Category: Harold Goldmeier

Winter Holiday Music Is So Jewish


I’m a baby-boomer.  American-born Mom was the child of Polish Jews scrapping by through the Great Depression in the land of plenty.  They lost everything.  Nothing went to waste ever again.  We barely threw a garbage bag out once a week.

Her favorite times of year were the baseball and holiday seasons.  She loved wintertime songs, so many written by Jewish immigrants and their firstborn.  The music reminded her of good times during a rocky early life.  Judy Garland’s rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” captivated Mom.  Carl Sigman’s 1949 lyrics to

“A Marshmallow World,” performed by Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, Arthur Godfrey, and half-dozen more artists, always brought a smile to Mom’s face:

It’s a marshmallow world in the winter
When the snow comes to cover the ground

It’s time for play, it’s a whipped cream day

I wait for it the whole year round…

Oh, The world is your snowball, see how it grows
That’s how it goes whenever it snows

The world is your snowball just for a song

Get out and roll it along…

Mom was a true-blue American tomboy, loving baseball.  Mom’s spirit of “I’ll do it myself” and her determination never to complain, especially about America, were her declarations of independence.  She married a German Jewish immigrant in the 1940s.  He spoke only German.  Mom cut the grass on hot summer days after watching father do it in a suit and tie.  Mom spoke English and a smattering of Yiddish.  I can’t explain how they hooked up, but they thrived on mutual respect and love.

Mom’s kitchen smelled of fresh cooking and cigarettes.  Holiday radio music played in the background when she cooked in the dark, early-morning hours for Shabbat between Thanksgivings and springtimes.  It was deep winter cold, icy and windy Chicago.  The kitchen window was frosted from the hothouse steam, and we drew hearts, wrote our names on the panes, and laughed together.

She koshered zaftig (juicy and succulent) fresh chickens bought from the neighborhood shochet  (slaughterer) every Thursday.  Mom cleaved them into quarters, heavily smothering them in Morton Kosher Salt (the blue box with the young, umbrella-holding girl in a short yellow skirt).  My little sister and I cringed watching the mix of watered-down blood oozing into the sink.  The chicken pieces and the sink were washed down with boiling hot water after an appropriate amount of time.

Some chicken pieces were plunked into a large pot bubbling atop the gas stove.  Adding fresh vegetables and marrowbones, Mom concocted the greatest pharmaceutically curing and greasy chicken soup (next to my wife’s).  Some quarters were roasted in a flat pan – never broiled or BBQed.

By ten at night, the soup cooled down, and the pot was stuffed into the icebox (but that’s another story).  By seven A.M. Friday, out came the pot, with a good inch of fat congealed on top that you get only from fresh chickens.  Christmas holiday music was playing on the radio, interrupted only with news about the Korean War or the Cold War with Russia.  A frying pan was making sizzling sounds by the time I made it down to the kitchen.  Mom scooped off the fresh chicken fat, plopping each yellowish schmaltzy spoonful into a fry pan smeared with Crisco before the advent of non-stick pots and pans.  The crackling frying fat smelled fantastic, and its sounds kept to the beat of the music.

Crisco was a cheap, white, Proctor & Gamble vegetable shortening introduced in 1911.  Its ingenious marketing tag proclaimed that the “Hebrew race has been waiting 4,000 years” for Crisco.  The frying fat separated into crunchy popcorn-like morsels now called grebenese.  Mom mixed it with her fried onions, sprinkled with salt and pepper, to create the original comfort food.  Grebenese was hot and ready to eat.

Mom poured grebenese from the frying pan into a large bowl lined with paper towels to absorb the grease.  All this happened by eight a.m. before we left for school.  Breakfast of hot chocolate, grebenese, and fried fresh eggs readied this ten-years-old patrol boy to face winter at its worst.

Okay – the radio music.  Live disc jockeys introduced songs, naming the writers and performers, while loading vinyl records onto players.  Jews loved the holiday season music because it was inspirational, and the writers were often children of the Tribe: “Let It Snow,” “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” “White Christmas,” and that one about Rudolf, though it was unlikely that any Jew had seen a live reindeer.  For Mom, the music was decorous, not religious, personifying freedom and the American spirit.

There were other songs, too, that stirred the emotional stewpot.  Mom wondered how Judy Garland could not be Jewish.  Ms. Garland is now buried in the Beth Olam section of a Los Angeles cemetery reserved for Jewish people.  Several seemingly reliable pundits tell the rest of the story.  In A Journey into the Holocaust

“Somewhere over the Rainbow” is about Jewish survival and the founding of Israel.  Lyrics by Yip Harburg (Isidore Hochberg), who also wrote “April in Paris” and “Brother Can You Spare a Dime,” was born to Russian Jewish immigrants.  Yip grew up in a Yiddish-speaking Orthodox Jewish home in New York.

Harold Arlen (Hyman Arluck), a cantor’s son, wrote the score.  “The two men reached deep into their immigrant Jewish consciousness – framed by the pogroms of the past and the Holocaust about to happen – and wrote an unforgettable melody set to near prophetic words.”  Read the lyrics in a Jewish context.  They are about not wizards of Oz, but Jewish survival.

Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high,

There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue,

And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.

Someday I’ll wish upon a star

And wake up where the clouds are far behind me.

Where troubles melt like lemon drops away above the chimney tops

That’s where you’ll find me.

Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly.

Birds fly over the rainbow.

Why then, oh why can’t I?

If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow

Why, oh why can’t I?

Jews heard of a land “once in a lullaby,” but it was not America.  It was Israel.  The lullaby is the story of the exodus from Egypt, annually read the first night of Passover.  It is the most observed precept among Jews.  A decade after the publication of “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” the exile was over with the rebirth of the modern, defensible State of Israel.  Dreams Mom dared to dream really do come true.

Dr. Harold Goldmeier is a public speaker and writer teaching business and politics to international university students in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.  His book Healthcare Insights: Better Care Better Business is available on Amazon.  His articles and reviews appear on American Thinker, Arutz 7, Life in Israel, the Jerusalem Post, and more.  He was a research and teaching fellow at Harvard.

I’m a baby-boomer.  American-born Mom was the child of Polish Jews scrapping by through the Great Depression in the land of plenty.  They lost everything.  Nothing went to waste ever again.  We barely threw a garbage bag out once a week.

Her favorite times of year were the baseball and holiday seasons.  She loved wintertime songs, so many written by Jewish immigrants and their firstborn.  The music reminded her of good times during a rocky early life.  Judy Garland’s rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” captivated Mom.  Carl Sigman’s 1949 lyrics to

“A Marshmallow World,” performed by Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, Arthur Godfrey, and half-dozen more artists, always brought a smile to Mom’s face:

It’s a marshmallow world in the winter
When the snow comes to cover the ground

It’s time for play, it’s a whipped cream day

I wait for it the whole year round…

Oh, The world is your snowball, see how it grows
That’s how it goes whenever it snows

The world is your snowball just for a song

Get out and roll it along…

Mom was a true-blue American tomboy, loving baseball.  Mom’s spirit of “I’ll do it myself” and her determination never to complain, especially about America, were her declarations of independence.  She married a German Jewish immigrant in the 1940s.  He spoke only German.  Mom cut the grass on hot summer days after watching father do it in a suit and tie.  Mom spoke English and a smattering of Yiddish.  I can’t explain how they hooked up, but they thrived on mutual respect and love.

Mom’s kitchen smelled of fresh cooking and cigarettes.  Holiday radio music played in the background when she cooked in the dark, early-morning hours for Shabbat between Thanksgivings and springtimes.  It was deep winter cold, icy and windy Chicago.  The kitchen window was frosted from the hothouse steam, and we drew hearts, wrote our names on the panes, and laughed together.

She koshered zaftig (juicy and succulent) fresh chickens bought from the neighborhood shochet  (slaughterer) every Thursday.  Mom cleaved them into quarters, heavily smothering them in Morton Kosher Salt (the blue box with the young, umbrella-holding girl in a short yellow skirt).  My little sister and I cringed watching the mix of watered-down blood oozing into the sink.  The chicken pieces and the sink were washed down with boiling hot water after an appropriate amount of time.

Some chicken pieces were plunked into a large pot bubbling atop the gas stove.  Adding fresh vegetables and marrowbones, Mom concocted the greatest pharmaceutically curing and greasy chicken soup (next to my wife’s).  Some quarters were roasted in a flat pan – never broiled or BBQed.

By ten at night, the soup cooled down, and the pot was stuffed into the icebox (but that’s another story).  By seven A.M. Friday, out came the pot, with a good inch of fat congealed on top that you get only from fresh chickens.  Christmas holiday music was playing on the radio, interrupted only with news about the Korean War or the Cold War with Russia.  A frying pan was making sizzling sounds by the time I made it down to the kitchen.  Mom scooped off the fresh chicken fat, plopping each yellowish schmaltzy spoonful into a fry pan smeared with Crisco before the advent of non-stick pots and pans.  The crackling frying fat smelled fantastic, and its sounds kept to the beat of the music.

Crisco was a cheap, white, Proctor & Gamble vegetable shortening introduced in 1911.  Its ingenious marketing tag proclaimed that the “Hebrew race has been waiting 4,000 years” for Crisco.  The frying fat separated into crunchy popcorn-like morsels now called grebenese.  Mom mixed it with her fried onions, sprinkled with salt and pepper, to create the original comfort food.  Grebenese was hot and ready to eat.

Mom poured grebenese from the frying pan into a large bowl lined with paper towels to absorb the grease.  All this happened by eight a.m. before we left for school.  Breakfast of hot chocolate, grebenese, and fried fresh eggs readied this ten-years-old patrol boy to face winter at its worst.

Okay – the radio music.  Live disc jockeys introduced songs, naming the writers and performers, while loading vinyl records onto players.  Jews loved the holiday season music because it was inspirational, and the writers were often children of the Tribe: “Let It Snow,” “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” “White Christmas,” and that one about Rudolf, though it was unlikely that any Jew had seen a live reindeer.  For Mom, the music was decorous, not religious, personifying freedom and the American spirit.

There were other songs, too, that stirred the emotional stewpot.  Mom wondered how Judy Garland could not be Jewish.  Ms. Garland is now buried in the Beth Olam section of a Los Angeles cemetery reserved for Jewish people.  Several seemingly reliable pundits tell the rest of the story.  In A Journey into the Holocaust

“Somewhere over the Rainbow” is about Jewish survival and the founding of Israel.  Lyrics by Yip Harburg (Isidore Hochberg), who also wrote “April in Paris” and “Brother Can You Spare a Dime,” was born to Russian Jewish immigrants.  Yip grew up in a Yiddish-speaking Orthodox Jewish home in New York.

Harold Arlen (Hyman Arluck), a cantor’s son, wrote the score.  “The two men reached deep into their immigrant Jewish consciousness – framed by the pogroms of the past and the Holocaust about to happen – and wrote an unforgettable melody set to near prophetic words.”  Read the lyrics in a Jewish context.  They are about not wizards of Oz, but Jewish survival.

Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high,

There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue,

And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.

Someday I’ll wish upon a star

And wake up where the clouds are far behind me.

Where troubles melt like lemon drops away above the chimney tops

That’s where you’ll find me.

Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly.

Birds fly over the rainbow.

Why then, oh why can’t I?

If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow

Why, oh why can’t I?

Jews heard of a land “once in a lullaby,” but it was not America.  It was Israel.  The lullaby is the story of the exodus from Egypt, annually read the first night of Passover.  It is the most observed precept among Jews.  A decade after the publication of “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” the exile was over with the rebirth of the modern, defensible State of Israel.  Dreams Mom dared to dream really do come true.

Dr. Harold Goldmeier is a public speaker and writer teaching business and politics to international university students in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.  His book Healthcare Insights: Better Care Better Business is available on Amazon.  His articles and reviews appear on American Thinker, Arutz 7, Life in Israel, the Jerusalem Post, and more.  He was a research and teaching fellow at Harvard.



Source link

Letters of Love to Jerusalem


MY JERUSALEM: The Eternal City

Ilan Greenfield, Editor

Ziv Koren, Photography

Published by Gefen Publishing House and

Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, 2017/5778

I love Chicago.  It’s the city in which I lived from birth into retirement.  I can describe the skyline on Lake Michigan, with its majestic sunrise and sunset.  Every neighborhood is its own architectural marvel crowned with lush greenery.  But I will never describe Chicago or Boston or New York or Sedona as eloquently as Matthew Bronfman does in My Jerusalem: The Eternal City.  Bronfman’s romance with Jerusalem is in “its breathtaking glory.”  Bronfman is one of 48 contributors proffering letters of love to Jerusalem, enriching its reputation by juxtaposed elegant and rich photographs.

On the dust jacket, the name Jerusalem is embossed in gold set against a night-lit orange photograph of the Tower of David (or Jerusalem Citadel).  This touch epitomizes its sobriquet, The City of Gold, Yerushalayim Shel Zahav, popular in Hebrew verse and song, the words to which appear on the first page.  It is the place, writes Shimon Peres, where “every morning, at the moment when the sun rises … it is as if heaven and earth have met.”

At first glance, I looked forward to an emotion-filled experience through a magical photographer’s eye.  Ziv Koren’s works of art do not fail me.  But the book is so much more.  My Jerusalem is a compendium of personal love letters assembled by Ilan Greenfield’s selection of Jewish and Christian leaders to a city built by a king of the Jews.  She is a city under siege for some 2,000 years but endowed as the holiest of holy places on Earth for three monotheistic religions.

Most contributors know her only as a city rebuilt and designated the capital of modern Israel.  But Ilan Greenfield has assembled My Jerusalem contributors spanning generations.  President Rivlin and Prime Minister Netanyahu recall childhood memories of growing up in war-torn and divided Jerusalem from 1948 to 1967.  The P.M. describes the city divided by barbed-wire fences laden with land mines and a garbage dump “with snipers on the walls.”  “[S]trangled, it was withered, it had no future” until its liberation in 1967.  Then there is a heartwarming picture of the president hiking his old pacified trails in the hills of Jerusalem.

Editor Greenfield complements the romantic without giving short shrift to the controversies Jerusalem inspires, as any beautiful maiden does among anxious suitors.  Greenfield declares in the publisher’s note that she is mine, My Jerusalem, “the eternal capital of the Jewish people,” not only an eternal city.  The book’s dedication is “[t]o the land and people of Israel with deep gratitude for a life of meaning and the privilege of being part of the wondrous Zionist enterprise.”  

Yerushalayim Shel Zahav,” written by Naomi Shemer, is a wildly popular complement to Israel’s national anthem.  Is it coincidence that the melody is based on a Basque lullaby, from a province of Spain, fighting for generations for independence?  Moreover, her sister province, Catalonia, is enduring armed, club-wielding, anti-freedom repressors concomitant to the release of My Jerusalem, which daily faces threats to her independence and Jewish heritage from international world bodies and foreign former oppressors of the Jews.

The introduction from Alan Dershowitz, a political raconteur, wastes little time reminding readers that Jerusalem is “one of the most divisive political hot spots in the world.”  We all know that.  I might have placed a born and raised Jerusalemite like President Rivlin to introduce the book.  Rivlin gives authenticity: “The history of Jerusalem in the early years of the state is also my personal and family history.”

It seems that Greenfield chooses his authors for the influence and power they wield.  So few of the authors reside in Israel, let alone Jerusalem, that several of the testimonials stir imaginations of a Disneyland experience – a place to visit, and I’ll feel bad if it closes.    

Christians and Jews tell their stories, but no Arab Israeli Christians, Muslims or Haredi leaders are contributors – despite pictures, for instance, that capture their peoples’ passion and love for Jerusalem.  Is there not one who loves Jerusalem intensely as Jews and Evangelicals?  Several notable photographs capture “others,” like the Arab with his donkey in a mix of IDF men and women; an overhead shot of Muslim men prostrate on prayer rugs emitting such force that one can almost hear them; an Arab woman hanging laundry overlooking the rubble from neglect of municipal services; an incongruous photograph of two smiling Arab women in conversation with a Border Patrol officer complemented by a missive from Bret Stephens about the Second Intifada and Yasser Arafat; and another Arab mother children in tow sans any expression of joy, in contrast to the numerous photos of frolicking Jewish children and celebrations throughout the city.  There is a poignant photo of an honor guard on the page next to Yitzhak Rabin’s statement of how Jerusalem is the depository of centuries of tears and pride.

I recommend My Jerusalem be given as a parting gift to every student who spends time studying in Israel, and to every tourist to remind him of a lover lost to another place.  It is a book of art for everyone who desires to live in Jerusalem and for those who want to understand what makes Jerusalem different.  To paraphrase Shai Agnon, Greenfield and Koren significantly add to the study of Jerusalem, and “you have done well.”

Dr. Harold Goldmeier is a public speaker and writer and teaches international university students in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.  His book Healthcare Insights: Better Care Better Business is available on Amazon.  His articles and reviews appear on American Thinker, Arutz 7, Life in Israel, and in the Jerusalem Post and more.  He was a research and teaching fellow at Harvard. 

MY JERUSALEM: The Eternal City

Ilan Greenfield, Editor

Ziv Koren, Photography

Published by Gefen Publishing House and

Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, 2017/5778

I love Chicago.  It’s the city in which I lived from birth into retirement.  I can describe the skyline on Lake Michigan, with its majestic sunrise and sunset.  Every neighborhood is its own architectural marvel crowned with lush greenery.  But I will never describe Chicago or Boston or New York or Sedona as eloquently as Matthew Bronfman does in My Jerusalem: The Eternal City.  Bronfman’s romance with Jerusalem is in “its breathtaking glory.”  Bronfman is one of 48 contributors proffering letters of love to Jerusalem, enriching its reputation by juxtaposed elegant and rich photographs.

On the dust jacket, the name Jerusalem is embossed in gold set against a night-lit orange photograph of the Tower of David (or Jerusalem Citadel).  This touch epitomizes its sobriquet, The City of Gold, Yerushalayim Shel Zahav, popular in Hebrew verse and song, the words to which appear on the first page.  It is the place, writes Shimon Peres, where “every morning, at the moment when the sun rises … it is as if heaven and earth have met.”

At first glance, I looked forward to an emotion-filled experience through a magical photographer’s eye.  Ziv Koren’s works of art do not fail me.  But the book is so much more.  My Jerusalem is a compendium of personal love letters assembled by Ilan Greenfield’s selection of Jewish and Christian leaders to a city built by a king of the Jews.  She is a city under siege for some 2,000 years but endowed as the holiest of holy places on Earth for three monotheistic religions.

Most contributors know her only as a city rebuilt and designated the capital of modern Israel.  But Ilan Greenfield has assembled My Jerusalem contributors spanning generations.  President Rivlin and Prime Minister Netanyahu recall childhood memories of growing up in war-torn and divided Jerusalem from 1948 to 1967.  The P.M. describes the city divided by barbed-wire fences laden with land mines and a garbage dump “with snipers on the walls.”  “[S]trangled, it was withered, it had no future” until its liberation in 1967.  Then there is a heartwarming picture of the president hiking his old pacified trails in the hills of Jerusalem.

Editor Greenfield complements the romantic without giving short shrift to the controversies Jerusalem inspires, as any beautiful maiden does among anxious suitors.  Greenfield declares in the publisher’s note that she is mine, My Jerusalem, “the eternal capital of the Jewish people,” not only an eternal city.  The book’s dedication is “[t]o the land and people of Israel with deep gratitude for a life of meaning and the privilege of being part of the wondrous Zionist enterprise.”  

Yerushalayim Shel Zahav,” written by Naomi Shemer, is a wildly popular complement to Israel’s national anthem.  Is it coincidence that the melody is based on a Basque lullaby, from a province of Spain, fighting for generations for independence?  Moreover, her sister province, Catalonia, is enduring armed, club-wielding, anti-freedom repressors concomitant to the release of My Jerusalem, which daily faces threats to her independence and Jewish heritage from international world bodies and foreign former oppressors of the Jews.

The introduction from Alan Dershowitz, a political raconteur, wastes little time reminding readers that Jerusalem is “one of the most divisive political hot spots in the world.”  We all know that.  I might have placed a born and raised Jerusalemite like President Rivlin to introduce the book.  Rivlin gives authenticity: “The history of Jerusalem in the early years of the state is also my personal and family history.”

It seems that Greenfield chooses his authors for the influence and power they wield.  So few of the authors reside in Israel, let alone Jerusalem, that several of the testimonials stir imaginations of a Disneyland experience – a place to visit, and I’ll feel bad if it closes.    

Christians and Jews tell their stories, but no Arab Israeli Christians, Muslims or Haredi leaders are contributors – despite pictures, for instance, that capture their peoples’ passion and love for Jerusalem.  Is there not one who loves Jerusalem intensely as Jews and Evangelicals?  Several notable photographs capture “others,” like the Arab with his donkey in a mix of IDF men and women; an overhead shot of Muslim men prostrate on prayer rugs emitting such force that one can almost hear them; an Arab woman hanging laundry overlooking the rubble from neglect of municipal services; an incongruous photograph of two smiling Arab women in conversation with a Border Patrol officer complemented by a missive from Bret Stephens about the Second Intifada and Yasser Arafat; and another Arab mother children in tow sans any expression of joy, in contrast to the numerous photos of frolicking Jewish children and celebrations throughout the city.  There is a poignant photo of an honor guard on the page next to Yitzhak Rabin’s statement of how Jerusalem is the depository of centuries of tears and pride.

I recommend My Jerusalem be given as a parting gift to every student who spends time studying in Israel, and to every tourist to remind him of a lover lost to another place.  It is a book of art for everyone who desires to live in Jerusalem and for those who want to understand what makes Jerusalem different.  To paraphrase Shai Agnon, Greenfield and Koren significantly add to the study of Jerusalem, and “you have done well.”

Dr. Harold Goldmeier is a public speaker and writer and teaches international university students in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.  His book Healthcare Insights: Better Care Better Business is available on Amazon.  His articles and reviews appear on American Thinker, Arutz 7, Life in Israel, and in the Jerusalem Post and more.  He was a research and teaching fellow at Harvard. 



Source link

The Lies They Tell


Tuvia Tenenbom’s newest book, The Lies They Tell (Gefen Publishing: 2017), is a social anthropology about America and its Jewish community.  Tenenbom is a bestselling author, journalist, and dramatist holding a B.A. in mathematics and computer science.  He finished Orthodox rabbinical studies in Jerusalem and “Christianity, Islam, journalism, acting, theatre and finance” at NYU.  He tells people he encounters on his wanderings across America that he is a German journalist.

Tenenbom spent a year on the road engaging ordinary folk in dinner-type conversations about life in America, asking their opinions about social change, national and international politics, and Israel.  He meets “the people,” in churches, synagogues, squalid inner cities, bars, restaurants, Indian casinos and reservations, homeless camps, political rallies, conventions, and news conferences.  Through these sometimes disheartening, frequently hilarious encounters, Tenenbom gathers his impressions of the real America, not the one most people learn about from TV and Hollywood.

Tenenbom keeps telling us he is short, fat, slovenly, a cigarette fiend, who is forever hungry.  Eating his way across the country.  This adds to the ruse, disarming Americans as he peels back their politically correct thick skin.  He finds the diversity of American food reflective of the nation’s cultural disparities and political divides.  It’s a subtle and brilliant way of telling a story.

But this is a ruse.  Tenenbom is a modern social anthropologist with a winsome interviewing style and a knack for tossing off bons mots.  His wit, intellectual versatility, and insight make the book an easy read.  The picture-painting writer style leaves readers smarter, but depressed about Americans’ unable to face their own political duplicitousness and vainglorious nationalism.

Remember CBS journalist Charles Kuralt?  Tenenbom shares with him a wanderlust for the beautiful country, kvelling over living “on the road.”  Kuralt and Tenenbom are forever in search of a good story.  But Tenenbom diverges from Kuralt’s conclusion that “[t]he everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.”

Just the opposite here.  Tenenbom has harsh words for American hypocritical liberals and progressives:

The America I find is not the America I wished to find. It is racist, it is hateful and its citizens are bound to destroy themselves. Be they blacks and some Spanish who have nothing better to do with their time than shoot each other in the head; be they Jews who are possessed by a terrifyingly psychotic illness of self-hate; be they Indians who have given up any semblance of spirituality in exchange for acres and casinos; or be they all the others: whites, the rest of the Spanish, Muslims, Mormons and others who live in fear of one another.

They fume over the shooting of a rock-throwing Palestinian by an Israeli soldier.  They despair about poverty in Africa and Haiti.  Climate change dominates their agenda.

Yet America virtually ignores the hundreds of children shot every weekend in inner cities of Chicago and Baltimore and elsewhere.  Tenenbom blocks out malnourished, going-to-bed-hungry homeless people he meets from Hawaii to Florida.  He writes with anger and disbelief about this intelligent sclerosis.

In one scene, Tenenbom interviews residents living dreadful existences in the political district that catapulted Mr. Obama to political power.  Police pass by, stopping to ask what this white man is doing here.  They order him to get out, because these black folk are likely to rob him or worse.

His harshest predictions are for the Jews of America.

  • Jewish identity is lost to assimilation and acculturation in the American stewpot.  Jews prefer sushi to a knish.
  • American un-Orthodox Jews spend their time supporting pro-Palestinian causes dedicated to destroying the Jewish homeland.
  • The Christian and Jewish pro-Israel advocates Tenenbom meets are extreme right-wing and largely elderly folk.  He meets and fresses with them in synagogues like the one Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel attends (only for High Holidays services, and in which I grew up), but of which he is not a dues-paying member.
  • Israel advocates are afraid to express their opinions.  It is frightful, “[t]he majority of Americans who are afraid to share their political and religious views with strangers. In the Land of the Free, the Brave are quiet.”

Tenenbom is more than uneasy about the future of the only world superpower and modern empire.  She is a nation built on diversity, but her people live in separate universes.  Despite their pride and tolerance of America’s diverse religious, ethnic, racial, and cultural populations, the country is severely segregated.

Unabashed patriotism, evident at rallies, in music, on radio and TV, leads to them busily “convincing themselves that they are the only true guardians of culture and morality and therefore it is their duty to invade and bombard foreign countries that do not abide by their sense of morality and ethics.”

The Lies They Tell ranks Tenenbom among the best social anthropologists, like Comte Alexis de Tocqueville and Mark Twain.  Tenenbom, too, analyzes America’s living standards, democracy, and social contract.  This polymath has an interviewing style of disarming exuberance and bonhomie that keeps the reader turning pages to get to the next encounter.

Perhaps Tuvia Tenenbom is too jaded to be positive about the future of America.  He was certainly gloomy about the future of Israel in his earlier publication, To Catch a Jew.  Israel cannot possibly survive because of internal religious divisions and interests.  The Palestinians cannot prosper or make peace, because they are in suspended animation.  Europeans, Americans, and Arab states exploit their plight and throw scraps of money at them that changes nothing on the ground.  The whole region, according to Tenenbom, is “theatre of the absurd.”

He has little better to say about America’s future.  Despite all the community organizers, money thrown at the poor, well meaning advocates, and activism, minorities still suffer, the homeless are invisible, and fear and loathing of “others” predominate.  It is a lot to swallow, but Tenenbom’s wit and style make it go down easier.

Tuvia Tenenbom’s newest book, The Lies They Tell (Gefen Publishing: 2017), is a social anthropology about America and its Jewish community.  Tenenbom is a bestselling author, journalist, and dramatist holding a B.A. in mathematics and computer science.  He finished Orthodox rabbinical studies in Jerusalem and “Christianity, Islam, journalism, acting, theatre and finance” at NYU.  He tells people he encounters on his wanderings across America that he is a German journalist.

Tenenbom spent a year on the road engaging ordinary folk in dinner-type conversations about life in America, asking their opinions about social change, national and international politics, and Israel.  He meets “the people,” in churches, synagogues, squalid inner cities, bars, restaurants, Indian casinos and reservations, homeless camps, political rallies, conventions, and news conferences.  Through these sometimes disheartening, frequently hilarious encounters, Tenenbom gathers his impressions of the real America, not the one most people learn about from TV and Hollywood.

Tenenbom keeps telling us he is short, fat, slovenly, a cigarette fiend, who is forever hungry.  Eating his way across the country.  This adds to the ruse, disarming Americans as he peels back their politically correct thick skin.  He finds the diversity of American food reflective of the nation’s cultural disparities and political divides.  It’s a subtle and brilliant way of telling a story.

But this is a ruse.  Tenenbom is a modern social anthropologist with a winsome interviewing style and a knack for tossing off bons mots.  His wit, intellectual versatility, and insight make the book an easy read.  The picture-painting writer style leaves readers smarter, but depressed about Americans’ unable to face their own political duplicitousness and vainglorious nationalism.

Remember CBS journalist Charles Kuralt?  Tenenbom shares with him a wanderlust for the beautiful country, kvelling over living “on the road.”  Kuralt and Tenenbom are forever in search of a good story.  But Tenenbom diverges from Kuralt’s conclusion that “[t]he everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.”

Just the opposite here.  Tenenbom has harsh words for American hypocritical liberals and progressives:

The America I find is not the America I wished to find. It is racist, it is hateful and its citizens are bound to destroy themselves. Be they blacks and some Spanish who have nothing better to do with their time than shoot each other in the head; be they Jews who are possessed by a terrifyingly psychotic illness of self-hate; be they Indians who have given up any semblance of spirituality in exchange for acres and casinos; or be they all the others: whites, the rest of the Spanish, Muslims, Mormons and others who live in fear of one another.

They fume over the shooting of a rock-throwing Palestinian by an Israeli soldier.  They despair about poverty in Africa and Haiti.  Climate change dominates their agenda.

Yet America virtually ignores the hundreds of children shot every weekend in inner cities of Chicago and Baltimore and elsewhere.  Tenenbom blocks out malnourished, going-to-bed-hungry homeless people he meets from Hawaii to Florida.  He writes with anger and disbelief about this intelligent sclerosis.

In one scene, Tenenbom interviews residents living dreadful existences in the political district that catapulted Mr. Obama to political power.  Police pass by, stopping to ask what this white man is doing here.  They order him to get out, because these black folk are likely to rob him or worse.

His harshest predictions are for the Jews of America.

  • Jewish identity is lost to assimilation and acculturation in the American stewpot.  Jews prefer sushi to a knish.
  • American un-Orthodox Jews spend their time supporting pro-Palestinian causes dedicated to destroying the Jewish homeland.
  • The Christian and Jewish pro-Israel advocates Tenenbom meets are extreme right-wing and largely elderly folk.  He meets and fresses with them in synagogues like the one Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel attends (only for High Holidays services, and in which I grew up), but of which he is not a dues-paying member.
  • Israel advocates are afraid to express their opinions.  It is frightful, “[t]he majority of Americans who are afraid to share their political and religious views with strangers. In the Land of the Free, the Brave are quiet.”

Tenenbom is more than uneasy about the future of the only world superpower and modern empire.  She is a nation built on diversity, but her people live in separate universes.  Despite their pride and tolerance of America’s diverse religious, ethnic, racial, and cultural populations, the country is severely segregated.

Unabashed patriotism, evident at rallies, in music, on radio and TV, leads to them busily “convincing themselves that they are the only true guardians of culture and morality and therefore it is their duty to invade and bombard foreign countries that do not abide by their sense of morality and ethics.”

The Lies They Tell ranks Tenenbom among the best social anthropologists, like Comte Alexis de Tocqueville and Mark Twain.  Tenenbom, too, analyzes America’s living standards, democracy, and social contract.  This polymath has an interviewing style of disarming exuberance and bonhomie that keeps the reader turning pages to get to the next encounter.

Perhaps Tuvia Tenenbom is too jaded to be positive about the future of America.  He was certainly gloomy about the future of Israel in his earlier publication, To Catch a Jew.  Israel cannot possibly survive because of internal religious divisions and interests.  The Palestinians cannot prosper or make peace, because they are in suspended animation.  Europeans, Americans, and Arab states exploit their plight and throw scraps of money at them that changes nothing on the ground.  The whole region, according to Tenenbom, is “theatre of the absurd.”

He has little better to say about America’s future.  Despite all the community organizers, money thrown at the poor, well meaning advocates, and activism, minorities still suffer, the homeless are invisible, and fear and loathing of “others” predominate.  It is a lot to swallow, but Tenenbom’s wit and style make it go down easier.



Source link

Meet the Weapons Wizards


Yaakov Katz and Amir Bohbot, authors of The Weapon Wizards: How Israel Became a High-Tech Military Superpower (St. Martin’s Press 2017), prove themselves to be far more than experienced and skilled military journalists.  (Mr. Katz is now the editor of The Jerusalem Post).  They keep readers engrossed with prideful descriptions about Israel’s arsenal of masterful weapons of war and defense.  Most captivating are accounts about the ingenuity and chutzpah of the wizards creating the weapons, and the Israeli culture that nourishes ingenuity and imagination.  The package is wrapped in a sorrowful but realistic fixation on impending doom and annihilation.

The book is an important contribution to modern anthropological literature written by social researchers.  The authors convey the point that first and foremost, Israel’s weapons wizards consider the group (Jews)’s destiny beyond the importance of any individual.  A former Defense Ministry director general told the authors, “We have innovative people, combat experience to know what we need and immediate operational use for what we develop since we are almost always in a state of conflict.”  Another wizard describes how living in “the shadow of the guillotine sharpens the mind.”

Israel relies on science, military technology, engineering, mathematics, and psychology for two reasons.  First, it is a military program of deterrence with nuclear capabilities, America the superpower as its “go-to” defensive backup, and Israel’s enormously successful conventional military capabilities.  University of Chicago professor Hans Morgenthau called it maintaining a “balance of terror” during the Cold War.   

Second, Israel lacks allies and defense pacts guaranteeing its existence, as NATO countries do, though it is more a democracy, more stable, and better friend to the West than, for example, Turkey.  Knesset member Yair Shamir told me in 2015 that Israel must be weapons independent, with a homemade high-tech arms industry, because it cannot rely on vacillating allies.  Their interests are not always Israel’s best interests.  The whims and agendas of others have resulted in loan freezes, arms embargoes, withholding of intelligence, and most recently temporarily terminating domestic airplane flights into Ben Gurion Airport to punish Israel.

Key to Israel’s success is a deep and abiding nationalism, and a culture that accepts and even encourages breaking rules.  Twenty-three-year-olds are officers in the IDF; they are ten years younger than those with equal rank in other militaries, “leaving the young soldiers with no choice but to make key decisions on their own.”  That’s exactly what an American Marine officer visiting an Israel Defense Force base told my nephew with a tone of wonderment when he asked the age of the Israeli officer leading the tour.

Several factors incubate IDF wizards.  The General Electric motto, “Imagination at work,” is a meme taken to heart throughout Israeli society.  The IDF is a melting pot for youths from a dozen different cultures and countries.  Multi-disciplinary education is encouraged.  Criticizing authority and decisions is accepted.  The wizard behind the Iron Dome rocket defense system made a career in the air force but took a leave to earn a doctorate in business management and electrical engineering.  The story behind Iron Dome is his story.  The highly successful rocket defense system is a product.

The authors share a feel-good story how Israel’s reliance and respect for all citizens serves Israel so well.  Every citizen has the potential to contribute, and military leaders are on the hunt to find and harness the contributors.  Gathering intelligence relayed from satellites requires unusual patience and persistence as images are beamed to command headquarters.  “The IDF created a subunit of highly qualified soldiers who have remarkable visual and analytical capabilities. The common denominator among its members is just as remarkable: they all have autism.”   

The stories behind other weapons told in the book are not at all different.  There is the story of an ingenious wizard who solved an existential problem confronting the IDF: inadequate intelligence about Egyptian military Suez deployments in the 1960s.  He adapted a toy airplane for longer flight with a camera attached, thus building the first military-use spy drone.  The U.S. military ordered 175 Pioneer drones for use in 1991 against Saddam Hussein’s army invading Kuwait.  Thinking the drones were going to drop bombs on an Iraqi unit, they waved their white shirts skyward.  “It was the first time in history that a military unit surrendered to a robot.”

The wizards adapted armor for tanks against enemy rockets.  An Istanbul-born (1939) officer came up with tech solutions like satellites for operational strategies.  They designed new tactics to warn civilians of impending attacks other militaries later adopted in urban warfare.  Wizards created worms and cyber-viruses used against Iran’s nuclear arms development program, and sabotaged key component parts.  Meir Dagan kept a picture in his Mossad office, where many imaginative super-secret intelligence actions were birthed.  The picture is of his father kneeling, about to be killed by Nazis.  “I look at this picture every day and promise that the Holocaust will never happen again.”  That promise motivates an entire nation having suffered so long and cruelly by others.   

The Weapon Wizards is a great companion read to the 2009 Senor and Singer book Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle.  The latter describes how Israel established itself as a major worldwide player in high-tech and biotech, with many of the business founders being former military technology wizards.  Katz and Bohbot discuss this military-industrial partnership, and how it underpins Israel’s economy through foreign sales.

The most important message Katz and Bohbot deliver in The Weapon Wizards is not about Israel’s admirable technological achievements.  Israel’s current war is not going to be won or lost with weapons technology, warfare strategies, or military intelligence.  Israel must win on the diplomatic front.  She faces an onslaught of delegitimization by leftists, Muslim cabals, and world leaders with other agendas.

Weapons are “meaningless if Israel’s operations lack the international stamp of legitimacy.”  Katz and Bohbot infer geopolitical implications that forefend a blissful future.  Rather than bask in the glow of a supportive administration in the White House, as Israel’s government leaders and sycophant pundits are doing, hopefully Israel’s leaders can employ the same chutzpah, ingenuity, and penchant for improvisation to win peace with her neighbors during these next four years.  “For a country like Israel, legitimacy is not trivial … [nor is] particularly American support.”

Yaakov Katz and Amir Bohbot, authors of The Weapon Wizards: How Israel Became a High-Tech Military Superpower (St. Martin’s Press 2017), prove themselves to be far more than experienced and skilled military journalists.  (Mr. Katz is now the editor of The Jerusalem Post).  They keep readers engrossed with prideful descriptions about Israel’s arsenal of masterful weapons of war and defense.  Most captivating are accounts about the ingenuity and chutzpah of the wizards creating the weapons, and the Israeli culture that nourishes ingenuity and imagination.  The package is wrapped in a sorrowful but realistic fixation on impending doom and annihilation.

The book is an important contribution to modern anthropological literature written by social researchers.  The authors convey the point that first and foremost, Israel’s weapons wizards consider the group (Jews)’s destiny beyond the importance of any individual.  A former Defense Ministry director general told the authors, “We have innovative people, combat experience to know what we need and immediate operational use for what we develop since we are almost always in a state of conflict.”  Another wizard describes how living in “the shadow of the guillotine sharpens the mind.”

Israel relies on science, military technology, engineering, mathematics, and psychology for two reasons.  First, it is a military program of deterrence with nuclear capabilities, America the superpower as its “go-to” defensive backup, and Israel’s enormously successful conventional military capabilities.  University of Chicago professor Hans Morgenthau called it maintaining a “balance of terror” during the Cold War.   

Second, Israel lacks allies and defense pacts guaranteeing its existence, as NATO countries do, though it is more a democracy, more stable, and better friend to the West than, for example, Turkey.  Knesset member Yair Shamir told me in 2015 that Israel must be weapons independent, with a homemade high-tech arms industry, because it cannot rely on vacillating allies.  Their interests are not always Israel’s best interests.  The whims and agendas of others have resulted in loan freezes, arms embargoes, withholding of intelligence, and most recently temporarily terminating domestic airplane flights into Ben Gurion Airport to punish Israel.

Key to Israel’s success is a deep and abiding nationalism, and a culture that accepts and even encourages breaking rules.  Twenty-three-year-olds are officers in the IDF; they are ten years younger than those with equal rank in other militaries, “leaving the young soldiers with no choice but to make key decisions on their own.”  That’s exactly what an American Marine officer visiting an Israel Defense Force base told my nephew with a tone of wonderment when he asked the age of the Israeli officer leading the tour.

Several factors incubate IDF wizards.  The General Electric motto, “Imagination at work,” is a meme taken to heart throughout Israeli society.  The IDF is a melting pot for youths from a dozen different cultures and countries.  Multi-disciplinary education is encouraged.  Criticizing authority and decisions is accepted.  The wizard behind the Iron Dome rocket defense system made a career in the air force but took a leave to earn a doctorate in business management and electrical engineering.  The story behind Iron Dome is his story.  The highly successful rocket defense system is a product.

The authors share a feel-good story how Israel’s reliance and respect for all citizens serves Israel so well.  Every citizen has the potential to contribute, and military leaders are on the hunt to find and harness the contributors.  Gathering intelligence relayed from satellites requires unusual patience and persistence as images are beamed to command headquarters.  “The IDF created a subunit of highly qualified soldiers who have remarkable visual and analytical capabilities. The common denominator among its members is just as remarkable: they all have autism.”   

The stories behind other weapons told in the book are not at all different.  There is the story of an ingenious wizard who solved an existential problem confronting the IDF: inadequate intelligence about Egyptian military Suez deployments in the 1960s.  He adapted a toy airplane for longer flight with a camera attached, thus building the first military-use spy drone.  The U.S. military ordered 175 Pioneer drones for use in 1991 against Saddam Hussein’s army invading Kuwait.  Thinking the drones were going to drop bombs on an Iraqi unit, they waved their white shirts skyward.  “It was the first time in history that a military unit surrendered to a robot.”

The wizards adapted armor for tanks against enemy rockets.  An Istanbul-born (1939) officer came up with tech solutions like satellites for operational strategies.  They designed new tactics to warn civilians of impending attacks other militaries later adopted in urban warfare.  Wizards created worms and cyber-viruses used against Iran’s nuclear arms development program, and sabotaged key component parts.  Meir Dagan kept a picture in his Mossad office, where many imaginative super-secret intelligence actions were birthed.  The picture is of his father kneeling, about to be killed by Nazis.  “I look at this picture every day and promise that the Holocaust will never happen again.”  That promise motivates an entire nation having suffered so long and cruelly by others.   

The Weapon Wizards is a great companion read to the 2009 Senor and Singer book Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle.  The latter describes how Israel established itself as a major worldwide player in high-tech and biotech, with many of the business founders being former military technology wizards.  Katz and Bohbot discuss this military-industrial partnership, and how it underpins Israel’s economy through foreign sales.

The most important message Katz and Bohbot deliver in The Weapon Wizards is not about Israel’s admirable technological achievements.  Israel’s current war is not going to be won or lost with weapons technology, warfare strategies, or military intelligence.  Israel must win on the diplomatic front.  She faces an onslaught of delegitimization by leftists, Muslim cabals, and world leaders with other agendas.

Weapons are “meaningless if Israel’s operations lack the international stamp of legitimacy.”  Katz and Bohbot infer geopolitical implications that forefend a blissful future.  Rather than bask in the glow of a supportive administration in the White House, as Israel’s government leaders and sycophant pundits are doing, hopefully Israel’s leaders can employ the same chutzpah, ingenuity, and penchant for improvisation to win peace with her neighbors during these next four years.  “For a country like Israel, legitimacy is not trivial … [nor is] particularly American support.”



Source link