By Jim Shipley
Shipley Speaks 

Oy! What a year!

 


While as Jews we celebrate our own New Year with a religious flourish for 10 days, usually in the fall, tell me you won’t do at least a little family and friends this weekend. What a year, right? It looks mightily like we will, in this country of ours have four political parties by the end of 2017. The Democrats are split between the “Regulars” and the “Progressives”; the Republicans between the “Regulars” and the “Tea Party.” Not to worry—we are one of the last developed nations on earth to have only two “major” parties. Will things work any better? Don’t bet on it.

When Rachel and I were in Israel in October we had breakfast one morning with our friends, Bennie and Ruthie Begin. Bennie has been a Member of Knesset for the past 25 years. He is of course, the son of the late prime minister, Menachem Begin, also a friend of ours. Bennie was most interested in our presidential campaign still underway at that time. I discussed the party splits with him. He said “you know in Israel, we have really many parties.” Under Israeli law, pretty much anybody can form a party. If your family is large enough, you can do an inter-familial party. “So,” Benny shrugged, “we have to have coalition or it won’t work.”


“So,” I asked. “How does it work?”

“Sometimes in chaos, I’ll admit,” Bennie answered, “but if I want something done, I meet with a member of another party. I’ll ask what he wants, tell him what I want, we do some negotiating—then the two of us will round up a third person from yet another party and we will get the votes we need.”

Okay, might sound messy, but it works fairly well—not nearly as dysfunctional as what Washington is today.

David Friedman will be the new ambassador to Israel. Some folks on the left and of course from J Street are upset that he has no diplomatic experience. Take a look at the list of ambassadors under every president from Roosevelt to Obama—except in a few instances, their basic experience is as a celebrity or as a major donor.

Friedman does not believe in a Two-State Solution. His reason: Anyone of any power on the Other Side does not really want a Two-State Solution—just the destruction of the Jewish State. Moving the embassy? Well, maybe not so fast.

Syria is a failed State. Maybe the U.N. or even the U.S. does not want to recognize it, but Assad’s Regime, like so many others in the region, is a participant in the thousand-year war between Sunni and Shia. It is a war that shows no sign of abating; just a changing of names of the combatants on both sides. Which begs the question—why are we involved at all?


The only country that seems to pay attention to history is Israel. They have made it very clear to both sides, like a Revolutionary flag of the U.S.: “Don’t Tread on Me.”

According to Torah, God gave us “dominion over the animals and the world around us.” I think that means it is our responsibility to care for this earth. So far as the earth itself is concerned, well what can I say when the president-elect wants to put a man who is currently suing the EPA in charge of it. He wants to put an arsonist in charge of the fire department.

Like the country and most of the “civilized” world, this past year the Jewish Community has become divided. No—this is not the case of two Jews three opinions. This is spiritual, ideological and political. When I was coming to maturity in the work of the “Jewish Community”—while we had our differences on many subjects, the State of Israel was inviolate. That she could do no wrong? That was almost taken for granted.

Obviously as Israel is full of real live people - most of whom are Jews, Israel by its very nature is going to be messy, even wrong is certain cases, but—and I hate to belabor the point—we don’t live under the conditions in Israel, we do not pay taxes to the State of Israel—so we have no business lecturing those who do live there and pay those ridiculous taxes.


The problem is with our younger generation, the Millenials and whatever we are calling today’s Jewish teenagers. They have no historical perspective. They are exposed to as much “fake news” as real news (go ahead, Jim—what’s “real news”?). I could blame their parents—but that probably depends on the relationship between their parents and the generation before them. D’or v D’or.

Yes, like Bette Davis said: “Fasten your seatbelts—it looks like a bumpy ride ahead.” Here’s hoping things are not as dire as some think and that there is a light at the end of this tunnel that is not a train coming at us.

 

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