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.
Being afraid to defy the mob
Today’s public atmosphere on the streets of America, on the public airways, on social media, in the papers; prohibits any criticism whatsoever, or any language that does not condone and unequivocally “understands” the violence, rage, looting, burning, and occupation of public property. Should someone attempt to question the violence, the chaos, the destruction of personal and public property, they are labeled racists and white supremacists. America seems to be in the throes of a coast to coast pandemic not only of the Corona virus but also a tsunami of national lunacy under the disguise of racial justice. Truth is no longer a commodity available to all, but a prisoner of the ever growing silent American majority standing and watching in disbelief. Those questioning the inherent danger lurking behind the demand to “defund police forces” or the irresponsible and criminal demand by the leader of Black Lives Matter to “burn America down to the ground”, are censured, punished, and targeted. At the same time those looting, burning, attacking police, toppling statues of historical figures are not held accountable, treated with immunity and certainly not arrested. This pretty much sums up the current reality in America.
As Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic political leaders have taken a well-publicized knee in support of Black Lives Matter, the Main Streets of America are being burned to the ground and the Democratic Party’s message is quite clear; the Democratic Party will support the continuing violence and destruction, just vote for the Democratic Party. Democrats are demonizing President Trump’s calls for law and order, and blaming Republicans for the “murder of George Floyd”. The Democratic leaders deliberately, out of cynical anti-Trump political considerations, are clearly ignoring or at best sanitizing the violence and the assaults coming from “progressives”, violent Black and White Americans, and Islamists. The more sinister and subliminal message being conveyed by the Democratic Party to the American public is as we approach the November Presidential elections is the following; only we the Democratic Party can reign in the protesters and put a stop to the violence overtaking the Main Streets of America. Only we the Democratic Party can instruct the Democratic Mayors and Governors to intervene and stop the violence, just vote for the Democratic Party in November.
Not surprisingly, though largely ignored by the Democratic Party and their liberal cohorts in the media, is Black Lives Matter’s long history of anti-Semitic rants and support for anti-Semitic Black leaders such as Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam. A frequently heard chant in recent weeks has been “F**k the police and kill the Jews (StandwithUs). Linking police brutality in the United States with the Israel Defense Forces maintaining security against Palestinian attacks are flooding the internet. Black Lives Matter has been pushing a conspiracy theory that Israel trained the police officers to use military techniques for law enforcement and therefore are equally responsible for the deaths of Black Americans. The insinuation is obvious; American Jews as supporters of Israel are complicit in the deaths of Black Americans.
As the ground shifts below the trembling feet of American Jewry, one can easily observe the self-censorship overtaking American Jews, the fear in their eyes, and the self-imposed laying low and staying out of the limelight, so what’s behind the silence? Most American Jews know in their hearts that they must hide what they really think out of fear for retribution that might very well destroy their livelihood and the safety of their families. What was once the most secure nation in the world for diaspora Jews has become a kind of open prison with no early release on the horizon. A climate of intimidation has overtaken America, and American Jews are the first to feel the heat.
Part of the reason for the failure of American Jewry to fully understand these new threats coming from the progressive liberal left has been due to a Pavlovian reflex to focus on neo-Nazi’s and right wing conspirators rather than admit to the changing identity of Jew haters in America. American Jewry have ignored this growing threat for as long as they could, out of “political correctness”, and out of a misguided commitment to a liberal political agenda that does nothing to advance the well-being of American Jews. American Jews minimize the attacks and violence directed towards Jewish institutions and Synagogues coming from progressives, Black Americans, and Islamists. It seems as if the leaders of American Jewry have yet to have woken up nor acknowledged these old/new dangers to the community and will continue to deny these politically inconvenient threats. These Jewish leaders who have refused to learn from history and have failed to understand that by promoting tolerance and support of those who are intolerant of the Jewish community and of American society as a whole, are inviting violence, destruction, and a surge of anti-Semitism against American Jewry.
The single most important question that we should be asking ourselves is when American society as a whole will reach a tipping point. When will American society stand up and shout as Howard Beale ranted in the movie Network “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” This expression seems more relevant now than its release nearly 40 years ago and seems to predict the world we live in today which is filled with fake media, fake journalism, and an upside interpretation of reality when looters and arsons are justified social warriors and police officers are labeled murderers.
The Character Howard Beale gave the following abbreviated speech in the movie Network, and his monologue still resonates today: “I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. Shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy. Just leave us alone.’ Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get MAD! All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad. (shouting) You’ve got to say: ‘I’m a human being, god-dammit! My life has value!’
Black Lives Matter demands a “reckoning” of biblical proportions from American society. Let’s be honest, what we are talking about is “payback” and maybe even extortion. I grew up in the South Bronx, experiencing the life of the inner city urban reality, living as a white minority among Black and Hispanic Americans. Life was tough, but the challenges made us all the more resilient and ambitious to move ahead and make something of ourselves. Today’s reality of “Burn Baby Burn” will not create equality nor social justice, only by standing up and protecting common values can we begin the long process of healing America. Standing up to the mob begins by not denying the greatness of American society.
Burn baby Burn 2.0
George Floyd should not be remembered as a role model nor a martyr for the Black American community. Autopsy details revealed that he had significant levels of illegal drugs in his blood. He had been arrested for attempting to pass on counterfeit bills during a purchase. Floyd was a repetitive felon with crimes including armed robbery, had served a number of incarcerations in various jails and prisons. George Floyd was no angel.
At the time of his arrest, Floyd was under the influence of drugs and as “high” as you can be. He seemed to be disoriented and strongly resisted arrest by law officer Derek Chauvin. Let me be clear, under no circumstance should the arrest of a Black American (or any American) end with his being suffocated to death by a police officer in the process of the arrest, and I have no doubt that the police officers involved in the death of Floyd will be held accountable to the full letter of the law.
George Floyd was a Black American criminal who grew up in a broken and violent Black culture. The Black American community, by defending and making George Floyd out to be a heroic individual, is sending the wrong message to the rest of America. It is a lie to present George Floyd as an example of exemplary behavior rather than what he truly represents; a Black American criminal who grew up in a broken and violent Black culture.
The broadcasted and social media did their utmost to identify with the rioters and looters by justifying the violent demonstrations as a legitimate response to police brutality. This fake narrative has much to do with this being an election year, and the Democrat Party and anti-Trump forces were unwilling to waste a golden opportunity to blame President Trump for the situation.
During the Memorial Day weekend, just prior to the death of George Floyd, over 40 Black Americans were murdered in the city of Chicago by their fellow Black Americans, this all in one weekend, and the media simply ignored the blood bath which has become a common feature of weekends in that city.
There is an underlying message here and it is the real reason that the media so passionately identifies with the Black rioters and looters while ignoring the Chicago murder statistics. Sadly, their reaction is based on a deep and historical bigotry of low expectations. The media simply doesn’t expect more from the Black American community. As far as the liberal and leftist media are concerned, they expect Black Americans to continue to project as criminals, rioters, looters and welfare recipients and that is what they will portray.
Successful Black Americans such as Dr. Ben Carson, Prof. Condoleezza "Condi" Rice or Ms. Candice Owen who are all articulate, highly intelligent, and successful public personalities simply don’t interest the media, they don’t fit the part and counter the pervasive bigotry of low expectations found everywhere in the liberal media.
Social media has played a crucial role over the past 10 days by synchronizing many of the demonstrations, so that they appear to be much more than a manifestation of random chaos and rioting. Instead, we see an organized and highly coordinated mass rebellion against President Trump, local police and National Guard forces, and even America as a nation. Little attention has been given to the role of social media during these mass demonstrations in giving antisemites and Jew-haters a perfect opportunity to use the mayhem and chaos to target and attack Jewish stores and Jewish institutions.
Numerous Jewish businesses and Jewish Houses of Worship were either broken into or had graffiti tagged on their walls in the Beverly-Fairfax district of the City of Los Angeles. Many Jewish leaders have privately admitted that Jewish businesses and Jewish Houses of Worship have been unfairly targeted by the violent demonstrators. At least four synagogues were vandalized in recent days, with anti-Israel graffiti that included obscene words and pro-Palestinian propaganda. Similar acts of anti-Semitic vandalism and destruction have appeared in cities throughout America, under the guise of demonstrations on behalf of George Floyd, in American cities where there are clusters of Jewish businesses and Jewish Houses of Worship.
An additional casualty of the dominant role of social media during the violent demonstrations has been that social media irresponsibly and without any accountability publicly endorsed, coordinated, and encouraged mass demonstrations just as America began to witness a daily and progressive decline in the level of corona infections and corona virus death rates. The public who did not participate in the violent demonstrations, yet has been prevented from participating in public prayer, for example, and respected calls to remain in lockdown, will most likely no longer abide by lockdowns and other measures to prevent the spread of corona virus.
Politicians from the Democrat Party, who have come out in favor of the demonstrators, most prominently Mayor De Blasio of New York City, have destroyed the credibility of politicians and health officials to order lockdowns in the future. Allowing mass demonstrations and demonstrators over the past 10 days to disregard even the most minimum restrictions on public gatherings, means the American public will trust no one in the future who orders lockdowns or additional restrictions to prevent future outbreaks. The American public has witnessed that protestors and violent demonstrators who looted and rioted were treated very differently from all other Americans who for the most part have been law abiding and cooperative as America took steps to combat the spread of the Corona virus.
Politician’s and health experts, out of concern for the future vital national public heath of Americans, will no longer be able to effectively convince America of the justification for an additional lockdown, while at the same time they have supported Antifa and other violent groups that have for the past 10 days attempted to bring America to her knees.
This will be the true legacy of George Floyd.
The Farhoud Pogrom remembered
A vast Jewish Diaspora underwent a process of communal annihilation prior to Israel’s establishment and continued during Israel’s formative years, yet we Israelis rarely talk about or commemorate these historic events. On the eve of the establishment of the State of Israel, at least 800,000 Jews lived in Arab countries. Today, this ancient Jewish Diaspora numbers only a few thousand at best. These numbers alone should give us pause: Emigration of more than 99 percent of the Jewish population in such a short time is unparalleled in modern Jewish history. Even the Jewish communities of Europe, which experienced the most extreme suffering of anti-Semitic violence, did not vanish entirely, or so abruptly. The story of the Jews from Arab lands is a saga that extends over hundreds of years and over a vast geographic region.
More than 800,000 Jews lived in the countries of the Arab world at the time of Israel’s founding. Virtually all of them fled or were forced out of their homes and communities after Israel’s establishment with more than three-quarters of these Jewish refugees moving to Israel. The once-thriving communities they had established in places such as Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Tunisia shrunk and, in some cases, virtually disappeared. The Jews of these Arab nations were forced to leave behind most if not all of their property and businesses with no compensation other than being allowed to remain alive to flee.
Thousands of pages of testimony have been collecting dust in various government offices in Israel since the 1950s. Under the bureaucratic heading “Registry of the Claims of Jews from Arab Lands,” they tell of lives cut short, of individuals and entire families who found themselves suddenly homeless, persecuted, humiliated. Together they relate a tragic chapter in the history of modern Jewry, a chain of traumatic events that signaled the end of a once-glorious Jewish Diaspora. Yet for all its historical import, this chapter has been largely repressed, scarcely leaving a mark on Israel’s collective memory, ignored by the printed and broadcasted media. The issue of Jewish refugees from Arab nations has not been on the agenda of the academic world always in tune to remain politically correct, proactively refraining from endangering the accepted false narrative of Arab refugees central to Palestinian Arab propaganda.
On the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, June 1-2, 1941; 79 years ago, the Muslim residents of Baghdad carried out a savage pogrom against their Jewish neighbors. In this pogrom, known by its Arabic name al-Farhoud, the pogrom of "violent dispossession" was carried out against the Jewish population of Baghdad. Over 180 Jews were murdered and mutilated and thousands wounded; Jews were killed randomly, women and children were raped in front of their relatives, and babies crushed. Jewish property was plundered; homes, business, places of worship, communal institutions were looted, set ablaze and destroyed. Historians have referred to the Farhoud as being a pogrom associated with the Holocaust. The Farhoud has also been called the beginning of the end of the Jewish community of Iraq, propagating the mass migration of Iraqi Jews out of the country, of which the majority made Aliyah en masse to the newly established State of Israel.
The linking of the Farhoud to the Holocaust is based on historical record and involved Muslim leaders who fully identified with the Nazi regime and played an active role in promoting the annihilation of Jewry of the Middle East. At the time, under the auspices of the British Mandate representatives, a governmental commission of inquiry was established concerning the Farhoud, and determined that the Nazi propaganda of Radio Berlin had been one of the massacre’s foremost instigators. The first Arab-language Nazi radio station was launched in Berlin prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, broadcasting anti-British, anti-American, anti-Soviet, and particularly anti-Semitic propaganda. It thus helped spread radical anti-Semitism in the Middle East. The messages in the propaganda broadcasts were designed to achieve certain goals, such as winning the Arab population’s sympathy for the Nazis and the Führer, stoking Arab national sentiments, incitement against the Jews, and blaming the Jews for being behind all the Arab world’s calamities and failures. The commission’s report also identified the main individuals who had impelled the assault. It pointed to the extensive activity of Dr. Fritz Grobba, the German ambassador to Baghdad, and to the activity of the former mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin Husseini, who had fled to Iraq from Mandatory Palestine in October 1939 and begun inciting against the Iraqi Jews. The mufti had also worked with Iraqi subversive elements, including Rashid Ali, to overthrow Iraq’s ruling Hashemite monarchy and install a pro-Nazi regime.
For those interested in further exploring the rich history of Iraqi Jewry, and learning more about the Farhoud, I highly recommend visiting The Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center, located in the central Israeli town of Or Yehuda. The Center was established in 1973 to preserve the history of the Jewish community in Iraq and to ensure that it remains part of the future narrative of the Jewish nation. The Center fosters research, preservation and publication of the culture and folklore of Iraqi Jewry. Adjacent to the Center is the Museum of Babylonian Jewry, opened to the public in 1988 and exhibiting chapters from the history of Babylonian Jewry throughout the generations over the course of more than 2,600 years.
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.