Showing posts with label Middle East. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Middle East. Show all posts

May 10, 2019

Who Is Occupying Whom?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Who Is Occupying Whom?"
  • Palestine was never a state, nor one ever administered by Palestinians.
  • Israel is not occupying any foreign sovereign’s land, so it cannot legally be considered an occupier.
  • There was never any partition plan accepted by the Arabs or implemented, so Israel is not occupying anything.
  • It is Israel that has continuously opened itself to the Arabs as citizens and settlers, while the Arab countries have rejected their own Arab brethren and exiled their Jews.
I hope you read this article and understand the lies and propaganda that is being spread about "the occupation."

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal adapted from Wikimedia Commons)
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May 5, 2019

I Watch With Terror The Rockets Fly

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "I Watch With Terror The Rockets Fly."
I watch with terror the rockets fly.
The plumes of white smoke in the sky.
Randomly, randomly where will they fall.
A car, a home, a factory, a kindergarten.
The shrapnel penetrating the flesh of its victims.
The rockets do not know the difference,
Between military and civilian, men and women, children and old.
Please pray for the peace and security for Israel. ;-)

(Source Photo: Reposted here in video by Israel Foreign Affairs Ministry)
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January 9, 2019

Government Shutdown or Middle East Peace

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel, called "Government Shutdown or Middle East Peace."
"It is day 19 of this p-r-o-l-o-n-g-e-d Federal Government Shutdown. Having plenty of time on my hands today, I am debating which is actually easier to solve--the government shutdown or peace in the Middle East."

We may have to wait for the Messiah for both of these to be peaceful resolved. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 29, 2016

A Failed Presidency?

Every day we are reminded about the dysfunctional state of our national affairs.

The dictum of the Hippocratic Oath of" first do no harm" that medical students are taught is the very minimum expectation, but has even this been met?

The Promise vs. The Delivery

1) Promised reset with Russia - Delivered a resurgent Russia in Ukraine, Syria, the Baltics, cybersecurity, and more.

2) Promised red lines in Syria - Delivered more than 5-year and counting deadly civil war with chemical weapons, more than 500,000 dead, and millions wounded, displaced, and fleeing as refugees.

3) Promised end of war in Iraq and Afghanistan - Delivered continued troops and war in both with not an end in sight. 

4) Promised good deal with a moderating Iran - Delivered bad deal with continued aggressive Iran violating the agreement and on the path to reaching nuclear weapons.

5) Promised easing of ties with an opening of Cuba - Delivered one-sided deal and a continued hard-line communist Cuba abusing political opponents and human rights.

6) Promised defeat of ISIS terrorism - Delivered continued ISIS global terror (and it's not workplace violence).

7) Promised closing of GITMO - Delivered GIMTO still open for business with dozens of dangerous terrorists. 

8) Promised a more unified America - Delivered a more divisive nation with raging inner city violence and civilian and police shootings.

9) Promised Obamacare affordable health insurance - Delivered unsustainable double digit premium growth and pending repeal and replacement.

10) Promised Dodd-Frank improved accountability financial reform - Delivered burdensome highly-regulated financial system stifling banking and lending leading to either significant scale back or complete repeal and replacement. 

11) Promised peace in the Middle East--Delivered a barrage of missiles, terror tunnels, shootings, stabbings, vehicular attacks, and arson for our friend and ally, Israel.

12) Promised government transparency to the American people - Delivered obscurity to the "media echo chamber" and devastating political email scandal and Benghazi fiasco. 

13) Promised fiscal and budgetary responsibility via Sequestration - Delivered a doubling of the national debt in 8 years to 20 trillion dollars! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal via USA Today)

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March 13, 2016

Is Blame A Leadership Quality

One of the most important qualities of a leader is responsibility and accountability--as they typically say, "the buck stops here."

So why do we have so much of this:

1. "Blames his guards [the U.S. Secret Service] for closing White House Tours"

2. "Blames [former U.K. prime minister] David Cameron for Libya Descending into a 'Sh** Show'"

3. "Says GOP is to Blame for Rise of Donald Trump"

4. "Blames [former House Speaker] Boehner for Ongoing Government Shutdown"

5. "Blames Democrats for Midterm Losses"

6. "Shifting Blame for Bergdahl Trade to [former Defense Secretary] Hagel"

7. Blames "Detaining Terrorists at GITMO Helps ISIS [recruit terrorists]"

8. "Blames media for losing war against ISIS"

9. "Blames U.S. for Gun Violence in Mexico"

10. "Blaming [former HHS Secretary] Sebelius" for botched Obamacare rollout

11. "Blames 'bad apple' insurers for cancelled [Obamacare] coverage"

12. "Blames his Low Approval Numbers on Racism"

13. "Blames China...for not playing fair [as competitors]"

14. "[Russian President] Putin largely to blame for Syrian crisis

15. "Blame Middle East Turmoil on [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu"

16. "Blames Christians from Holding Back America from Doing 'Big Things'"

17. "Blames Founding Fathers' 'structural' design of Congress for gridlock"

18. "Blames the rich--big banks, big oil, big hedge funds...[and] recklessness of Wall Street" for economic crisis

19. "Blames [former President] Bush for Economy While Standing Next To Him"

20. "Blames the Messenger" for "legitimate criticism"

21. "Blames Everyone but Himself for Failed Economic Policies"

Do you think that there is probably a lot more blame to go around? ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Wild Trees)
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October 28, 2015

Indians and Palestinians

September 4, 1886, Geronimo, the last American Indian warrior surrenders to the United States and later after some time in prison, Geronimo converts and becomes a successful farmer. 

November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly votes 33-13 in favor of a partition from what was land prior under the control of Britain leading to the establishment of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948 at which time the surrounding Arab nations attacked and were defeated, and this replayed many times in 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982 and subsequent Intifadas.

Recently, I had a conversation with a lady who is a Lacota Indian and who happens to be a proud supporter of the State of Israel.

This is what she told me: 

"The Indians and Palestinians have a lot in common in that we both have to share land."

But, what is different is that we [American Indians] don't act like some [extremist] Palestinians teaching endless cycles of hatred and violence.

We don't go around knifing people, throwing stones, shooting, or blowing people up."

I had understood many people think this, but I had never heard anyone actually come out and say it--let alone a Native American Indian. 

Even now-a-days, I think we must admit that American Indians live in a challenging state in this country and certainly they deserve more and their standard of living should be vastly improved, but at the same time, they manage to live with all the immigrants that came to the United States from all over the world, and they do this in peace.  

Perhaps, in Israel, where there is tacit agreement towards an even better scenario--a two-state solution--with the real potential of peace, prosperity, and security for both Jews and Palestinians--the cycle of hatred and violence can end and should end. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Maryland GovPics) 

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October 26, 2015

A Volcano Of Our Own Making

So I saw this cool volcano making kit in the store. 

Kids typically do this cool experiment where they make a mock volcano erupt and the hot lava spills out in all directions and makes a big stinkin' mess. 

But when I saw this volcano game kit, I couldn't help connect this with all the real-world mess going on today with the endless and increasingly savage terrorism we are witnessing from brutal acts of terror to full blown religious civil wars, Arab Spring, and building of Caliphates across the region. 

Now we have religiously-inspired murders and maimings of millions of people with countless more displaced and refugees streaming across Europe. 

The problem here though is that this is caused by crazy adults, and not playful and learning children. 

Most recently today, I watched a video of ISIS killing a bound prisoner (see starting in video link at 1:55) by rolling over him with a tank {extremely brutal and gory}.

The unbelievable savagery is taking place with knifings, shootings, stonings, suicide bombings, beheadings, burnings, crucifixions, abductions, enslavement, gang rape, and more.

This is the Middle East today erupting and the adults are playing politics, personal and religious biases, and sick gamesmanship with millions of people's lives.

Unfortunately, what happens over there tends to come here in the West...and this eruption is a doing of our own head-in-the-sand making. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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October 12, 2015

Terrorism Knows No Boundaries

Another stabbing in Jerusalem--right in the back of the head!

So far 18 terror stabbings in Israel in less than 10 days.

You never know when it's coming until the blade sears through the air and into the head, neck, chest, or back of the victim.

In an apartment, at a shopping center, riding a bus, on the way to prayer--no one is safe!

Today, one 13-year old boy is in critical condition after being stabbed nearly a dozen times while riding his bicycle in Jerusalem.

The stabbing attacks are coming on top of shootings, stonings, bombings, molotov cocktails, and vehicular hit and runs.

The call for a third Intifada to terrorize and kill Jews in Israel is underway.

This on top of last year's Gaza War when thousands of rockets where fired targeting Israeli cities and critical infrastructure as well as terror tunnels coming under the border to murder and abduct Israelis.

But Israel is not alone in fighting a wave of global terror--it is engulfing the Middle East and farther--from Libya to Syria, Yemen to Turkey, Iraq to Afghanistan--and hundreds of thousands of refugees are streaming to Europe.

Bombing of markets, weddings, funerals, houses of worship, and even peace rallies.

Chemical weapons, beheadings, hacking off limbs, crucifixions, burning victims alive, abductions of women and children, slavery, and gang rape, are now virtually accepted items in the International news, and on a daily basis. 

Next in the mix--maybe some suitcase or missile-tipped nukes delivered by impassioned Jihadists?

For now, we are watching from our perch of safety and security here and in Europe, but what when what we witness happening "over there" eventually comes over here...

Have we become so used to and callous to all the terrorism that we barely even blink an eye anymore when we read, hear, or see it?

While terrorism knows no physical boundaries, perhaps with an ever-increasing tempo of sickeningly outrageous and barbaric terrorist acts, it knows no boundaries to our soul anymore either.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Facebook via Documenting Anti-Semitism)
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October 3, 2015

Russia Seems To Have A Strategy, Why Don't We?

Russia upends the U.S. and NATO once again, now carrying out a third day of a devastating bombing campaign that shows no sign of letting up in Syria. 

Russia is leapfrogging us to pursue their goals of keeping dictator Bashar Al Assad, tightening up on a renewed cozy relationship with Iran and Iraq--in what is the prime oil basin of the world--and reestablishing their place on the world stage as a superpower (apparently, Crimea wasn't the end, but just the beginning), and at the same time killing U.S.-backed Syrian rebels

But what about our efforts...

Well, we've had "dismal results" after dilly dallying around in Syria for the better part of its 4 1/2 year civil war that's killed over 250,000 people and created 5 million refuges streaming across the Middle East and Europe, and we keep having to "rethink" our strategy there. 

At the same time, as to our war to defeat the terrorist ISIS caliphate--who vows to smuggle nukes into America and plans a "religious cleansing" of hundreds of millions--uh, they continue to grow!

What about our more than 10 year investment in Iraq--where we spent over $2 trillion and in which almost 37,000 of our service members were either killed or wounded?  --Iraq is now cooperating with...Russia!

How about Iran--for whom we went to the mat with a controversial deal to relieve their sanctions and provide them hundreds of billions of dollars to funnel into their economy as well as global terror? --Iran is allying themselves with Russia (and Hezbollah), deepening their foray into Syria, and continue their threats to annihilate Israel and chants of death to America!

Then to hear yesterday that not only don't we have a strategy as has been the reframe for months, but that we are not going to play chess or get into a proxy war in the Middle East with Russia...well gee, the world game of strategy and brinksmanship is not going to stop for us. 

Just because we don't have a (good) strategy and don't want to play global chess anymore doesn't mean Russia, Iran, China, and others aren't going to forge ahead with their dangerous strategies and gains. 

We are a wealthy, mighty, and innovative nation--surely, we have a strategy in this country of over 319,000,000 people, somewhere. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 12, 2014

From Hatred To Peace


Someone sent me this video by Dennis Prager on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and I wanted to share it.

An easy conflict to explain, a difficult one to solve: "One side wants the other dead!"

How do you get a people not to hate another?

"There are 22 Arab states stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean, but only 1 Jewish state the size of New Jersey..."

"Why can't the one Jewish state be allowed to exist?"

After generations of hatred and hostility--taught and practiced--truly a miracle is needed where we can live and let live. 

May G-d bring peace and security in our time, and may "nation not lift up sword against nation, and neither shall they learn war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4)
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April 18, 2014

Jewish is Super

So with the shooting at the Jewish Community Center in Oakland Park, Kansas this week right before Passover, and the near simultaneous "grotesque" targeting of Jews by pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, we are reminded that while Jews are no longer slaves in Egypt (thank G-d), we are still unfortunately targeted by evil people around the world. 

In the Kansas City incident, I read how the white supremacist shooter went right up to a lady visiting her mother at the old-age home and asked her "Are you Jewish?" And when she replied in the affirmative (even though she was not), he shoot her dead on the spot. 

It turns out this lady was an occupational therapist that helped blind children...what kind of monster would just murder someone (anyone) like this? 

Similarly in eastern Ukraine, leaflets are being handed out demanding that Jews register in the government office, pay special taxes, and declare their property or face deportation. Here too, we witness the devilish markings of some that are repetitive of their deplorable past as Nazi collaborators, concentration camp guards, and murders.  

I read yesterday, that not only Jews, but Christians are being targeted in the Middle East with churches burned, those of faith being driven from their homes and ruthlessly murdered, except in Israel where the Christian population is actually increasing and thriving. 

While Superman may not be Jewish (I know of no Jews on planet Krypton), being Jewish is super--and for that matter being any person of faith and dignity is super!  Hate mongers and murders of today, like the evil oppressors of yesteryear--know that truth and justice and the 10 plagues of Egypt are just a {pow!} and {bam!} away--believe it! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 15, 2014

Another Day In The Middle East

It can be hard for a regular person to understand the course of events in the Middle East--I certainly don't!

I recognize that I don't know what I don't know, but with all due respect, it would be great if we could all better understand where we are going there. 

- On the 9/11, we were attacked by Al Qaeda hijackers, 15 of 19 of whom were Saudi Arabian, yet after 9/11, we didn't go after Saudi Arabia, but instead overthrew Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

- However, early in the 1980's Iran-Iraq War, we supported Iraq against Iran and permitted the sale of American arms to Hussein. 

- By overthrowing Saddam, in effect we established a Shiite-lead Iraq, right next to a fundamentalist Shiite Iran with a history of conflict with America. 

- In subsequent conflicts, it is not clear whether we are supporting the secularists or the fundamentalists:

a) In Syria, we have been supporting "moderate" Sunni's (although often seen aligned to Al Qaeda) against Bashar al-Assad, and what is considered the "secular Ba'ath party."

b) In Egypt, we withheld military and economic support after the overthrew of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose aims include establishing a state ruled by Sharia law, and an organization that is aligned with Hamas and Hezbollah, both listed as terrorist organizations.

- In Iran, in an attempt to move towards peaceful nuclear disarmament, we are relaxing sanctions on a country that former President George W. Bush, in his State of the Union, declared part of the Axis of Evil (2002), and with an agreement that is viewed as not better than having a 50-50 chance of success

If you find this a lot to take in, you are not alone. ;-)

All opinions my own.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 26, 2013

A Falafel A Day


Peace comes in many shapes and sizes--peace talks, peace negotiations, peace treaties, and now even peace trucks.

Reminiscent of the peace marches and brightly painted VW peace vans of the 1970's, The Washington Post (26 January 2013) reports on a 76-year old retired Energy Department staffer with a PhD in mechanical engineering who for his second career is starting a peace food truck in DC.

The food truck will have two windows for selling kosher food from one and for selling halal food from the other. 

The owner-activist who is an Egyptian American hopes that "it will bring people from different backgrounds, who are waiting on line, to talk together."

He says: "I think it will work because, well, everyone likes food," and he hopes to fund additional food trucks in Chicago, New York, Israel, and the West Bank. 

The truck has both the Jewish Star of David and Islamic Crescent painted on it--it is truly a truck for representing diversity of people, but with a common taste in good Mediterranean food.

It's amazing what a falafel can do--perhaps, even help bring peace and security to the Middle East.   ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Shoshanah)

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November 17, 2012

One Day We'll Be Old


This is a wonderful, moving music video by Israeli composer Asaf Avidan, remixed by German DJ--the song is called One Day/Reckoning (Wankelmut Remix)--it has topped the music charts across Europe. 

The reframe:
"One day baby, we'll be old
Oh baby, we'll be old
And think of all the stories that we could have told."

On a simplistic level, this music video is about two lovers torn apart and wondering how they'll look back one day and imagine what if only they had been able to make things work.

On a deeper level, perhaps this music video is a representation of the Israel and German who produced it--more than six decades after The Holocaust and the murder of 6 million Jews by the Germans and the feelings of lose and of what could've been instead. 

"No more tears, my heart is dry
I don't laugh and I don't cry
I don't think about you all the time
But when I do I wonder why"

Why the murder of six million men, women, and children--helpless--shot, starved, gassed, burnt in the ovens, electrified on the fences, attacked by dogs, and experimented on by sadististic scientists?

"We can't cry anymore, the heart is dry."

As time passes and we age--we think what could have been if we were allowed to live in peace --"think of all the stories  we could have told."

Now in Israel, again Six million Jews living in the Middle East, the fulfillment of the promise by G-d to Abraham, the return to The Promised Land. 

But the Middel East is composed of more than 20 countries and contains 20% of world's Muslim population or has roughly 315 million Muslims. In some areas, fundamentalism has taken root, and it is a volatile and dangerous neighborhood to live in.

Missles fly to Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem and and the people of the Holy Land take cover in bomb shelters as thousands of missiles threaten them.

In modern history, Israel has lost over 22,000 soldiers,with another 75,000 wounded, and there have been about 4,000 civilian victims of terror attacks. 

To put this in the perspective of a country the size of the U.S., this is the equivalent of us losing more than 1.1 million American soldiers, having almost 4 million wounded, and another 200,000 civilian victims of terrorism--it's unthinkable!

"I don't laugh and I don't cry"

Now Israeli's are blamed for defending their small country and the remnants of their people from being driven into the sea by those surrounding them on all sides. 

"Here I go again, the blame
The guilt, the pain, the hurt, the shame
The foundering fathers on our plane
that's stuck in heavy clouds of rain"

Next is Iran who threatens to wipe Israel off the map and is rushing to develop the nuclear weapons to accomplish their malevolent goals. 

"I don't think about you all the time
But when I do I wonder why"

Why won't you let us just live in peace--leave us alone, once and for all. 

"One day, we'll be old
Oh baby, we'll be old
Think of all the stories we could have told"

If only, all could live and let live--think of all the better stories we could tell and all the lives not lost, and all the promise of a better future.

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July 18, 2012

Not Just Another Killing Field

I took this picture a number of weeks ago of an artistic American flag with a peace symbol over it--and this is a wonderful goal and we wish for the day for all the world. 

However, today is not that day, as it is understood that Iran and Hezbollah were behind, as in President Obama's words, a barbaric attack on dozens of innocent Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. 

This terrorist attack resulted in the deaths of at least 7 people, including children and pregnant women and the wounding of over 30 others. 

This occurred eighteen years to the day since the attack that killed 85 civilians at a Jewish Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Moreover, it is almost the 40 year commemoration in September since the attack that killed 11 Israel athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. 

As former President Bush stated after the 9/11 attacks, "Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done."

May the souls of those murdered innocent civilians rest in peace, and may those who targeted and sponsored them pay the price they've earned for themselves. 

We should not and cannot accept a world where getting on a bus or a plane or going to the office, pizzeria or the like is just another terrorist killing field. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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May 22, 2011

Peace and Security

With all the questions about peace in the Middle East, there is a lot of enthusiasm for a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians, living side-by-side in peace.
This is a practical vision that would resolve a lot of suffering and enable us to move constructively forward.
It may be hard to understand why Israel needs very specific conditions to protect itself, but this video sent to me by a friend explains it very well.
In a historical perspective, I think it is important to be aware of the context of the Jewish security concerns as well:
1) Six million Jews (ONE out of every THREE men, women, and children) were murdered in the Holocaust just last century.

2) Tens of thousands more were lost in numerous wars to overtake Israel (in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982, 2006, 2008 and in the Intifada's).

3) Mid-East neighbors (that support terrorist organizations--like Hamas, Hezbollah and more) do not even recognize Israel's right to exist, and are chartered to their ultimate destruction.
As a Jewish American, I too share, pray, and hope for peace in the Middle East...let it be so as a genuine and lasting one.
While Middle East peace often seems impossible, G-d can do what we think is impossible.
(All opinions are my own)

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March 6, 2011

The Exponential Road To Peace




When Charlie Rose interviewed Ray Kurzweil, the renown futurist (BusinessWeek--March 7-13, 2011), Kurzweil assures us that in just 8 more doublings of solar power output (each, which is happening every 2 years), we will be able to meet 100% of our energy needs.

This is the amazing power of the speed of exponential technology change to potentially solve our seemingly unsolvable human problems.

As always, Kurzweil's optimism about our future is noteworthy.
I hope that Kurzweil and the Prime Minister of Israel who discussed energy advice also shared insights about the prospect for Middle East peace.

Let the amazing promise of technology coupled with the ultimate in faith (and a strong military deterent) bring genuine peace to us soon. Amen!

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