WASHINGTON — When Donald Trump made his entrance to the packed Verizon Center on Monday night, the applause from the 18,000 AIPAC conference participants was polite, even warm, but certainly not overwhelming. There was a half roar from the higher reaches of the stadium, and a few isolated cheers.
Unlike the previous speaker, Paul Ryan, Trump did not bound onto the stage. He approached the microphone slowly, even hesitantly. Was the indomitable Republican front-runner perhaps a little nervous about addressing what CNN had described as arguably his most challenging audience?
As it quickly turned out, not a bit.
Trump delivered a river of emphatically pro-Israel sound bites to a crowd that applauded with increasing enthusiasm as he progressed. Soon he was having to pause for brief standing ovations. Then he was giving the thumbs-up signal. Now he was waiting, lips pursed, shoulders shrugging, palms out, as if to say: You know I’m right, and I’m the only one with the guts to say it.
The World Happiness Report is a measure of happiness that’s published annually by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Leading experts in economics, psychology, survey analysis, and national statistics, to name a few, describe how measurements of well-being can be used effectively to assess the progress of nations.
The 2016 happiness index ranks the Jewish State in 11th place, following Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden.
The main innovation in the World Happiness Report Update 2016, write the Index authors, is its focus on inequality. “We have previously argued that happiness, as measured by life evaluations, provides a broader indicator of human welfare than do measures of income, poverty, health, education, and good government viewed separately. We now make a parallel suggestion for measuring and addressing inequality. Thus we argue that inequality of well-being provides a better measure of the distribution of welfare than is provided by income and wealth, which have thus far held center stage when the levels and trends of inequality are being considered.”
To kvetch is as Jewish as guilt-tripping, gefilte fish, and gloom. But the ne plus ultra of Jewish is angst—that sense of dread and foreboding that keeps whispering: “The universe is out to get you.”
Given the Jewish experience of the last 5776 years, this take reflects realism rather than paranoia. Start with the eviction from Eden and the Deluge, which left only Noah’s clan alive. Continue with the Pharaonic slavery and God’s vow in the Desert (Numbers 14) to strike the Children of Israel “with pestilence and disown them.” And so it goes: the Babylonian captivity, Haman, Masada, the destruction of two temples, the dispersal. It is an unending epic of persecution, expulsion and slaughter culminating in the Shoah.
In Fiddler on the Roof, Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye put the existential curse in a nutshell: “I know, I know,” he pleads with the Almighty, “we are Your chosen people. But once in a while, can’t You choose someone else?” Without the gift of irony and gallows humor, Jews might not have made it to 5776, but there isn’t even a sub-atomic particle of this wondrous antidote in Ron Rosenbaum’s “Lamentation for the State of Israel,” published in these pages on Dec. 14, 2015. Here is the gist of his dirge:
I believe the State of Israel may not survive. That its days are numbered. I can hardly bear to say it. … But now the children of Holocaust victims and survivors and the children of those who came to Israel as refugees from pogroms in Islamic lands—now they too, face a future not merely bleak, but perhaps blank, empty, ended.
“Christian children are massacred, and everything is done in plain sight. Islamists proclaim on a daily basis that they will not stop until Christianity is wiped off the face of the earth. So are the world Christian bodies denouncing the Islamic forces for the ethnic cleansing, genocide and historic demographic-religious revolution their brethren are suffering? No. Christians these days are busy targeting the Israeli Jews.” — Giulio Meotti, Italian journalist.
The Kairos document seems to be so egregiously discriminatory that in 2010, the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) declared it “supersessionist” and “anti-Semitic.”
We must ask why a presentation of the work of Kairos in an Anglican church made no reference whatever to the many associations with extremism and denial of a more rational Christian approach to the problems faced by Palestinian Christians.
1. What got you focused on Radical Islam? What drives you? Do you ever fear for your life?
9/11. I wanted to know who had attacked my country, and began to study and investigate. What drives me is a determination to defend freedom and individual rights, on which this country is based. I have a fatwa on my head from ISIS, but I will not stop telling the truth.
2. Why do you focus so much on exposing the threat of extremist Islam and is anyone even listening? Do organizations such as CAIR look at you as a threat?
I focus on it because it is the #1 threat to freedom today, and this threat is being obfuscated by our political and media elites. Yes, many are listening, and many are just as concerned as I am, but we are not given a voice in the mainstream media. CAIR is very threatened by what I do because I expose truths they are working to cover up.
3. What is your take on why we are seeing an increase of terrorism around the globe and in Israel?
Because of the weakness of the U.S. and the West. Obama showed the jihadis that he would not act energetically against them. They can act with impunity and he will do nothing. Ayn Rand said, “The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum. Whenever evil wins, it is only by default: by the moral failure of those who evade the fact that there can be no compromise on basic principles.”
At least twice over the last 15 years, Israel has offered the Palestinians extraordinarily generous two-state solutions. The first time was in 2000-2001 when Ehud Barak and Bill Clinton offered the Palestinians more than 90% of the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip, with a capital in Jerusalem. Yassir Arafat turned down the offer and started an intifada, in which 4000 people were killed. This self-inflicted wound by the leader of the PA contributed greatly to the weakening of Israel’s peace camp, most particularly of Ehud Barak’s Labor party. The current Zionist Camp party, which is an offshoot of Labor, has continued to suffer from that weakening.
Then again, in 2007, Ehud Olmert offered the Palestinians an even more generous resolution, to which Mahmoud Abbas failed to respond positively. This failure also contributed to the weakening of the Israeli center-left and the strengthening of the right.
Israel has warned Damascus that if President Assad chooses to hit back at Israel for any further Israeli military strikes, Israel will bring down his regime.
An Israeli official confirmed Wednesday night that a dramatic and unprecedented message to this effect had been conveyed to Damascus, Channel 2 news reported.
The report said that Israel’s position to this effect also came up during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s emergency meeting in Russia on Tuesday with President Vladimir Putin, during which Netanyahu also told Putin of Israel’s profound opposition to Russia’s sale of sophisticated S-300 missile defense batteries to Assad.