Thursday, September 25, 2008

MaCain and Palin vs. Obama

Sent 25.Sep.2008

A friend of mine recieved a letter about the up and coming elections in the United States. She forwarded to me the letter with a remark that she "can’t dismiss her opinion out of hand". Being I greatly disagreed, I responded to her friend's letter.

This was her friend's letter:
Helen we don't agree on the US election in November. The world is suffering from a lack of leadership - USA - Israel - everywhere. The US is going through an extremely difficult financial crisis which I believe will have long lasting effects in this country and probably a strong negative effect on the world economy.
I am voting for the McCain Pallin Ticket.
I could not cast my vote for Barak Obama.
FYI I am an independent voter - I am NOT registered as a Democrat or a Republican as I don't feel that either party represents me. I also cannot tolerate the partisan politics in which both parties engage.

1. I don't respect a man, Barak Obama, who could sit in church for 20 years and listen to his Pastor spew hateful inciting racist statements I am not a racist and do support white or black racism. Obama claims he wasn't aware of these tirades. I cannot believe that in 20 years, such a bright man, was not aware of the hateful statements his pastor was spouting. Let us turn the tables around. Would either you or I sit in a synagogue for one half hour and listen to a Rabbi speak so hatefully? I don't think so. Would we consider voting for a white person who supported or listened without a response to these hateful ideas? I don't think so.
2. I cannot support a candidate who draws a moral equivalent between terrorist acts and the State of Israel. I believe he is very naive about foreign policy especially when I hear him say that he wants to evaluate and get to the core of the terrorist mentality so that he can understand why they act the way they do. Obama has frightened me when he identifies those whom I consider to be terrorists and gives them credibility by calling them "legitimate" seekers of peace" He believes in meeting with them without any pre-conditions. The UN did the same when they gave Yassar Arafat the same honor. They empowered him. Barak Obama would do the same. What have we learned from history?
3, John McCain has never drawn a moral equivalent between Israel's right of self defense and terrorist acts. He does not call terrorists "freedom fighters"
4. Mr. Obama, in my view, is an empty suit. He has served 3 1/2 years of his first 6 year term as Senator - half of which time he has spent campaigning.
Regarding Sarah Palin
5. Obviously this was a political decision on the part of John McCain. I do not agree with or support her views on abortion, gun control and hunting. I contribute to Planned Parenthood, and animal rights groups. Although I do not support her views on these issues I don't feel that it is valid to beat this woman up for her accomplishments as a Mayor of a small town and currently as Governor of the State of Alaska.
I am disappointed in Gloria Steinem who represented the voice of women and fought for Women's civil rights and equality. Sarah Palin is entitled to the same equality. She was probably able to rise to her current position partially because of the women's movement of the 60's 70 and 80's. It is ironic that the Republican Party has chosen a women as a VP candidate. Sarah Palin does not fit the "concept" of a liberated woman but in my view she is quite a strong and independent thinker and entitled to her choices. They may not be my choices but I don't believe that once we have paved the way for women to rise to powerful positions that we have the right to legislate her thinking and positions. It is one thing to disagree with a candidate's decisions but quite another to put the candidate down based on their gender, appearance, family life etc.
6. Although Sarah Palin practices and supports the concept of 'right to life" I don't believe that she is a proselytizer. Her political record shows supports this. Let us not forget the Thomas Jefferson, a man who wrote that "All Men Are Created Equal " owned more than 100 slaves.
7. Sarah Palin in her experience as Mayor and Governor has had more experience as a decision maker than Barak Obama as a Senator.
8. Did you know that the women employed by the Obama campaign are paid 82 cents on the dollar that men earn. In his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention Obama distinctly said that he would like to see a world in which his daughters would receive equal pay for equal work. The policy in his political office is therefore quite hypocritical and a disgrace.
Partisan Politics.
9. Most recently the Democrats have engaged in the worst kind of Partisan Politics. I am quite disappointed in Hillary Clinton's decision to withdraw her appearance at a rally scheduled to take place on Monday at the UN apposing Iran's potentially Nuclear Power and Ahmadinejad's scheduled appearance at the UN. Hillary decided to withdraw when she learned that Sarah Palin was also invited to appear as a speaker at the rally. . Senator Clinton represents NYS and is my Senator, I resent that she feels that this issue protesting Iranian Nuclear Power is less important than her appearing at the same rally with Sarah Palin. The issues and the best interest of the country should supersede petty partisan politics. FYI, the Democrats lobbied and asked that Sarah Palin's invitation be withdrawn and so no one of this stature will appear at the rally.
Although it was my intention to attend the rally I decided not to do so based upon the priorities of partisan politics.
10. It is my belief that John McCain is the candidate who will most likely put himself above Partisan Politics.

To this I replied:

I read the letter you received from A----, and being you wrote that you "can’t dismiss her opinion out of hand" I needed to respond. There were a number of things that bothered and perplexed me in her letter. I’m writing this to you, even though it is written as if to A----. So here goes, just a few points………

Hello A----,
I am not voting in the American elections. I am far away for many years and do not feel American enough to give me the right to vote. But being the US has such a large effect on the rest of us in the world, I do have the right of opinion. I read you letter to Helen about the elections and would like to comment on some of your conclusions:

1. I like John McCain. He gives a friendly honest impression. But he is backed by a party that is backed by businessmen, politicians and citizens who are backed by many of the values that I think are wrong, harmful and so often downright unethical. Some of those values and the policies they generate have made the US loose its leadership role in the world, and loose its ability to lead a united democratic front to oppose the rise of fundamentalist surges within the Moslem world. These are policies that have made the gap between poor and rich in the US the widest in the western world and have also kept the federal government from poking its nose into the unethical business finaglings that have recently greatly wounded US and global economies.

2. No president can “rule” without a solid backing of his backers. He will need his senators and congressmen to pass legislation, and these are the Party that holds the values mentioned above – regarding religion and state, regarding birth control, regarding immigration, regarding regulation of Fat-Cat earnings, regarding taxation of the rich, regarding gun control, regarding the dangers of global warming, alternative energy and oil and oil and oil, and don’t forget health care and social security. Even if McCain is a total “Democrat” on these issues (which he is evidently not), he will need to make tremendous compromises in order to get the backing of at least a fair part of the Republicans in the House and Senate (remember also who are the big financial backers of many of these elected Republicans?) During the campaign we already saw how McCain is able to backtrack and compromise on issues in order to get the backing he needs.

3. Palin ?!! It is difficult to understand how you can “not agree with or support her views on abortion, gun control and hunting….” And yet support her simply because she is “strong and independent”. It can only be understood if you actually support (and you have the right to do so) her other beliefs from “our mission from god” in Iraq to a disbelief in the dangers of global warming. If this is not so, then I can only gather that you support her only because she is a woman. This too is legitimate, but in my eyes (the eyes of a far away Hillary supporter), this is a dangerous choice considering her views and the fact that you are probably right in calling her “strong”. Considering her views, I would wish for her to be weaker. But more. Statistics of male life expectancy, give her a pretty good chance of becoming president. With her views ? support her just because she is a woman ?? Wow !! unless you also support most of her views. That would be understandable and legitimate.

4. I had difficulty understanding your decision not to attend the rally at the UN opposing Iran's potential Nuclear Power just because Hillary decided she doesn’t want to appear together with Pallin. Hillary made here decision according to her political sensors, whether you agree with them or not (remember the US is in the final month of a very special election campaign). But the moment the rally turns really non-partisan (neither Hillary nor Palin), you decide not to go because of partisanship. You, as Hillary, have a right to your priorities. But why knock her, when there is little difference between both your decisions?

5. Terrorists. Oh my. I’ve always been perplexed with the US administration’s black and white approach to what is a terrorist. I live in a country that constantly needs to cope with terror. In the past, Menachem Begin was a terrorist – who was fighting for a Jewish State and later on made one of the few peace agreement that we’ve made with an arab country. The US has also had it’s past terrorists: the Indians whose land was being taken from them, the Boston Tea Party, to name a few. And yes, Arafat was a terrorist. Having done everything in our power (with Liked governments) to undermine the Oslo agreements and his ability to present his people with a State, we ended up with the Hamas, and traded a fairly secular terrorism looking for a country with a fundamentalist terrorism looking for the world. Perhaps there are Statesmen in the US who are willing to differentiate between the two, seek a modus vivendi with the one, and through that to halt the tremendous surge of the other - fundamentalist terrorism. Obama seems to be saying that it’s a road that needs to be tested. MaCain and the Republican party are not (and certainly not Palin the huntress). I realize you are voting for them because you too see all terrorists as entities we can not talk to. It is a legitimate opinion, but hopefully a very wrong one.

OK. Enough. I really should say a few words about Obama and what you write about him (a very “White” approach to his background). But I’m not campaigning right now and I’ve commented enough.


Monday, September 1, 2008

appraising 43 years of questions.

sent Sept.2008
Recently, a close friend and relative asked to interview me as a prelude to deciding whether to engage in a study of secular Americans who made aliya. The question she and her group were thinking of investigating was the reasons for secular American Jews to leave the land of endless opportunities for the land of milk and honey. Some time during our talk I told her that I think the great majority of secular Americans came because they thought of themselves fulfilling a Zionist destiny. I ventured that the reasons for coming were not so diversified among this minority group of immigrants to Israel. It seemed to me that a much more interesting study would be to see the diversification of attitudes today towards their original Zionist decision. I said this of course because it’s a question which I think I’ve grappled with throughout the years since coming in 1965. I proceeded to give her a very short synopsis of my own attitudes.

In some sketchy form it would appear like this:

1. I grew up as a naïve social-Zionist who saw in the creation of Israel the embodiment of a revival of the Jewish people and the ability of our nation to exemplify to the world the meaning of social justice.

2. I came to Israel to be a builder of that revival and joined a kibbutz in order to work via the highest expression of social justice. As far as I was concerned Israel and the kibbutz were headed in the right direction.

3. My first years in Israel were occupied with adjusting, working and raising a family. I remained a naïve social-zionist clouded to the various processes developing around me.

4. My first awakening jolt came as a result of the war in 1967. No. not the war. And no, not the military occupation itself, but the rude and disturbing public awakening for a Greater Israel during the years after the war, accompanied by frenzied settlement in occupied territories.

5. The Israel of my youth began crumbling as through years of military occupation and harmful settlements, through years of having four sons serving in an army of occupation, Israel became a country with more and more people resolved to an environment of violence, extremism, discrimination, hate and corruption, while becoming consumer and dollar oriented led by the 20 or so families who control the country’s finances and have created one of the widest schisms between the poor and the rich in the western world; and less and less a country whose priorities are the search for peace, education, social welfare, and being a light unto the nations.

6. Having been a Yeshiva student from a secular home till the end of high school, I’d always seen the Jewish religion as part and parcel of my Jewish secular life. After years of seeing how the Israeli religious establishment and its followers have become the backbone of Jewish divisiveness between Jew and Jew, the mentors of hate and discrimination in the occupied territories, the supporters of illegal settlements, the teachers and preachers of right-wing extremism, and one of our main obstacles to learning to cope with our neighbors and enemies, my respect for our religious fellowship in Israel crumbled to ashes.

7. For many years I saw the kibbutz as a bulwark of a different society, a society where human value is measured in behavior rather than in wealth. I joined the effort to build and deepen such a society. In my own kibbutz, as in many others, that effort was waging a losing battle against the seeming opportunities of the consumer world and the kibbutz’s own inability to cope with individual aspirations within a diversified community. My model community slowly lost its meaning through internal disintegration, and then quickly turned into something else as it was consumed and assimilated by the larger surroundings.

8. The disappointment and frustration in the dissolution of my expectations and dreams regarding the triad of my younger naïveté, my religion – my country – my model society – did not succeed in driving me away from a hope that all three will eventually tread the golden road. Naïveté melted over years of reality while expectations were mellowed with the knowledge of uncertainty in the struggle to fulfill earlier and present hopes.

9. It is a moot point to ask whether I would still come here “then”, if I had known what I know today. “Then” I would still be younger and naïve without having the perspective of time. Even if I knew the situation of “today”, I would still not realize the difficulty in the struggle to change reality. Nor would I know the surprising abruptness of some changes in reality. At any rate, I’d like to think that the younger me would still hop on the boat for Israel with the challenge of changing the future.

10. The inertia of life molds some of the boundaries of our possibilities and opportunities. In the 1980’s I was already disappointed with the reality of my kibbutz community, from a community with vision to an empty shell of a kibbutz framework. I saw little hope in changing the direction of that reality. I was looking over the fence and probably would have liked trying other places, meaning other kibbutzim. By that time, in our 40’s, we had four sons and four elderly parents to take care of. We were anchored. We also thought of taking a leave via “shlichut” abroad for a few years, both as a mission and as a “breather”. That too was scuttled by the need to care for elderly parents. I don’t think at any point were we contemplating “leaving” the country. I don’t remember it ever even being an “if we could”. Nor was I ever going to leave the ideal of a kibbutz. Anyways, we were anchored. In the end, of course, the kibbutz left us and we were turned into a suburban center of the nearest town. The inertia of life has fairly impenetrable boundaries. Within them rest our possibilities and opportunities.

11. For many years now, I’ve entertained another important question: Knowing what we know today, and being frustrated with the possible future of our country, what would I suggest to my children? I am deeply worried for my four children and eight grandchildren. In 1982 when Katyusha rockets fell heavily around us for a period of three weeks before it was possible to silence them, we took our selves and our children into underground shelters never thinking of running down south to a safer haven. In August of 2006, when rockets were again pounding our area for over a month and most of the community drove south, Iris and I knew we weren’t going anywhere. We stayed put. Two of our children living here, now married and with two of their own, drove south and returned only after the war was over. I was very glad they went. But, I was also sorry that the feeling of “we shall not be moved from here” which was so natural in 1982 was almost totally missing in 2006. I know, there are reasons for it, and times have changed, and don’t judge one period thru the lens of another. Nevertheless, I think I silently rebuked my children for having “run away”. And yet, I was glad they went. These are conflicting emotions with no need to ease the conflict between them.

12. I could never leave the country unless I saw all hope for a future gone, or was forcibly driven into the sea. We live under the constant prediction of war. We are threatened with possible nuclear destruction. We are at the forefront of the storm brewing between Islamic fundamentalism and western civilization. All this goes far beyond the frustrations of religion/country/society gone sour. In reality, it is a perilous existence. Yet, I won’t leave. Through vision or delusion, I have hope. But what of our children and grandchildren ? Am I willing for them to gamble on my hope ? No problem….they’re grown up and make their own decisions. But should I tell them that I’d like them to leave for safer shores ? …….just in case……?........perhaps they’re not totally aware of the risk…..? Of course, if they were to leave I would probably silently rebuke them for “running away”, but perhaps I would be somewhat relieved that the family line has a better chance for a safe future. No matter…..I’ve never raised the issue out loud with our children. I probably never will. It’s a subject which will remain as one of my silent conflicts.