner took the lead in those efforts.”
Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement (BDS) activists must be having a field day with these reports. Nothing like a cover up to whet the palates of anti-Semitic organizations who mask themselves as human rights crusaders. A headline such as “Kushner and Bibi Plotting Ways to Maintain Israel’s Apartheid Settlement Colonization Practices” is perfect food for the fodder.
BDS poses as an empathetic cause dedicated to human rights by means of many logical fallacies, much like the current President of the United States and many other politicians who use these notorious methods of seduction on a daily basis. The BDS’s movement uses these means to paint a picture for the world of an oppressed people subjugated by their Israeli captors.
The humanitarian cause appeals to many people’s sympathetic emotions, thus enabling the movement to get away with blatant prejudice and lies. BDS, Jewish Voice for Peace and like minded movements love to justify their anti-Semitic positions with these types of ‘‘scandals’’.
With a rational mind it is easy to see that their humanitarian cause reeks of anti-Semitic sentiment. Economically boycotting products and services produced in the settlements of the West Bank directly destroys the livelihood, medical care, and overall wellbeing of the very peoples they wish to protect. It is laughable to think the factions such as Iran that go to the extremes by boycotting every product that is remotely Jewishly is not anti-Semitic.
Dismantling the wall has brought down 90% of terrorist fatalities, it is hypocritical to shield unintentional Palestinian civilian casualties and ignore protecting the innocent lives of all Israelis. It simply is an outright lie Israeli Arabs do not enjoy the full benefits of citizenship as their Jewish Israeli peers do. It is absurd to believe a Jewish State will still exist when they call for the creation of a Palestinian State and the 'Right of Return'.
Unfortunately, the world does not act on reason and truth at all times, leaving Israel alone to defend herself against those bent on her destruction. Perhaps one day the world will listen to Israel, and seek to understand the truth behind her deeds. If this day ever comes, the world will not look at Kushner and Netanyahu’s failure to delay the UN resolution condemning Israel as scandalous, rather as a virtuous act by two brave people to defend what is right and just.
Who doesn’t wish they were a celebrity? If we can’t be famous than the second-best thing is to be pictured with one.
Indonesia’s De MATA museum is home to nearly 200 life-size wax models of the most famous peoples in history. “We give you the best place to take your picture,” the museum proudly boasts on its website. Kissing Einstein, rocking out with the King of Rock and Roll sounds like something I’d like to put on my bucket list when visiting Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
Just a few days ago you could of “Hail Hitler” to the dictator himself. Looking for a perfect backdrop for the gallantly posed fuhrer? How about right in front of Auschwitz infamous sign above the death camp’s front gate “Arbeit Mach Frei”. Since 2014 he was very popular to the selfie enthusiast; so much so that before bowing to international pressure to close the exhibit, the museums marketing director defended the exhibit display as “one of the favorite figures for our visitors to take selfies with”.
“No visitors complained about it,” he said. “Most of our visitors are having fun because they know this is just an entertainment museum.”
There certainly is Anti-Semitism in the world, but it’s mass genocidal manifestation does not exist today as Jews are protected by laws of religious tolerance. Near seven decades have passed since our Jewish home in Israel has been established. “Never Again” will always resonate truth as long as Israel’s flag bearing the Star of David continues to fly.
Unspoken discomfort occurs after admitting a lack of relatability to the merciless act of the Nazis, as in some way it indicates indifference. The world relies heavily on parody to placate these feelings by desensitizing Nazism. The unconscious mind finds it much easier to delegitimize a shameful feeling when the subject matter is less volatile. Nazi parody is just another example of a long list of nefarious periods of history satirized to pacify the unvictimized conscience; enabling society to turn the page on its savage past.
The number of survivors diminishes as time passes; shortly we will have no one to tell us what it really means to ‘never forget’. At the same time, Nazi symbolism continues to be desensitized by parody and comedic satire. Devoid of meaning, a replica of Hitler can be seen as just a famous “bad guy” that’s fun to take a selfie with.
There is a difference between taking a lesson from history when we keep the Holocaust and the deep significant implications of Nazism sacred, and when we do not. It takes courage admitting the inability to relate in the face of a mistaken stigma. It is imprudent to mistake disassociation with indifference when many us have not experienced egregious Anti-Semitism and genocide.
When Nazi symbolism and the Holocaust are subject to humor its lessons lack impact. Rather than using parody to quell the conscience we need to acknowledge our valid disassociation. By doing so, we can keep the Holocaust sacred to seek genuine understanding and incorporate its lessons into the future.
In a landmark ruling on a deeply contentious issue, the Israeli High Court of Justice headed by outgoing Chief Justice Miriam Naor voted unanimously in favor of extending licensing to supermarkets in Tel Aviv to operate on the Sabbath. “This verdict is based on the principle of live and let live,” Naor said, reading the decision out loud. “My decision is not a value judgment on the desired nature of Shabbat. It is not a secular or a religious decision. It reflects the correct interpretation of the law.”
Naor also rejected the interpretation that the “Law for Hours of Work and Rest” established in 1951 constitutes a blanket ban on opening businesses on Shabbat. She explained that the labor law requiring 36 continuous hours off work per week which includes a rest day according to one’s religion specifically states; employing a citizen to work on his day of rest is prohibited; but does not mean that businesses cannot be opened. As is often the case in Israeli politics, the ruling triggered fierce reactions and political countermeasures to be taken.
“Live and let live” a democratic idiom spanning back to 1678 to which a person has the right to live their own life the way they want to and let others do the same. Its egalitarian creed serves as a shield against oppression and tyranny. The foundation of democracy begins to crack when this right is infringed upon. Freedom of religion is one of many civil rights that fall under this tenant.
Israel does not have a constitution as a basis for judication; rather a formal document of “Basic Laws”. Under the “Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty” many civil rights are listed. However, “Freedom of Religion” is not stated explicitly; judicially it has been extended under the declarations of “human dignity and liberty”.
The courts responsibility to arbitrate the separation of religion and state is much easier to do in country that does not sport a Jewish Star or other self-defining religious symbol on its flag. Israel exemplifies religious tolerance to the various Jewish and non-Jewish faiths in her land. Yet despite the multi pluralism it is very difficult for Israel to separate Judaism and state; as after all it is acknowledged and proudly so as the “Jewish State”. Theodore Herzl the founder of Zionism set out to create a Jewish State in its ancestral homeland. The blue and white flag that bears the Star of David affirms it is not possible to have a Jewish State without Jewish tradition.
Since the days of Sinai, respect of the holy Sabbath remains at the heart and soul of the Jewish faith. All denominations of Judaism accept that it is a day of rest for God and must be recognized as such. In the famed Jerusalem Market, the unspoken brotherly bond between the man donned with religious garb exchanging a ‘Shabbat Shalom’ with the uncovered head is felt. The imitable Jewish State can only be if there is public recognition of the Sabbath nationwide.
In Israel’s sixty-nine years of existence it’s justice system has done a remarkable job to maintain its democratic values. Nonetheless, it’s laws must be within the confines of its Jewish character that demands public vendors remain closed in recognition of the Sabbath.
“My decision is not a value judgment on the desired nature of Shabbat. It is not a secular or a religious decision. It reflects the correct interpretation of the law.”
The Land of Israel, unparalleled in beauty provides human rights and freedoms to its people and provides a safe haven for the varying faiths that grace her land. The justice system cannot accurately interpret separation of religion and state when it’s Basic Laws do not specify religious freedom. In a country that defines itself as Jewish, it laws must be interpreted within those parameters. To uphold democracy, Israel must protect the freedoms and rights of its citizens. Israeli law does not charge its citizens on how they choose or not choose to recognize the Sabbath. Nevertheless, in a country that must uphold its Jewish identity, it’s laws must be interpreted within those margins. Rejecting a motion for vendors remain open on Shabbat does not violate the tenants of “live and let free”, on the contrary it protects the lifeblood of the Jewish State
Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills. The Bills certainly have circled a lot during their 17-year playoff drought. As candid as my opinions are about the way we play, this article is not about the fortunes and in most cases the misfortunes of the team.
Week 3 of the NFL was a defining moment in the history of the sport where every team in the league took a unified stance against the President’s words during a Friday night rally in Alabama; "When somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired! "
The matter surfaced onto the national spotlight during last year’s football season were QB Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the National Anthem. Many others followed suit, as they felt just as Kaepernick does; that they were not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. Kaepernick lit a spark and Donald Trump fueled it into a great big bonfire.
Great! Finally, we can discuss solutions to a serious matter that threatens the fabric of our society. Seek out different ways to help alleviate the plight of those who suffer from racial discrimination.
Unsurprisingly, this is not what we are talking about.
The protests have quickly turned into a heated debate as whether such demonstrations should be done on this type of public stage. One argues that it disgraceful to do such an Un-American thing during the time we show our national pride to the nation. Others maintain that this is the best time and place to demonstrate this non-violent form of protest; as after all the symbolism of the flag is meant to represent everyone's right regardless of race, gender, and religion to be treated equally.
Nobody circles the the wagons like the Buffalo Bills. Jim Kelly, the lone bright star in this franchise too the former attitude when he blasted running back Lesean McCoy for not showing the proper respect during the anthem, In an attempt to explain himself he later tweeted;
"I would hope that while we all, myself included, may not agree with using the national anthem as the appropriate forum for such display, we should continue to strive to work through these issues with great respect for each other," he added, before closing with "God Bless."
It is remarkable that we are wasting such a rare opportunity to discuss meaningful measures to combat racial inequality. Why are spending all this time in heated debate whether or not it is appropriate to do so during an NFL game? Really?
I think what we are witnessing is a sort that violates sacred ground. Sports is a much-needed diversion and respite when we need to unwind from the hustle bustle of our everyday lives. In other words, there is no room for politics in football or any other sport for that matter. Whether we play the game or not sports bring us together, even when you root for the Giants. Unless you are a diehard Bills fan we all are excited to see our team duke it out during the season, watch sports rivalries grow, and analyze the game in every we can. Throw in some beer, chicken wings, and some popcorn and we are all having a grand ol’ time. The party is over If politics decides to walk on the field.
The narrative of this conversation reassesses the way we associate ourselves with the game. Perhaps we shouldn’t brand football as an untouchable holy shrine. An outlet that is totally divorced from the real world can be counterproductive and in some cases harmful. That argument can certainly be said about people who allow sports to affect their everyday lives. Or perhaps access to a dissociative reprieve is exactly what society needs to be more productive in the real world.
Honestly this dispute is pointless because the way we connect to the game is personally subjective. It is also so inconsequential compared to the issue at stake. We are placing more of an importance on how we associate with sports than how we associate and treat our fellow man. I am beginning to question why many of us opt to do so in the 1st place.
One brave QB lit a spark, which unfortunately has been fanned in the wrong direction. We all have the power to help steer the conversation down the right path, but we need to ask ourselves first- Do we want to?
One question. One response. Posed to Michael Dukakis during the 2nd presidential debate on the heels of of the “revolving door” TV advertisement that begot a fear of the nation. Opposing the death penalty and granting people like Willie Horton and many other convict’s weekend passes was a blow dealt, and the ‘cold’ answer Dukakis gave was the final blow.
The tact that what we are so accustomed to seeing today, the Bush campaign used brutal television advertising throughout the race today, to portray Dukakis as an ineffective liberal who would gut the country’s defense system and let convicted murderers out of prison.
The inevitable defining question of the election came at the second presidential debate, posed to him in the harshest way by CNN Moderator Bernard Shaw. Dukakis’s advisers counseled him to respond in a way that would reasonably neutralize the torpedo which threatened to blow up his candidacy. His answer had to effectively express personal loss through crime; such as when brother died in a hit and run & when his 75-year-old father was tied up and robbed in his medical office. Instead he opted to respond with emotionally void statistical data and record. The rest is history.
Political pundits almost unanimously agree that Dukakis lost by such a landslide because virtually throughout the entire race he failed to fight fire with fire. Holding the moral high ground Dukakis refused to counterattack cheaply, hoping voters would dismiss the attacks as an unfair picture depicting gross biased inaccuracy.
Every election since the presidential race of 1988 smear ads have become a requisite to ensure political survival. They grossly skew the true motive and facts to fit the schema of its character assassination attempt. Evidenced by the landslide victory, the Bush camp knew all too well that it did not matter who the opposing candidate was. Once a negative picture is painted in the minds of the voter it will stick forever.
Post-election the office of the presidency demands a moral representative to defend and uphold the democratic ideals both here and abroad. Through beneficial policy, courage, and action the president reshapes his image to the electorate. The president has four years to repaint the legacy of his self-portrait that will hang on the White House hallway along with the past presidents before him.
Who was the better choice? We will never know. All we have left to judge is our own personal opinion on the character and leadership of the men who were elected to office.
I reference this election as I believe that was the last day a candidate chose the moral high ground from the moment he announced his candidacy. Dukakis chose to exhibit his own qualifications for the job, rather than discredit his opponent to the American people as guy grossly unfit to lead a nation safely.
In today’s day and age is it fathomable to imagine a candidate today call out an accepted political tact as ‘unethical’? Instantly fire his top campaign staffer for the incident? Publicly apologize to his rival candidate who had to drop out in disgrace? Michael Dukakis did just that when tapes were leaked to the press from his own staffer that then presidential hopeful Joe Biden plagiarized most of his speeches.
I wonder if the Bush camp knew they were opening Pandora’s box when they began playing dirty politics. This past presidential race was arguably the dirtiest and most shameful race we have ever seen. Disgracefully, we not see our President remotely try and shed that image. Quite contrary he has dialed up the tone of decadent rhetoric and odious action that has bestowed the ugliest semblance of the Office of the Presidency.
Often many past presidents have gone down in the history books as legendary regardless of their seedy private lives, because the important consequences of their policies that effect our everyday lives only depends on the rhetoric and achievements of their public persona. Donald Trump’s morally deficient and indignant consequential public tone and behavior has caused considerable turmoil and uncertainty to the world. A mere eight months in office it has led to botched diplomacy and legislation, mass firings and resignations, a special prosecutor, historic low approval ratings among a myriad of other things. We now wade through turbulent waters whose direction constantly shifts violently by the whims of a Tweet.
Fear is a powerful method in changing our ethical principles. There is no question that 9/11, global terrorism, and this Vietnamese like war in Afghanistan is the perpetuating cause that drives our foreign policies. These phobia driven dogmas continuously target racial and ethnic groups for the sake of national security. Donald Trump proactively perpetuates this fear through discriminatory libels and a distasteful immigration agenda.
The President’s moral abhorrence was on full display to the world when he opted to sympathize with the Neo-Nazis at the Charlottesville rally. How can anyone, let alone the most powerful man in the world ever give legitimization to hate groups? It is not only Un-American it is unhuman.
True to his public character, Trump unabashedly told the press how much of a “big place he has in in heart for the “Dreamers” under the DACA program, then goes ahead and terminates the program. Eight hundred thousand innocent children who are only in this country because their parents dreamed to provide a better life for their children are now eligible for deportation. In an attempt to exonerate himself, Trump placed the task of fixing a program that never needed fixing in the first place in the hands of a disenchanted Republican Congress that is in total disarray.
Morality and ethicality is what was at stake in the 1988 race to the White House. Twenty years ago, was the last time we saw a candidate that exhibited true standards by opting to run on his own merits rather delegitimize the merits of his opponent. I believe moral principles will be at stake once again in the regional congressional races next year, and certainly in the presidential midterm election. I feel those races will be a litmus test as to where we stand as a country divided in the wake of the current Donald Trump administration. I have a feeling it will be a Bush vs Dukakis type race with a very different result.
A social tattoo inked by the founding fathers of Social Media into the minds of the modern world can never be undone. Love it or hate it, our functional ability is invariably dependent on Social Media. With an estimated 2.49 Billion* active users around the globe, its useful function has and will continue to push the boundaries of our societal relationships. There is a threshold with figures where the mind finds it difficult to relate. Take professional sports for example, where the gross salaries of contracts aren’t even in the realm of the average five figure earner. To slightly associate with this astronomical number, imagine this; the mass sum of social media users equals every person in China, United States, Russia, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, and Indonesia combined.
The quantity of use is also remarkable considering the average user spends approximately 2 to 9 hrs. a day on some form of social media. * Epidemic? Addiction? By definition may be true, but evidenced by its prevalence as an accepted cultural norm those word associations seem taboo.
Beneficial or harmful? If you have .58 seconds to spare Google “the social impact of social media” and you will get 294 million results to leaf through. As the continuous consequences can never be undone, it seems gratuitous to understand how it became so in the first place? If anything, I believe the opposite is true, if we cannot understand the cause it makes it that much difficult to comprehend the effect.
Our parents often reminisce the ‘old days’ when life was much simpler. The technology that we have today that makes life comfortable for us was not prevalent at the time. Entertainment was not directed by what’s on TV and lifestyle charged by the latest fashion trend. Familial and collective relationships required face to face interaction to develop. Certainly, those days had its problems, and the ease of modern technology has relieved the burden; but it’s convenient byproduct has become a directive. It was only a matter of time until a directive geared toward the easy life has impacted interpersonal relations. It sounds funny that I am blaming the lightbulb as the catalyst behind social media. I am not suggesting we live in the dark ages, as the benefits of technology are numerous. But when every other aspect of our lives become modernized it is inevitable our social bonds would be met with the same fate.
Ten plus passed since social media introduced itself, and it constantly reconfigures our relationships. Is social media benefiting or damaging our culture?
Throughout the ages, our presidents have delivered oratory addresses that have inspired and encouraged us all.
How much of it can be taken at face value?
The media vigorously measures these statements against a triad scale of truth, lies, and hypocrisy. Justifiably so as a politician’s credibility rests upon transparency and verbal prose; rhetoric will never protect discretion. In a true a democracy nothing our elected officials ever say can be taken at face value. History has shown how dangerous blind faith in the words of its leader can be.
The thick skinned can take it while others cannot. At first glance, I think it’s safe to say that out our current president cannot take the heat. It is hard for me to not to hear his speeches and not cringe at the overcompensated impudence behind them. Hillary Clinton’s incisive attack on Trump was that “he is not fit to be president”. His impetuous rhetoric and erratic political moves since assuming office seem to justify this claim.
I have always felt the office of the presidency symbolizes the central hub of democracy. To engineer this powerful position the president must walk in reverence and awe of its motif. His or her’s choice of words must reflect the basic values of the Constitution. In my opinion, Trump does not fit into this mold at all and therefore does not belong to be there.
How can such a precarious personality represent, let alone lead the most powerful country in the world?
To hold its own weight, subjective bias must always acknowledge opposing viewpoints as equally valid. As wrong and unsound it may sound, they are no less correct as our own points of view. Our voice verbalizes ours perceptions. Perception is subjective. Subjectivity is always correct.
So what lies behind the eyes of his supporters?
To counter, the symbolism behind the presidency must be separated from the person behind the desk. Archetypically we use the president's rhetoric as a means to characterize them. We often ascribe a president’s character by their oratory prowess; attributes such as “courage’, “conviction”, “determination” among others have painted a saintlike portrait of their lives.
Our self-made depictions often gloss over and justify lustful, crude, racist and semitic tendencies. Presidents use well-crafted rhetoric to take advantage of the symbolic nature of the presidency to hide their true character. This makes it very hard for the public to assume there is anything else other their public persona. No different than all of us who carry two faces; one for the public and one for the private. The only difference is they have the advantage of emblematic presidential oratory prowess to hide their private faces so well.
This defense skillfully deflects the media’s relentless use of their own litmus test to instigate character assassination. Throughout their terms, every recent president with exception of two has been able to protect themselves from this proverbial assassination. Only after leaving office does the armor begin to crack, affording us the opportunity to glimpse at the real man behind the Presidential Seal.
President Trump’s style is starkly different than all past presidents. Throughout his campaign and a brief time in office he rarely has hidden behind the formidable presidential rhetoric. His swagger has thrown the world into a frenzy. We have never before seen this type of “non-presidential” demeanor. How such a flamboyant character with contentious rhetoric has not only won the presidential election but continues to act the same way as president, has blown away many political minds.
This prey has confounded the media who constantly churn out their razor-sharp fact checking triad of truth, lies, and hypocrisy. Every shot taken only seems to empower him. The media does not seem to realize that the bullets they are shooting are not their own. Trump eagerly provides them the ammunition because he knows the bullets he fashioned will never hurt him.
We have always taken shots at a president who hides behind presidential rhetoric. Never have we envisaged a president who gives us the proverbial gun to shoot him in plain sight. Poetically a casino mogul, Donald Trump knows full well as long as he deals the cards the house will always win. Every time the media double’s down their pockets eventually will be wiped clean.
His unique persona has given him a freedom many presidents did not enjoy. Past presidents who have hidden behind the symbolic veil of the presidency have pigeonholed themselves into a corner. It makes it very difficult to maneuver out of their statements made during the campaign and as sitting presidents, without risking political suicide. Donald Trump’ disposition does not to fit into this rigid presidential cast.
Unprecedented, we now have a president whose public persona gives him considerable flexibility in terms of policy. He is not bound by the shackles of presidential dogma as our past presidents have been. Other presidents have become relatively predictable in order to protect themselves. We have no idea who the real Trump is and what he will do.
Trump is often quoted as saying “we will do great things”. Perhaps this rhetoric can be actually be taken at face value.
In Part 1, I have listed statements about Isreal from every president since Israel’s inception in 1947. Over the past 60 years, our presidents said what had to be said. Our democracy can never publicly shun a country that demonstrates democratic values; to do so destroys the bedrock of our own democracy. Our Constitution obliges our leaders to defend its tenets throughout the globe, regardless of personal sentiment. Take Jimmy Carter for example who has notoriously publicized his anti-Semitic beliefs, but never dared to do so publicly in office.
In spite of the rigidity of the position, many presidents have found rhetorical justifications for their actions. Somehow the “unbreakable bond” was never breached after the Johnson Administration abandoned Israel during the Six-Day War. By some means, this bond never fractured after President Clinton pushed his periphrastic “Land for Peace” two-state agenda during the Oslo Accords and Camp David Summit. True friends do not say one thing than surreptitiously do something else.
President Trump's lavish supportive declaration towards Israel have brewed optimism within the Jewish State. Recently his statements have been marred with uncertainty by backtracking on his promise to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, the Secretary of State referring to Trumps upcoming visit to “Palestine”, A US official telling the Prime Minister’s Office the Western Wall is not in Israel territory, NSA advisor H. R. McAlister describing the status of Jerusalem as a “policy decision”, and Trump allegedly sharing highly classified Israeli intelligence on Islamic State to Russia’s top diplomat.
Next week the President will be visiting Israel two days before the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. Trump will be the 1st sitting President in history to visit the Western Wall. A symbolic gesture never before seen in the history of the US-Israel relationship. What can make this president different is by proving through action that his brash rhetoric is not empty like the 50 yrs of presidential rhetoric before him.
Presidents Trump’s visit to Israel can redefine my perception of the Office of the President. Will his words sound all too familiar as hollow rhetoric, or is this the real deal? Will his visit begin the first chapter of something historic?
Only time will tell.
The “unbreakable bond” between United States and Israel has been touted by every president for the past 69 years. The rhetoric may be different but the message has always been the same; "Israel we got your back".
"I am proud of my part in the creation of this new state. Our Government was the first to recognize the State of Israel. (Speech for Conference of the National Jewish Welfare Board, October 17, 1952)
Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The teaching of their ancient belief is filled with truth for the present day. Its profound sense of justice, nation to nation, man to man, is an essential part of every religious and social order. The health of our society depends upon a deep and abiding respect for the basic commandments of the God of Israel."
(Statement on Jewish High Holy Days, September 14, 1958)
John F. Kennedy
“Quite apart from the values and hopes which the State of Israel enshrines — and the past injuries which it redeems — it twists reality to suggest that it is the democratic tendency of Israel which has interjected discord and dissension into the Near East. Even by the coldest calculations, the removal of Israel would not alter the basic crisis in the area. For, if there is any lesson which the melancholy events of the last two years and more taught us, it is that, though Arab states are generally united in opposition to Israel, their political unities do not rise above this negative position. The basic rivalries within the Arab world, the quarrels over boundaries, the tensions involved in lifting their economies from stagnation, the cross pressures of nationalism — all of these factors would still be there, even if there were no Israel.” (Near East Report, 1958)
"Our society is illuminated by the spiritual insights of the Hebrew prophets. America and Israel have a common love of human freedom and they have a common faith in a democratic way of life ... Most if not all of you have very deep ties with the land and with the people of Israel, as I do, for my Christian faith sprang from yours .... the Bible stories are woven into my childhood memories as the gallant struggle of modern Jews to be free of persecution is also woven into our souls." (Speech before B'nai B'rith)
"Americans admire a people who can scratch a desert and produce a garden. The Israelis have shown qualities that Americans identify with: guts, patriotism, idealism, a passion for freedom. I have seen it. I know. I believe that."
"We have been through, over these years, some difficult times. During the period that I have served as President of the United States, we have been through some difficult times together, and I can only say that the friendship that we have for this nation, the respect and the admiration we have for the people of this nation, their courage, their tenacity, their firmness in the face of very great odds, is one that makes us proud to stand with Israel, as we have in the past in times of trouble, and now to work with Israel in a better time, a time that we trust will be a time of peace." (Remarks on Presidential Trip to Israel, June 16, 1974)
My commitment to the security and future of Israel is based upon basic morality as well as enlightened self-interest. Our role in supporting Israel honors our own heritage. (Remarks Welcoming PM Rabin to USA, September 10, 1974)
"I would like to emphasize, in the strongest possible terms, that our aid for Israel is not only altruistic; indeed, our close relationship with Israel is in the moral and the strategic interest of the United States. There is a mutual relationship and there is a mutual benefit and there is a mutual committment, which has been impressed very deeply in my mind and also in the minds of the leaders of my Government and the Government of Israel. And I will continue to work with the leaders of Israel to strengthen even further our common commitments and our common goals. We know that in a time of crisis, we can count on Israel. And the people of Israel know that in a time of crisis, they can count on the United States ... Let me assure you that in this negotiation, as we work for the legitimate rights of the Palestinians, recognized in the Camp David accords by Prime Minister Begin and President Sadat, that we will countenance no action which could hurt Israel's security. This is because of our commitment to Israel's security and well-being, and it's because Israel's security is so closely linked to the security of the United States of America ... I am opposed to an independent Palestinian state, because in my own judgement and in the judgement of many leaders in the Middle East, including Arab leaders, this would be a destabilizing factor in the Middle East and would certainly not serve the United States interests."
(Speech at United Jewish Appeal National Young Leadership Conference, February 25, 1980)
"Israel exists; it has a right to exist in peace behind secure and defensible borders; and it has a right to demand of its neighbors that they recognize those facts. I have personally followed and supported Israel's heroic struggle for survival, ever since the founding of the State of Israel 34 years ago. In the pre-1967 borders Israel was barely 10 miles wide at its narrowest point. The bulk of Israel's population lived within artillery range of hostile Arab armies. I am not about to ask Israel to live that way again." (Speech on United States Policy for Peace in the Middle East, September 1, 1982)
"We were with Israel at the beginning, 41 years ago. We are with Israel today. And we will be with Israel in the future. No one should doubt this basic commitment."
(White House letter to AIPAC Conference attendees, May 17, 1989)
"America and Israel share a special bond. Our relations are unique among all nations. Like America, Israel is a strong democracy, as a symbol of freedom, and an oasis of liberty, a home to the oppressed and persecuted ... The relationship between our two countries is built on shared understandings and values. Our peoples continue to enjoy the fruits of our excellent economic and cultural cooperation as we prepare to enter the twenty-first century." (Remarks to Israeli Ambassador Shoval, September 10, 1998)
George W. Bush
“The alliance between our governments is unbreakable, yet the source of our friendship runs deeper than any treaty. It is grounded in the shared spirit of our people, the bonds of the Book, the ties of the soul ... My country's admiration for Israel does not end there. When Americans look at Israel, we see a pioneer spirit that worked an agricultural miracle and now leads a high-tech revolution. We see world-class universities and a global leader in business and innovation and the arts. We see a resource more valuable than oil or gold: the talent and determination of a free people who refuse to let any obstacle stand in the way of their destiny.” (Speech to the Knesset, May 15, 2008)
"To me, being pro-Israel and pro-Jewish is part and parcel with the values that I've been fighting for since I started getting involved in politics. There’s a direct line between supporting the right of the Jewish people to have a homeland and to feel safe and free of discrimination and persecution, and the right of African Americans to vote and have equal protection under the law. These things are indivisible in my mind. (Interview with Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic, May 21, 2015)
“Palestinians must come to the table willing to accept that Israel is a Jewish state and it will forever exist as a Jewish state” (News Conference with Israeli PM Netanyahu Feb. 15, 2017.)
“The laws of Chess do not permit a free choice: you have to move whether you like it or not"
~ Emanuel Lasker
In chess over four hundred different possible positions exist each time a player moves their piece. An incalculable game that requires skillful move, countermove, and sacrifice for cause. The game does not end until the king falls.
Israel’s matches are always center stage despite the considerable frequency of them. Despite claims otherwise, Israel always plays black and never opens first. Once White makes its move Black Israel has no choice but to defend herself.
The game often opens with charging Israel’s expansion of settlements as the sole impediment to peace. Israel defends by affirming the obstruction lies in the support of terror to those who do not recognize Israel’s right to exist.
History has seen its share of punitive players who have engaged in total blitz. The carnage of the move is etched in the psyche of man forever. Those who have donned the Star of David have seen its pieces slaughtered by war and genocide. Miraculously, after the ashes have settled the last remaining piece on the board is black.
August 6, 1945, changed the stratagem forever; if the blitz is ever exercised again it will be the last piece ever moved. Some of the finest matches ever played were between the Communist and Democratic strategists during the Cold War. Gross success in the Capitalist and Industrial markets are now standard for those coveting to be considered fit to play.
On May 14th, 1948, a new actor entered the world stage. The State of Israel has become an invaluable resource to the world’s growing demands. Technological innovations in Medicine, Computers and Agriculture among many other things have Israel camped at the front of humanity’s evolution. Since inception Israel had has been a city of refuge for religious intolerance and persecution. The country prides itself on being the guardian that honors, preserves and protects the holy sites of all three major world faiths.
I ask myself why such a virtuous country is constantly dragged out onto the main stage to defend herself?
The State of Israel has been playing a prolific chess match that has withstood decades of political upheaval and unprecedented scientific advancement. The world today is completely unrecognizable to the man who stood behind his same window 69 years ago. Who wouldn’t want to be the one who puts Israel in checkmate?
The tale of David and Goliath captures the imagination of child and adult alike. Israel the proverbial David in terms of size and stature, fends off the world’s Goliaths whom relentlessly condemn the Jewish State. An indomitable adversary draws the attention of everybody. When the extent of power is measured at the time of defeat; it stands without reason, how compelling it is to those with hate in their hearts to slay David?
President Trump is tasked to mediate a game of attrition that has long frustrated many previous administrations. The President sits down to a game conventionally played through force of hand by use of protracted positions and egregious directives. As of now the administration’s policy towards the conflict is to refrain from forcing Israel’s hand. He prefers to give to give Israel and the PA the most conducive environment possible to maximize negotiations between themselves. Trump is taking a page from the past by acknowledging use of external dogmatic force has often ended in stalemate or worse.
This may be the first of a series of moves that breaks the unbreakable game. Perhaps in time, the world will come to realize that Israel would rather put the chess board away. Israel only wishes to stop the terror attacks upon its citizens, be unanimously legitimized, and continue to advance the noble goals of humanity. No checkmate. No stalemate. No game at all.
Editor of BJR
Open Dialogue does not seek to be right, rather to understand. There is never a right or wrong answer. Please feel free to leave comments & share your opinions and views.
The opinions expressed herein are my own and do not represent the views of the Buffalo Jewish Review.