Tuesday, April 1, 2014

EHUD, ARNOLD AND MY PICTURE GALLERY


Yesterday was a good day for justice in Israel, although it was the final blow to my admittedly anemic celebrity picture gala.  I'll sacrifice for a good cause, and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's conviction and hopeful exit from the public stage is a very good cause indeed.

I was involved in California politics for 30-plus years.  Virtually everyone with that kind of a record (yes, some would argue, sentence) has walls full of pictures of them with a panoply of politicians, officials, sports heroes, and Hollywood stars or wanna-be stars that the person met along the trails. 

Not me. For whatever reason, that picture gallery decorating approach never appealed to me.  My offices had pictures of sailboats, mountains,  and kids.  The stars were ones I never met:  Koufax, Drysdale, a circa 1920 Fenway shot.  I did have one of those famous pictures of the Big Three, Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill, at one of those once far-off locations that we only knew about because of 10th grade world history.

That was it.  My gallery consisted of my kids,  inanimate objects,  and mostly real famous dead guys.  Except for one.  I once accompanied the CEO of a client, a California start-up, to a conference featuring then Trade and Industry Minister Olmert and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.  The CEO, his wife, me, and one or two others had a picture taken with the Minister and the Governor. All smiles and happiness.

Even I, disinclined as I was to clutter the office with smiling pretend best friends, could not resist hanging a picture of me hanging with the celebrity action-hero governor of the biggest state in the Union and a future PM of The Promised Land.  What could top that?  A picture with Ben-Gurion?  Lady Gaga?

As we were arranging for the framing of the picture, it just seemed like the CEO, his wife, and the one or two others were cluttering things up, distracting from the real focus of the picture, extraneous.  My wife or the framer (not me!) suggested a little clip job was in order. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

ALL THE NEWS. . . .EXCEPT SOME


If a rocket lands in a desert and the networks don't report on it. . .

CNN International is a marvel of a television network.  As I write this Wednesday night 60 rockets have been shot from Gaza at Southern Israel, targeting civilians.  But here's the top news as reported by CNN:

1.  Two buildings blown up in New York, apparently due to a gas leak.

2.  The continued search for the lost Malaysian plane.

3.  Demonstrations in Turkey focused on the death of a 15 year old injured in the crackdown by the increasingly repressive Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan nine months ago.

4.  Ukraine and the upcoming referendum scheduled by Crimea.

5.  The South African murder trial of "the bladerunner" Oscar Pistorious.

All worthy of top-of-the-news coverage, except perhaps the Pistorious trial.  But 60 unprovoked rockets targeting civilians in a regional hot spot? 

 Nada.  Nothing.  Zip.

But running below the reports:  "Stayed tuned for these and more international stories."  I did.  They didn't.  Of course, this is the network whose regional base is Abu Dhabi, and whose stories are often done in collaboration with one or another Gulf nation or Gulf-owned business.

Monday, March 3, 2014

WHAT IN THE WORLD?



What in the world is President Obama doing and thinking?

Is President Obama single-handedly writing the book on how to ensure that the Palestinians and Israelis do not make peace, or has he put together the worse group of advisors in U.S. history?  Frankly, I'm baffled. 

Despite a right-wing coalition and heartburn from his own Likud Party, Prime Minister Netanyahu has halted settlement construction for nine months, endorsed a two-state solution, released murderers of civilians, and most recently, indicated that he is willing to continue negotiations on the basis of Secretary of State Kerry's proposed framework, albeit with reservations.  

On the other hand, President Abbas has reiterated that he will not accept Israel as a Jewish state, that he will not give up the "right-of-return" for millions of people who never lived in what is now Israel, and that he intends to stop negotiating once he gets the last of the murderers he wants released. 

Yet, in a scenario strikingly similar to when President Obama ambushed Netanyahu on settlements several years ago and thereby destroyed any chances for progress on peace for quite some time, the President in his interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of Bloomberg once again laid all the burden and blame on Israel and Netanyahu just as the Prime Minister was on his way to meet with the President and address the annual AIPAC conference. 

As David Horovitz, the Editor-in-Chief of The Times of Israel, made clear in an appropriately sardonic and pointed manner, it is one hell of a way to welcome an ally, to bolster confidence, and to provide the undergirding for making tough, life-or-death decisions. 

If the President and his Administration are truly interested in a peace deal and not in just assigning blame if a deal does not happen, then it is simply unfathomable that this is the strategy they have come up with. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Birthday Wishes and a New Jersey Gangster's Threats

by Alan Edelstein
 
I celebrated my birthday last week.  With friends and family visiting from the U.S., it seemed more like an all-week affair rather than a one-day celebration.  Out for jazz one evening, several evenings out for dinner and dessert, a walk through the Old City and some time at the Wall, an afternoon of wine tasting in the Jerusalem hills.  All and all, a fun time and a nice reminder of the delights of contemporary Jerusalem and the surrounding area.

My birthday wish?  Easy:  I wish that Ministers Bennett and Yaalon and a few others would stop throwing personal barbs and insulting Secretary of State John Kerry, and I wish that Secretary Kerry would stop giving them every excuse possible to do so.
 

Bennett and Yaalon?  They are just beyond any sense of respect and dignity when it comes to how one addresses the chief of foreign affairs, even one you might vigorously disagree with, of the greatest power on earth and the one country that Israel so critically depends on.  Express your disagreements?  Sure.  Personally insult and make insinuations about motivations?  Beyond stupid. 

Kerry?  Needs to take some courses in diplomacy and in psychology.  Telling Israelis that they take the good life for granted, that they've grown complacent, that they don't know what is in store for them, that they are living in an illusion, is no way to influence or motivate them to take risks.  One doesn't have to be a genius, or even Secretary of State, to know that. 

Lately the Secretary has begun to resemble a low-level New Jersey gangster a la a James Cagney movie.  He never says he is going to burn down the building, or blow-up the car, or, God-forbid, harm the kids, but he seems darn close to saying that we'll have what's coming to us if we don't cough up the dough by Friday:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

COMEDY CENTRAL, MRS. ARAFAT, AND THE RESURRECTION OF ANDY KAUFMAN


by Alan Edelstein

Israel doesn't have SNL.  It doesn't have Jon Stewart and the Daily Show.  Sadly, it doesn't have Colbert.  But, we've got something even better:  We've got the Middle East, and it doesn't get any more entertaining than in our very own neighborhood.  Think I'm kidding?  Try these:

According to Hamas and its allies, Israel and Jews are evil incarnate, to blame for virtually every wound, even those self-inflicted, suffered by the Arab world.  Hamas keeps calling for the Zionist entity's destruction.

Yet the Hamas Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, who is often the first in line to declare how murderous and mean the Israelis are, apparently had  no problem having his granddaughter transferred to the "Zionist entity" to be treated in an Israeli hospital for a life-threatening condition.

 In a clear case of "babywashing," Israeli doctors attempted to treat the one-year old for an infection of her digestive system. 

About two years ago Haniyeh's brother-in-law came to Israel for life-saving heart surgery. One wonders if the Haniyeh's health insurance has a provision that includes Zionist Entity/Occupier providers. 

Given that the Hamas government regularly pressures the tens of thousands of Gazans who cross the border to receive treatment in Israeli hospitals (often at no cost) to not go, one wonders what the public would think if word got out that his family seems to make a habit of the Israeli health care system. 

No worries there.  No press reports in Gaza.  The baby's father,  Haniyeh's oldest son, did post on  Facebook that the baby had "crossed the green line" to receive the treatment.  That post came down fast. Not sure how many "friends" he still has.

Monday, November 11, 2013

IT'S THE BOMB!


By Alan Edelstein

In my October 20 post, I wrote about how the latest thing amongst some in the American Jewish community is to spend inordinate amounts of time discussing and debating what it means to "support" Israel and, in the course of twisting and turning, to conclude that "support" can mean lots of things that are anything but.

It seems that the appetite for this seemingly endless discussion is unabated.  Even someone at my own hometown Sacramento synagogue, Mosaic Law Congregation, long a bastion of the unabashedly pro-Israel crowd, with a lot of smart people who always seemed to know what supporting Israel meant, now seems to think the congregants need assistance on figuring out what it means.

It's upcoming program is entitled "How Best to Support Israel," and its publicity invites one to an "intriguing discussion on how best to support Israel at this challenging time in its history."  The organizer sent out an e-mail saying "'No one has a stronger voice in this than the American Jewish community.' So said Secretary of State John Carry [sic] in a speech to the American Jewish Committee, refereeing [sic] to the renewed peace negotiations." 

Really? Apparently Secretary Kerry and the organizer of the program forgot about the voices of the Israelis and Palestinians whose lives and futures are involved.

Just 15 minutes west in the university town of Davis, the Israel Matters Committee of the local Reform synagogue, Congregation Bet Haverim, seems to have figured the puzzle out with no discussion necessary.  They advertise that they are "beginning a year-long project to raise funds for portable bomb shelters in southern Israel--especially for kindergartens in Israeli communities along the Gaza border. In the last week alone, more than 15 rockets and mortars have been indiscriminately fired at southern Israeli men, women, and children."

How did the folks in Davis figure out this question of what "support" means so easily and quickly, while folks in Sacramento seem to be devoting countless hours to exploring the meaning of the word.  Could it be all of those PhD's? 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

HERE, THERE. . . AND TRANSYLVANIA?


by Alan Edelstein

The garbage that is Jew-hatred is truly amazing.  It seems to be everywhere these days, and if the consequences of not taking it seriously had not proven so tragic over the centuries, it might actually be amusing.

First up is CNN International.  CNN International pretty much admits to being a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Arab world.  Many of its broadcasts announce up front that they are "in cooperation with" a company based in an Arab country, an Arab country's tourism or trade development office, or with the country directly.

The content of the network's broadcasts confirms the bonds.  The most glaring example is the weekly Marketplace Middle East program. Through this and other programs, CNN International focuses, or fixates, on the purportedly robust, free, creative, impressive, unbelievable businesses and business opportunities in the welcoming marketplace of the Middle East, particularly the Gulf States.

Somehow in all of the gushing regarding the Middle East's tremendous business environment, CNN International manages to completely ignore Israel.  This, despite the fact that Israel has become a hotbed of technology, start-ups, IPO's, and the like.  Think Waze and SodaStream.  Multiply by a lot.

Just about every hi-tech firm imaginable has bought an Israeli start-up or two or three and/or opened R&D centers here.  Think Google, Microsoft, IBM, Cisco, and, just recently, Facebook.  Multiply.