Beyond the Cusp

December 8, 2016

With Trump Comes Stark Reality

 

Already this last year of the Presidency of Barack Obama there has been a dozen terrorist attacks which have been verified as such. In one mere twelve hour stretch in September the American people found out it may not be safe to go shopping in a mall in Minnesota, go running a five kilometer not so fun run in New Jersey or walk window-shopping on the streets of New York City without risk of terrorism striking and potentially injuring or taking one’s most precious life. The United States has faced car bombings, remote detonated bombings, suicide bombings and shooting sprees where the attacker was only stopped when shot dead by an armed citizen or law enforcement officer. All of these terrorist styled attacks were first perfected against Israel where initially they received minimal notice by the Western World media as it was just Israel. Often any reporting on such terror attacks in Israel were covered in such a manner that it appeared as if the Israelis had shot the terrorist who then retaliated with his bombing, shooting or whatever attack as the title was often Palestinian shot by Israeli Defense Force or Palestinian Killed by Israeli Police or other misleading phrasing. As such attacks spread to Europe and across other Middle East and North African Arab nations where their Christian, Kurdish, Hindu or Buddhist minorities were often the targets with some attacks were Sunni-Shia violence and these made the reporting even in Israel more accurate. Now that attacks have spread to the United States the reporting has become stark noted by the insistence after each attack initially the authorities deny any possible tie to terrorism and warning against jumping to any conclusions that Muslims were at all involved in the attacks. Eventually the reality brakes through and the terrorist ties were obvious to the most casual of observers from the start and are finally admitted.

 

The lag time between attacks being perpetrated in Israel and their coming to the United States has thus far been measured in years if not decades granting Americans a reprieve from the more recent types of attacks used in Israel. Apparently this lag time has been shortened considerably with the terror attack at Ohio State University. The car ramming and following stabbing spree until shot by law enforcement officer November 28th brought that lag time down to the slimmest of measure as such are only the most recent of attacks even in Israel. This is not good news for Americans as there are no safe spaces from car rammings and stabbing attacks making everyone almost everywhere potentially under threat. The last couple of years in Israel had seen numerous car rammings which were all part of what was informally referred to as the Stabbing Intifada which has tailed off but not really completely come to an end. We all pray here in Israel, as you do in the United States, that this will be the only time you suffer from such an assault on your persons and communal safety; but we all know the unfortunate reality. Once a new form of terror attack is used it will continue until mitigating means are found for defeating such attacks. Here in Israel train stations and bus stops now have thick five centimeter diameter, cement filled posts a embedded deep into the pavement protecting the people from vehicle rammings. Stabbing attacks are only avoided through vigilance and a communal reaction making the attacker into the hunted as through mutual defense we are all safer.

 

Recently, though largely uncovered by Western media, Israel suffered yet another massive terror assault upon the entire nation through forest fires largely set by Arab arsonists. Neighboring nations, including Croatia, Greece, Jordan, Egypt, Italy, Russia and Turkey, responded with firefighting manpower and equipment for which we are grateful. The United States sent its “Supertanker” which is the largest firefighting aircraft in the world. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sent a coalition of eight fire trucks and 40 firefighters which were used largely in Judea and Samaria as nowhere was immune from the horrors. In the single week during the final days before the rains came but whipped by the high winds accompanying seasonal weather changes Israel suffered one-thousand-seven-hundred-seventy-three separate fires which consumed approximately thirty-two-thousand acres with most located in the Haifa region. In some cases fires were set and once the fire-stations responded fires were set at the station houses themselves. Despite over a hundred people suffered injuries there were no fatalities this season. Over five-hundred homes were completely destroyed while tens of thousands were evacuated at some points. As of last counting there have been over thirty arrests of arsonists all of whom have proven to be Arab terrorists. Apart from the horrific damage to the parks and some neighborhoods the next most distressing reality of this past arson season was the repeated lack of coverage in the Western media once again the reality of “it’s only Israel” coming through loud and clear. There were no Israeli lives lost and, just as important if not more so, no terrorist arsonists shot resisting arrest or in the act of setting fires. Had a single arsonist been shot or otherwise injured, the cries of using disproportional and unnecessary force would have echoed from Rome to San Francisco and from Athens to Chicago and all stops inbetween. Instead, with lack of recriminations to be aired against Israel, the wave of arson was met with deafening silence.

 

The recent car ramming and stabbing attack does pose as a warning shot before the bow on the streets of America as it signaled a closing in the delay time between introduction of a newer terror wave in Israel and its application in the United States. We have already witnessed the use of ramming in Europe with the van being driven through a Nantes, France crowded market injuring almost a dozen and killing one victim plus the absolutely horrific Nice, France assault where a van filled with grenades and weapons was driven through a crowded 14th of July Bastille Day celebration killing eighty-four people, which included several children. The short delay from the wide use in Israel of car and vehicle rammings and stabbing attacks to their use across Europe and then to the United States bodes a troubling future for all three. Other places across Europe and Canada suffering ramming terror attacks have been but not limited to Glasgow International Airport attack in Scotland; Dijon, France; plus another attack with the Saint Jean sur Richelieu attack which occurred in Quebec, Canada on October 20, 2014. Now with the Ohio State University attack the United States has suffered its second vehicle ramming, the other being the SUV attack at the University of North Carolina. Then there were the greatest and most horrific rammings of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center Towers, Pentagon and the foiled attack which was brought down by the heroes of that day, the passengers on Flight 93 southeast of Pittsburgh.

 

Nice, France Van Terror Attack Carnage

Nice, France Van Terror Attack Carnage

 

The fear now should be from arson attacks, especially those set upwind a relatively short distance from built-up areas such as apartment complexes, business parks and housing developments. Also vulnerable would be deserted areas within some of America’s cities where a fire could be sparked that would then threaten downtown areas where urban renewal borders deserted areas yet to be rejuvenated. There should be some research performed to determine if previous fires may have been started as a form of terrorist attack as such arson attacks often target not only forest and scrublands but also target close-by developed regions. Israel has faced these firestorm attacks twice yearly, the spring winds and the fall winds which provide the necessary impetus for the use of directional winds to fan flames towards their real target, people. One can only pray that through vigilance and the formal fire-watch systems in place in the United States Park Systems stems any arson and other fires before they can rise and threaten people’s lives and property. Sufficient damage occurs already and needs little boost from intentional arson fires set with damage of people and structures as their actual target. Then there were the recent fires in Tennessee which are still being investigated by authorities.

 

But with the coming of the new administration of President Trump there will be a new attitude towards terrorist attacks and how they are treated by the FBI, Justice Department and other enforcement agencies within the government. No longer will the initial reports be that there is absolutely no indication that what appears to have been a terrorist attack actually is a terror attack. Rather any caution shown will still recognize that terror is always a potential cause and if it looks like terror, feels like terror and sounds like terror, then there will be the recognized likelihood that terror was a possibility. Under President Trump there is not to be the candy-coating of reality and the American people will be trusted with being given truth, often unvarnished truth as they will finally be seen and treated as grown-ups who can handle the truth. There will be no condescending hierarchy who claim that the American people cannot handle the truth and that only they, the elite have the capability to handle the truth and thus they claim they stand on the wall deciding what you deserve to know and what you must be protected against. We will have to wait and see which Americans are capable of handling the unvarnished, unsoftened, straight truth and which Americans will be demanding safe-spaces placed and trigger warnings with their newscasts. With a more open and honest evaluation of reality and the inclusion of the American people in the decision process by having an open debate, the United States will likely return taking their place as a leader of the free world. It will likely make most Americans pleased to be treated as the adults they presumably are, and we pray we have not misjudged our friends across the waves. It will be wonderful to have an ally back.

 

Beyond the Cusp 

 

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November 24, 2016

If We Lose then Everybody Loses

 

The demonstrations (riots) occurring across the United States largely in the major cities, especially Democrat Party strongholds claiming that Trump is not, can not and never will be their President refuse to abate. Apart from this being a definite example of delusional denial, it is also much ado about nothing as the rules on how the office of President is chosen has been known for well over two-hundred years and all contenders understood the rules going in. It is not like Hillary Clinton has even shown the slightest designs or desires to challenge the results. There has been a number of disgusting results turn from these examples of bad behavior with one of the most egregious was the beating of a fifteen year old Rockville, Maryland High School student by numerous classmates for wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. This was far from the only casualty from the protests where stores have been breached with their windows smashed and merchandise stolen. In one case a Starbucks Coffee store was broken into and coffee mugs were stolen and used as projectiles thrown at the police. Numerous other reports have surfaced of Trump supporters or just some refusing to join the protests being pummeled and beaten simply for not agreeing with the mob. For those who agree with these activities I have a simple question, what would your reaction have been if Hillary Clinton had won the Electoral College vote but lost narrowly in the popular vote and Trump supporters took to the streets rioting and beating Hillary supporters? If that would have struck you as indefensible, as I would hope it would, why are the current malcontents then tolerated. If Hillary supporters and all who voted for any of the candidates other than Trump, especially respected members of those groups, would come out and denounce these rioters then perhaps the United States could start working towards healing.

 

Civility is the basis for civilization and what allows disparate groups to coexist despite differing opinions. Elections are presumably the peaceful means for choosing leaders which has presumably been accepted as a replacement for generals or others leading their band of armed insurrectionists and taking the seat of power by force. That is the alternative which these demonstrators, especially those causing damage and beating anyone thought to be from the opposition, and the reason elections were initiated. Changing government by revolution every time a sizeable and well-armed group decided they should lead coming in and murdering the current leaders and destroying much of the capital city and sometimes leading to a major civil war destroying much of the kingdom all just to make a transition in power might be considered paying too high a price when compared to simply voting. Is this the system which is now being proposed by those rioting in the streets? Do any of them really believe they are going to get their way and Hillary Clinton will suddenly become the next President because they are rioting and destroying property? Lastly, what gives with the governors and mayors who are permitting such lawlessness? And lastly, enough with the ridiculous Trump supports the KKK or the Nazis or white supremacists of any stripe. That is no more true than Hillary Clinton being called a Communist or an Anarchist simply because some well-know Communist sympathizers or Anarchists came out supporting her, as I am sure there were at least a few. Just because some malcontent from any extreme on the political spectrum comes out in support does not make the candidate a supporter of the extremists represented by the particular claim of support. We do not control which crazies support a candidate and often cannot fathom even why there might be any reason for such support. Donald Trump has little to no actions in his past which infer in the slightest that he has a bigoted bone in his body. He is not a racist, anti-Semite, homophobe, sexist or even misogynist, though some might try to argue the last due to his action in decades past when male-female relations were quite different than today.

 

Anti Trump Demonstration

Anti-Trump Demonstration

 

Then there is the claim that the Electoral College is unfair as it grants a resident of Wyoming as carrying greater weight than a resident of California or Texas or New York or even Alaska. Oddly enough, that was the whole idea of the Electoral College. When the Constitution was drawn up the founding Fathers realized quite quickly that any candidate for President if they could win New York and Virginia by wide margins could lose nine of the remaining eleven states and still win the election. This, in their thoughtful minds, seemed to give Virginia and New York far too much power and they needed all the states to sign onto the new Constitution. Remember the Federated States of America was the dysfunctional governance where the Federal government was too weak to run the nation and the country was disintegrating. The Constitution was the grand compromise which gave the smaller states significant additional representation in choosing a President simply by adding two Electoral Votes, one for each Senator, to the number of Representatives and thus making it so all the states would be represented in the White House. As the United States grew and Wyoming became the least settled state per square mile, Wyoming receives the greatest benefit of the Electoral College system and California is likely harmed the most followed by Texas, but it all works in the end as Wyoming still has but three Electoral Votes and is seldom the deciding state. We need remember that without the Electoral College system the United States would never have come into being and the Federated States of America would have dissolved into individual states and more resembled Europe economically, militarily and in all too many other ways, Alaska would still be a part of Russia, Hawaii would still be a Spanish colony or an independent nation, Texas would either be its own nation or still part of Mexico after Santa Anna beat the Texas militias. And Wyoming would still be Wyoming all alone and pretty much ignored as nobody would want to take the time or energy to conquer her. Wyoming would be pretty much unchanged as any invading army would need to defeat a number of states before reaching Wyoming and then would stand little chance against the mountain men who know their woodlands and highlands very well and live as they please even now. Lastly, Wyoming has some of the most breathtaking views that can be found anywhere within the United States, and that comes from having lived there.

 

In closing, can we do something which has gotten the United States through tougher and more distressing times than anything a President Trump can cause. The country is nowhere near as divided as many seem to wish to have it appear. You might have heard of this other time when brother took up arms against brother and the nation was divided into the blue and the grey and we fought a Civil War, a real Civil War and not just civil unrest. We realize you believe you are fighting a civil war, but trust that you are not and should you actually become that violent, well, let us just warn that you would not like how that would end. The United States survived President Grant, it survived President James K. Polk who did not even campaign but was elected due to two things, the party he represented had the election in the bag and his opponent ran on the slogan of, “Who the h3ll is James K. Polk?” Perhaps if his opponent, who is just as nameless today as then, had campaigned with his name in a slogan instead of his opposition, perhaps he might have won but instead all anyone knew was both sides were preoccupied with James K. Polk. He ran against Henry Clay who was one of the founding members of the Whig Party. We even survived a President who pretended to have a middle name, well, middle initial because all the great Presidents had a middle name. Thus we had President Harry S (for nothing) Truman sometimes stated by his contemporaries as Harry ask for nothing Truman because persuading Harry Truman was wasted effort as he drew his own course and never deviated from a decision and was the reason for a sign on his desk which faced the door reading, “The Buck Stops Here.” We survived a President who was an avid big game hunter, went hunting with the Czar of Russia and spent as little time in Washington as possible, a man who despite great wealth gathered a group of roughnecks and went to war because it would be jolly fun, yep, President Theodore Roosevelt. The United States has survived virtually every kind of President imaginable, Harvard educated, Yale educated and self-taught, raised in luxury and poverty, military men and pacifists and somehow the United States has developed a life of its own which manages to always return to a central pillar based on equal freedoms being granted to ever wider portions of the nation’s peoples. One example was due to President elect Donald Trump who opened his Palm Beach resort called Mar-a-Lago; he insisted that it be opened to everybody including specifically Jews and Blacks, something never permitted in “exclusive” resorts, clubs and other venues breaking this barrier which held into the 1990s. The outrageous fact here is not that it was Donald Trump who broke the barrier and fought a running battle with the city officials for over a decade because of his inclusive policies but that Palm Beach had such rules in place into the 1990s and was still regarded as an all American resort town, now that is unbelievable and a truth that needs more emphasis. Still, if we all calm down we will survive the coming four years and then we can review whether Donald Trump was more President or clown and if clown, replace him and get on with life. Thank you.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

November 23, 2016

Israel Prepares for New Reality

 

For quite some time Israel has seen the writing on the wall and knew she was not prepared for what lies ahead in her future. She had absorbed influxes of immigrants over the years with varying levels of effectiveness. There was the initial pouring in of European Jews who survived World War II and the European death camps. This is the only influx of immigrants most of the world remembers and thus get the warped opinion that Israel is simply a European colony. The second influx of immigrants laid that misconception aside as false as these were the nearly one million Jews expelled from across the Arab and Muslim worlds from Pakistan to Morocco and Turkey to the Sudan to Yemen and beyond. These Asian, Middle Eastern and North African Jews comprise almost half the population of Israel at the time of the Six Day War in June of 1967. There have been subsequent waves of immigration with the largest single source being Russian Jews many of which spent time in work camps while others simply took advantage of a means to leave the Soviet Union. Other immigrant waves were less in numbers but some of those Israel is most proud to have found the means to settle and incorporate into the population. There were the Ethiopian Jews who have been airlifted from camps in Ethiopia and other Ethiopian Jews have made their way to Israel through airlifts and some by their own volition. There were the Bnei Menashe Jews from India and various other groups of Jews from the world over.

 

Israel is truly a multi-ethnic nation as well as multi-religious with approximately twenty percent of the Israeli population made up of Arabs, both Christian and Muslim, who enjoy the full rights as citizens of the State of Israel. There are Arabs in the Knesset, they are judges, doctors, nurses, teachers and virtually every other profession one can think of and have their own churches and Mosques worshiping as they please. They vote in all elections and are equal citizens in every aspect bar none. There is also a community of Bahá’í who have two shrines in Israel, one near the recognized heritage site outside of Akko on Israel’s northern coast and the other on Mount Carmel in Haifa (see image below). These are the resting places of Baha’u’llah and the Bab, the founders of the Bahá’í Faith. Israel and India are the sole nations with such Bahá’í religious structures and grounds. The Bahá’í Faith was founded in Iran in the mid-19th century in Iran where the religion is all but outlawed today.

 

Bahá'í Gardens in Haifa

Bahá’í Gardens in Haifa

 

Things in Israel are about to change with yet two more waves of immigration by Jews to come. The first has already started and will result in the many European Jews and remaining Jews throughout the world with two main exceptions, Canada and the United States, will begin their exodus to Israel though a fair number of European Jews may choose to immigrate to the United States given half an opportunity. The European influx has already begun with France, Sweden, the Ukraine and the Balkan States being the early entries as anti-Semitism grows once again across the continent. Perhaps by now we should call it the Dark Continent of Europe as its history of anti-Semitism dates back to the early Greeks through the Roman and Byzantine Empires and continued through every age of Europe with Jews often keeping a couple of suitcases packed in case the family had no time to pack before leaving. There were those who believed anti-Semitism was a monstrous evil which had been put in its grave but alas that did not even prove true for Europe, let alone the MENA States (Middle East and North Africa). What was disparaging was one particular result of the worldwide anti-Semitism study which found that some seventy percent of those considered anti-Semitic said they have never met a Jew. That has to be one of the most vexing discoveries from the universal study of anti-Semitism in the world today. Still, such does not alter the fact that anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe and if truth be told, also in the United States. There remains approximately one and a quarter to one and a half million Jews across Europe which is one reason there has been such a concentration on building new apartments within the Green Line and any demographic scientist would point out that Israel does not have sufficient lands to support the entirety of the World Jewish population, though that is a definitive possible future. Where Israel would face incredible difficulties would be should the nearly six and a half million Jews from the Americas (North, South and Central America) move in great numbers to Israel as this would be a doubling of the Israeli population when adding in the coming Europeans whether these Europeans first settle in North America or come straight to Israel. These demographic bombs are part of the reason that Israel must insist that she be granted what was promised by the Oslo Accords and be permitted to annex at a minimum the lands of Area C.

 

That brings us to the election of Donald Trump, a man who might become the most supportive President concerning Israel. It is undeniable that the Republican Platform plainly states that they no longer support the two state solution. President elect Trump has stated he does not see the “settlements” as a problem for making peace. One advantage Donald Trump has is that he fully understands contracts and can read the Oslo Accords and the promises and preconditions placed into that agreement and the related United Nations Resolution and realize at no point does anything demand Israel vacate all of the lands won in their defensive war in 1967 and the Six Day War and 1973 and the Yom Kippur War. It is obvious that Israel having returned the Sinai Peninsula and given up Gaza has already fulfilled any obligation for returning lands and that the main reason there has been no peace reached between Israel and the Arab Palestinians has been the Arab intransigence demanding the total destruction of Israel as a Jewish State, let alone the Jewish State. Between the Republican Platform and statements from Donald Trump an end to this decades’ long nightmare might actually be forthcoming.

 

This likely also explains the opposite voting patterns between American Jews residing in the United States and American Jews residing in Israel. In the United States it was reported that approximately, if not more than, three-quarters of Jews voted for Hillary Clinton while Israeli Jews and Orthodox Jews in the United States voted over three-quarters for Donald Trump. This last fact, especially orthodox Jews, of Jewish support for President elect Trump should dispel the ugly rumor that Donald Trump harbor anti-Semitic feelings. He will be the first American President with Jewish grandchildren as well as a daughter who has converted to Judaism (see images below). Trump’s chosen Middle East and Israel advisors support Israel and the Zionist enterprise of reestablishing the ancient home of the Jewish People with Jerusalem as its political and religious Capital City. Of course everything remains to be seen and what will be borne out after the State department gets their say into the mix will remain to be seen.

Ivanka Trump with Jared Kushner and daughter Arabella Rose and son Joseph Frederick and Ivanka with youngest son Theodore James

Ivanka Trump with Jared Kushner
and daughter Arabella Rose and son Joseph Frederick
and Ivanka with youngest son Theodore James

The final concern which Israel very well may face in the future would be the near unthinkable of anti-Semitism becoming so strongly engaged by populations the world over that Israel becomes the sole refuge from the storm. This would most certainly double the population of Israel and as what starts with the Jews rarely ends there, the potential for certain, if not all, Christians becoming victims of secular purges where any religion outside secular humanism are chased from the world’s societies. There are many who claim that the numbers of Christians would prevent such from ever coming to fruition in the Western world. The problem is looking at the Western world, especially Europe, and one sees a land destitute of Christians. The churches and cathedrals stand with empty pews Sunday after Sunday with some being sold to be torn down, used for Mosques or any other assorted uses. Should Christianity face the same withering assault from secular purists they too might seek refuge where religion still has a home, Israel and certainly areas in South America and Central and Southern Africa and Asia. There can be little denial that much of Western society no longer finds a place for religion and in a couple more generations such a trend to believe in mankind and the governments that man creates could lead to a cleansing of what would be viewed as a backward and suspicious practice with archaic structures and beliefs which would have no place in the perfect world presumably designed by man dedicated to pure intellect. For me, just leave me be and let me know how that works out in the end. I have my suspicions and they do not appear to be pretty, at least not as pretty as the secular humanists like to paint their bleak existence.

Beyond the Cusp

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