Saturday, July 16, 2011


According to a huge segment of the American Jewish community, particularly that part that opposes the current Israeli government and feels that it knows what is best for Israel better than the Israelis who send their kids to the army and live with the consequences of their government's policies, the recent passage by the Knesset of an anti-boycott law is pretty much the end of democracy and the start of fascism in the Jewish State. 

J Street's onslaught is fairly typical of the hysterical responses.  It reads:

"J Street condemns the Knesset's passage yesterday of a law making the call for boycotts of Israel or the West Bank settlements illegal, as a clear and unabashed violation of the fundamental democratic precept of freedom of speech.

"This bill is part of a disturbing anti-democratic trend that undermines its purported purpose by giving fodder to Israel's critics and alienating many of its friends.

"In direct contradiction to claims that it would somehow protect Israel from efforts to delegitimize it, the boycott bill actually gives ammunition to those who question Israel's democratic standing. While J Street opposes the BDS movement, we are concerned that criminalizing it will only be used as further justification for increasing anti-Israel boycotts."  (My emphasis)

Thursday, July 14, 2011


In my May 25th post, "Did We Hear The Same Speech?" I suggested that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu should have adopted a different response to President Obama's speech to the State Department on the Arab Spring, a speech that included his proposed reference points for renewing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.  I wrote that the Prime Minister should have "pocketed" the points Israel wants, e.g. Jewish State for Jewish People, end of all claims, long-time presence in the Jordan Valley, and "spun" the points not to Israel's liking, such as 1967 lines with land swaps. 

My argument was that this approach would have preserved and solidified positions favorable to Israel, avoided a confrontation with the President, and put the onus for torpedoing negotiations on the Palestinians if, as was almost a certainty, Palestinian Authority President Abbas rejected the Jewish State and end of all claims reference points and, therefore, the negotiations did not restart.

The Prime Minster instead focused on just the 1967 line issue, engaged in a major confrontation with the President, won great acclaim in the Congress, greatly pleased his coalition partners and supporters back home, royally positioned Israel to be blamed for a failure to restart negotiations, and set Israel up for a major clash with the U.S. Administration should Obama win reelection.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


It was great to hear that Elliott Spitzer was dumped by CNN after seven months on the air. One would like to think that his show was cancelled because CNN belatedly realized that it was a disgrace that such a hypocritical scumbag was rewarded with his own primetime news show.  But, alas, there was no such revelation.  Spitzer's show was cancelled because of low ratings.  Who knows, perhaps CNN is making room in its lineup for Anthony Weiner. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I walked over to the Cinemateque here in Jerusalem this afternoon to buy tickets for one of the movies being shown at the Jerusalem Film Festival.  (For all of spring and now into summer Israel and, in particular, Jerusalem, has had a multitude of music festivals, street parties, food samplings, outdoor concerts and operas, and on and on.) 

On the way back I stopped for a break at a stand and bought a glass of fresh hand-squeezed OJ to help get a little relief from the summer sun.  Then I started up Martin Luther King Street to the new and large MLK Square, which is set in the middle of a traffic circle and features nice flowers and an impressive steel structure. 

It is fitting that a beacon of freedom to the world, and a great supporter of Israel, should be honored in Jerusalem, the capital city of the people who helped give the world the concept of individual liberty and self-determination and who longed for freedom in their own land for 2,000 years.  However, I was struck by a little irony. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011


A friend recently suggested that if President Obama truly wanted the parties to the Israeli-Arab dispute to return to the 1949 ceasefire lines (or as many inaccurately call them, the 1967 borders), there would be no new Palestinian state. 

As my friend accurately noted, during the 1948 war by the Arab states against Israel's creation, Egypt gained control of Gaza and Jordan took what is called the West Bank.  Those countries retained control until the 1967 war.  If all of the parties were to truly go back to the 1967 lines, Israel would go back to borders with the parties who had sovereignty over those territories prior to the 1967 war, Jordan and Egypt.

While the chances of this happening are slim to nil, the suggestion does raise some interesting questions and issues, such as:


We recently took a nice trip up the to the north coast of Israel.  It is one of my favorite parts of Israel because you can still get the feel of the "old" Israel:  two-lane roads, lots of agriculture and open space, beautiful beaches, and small towns. 

But one thing that was very up-to-date was the price of gas or, as they say here, petrol.  For 95 octane: 8 NIS a liter.  At a 3.4 exchange rate, that is $2.35 per liter.  3.8 liters to the gallon, equals $8.93 per gallon.  Yep, almost $9 a gallon. 

So, remember that the next time you are at the pumps and are about to complain. 


I've been watching the debacle that is the California budget process from Israel.  As a lobbyist, the fights over the budget were always challenging and intense and often frustrating.  Long hours, tough negotiations, short tempers. 

Now, out of the fray and watching from 9,000 miles away, things back in the Golden State, or at least in the capital of the Golden State, just seem, well, sad.  Pathetic.  I am not sure if things have gotten significantly worse since my last budget process in 2009, although several former colleagues say they have, or whether  time and distance give one another perspective.