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19.06.2018

America could learn from Israel’s proud patriotism.

Here’s my favorite joke from a week in Israel. What’s the difference between secular, liberal Jews and Donald Trump? Trump has Jewish grandchildren. From a distance, the politics of Israel look even more hopelessly fractured than our own. With 14 parties, including secular Jews, ultra orthodox and Arabs, vying for 120 seats in the Knesset,...
Time: 22:41     Date: 12.12.2017
Last US News - Opinion: America could learn from Israel’s proud patriotism. NY Post 24 - US News

Trump has Jewish grandchildren.

From a distance, the politics of Israel look even more hopelessly fractured than our own. With 14 parties, including secular Jews, ultra orthodox and Arabs, vying for 120 seats in the Knesset, coalition governments are the norm and minor parties with a handful of seats become kingmakers.

But seen up close, those differences largely fade on the issue of national security. Because their tiny nation faces existential threats from Iran and its proxies on three borders, Israelis are united in their commitment to protecting their country.

Patriotism is borne of necessity and forged with near-universal military service. Parents speak with more pride than fear about their children getting ready to serve.

Self-defense is an Israeli founding virtue because Jews learned over thousands of years that “history can turn on you at any moment,” as one academic put it.

A shared realization that there is no place to run to was evident everywhere we went. A mother on a kibbutz near Gaza told of the dangers of life along the border, where Hamas rockets fall from the sky and terrorists try to tunnel underneath the fence.

She evacuated during the 2014 war, but soon came back, children in tow. Why doesn’t she leave for good?

“I was born on this kibbutz,” she says. “This is our land. It was always part of Israel.”

Another Israeli mother we met lives only a few miles from the Syria and Lebanon borders, putting her family on the front lines. She, too, wouldn’t leave, saying “this is home.”

A human rights leader was methodical in his criticism of his government’s treatment of Israeli Arabs, but passionate in defense of the Jewish state’s right to exist with secure borders.

“The idea that Zionism is racism is outrageous,” he declared.

Each time we heard a version of the love of country, I wondered whether Americans can recover their common ground. That’s not to suggest we lack patriots; it’s just that the left and right define patriotism as differently as night and day.

Our national security has become almost as partisan as taxes and abortion.

I was with a group of educators traveling with Project Interchange, a program of the American Jewish Committee. The aim was to show us Israel in all its complexity and progress, and to meet people from across the spectrum.

We were there when President Trump made the historic declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his plan to move the embassy from Tel Aviv. He was condemned in Europe and throughout the Mideast, but “Israel loves Trump” signs appeared in Jerusalem, with even left-wing dissent muted.

“It’s that way for every Israeli,” said Avital Leibovich, formerly the chief spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces and now head of the AJC there.

Although virtually every American presidential candidate for the last 30 years promised the move that Trump made, many Israelis were OK with delaying it until there was peace with the Palestinians. But the eagerness for Trump to deliver on his promise now reflects the fact that most Israelis have given up on a deal with the Palestinians.

Believing Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza are neither willing nor capable of making a deal and sticking to it, they’ve moved on to improving relations with Muslim nations like Saudi Arabia and forging ties with China and India.

Those changes in Israeli society led a Palestinian leader from the West Bank to tell us he was neither shocked nor dispirited by Trump’s move.

“It’s been clear to Palestinians since the Oslo Accords that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,” said Elias Zananiri. He said he “admired Trump’s careful approach” in making it clear that Jerusalem is holy to three religions and that the announcement does not preclude East Jerusalem from becoming a Palestinian capital.

He is also optimistic that, in his next move, Trump will tilt toward the Palestinians and Israelis will have to go along.

Zananiri, a Christian and former journalist, also surprised some in our group by suggesting former President Barack Obama made things worse in his bid to forge a peace deal. He said Obama “went too far and too fast” and that his focus on stopping Israeli settlements before talks could start “put Abbas in a squeeze.”

“Abbas couldn’t become less Palestinian than Obama,” and so negotiations were frozen, he said.

Naturally, sentiments such as Zananiri’s are nowhere to be found in the lockstep praise of Obama and criticism of Trump by most American media. The “sky is falling” chorus was so certain that widespread violence was inevitable that correspondents donned their flak jackets and combat helmets, eager to have their bias confirmed that Trump had provoked mayhem.

When a relative handful of demonstrators showed up, and even fewer engaged in violence, the journalists were crestfallen.

The scene gave rise to the second funniest thing I heard. It came from a government official who said, “I almost expected the media to start setting their own tires on fire so they would have something to film.”

Is it a Bitcoin ‘sell’ game?

Headline: “People mortgaging their homes to buy Bitcoin”

What a great idea. What could go wrong?

Sloppy news disservice

Amid the many media mistakes lately, an AP dispatch from Boston wins the prize for most errors per word. In four paragraphs containing just 139 words, the wire service made three significant errors.

According to a correction, top NPR host Tom Ashbrook has been placed on leave, not suspended; station WBUR-FM is not calling the allegations sexual misconduct; and the station and ownership, not NPR, are investigating.

Otherwise, heckuva job.

NY can’t rely on luck

New York was lucky that Monday’s would-be suicide bomber couldn’t detonate his bomb properly, but luck is not a strategy. Neither are platitudes.

What are they waiting for?

Starting with the Chelsea bombing in September of 2016 and the truck attack on the downtown bike path in October, Monday’s attack is the third in 15 months. That’s more than got through the dragnet in the previous 15 years.

Something’s changing, and the pols better figure out what it is, and tighten the screws. Pronto.

Opinion

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Opinion

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Last US News - Opinion: Cuomo is putting politics first with parolee-voting scheme. NY Post 24 - US News
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Gov. Cuomo has ordered state parole officers to give “high priority attention” to registering ex-cons to vote. That should...
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When it comes to the debate in Washington over separating migrant children from adults, both sides are stoking the fire....

Living

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Business

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Metro

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Grimm compares kids crying at border to daycare drop off.
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Sport

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