Monthly Archives: March 2014

Telling the Story


Article in Sun Sentinel

9781468573909_COVER.inddThis is the article in South Florida’s Sun Sentinel.  Exciting stuff.  Thank you to my cousin Vince Van Hasselt for all your efforts.,0,6250203.story

Breaking News: Malaysia Flight 370 tells us we’re not as smart as we think we are

missing-malaysia-flight-370-plane-may-have-flown-into-indian-ocean-lead12 days have passed with 26 countries searching, billions of dollars being spent, and all sorts of resources being used, such as military and space technology, and still no sign of Malaysia flight 370.  Everyone has a theory, and of course we have all sorts of experts chiming in, but the reality is that we do not know where this plane is or has been since it disappeared.

There’s a trust factor we all try to have when listening to law enforcement officials.  After all, with their extensive experience and immense responsibility, if they are saying something publicly, it must be based in truth and reality, right?  The post 9/11 world has seen security precautions never before seen.  Nevertheless we find out that there were two passengers, Iranians no less, on the plane with stolen passports.  Thankfully, through the infinite wisdom of experts and security personnel, we’ve been assured that those two passengers were definitely not terrorists.  After all, Iranians with stolen passports are the last people you’d consider terror suspect, right?

We know the plane took a sharp left turn before it vanished off the screen.  Well I feel better.  Thank goodness our developed technology can show us that much, right?  Maybe I’m being unfair.  After all they have been able to narrow the search down to an area of a little smaller than the continental United States.  Also of great relief is the fact that so many intelligence officials think it is more logical that the plane is in the ocean than on land.  Sarcasm aside, when someone can’t find something, and says it is definitely not in a particular place, unless it is somewhere they never go, I always ask the same question.   If you have no idea where it is, how can you be so sure where it isn’t?

The whole point I am trying to make is that any uneasy feeling anyone is feeling right now is more than justified because of what we now know that most of us lay people did not know 12 days ago.  First of all we know that we can indeed lose a commercial airliner.  We know that a plane can fly long distances without being detected by flying below the radar.  We think we know there was foul play, which either means that Malaysia’s security is highly suspect, or that their airline had at least one crew member very organized and ready to commit an act of terror or mass suicide.  We know that passports can get stolen, reported and still used to board an international flight.   Most of all we know that with all our experts and costly intelligence and security mechanisms, we are just not as smart as we thought we were.

I would say we also learned that we are not all that safe no matter where we are, but I think most of us probably already knew that.  Even without the experts telling us.

Balanced Intolerance

1713I write this as a follow-up to the post I wrote about how being a Liberal doesn’t mean tolerating anti-Semitism.  In this post, CLICK HERE TO READ, I make the statement that anti-Israel sentiment nowadays is, for the most part, rooted in anti-Semitism.   As I expected would happen, the following question was put to me by a fellow Jew and old friend.

“What about Jews who are not Zionists?”

Here is the answer I gave him:

I anticipated this question might be asked when I wrote the article. If one is opposed to the policies of the Israeli government and as a Jew is genuine, unless they are self hating Jews they are not the problem. As a Jew, should one ever tolerate the murder of another Jew? If their view is that Israeli policy is the murder of Palestinians, my question to them is the one I stated in the article. Is the intolerance balanced? And even if there is evidence and statistics to back up their stance, do they look at the whole picture? Do they recognize the threats Jews have always faced? Do they recognize the fact that Israel had war waged against it just for existing? Did they get at least as angry at this?…/Suicide%20bombing%20at%20the…And do they recognize that someone such as Roger Waters making it his life’s mission to go after Israel and ignore countries guilty of much greater human right’s violations is motivated by a hatred of Jews not the love of people?


Where I personally hit a disconnect with like-minded people is that I often feel there is more going on than meets the eye.  It sometimes becomes fashionable to call someone anti-Semitic when their overall actions  don’t necessarily confirm the assertion.  I rather go after those who leave no doubt, such as Roger Waters and Alice Walker.  There are many Jews who are not Zionists.  Most of them are ultra-Orthodox.  By no means does that mean that all ultra-Orthodox are anti-Zionist, instead it means that the majority of the time a Jew opposes the State of Israel it is rooted in religious belief rather than political belief.  Either way, they are not the people looking to see the end of the Jewish people, and in my opinion, they are not the enemy.  I wish they were, for that would mean there would be no one out there openly trying to bring about our death and destruction, and our biggest foe would be fellow Jews with an anti-Israeli government approach. It would be a problem, but one we’d all rather be fighting.

Being Liberal doesn’t mean Tolerating anti-Semitism

meeeThose of you who know my political views know that I am someone who has no problem declaring my liberal leanings.  I find myself being tolerant when it comes to issues that the more conservative of you find unacceptable.  Be that as it may I am here to say that as a Jew and a Liberal, the one area where there is no room for tolerance is regarding the matter of anti-Semitism.

For starters I find it odd that any Jew who would argue the importance of fair and equitable treatment towards another would keep silent at bigotry directed at his or her own people.  I pride myself in not having any unjust or bigoted prejudices towards anyone.   However, I worded that last sentence carefully because the reality that exists is that there are some groups that are either predominately hateful or have their own prejudices that exist towards other groups, such as Israel and the Jewish people.

Muslim extremists hold opinions that are somewhere between predominately or entirely anti-Israel and anti-Jewish and  have conducted such an excellent worldwide public relations campaign that this sentiment has spread to people in all walks of life .   Most clearheaded and honest people know that today’s anti-Semitism and anti-Israel feelings are usually one in the same, as I discussed in a previous post in which I addressed former President Jimmy Carter’s blatant anti-Semitism titled  “A Dishonor to the Jewish People”.  To be very honest, I don’t care if one claims there is a difference, because to be anti-Israel is as much an affront to my sensitivities as being anti-Jewish.  This is where the issue of being a Liberal, or at least using liberalism as a crutch comes into play.    

Anti-Israel sentiment has reached a new level of worldwide popularity. There are many people, fools masquerading as Liberals, who look everywhere for their next “cause”.  Some of these causes are real and justified.  Others are not.  The need to grandstand is one that exists with many people.  Unfortunately, some Liberals will jump on the nearest bandwagon and show how much they care about a certain group.  When these same people jump on the anti-Israel bandwagon, my question to them is very simply, “Why were you quiet when entire Jewish families, sometimes husbands, wives, and babies, were being murdered in vicious bomb blasts in a Jerusalem pizzeria?  Why were you quiet then?”  The answer is, because it wasn’t a popular cause.  But as a Jew I am sadly aware that defending the Jewish people has never been a popular cause.

A few years back it was all Darfur.  A justifiable cause.  How many of these people even know what is happening today in Darfur?  How many care? They will of course say that they do, but in reality, caring is more than just saying, “I care”.  It requires at least some action or effort.

I am a Liberal.  I am proud to call myself one.  But I am just as proud to disassociate myself with anyone using the image of Liberalism as a misguided means of attacking the wrong people, particularly the Jewish people.  And as a Jew, this is something for which I personally have no tolerance.

How the Oscars Helped Show the BDS Movement’s Lack of Credibility

Omar_poster_croppedBy now I know I was not alone in cringing when a film from Palestine was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Film category.  My personal discomfort wasn’t out of any objection that a film was made in the Palestinian territory, but rather for my immediate nervousness at the prospect of an acceptance speech.  When I thought about it further however, I was actually quite pleased by the nomination.  Not so much because I feel any personal investment in the growth of the Palestinian film industry, but rather because of the damage it does to the argument made by the BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) Movement.

The movement, one that has influenced wealthy corporations and high-profile entertainers to boycott Israel, pushes the agenda that Israel is an apartheid state where Palestinians are persecuted with no hope for any sort of future.  Along comes a movie, “Omar”, a movie that tells a story of a young Palestinian man accused of being an accomplice in the murder of an Israeli soldier.  In the movie the man is beaten by an Israeli interrogator and convinced to collaborate with Israeli intelligence.  Having not seen the movie I can not speak to how good or bad it makes the Israeli authorities look, but I do know that in an apartheid state a film of this sensitive nature would never have been made.  This movie was made in Nazareth, in what is territory ultimately under control of the Israeli government.  It is hard to imagine a film like this would even get off the ground in China or Russia if a filmmaker from one of those countries showed either of those governments in a similar light.  So when the nomination of this film was read out loud for the entire world to hear, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences was making the statement for those who needed to hear it that Israel is not only NOT an apartheid state, but a country where people can express themselves freely, be they Arab or Jew.

I don’t expect the anti-Semites who mold the BDS Movement to their agenda to be influenced by this at all, but I am hoping that the message was loud and clear to anyone out there who is objective and maybe not as educated to the reality of the situation.  For this I would like to thank the Academy.