Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor
Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement. Now also a Blogger on the Times of Israel. Look for my column
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Breaking News-Ministers raise fine on not wearing a mask to NIS 500
The closest Country to the US without sharing a border?
Which country is closest to the United States without sharing a border?
While many people may think that Russia is the closest country to the US, it still shares a maritime border with it, Russian territorial waters touch American territorial waters, as do those of the Bahamas and Cuba.
The closest country that shares neither a terrestrial nor a maritime border with the US is actually France!
I hear people already saying that can't be, France is across the ocean!
Well, in fact, you can get a taste of France just 850km (528mi) away from Maine, on the border of Canada. There's a tiny bit of France there that wasn't taken away by the British along with the rest of North America.
I'm talking about the archipelago of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon.
These tiny islands are an overseas territory of France in North America, a leftover from their colonial empire. It was settled along with the rest of New France (a large share of today's Midwest and Quebec) centuries ago. But, unlike the rest of New France, it was never lost to the British or sold to America, and it never became independent despite multiple referendums on the matter since 1945, the inhabitants have always chosen to remain a part of France.
Saint Pierre and Miquelon is an archipelago of eight islands, Saint-Pierre (25 km²) and Miquelon-Langlade (216 km²) being the major ones. Collectively the area of the islands is 242 km², which is about the size of Brooklyn in New York City. The total coastline is 120 km.
Capital: Saint-Pierre; 46°47′N 56°11′W / 46…
The islands are situated in the Gulf of St. Lawrence near the entrance of Fortune Bay, which extends into the southwestern coast of Newfoundland, near the Grand Banks of Newfoundland They are 25 kilometers (16 mi) from the Burin Peninsula of Newfoundland and 3,819 kilometers (2,373 mi) from Brest, the nearest city in Metropolitan France.
Saint-Pierre and Miquelon isn't a special collectivity as are French Polynesia, New Caledonia, or Wallis and Futuna, it's a region of France, just like existing regions in mainland France and benefits from the same status, laws, and duties as any other region in France. To put it simply, it is France.
In spite being located at a similar latitude to the Bay of Biscay, the archipelago is characterized by a cold borderline humid continental/subarctic climate, under the influence of polar air masses and the cold Labrador Current. The mild winters for being a subarctic climate also means it has influences of subpolar oceanic climate, thus being at the confluence of three climatic types. The February mean is just below the −3 °C (27 °F) isotherm for that classification.
Due to just three months being above 10 °C (50 °F) in mean temperatures and winter lows being so mild, Saint Pierre and Miquelon. The average temperature is 5.3 °C (41.5 °F), with a temperature range of 19 °C (34 °F) between the warmest (15.7 °C (60.3 °F) in August) and coldest months (−3.6 °C (25.5 °F) in February).] Precipitation is abundant (1,312 mm or 51.7 in per year) and regular (146 days per year), falling as snow and rain.Because of its location at the confluence of the cold waters of the Labrador Current and the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, the archipelago is also crossed a hundred days a year by fog banks, mainly in June and July.
Two other climatic elements are remarkable: the extremely variable winds and haze during the spring to early summer.
The second closest country to share neither a terrestrial nor a maritime border would be Bermuda which is a British overseas territory and is 1063km (660mi) from the closest US coastline.
Ideas, that help explain how the world works--one person's story
What do people stop doing when they get older?
I'm a 78 year(s) old widower. Being an artist and musician and having earned a pretty decent living at those for most of lifetime I now find myself alone, well, not really. I was 75 when my wife of 43 years died. My son wanted me to come and live with him and his family (wife, and 2 teen granddaughters whom I love). But I'm a pretty solitary sort of person and they have a pretty active and noisy household. Instead, I opted to buy a new truck and 'hit the road' with my dog, bear. We traveled about the western states for close to 2 years. A story in itself. When I tired of that I chose to call the Northern California Sierra foothills my home. Close to my family but far enough away to be independent. I live a quiet peaceful life in a small cabin in the hills. But only 20 miles from civilization…I'm reclusive, not stupid.
I met a lady at a dog park about 2 years ago. And although she is quite a bit younger than I am (51) we are pretty much equal and very similar in our likes and dislikes and interests. (art, music etc.) She refuses to accept that I'm 78…and claims that I'm younger than her (mentally). When I found the cabin, roughly 1–1/2 years ago I asked her if she would consider moving in with me and sharing expenses and possibly goals…our lives in other words. I was easy. My goal was to paint and compose music and possibly do some writing…I have a comfortable income. She travels to her job throughout the week and is home evenings and weekends so we really don't clutter up each others space…and we have so much in common. Places we've lived, places we've travelled to. Our basic philosophies are very close. We neither expect anything of each other nor demand anything. She very pretty and smart and willowy. I, of course worry that she'll eventually find someone else, if not immediately…eventually. But she swears that she's happy being with me and will look after me when the time comes. Fortunately I'm quite young at heart and in remarkable condition. I've never been sick…I don't even get the usual maladies like colds or the flu. We may have a long long time together.
So "what do people stop doing when they get older'? I don't have a clue. What I did was 'just continued to live, love and enjoy'.
Dr. Ron Paul's Urgent Coronavirus Message for Every American
Most Americans will be blindsided by what's about to happen… But not those who learn the critical steps necessary to protect yourself and your family from what's coming next.
The Emperor's New Mask By Daniel Greenfield
The NFL is testing face masks, not for the fans in the stands, but for the players. Is there a face mask in the world that will stop virus particles from being inhaled when the players are inches apart and slamming into each other at high speeds? Probably not. But masks have become a cultural symbol.
That's why masks are being deployed in environments where they're ridiculous and useless.
A strip club in Wyoming reopened with mandatory masks. At restaurants in Atlanta, waiters wear face masks. Both are equally silly. Non-medical masks might stop large droplets, but won't stop small ones. People interacting at close range will be producing small droplets that a cloth mask won't stop. When everyone is inches away from each other, talking and exchanging money, the masks are just a fetish.
What a mask says is more important than what it does. That's why it's the symbol of the rioters who flock in hundreds and thousands, screaming and yelling, while wearing masks to cover their faces. It's why Governor Whitmer and Governor Murphy violated her own executive orders, marching closely with Black Lives Matter racists while wearing masks to show two types of political virtue.
Governor Andrew Cuomo claimed that masks are a symbol of "respect". He's partly right. Masks are a symbol, but not of respect. Cuomo, whose policies killed thousands of nursing home residents, understands that better than any of the gullible yuppie emigrants to New York who made him a hero.
Against an intangible virus and the fear it spreads, masks are a protective fetish and a badge of moral superiority. To wear a mask is to say that you are a responsible person who obeys public officials.
The mask is a badge of citizenship in a lockdown society. And is instinctively rejected by opponents of it.
Clothing retailers from the Gap to Nordstrom have jumped on the mask bandwagon. There is already a 'Mask of the Month' club that will send you a customized mask and a Baltimore gay leather bar is selling masks with shirtless firemen on them. Major fashion designers offer premium priced masks and Disney, which never misses a licensing opportunity, will sell you Mickey Mouse masks to stave off the virus.
Why is there such a proliferation of individualistic mask designs, many of which are actually less effective than the baseline blue surgical mask? Because the masks are part of the wearer's identity.
Advertising for these masks doesn't delve into the medical effectiveness of their construction.
A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases found a "wide variation in filtration efficiency" among different types of fabrics. It also noted that, "a mask made from a four-layer woven handkerchief fabric, of a sort that might be found in many homes, had 0.7% filtration efficiency for 0.3 micron size particles."
Customized brand masks, like those sold by Disney, are usually polyester and especially bad.
"Don't use a synthetic or a polyester because they've looked at the virus's ability to survive on surfaces, and spandex is the worst," Dr. Daniel Griffin, a Columbia U expert on infectious diseases had warned.
The customized mask industry is selling people the illusion of protection while actually endangering them. But the mask isn't a medical solution. Like many politically correct products, it signals the wearer's virtue by showing that he or she cares about other people. And is on board with current trends.
"We care a lot about you people cause we're out to save the world," Faith No More sang. "It's a dirty job but someone's gotta do it."
Social justice claims to care and to look down at those who don't. Caring about the coronavirus is only the latest incarnation of caring about acid rain, the whales, poverty, racism, war and all the phobias. Good people care about socially relevant crises and show that they care by wearing something.
These days that's a mask.
It's a dirty piece of polyester choked with bacteria, but somebody's gotta wear it to save the world.
Buying a mask that donates a percentage of sales to a charity, and then wearing this new style in public is the new t-shirt or bumper sticker. It spreads awareness and shames those who are still 'unaware'.
The whole point of caring about things isn't just the ego boost, it's to look down at those who don't. What good is gaining a higher social status by wearing a status symbol if you can't look down at those who aren't wearing that thing which conveys to everyone passing by that you are better than them?
Wearing a mask was initially discouraged. The public was told that masks were reserved for health care professionals. And then it was not only encouraged, but mandated. Now every urban hipster cheering vicariously for our 'health care heroes' can wear a mask and sneer at those who just don't care.
The only problem is that it's hard to sneer while wearing a mask. That's what the customization is for.
Fetish objects of social responsibility cause more problems than the ones they claim to be solving.
Electric cars are worse for the environment than regular cars. Reusable shopping bags spread disease. And it's not unusual to see mask wearers clustering together outside artisanal coffee shops and hip eateries, chattering in the certainty that the magic of their masked moral superiority will protect them.
Like celebrities announcing that they're saving the planet by wearing the same tuxedo or dress to the different award shows in the different cities and on the different continents that they jet between, the mask is a meaningless fetish object that provides social approbation for a multitude of riskier behaviors.
Masked NFL players from opposing teams are not going to be protected from spreading the virus to each other by wearing masks under their helmets. Wearing masks doesn't make a restaurant or strip club safe. But wearing masks while taking everything else off is what passes for progressive virtue.
The point is not to protect anyone, but to care.
Governor Cuomo, who lectures non-mask wearers on respect, cares. Not enough to protect the 5% of New York's nursing home population who died of the coronavirus when he ordered these facilities to accept coronavirus patients. But he cares enough to constantly talk about how much he cares.
And that, like a stripper in a mask, is what progressive virtue looks like. It's naked, but covered in a false face. The emperor wears no clothes, except for the façade of caring concealing his true face.
"Virtue has a veil, vice a mask," Victor Hugo once wrote.
Wearing a mask is about appearing to be a better person without being a better person. That is what the fetishes of social responsibility, whether it's farm-to-table food or flying on carbon credits, are about.
Social responsibility has always been about putting on masks of political correctness, of environmental concern, or benevolence toward the lower classes that conceal the real face of the leftist. Now the masks have stopped being a metaphor. And the metaphor is something you buy and wear outside.
The masks may be real, but the virtues of social responsibility they represent are just as hollow.
Being a good person is hard work, but anyone can put on a mask.
The Gaza They Do Not Want You to See By Bassam Tawil
The Palestinian terror group Hamas has warned Palestinians in the Gaza Strip not to publish photos from the Gaza Strip on social media platforms.
In a June 9 statement, the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Interior claimed that "Israeli intelligence agencies have been asking residents of the Gaza Strip — through social media — to use their mobile phones to take pictures of various places in the Gaza Strip."
Hamas warned Palestinians against complying with the alleged Israeli request and claimed that Israel was using social media accounts to "recruit collaborators and obtain information."
Hamas added that its security forces were monitoring Israeli and Palestinian social media accounts and would take "legal measures" against Palestinians who interacted with the purported Israeli intelligence agencies.
Is Hamas actually worried that the Israeli security authorities would use the photos to "recruit" informants or that Palestinians might take pictures of its tunnels and rockets? Not exactly.
Hamas is worried that the photos and videos taken by Palestinians would reveal to the world a different reality of the situation in the Gaza Strip — a reality that runs contrary to all the stories and images of "poverty," "misery" and "suffering" of Palestinians there.
What Hamas seeks to conceal from the world are the shopping malls, supermarkets, fancy restaurants, sleek coffee shops and modern clothing stores that have sprung up in the Gaza Strip in recent years.
Such images are excruciatingly embarrassing for the leaders of Hamas, who want to continue lying with impunity about Palestinians in the Gaza Strip suffering as a result of Israel's "blockade" on the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave. These images are also an embarrassment to anti-Israel propagandists seeking to portray a completely different reality of life in the Gaza Strip as part of their campaign to delegitimize Israel and demonize Jews by holding them fully responsible for the "suffering" of Palestinians.
The Hamas warning came after several photos and video clips depicting the good life of many Palestinians in the Gaza Strip appeared on a number of social media platforms, particularly Twitter.
One popular Twitter account called, @Imshin, has been disseminating videos, blog spots, and news from the world of the middle-class and wealthy of the Gaza Strip that never makes it into the mainstream media. Relying on videos and photos taken by Palestinians, the account provides unique insight into the comfortable life of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as they engage in shopping sprees and enjoy their outings at swimming pools, upscale restaurants, luxurious hotels and beach resorts.
On June 2, the account featured a post about the Royal House Chalet, south of the University of Gaza — one of the most modern and lavish resorts in the Gaza Strip, fully equipped with an impressive swimming pool and state-of-the-art suites.
Another post features the Viola Restaurant and Café, a popular spot in the Gaza Port famous for its variety of desserts and snacks.
Palestinians planning a barbecue for Thursday night (the last day of work in the week) are invited to purchase all their barbecue supplies at the Care4Mall in the Gaza Strip. Located in the Tal al-Hawa suburb of Gaza City, the mall includes stores for home appliances, food stores and a fast-food court. "We provide all goods and services the citizen needs," the shopping mall says on its Facebook page. "We strive to achieve customer satisfaction and appreciation by providing competitive prices."
Ironically, the shopping mall also boasts that among the goods it provides is the Israeli instant coffee brand, Elite's "Namess". Apparently, Hamas and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have not heard of (or do not seem to care about) the anti-Israel campaign to boycott Israeli products and manufacturing companies, including the large food company Elite.
In other videos posted on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, the children of the Gaza Strip are documented purchasing mobile phones and enjoying the taste of various flavors of ice cream and slushies.
One of the popular ice cream businesses is the Kazem Ice Cream shop in the neighborhood of al-Rimal in the Gaza Strip, home to a number of Hamas leaders. Smartphones, including the iPhone 11, the most recent version of Apple devices, are available for sale in supermarkets throughout the Gaza Strip, as recently announced by Metro Market, one of the largest supermarkets in the area.
A few weeks ago, one of the Gaza Strip's fanciest shopping malls was inaugurated in Nusierat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. The new Al-Danaf Hyper Mall includes a large supermarket where shoppers can purchase various imported goods that are often not even available in Israeli markets.
Earlier this year, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip celebrated the opening of the Deux Fashion clothing store, located on Ahmad Abd al-Aziz Street in Gaza City. The large store offers various clothing brands, mostly imported from Turkey and other countries. "The best place to buy men's clothes, online or offline, with the highest quality for the best price," reads the advertisement published on the store's Facebook page.
These are only a handful of images from the Gaza Strip that make Hamas nervous. How can Hamas continue begging for financial aid from the United Nations and other international humanitarian aid organizations when Palestinians are posting photos families on shopping sprees and children eating ice cream and buying smartphones?
How can Hamas and its supporters around the world continue to complain about poverty and misery when new shopping malls and supermarkets filled with clothes and various types of luxury goods are being opened every few weeks in the Gaza Strip?
Why are foreign correspondents covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ignoring the greener pastures in the Gaza Strip? Why are Palestinian journalists based in the Gaza Strip dumping photographic documentation of these sunny, positive developments in the Gaza Strip into the dustbin? It is because such images do not fit their anti-Israel narrative and agenda.
The foreign and Palestinian journalists are complicit in the Hamas coverup: they want to continue blaming Israel for everything negative that Palestinians encounter. Given the latest Hamas warning, it is only a matter of time before one hears about Palestinians being imprisoned or killed for "betraying" the Palestinian cause by posting photos of the Gaza Strip's newest version of "the Ritz" and children gleefully licking their multicolored ice-cream cones.
Time for Trump to be Trump, at Home and Abroad By Caroline B. Glick
Donald Trump was elected four years ago because Americans wanted to save their country. Both in domestic and foreign policy, in the eighth year of Barack Obama's presidency, America was going off the rails. At home, Obama's identity politics were tearing the country apart. As is now graphically apparent, identity politics are not about expanding justice. They are geared towards tearing Americans away from one another and undermining the very idea of America.
Abroad, America had become the laughingstock of its enemies and the worst nightmare of its friends, as Obama and his merry band of foreign policy "experts" abandoned and denigrated allies and reorganized America's foreign policy around a commitment to appeasing and kowtowing to America's worst foes, first and foremost Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Trump rose to the top of a crowded field of Republican candidates because voters believed that the iconoclast who made good deals because he cared about the result and didn't care what people thought of him would make America great again. They believed they could trust him to tell the truth and do what needed to be done, no matter how many inbred "experts" told him differently.
And America needed a leader who wouldn't shy away from controversy.
In 2016, with Obama's backing, the radical, anti-American, anti-police #BlackLivesMatter group was ascendant. Police had targets on their backs. Two weeks before the Republican Convention in July 2016, five police officers were massacred in Dallas after anti-police protests in the city. Days before the convention, three policemen were murdered and four were wounded in another massacre in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Defending law enforcement officers and pledging to restore safety to America's cities was a major theme of Trump's convention address and a major pledge of his campaign. And he delivered.
According to FBI data, after rising sharply in the last years of the Obama presidency, violent crime in America went down in every year of Trump's presidency.
Those gains are now being reversed now. The radical mobs Trump pledged to remove from America's streets have returned. Waving the banner of identity politics and spewing hatred of America, they are wreaking havoc, terror, devastation and crime. Last week saw a 100 percent rise in the number of murders and shootings in New York City. Los Angeles experienced a 250 percent rise in shootings and murder. Last weekend, Chicago saw the highest murder toll in a 24-hour period in 60 years.
Businesses have been looted and destroyed. And the violence continues and mutates daily. A mob of Antifa thugs took over six square blocks of Seattle and is working to reenact its conquest in other cities. Progressive mayors and governors are responding by kneeling and blaming Trump.
The police, for their part, are walking away. As police officer Travis Yates wrote this week in a stunning essay at the Law and Officer website, police officers are demoralized by the politically powerful mobs of radical leftists that demonize them. The rational choice for officers today is to quit, he wrote bitterly.
This crisis is tailor-made for Trump's leadership. Trump was elected to defang the commissars of political correctness who terrorized Americans intellectually, socially, racially and physically. When he said, "We cannot afford to be politically correct anymore," he was speaking for hundreds of millions of Americans who were afraid to speak out lest they lose their jobs or face social ostracism for harboring dissident views of identity politics.
Now the commissars have become wardens and all of America is their prison. Americans are now expected to kneel when the Star Spangled Banner plays and to disavow American history while swallowing whole a false, malicious new history that claims America has been a force for evil at home and worldwide since it was nothing more than a sparkle in a racist colonialist's eye.
Trump's approval ratings dropped 10 points in the space of a week. It's possible that terrified voters are afraid to tell pollsters the truth and that the numbers are false. But it's also possible that the drop is real.
In the face of this chaos and madness in the streets of America, Trump is not doing what he does best. He is not standing center stage defending the father and mother holed up at home, terrified of the mob marching down their street or looting their store. He is not protecting high school and college students who must accept the mob's rules or face ostracism and failing grades. He is doing many things, to be sure. But they are scattershot and uncertain.
Trump has the advisers in place to put together a plan for immediate implementation. Roundtable meetings will not suffice. Actions must be taken to end mob rule, restore order, stand with police and protect the silenced, terrified citizens worried about their safety, their families and their freedom to love their country.
Everything Trump entered politics to oppose is returning and threatening to take over America for good.
Now is his moment to act forthrightly and decisively. Now is the time for Trump to be Trump.
The same holds in foreign affairs. Administration officials—Trump loyalists—are down in the dumps right now. Trump's low polling numbers may or may not reflect the true state of affairs, but they harm his ability to influence foreign actors. The leaders of Germany and France are practically frothing at the mouth in expectation of deliverance from the first U.S. president in memory who actually expected them to act like real allies, pay their share of the NATO budget and stand with the United States and against Iran as it sprints towards the bomb and against China as it uses its 5G network to leapfrog over the United States.
The Chinese are betting that their virus, which capsized the Trump economy, will spell the demise of their nemesis. And the Iranians are so sure that he will be defeated that they are enriching uranium in broad daylight.
When he came into office, the first step Trump took was to make clear to all takers that America would no longer be abandoning its interests and its allies and would stand with Israel. This wasn't a move—as his haters claimed—to rally his evangelical base. It was a strategic play.
Israel is not just the United States' most loyal and steady ally in the Middle East. It is also the ally that was most brutally betrayed by Obama and despised by Obama's progressive supporters. It makes sense that the likes of Black Lives Matter and the BDS thugs are joined at the hip and united in their hatred of the Jewish state.
Police are the guarantors of America's domestic peace. They are charged with keeping Americans safe, and they make it possible for America to succeed and prosper.
The strength of America's alliance with Israel is a reflection of the strength of American power. Since Israel shares the same values and interests as the United States, a strong Israel serves as an extension of U.S. power in the Middle East. So too, Israel is the bogeyman of the foreign policy establishment worldwide. So when America stands with Israel it is standing against the foreign policy mob. Standing up to the mob is not for the faint of heart. So by standing with Israel, the United States proves its courage and power.
Trump's reversal of Obama's hostile policies towards Israel got the world's attention. They made the likes of Iran and China realize he meant it when he said that he was adopting policies that would be good for America and bad for its foes. By standing with Israel, Trump also showed other spurned allies that America could be trusted again.
On January 27, Trump presented his vision for peace in the Middle East. It is based on a rejection of the "experts"" collective "wisdom" regarding the region that had formed the basis for 25 years of failed U.S. Middle East policy. Contrary to the consensus view, Trump understood that Israel wasn't responsible for the absence of peace.
The source of war, radicalism and terrorism in the Middle East was radical Islam and the Arab world's rejection of the Jewish people's right to freedom and sovereignty in their homeland. The rejectionist Palestinians were the apotheosis of the Arab world's pathologies.
Trump's plan recognizes that the first step to peace is for Israel to render permanent its control in Judea and Samaria because only by doing so will it kill the myth that Israel is an "occupier" in its ancestral homeland and extinguish the hope of the Palestinians and their supporters that Israel can be destroyed. Peace can be accomplished only after the questions of Israel's legitimacy and security are taken off the table.
So the first step on Trump's road to peace is for Israel to apply its laws to all of its communities in Judea and Samaria and to the Jordan Valley, Israel's eastern frontier with Jordan. Once that step is implemented, the Palestinians will be expected to take specific actions, like ending payments to terrorists, to show that they are willing to make peace. Peace itself, which can lead to a Palestinian state, requires the Palestinians to do basic things like accept Israel and dismantle Hamas.
It is hard to know if peace will ever come. But if it ever does, it will be on the basis of the Trump plan. Because unlike all the plans that preceded it, Trump's peace plan is based on reality.
Unfortunately, the excitement that greeted Trump's plan was overtaken by the multiple crises of more recent months. Moving it forward is likely not on the top of Trump's list of priorities.
That list ought to be reconsidered though. Now is the time for decisive action. Trump's domestic enemies and international rivals are using his distraction to try to undermine his revolutionary accomplishment. Democrats are threatening Israel with a downgrading of relations if Israel dares to apply its laws to the areas envisioned in Trump's plan. Germany is leading Europe's passive-aggressive charge with threats of sanctions if Israel implements its sovereignty plan in accordance with Trump's vision for peace. Threatening Israel is seen by these forces as a means to begin dismantling all of Trump's foreign policy achievements and undermining the public's perception of his competence.
If Trump wishes to defeat his opponents and restore his credibility, the first thing he should do is call on Israel to apply its sovereignty to its communities in Judea and Samaria and to the Jordan Valley in accordance with his blueprint for peace. Doing so will restore faith in Trump's seriousness of purpose, and increase his credibility at home and abroad.
The American voters elected Trump to be Trump. They will reelect him if he sticks to his guns. Staring down the mob, defending the police and protecting the public; standing with Israel, and advancing his vision of reality-based peace are the two legs on which he built much of his pre-coronavirus success. Now they are the two main bases on which he will reassert his leadership and win his second term.
No Going Wobbly Now, Bibi By Caroline B. Glick
Over the past week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has changed his mind countless times regarding how and when he will implement Israel's sovereignty plan in Judea and Samaria in consonance with President Donald Trump's vision for peace. Netanyahu's vacillations are clearly a product of the immense pressure being exerted on him to cancel the plan to apply Israeli law to the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria and to the Jordan Valley and turn his back on Trump's Middle East peace plan.
This is a shame. It is also absurd. When we consider the source of much of the pressure—and the reasons it is being exerted—it becomes glaringly clear that the critics and opponents must be ignored. Their actions are not being taken out of conviction so much as hostility or distress. Israel must cast aside their hectoring and pressure and implement the sovereignty plan with all due haste.
Consider one of the most talked-about recent efforts to pressure the Israeli public and Netanyahu to set aside the sovereignty plan and spurn Trump.
Last Friday, United Arab Emirates Ambassador in Washington Yousef Al Otaiba published an article in Yediot Ahronot. Otaiba threatened that if Israel implements its sovereignty plan in Judea and Samaria, the prospect of normalized ties with the Sunni Arab states in the Persian Gulf will fall by the wayside.
The media played up the author. But it quickly became clear that the idea of publishing the article in Hebrew in an Israeli newspaper didn't come from Otaiba. Hours after the morning papers arrived, the media reported that it was Democratic mega-donor Haim Saban's idea to have Otaiba publish his threatening article in Yediot.
On its face, Saban's role in the Otaiba opinion piece seems strange. The former Israeli billionaire is well-known for his support for Israel. He is a major donor to Friends of the IDF and to AIPAC. In an interview with Israel's Channel 10 in 2010, Saban harshly attacked the Obama administration for its hostility towards Israel. Back then he said of Barack Obama and his team, "They are really left leftists, so far to the left there's not much space left between them and the wall."
At the time he made those remarks, Saban believed in cooperating with Republicans to advance the common goals of defending Israel and fighting anti-Semitism in the United States and throughout the world. He spoke to Channel 10 at a conference of the Israeli Leadership Council in Los Angeles. The ILC, which later changed its name to the Israeli American Council, was founded to provide an organizational home for the Israeli émigré community in the United States. It was a joint initiative by Saban and Republican mega-donor (and owner of Israel Hayom) Sheldon Adelson.
In July 2015, the two men extended their cooperation to fighting the anti-Semitic boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Jewish students on campuses. They co-founded the Maccabees on Campus group to fight BDS groups.
So what has happened to Saban? What changed and made him want to use Otaiba as a means to spook the Israeli public and pressure Netanyahu to act in a way that would harm the sovereignty plan and through it, undermine Trump's peace plan?
Apparently, the answer is found in the leftward lurch of his party. By 2015, Obama's "left leftism" had become the mainstream position of the party. Today many Democratic activists revile Obama for what they view as his "conservative" positions.
To be clear, it's not that Obama moderated his views, it's simply that the "wall" Saban conceived in 2010 as the ideological edge of the party was blasted through long ago.
If Obama's positions on Israel shifted at all during his presidency, they became more radical, not moderate. On June 15, a report in Israel Hayom gave a glimpse of just how hostile he was towards Israel when he left office.
According to the report, in a recent closed-door conversation, Netanyahu revealed that in the final weeks of Obama's presidency Obama wanted to kick Israel where it really mattered. By this time, Obama had already engineered the passage of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334 that defined all of Israel's civilian presence beyond the 1949 armistice lines, (including the Western Wall) as a breach of international law. With less than a month left in office, Obama wanted a second, even harsher resolution. Netanyahu reportedly told his interlocutors that Obama wanted to pass a resolution which would require Israel to agree to withdraw to the 1949 armistice lines.
Netanyahu said that when he heard of Obama's plan, he turned to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Netanyahu said he explained to Putin that such a resolution would massively destabilize the Middle East and asked Putin to veto the measure. Putin agreed.
According to Netanyahu, when word reached Obama that Putin would veto his resolution, Obama abandoned his plan. He realized it wouldn't do to be exposed as more hostile to Israel than his Russian counterpart. Such exposure would out him as an enemy of Israel before the American Jewish community.
On Thursday, a Kremlin spokesman denied that Putin had made such a pledge. Obama's ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, denied that such a measure had been raised. Other U.S. sources admitted it had been under consideration.
Considering that Obama's views are now the mainstream views of the Democratic Party, and given the depth of his hostility towards Israel, it is self-evident that a Biden administration will begin its treatment of Israel where Obama left off. So as far as U.S. politics go, it is clear now that Democratic opposition to the sovereignty plan is not based on a studied assessment of the situation but of visceral hostility.
Which brings us to Saban's attempt to use the UAE ambassador to manipulate public opinion and pressure the prime minister.
The Democratic Party's turn against Israel placed Jewish Democrats in a wretched position. For generations, the party has not simply been their political preference at the ballot box. Being Democrats has been a way of life. Their party's rejection of Israel has had a dramatic impact on the pro-Israel Jewish Democrats' readiness to act on behalf of Israel and against anti-Semitism.
Saban is a case in point. Just three months after he co-founded the Maccabees on Campus with Adelson and worked with Adelson to build the IAC into a national organization, Saban pulled out of both ventures. Reports at the time of his withdrawal from both groups were speculative. But all the speculation zoned in on one conclusion. The shift in his party made Saban abandon his previous willingness to work across the partisan divide. By October 2015, he was no longer willing to be associated with organizations that could in any way be viewed as out of step with the Obama administration and the Democratic Party.
This brings us to AIPAC, the pro-Israel group Saban has continued funding. Last week it was reported AIPAC told lawmakers that it won't mind if they oppose Israel's sovereignty plan so long as their opposition isn't translated into efforts to curtail U.S. military aid to the Jewish state.
Since its founding, AIPAC's policy has always been to support the policies of the governments of Israel no matter what they were. So it was that at the outset of the Rabin government's Oslo peace process with the PLO, AIPAC leaders ordered all of the group's employees to support Israel's policy even though just weeks before, AIPAC had opposed recognition of the PLO.
AIPAC lobbyists who were incapable of lobbying for U.S. aid for the PLO or embracing Yasser Arafat as a peace partner were forced to resign. Considering AIPAC's sudden shift towards opposing the sovereignty plan despite the fact that it enjoys the support of a large majority of Israelis and is set to be implemented as a complement to President Trump's vision for peace, JNS editor-in-chief Jonathan Tobin wrote last week, "If AIPAC is going to worry more about what the Democrats want rather than seeking to persuade them to back Israel's policies, then it has for all intents and purposes become one more liberal group, and not the reliable force it has always been."
More than a sign of hostility, AIPAC's unprecedented position and Saban's manipulative behavior appear to be signs of distress. Their party's hostility towards Israel has left Jewish Democrats with no easy way forward. They have four options.
The obvious response to the party's animosity to Jewish interests would be for Jewish Democrats to oppose and fight this animosity. They can either have the fight inside the party or leave the party and fight it. Although some groups, like J Exodus, have formed to encourage Jews to leave the Democratic Party, no polling data indicates a major shift in Jewish partisan opinion. No Jewish Democratic leaders have made significant statements or staked out positions opposing what has happened in their party.
The second option is for Jewish Democrats to ignore partisan politics and just concentrate on Israel and other issues of importance to them as Jews like fighting anti-Semitism. Saban was clearly trying to adopt this posture when he joined with Adelson in establishing the Maccabees on Campuses and the IAC. The swiftness with which he abandoned the programs indicates how difficult it is to swim against the stream in the Democratic Party as presently constituted.
A third option is to adopt the party's hostile positions on Israel. Progressive Jewish groups like J Street and the Union of Reform Judaism have done so openly, among other things by defining the party's positions as Jewish "values." Groups like Bend the Arc, IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace are leading the party's charge against Israel and for the anti-Semitic BDS campaigns.
The final option is to try to have it both ways. AIPAC's passive-aggressive opposition to the sovereignty plan is clearly an attempt to remain relevant to Democrats while not losing all credibility as a pro-Israel organization. Unfortunately for AIPAC, the ship has already sailed. The Democrats do not lack for Jewish fig leaves like J Street to mask their anti-Jewish actions. The progressive mega-donors that oppose Israel have far deeper pockets than AIPAC donors.
Many Republicans, for their part, stopped listening to AIPAC during the Obama years when, in the interest of securing Democratic support for all Israel-related issues in Congress, AIPAC pressured Republican lawmakers to water down their pro-Israel bills and resolutions, often to meaninglessness.
As for Saban, he too is no longer viewed as important by anti-Israel politicians. The far-left funding networks have made Saban largely irrelevant in the party. Certainly, he lacks the financial muscle to influence its positions on Israel and the fight against contemporary anti-Semitism.
And so we return to Israel and the massive pressure being exerted on Netanyahu to scupper the sovereignty plan or water it down to nothingness. Israel doesn't have four options. Israel only has one option. Israel's only option is to straightforwardly advance its national interests. Today that means only one thing: Israel must fully implement its sovereignty plan with U.S. backing as quickly as possible and without conditions or apologies.
See you tommorrow bli neder We need Moshiach now!
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