Ron grew up in the South Bronx of New York, making Aliyah in 1980. Served for 25 years in the IDF as a Mental Health Field Officer in operational units. Prior to retiring was Commander of the Central Psychiatric Clinic for Reserve Solders at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring has been involved in strategic consultancy to NGO's and communities in the Gaza Envelope on resiliency projects to assist first responders and communities. Ron has written numerous articles for outlets in Israel and abroad focusing on Israel and the Jewish world.
New York City’s disastrous Democratic leadership
A reasonable observer would expect a minimum level of professionalism by the New York City Health commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. One wouldn’t expect that someone charged with protecting New York City’s public health would instead endanger the well-being of New Yorkers by ignoring the severe health ramifications and the very real danger of the Corona virus. Yet, as most of the Democratic leadership of New York City was busy criticizing President Trump for deciding to impose travel restrictions on those entering the United States and dismissing the incoming threat of the coronavirus in February, this Health Commissioner, was quoted stating on in numerous TV interviews the following; "The risk to New Yorkers from coronavirus is low and ... our preparedness as a city is very high," Barbot said at a press conference supporting the Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade and Festival. "There is no reason not to take the subway, not to take a bus, not to go out to your favorite restaurant and certainly not to miss the parade next Sunday [Feb. 9]."
The unprofessional behavior of New York City’s Health Commissioner, a Democratic Party appointee, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, has been labeled by many health officials as possibly criminally negligent. Under different circumstances she should have been forced to excuse herself and resign immediately pending further legal action. Over the past few weeks as we have witnessed the snowball effect of the rate of infection of the Corona virus, New York City officials in a Democratic administration should be held accountable for increasing the “risk” for the residents of New York City. They not only dismissed the Corona Virus outbreak and Pandemic seriously in its earlier stages, but actually encouraged unrestricted public behavior as if there is no danger of being infected, as if they knew what they are talking about. The human cost of the Democratic nonchalant policy has been deadly for New Yorkers.
Had this incredulous and negligent behavior by the Health Commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, been an isolated incident, the risk might have been contained to a minimum level. Unfortunately, Mayor Bill de Blasio also failed to shield the residents of New York City, not only through inaction but largely through indifference. As the deadly Corona Virus emerged from China, invaded Europe and began to spread at an exponential rate throughout the world, the Trump administration was formulating national policies to deal with the high mortality rate expected from COVID-19 understanding that the situation was one of life-or-death. Yet at the same time Mayor de Blasio was busy criticizing President Trump for imposing border restriction into the United States so as to prevent the import of the Corona Virus through the airports and borders.
Mayor de Blasio’s indifference to the Corona virus threat probably contributed more to New York City becoming an epicenter of Corona virus infection in the United States even beyond than the actions of his criminally negligent Health Commissioner. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told the media at one of his many and highly effective coronavirus response press conferences that he believed New York City schools should have been be closed. Mayor Bill de Blasio had consistently refused till then to shut down schools despite fellow Democrats in the tri-state demanding that he do so. De Blasio’s refusal to cancel school a week and more after most other districts in the tri-state had done so, contributed significantly to the acceleration of the outbreak of the Corona virus in New York City. An additional de Blasio decision that contributed to the pace of the outbreak had to do with instituting a significant reduction schedule in public transportation, primarily with the New York City subway system forcing unusual crowding among subway riders who were largely unprotected. One would expect that at the same time the Mayor instituted a significant reduction in the subway schedule, he would authorize the cancellation of alternate side parking or cancel metered parking encouraging those still working outside their home to use private cars so as to limit exposure to the potential danger of being infected on public transportation, instead his administration encouraged use of public transportation and continued to dis-incentivize the use of private cars. Alternate side parking was suspended only a few days ago and metered parking restrictions are still in effect as of this writing.
Mayor de Blasio’s incompetent response to the Corona virus along with his administration’s Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot, most likely doomed New York City to a fate similar if not worse than Italy and Spain. De Blasio’s irresponsible and reckless delays probably cost many lives that otherwise could have been avoided. The number of infected, hospitalized, and deaths is rising at an exponential rate meaning the worst is yet to come for New York City residents; 36,221 cases of Corona infection in New York City, including 790 deaths ( as of March 29th).
In recent days with social distancing and forced stay at home guidelines issued by the Federal and New York State authorities, New Yorkers should expect a major reduction in infections and deaths over the coming weeks and months. The Democratic leadership of New York City would be wise to examine their policy decisions over the past month so as to avoid repeating similar decisions that can adversely affect the good people of the City of New York.
The Democratic Party’s Scapegoats for 2020
The expected scenario of two Jewish nominees in the Democratic Presidential race is for most American Jews that I have met during my winter visit to New York, not a source of pride, but instead a reason for uneasiness, fear, and downright anxiety. To make it worse, the majority of American Jews will vote on Election Day for the Democratic nominee placing themselves in a highly visible opposition to the majority of Americans who will be voting for the expected re-election of President Trump.
The last election that American Jews voted in significant numbers for the Republican Party and candidate Ronald Reagan was in 1980; from my encounters with my Jewish brethren in New York over the past two weeks, little chance that we will see a repeat performance of American Jewish voting patterns. In the 1980 election, America’s Jews strongly opposed the Democratic President Jimmy Carter due to his blatant anti-Israel policies and his lack of empathy for Jews in general. For many American Jews, Jimmy Carter was perceived as an enemy of the Jewish people.
In today’s highly venomous and politicized family discourse, more than a few of the many American Jews I met shared a sad reality of parents and children unable to talk to one another; family dining rules that prohibit any mention or discussion of President Trump, no d of increased hatred of Jews and violence against Jews as we approach Election Day.iscussion of Israel, and no expression of thoughts or opinions that question the progressive agenda. In many cases family events ended abruptly with grandchildren instructed by their parents not to speak with their grandparents.
Enter Bernie Sanders or Michael Bloomberg who seem to be headed to be chosen by the Democratic Party to challenge President Trump in the coming national elections. There has never been a Jewish presidential nominee in the United States. These two leading candidates are Jewish; Sanders a devout socialist, closet communist, and Senator, and Bloomberg a self-made billionaire and former Mayor of New York City.
With President Donald Trump as the Republican incumbent, a Democratic Jewish nominee will also almost certainly mean that the 2020 election campaign will be awash in anti-Semitic tropes, slurs, and conspiracy theories. The nomination of a Democratic Jewish nominee might very well set the backdrop for a period of increased hatred of Jews and violence against Jews as we approach Election Day.
This hyper partisan atmosphere did not start with the Democratic Jewish nominees ‘of recent days but has its origins with the Democratic Party’s decision to move ahead with the Congressional impeachment trial and House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to appoint Jews to head the impeachment trial in both Houses of Congress. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, announced on September 24, 2019 the commencement of impeachment proceedings against President Trump. The main congressional committees involved were all chaired by Jewish legislators: Adam Schiff (intelligence), Jerry Nadler (judiciary) and Eliot Engel (foreign affairs). In addition, several Jewish first-timers in congress, including Democrats Elaine Luria and Elissa Slotkin, penned an op-ed in the Washington Post supporting impeachment. At center stage of the impeachment trial were Jewish Professors Noah Feldman of Harvard, Pamela Karlan of Stanford and Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina. Chief Democratic legal counsel were also Jewish; Norm Eisen, and Daniel Goldman. Many of the Democratic Party’s cooperative witnesses were Jewish with Ambassador Gordon Sondland, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman being the most visible in their anti-Trump dispositions and testimony. On the Senate side, Senator Chuck Schumer had a minimal role due to the Senate controlled by Republican majority, but even here, a Jewish politician was perceived as belonging to the wrong side of the tracks.
House Speaker Pelosi isn’t stupid nor reckless and is far from being a political novice unfamiliar with the dynamics of national elections. She would not have given the green light for the impeachment trial and would not have announced a vote on articles of impeachment had she not believed that the Democratic Party would stand behind her, and had they not believed that’s it’s a lost cause and that President Trump cannot be beaten in the upcoming 2020 elections.
While Pelosi strong-armed Democratic moderates in her caucus during the impeachment trial, she couldn’t strong-arm the voters in their respective districts. Her decision to move forward with an impeachment trial was based on the assumption that many of those 31 Democrats seem destined to lose in November 2020. With her announcement that Democrats are to vote on articles of impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signed a political death warrant for dozens of moderate Democrats elected in Trump districts and signaled that the national elections are a foregone conclusion.
With the conclusion of the impeachment trial in the Senate, and the dramatic boost of support for President Trump in national polls, Bernie Sanders seemingly broke out of nowhere. Despite Sanders's age, his political socialist baggage, and his unworkable plan to "transform" America into Venezuela, all things that pretty well kept him from rising to the top earlier, suddenly all this didn’t matter. Sanders’ radical communist views have never mellowed, and yet, despite conventional thinking that under no possible constellation can he beat President Trump, Sander’s suddenly became the Democratic frontrunner. Also out of nowhere, suddenly Michael Bloomberg became the No. 3 Democratic frontrunner despite his poor yet irrelevant performance during the recent Democratic debate just days ago. Bloomberg represented everything Democrats hated; he was a billionaire, politically incorrect, repetitively accused of sexist and racist comments, paid his way into the primaries by paying off political hacks, and got the DNC to bend the rules to allow of increased hatred of Jews and violence against Jews as we approach Election Day. him onto the Democratic debate stage, and all this, by buying his way in with unlimited wealth.
The Democratic Party has brought itself into being in a no-win situation with their unelectable leading Jewish candidates Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg with a specific objective. For the Democratic Party and many of their base and what I would call their rabid followers, many of them anti-Semitic; the Jews will be blamed and held responsible, and the Jews will pay the price. Since the 2016 election, the Democratic Party has thrown even the kitchen sink at President Trump hoping that something would stick. President Trump, a street fighter has emerged stronger than ever heading towards a possible electoral landslide in 2020.
American Jews will be blamed and will pay the price, however, they have no one to blame but themselves.
Learning from David Ben-Gurion’s Pragmatism
Irrespective of the ambiguities and the “open to negotiation” provisions of President Trump’s “Deal of the Century,” Israel clearly stands at an historic juncture very similar to the Ben Gurion period. At the time, Israel’s political leadership had to either accept or reject the United Nations partition plan and decide what to make of this one-time historical opportunity. Undeniably, the “Deal of the Century,” represents an acknowledgment of Zionism’s historical triumph and that the State of Israel is indeed the embodiment of both the ancestral and modern day homeland of the Jewish nation. The “Deal” clearly recognizes Jerusalem as the undivided Capital of Israel, the Jordan Valley as the Eastern border of the State of Israel, and most importantly, demands of the Palestinian Authority to recognize the State of Israel as the homeland of Jewish nation. The “Deal” also recognizes the changes that have transpired over the past half a century and allows for the declaration of sovereignty over Jewish communities located in the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria (West Bank).
Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu has wisely refrained from joining many of Israel’s right-wing leaders who have rejected outright the “Deal of the Century” and refuse to even consider a partitioning of the land that will also enable recognition of the declaration of Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. The strategic benefits of the “Deal” seem to evade their acknowledgment that the “Deal” offers Israel a one-time and historic opportunity that should not be dismissed outright. Ben Gurion had to deal with the same kind of mindset during the formative and history making period just prior to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The decisions made by Ben Gurion can and should provide important lessons for the dilemma’s facing Israel today as a result of the “Deal”. For Ben Gurion, his willingness to consider trading territory for political sovereignty is a the heart of why today’s right wing political leaders and Rabbi’s from the settlement movement refuse to consider this pragmatic approach. Jewish and Israeli attitudes toward territory reflect a dialectic dynamic that create two separate yet competing political movements. On one side you have the biblical, redemptive, and collective Jewish historical identity versus the more pragmatic, security sensitive, and economically viable importance on the other side. Ben Gurion belonged to the latter group, and from a historical perspective, despite his decision to relinquish important tracts of territory, his decision has been vindicated historically and Israel ended up over the years with a substantially greater sovereign territory mass that could even be imagined or contemplated by the rejectionist political leaders of the Yeshuv at the time.
Ben Gurion knew then what Benjamin Netanyahu knows today, and that’s the inability of the Palestinian Arabs to free themselves from the shackles of Jew hatred and inability to come to terms with the existence of a Jewish state. The manner in which the Palestinian leadership rejected then any and every possibility of comprise is identical to the Palestinian leadership of today. Then they rejected the Partition Plan, and today they reject the “Deal of the Century.” In the Palestinian perspective, the Jews have no right to anything, not a single square meter of land, not an iota of sovereignty, and no historical or religious claim or connection to the land. This rejectionist world view and refusal to come to terms with the success of the Zionist movement and the Jewish State causes them to make political decisions time and time again that create then and now what they call the "catastrophe," or the “Nakba.” Their evasion of responsibility to compromise explains why the Palestinians, have never been able to move ahead with their aspirations to establish an independent Palestinian State. Always responding with a Pavlovian reflex, the Palestinian Arabs have always consistently missed the pole goal blaming Israel for their stupor of wishful thinking and believing in their own “fake” propaganda.
Unsurprisingly and immediately after the announcement of the “Deal of the Century,” the long awaited American plan to move Israel and the Palestinian Authority towards compromise, and re-kindle the long dormant negotiations fell on deaf Palestinian ears whereby the leader of the Palestinian Authority Abu Mazen, responded with a complete rejection of any possibility of the Palestinians participating in negotiations with Israel. Abu Mazen was absolutely adamant in his refusal to recognize the changes that have transpired over the past quarter of a century since the signing of the Oslo Agreements in the Middle East and repeated the same old and irrelevant political rejectionist mantras such as Palestinian statehood in all of the West Bank/Judea and Samaria, the Palestinian capital in Jerusalem, and the right of 5 Million Palestinians to flood into and live in Israel. Abu Mazen stated that the “Deal of the Century” is nothing more than an attempt to bribe the Palestinians into giving up self-determination, an outright lie and misrepresentation of the “Deal” that clearly empowers the Palestinians to establish an independent Palestinian State.
With the Palestinian Arabs placing themselves again at the mercy of history by rejecting the “Deal of the Century” from its’ onset; it is imperative for the collective Israeli political leadership who support Benjamin Netanyahu to adopt the pragmatic understanding of David Ben Gurion and accept partition as a first step towards redeeming Israel’s Biblical heartland and not a betrayal of the Jewish peoples birth right and of God’s promise. The “Deal of the Century” is not the end of the great Zionist dream but rather a continuation of a process which began in 1948, taking a big leap in 1967 and leading to our current reality with the Jewish population in Judea and Samaria rapidly approaching one million residents. Now is the time for all of us to be like David Ben Gurion, pragmatic.
America’s willing executioners
In recent days as we witness one murderous anti-Semitic attack after another in the tri-state area, we all seem to be asking the same questions. Why now? Why has the savagery of recent attacks against Jews become suddenly so barbaric and undeniably brazen? Even though these questions are a natural response to a situation seemingly beyond our control, they are based on incorrect assumptions and ignore the writing on the wall that many observers including myself have been warning about over the past few years.
In the decades following the end of World War II, American Jews have prospered as never before, experiencing unlimited levels of inclusion and equality. In a complete rejection of the days of “Gentleman’s Agreement”, American Jews can be found in every sphere of American society. Jews have never felt more secure and freer of persecution than they have felt in America since the period of the Holocaust. So in the words of Joseph Heller, “Something Happened”.
The steep increase in anti-Semitic attacks throughout the United States is being portrayed by the majority of the mainstream media outlets as well as social media, as coinciding with the election of President Trump, leading the public to believe that the alt-right anti-Semitic forces are on the march with impunity. Little if any media attention has been given to the fact that for the past 18 years, since the Durban Conference in 2001, when the BDS and the delegitimization movements against Israel were established, ultra-liberal sanctimonious Jews and leftist progressive Jewish organizations have been at the forefront of political activity demonizing Israel, working to portray it as an apartheid state committing genocide against the Palestinian Arabs.
When Jews falsely attack Jews, and when Jews deny the State of Israel the basic right of self-defense afforded to all nations of the world, thereby making it acceptable to express hatred of Israel, they are inciting hatred toward themselves and hatred towards the Jews of America and not only Israel. When we hear Jews vigorously condemning Israel and then condemning President Trump, dismissing the legitimacy of the election results while at the same time inflaming the public discourse with vulgar language, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the anti-Semites feel empowered. In such an environment, with the social media platforms filled with unlimited and round the clock expressions of Jew hatred, the consequence of taking the short leap to single out Jews as responsible for the uncertainty and confusion felt by the American public is inevitable. What began as a Jewish anti-Israel, anti-settler campaign has mushroomed into widespread anti-Semitism that does not differentiate between Orthodox and Reform, between Israel or the “settlers,” between the “start-up nation” and “a light unto nations”, and between American Jews and Israeli Jews. American Jews have become sitting ducks wondering when the next murderous attack will occur.
The Afro-American man who hacked 5 Jews with a machete the size of a broomstick during a Hanukkah celebration in Monsey New York this past week, Grafton Thomas, didn't care much about "white supremacists" He is an Afro-American man from Greenwood Lake, a town about 20 miles away from Monsey. When he fled from the scene, he drove to Harlem -- hardly a bastion of white supremacy. This doesn’t mean that he represents the black community and it certainly doesn’t diminish the threat of white supremacists for American Jews. It does mean that he has been radicalized either on his own initiative or by others to act and murder Jews.
Let me be clear, the political and racial rhetoric of Jew hatred that has radicalized and emanated from all platforms of the media, either printed, broadcasted or thru the internet has created an environment that empowers those that chose to turn to acts of violence. The political discourse in America has also contributed to the current level of violence against Jews but let’s be clear, it is not coming from both sides of the political spectrum. The Republican Party does not express or support statements by elected representatives that are anti-Semitic or encourage Jew hatred.
The Democratic Party however, has condoned either through indifference or out of fear of losing the support of their base, expressions of anti-Semitism and Jew hatred by their own political Congressional representatives. When liberal Jewish leaders in America, and major Jewish organizations that support the Democratic Party ignore this undeniable fact, then they are empowering those on the threshold of Jew hatred to act and attempt to violently attack Jews. When Jew hatred and anti-Semitic expressions by Congressional Women Ilhan Abdullahi Omar and Rashida Harbi Tlaib, both Democratic Congresswomen and of Muslim faith, are condoned with zero political accountability, then the Democratic Party is contributing to the discourse of Jew hatred. When former Democratic President Bill Clinton shares the stage with the head of the “Nation of Islam” Louis Farrakhan, a known anti-Semite and states publicly and with immunity that Jews are like “termites” , then the Democratic Party is contributing the culture of Jew hatred that is sweeping America
“I’m not an anti-Semite. I’m anti-Termite.” –Oct. 16, 2018, tweet from Louis Farrakhan (@LouisFarrakhan).
“Pedophilia and sexual perversion institutionalized in Hollywood and the entertainment industries can be traced to Talmudic principles and Jewish influence. Not Jewish influence, Satanic influence under the name of Jew.”
–Louis Farrakhan, Saviours’ Day speech, Chicago, Feb. 17, 2019
Sadly, the response of liberal progressive Jews to the political immunity the Democratic Party has given their own politicians espousing Jew hatred, has been to maintain the “big lie” and repeat their mantra; that the fountainhead of all this "hate" is the one and only target of their real rage; President Donald Trump. As if taking his cue from his like-minded Jewish supporters Mayor De Blasio stated “A lot of folks were told it was unacceptable to be anti-Semitic,” he continues: “It was unacceptable to be racist, and now they’re getting more permission.” The message was in line with his Jewish supporters: De Blasio was trying to explain who is responsible for epidemic of Jew hatred in New York, President Trump. The inability of the Democratic Mayor and his Jewish supporters to truly understand how their misguided attempt to place the blame on the other side of the political isle has encouraged the street-level violent anti-Semitism to spread like wildfire.
Will more Jews have to die before our liberal and Democratic Jewish leaders reexamine many of their false assumptions of why anti-Semitism and Jew hatred has become rampant on the streets of New York and the tri-state area? Will the Jewish community begin to demand without being reticent of the Democratic Party to purge their ranks of anti-Semites and Jew haters? Will they demand of their Democratic Mayor to take real action and not just pay lip service to his gullible and misguided supporters within the Jewish Community? Passing the burden on to others, is no way to make the streets safe. Failure to act will cause anti-Semitism to spread on a scale yet seen in New York or anywhere else, empowering America’s willing executioners.