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Is It Anti-Semitic to Protest the Slaughter of Thousands of Innocent Palestinians and Jews?

Is It Anti-Semitic to Protest the Slaughter of Thousands of Innocent Palestinians and Jews?

Let’s face it: war is hell and has a lot of collateral damage. In the case of the Israel-Hamas war, collateral damage is a vast understatement. No one disputes the right, indeed necessity, for Israel to defend itself. But after losing roughly 1,200 civilians on Day One to terrorists, the act of “righteous retribution,” or revenge, on twelve times the number of Palestinian innocents does nothing to meet Israel’s stated goal of eliminating Hamas. Israel is spawning another generation of terrorists willing to martyr themselves for the land they swear was stolen from them.

What we in the West are rarely told is that the Palestinians have a valid claim. Until 1947, when the United Nations declared the area previously known as Palestine to be partitioned into a Jewish state, an Arab state, and Jerusalem to be the divided city it is today, the entire region had been mostly Muslim. At the end of WW I, Britain took control of Palestine, a time known as the British Mandate, decreed by the League of Nations, and adopted a policy “in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

The 1922 census showed the area was 89% Arab and 11% Jewish. Due to lax British immigration policies, the Jewish population had risen to 31% by the end of the British Mandate in November of 1947, but hardly a majority.

One must view all this in the context of the times for a clear understanding of how this came to be. Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice in the late sixteenth century reflected the attitudes of the times toward Jews as scheming, money-grubbing vermin. Pogroms in Greater Russia and the world were commonplace. The world was aghast at the horror of the holocaust and the genocide of six million Jews led by Germany in Poland, Austria, and the other captured territories. Images of filthy, skeletal, dead, or dying piles of bodies in freed concentration camps led to a pang of collective guilt in the world after WW II. Something had to be done to atone.

What Had To Be Done Was Already At Hand. 

Throughout history, the Jews had been dispersed throughout the world — the Jewish diaspora — so this Holocaust guilt led the United Nations to decide to give them a home of their own, and what better place to do this than their ancient homeland? What? People are living there now? Oh, well, they won’t mind sharing.

They did mind.

Sharing is one thing; being forcibly removed is quite another.

Brutality ensued on both sides of the path to statehood. Jews immigrated relentlessly in an effort to become a majority in the Holy Land, while injustice and religious fervor merely became a means to an end. The stakes were enormous. The larger the influx of Jews seeking a homeland, the more desperate the defense of their own homeland became for the Arabs/Palestinians. And desperate times call for desperate measures.

The British Mandate expired on the 14th of May in 1948, and Israel declared its independence and statehood at that moment. The next day, it was attacked by its Arab neighbors and thus started the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

The Arabs were out-funded, outgunned, and as the losers in any war, eventually became second and third-class citizens in their old homeland. External forces had determined their futures for them, and it only got worse in successive wars, summarized here.

The Middle East is what it has almost always been, one people trying to reclaim, by decree, what was lost centuries before and another people trying to hold on to the lands their ancestors have lived on for centuries.

In the West, we tend to think that Israel is the underdog in these conflicts because they are surrounded by large Arab countries, and that is what we have always been told.

Fast forward to 2021. Israel is an apartheid state, according to Human Rights Watch

“Across these areas (Occupied Palestinian Territory) and in most aspects of life, Israeli authorities methodically privilege Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians. Laws, policies, and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power, and land has long guided government policy. In pursuit of this goal, authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity. In certain areas, as described in this report, these deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”

and Amnesty International

“The events of May 2021 were emblematic of the oppression which Palestinians have faced every day, for decades. The discrimination, the dispossession, the repression of dissent, the killings and injuries – all are part of a system which is designed to privilege Jewish Israelis at the expense of Palestinians.”

Watch and read the two articles at the links in the paragraphs above, and I will leave the judgment up to you before discussing the events of October 7, 2023, and the catastrophic barbarism of Hamas.

Hamas Is Not A Representative Governing Body.

They. Are. Terrorists.

“Fatah is the party that controls the PA [Palestinian Authority], which was created in 1994 to be the government of the West Bank and Gaza. However, when Hamas seized power in 2007, it violently ejected Fatah and the PA from Gaza.”

So, while a terrorist organization also runs the civil services of the Gaza Strip, in 2007, it chose to seize power forcefully even after winning the 2006 Palestinian elections. A leopard cannot change its spots.

If all Americans were to be judged by the actions of the party in power at a particular time, could we not all be considered racist at various points in time? Asking for a friend.

Like the Nazis in WW II Germany and the Communists in the Soviet Union, it would be wishful thinking to assume a successful life in Gaza could be possible without being a token member of Hamas. Unfortunately, it is also easy to imagine that Israel’s harsh treatment of 2.2 million Palestinians in Gaza creates popular support for Hamas rather than allowing us to mindfully separate the actions of the terrorists from the everyday Palestinians.

If you’re interested in a fascinating discussion that took place about a week after the October 7th attack, check out Real Time with Bill Maher from October 13, 2023. One of his guests, James Kirchick, made the comment that, “If the Arabs put down their weapons, there would be peace. If the Jews put down their weapons, there’d be no more Jews in the Middle East.” How, unfortunately, true.

Terrorism is an age-old strategy that has long been successful against superior forces. It is also reviled because of its annihilation of so many defenseless innocents. Who can look at the body cam footage of the October 7th attack and not feel absolute rage? But that rage should be focused on Hamas, not innocent Palestinians.

Since I was born a WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) in the United States, I will never know the dread of “driving while black” in this country. I will never hear the nagging whispers behind my back about my parentage, my intelligence, or my heritage, whether I be Palestinian, Jewish, Hispanic, or any other nationality. But this war and its origins are a real eye-opener regarding the extent of racism we still have in this country and the world.

Note: Privately, I have had a long-standing revulsion to hijacking and hostage-taking and would just as soon see hostage-takers killed in the act rather than saved for trial. Slam dunk, open and shut case. But that’s just me.

Looking at the number of innocent dead Palestinians — especially women and children — in Gaza and the massive destruction of property, one has to ask, is this any kind of justice? The scale of the Israeli attacks boggles the mind, no matter what we saw on October 7th.

People of Palestinian or Jewish heritage are becoming extremely sensitive to comments about “their” side. Any criticism of Israel or sympathy for the Palestinian predicament automatically makes you Anti-Semitic in the minds of some. This just reeks of the offensive attitude, “My country, right or wrong.”

Which is crueler: Hamas using Palestinians as human shields or Israel calling their bluff and bombing anyway?

Several things have become clear in what initially appeared to be a suicide mission by Hamas. They are still out-funded and outgunned, and neither Hezbollah nor other Arab states have come to their aid as probably hoped for.

Israel continues to create new generations of terrorists, both in this bombing campaign and its apartheid approach to the Occupied Palestinian Territories. They are also losing the moral high ground in world opinion in the effort to destroy Hamas.

Can this ever be resolved? Rational minds must prevail, and so far, I haven’t seen any.

If Ron DeSantis Has His Way, My Granddaughters Won’t Be Educated Enough to Get Into College

If Ron DeSantis Has His Way, My Granddaughters Won’t Be Educated Enough to Get Into College

Is reading such a bad thing that we
actually have to ban books?

Education is taking a big hit in Ron DeSantis’ Florida. In January of this year, the Governor appointed six new people to the board of trustees of New College of Florida to free the students and faculty from an ideological “hostage situation.” Heavens to Betsy, let us not burden the kiddies with thoughts they can’t handle or make them think at all!

When I was in the fifth grade, while everyone was dreading moving on to Mrs. P’s class because it was well-known that we had to write 50 book reports a year for her, I was excited. On average, I read about a book every day anyhow and relished the challenge ahead. I read books about Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickock, and Calamity Jane. Then pressed on to books like Animal Farm, 1984, Peter Pan,  Hawaii, Moby Dick, the Sherlock Holmes series, and the entire Burroughs Tarzan series. I think I wear glasses today because of all those nights reading by flashlight under the covers when I was supposed to be sleeping. If you don’t think someone would find something to ban in those books today, you’re not paying attention. Think about: fairies, child molesters with hooks for hands, bare-breasted native women, drug addiction, and blatant racism.

A small public liberal arts college, New College of Florida ranks as the #5 Public liberal arts college in the nation. I’m afraid all that will end with DeSantis and Company. In about ten years, when my oldest Floridian granddaughter starts looking for a college to attend, I don’t think there will even be a public college in Florida worth attending.

Under the guise of Parent’s Rights, our Florida legislature is considering a bill that would ban any book in schools statewide if even only one parent objects to the book.

Unfortunately, the point at which the government tells us what we can read and bans that which we cannot read is only the beginning. The Nazis burned books in Germany in 1933, and the signs are in place that this cycle of intolerance is starting again.

DeSantis won his last election by more than 20 points and has a rubber-stamp legislature, so who can blame him for his blatant rule-by-fiat approach to governance? The “Stop W.O.K.E” Act was passed last year. It prohibits teaching or having classroom discussions where “he or she (a student) must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress for actions, in which he or she played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.”

During his second inaugural address this past January, he decried wokeness this way: “We will never surrender to the woke mob. Florida is where Woke goes to die.”

So, what exactly does “woke”  mean? At a recent dinner, my daughter-in-law asked me that very question, and I tentatively replied, “Enlightened?”

As it happens, it was originally used as a call to action for Black people dating back to the early 20th century. Today, it’s accepted as a compliment by the left but used as an insult by the right. A USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll recently found that fifty-six percent of the people asked defined woke as “being informed, educated on, and aware of social injustices.”

How do we counter social injustice, bullying, and disinformation?

We do it with knowledge and a worldview that is based on curiosity rewarded. Imagine the thrill of a little high-five after being excitedly told something (s)he learned in school today. Or being read to and watching the progression of words getting more difficult, yet mastered, week after week. With a lifetime of knowledge gained by reading, watching integrated classrooms, and knowing that racism is taught, not inherent, wondering if these kids will become suspicious of each other because the sins of the past are being swept under the rug.

Reading gave me knowledge and perspective and stirred my curiosity. Curiosity forces us to question the knowledge we have been given. If it doesn’t seem reasonable, continue reading, questioning, and searching until the truth is found.

Interestingly, the “truth” can, and has, changed if critical thinking is fostered and nurtured. Yesterday’s truth is only as good as the informed minds that found it. More informed minds refine the truth.

Can you imagine where the world would be if people simply accepted the “facts” that were given to them? Would we know the truths about the past? Would the great thinkers of yesterday be able to
build on the ideas of past generations to create new and improved medicines or machines?

Please. Ignore the politicians who would keep you rooted in the past. They are afraid you won’t vote for them if you know the truth because they. only. want. power. The more you know, the more you see they don’t work for your best interests.

Read. Anything and everything. Then vote them out so your kids and my granddaughters can get a decent education in Florida.

Why Do I Wear My Mask?

Why Do I Wear My Mask?

To Protect You, the Unvaccinated.

Whatever your reasons for not wearing a COVID-19 mask outside your home, I wear my mask to protect those who are unvaccinated.

That’s right, I’m looking out for you, even though I am fully vaccinated. While not the ultimate sacrifice, I am sacrificing my personal freedom so you don’t have to sacrifice your life. At the risk of sounding pompous, everyone knows — to quote TFG (The Former Guy, for those of us who cannot bear to say his name or hear his voice) — vaccinated people can, on rare occasion, become infected again. How rare?

“Two studies suggest that the chance of getting breakthrough COVID-19 is about 0.05%. In both studies, researchers noted that infection happened while COVID-19 cases were surging in the regions where the research took place.”

If your math is a little rusty, that means about 500 in every 1,000,000 fully vaccinated people could become re-infected.

If I am one of those unfortunate few, with the Delta variant making up most of the patients in the US today, I probably won’t be hospitalized or die from COVID-19. My symptoms would be mild or non-existent (asymptomatic). But, my viral load would be 1,000 times heavier than the original virus. Hanging out with me without a mask if you are unvaccinated, would be like Superman throwing buckets of gasoline on a monstrous forest fire and asking you to pick up a bucket and help.

Myths and Lies About the Coronavirus

We have all seen or heard disinformation campaigns that have spread around the world. Some of us have fallen prey to the myths lies because they are designed to deceive and look like research. The link in the paragraph below is from Business Insider, a more than reputable source of information. It also describes how to spot disinformation.

“While misinformation is false information that is created and spread regardless of an intent to harm or deceive, disinformation is a type of misinformation that is created to be deliberately deceptive. Both forms may be shared widely, regardless of whether or not the sharer knows the information is wrong.”

Sadly, I am aware of too many friends and family members, intelligent people who feel they have “done their research” and adamantly decline the mask and the vaccine.

If you positively want accurate information, I strongly encourage people to read the three-page PDF at this link from Sarasota Memorial Hospital in an attempt to debunk all the disinformation in circulation. Coincidentally, it answers many of the same questions I’ve heard from friends and family.

If you want information about vaccination also, refer to the CDC website FAQ page.

My Personal Choice, My Butt

Have you ever been caught driving under the influence (a DUI)? There goes your license — state-regulated permission to drive because you are a menace to society.

Do you want to fly a 737? You’ll need a license to prove you’re capable and not a menace to society. Same thing for driving a train or ship.

Want to practice medicine or law? Study hard and get a license to show you’re not a menace to society.

Are you licensed to hunt or fish during a particular season? Why? The state regulates conservation efforts to ensure wildlife does not become depleted by over-hunting or over-fishing.

When you start school, guess what? You must be vaccinated for several issues. These vary by state, but here in Florida, the list looks like this to start:

  • Diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis (DTaP)
  • Inactivated polio vaccine (IPV)
  • Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR)
  • Varicella (chickenpox)
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
  • Pneumococcal conjugate (PCV13)
  • Hepatitis B (Hep B)

Let’s put it this way. The State has the right, and will, regulate anything it considers going against the Public Good. Not masking or vaccinating in a pandemic goes against the Public Good. The blatant disregard for proper medical guidelines to protect yourself and others has led to a resurgence in the COVID-19 population in the US. The more infections, the more likely the virus will mutate again. When it mutates, the current vaccines simply may not protect against it. 

Speaking of vaccines —

here are the latest facts on that subject.

“Hospitalizations Spike In States With Low Vaccination Rates As Unvaccinated Covid Patients Fill ICUs.”

“Breakthrough COVID infections show ‘the unvaccinated are now putting the vaccinated at risk’

Unfortunately, more and more people seem to be feeling like this guy (harsh language) with 20.6K Retweets and 49.9K Likes at this moment.

Not a point of view I share because it’s never too late for forgiveness. However, a lot of people on Twitter seem to like it, for what that’s worth.

But I digress. I believe you were saying something about your personal choice about wearing a mask or getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

The End of an Era?

The End of an Era?

I doubt it. The Trumpster fire smolders all across the country, just waiting for the right opportunity to burst into flame again. While El Presidente slinks off to Florida, let us remember that as we watched and listened to him for over five years, 74 million of our neighbors drank his Kool-Aid. He told us to our faces what he was doing. Labeling the free press the “Enemy of the People” and calling their reporting “Fake News,” he gathered an army so drunk with the power he lavished on them, they stormed the Capitol in a coup attempt intent on arresting Members of Congress who opposed him.

“We have about 30-40 of us. We are sticking together and sticking to the plan,” co-defendant Jessica Watkins, 38, a U.S. Army veteran, said while the breach was underway … “You are executing citizen’s arrest. Arrest this assembly, we have probable cause for acts of treason, election fraud,” a man replied, according to communications recovered from her phone, the FBI alleged.

After all this, one hundred and ninety-seven members of the House of Representatives failed to see the need to impeach the Mad King Donald. One hundred and forty-seven members of the House and Senate voted to overturn the election results.

Oh yes, Trumpism is alive and well. The author of the feast is gone, but not forgotten. Not by a long shot.

A Republic, If We Can Keep It

A Republic, If We Can Keep It

What’s the difference between a patriot and an insurrectionist? Until a couple of weeks ago, the answer was clear and straightforward for most of us. A patriot loves his or her country and will do anything to defend it. An insurrectionist has grievances against the government and will do anything to destroy it.

I imagine the Minutemen of colonial Boston saw themselves as patriots, while George III saw them as insurrectionists.

Like so many things in life, perspective is the key to your viewpoint. As one ages, your mindset can change based on the ability to see a larger picture and your relationship to it. Seeing things through youthful eyes can lead to rebellious attitudes, a lack of patience, and the demand for immediate change. 

Mellowing eyes have seen the pendulum’s movement and the need to take others’ rights into account. Aren’t we, the people, basically a complex life-form with the power to either improve or destroy our planet, which is only a speck of dust in an infinitesimally large universe? Will our inability to compromise lead us to be trapped like the monkey who won’t let go of the fruit in the jar, when simply unclenching his fist allows him to remove his hand and once more enjoy freedom? 

The Southern Poverty Law Center finds that:

“Generally, antigovernment groups define themselves as opposed to the ‘New World Order,’ engage in groundless conspiracy theorizing, or advocate or adhere to extreme antigovernment doctrines.”

On January 6th, 2021, the perspectives of many who considered themselves patriots, merged with and emerged as, insurrectionists who bought into the great lie that their country was being stolen from them.

The difference? To paraphrase Ben Franklin, in our republic, we have the means to change our government peacefully — if we can keep it.