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August 28, 2016 / 24 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘politics’

A Country Fed Up With Politics As Usual

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

I was a young girl in 1980 when Ronald Reagan was nominated at the Republican National Convention in Detroit, the city I grew up in. I remember the excitement in the air, the fanfare that engulfed a depressed city that was still close enough to its glory days to recall them and yearn for their return, yet far enough to sense that they might never come back.

I remember the red, white, and blue balloons that flitted in the air, along with hopes for a redeemer in the form of this new nominee who radiated optimism in the form of pragmatism. And I recall being proud to be part of a process that people believed in; a confidence not owing to my youth or naiveté but to an instinctive trust in America’s exceptionalism and its system.

Almost four decades later, politicians are still clamoring to identify with Reagan and his politics. His famous invocation of the “shining city on the hill” was the most quoted phrase during last month’s Republican National Convention. Even President Obama, in his address to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia a week later, mentioned that “Ronald Reagan called America a shining city on a hill.”

However, no amount of summoning up that shining city is enough to make it reappear today. Irrevocably altered, the American landscape has changed so that the shining city seems more elusive than ever.

Detroit has crumbled and never recovered. The dreams its citizens harbored in 1980 deflated like the balloons that teased an audience into thinking its grandeur might return. The inflation and long, winding gas lines that characterized Jimmy Carter’s incompetence and were responsible for Reagan’s landslide victory disappeared during the Reagan years, but the country would, over the ensuing decades, regress on several levels and face crises far more severe.

We are now on the road to a $20-trillion dollar deficit. Government regulations are stifling those American businesses that are still afloat. Obamacare jacked up healthcare prices for precisely the people it was supposed to help and continues to threaten small businesses. Illegal immigration, with all its costs and damages, is rampant. The quality of education and our military are continually being downgraded. Half the nation is on food stamps and other government programs. And of course the threat from radical Islam looms ever larger and more dangerous.

If this sounds like some sort of doomsday scenario, it is. All the more so because the economic deficit plaguing America is accompanied by a moral and cultural deficit. Driven by agenda-based groups and the media, America is a different country now from the one I grew up in. What was taboo then is now accepted and celebrated; what was opposed then is now silenced and excused. And an ancient vice squad has been replaced by its inverse – the PC Patrol.

Social mores no longer reflect a Judeo-Christian belief system. Nowadays, the more deviant the behavior, the more likely it is to be flaunted. Single motherhood is an acceptable and common alternative to marriage. Gay marriage is applauded, when as late as 1990 homosexuality was still classified a mental disorder by the World Health Organization. And who could have predicted that crossdressers and transsexuals would become the latest aggrieved minority in the liberal imagination?

We are a country whose young people are being taught to glorify America’s enemies and vilify its friends. Allies like Israel, long championed as the only democracy in the Middle East, are castigated by radicals who then incite politicians against it. And a racial divide built on a false narrative threatens the security that used to blanket this country.

True, many Americans may be thriving individually, but collectively our nation is on a downward spiral. And those who are leading it or who aspire to lead it are cheerleading the descent rather than trying to prevent it.

The relationship between culture and politics is an interdependent one, as is the relationship between voter and politician. Which is why this upcoming election is so profoundly significant. It is not just an election between two candidates and two parties whose differences range as far as bubble up or trickle down.

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, in 1994 only 30 percent of Democrats considered themselves liberal, a number that doubled by 2014. This problem is confounded by the reality that what is deemed liberal today was thought extreme or radical twenty years ago. Consider an Iowa poll earlier this year that revealed that 4-in-10 likely Democratic caucus-goers described themselves as socialist. Thus, the Democratic platforms of twenty years ago and today are similar in virtually nothing but party name.

The fact is, millions of Americans would not have felt “the bern” had the climate not been ripe for such an embrace. Bernie Sanders tapped into an enormous subset of Americans who apparently slumbered through the end of the Cold War and the abject failure of brutal communist regimes. And Hillary Clinton continues to pander to that very crowd by painting a rosy and disingenuous picture of what America would look like with even more government handouts.

An even clearer reflection of the country’s discontent came from the other side of the political spectrum, as political novice Donald Trump, endlessly mocked by the nation’s elites, stormed through the Republican primaries, leaving the campaigns of more than a dozen mainstream establishment politicians a smoking crater.

With so many Americans of differing political views agreeing that the country is way off track and that conventional politicians don’t hold the answer, there is at least some reason for hope. The clock probably can’t be turned back to that shining city on a hill, but we still might be able to make America great again.

Sara Lehmann

Tip Poll

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

A pizza parlor in the Old City of Jerusalem is running an election tip poll.

Trump seems to be a tiny bit ahead of Clinton, but the truth is, the tip jars were all pretty empty – could that be indicative that people don’t plan to vote? Or just that they don’t like leaving tips in pizza parlors?.

Photo of the Day

At Democratic National Convention Day 2, Sanders Supporters Still ‘Feeling The Bern’

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

Day One of the Democratic National Convention began with utter chaos in the wake of a scandal over the revelation that the party’s leadership had tilted the primary elections in favor of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton against her contender, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

But the ink on the resignation letter of Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was barely dry before Hillary Clinton hired her as a “surrogate” national chairwoman to lead her presidential campaign — in effect, promoting her for her loyalty, corruption notwithstanding.

Speeches by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, New Jersey Senator Corey Booker, First Lady Michelle Obama and then “rock star” runner-up candidate Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont helped defuse some of the tension, but there was still plenty of bitter energy to spare.

The house was packed to the rafters for the Sanders speech, with thousands of signs — ironically, in the colors of the Israeli flag — waving frantically with slogans like, “Stronger Together” and “A Future to Believe In.”

The entire hall was on its feet as Sanders walked to the podium, and the cheers shook the building for at least five full minutes, with the former candidate repeatedly trying to begin his speech, only to give up laughing. “Thank you, thank you,” he said. The applause lasted longer than that garnered by the First Lady.

Supporters with tear-filled eyes chanted, “Feel.the.Bern! Feel.the.Bern!” But when they finally allowed their hero to talk, the message he delivered was not the one they wanted to hear, despite his obvious effort to let them down gently.

The longest-serving Independent Senator in the history of the nation told his supporters they must work to defeat Donald Trump — and they MUST support Hillary Clinton to do so.

He thanked Michelle Obama for her “incredible service to our country.” And he thanked “the 13 million americans who voted for the ‘political revolution’ who gave us the 1,846 pledged delegates here tonight!” He also thanked the delegates for “being here” and for “all the work you have done,” telling them he looked forward to their votes in the roll call on Tuesday.

After thanking his family, friends and others who have seen him through his entire political career, Sanders said, “I understand that many people here and around the country are disappointed … I think it’s fair to stay that no one is more disappointed than I am.”

The blunt reference to the rigged system that had lost him the primary to Hillary Clinton was unmistakable. But equally clear was the fact that Sanders, a seasoned politician, recognized there was little he could do about it. Knowing when to fold the cards, Sanders clearly now hopes to keep as many people on board as possible, despite the obvious corruption that has been exposed.

“I hope you take enormous pride in the accomplishments we have achieved,” he said. “Together my friends, we have begun a political revolution to transform America, and that revolution, our revolution, continues.”

“Election days come and go but the struggle of the people to create a government that represents all of us, and not just the one — that struggle continues… I look forward to being part of that struggle with you.

“This election is not about and has never been about Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders or any of the other candidates that have sought the presidency,” he declared.

“This election is about and must be about the needs of the American people and the kind of future we create for our children and our grandchildren.”

Hana Levi Julian

Danon Warns UN Security Council Hezbollah Snuggles Bases Among Civilian Homes, Schools

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon warned the UN Security Council at a special meeting Tuesday that Lebanon’s Hezbollah guerrilla terrorist group is aiming some 120,000 missiles at Israeli cities; a number far higher than the 7,000 rockets the group had in 2006.

In fact, Danon produced evidence that supported his claim that Hezbollah possesses more missiles in its underground arsenal than the entire European membership of NATO together maintain above ground.

Worse, perhaps, is the fact that the group has built many of its bases next to children’s schools — a human-shield tactic used by Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

At the meeting, which was held to discuss the situation in the Middle East, Danon shared new intelligence which included aerial imagery of a village that had been transformed into a terrorist base.

“The village of Shakra in southern Lebanon has become a terrorist stronghold,” Danon told the Council. “One in every three buildings there is being used for terrorist infrastructure which includes launching pads for missiles, weapons caches and more.

“Nor has Hezbollah stopped here; it chose to situate its bases next to schools and other public structures. And in so doing, it has endangered innocent civilians,” he said.

Weapons are also being stored in civilian areas, according to IDF soldiers who spoke with the BBC. “Every mission that I’ve been on personally has been observing Hezbollah operations in a heavily populated area,” a soldier told the UK-based media outlet. “In a house with a family living in it, or in a house next door or behind it.” “It is the responsibility of the UN Security Council to evict Hezbollah from southern Lebanon,” Danon emphasized.

The IDF pointed out in an article published Tuesday on its English-language blog that Hezbollah has joined Iran in working to destablize the entire Middle East, with footholds around the world. “This Shi’ite militia from Southern Lebanon has grown into a sizable international threat,” according to Israel’s military analysts.

Hezbollah trains, funds and fights alongside armies and militias that promote Iranian interests and ideologies, exacerbating conflicts not only throughout the Middle East, but also by exporting chaos well beyond their borders.

Former national security adviser IDF General (ret.)Yaakov Amidror told the BBC on Tuesday that Hezbollah’s firepower is magnified more than ten-fold over what it was before the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

“Now they have more than 120,000 rockets and missiles,” Amidror said. “It’s a huge number that you don’t find in any country in Europe, for example. When you see all these efforts, you ask yourself one question: what for?”

Hana Levi Julian

Republicans Officially Embrace New Blockbuster Pro-Israel Plank [video]

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

Last night the JewishPress.com brought the news that a GOP subcommittee drafted and endorsed a pro-Israel plank that includes every single item on every (truly) pro-Israel wish list, thanks to the hard work of a few lawmakers such as South Caroline State Rep. Alan Clemmons and several pro-Israel organizations, including the Iron Dome Alliance.

But this morning brings more huge news: the full committee endorsed the pro-Israel plank with no changes. And the passage of that adamantly pro-Israel plank was met with a standing ovation by those in the room.

The Republican party ain’t what it used to be, or at least it doesn’t match the anti-Israel party portrait which so many people have tried to peddle.

And what of the Democrats? Jeff Ballabon, chairman of the Iron Dome Alliance, told the JewishPress.com that his coalition has made it very clear that they “would still love for Democrats to accept the same language and will attempt to persuade delegates in light of today’s success but ha[s] little optimism that it would be accepted.”

He said the coalition didn’t want this (strongly pro-Israel) policy to be tied only to one party, “this should be America’s policy,” but the enthusiasm with which the important language was met and embraced by the Republican platform committee speaks volumes.

While rumors have been swirling that the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC has been trying to stop the truly pro-Israel plank from getting out of the station, if they engaged in that effort, it failed.

And if AIPAC did not work to defeat this non-Two State language, it’s a whole new AIPAC world in which Israel is now in control of the best resolution of the various conflicts besieging the Jewish State, rather than bowing its head to dictates from the U.S. It also signals a change in the lobby’s stance regarding the disputed territories, which it has never strongly embraced.

Here is the language of the new Republican Party Platform on Israel:

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And here’s the video of Rep. Alan Clemmons speaking to the GOP subcommittee, introducing the pro-Israel plank:

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

US State Dept Questions Israel’s Desire to Reach ‘2-State Solution’

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

The U.S. State Department is questioning whether Israel really wants to make peace with the Palestinian Authority, and whether the Netanyahu government really supports the “two-state solution.”

State Department spokesperson John Kirby told reporters at a briefing Tuesday that Washington is “deeply concerned” over Israel’s decision to approve a tender for 42 housing units in Kiryat Arba and construction of 800 new housing units in Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim.

“If it’s true, this report would be the latest step in what seems to be the systematic process of land seizures, settlement expansions and legalization of outposts that is fundamentally undermining the prospects for a two-state solution,” Kirby told reporters.

“This action risks entrenching a one-state reality and raises serious questions about Israel’s intentions.”

The approvals came in response to two deadly terrorist attacks perpetrated against Israelis within a 24-hour period last week. A 13-year-old girl was stabbed to death by a Palestinian Authority Arab who climbed in her bedroom window last Thursday morning. The killer stabbed young Halle Yaffa Ariel, hy’d dozens of times, her blood spraying all over her room, after he scaled the security fence around Kiryat Arba.

The next day Arab terrorists opened fire at Rabbi Miki Mark, the administrator of the Otniel yeshiva as he drove near the community on Route 60 with his wife and children just a few hours before the Sabbath. The rabbi died instantly as he lost control of the vehicle and the car flipped over; his wife Chava was critically injured. Two of his ten children were also wounded.

Hallel Ariel, hy’d, was an American citizen. So is Chava Mark. But although the State Department issued the standard condemnation of violence perpetrated against U.S. citizens, there was complete silence from the White House.

Israel’s security cabinet met Saturday night to determine a response to the escalation in deadly attacks. By Sunday morning the government ministers were presented with a list of measures that were gauged to signal Israel’s determination not to buckle under the violence, including more boots on the ground in the Hebron area.

The Quartet for Mideast Peace issued a report on Friday (July 1) blaming Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria — even routine building connected with the natural growth in any community, within the municipal boundaries of existing towns — for the violence.

On Tuesday, it seemed the U.S. was joining that bandwagon and adding more fuel to the fire, blaming the approval of badly-needed housing units in existing communities for the Palestinian Authority’s unwillingness to join direct final status talks — and the unprovoked bloodbaths by Arab terrorists against innocent Israeli civilians.

Kirby added the U.S. would continue to “look for leaders in the region to do what they need to do … to demonstrate leadership to take down the violence, reduce tensions.”

Hana Levi Julian

Bad Analogies and Bad Politics

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Analogical reasoning is basic to human survival. If you can eat a peach, it’s probably safe to eat an apricot. Those of us who favor profiling for security believe that future terrorists will probably be a lot like past terrorists, and so we should look harder at the ones that fit the profile. Every day we make hundreds of decisions based on analogical reasoning: a thing or situation seems like one we are familiar with, so we treat it in a similar way.

Of course there are good analogies and bad ones. There are poisonous mushrooms that look like edible ones. Part of intelligence is knowing when an analogy is a good one in regard to the particular aspect that is important in that case. Political analogies are common, and can be dangerous.

One of the worst analogies ever is the analogy between ‘Palestinians’ and black Americans (here’s a classic expression of it by Condoleezza Rice). Their history is different, their situation is different, and their behavior is different. There is nothing that one can deduce from the story of American blacks that can help one understand the ‘Palestinians’, or vice versa. The reason blacks in pre-1960s America were not allowed to sit at lunch counters with whites is nothing like the reason Arabs aren’t allowed to move freely between Gaza and Israel.

Why on earth would anyone think this? Lately, an entire ideology has appeared based on bad analogies. Just as Freud made sexuality the main driver of human behavior and Marx placed economics in that role, the new ideology of intersectionality tells us that it is oppression and discrimination. From the (somewhat mind-numbing) Wikipedia definition:

Intersectionality holds that the classical conceptualizations of oppression within society—such as racism, sexism, classism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia and belief-based bigotry—do not act independently of each other. Instead, these forms of oppression interrelate, creating a system of oppression that reflects the “intersection” of multiple forms of discrimination.

Apparently the idea developed after feminist scholars argued that black women are doubly oppressed because of their membership in two oppressed groups (this may be empirically false, but nobody cares). It has since been generalized to a sort of unified field theory for all victims of all kinds of ‘oppression’.

This concept is related to the hierarchy of victimhood, in which being black gets more points than being white, being Palestinian gets more than being American, and so forth. Then the one with more points is allowed to tell the other that his perceptions are invalid due to his privileged point of view.

It also fits in with postcolonial theory, in which most conflict between groups is explained as a result of the oppression of a (usually non-white) colonized people by (usually Western) colonialists. The colonization can be military, economic, spiritual, or a combination; or it can be in the past but have left its victims traumatized. We could call this ‘post-colonial stress disorder’.

The prime analogy for Americans is always racism toward African-Americans, with which their national conscience is pathologically obsessed, even more so than Germans are with Jews. The more it is studied, the more it seems sui generis and not similar to other forms of discrimination. But to the intersectionalist, all the isms are similar.

You may have noticed that Jew-hatred (commonly called ‘anti-Semitism’) is not mentioned in the definition, being subsumed along with ‘Islamophobia’ in “belief-based bigotry.” This obscures the fact that Jews are hated for reasons having nothing to do with their beliefs or lack of them. If this isn’t clear from recent history, it should be obvious from looking at anti-Jewish propaganda which depends on all of the traditional racial stereotypes and blood libels that have characterized Jew-hatred for several hundred years.

It also enables those who want to minimize its prevalence by lumping it with other minor ‘bigotries’, while the minuscule phenomenon of ‘transphobia’, for example, has its own category.

Finally, it’s convenient to not explicitly mention Jew-hatred because most people who subscribe to intersectionality and related dogmas see Jews as oppressors rather than victims. Needless to say, Muslims are high on the list of the victimized, colonized and oppressed, which brings us to another failure of analogical reasoning.

There’s no recognition of the distinction that can be made between irrational hatred based on race or ethnicity, and opposition to the ideological aspects of Islam and shari’a and its violent manifestations. It’s all considered ‘bigotry’. So intersectionalists suppress the legitimate criticism of the jihadist ideology that more and more characterizes Islam as it is practiced today.

I’ve saved the worst bad analogy for last. A corollary of intersectionality is solidarity, “the belief that there is a common thread of discrimination that binds together many ostensibly different communities,” which include everything from the poor, to disabled people, to animals, to climate-change activists, to Palestinians. Because all kinds of ‘oppression’ are thought to benefit a Western, white, male, rich, heterosexual ruling class, activists join together with other ‘oppressed’ groups against the power structure that is responsible for it. This Marxist panacea-ism* leads to absurdities like anti-sexual assault activists cooperating with Students for Justice in Palestine – “because all oppression is one.”

Intersectionality suppresses the cognitive dissonance that would normally arise when, as is happening now, LGBT people are being asked to join the struggle against “Islamophobia,” while others are pointing out that there is a shari’a-based death penalty for gay sex in several Muslim countries, and when a Muslim has just murdered 49 people in a gay nightclub – and at least in part was motivated to do so by his religious belief. In a feat of mental acrobatics, the conflict between Muslims motivated by Islamic ideology and the gays they oppress evaporates, and only the fact that each group sees itself as a victim remains.

Just as human behavior is motivated by more than sex and economics, not every conflict is a case of oppression, not all forms of discrimination are the same, and not every problem is related to entrenched white straight male privilege. But thanks to the doctrine that arguing against the propositions of intersectionality indicates that the speaker supports the ruling class and can be ignored, the dogma becomes irrefutable. Like other irrefutable dogmas (e.g., Marxism, Objectivism), intersectionality gets its persuasiveness from a massive circular argument. Unfortunately, it is as pernicious as it is popular.

* Panacea-ism: the belief that there is one single solution for all the world’s ills.

Vic Rosenthal

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/bad-analogies-and-bad-politics/2016/06/27/

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