Archive for April, 2012
I am hardly in the dark when it comes to politics, the news generally and Israel specifically. After all, I write this blog post regularly, do three hours of talk radio a week and I’m a Jew. Which is why I was so surprised to hear today, for the first time ever, the term “Israel-Firsters.” I had no idea what it meant or whose agenda it was supposedly furthering. It turns out the term may have been created by MJ Rosenberg, writing for the Left’s Media Matters financed on-line blog “Political Correction.” I am not certain whether Mr. Rosenberg originated the phrase or just likes to use it a lot. But use it he does.
I am somewhat familiar with Mr. Rosenberg from my work several decades ago that involved interaction with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (A.I.P.A.C.). Back then, Mr. Rosenberg had a diametrically opposed position on American-Israeli relations than he has today. While I have no idea what caused his political “conversion,” he is now the prototypical convert. He is a zealot for his new belief system. In his case, that belief system is founded upon a disdain (a mild choice of wording for sure) for all Americans who support the right of Israel to exist as well as any strategic interest common to both the United States and Israel.
Israel-Firsters apparently refers to those Americans who allegedly put the interest of Israel before the best interest of the United States and see it as “Israel first and above all else.” This term is thoroughly expounded upon, in the negative, by Michael Scheuer in a post titled “Turning The Tables on The Israeli-Firsters.”
I’d like to address two points to both Messrs. Rosenberg and Scheuer.
First, when a position is so extreme that it can’t help but be conveyed with a mean spiritedness, such an undertone belies both objectivity and any assertion of neutrality. Both Messrs. Rosenberg and Scheuer cannot help but write about Israel without sounding as if they have either some axe to grind or political agenda to advance. So much for intellectual honesty.
Secondly, Mr. Scheuer’s assertion that the U.S. is inappropriately enmeshed in a “religious war” between Jews (Israel) and Muslims (the Arab world) is another attempt to reframe the reality in order to advance a political agenda. While it is true that the Koran, and thereby Arab nations, seek the annihilation of the State of Israel and all Jews on religious grounds, Israelis and Jews generally simply seek to live in peace within the borders of their state without imposing any religious agenda on those whose belief system is different from their own. Any insertion by the United States into that conflict is for the sole purpose of obstructing the stated intention of the Arab nations to eradicate the only democratic government that remotely resembles and supports principles and values similar to those held by the United States. Simply put, like attracts like and friends stand up for friends.
As a guardian of the Constitution and free speech, I defend Messers. Rosenberg’s and Scheuer’s right to publicly state their opinions. Unfortunately, both are giving voice merely to their “estimates of reality” based upon very limited perspectives and as such, reach conclusions that are grossly imprecise.
I, personally, prefer to draw my conclusions based upon fact, not opinion.
Yes, the recently published photos from Afghanistan showing U.S. soldiers posing with maimed body parts of Taliban killed in action is disturbing on many levels. It’s disturbing that the L.A. Times is so lacking in editorial discretion and politically motivated that it would publish the photos. Unfortunately, blood sells papers (and assures traffic to websites, television programs as well as movies) and the “gore of war” supports those who advocate for immediate withdrawal of our troops from that conflict. It’s certainly disturbing that U.S. soldiers would behave in such a fashion.
But mostly, it’s disturbing that humanity has arrived at an acceptance, almost normalization, of extreme violence. We not only act it out in various ways but have an unhealthy interest, also normalized, in following the stories and watching the visuals. While humankind has always been violent, our misuse of the technology has done much to create this normalcy bias. We have grown accustomed to the infliction of pain and suffering and somehow, accept it as part of who we are.
Nothing could be further from the truth. We have the capacity for compassion and unity. It is our birthright. However, it is a choice we must consciously exercise. Being human, with all of the potential for what that entails, requires that we be deliberate in our use of those potentialities and aspire to our highest good.
Violence and war will be part of our reality so long as we “nourish” such thoughts and accept as normal the acting out of them. Each of us must be vigilant in our own lives that we are not contributing to the inevitable end product of the misperception that we are separate form one another and that it is possible to harm another without harming ourselves.
If the story and photos out of Afghanistan are repugnant to you yet you are fighting with a friend, relative, co-worker, or neighbor… you are being part of the problem not the solution. The remedy for what ails the world starts with each one of us and radiates outward.
This post will be shorter than most. Mainly because I am speechless (perhaps “wordless” is more accurate under the circumstances). I just read the headline story on Fox News.com that President Obama issued the following “stern warning” to the Supreme Court regarding their decision on Obamacare due in June. It reads, in part as follows:
“I’m confident this will be upheld because it should be upheld.”
“Ultimately, I am confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”[…] and compared the court’s rejection of the law to “judicial activism.”
The definition of “arrogance” in Wikipedia will now necessitate a photo of the President to accompany the definition. In fact, why don’t they drop the “Of Hope” from the next printing of his autobiography and just title it “Audacity.”
Where I come from its called “chutzpah.” Whatever you call it…exactly who does he think he is?
The latest disclosure in the Trayvon Martin killing appears to be that NBC selectively edited then aired the 911 call made by George Zimmerman resulting in the impression that Zimmerman voluntarily identified the suspect as “black” rather than responded to the dispatcher’s question as to whether the suspect was “black, white or Hispanic?” So the facts turn out to be different than the illusion.
As a former practicing attorney, I can tell you that the facts are seldom apparent. They require a diligent and determined effort if they are to be uncovered. It’s why we have pre-trial investigations, a formal process of discovery, trials by judges or juries who act as arbiters of the facts as presented. Even after all of that, we remain conflicted when the death penalty is at stake because we know, in our hearts, that even after the most thorough effort sometimes facts, and therefore the truth, still remain undetected.
But undetected facts are quite different than deliberately obscured facts.
What one or more persons at NBC did in editing that 911 call was deliberate. It was either a knowing falsehood, with the intent to mislead, or it was incompetence. Either way, there’s no justification and no excuse for the damage done.
I frequently speak professionally to organizations on ethics. In fact, I developed a system called Ethics-To-Go© because, in a highly technological and rapidly shifting world where trends change daily, we need “user-friendly” ways to hold onto what we value.
Everywhere you look, we are deficient in ethics. There is an absence of ethical behavior in both our public and private leaders. These individuals, however, are not the cause. We are. We get the leaders we deserve. So long as we do not demand of ourselves the highest ethical (and moral) behavior we can expect no more from those who aspire and rise to positions of authority and power. They are merely our reflection.
NBC, by its malfeasance, has contributed not only to the lowest common denominator but also to the violence erupting nationally. By their act they bolster those who believe this crime was all about race rather than about fear and aggression and in so doing, fan the flames of racial hatred and violence.
Thus far, there are several take-a-ways from this as yet unfolding story.
- We are not a nation of vigilante justice.
- Violence begets violence.
- Allowing the process to unfold is critical.
- Manipulation of the truth results in staged chaos.
- We cannot reply upon the media.
I suspect there are more take-a-ways yet to come.
In the meantime, let’s be grateful that there’s enough light around to illuminate all this darkness. Let’s also be committed to being the Light so we enlighten ourselves and others. It is only by embracing personal responsibility that we can hope to someday get the leaders we want and deserve.