Thursday, December 22, 2011


Dear Tom:

Since you like to write letters to leaders you think need your counsel, I thought I would write one to you because you are sorely in need of some good advice.  Here goes:

Stop digging! 

There is one thing worse than a politician who refuses to outright admit he was wrong and apologize and instead tries to explain his way out of a terrible mistake, thus making himself look like a big weasel.  And that is a journalist trying to do the same thing.

You now say that you regret charging that the U.S. Congress gave Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu a standing ovation because the "Israel lobby" "bought and paid for" the Congress.  You now say that you wished you had said the "Israel lobby" "engineered" it.

Somehow that change in words seems to make a difference to you?

How exactly did the "Israel lobby" "engineer" the standing ovation?  Did the lobby pull some kind of strings so that every member of Congress stood up and started to applaud at the same time?  Is the lobby full of puppeteers and are the members of Congress mere puppets? 

Did the lobby somehow use I-phones or some other electronic device to command the members of Congress to all rise and applaud at the same time?  Did the lobby put out a memo directing everyone to respond in this fashion?

If, indeed, some Israel supporters suggested that the Congress give a hearty welcome to the Prime Minister, and Congressional members decided that they wanted to do that, is there something conspiratorial or threatening to our democracy in them doing so?  Is this manipulation and engineering? 

Do you actually think that changing the words from "bought and paid for" to "engineered" makes a difference to the nefarious implications of what you wrote?

Tom, you went onto say that you stand 100 percent behind the basic point of your op-ed.  Help me.  What exactly was the point?  That Jews control and engineer the Congress?  That citizens of the U.S. expressing their point of view and members of Congress responding positively is some kind of a danger?

Are you upset that the American people and the Congress do not agree with your point of view?  Do you feel that their must be something underhanded or unclean because your views have not prevailed?

Are you angry at Prime Minister Netanyahu because he is doing what the people who elected him want him to do rather than what you think he should do?  Do you think he is fooling and manipulating the people who elected him? 

Do you think you know better what is good for them than the Israelis who gave up Gaza, pulled out of Lebanon, gave up control of most Palestinians prior to the second Intifada, and made generous offers at Camp David, and Taba?  Do you feel comfortable lecturing the people who have sustained years of rockets and sirens in the south of Israel?

Tom, you say that an increasing number of American Jews are becoming detached from and disaffected with Israel.  On the other hand, you paint this picture of some omnipresent group so powerful that they can engineer the behavior of the entire U.S. Congress.  So I have to ask, who actually makes up the "Israel Lobby?"

Here is some advice any campaign or media consultant and any politician who has been through this sort of experience would have given you:  either come completely clean, say you made a dumb mistake, and apologize from the bottom of your heart, or just shut up.  But for your own sake and everyone else's, stop digging!


Sunday, December 18, 2011


The surf's up and Thomas Friedman has got the biggest, baddest board of them all.   He's not just going to ride the wave.  He is going to attack it.  He is one angry, mean surfer.  Nothing seems to get in his way, particularly reality.

The creation and acceptance of the new conventional wisdom is like a wave.  We seem to have wave after wave when it comes to Israel. A few issues, much hyperbolic talk by Israeli politicians, some very irresponsible comments by some members of President Obama's Cabinet,  a willing press, and the truth is born, facts be damned. 

When it comes to Israel, the newest wave appears to be an amendment of the prior one holding that if only Israel would stop building "settlements,"  there would be peace and reconciliation within minutes. Now, in addition to Israel's "settlements" preventing peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, it also seems that Israel's democracy is about to be destroyed.  

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's recent demand that Israel and the Palestinians just "get to the damned bargaining table" seemed to, at a minimum, put the onus equally on the parties for the lack of negotiations, conveniently forgetting that Israel has been pleading for direct negotiations for over a year and suspended West Bank "settlement" expansion for 10 months in order to motivate the Palestinians. 

Friday, December 16, 2011


Comments on:  It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

1. Will Christians lower their voices in Israel?

2. I am always glad when it's over.....I get "Happy Holidayed" to death from people I don't know...and I have to be cordial by saying the same thing....a bit ridiculous but the season at least tends to bring out the best in
people which is a nice temporary fix. That's my random thought of the day!

3. I see you came out
of closet and admitted freely and voluntarily the you watch FOX News. Watching your tiny TV in the closet must have been a drag( pardon the pun!).

4. Happy Hanukkah, My friend, to you and your family!!
5. And Happy Holidays to you and your family! Love your posts!

 6. Israel sounds great for Hanukkah for sure, and for all Jewish holidays for that matter; but I have to say that America is looking pretty perfect up against Spain. One Fox News nativity scene is nothing compared to what it's like here. EVERY public place, EVERY bank, store, and public school sets up a nativity scene "un belĂ©n" as it's called here. If I could find an actual Spanish Jew here, I would love to ask them how they felt about this.

In fact, last week I had an hour free during my teaching schedule and I was asked to help set up the nativity scene with another teacher.

Friday, December 2, 2011


It is officially Christmas season in the U.S.  I know this because Fox News announced that while Christmas displays have been "banned" from public areas, the "fair and balanced" network has set up its nativity scene on the plaza.  Mazel tov!  (Yes, I admit to watching Fox News on occasion.  Choices are limited here.  But I take doses of CNN, MSNBC, the French English language news, and the BBC to ensure my diet is "fair and balanced.")

In fact, some Christmas displays have been banned from government property as a violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  However, as demonstrated by Fox's own display on its property, Christmas displays in public areas on private property are not impacted in the least. Just a minor detail. 

But Fox's proud if slightly erroneous declaration does raise a point, and that is that I look forward to the next month here in Israel. While the Christmas season in the U.S. is pleasant and often brings out the best in people (excluding the malls), it also brings into clarity that, as wonderful and tolerant and inclusive as America is, Jews are still a minority there.