Who Am I, Where Do I Stand?

I often find myself under attack, not physically thank goodness, because I am unable or unwilling to label myself left, center or right, and by default identify with a particular camp or creed.

Like many, maybe more than we know or people care to admit to, I have different stances on a range of issues. I don’t want to be identified by a single, all-encompassing label.

I consider myself a conservative/nationalist. Indeed, to borrow a line from the musical Evita, on some issues I stand “Slightly to the right of Attila the Hun”.

I am proud of my center-right conservative outlook. I am equally proud of being called a liberal-hawk. And I am proud of being labeled inconsistent, inconsequential, and irrelevant. I encompass a rainbow of views, of feelings, of dreams and aspirations for Israel.

It’s no secret that I rage at the disappointment of those that we elect to govern us. Of course, no one is to blame but us.

The issue is not that Netanyahu put a spin on his intention to vote for gay rights, the fact is that yet again he used clever words to explain his about-face.

Netanyahu also celebrated the passing of a nationality law which in a stroke makes approximately 25% of Israelis second class citizens. I cried at the time when I read the comments about nationality law mimicking the Nazi Nuremberg Laws. We should be ashamed. What message does it send to non-Jewish Israeli citizens?

On that black day that saw the passing of Israel’s own Nuremberg Laws, we witnessed the dragging from his bed at 5.00 am of a Conservative rabbi charged with marrying couples outside of the permitted (mainstream) Rabbinate. WOW, the crime of the century!

We need to take back our country. We need to remind Deri, Litzman, Gafni (The Three Stooges), and the others of their ilk that while we respect their traditions, they do not rule/govern Israel. The country, thank goodness, is still a secular state, although for how much longer I don’t know. As the Haaretz newspaper headline read on that black day in July 2018 “The Israel you know just ended. You can blame that on Netanyahu.”

And so I cry for you, my beautiful country.

Maybe this paragraph should carry the prefix; “assistance urgently required”. I’ve been reading about the New Israel Fund and the boys from J Street. Are they a power for good in Israeli society or a Fifth Column that needs to be destroyed before, as some of their detractors claim, they help Israel’s adversaries destroy Israel? Yes, I am confused. My liberal upbringing is yet again clashing with my right-wing conservative views.

I frequently ask family and friends outside of Israel to ensure that a positive (Israel) message is disseminated with the same vigor that the liberal organizations and press shouts anti-Israel messages.

What do we do, when our views are set in stone? As US conservative commentator Glenn Beck remarked in February 2018, there are opportunities to reach people who would "never listen to me because of our different team jersey.” People on both sides of the aisle are seeing that "gutter politics" are tearing our country apart. "We may not all see America exactly the same way, but we do want to live with a Bill of Rights. They understand that there is no future in being more devoted to the 'party's jersey' than to the 'Constitutional team’. What is true of America is also true of Israel. The phrases “gutter politics, Bill of Rights, and constitution” are all defining.

I was introduced to the thoughts of UK-based Pat Cordell some years ago and still watch his clips from time-to-time and visit his website. And while his message is not meant to be solely political, he has nevertheless attracted a strong following on his website, Facebook, and other media outlets. He was, for example, an ardent support of UKIP. Much of what he said made sense. And that also worries me. As I have matured in age, I have become more conservative abandoning the liberal ideals of past decades. So even though I don’t live in the UK (if I did I may well have supported UKIP), I listen to Pat Cordell and nod my head in agreement, and once again give thanks for living in Israel. Check out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcOfqaOlAMo

Here is another example of my clash of labels. Following the death of Margaret Thatcher, I become daily more enraged by the lack of respect shown by the UK liberal left to her passing. While I understood the likes of Arthur Scargill and (red) Ken Livingstone and their many supporters not shedding a tear, according to what I read at the time, saw in the news, in many cases its students who were either not born when Maggie left office or were mere babies at the time at appeared to scream the loudest.

It’s no secret that with age, and the passing years, I have become more conservative in my outlook. (Note conservative with a small “c”.) That said, I sincerely hope however that I still retain my liberal values, which makes me wonder how the UK liberal left, the so-called defenders of freedom are so lacking in respect for a past UK prime minister. Are these the values that are being passed to the next generation?

Living in Israel, I am passive on the issue (I spent a few years in Maggie’s England), nevertheless – and this could be my “gummy old man” stance kicking-in – I was shocked by the few who seem to feel that celebratory street parties were the order of the day when her death was announced.

OK, so here I go off at a tangent. A few words regarding a recent Yair Netanyahu tweet.

I don’t know Yair Netanyahu, I’ve never met him and doubt I ever will, not that I have any desire to do so. Yossi Verter, the Haaretz columnist wrote a couple of weeks ago that Yair writes what his father thinks. Interesting.

A recent Haaretz headline read “Yair Netanyahu Calls for Return of a ‘Free, Democratic and Christian’ Europe” https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-yair-netanyahu-calls-for-return-of-a-free-democratic-and-christian-europe-1.8806545

Assuming that this is an original thought from Yair, it does not take a genius to understand where he is coming from. He expressed the thoughts maybe even asperations of many, both in Europe and elsewhere in the world. The problem is that he ignored the facts on the ground.

Simply put, although the current wave of Muslin migration to Europe is a phenomenon that we have seen in the last 25 years, there have been Muslims in Europe for hundreds of years. Indeed, Turkey, Albania, and various Balkan countries have long Muslim traditions dating back in some cases two, three, and four centuries. And these communities were often pro-Jewish, giving the Jews who lived among equal rights. This can also be seen in Muslim Iberia from about 711 to 1492, a period in which Jews enjoyed religious freedom and equal rights.

Those rights were squashed almost overnight with the defeat of the Muslim rulers and the introduction of Catholic Christianity and the subsequent Inquisition.

The Inquisition led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Jews, their forced conversion while the lucky ones were expelled. Let's fast-forward to more recent times, and look at the pogroms undertaken by Christian countries against their Jewish citizens. It’s those very pogroms that drove the mass immigration of Jewish to the US, UK, and Palestine.

So, while Yair’s rant maybe a clarion-call, it’s important to have the facts to support the “call to action”. In the real world, there are very few Christian countries where Jews are 100% welcome. Just steal a look at today’s America.

And talking of America, a recent story in the New Yorker magazine written by Susan B. Glasser highlights Donald Trump’s take on the past and desired place history. The article entitled “History According to Trump: The President and the 1917 Pandemic That Wasn’t” and sub-titled “The U.S. leader, famously illiterate about history, eagerly promotes his place in it.”

https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-trumps-washington/trump-and-the-1917-pandemic-that-wasnt?utm_source=nl&utm_brand=tny&utm_mailing=New%20Campaign&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_medium=email&bxid=5d9db180678089493a378365&cndid=58872130&hasha=b6eb8d5db3e1008f9f8c68c8fd62069e&hashb=a61eb83c01049d005227334f6d25c8e368f2f968&hashc=10234a244a392bd3f51712be01e4d0bbbd85f3bae3f049f47d01dc3d4a4f0efe&esrc=bounceX&utm_term=TNY_Daily

Yair Netanyahu can be forgiven for his poor research before tweeting, Donald J. can not, especially given the hoards of advisor he has at his disposal.

It’s just possible that the President got mixed up with the recently released movie, 1917. The problem with this assumption is that we expect our leaders to be fully knowledgeable and in possession of all the facts before speaking in public.

Susan B. Glasser also refers to the Peral Harbor memorial and Trump’s question about it, she writes in the same article: “Donald Trump, of course, is famously historically illiterate, a Republican President who has marvelled publicly that Abraham Lincoln, the Party’s patron saint, was a member of the G.O.P. At a Black History Month event, he spoke of Frederick Douglass, the nineteenth-century abolitionist leader, as if he were still alive and “being recognized more and more.” In “A Very Stable Genius,” the recent book about Trump by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig of the Washington Post, there is an anecdote about the President visiting the U.S.S. Arizona memorial, in Hawaii, with John Kelly, his then chief of staff. Trump appeared to know almost nothing about the sneak attack that prompted the U.S. entrance into the Second World War. “Hey, John, what’s this all about?” the book quoted Trump as saying. “What’s this a tour of?”

Just maybe, these two examples are put out as “fake news” to show Yair Netanyahu and Donald Trump in a negative light. Maybe the writers/publishers hope that readers will assume that the stories are 100% accurate. It’s difficult to know. While the “Fourth Estate” is still a power to be recognized as a positive influence, there is no doubt that there are elements within the media that are corrupt and publish articles that have a biased agenda rather than reporting the facts, the truth.

On another tangent. Assuming that I was crazy enough to want to stand for election to the Knesset, what would be my platform?

In no particular order, the following points come to mind although given time I am sure I can come up with another dozen or so:

§ Total, complete and utter separation of state and religion. Religious political parties allowed but their allegiance is to the state, and not to their rabbis.

§ All citizens of Israel – both male and female - regardless of religion, background, ethnicity, serve in the army or perform a range of national service duties. There are no exceptions other than for health reasons. You are a citizen of Israel, this is your obligation. No choice/full stop. There are no free-loaders or parasites in Israel.

§ Make the punishment fit the crime. No soft sentencing, no country club prisons. You do the crime, you serve the time. The issue of capital punishment to be discussed/considered.

§ Civil (non-religious) marriages to be allowed. It makes no sense that you can today in Israel be buried in a non-religious ceremony/cemetery, but you still can’t marry in Israel without a religious ceremony.

§ Full rights for the LGBT community, include same-sex marriage and adoption.

§ The business week runs Monday/Friday. Working hours to be adjusted in winter when Shabbat starts early. The weekend in Israel will be Shabbat/Sunday. Discussion needed regarding weekend public transport, store hours, social activities.

§ Knesset members: numbers to be raised to 200 elected part of constituency area (first past the post) and part by popular representation with the threshold set a 10%. No more one faction parties.

§ Israel to have a written constitution based on democratic principals and equal status for all citizens regardless of religion, background, and ethnicity.

§ Education: all schools to follow a single national program including English, maths, computer/IT, science, civics, regardless of the community they serve - secular, religious, Haredi, mixed class or single-sex, Muslim, Christian, a state school or privately funded.

§ Single national chief rabbi and a single chief rabbi per city; there is zero need for two of each - Sephardi/Ashkenazi - a complete waste of money/resources.

§ Access to all Jewish open to all Jews, the Haredim do not have a monopoly of who is Jews. Just as there are different strands of Christianity or Islam, so there are different strands of Judaism. One strand does not supersede another, all are equal.

§ My Israel will continue to spearhead the development of IT and harness its potential for the good of all society.

§ Israel will also become a world leader in “green” development, management, and recycling.

§ Universal health care coupled with social awareness and responsibility will ensure that from cradle to grave that all, including the most venerable of Israel’s citizens, are cared for.

Many years ago, I was told by someone that my life’s ambitions could be written on the back of a postage stamp with room left over for the American Declaration of Independence.

So, who am I, what do I believe in, what do I stand for?

At 71 years, I am still finding out.

At the back of my mind, there is constantly a phrase from Winston Churchill: “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”

All rights reserved to Murray Lewis Freeman

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