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August 30, 2015 / 15 Elul, 5775
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Grace and Respect

I still hate his politics; still think he acquiesces too easily to foreign powers. I believe he is old enough, at 88, to be brave and take a chance. I hope, if God graces me to live to Shimon Peres’ age, I hope that I would be more bold. I would have given the Medal of Freedom to Jonathan Pollard. I would have stood up and thanked Obama and said until all Jews are free, no Jew is truly free, that whatever crime Jonathan Pollard did, the time has come.

As I sat listening to the bloggers’ questions – it seemed as if most of the people in the room were dazzled enough to ask soft questions; I think one of the women even flirted with Peres; her body language annoying. I couldn’t sit there quietly. I wanted two things out of that meeting. I wanted someone to say something about the 65 rockets that had hit Israel the day before…as we were just sitting around at his conference; and I wanted someone to say something about Jonathan Pollard. Someone stood up and mentioned the rockets and we got the quote we wanted, “If they do not stop firing rockets at us,” said the President of the State of Israel, “we will have to stop them.”

I smiled. One topic down…one more that needed to be mentioned. I posted to Twitter – “someone ask him about Jonathan Pollard” – and someone wrote back, “why don’t you?” And so I did. But unlike Cordesman, I afforded Shimon Peres respect – not for what he has done in his life, certainly not for his politics, but because he is an 88-year-old man, and Jews respect their elders. He gave me a politician’s answer; I expected no more.

On the bus ride home that evening, a young woman got up and gave her seat to an older woman. I leaned over and said to her in Hebrew “kol hakavod” (rough translation – all honor; or good for you). She looked at me like I was crazy – but smiled anyway. Of course you give your seat, of course you address a president and an older man with honor. This is Israel after all, Mr. Cordesman, this is Israel.

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