Tag Archives: politics

politics

President Trump
It’s been a year since the citizens of the USA elected their new president, and both the social media and the news media have great difficulty accepting the results. We read the stream of disparaging comments regarding the president, alongside the moaning and crying of the disappointed. Since then, there’ve been devastating hurricanes in Florida and Texas, and a terrible fire in California. Those natural tragedies became old news very quickly. But the anger and the insult over Trump’s election have not gone away. It looks as if it’ll continue till the end of his term in office. Is this in our best interest? They’ve had a lot of presidents there, and they’re strict about the rules. Once a president is elected he serves for a term of four years, and if the people like him they can ask him to serve for another term. It’s very hard to fire a president. There is a mechanism for it, but it’s never been really done.

Let’s take a break from the super charged emotions, and study the situation objectively. Looking at ourselves, it’s important to remember just how lucky we are. Most of our ancestors lived in harder times. We don’t choose when or where to get born or which culture to be raised in. It’s a matter of luck. We come, we live a while, and then we’re gone… like a lot of people before us. Usually, not long after we get here, we notice a few things that could be improved. And if we don’t notice, someone tells us. Youth, having come recently, are most enthusiastic about change. The older folks are more aware of the complexities.

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Quite a few years have gone by since that first democracy in Greece. It wasn’t perfect. Only about 10% of the population voted, slavery was legitimate, and there wasn’t equal pay for women. But over the years, the institution has grown. The objective of democracy is to govern the society according to the will of the majority with consideration and sympathy for the minorities and for the helpless. You could say that it’s a lot more comfortable living in a democracy these days than it was in the past. And there’s hardly any room for comparison with living in a dictatorship, whether it’s governed by a king, an ideologue or a despot. All of us live in countries that have known better leaders… and worse. One of the nice things about living in a democracy is that leaders are exchanged after a while. In other regimes, leaders have been known to hand the reins over to a son or best friend. Once, they were offered to a horse.

In this last election there was an elderly professional politician with a dubious reputation running against an elderly TV personality who had organized a number of ‘beauty competitions’ in the past. Most of the voters didn’t like either of them, but the rest of the candidates were even less popular. The majority chose the woman politician. She would have been the first woman to be president in their country. But according to the time tested conventions of American government, the position was awarded to the TV personality. He was more popular in more states or something like that. The race was close. Keep in mind that these rules were established long before any of the voters were born.

Since then, the crying and moaning, good jokes and bad about the president; and some really vulgar insults and hints that he might have betrayed his country have become an obsession of the news media. Some of the most enlightened citizens of the west, intelligent and educated people, think nothing of descending to the lowest levels of foul mouthed insults in order to express their disapproval of the president. The half of the country that voted for the TV performer are insulted as well. Instead of offering new goals and aspirations, the disappointed are demonstrating their contempt for the president, and for government, and the barbarians are watching.

This isn’t only happening in America. I’ve seen the same phenomenon here in Israel. Political groups rally against one another with outspoken hatred, and hurl insults and lies at each other. I do not believe in political correctness. But at the same time, I’m amazed that the same people who worry about the feelings of minorities and handicapped people see no necessity for respect and politeness to their fellow man when it comes to political expressions. From what I’ve seen, such emotion packed politics have become common in Europe as well. Let’s not forget that respect and self-respect are part of the same thing.

Society as a whole is built on common conventions. Just as we personally undergo change, our society and our rules change with the passage of time. We make new laws in order to improve our collective well being, and sometimes these laws are retracted or changed because they didn’t work. An example of this in the US was the prohibition of alcohol which led to a rise in criminal activity and public disobedience. The law was rescinded. The nature of leadership has progressed in like manner. Like the swing of a pendulum, the leadership has gone back and forth, giving priority to conservatives and liberals alternatively. What might be considered an advantage to one part of the population may be suffered as a grievous injury to another part. And yet we need the cooperation and the partnership of the vast majority of the population in order for this sort of government to work. When encountering injustice, we may protest. The most severe protest in a democratic society is civil disobedience. It’s considered elegant. But often, it is accompanied by violent anti social behavior as well. If we are to countermand civil order, we risk chaos and an increase in the power of the police and army, and a reduction of our own civil liberties. Because of the price that has to be paid, the public is usually loathe to employ such methods. For we know, that in another four years we’ll have a new opportunity to change the government.

If we insult or provoke our political opponents, we will just amplify the hostility between the sides. If I have a neighbor with whom I disagree, but I see him every morning as we go to work and again as we return home in the evening, I prefer that we’ll wish each other a good day and smile when we meet. Our fellow citizens are our neighbors. Those that voted for the prohibition of alcohol didn’t intend to bring gang fights and machine guns to their city streets. They just wanted more peace and quiet. Those that think that aggressive confrontation against injustice will teach the other side to respect our freedom should take a long look at Syria where a half a million civilians have been murdered in the past few years, and many more millions have fled the country and remain refugees in far off places.

I believe that a truly progressive person should speak clearly and softly. He or she should be careful to stick to the truth and focus on reason much more than on emotion. We should remember that the message is not meant to influence our greatest opposition, but to convince those that are still undecided. If we convince some of the opposition, that’s good too. But time and experience may convince even those who don’t want to listen to us. And all the while, we certainly don’t want to alienate any of those who might be considering our merits.

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a modest mermaid in Jerusalem

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Day Of Rage

Israel & Arabs

Today has been declared ‘Day Of Rage’ by the Moslem Arabs of Israel and Palestine. Last night they invaded a synagogue built next to the grave of Joseph, and burned it. I believe this was the third time this has happened. And why the rage? To protest the destruction of the Al Aqsa Mosque, built on Mount Moriah, the site of the ancient Temple of Israel. Of course, the mosque hasn’t been destroyed. Jewish leaders have assured the Arabs again and again, that no such thing is planned. The rights of all, to religious freedom, has been guaranteed for the last 48 years since Jerusalem was reunited. The second Intifada, also called the Al-Aqsa Intifada, 15 years ago, was started by the same sort of lies. 1,137 Israelis were killed and 8,341 were wounded, 80% of them civilians.

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This time, it hasn’t gotten a name yet. We call it a wave of terror. We are told that the Pals who stab us suddenly on the street or in busses or trains are just individuals who are moved by nationalistic or religious sentiments… who are acting out their own private feelings, despair or frustration. Is that what’s really happening? I think differently. It all seems carefully orchestrated. Most of the attackers are young. A few of them have been girls. This is strange for the local Arab population. Usually they are very protective of their women. Women and girls are seldom found doing anything alone. They need their family’s permission to go out shopping. If they’re suspected of not being virgins when they get married, they’re killed. And this is called an ‘honor killing’.

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To me it does look organized. And it does look like a war. Claudine wrote in a comment on my last post, “Right now, all over the middle east the situation is really terrible…” But wait a moment… Israel is unlike the rest of the middle east. Israel is a democracy. We have free speech. Arabs have more rights here than they have in any of the Arab countries. We have Moslem parliament members who help and aid our enemies, and shout lies from the podium… all of this protected by the right of free speech and parliamentary immunity. We have a female parliament member who actually joined a gang of terrorists on a boat which invaded Israeli sovereign waters. So this is not like Syria or Egypt, where the president gets 97% of the vote, and the government decides who can speak on the radio or TV. One has to wonder, how does a democratic society defend itself against hostile insurrections?

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All over the world, there are minorities who do not enjoy sovereignty. I could make you a long list of such people, many of whom have claims no less convincing than the Palestinians. But in our case, the government has already agreed to help in the creation of a Palestine state. So what is preventing this from happening?

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To begin with, The Pals want the separation their way. They want for there to be two states. In what will remain of Israel, Pals who are living here now would be allowed to continue to live here and enjoy all the advantages of our society. In the independent state alongside of it, to be called Palestine, all the Arabs living there would continue to live there, But all the Jews living there would be forced out. They want a state ‘clean of Jews’. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But the government of Israel actually agreed to such a separation. The Arabs demanded that their state be called the homeland of the Palestinians (there has never been an independent Palestinian state in history), but they object strenuously to Israel being called the homeland of the Jews, or a Jewish state. They really believe that Israel belongs to them. They’re just waiting to implement this at a later date.

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Why doesn’t it happen already. Well, before Israel is willing to give them part of its land to declare statehood, there are two demands. One, that the Palestine State be demilitarized. And two, that they recognize Israel as the Jewish state. So far, they have absolutely refused both of these demands.

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Right now, a majority of the murderers and attackers… those who have stabbed innocent civilians on the street, carry an Israeli ID card, and enjoy all the advantages available to the Jews. The conditions they enjoy are hard to believe. Aside from freedom which is unmatched in any of the Arab countries around us, they also benefit from the social security system here. That means that if a terrorist attacks innocent civilians, or blows up a bomb in the middle of the city, and is killed in the process, his widow and children will receive monthly support payments from social security. If he is injured in the attack, he will receive payments for the disabled for the rest of his life. If he is imprisoned, he will receive a regular salary from the Palestinian Authority, paid out of the moneys that the Pals get from donor countries all over the world, including many European countries.

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I hear a constant stream of lies coming out of the Palestinian Authority. In the last two weeks 9 Jews were killed and 92 injured in attacks on the street and public transportation. In one day last week, there were more than 300 such attacks. Fortunately, not all are successful. The police have orders to shoot anyone seen assailing another with a knife. The Pal leaders don’t condemn the violence, but protest vehemently against the ‘excessive force’ of the police. In each case where a knife wielder was shot, the Pal leadership and their news media, have claimed that the assailant was an innocent victim of racism. For some years now, we have been accused of apartheid though everyone who lives here knows that Arabs enjoy the same services as Jews, graduate from our top Universities, and serve as doctors, lawyers, engineers and in many other high profile professions. It is considered well and good that an Arab live in my neighborhood, across the street from me, and go shopping in the same supermarket or department store. But woe to the Jew who might try to move into an Arab neighborhood. This is considered an unforgivable affront.

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I had planned to write about some of my literary adventures. A much more personal post. But listening to the way the facts of what is going on here in Israel are distorted in the world’s news media, I feel that if I write anything at all, I must write the truth of what’s happening here and now. The photos shown here are of the rose garden opposite the Knesset, our parliament here in Jerusalem. I found comfort, walking there yesterday.

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Shimon in the park – photo by Chana

stabbed in the back

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I don’t usually write about the internal politics of my country. Nor do I write about the endless conflicts between Israel and the Arab world. I know that it is very difficult to understand such things without a lot of research into the subject. It is too easy to adopt an image already familiar to us, and to project that image on the situation less known, and draw conclusions. For instance, since childhood, I have had a tendency to look at molecular and atomic physicality in much the way I see astronomical spaces. Each realm of space seems a parable on the other.

I can assure you, my dear reader, that I am not a racist, and have no desire to see people in stereotypes. My first housemate, a man I lived with before I got married, was an Arab. We were friends and lived in harmony together, here in Jerusalem. I got to know his family and friends, and through the years… up until the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, I had a number of Arab friends, with whom I shared common interests.

I know there are fine Arab people living in our country who wish no harm to anyone, and wish to live their lives in peace; wish to enjoy their careers, their learning, their worship of god, and bringing up a family. Not all Arabs are terrorists. But 99% of the terrorists in our country are Arabs.

It’s been a little over a year since our last war, with the Palestinians of the Gaza strip. We had given them a piece of land, in which Jews had lived for more than a hundred years, pulled out all the Jews… given them all the land… plus farms and factories… and they had immediately gone on to fight us in every way they knew how. Including shooting rockets at innocent people within our borders. The so-called ‘occupied territories’ were taken in war, after we were attacked. We have been attacked long before the modern state of Israel came into being. Before there were ‘occupied territories’, and before there was a state. Our communities, and people within our communities were attacked when we were an English colony, and even before that, when we were a Turkish colony. We have heard ideological explanations for rape, murder and stabbings for generations. We have continuously searched for peace, and only fought when our backs were to the wall and we had no choice but to fight.

I have had friends killed for no other reason than that they were Jewish. I have had close family members murdered.

At present, we are facing a new wave of violence in our country. Not surprisingly, it started during our holiday season. They have tried different methods in the past. They have organized in different ways, and tried everything from sabotage to suicide bombings. They have been promised 72 virgins in heaven if they die fighting the Jews. Some of them are convinced. Others have sympathy. Right now, there is a wave of seeming ‘individuals’ who pick up a knife or a stone and try to murder a Jew.

I’m an old man. I’m too old to fight. Too old to help keep the peace. All I can do, is try to survive the heartbreak. I can’t share my thoughts on philosophy, art, or learning while suffering from the needless violence and chaos around me. I mourn the murdered, and cry for the wounded and deranged. I have nothing to say.

wisdom of our parents

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Our sages told us, he who chases after honor… honor will escape him. And he who tries to avoid honor, honor will chase after him.

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And likewise we heard, don’t work to win a prize.

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Watched television last night. It was one of those reality shows. You know, the type that gets you praying, ‘please don’t let this be reality’. Sometimes it comes as ‘news’. Sometimes, it’s an event.

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If you’re not careful, you can start identifying with the characters in the show… thinking I would do it this way, or I would try something else.

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After a while, I started thinking I would have enjoyed my time a lot more if I’d been watching cats.

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I like the company of cats because they don’t flatter, and they don’t try to please us…

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election results

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inspirational images including the father of modern Israel

Well, you remember, my friends, I wrote a while back, that in the middle of a parliamentary term, the government had been dissolved and a new election was called (see: http://tinyurl.com/luu3kkq). The moment it happened, I knew the hardest part would be listening to the propaganda. But I’m proud to announce that I survived. Still have a full head of hair, and didn’t suffer the expected bouts of suicidal despair. All the same, I have to admit, it was hard listening to all the lies and distortions that people managed to cram into just a very…. few months of electioneering.

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booths were set up on the sidewalks for the party faithfuls to convince passers by

Eventually, the day of judgment arrived. According to law, all political campaigning must stop for the last three days before election day. But our fine news men and women, and the radio announcers and TV personalities assumed that we’d become so used to the bombardment of mistruths, that we were addicted. They wanted to save us the ordeal of having to suffer ‘cold turkey’. So they kept right on sneaking political propaganda at us till the very day we went to the polls. What a pain!

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the room where I voted

As most of you are probably aware, Benjamin Netanyahu, whom we call Bibi, enjoyed three terms of office before this last election, and is well known to the public. His career as an officer in Israel’s top commando unit was somewhat overshadowed by his brother being one of the most famous of Israel’s heroes. But he did represent us in the foreign service, and was a best selling author before becoming prime minister. And while he has a lot of fans, not everyone agrees with his view of the world in general, or his political view of Israel. No sooner had the campaign started, than a ‘non political’ organization called ‘Just Not Bibi’ came to the fore. Financed by large contributors from the US and the EU, this organization began to insult him and defame him in every possible way. Since it was a little difficult to find any dirt on the man, they concentrated on pointing out the faults of his wife.

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an ad for the Likud and Bibi on the back of a city bus

Turns out she’s a real witch. Even worse than your wife or mine. She likes to have her soup warmed in the middle of the night. She yells at the cleaning lady. She rings her husband in the middle of top secret meetings, and the generals have to just sit around scratching their elbows while she whispers sweet nothings in the top executive’s ear. What’s worse, she sometimes sends empty bottles back to the grocery store, and pockets the change instead of giving the money to the state! Then it was reported that she’s a lush. She drinks wine almost every night. And her taste in clothing is atrocious.

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a key to heaven proffered to those who’ll vote for a certain religious party

He’s not much better. Before he was prime minister, he was known to let his billionaire businessman friend pay for his ticket at the movies. Some people can’t stand the way he combs the remaining strands of his hair over his bald spot. And he speaks good English. Now what sort of Israeli speaks a good English? He hardly has any really poor, down and out friends. Worst of all, he’s a primitive. The sort of guy who, when accosted by a terrorist, thinks that the best move is to hit him over the head with a baseball bat or shoot him in the heart… he never even considers the option of an intellectual discussion with the guy about the pros and cons of violence.

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poster at the top shows dead rabbi entreating voters to do the right thing

His opponent, the head of the labor party, son of a former president of Israel… grandson of a former Chief Rabbi, talks in a voice that is vaguely reminiscent of Donald Duck, and is just tall enough to peek into the cleavage of an average sized woman. So no one really expected the race to be something that would keep us up at nights ‘cause of the tension. But if there’s one thing that the media hates, it’s boredom. And if there’s one thing they love, it’s social liberalism. To make matters even more interesting, his campaign advisors decided on a political marriage with Tzippi, a female head of a dying political party which at one time was just a hair’s breadth away from capturing the government. She managed to reduce 28 mandates to six. And then, on the eve of this election, it was thought she wouldn’t pass the electoral threshold, the minimum number of votes to enter parliament.

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Tzippi on the election poster above the young man

Buzshy offered to serve together with her in a rotation leadership, so that the public would actually be getting two for the price of one. Both a male and a female with just one ballot! The left thought it an unbeatable deal. Meanwhile, as the media was feeding us everything bad about Bibi, they didn’t save words to extol the virtues of Buzshy and Tzippi. Slowly but surely, public opinion polls were published in which Buzshy was seen closing the gap between his popularity and that of Bibi. It was like a horse race. He was gaining, gaining, gaining… Finally, the two were standing equal. And then, amazingly, Buzshy started pulling ahead. By the week of the election, Buzshy was definitely the front runner. He was winning! Oh my. We were going to witness an historic changeover. All the papers were full of it. Headlines screamed: A surprise upset in the offing!!!

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a visit to the sea of Galilee

The night following election day, the vast majority of the country’s population seated themselves opposite the TV screen to watch the returns. Some ate peanuts, others sunflower seeds, and there were those who just grabbed a sandwich and a bottle of beer. For two hours we watched learned commentators explaining the hows and whys of what was about to happen, without disclosing the results. But there were knowing smiles and veiled hints that suggested they knew something we didn’t. Finally, a huge man-sized graph appeared behind the commentators. And then… the results of the voters’ exit polls. Unbelievable! The two contenders had gotten the exact same amount of votes! The next two hours were spent talking about a rotation premiership, or possible coalition governments that would allow one of the two to reign. We were all involved now, wondering who would come out on top. It was well known that Obama favored the underdog, excuse the expression. So some of the more sophisticated pundits thought we should let Buzshy take the reigns just to make the American Pres happy.

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Both sides were celebrating. We were in a happy state. Yet, we all went to bed wondering how it would end. Then, the very next day… when the actual votes were counted, it turned out that Bibi had received 30 mandates in parliament as opposed to the 24 that Buzshy had garnered. The left was mortified. How was it possible? What had happened? That was Wednesday. And today, Friday, 37% of the population is still scratching their heads. Some think that the vote was unfair. That the populace should have been more considerate of President Obama’s feelings. While others think that Bibi just might not be as good as the common people believe. If he was a real gentleman, after having served three times, he would default to Buzshy, just to give the other guy a chance.

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The first picture seen above was found in the school that served as a polling place. That’s where I voted. The photos towards the bottom of the post are from the Sea of Galilee, where I went to calm down and recover from the excitement of politics. Please, don’t bother to ask whom I voted for. In this free country, we get to vote in privacy. I’m not going to tell a soul.

fate or free choice

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blue skies and the snow beginning to melt away

I got the letter from goodreads this week, with the March New Releases. I found interest in a book called ‘The Bookseller’ by Cynthia Swanson. It tells the story of a woman in her late 30s who runs a book store with her best friend and enjoys her life and circumstances. But then she starts having this reoccurring dream in which she lives a different life, married to a wonderful man and the mother of three children. And as the story continues, she finds herself torn between the two lives.

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sculpted by nature; I see two birds facing one another

It reminded me of a poem I read many years ago, by a Chinese author, Chuang Tse, in which he tells us that he doesn’t know whether he is a man dreaming that he’s a butterfly… or a butterfly dreaming that he is a man. And strangely enough, the book, and the whole idea of alternative lives or alternative universes integrated well with some ideas I’ve been having about our national elections, coming up in less than a month.

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red anemones raising their heads between patches of snow

I have noticed in recent years, that the democratic contest at election times has become more and more desperate. Where once we listened to ideological arguments regarding the economic system, or the best way to insure the national security, we are now bombarded by insults and accusations coming from both sides of the barricades. Accompanied by hysteric claims that life won’t be worth living if the opposing side were to win the election. Charges of corruption are heard every day. And the mood that is felt in public seems less like that in the halls of academia, and more like that in the football arena, each side shouting their support for sporting heroes, and insulting the opposing side. I have seen this happening in England too, and in the US.

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cultured flowers whose seeds were blown by the wind… and came up in the middle of the park’s grasses

How and why this has happened, is interesting. And I have some thoughts on the subject. But more important to me, is whether we can overcome the urge to look at the political determination as a life and death struggle. The truth of the matter, is that when we live among friends or as a family, we have to accept that we are not all the same, nor are our desires identical. We make compromises. We forgive all kinds of irrational behavior, difficulties… even pain. My beloved cat Nechama, scratches me at times. She has bitten me. These are momentary outbursts; the expression of disappointment, or of frustration. Sometimes, frustration just because I didn’t understand her.

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clover amidst the grasses

Even within ourselves, we have to make compromises in order to live this life with some sense of wholeness. One of the most valuable lessons, is that which we heard as children, ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it too’. On a national level, we should keep in mind that our society is made up of a whole lot of people, some of whom have needs very different from ours. With great difficulty, we’ve tried, as human beings, to find the mechanisms which will reflect the majority, with care and insurance for the very small minorities as well. Nothing is truly guaranteed. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone sins now and then, And still, if we look back in time, just a few hundred years, we can see that the majority of people lived a much lower standard of living than we are living today. They had shorter life expectancies, and suffered more from disease and ignorance. Let’s not turn a blind eye to all the advantages we have today, and only focus on what we’re missing, and what we want for ourselves. How much happier we could be if we were to appreciate our riches and not envy those who have more than us.

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a little park in our neighborhood, with fantasy meant for children

Today, many of us tell our children, ‘you can do anything you wish if you just desire it enough, and work unceasingly towards your aim. But this too can be misleading. We can do anything, just so long as we understand our strengths and limitations. For our lives are a tapestry of fate and free choice. Chance has delivered us to the parents that raised us, to the country in which we were born… has given us talents and capacities at birth, certain physical characteristics… and perhaps certain mental and emotional dispositions as well. And within that framework, we have the ability to make choices, to learn or not to learn… to look and listen, or to crave attention. By way of our choices, we can direct our course in life. Or we can allow ourselves to be continuously buffeted by the winds of fate.

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And there is nothing so warm and so consoling as the love of our brothers and sisters, our friends, and our fellow human beings that have to face the uncertainties of life’s challenges the same as we do. These have been my thoughts as I watch the snow recede after the last storm, and listen to the excitement about the upcoming election. May we accept the choice of the majority, even if it requires compromise on our part. We are all part of the family of man.

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approaching winter and politics

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The Yemenite Jews have a saying. ‘There are no fish without bones; no life without troubles’. It rhymes in Hebrew, which gives it a little pizzazz. And knowing that non Jews eat certain sea food that are devoid of bones, I suppose that this pearl of wisdom should be looked upon as a cultural tidbit rather than a universal truth. But as I took my morning walk each day this week, looking at the beautiful autumn colors on the vegetation in the neighborhood and in the park, this saying has been going through my mind again and again.

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Here we are in this gorgeous country in the middle east. We have temperate weather. The summer isn’t too hot. The winter isn’t cruel. Nowadays, as we reach the end of fall, and approach winter… after a week of rain, green shoots are seen everywhere, spurred on to optimism by two days of sunshine. We have the sea shore, a short drive from anywhere you might live in the country. A few beautiful deserts, and some mountains too. The lowest land spot on dry land in all the planet, next to the Dead Sea, where you can actually sit on the water’s surface and read a newspaper on a lake that has a depth of three hundred meters, because of the buoyancy of the water. There hasn’t been a serious earthquake in a hundred years, and there are no tsunamis or hurricanes in our area. What more could we request?

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my friend, Charlie

Of course, we have a few vocal minorities… but that’s the sort of thing you have to expect in a modern democracy. After all, the discomfort here is less extreme than what a number of other countries face… see for instance, the US. We have had to endure a few wars, now and then. But the cynics among us point out that more people die from motor accidents than from wars.

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and indoors, soaking up the sun

Yet even though I could argue that we’re enjoying the good life, and are enjoying good fortune, life does have its problems. In fact it seems like it’s a series of ups and downs. And we wouldn’t appreciate the good times without their being interspersed by bad. As we know, when the young have it too good, they often endanger life and limb (or good sense), just to avoid the threat of boredom. In our case, or so it seemed to me this week, our sorrows seem to come from a distended sense of drama.

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For instance, there has been some serious debate in our parliament over next year’s budget. A lot of money is going to be spent on ‘security’. That is, we have to have more police and army to deal with an increasing occurrence of terror attacks, plus we have just recently watched millions go down the drain as expenses in the last war. So it seems that we will either have to adopt an austerity plan or tax the middle and upper classes, who are already paying about 50% of their income supporting the general welfare. But at the same time, word has arrived from Berlin, where some Israeli yuppies are enjoying European culture, and sharing their impressions on Facebook. They report that cottage cheese is cheaper there than here. This news has the young middle class up in arms, and they are demanding free baby sitting, free dental care, and cheaper cottage cheese immediately. They feel that these minimal demands are the hallmarks of an enlightened society.

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At the same time, there have also been some harsh words exchanged in parliament about the definition of our state. Though it was stated in our Declaration of Independence that we have established the state as a Jewish, democratic nation, there are those among us who believe it is a matter of urgency to pass a law making Israel a Jewish state. At the other end of the spectrum, there are those who see our country as a ‘state of emergency’, while still others claim it is a ‘state of mind’. Members of the coalition government became insulted by their own interpretations of what their colleagues said… and all of a sudden, one year after this government was elected for a four year term, I hear that the government is to be disbanded and a new election about to take place. Of course, elections cost money. The coming election will probably cost many cups of cottage cheese.

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And since every one of the public opinion polls in the last few months reveal that the majority of the public see our present prime minister as the most appropriate choice for the job, it is hard for me to appreciate what could possibly be gained. But our dear prime minister assures us that he will be able to do a better job if he gets a bigger majority. The opposition on the other hand, is not impressed by the polls, and assures us that they will do the better job just as soon as they throw out the reigning prime minister and replace him with their own. Still, what about the baby sitting and the free dental care?

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The hard part, though, is listening to political propaganda for the next three months. Ear plugs alone can’t guarantee happiness. And even if they could assuage some of our distress, there is always the danger that we’ll find out that they can be bought cheaper in Berlin.