From Israel: The Stupefying Imperfections of Life.

Radical evil, we all know about. We see it everywhere: In the horrifying repression in N. Korea, and the radicalism of Iran.  In acts of terror closer to home, and child abuse in places far and wide.

But we do not live in a world of absolutes, in which everything that is not evil is good.  For most of our lives we struggle with shades of gray: from venomous situations bordering on the truly evil to those that are gratuitously self-serving, and others that are merely very stupid.

I don’t know how you respond, my friends.  But every now and then, I feel as if I am drowning in these gray situations.

That’s just a descriptive metaphor, of course, for you see that I keep writing – in order to shine a light on the venomous and on the very stupid, alike.


credit: TRUE Right Wing Conservative News Site.

It broke in the news this week that in 2005, when Barack Obama was an Illinois Senator and considering a run for the presidency, he had attended a meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus and had his picture taken with Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam and a promoter of a virulently anti-Semitic, anti-white ideology.  Farrakhan had praised Hitler and referred to Judaism as a “gutter religion.” A primary belief of the NOI was that white people are “devils.”


According to Askia Muhammad, who took the picture, he was approached by a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and asked to surrender it and swear secrecy.  The fear was that the photo would ruin Obama’s chances for the presidency, Muhammad, who concurred with this assessment, readily agreed (although he apparently kept a secret copy for himself). He remained silent, until now.


That Farrakhan is evil is a given.  And I have long since determined for myself that Obama—if not overtly evil—certainly courts and abets evil.  There are a host of reasons why I see him this way: beginning with the fact that he betrayed the American people in his dealings with Iran and betrayed the Middle East when he refused to even try to curb Iran’s support of terrorists.

Does the fact that Obama posed for a picture with Farrakhan make him evil?  An interesting question.  I would carry this issue one step further:

Almost everyone writing about this has focused on Obama’s posing with Farrakhan, while ignoring the larger question:  Precisely what was Farrakhan doing at a meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus and what does this say about its members?  This is not a good scenario.

The Black Caucus boycotted Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress three years ago.  I had no problem with the fact that individual members of the Caucus may have had political issues with our prime minister.  What bothered me was that they registered their discontent with him as a racial bloc, saying that he had “dissed” the president.  What they meant was “the president, a black man.”  But race had nothing to do with the issues.

In terms of racial divides, whatever was true in 2015 is even more the case in America today. Very stupid, and very sad.


Former Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, a long-time supporter of Obama, was reportedly shocked by the photo.  Had he known about Obama’s connection with Farrakhan, he declared, he would have declined to campaign for him in 2008.

“It would have influenced my decision.”

credit: News Week

I certainly would never imply that Dershowitz is evil, or even malicious. I believe he is person of sincere intentions, who has frequently defended Israel.

But I wonder how someone as intelligent as he is could also be so willfully obtuse. Had he been operating with his eyes open, Dershowitz would not have required a photo op of Obama and Farrakhan together to be uncomfortable with his candidate:

Barack Obama had a relationship of significant dimensions with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose church in Chicago he attended for 20 years.  It has been documented that over the years Wright gave sermons that were racially divisive and hateful towards the US.  In 2007, a publication of Wright’s church, Trumpet News magazine, gave an award to Louis Farrakhan, whom it described as a man who

“truly epitomized greatness.”

Wright praised Farrakhan for his

“depth of analysis when it comes to the racial ills of this nation,”

and for

“his integrity and honesty.”

Did Barack Obama, a senator, feel compelled to speak out against this? He did not. Did he resign from Wright’s church? No.

Obama only began to distance himself from Wright when this issue became public the following year.

I would suggest that Dershowitz might have – should have – sniffed the air and sensed that something was amiss with the man he intended to support for the presidency.

Hey!  I was tracking this from Jerusalem, and I knew in my gut there was a problem.  But Dershowitz had no clue?

This is the very stupid of liberals who just don’t want to know.  There are lessons here, but they are not likely to be heeded.


Speaking of Obama, let me refer for just one moment to his former secretary of state, John Kerry, a man I would have been just as happy to never hear about again:

This past week, he made the news when Ben Caspit of Maariv reported that Kerry met in London with Hussein Agha, a very close confidant of Mahmoud Abbas, and had a long and frank discussion with him. Kerry asked Agha to relay a message to Abbas:

hold on and be strong.”

Tell him, Kerry advised,

that he should stay strong in his spirit and play for time, that he will not break and will not yield to President Trump’s demands.” (Emphasis added here and above)

Kerry reportedly also advised Abbas that he should not attack the US, but rather concentrate on personal attacks on Trump. His assumption – which I absolutely believe is way off base – is that Trump will not last long and it’s a matter of waiting him out.

Vintage Kerry: highly malicious and very, very stupid at the same time.

(See below for more on the US-Palestinian Arab relationship or lack thereof.)


A bill is currently making its way through the Polish parliament that would outlaw blaming Poles for crimes of the Holocaust – such that this would become a criminal offense.

The Polish government resents the fact that because Nazi death camps such as Auschwitz were located in Poland, they are frequently referred to as “Polish death camps.” Understood.

But it is also an historical fact that many Polish nationals were complicit in the obscene work of the Nazis.  Scholars are clear about the fact that what the Nazis did in Poland would not have been possible without the assistance of Poles in considerable numbers.  To outlaw public statements about the historical reality—whether by scholars, educators, tour guides, or even survivors recounting their experiences—would be a horrendous mistake.


Israel immediately registered a formal protest “strongly opposing” this legislation.  Said an angry Netanyahu, Israel has

“no tolerance for the distortion of the truth, the rewriting of history…”

Shortly thereafter, Education Minister Naftali Bennett announced that a special compulsory course, “The involvement of local populations, including Poland, in the Holocaust of the Jewish people,” was to be taught in two segments this week in grades 7 through 12.

Said Bennett,

It is a historical fact that many Poles helped in the of murder Jews, by informing on them, turning them in, and murdering Jews themselves during and after the Holocaust…we must make sure that Israeli students know this reality the way it took place.” (Emphasis added)

Mark Weitzman of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, called the law “an obscene whitewashing” of history.

What raised ire even further is that the passage of this legislation in the lower house of the Polish parliament occurred on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  And beyond this were concerns about the issue of free speech.


It has been announced that discussions will take place between Israeli and Polish teams on the subject of this legislation. The outcome is dubious: Polish President Andrzej Duda has declared himself “flabbergasted” at Israel’s “violent and very unfavorable reaction.

“We absolutely cannot back down,”

he said.


The US government’s response to the Abbas antics has been fantastic. Count this among the good things.

At the UN after Abbas’s hysterical PLO speech, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said (emphasis added):

“A speech that indulges in outrageous and discredited conspiracy theories is not the speech of a person with the courage and the will to seek peace.

[The US won’t] chase after a Palestinian leadership that lacks what is needed to achieve peace.

“To get historic results, we need courageous leaders.”

See Haley’s remarks here:

This represents an enormous change from previous US administrations that, when confronted with Palestinian Arab intransigence, routinely asked Israel for “goodwill gestures.”  These were concessions that were demanded, concessions that demeaned and undermined Israel, and never worked in any event. Show the Arabs you are willing to give them your hand, and they figure they can hold out for your entire arm.


At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last Thursday, Trump—who was angry at the “disrespect” shown to Vice President Pence by the Palestinian Authority, when no one would meet with him—had a few things to say, as well:

“If you look back at the various peace proposals, and they are endless, and I spoke to some of the people involved. And I said, ‘Did you ever talk about the vast amount of funds, money that we give to the Palestinians? You know, we give hundreds of millions of dollars.’ And they said, ‘We never talk about it.’

Well, we do talk about it…that money is on the table…

That money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace, because I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace, and they’re going to have to want to make peace, too, or we’re going to have nothing to do with it any longer.” (Emphasis added)

Tough words, spoken impromptu by the president, and not as part of an established policy.  But we can see where he’s going.

I don’t believe he can force the PLO to the table.  But this approach is refreshing: the Palestinian Authority has been living on the international dole for too long.  They make no positive contribution to the world; all they have to do is whine, and they get the largest sums per capita of any group in the world.

That Trump is fed up is a wonderful thing.

This week he followed up with similar comments.  And a very recent news report indicates that the US may cut off all aid to UNRWA and refuse to accept UNRWA’s definition of “refugee.” (Definition: Through the generations indefinitely until there is “return” to Israel.)

While everyone else has been afraid of being politically incorrect, this man is ready to declare that the emperor (in this case UNRWA) has no clothes. However this works out with regard to policy, I say, Bless him.


I think Trump’s State of the Union Address was fantastic, and I hope to return to it in my next post.

There is not sufficient space here now to do it justice.


Samir Hazboun, head of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce, in the PA, had invited an American expert on doing business on the Internet to do a training session for local business people; the trainer was accompanied by a delegation from the US consulate in Jerusalem (the consulate on Agron St. that functions much like an embassy to the PA).

The session was in progress when a group of protesters burst in, causing the US delegation to pack up and leave post haste.  Protesters threw tomatoes at the cars as the group made their way back to Jerusalem.

I’m sure this will go over big in the White House.


We have just completed the minor festival of Tu B’Shvat, which I think gets more attention here in Israel.

Mentioned in the Mishnah, this is known as the New Year for trees, marked for purposes of calculating the age of fruit-bearing trees, as fruit can be eaten only after the third year of the tree.

The festival, however, has taken on enhanced meaning in modern Israel, with the planting of trees and the eating of fruits and nuts from trees grown in Israel.

It is at the time of Tu B’Shvat that the very first trees—the almonds—begin to blossom. And indeed, I’ve seen many in bloom this past week, even though the weather has not yet turned warm.

This is a harbinger of spring that lifts the spirits: The final good news for today.


Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

Arlene from Israel website.
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