Hamas. The Jews. The New Left.

August 23rd, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

One of the shocking aspects, to me, of the Hamas-Israel bloodshed, is the failure of the European intelligentsia and the young “new left” to condemn Hamas for their specifically anti-Jewish ideology (aside from their anti-Zionist ideology) and its cynical use of the suffering civilians of Gaza to gain world sympathy and support. Hamas is a dangerous, ideology-driven terrorist organization. Emory University Professor Deborah E. Lipstadt pointed out in a recent Op-ed piece in the New York Times: Besides calling for the destruction of Israel, “the Hamas charter contains reference to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a forgery by Czarist officers in 1903 and used by Hitler [and many other Anti-Semitic organizations] as Nazi propaganda. The [Hamas] charter accuses Jews of relying on secret societies to foment global economic and political disasters. It calls on adherents to prepare for ‘the next round with the Jews, the merchants of war.’ ” In addition, Hamas revives some of the oldest anti-Jewish libels. Writes Professor Lipstadt: “When a Hamas spokesman recently stood by his statement that Jews used the blood of non-Jewish children for their matzos, European elites were largely silent.” The plight of the civilian population of Gaza is frightful. While many Israelis sympathize (A recent headline in Haaretz, the Israeli English language newspaper read: “Images From Gaza Should Trouble Every Israeli.”), there are also many Israelis, furious at living with rocket fire, who call for more military ferocity. From my perspective, the people who do not overthrow a zealous government of ideologues eventually pay a terrible price in civilian death. The examples are many. The Germans under the dictatorship of Hitler. The Russians who died from famine, terror, purges and the gulags during the Stalin era. The suffering Chinese who had to endure Mao’s “Cultural Revolution.” I am not an Israeli apologist. I disagree with many Israeli policies and find many Israeli politicians opportunistic. But, I cannot condemn Israel’s violent response to Hamas’s terror attacks. Today’s conflict is not between Israel and the Palestinian people. It is a battle against Hamas terror. Unfortunately, as always, the innocent suffer.

Required Reading

August 8th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

In order to have an insightful and balanced view of the dismal, unending conflict between Israel and its neighbors, HG suggests reading a book published this year: My Promised Land–The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel by Ari Shavit. The author is a columnist for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz and also serves on its editorial board. The book was reviewed on the front page of the New York Times Sunday Book Review and the reviewer said: “Shavit has an un-doctrinaire mind and comes not to praise or to blame, though along the way he does both, with erudition and eloquence; he comes instead to observe and reflect.” The review goes on to say: “It is a Zionist book unblinkered by Zionism. It is about the entire Israeli experience.” The book has made HG reflect about Zionism. Yes, the displacement of Palestinians has been a tragedy (often a tragedy of their own making). But, HG retains his admiration for Zionism. Theodore Herzl witnessed the hatred of Jews that boiled over in France, a civilized European country, during the Dreyfus affair. Herzl realized, as did subsequent Zionist visionaries, that Jews had no future in Europe. Did the Zionists foresee the industrialized murder of millions of Jews by Hitler? Perhaps not, but they did know the destruction of Europe’s Jews was imminent. It was Zionism’s mission to rescue Jews and provide them with a homeland. This is what gave Zionism its urgency. As Shavit notes: “The need was real. The vision was impressive.” Like all nations, Israel was born in blood and fire and maintaining its nationhood has demanded more blood and fire. HG must sadly acknowledge:There has been no other choice.


The Wonderful World Of Public Relations

July 25th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

“If it bleeds it leads.” That’s the operating principle of local TV (and most national) news programs and newspapers. On that basis, Israel is losing the public relations war with Hamas. In Gaza, there are actual dead children, weeping women and maimed and bloody men. Newsworthy and capable of arousing profound emotion. On the Israeli side, there is only footage of a few destroyed buildings. But, very few dead and shattered civilian bodies. Daily fear and disruption is not visual. Yes, there is coverage of the funerals of Israeli soldiers. But, these lack impact. The horrific wars in Vietnam and Iraq have deadened emotions concerning military death. And, there’s an angry Netananyu behind a microphone. Not a big PR plus. Of course, it is not for lack of trying that Hamas isn’t giving Israel PR opportunities. By sheer luck (and Israeli anti-rocket technology) hundreds of Hamas’ rockets haven’t exploded in heavily populated areas. Israel had a better world image when the Hamas military wing, Izz ad-Din-al-Quassan, managed successful suicide bombings that littered Tel Aviv’s streets with Jewish body parts. Hamas has two public relations objectives. For the Arab world (and rival Fatah), Hamas wishes to appear “resolute” and able to “stand up” against Israel For the rest of the world, Hamas wishes to appear as the brutalized victim of Israel (the killer of women and children.) In any case, Hamas is achieving these objectives and winning the PR war. (Curiously, defying logic the suffering population of Gaza does not seem to blame Hamas and its policies for their role in their bloody predicament). The benefits to Hamas from its “victory” seem negligible and the cost in terms of bloodshed is huge. For Israel, punishing Hamas (and the Gaza civilian population) militarily will, in HG’s view, not bring security but only a temporary respite from violence. Is there a solution? Doubtful. There are too many ideologues, religious fanatics, political power seekers involved. The madness will continue since the human capacity for wasteful violence seems limitless. However, we have all been taught that miracles have occurred in this part of the world: Seas have parted and the dead have risen to new life. Time for the miraculous to again make an appearance.



May 7th, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

Yes, HG does think (in brief bursts) about other things than food, wine and spirits. And, when HG does, HG seethes. Here are some things that piss off HG: Opponents of same-sex marriage. Why the fuss? As Henny Youngman might put it: Let gays be as miserable as the rest of us. (I’m kidding, beloved BSK).

(2) The war on drugs. Obviously, there’s no chance of winning this war as long as we’ve got 20,000,000 drug users in the United States and we keep pouring money (and blood) into Afghanistan, the world’s leader in heroin production. Drug addiction isn’t a criminal problem. It’s a medical problem. Instead of facing this fact, the USA continues to fill its overpopulated prisons with perpetrators of “drug related crimes”–primarily young African-American men. Wouldn’t addiction medical research be a better (and cheaper in the long run) idea?

(3) Giving religion a free ride. HG is a non-believer and humanist. However, there are many things about religion HG loves. Namely: Gospel music. The interiors of Italian churches. Gregorian chants.The great religious paintings in museums and cathedrals. Cantorial singing. But, HG does not like the idea that churches, synagogues, mosques and TV “ministries”, etc. pay no taxes. HG thinks they should join the vast mass of disgruntled taxpayers.

(4) Liberals and left-wing folks who hate Israel to the exception of the many countries the world over who are engaged in on-going and morally nebulous conflicts. Israel is located in a very bad neighborhood where folks seem to delight in killing each other. No, the Israelis aren’t saints and Arabs aren’t all blood-thirsty fanatics. But, Israel is still a country surrounded by furious, dedicated enemies and a daily target of terrorist attacks. In order to remain a functioning democracy for 65 years, Israel has had to be tough. So, bleeding hearts, cut the Israelis some slack.

Jewish Pho

February 27th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

HG and BSK have spent these last evenings watching PBS’ Vietnam: A Television History This balanced (but very moving) account of that dreadful, wasteful, almost endless horror made HG and BSK relive the turmoil of the 60’s and early 70’s when the couple marched and protested against the war. BSK recalled HG’s comment as they blocked (under the gaze of Secret Service agents and sneaky FBI photographers) New York’s Whitehall Street draft board headquarters: “After thousands of Americans and millions of Vietnamese are dead and billions and billions of dollars are wasted this is going to be the end result: We’ll get out. The North Vietnamese and the Vietcong will win. And, the United States will get a lot of good Vietnamese restaurants.” A very prescient HG. The recent wasteful (in lives and dollars) war adventures of our peace loving (???) country seems to have produced few benefits (outside of killing Bin Laden). Aside from everything else, where are the Iraqui mezze and Afghan barbecue restaurants that should be opening throughout our fine land?

HG was alerted (through Wikipedia, so maybe not historically impeccable. But, it makes a lovely story ) to a little known sidebar regarding Vietnam history. In 1946, David Ben-Gurion, one of the remarkable founders of Israel, and Ho Chi Minh, the indomitable leader of North Vietnam and fighter for the unification of that nation, were both staying in a Paris hotel. They liked and admired each other and became very close friends. Ho made a remarkable offer. He would turn over a portion of Vietnam as a Jewish homeland. Ben-Gurion thanked him for the offer but said he would drive the British out of Palestine and establish a Jewish state. HG has mused. What if Ho’s offer had been accepted? Would matzo balls now be floating in brimming bowls of tasty pho?

Peter Hellman Books

May 26th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

For your illumination and enhancement HG provides you with a list of books by Peter Hellman:

(1) Chief!: These are case histories from the files of Al Seedman, former New York Chief of Detectives. Forget TV nonsense. This is the way detectives really work. 

(2) Avenue of the Righteous (Later re-issued and expanded as When Courage Was Stronger Than Fear ): This is a book to read when your opinion of the human race is at a low point. These are the astonishing stories of Christians who, at great risk to their lives, saved Jews during World War Two.

(3) The Auschwitz Album: Lest we forget, this is a rending book — 187 photos of Auschwitz with text by Hellman.

(4) American Wine Handbook: A book that tells you what you need to know if you want to drink great American wines.

(5) Heroes. Tales From the Israeli Wars: Exciting accounts of combat and heroism.

(6) Shaping the Skyline : The story of real estate visionary Julien J. Studley.

Now search for them on Amazon.com and thank me later.

Shalom Aleichem and Salaam Aleikem.

May 4th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

A lasting peace between Arabs and Israelis. Decades of war and diplomacy have failed to bring it about. Yet, tonight at Chez HG/BSK harmony will reign between the two cultures as they make a bow to the troubled but tasty Middle East. Tel-Aviv style Falafel is brilliantly complemented by the smoky earthiness of BSK’s inimitable Baba Ganoush. Hummus dusted with Spanish piquant smoked paprika welcomes the coolness of Greek yogurt topped with za’atar. Olives. Cucumber. Chopped sweet onions and tomatoes with Sicilian olive oil (Sicilian cuisine much influenced by Arab occupation centuries ago). Lots of warm pita.

Dessert: More Greek yogurt with walnuts and New Mexico honey. The wine: A modest California Cabernet.

Peace reigns…In the stomach at least.

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