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.
Yair Lapid’s obsession with hating Mizrachim
With just under 100 days until Israel’s national elections, the mainstream media have made a concerted effort to ignore the blatantly racist comments repeatedly expressed by Yair Lapid, Israel’s temporary Prime Minister and head of the center-left progressive party Yesh Atid. In any other Democratic country, Lapid’s racist comments would earn him the title of being a “White Supremacist”, but lo and behold, here in Israel, Lapid is the darling of the progressive left, and has designated himself to be the last line of defense against Benjamin Netanyahu being re-elected to Prime Minister come November. For this reason alone, Yair Lapid has become the ultimate Teflon politician in which any and all racist comments against the Mizrachim (Jews of Middle Eastern and North African origin) never stick, allowing him to avoid being labeled for what he is, a racist.
Over the past few weeks and months, Lapid has insulted and expressed racist comments against half of Israel’s population without remorse or even an iota of regret. His most scandalous statement occurred when he called the Mizrachim, and I quote “Sh-t heads”, or A—Holes, depending on your translation source. He has labeled the Mizrachim as “disgusting”. Recently during a widely broadcasted speech, Lapid labeled the Mizrachim as the embodiment of the “forces of darkness”; Darth Vader is turning over in his grave.
Every Jew, whether Ashkenazi or Sephardic should feel uncomfortable with hearing racist expressions against other Jews. So what makes Lapid’s racist statement palatable to mainstream media? Let there be no doubt, hatred against the Mizrachim and hatred against Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters have become interchangeable. The majority of Benjamin Netanyahu’s supporters are Mizrachim, and for that reason alone, they have earned the insult of being called “baboons”, “battered wife syndrome”, “herd mentality”, repeatedly.
Lapid’s father, Tommy Lapid was a cabinet Minister and head of the Shinui political party two decades ago. Tommy Lapid was a hater of Mizrachim and a racist in his own right. The following are some of his racist “gems”: "With the money that you spend on hairdos, you could educate your children," he said to a mother during a discussion on poverty; at battered women - "I don't know the source of the number of 200,000 battered women; perhaps some sociologist heard that his neighbor beats his wife and came to the conclusion that in every house, there is at least one husband who beats his wife;" "We didn't conquer Tul Karm, Tul Karm conquered us," he said in reference to the Arab-style songs of Mizrahi musicians. (Lapid frequently interchanged between the poor and Mizrachim). Yossi Beilin defined Tommy Lapid’s political party Shinui as actually being “a nationalist Ashkenazi front, which has elements bordering on racism." As we say, the fruit does not fall far from the tree, and Yair Lapid has embraced his father’s racist mentality.
If Lapid was really interested in understanding why Mizrachim vote consistently and over the years for the Likud and Benjamin Netanyahu, he would take the time out to reach out and listen to what they, the Mizrachim have to say. Lapid would discover that the Mizrachim, or many of them feel that their suffering and their sacrifice is a price that they are willing to pay for the good of the nation. They do not perceive of themselves as if they are suffering as individuals, but embrace the notion that their place in Israel and their contribution to the State of Israel is for the collective good of the Jewish nation. The Mizrachim are also confident that Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud have been and will be at the head of the political pyramid working for the overall good of the people including the Mizrachim. The past 12 years in which Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud have lead the nation; the rising standard of living, education, housing, health, employment, security have all filtered down to all levels of society enabling all of Israeli society to benefit from the prosperity of the past decade, and not just the progressive elite that Yair Lapid represents. The Mizrachim believe and have a deep suspicion that the progressive left and Yair Lapid have forgotten what it means to be Jewish. In Israel, the Mizrachim embodies a large percentage of the population whose loyalty to Jewish values and the state’s Jewish identity is very deep and very personal and should not be diluted or altered and certainly not maligned.
Lapid’s constant use of derogatory and racist terms against the Mizrachim serves an additional purpose. This past year Lapid has made a number of high profile blunders and his high volume racist comments serve as the perfect distraction; a change of focus away from his inexperience, inappropriate “Tikkun Olam” politics, and sheer ignorance in geo-strategic issues that have severely diminished Israel’s international relations. Despite Lapid’s attempt to hide his poor performance as Israel’s Foreign Minister, his public criticism and attacks against the leaders of Poland, Turkey, and Russia have shaken Israel’s bi-lateral relations.
This past week Vladimir Putin, the leader of Russia ordered the closing of the Jewish Agency and affiliate offices operating within Russian territory just as Lapid held his first cabinet meeting as Prime Minister. This policy change by the Russians was implemented purposely the same week that Lapid become Prime Minister, who till now had been a vocal and public critic of Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine. Lapid has over the past months made a number of irresponsible comments critical of the Russian nation and its leader without even understanding the implications. Lapid has gotten so used to never being held accountable for his tactless, inexperienced, and racist comments here in Israel; he has allowed himself to act with the same derogatory manner with strategic partners and weaken Israel’s international standing.
To truly understand the imminent danger of Yair Lapid as Prime Minister of Israel, even for a brief period of four months until the coming elections, all one has to do is look over to the Ukraine. There too the leader of the Ukraine had a similar background to Lapid. Both Zelensky and Lapid have a background of being entertainment celebrities. Lapid made his name as a talk show host while Zelensky was a TV personality and comedian. Zelensky has shown a blatant inability to lead his nation during peacetime, while his inexperience and misguided decisions right out of the “progressive handbook of politics” have brought about the invasion by Russia and the total destruction of the Ukraine.
Yair Lapid seems to be guided by the very same “progressive handbook of politics” and has endangered the strategic interests of the State of Israel. The Russian decision to ban the Jewish Agency within Russian territory in response to Lapid becoming Prime Minister, may very well be only the first step, while an additional deterioration in Israeli- Russian bilateral relations may lead to additional restrictions that limit Israel’s freedom against the Iranian threat in Lebanon, Syria, and beyond. Let us hope and pray that Yair Lapid, an avowed racist, takes immediate steps to undue the imminent danger to the State of Israel that he himself has brought upon us.
A knock on the door; memories from Israel’s first Lebanon War
The month of June marks 40 years since Israel’s Operation for Peace for Galilee or for most of us in Israel, remembered as the first Lebanon war. The period preceding the war witnessed deep changes in Israel’s political landscape and a kind of transitory period where the Labor party’s political elite that had been in power since the establishment of the State of Israel had lost its political hegemony and loss of power to the Likud party lead by Menachem Begin.
Much of the anger expressed during the many demonstrations against the war, the vulgar and personal attacks on Israel’s democratically elected leader, Menachem Begin represented more than anything else, the rage of a deposed elite, albeit democratically, who were unable to accept the will of the people, nor accept defeat at the polls. As the public outcry gained traction and popularity, little attention or sensitivity was given to the soldiers themselves who had to bear the brunt of war on the front lines nor their families who had to bear the loss of their loved ones. Israel’s defeated political elite simply didn’t care, they empowered the opponents of the war to demonize not only the Likud party and its leader Menachem Begin but sadly also the IDF and foremost the soldiers serving on the front lines endangering their lives.
This was the reality of those serving during the Lebanon War and the extended period after the war when the IDF was entrenched in all of southern Lebanon. It was during this period that I served in Lebanon, at first in the Shouf Mountains overlooking Beirut and then later on at the Eastern front in the Bakke Valley for a total period of two years. I used to joke with friends that compared to the South Bronx where I was brought up, serving in Lebanon was a piece of cake. In reality it was just that, a dark joke to help with the reality of daily roadside bombs, and soldiers that could no longer bear the horrors of war. As an armored divisional mental health officer, my responsibility was to intervene and treat soldiers, at times in the heat of battle who were experiencing trauma, for many from seeing the bodies of their best friends mutilated by shrapnel. The immediacy of the intervention in many cases prevented the emotional damage from becoming permanent.
For these past 40 years, the first Lebanon war is not just a faded memory but a daily reality for the families who lost their loved ones. It was at a military ulpan that I first met and became friends with Jerry Wolf H”yd, brought up in Hollywood, Florida making Aliyah the year prior to my arrival in Israel. Jerry was a lone soldier and had been adopted during his military service by the Guy family from Moshav Nir Banim in the south. On June 6th /June 7th , 1982 Jerry was killed in action while serving as a gunner in a tank crew. During the same time frame on June 6th, the oldest child of the Guy family, Shachar Guy H”yd, was also killed in action as a tank officer and commander. Despite them being killed in action within the same time period, notification of their deaths during the war came at an interval of 48 hours. I have been visiting the Guy family for the past 40 years, never once missing the Memorial Day ceremonials.
Nurit Guy, the mother of Shachar and adopted mother of Jerry, has over the years spoken to hundreds if not thousands of soldiers sharing with them her reality of being a mother of two sons lost during the same war. She is not only inspiring and uplifting but she is also able to convey how she has processed her own personal bereavement and used that introspection to help other parents deal with their own bereavement. I have sat with Nurit many times talking and listening to her understandings, and can confidently state that for her the month of June or Memorial Day is not a yearly commemoration but a daily event for the past 40 years.
Her own journey of bereavement began as for many with the knock at the door to her home, when the military notifyers arrived to give her the tragic and unbearable news. In her case they came twice within a 48 hour period. That knock at the door is now a memory, but a daily memory that never and will never be erased from her memory, as long as she lives. At a recent commemoration, the following poem was read to those attending the service for Jerry H”yd and Shachar H”yd
“The families of the fallen have been notified” by Izzy Man
This is the knock on the front door... It's the intercom buzz... It's the bell in his tune... / And seemingly, as always. After all, every day someone comes to the brink - each for his own affairs, and at the hour / And it is in neighborhood D... It's in a little house, in the shade of errands... It's in the dwelling, third floor... / And suddenly the ringing is sharp and prickly, and bouncing... And the beating of the heart is thunder - and a moment later silent / And it's in an apartment in a kibbutz... Up the hill, at the end of the seat... And in the high house, near the square / And it's the same sound, but at eleven o'clock at night it's different -- shaking... Cold... Alien... / And the ringing is heard again, and now reverberates throughout the house, and the knock begs to the door / And what invites every day to come and enter, at this moment is - suddenly - an overture of an axe on basalt / and the uniforms that seen through the viewfinder say it all. Without saying a word...
A message was given to the families. To the family waiting for him to come... Who had already waited for him with the gift of liberation... / to the family you inherited, who had already paid a terrible price that day frost... / to the family that the father had fallen in retaliation... And the nephew, named after him, was killed in the Golan... / And the cousins who were also imprisoned: a son, the salt of the earth, in a ditch... And a second son, Yaffa Described, in the explosive device... / A message was given to the family of immigrants, who did not yet know the land and its paths - but now lost the youngest son... / to the family whose grandfather perished with all his brothers in the Holocaust, but so hoped that in Eretz Israel the sun would shine... / to the family of a farmer... Or operating in a manufacturing plant... And a senior official, or a nature teacher and a violinist... / Everyone saw around the white angel, and prayed: "No, no more...
Not here... God, don't take our light" / Everyone was so worried, but hope that this weekend... And after the war... And in general - that the child would come back / and that Dad, who went out to reserve every year... Who's already seen the balls of death before his eyes... Who brought friends from the battle... / Will return -- and will no longer walk that path, behind the cypresses... And will not go - all - on the journey after him // A message was given to the families. And usually, no words... Usually, the heart has been afraid of the terrible... / And what remains to be said - and what remains - only the poignant message. The short/ so exactly, when the announcer of the casualties passes the path... Opening the gate... Rings the bell, or knocks on the door... / And then, the gospel - in its wake - enters the house, and strikes and resonates. And trembling. And jolting / After all, you don't have to tell Mom anything………
Naftali Bennett has joined “The March of Folly”
Just over a year ago, Naftali Bennett became the Prime Minister of Israel through deceitfulness, lies, and in complete disregard to the conservative political platform that he promised just prior to Election Day. Naftali Bennett’s arrogance has had no boundaries and treats the Israeli public as if we are suckers, unable to understand our basic right to elect the candidate who represents the electoral will of the majority. The level of cynicism and condescension towards the Israeli public has reached levels that we in Israel have never encountered, leaving us simply stunned and feeling a sense of deep betrayal.
Naftali Bennett has in recent days, as his ruling coalition has reached its final days and is on the verge of losing its parliamentary majority, has doubled down and spread his poisonous and false accusations against the opposition and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Bennett expects that we ignore our gut instincts and ignore his dishonesty towards the voting public and ignore the fact that he is a sitting duck Prime Minister with negligible electoral support (under 5 % of the public). Bennett has welcomed into his ruling coalition anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist parties including extreme left wing politicians and Israeli-Arab parties that are front organizations for the Muslim Brotherhood. It is worthy to note that the Muslim Brotherhood has been banned from any and all politic activity in most Arab countries including Egypt and Jordan, but not in the Bennett government. The left wing parties alongside the Israeli-Arab parties have been vocal supporters of convicted Palestinian terrorists and their organizations who have murdered over the years thousands of Israeli’s, Jews as well as non-Jews. The Bennett governing coalition has empowered and encouraged Palestinian terror and the majority of the public is clearly putting the blame on Bennett and his coalition partners.
To truly comprehend the level of distrust and disgust that the public harbors against Naftali Bennett, two examples stand out. Last month, during the wave of terror attacks during the Muslim Ramadan period, that took the lives of 15 Israeli citizens, Naftali Bennett refrained from visiting the bereaving families of the victims, in many cases he was refused entrance by the families themselves. Never in Israel’s history has a Prime Minister been so publicly rebuffed to make a Shiva call to families of terror victims. The second indication of the level of hatred and disgust from Naftali Bennett has been his inability to visit markets and other public appearances due to the expected outcry against his presence, as if he is beyond the pale, the very opposite of Israel’s political history in which politicians have always been close to the public and enjoyed “rubbing elbows” with them.
Understanding what motivated Naftali Bennett to abandon his pre-election promises has been articulately portrayed by MK Bezalel Smotrich, chairman of the Religious Zionism party; he pointed out that Bennett had joined terror supporters in order to be prime minister - at any cost. "Bennett, with his own hands, torpedoed a right-wing government and in a process planned ahead of time, even before the elections, ripped apart the nationalist camp and joined the extreme Left and anti-Zionist terror supporters in order to become prime minister at any cost. Bennett deceived, tricked, and lied throughout, and he continues to do this in his letter which praises a government that excommunicates over half of the nation and presents it as a holy martyr, while he incites against the Right, slanders Religious Zionism, and calls on the Left to begin a civil war."
Naftali Bennett’s underlying motivation to betray the public could easily be clarified within the realm of psychoanalysis. Due to ethical considerations, we will have to suffice with examining his public persona through the prism of political historians. “The March of Folly” was published in 1984 by Barbara Tuchman, an American political historian. The book is about one of the most compelling paradoxes of history: the pursuit by political leaders of policies contrary to their own interests despite the availability of feasible alternatives. Tuchman applies the concept of folly to 'historical mistakes'. In Tuchman’s view the only way to account for such self-destructive policies pursued by political leaders despite forebodings that it was mistaken was to interpret these decisions as beyond rational explanation, or in other words “follies”.
From day one in office, Naftali Bennett has expressed swaggering confidence, never admitting doubt or mistakes. Due to his lackluster performance and failing leadership, he has been forced to abandon without exception his political ideals and election promises to keep his ruling coalition in power. This shortcut to power pursued by Naftali Bennett has brought Israel to the brink of disaster, everyday more and more of the public are sensing that we are sitting on a ticking time bomb waiting for it to explode.
Naftali Bennett has by refusing to move in to the official State residence of the Prime Minister in Jerusalem has empowered the Biden administration and the European Union to question Israel’s continued sovereignty over its capital, the united City of Jerusalem. There has been extortion of billions of shequels for the Arab sector with little if any true accountability of how the funding will be spent. Tens of thousands of illegally built homes by Bedouin Arabs on state land will be approved after-the-fact in complete disregard to the building and zoning regulations that are applied within Jewish communities.
Naftali Bennett has joined the notorious list of political leaders who have baffled historians. He has put Israel on the path of being transformed into a nation similar to the Kingdom of Troy; when faced with a critical historical crossroad, political decisions were made that brought on to Troy, the self-inflicted destruction of one of the most powerful Kingdoms of its time.
Naftali Bennett’s will be remembered not only as a blip in history, but as a brief and failing political anomaly. Bennett’s legacy will always be one of deceit, perjury, defamation, and violence. The enormous and widespread harm that Bennett has inflicted on all areas of society in Israel will resonate and be felt for years, and only when the existence of his government is ended once and for all can we in Israel begin the arduous effort to undue much of the damage inflicted on the Jewish nation and the State of Israel.
Rebranding the Israeli Narrative
The time has arrived to simply stop and read the writing on the wall, assuming it’s not too late. We must re-evaluate, re-calculate, and radically change what we do in response to the tsunami of Jew hatred that has swept the world whether it be in Israel or in the streets of Brooklyn, or anywhere in the world. Albert Einstein was quoted as saying that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. This is a fair representation of how Jewish leaders and Jewish organizations including Israeli governmental agencies keep responding to today’s anti-Semitism with yesterday’s obsolete and ineffective apologetic thinking.
Jewish leaders, NGO’s, academicians, governmental agencies, and pro-Israel organizations must change and adapt their manner of responding to the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic narratives that have blurred the distinction between classical anti-Semitism, anti-Israel, and anti-Zionism. Jews, Israeli’s, and Zionists have all become “guilty by association” of one another. The process of “detoxifying” the Israeli narrative portrayed in progressive circles (including Jewish progressives) must be a strategic goal of the State of Israel. Unconventional yet empirically effective “info-war” techniques should be utilized for their efficacy in changing attitudes, perceptions, and prior biases. Developing. Designing and deploying persuasive/compelling communication strategies should be utilized not only to influence how the Israeli narrative is perceived but critically how one “feels” about them.
The rational and need: The perspective and perception held by NGO’s, academicians, the broadcasted and printed media, and social media regarding Israel can be a powerful tool in shaping public opinion. The ideological positions held by many if not most in key positions within the progressive side of the isle demands a radically new approach. The transformation of long held narratives and perceptions requires a pro-active and planned intervention that will result in a shift in long held views and prior biases. Importantly, the narrative representation of reality cannot be evaluated or challenged empirically or with dry facts and “hasbara”, but rather whether the message or response is coherent and ‘rings true’. The efforts to present the Israeli narrative through the prism of facts and truths has failed to alter or change the progressive understanding of the Israeli narrative.
Today’s progressive media organizations blindly and willingly accept and promote the Palestinian culture of deceit. The efforts of the State of Israel to show malice and the lack of factual and historical truth within the Palestinian narrative does not resonate within the progressive mind set and is incongruent to the progressive intellectual predisposition. Due to this predisposition, in the eyes of the progressive world, Palestinian terror is a legitimate response to the continued occupation of the occupied territories thereby absolving the Palestinians of any and all accountability for their actions. Only the State of Israel is held solely responsible and accountable. The logical extension of this narrative leads to the understanding that only the “undoing” Israel’s establishment and existence as a Jewish State will satisfy minimum Palestinian expectations and demands.
Information warfare: Propaganda in its most basic form is the use of a public persuasion means for political ends. Propaganda is a type of communication that is primarily used to influence or persuade an audience to further an agenda, which may not be objective and may be selectively presenting facts to encourage a particular synthesis or perception, or using loaded language to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information that is being presented.
Propaganda can be found in news and journalism, social media, governmental agencies, advertising, entertainment, education, and activism; often associated with material which is prepared by governments as part of war efforts, political campaigns, and health related campaigns. During the 20th century, the English term propaganda was often associated with a manipulative approach, but historically, propaganda has been a neutral descriptive term of any material that promotes certain opinions or ideologies.
When it is conducted in war, it is called psychological warfare. Although these are the classic definitions, the problem is that the reality is very flexible and changing constantly. Propaganda usually is not about a change from stark black to stark white or vice versa, but rather a strengthening or weakening of positions along the spectrum of conflicting ideologies and is an enormously powerful social science tool. Propaganda can be far more sophisticated than our primitive notion of Hitler waving and ranting. Almost every person is prone to being influenced at some point, yet everyone thinks that they are immune to such persuasion—and that is what makes them so vulnerable to propaganda.
A primary working principle of psychological warfare is to adapt your cause to both the local and contemporary cultures. When the cause célèbre of the 60s was colonialism, the Palestinians played up the notion of Israel as a colonizer; when human rights became the dominant cause, Israel was accused of human rights violations. And although at one time apartheid was only associated with South Africa, once it ended there, the PLO engaged in a “replacement oppressor” narrative with Israel taking South Africa’s place as the world’s number one purveyor of apartheid. In recent years the Palestinians have shifted vocal support for the annihilation of Israel to Israel being an illegitimate state due to her abuse of Palestinian human rights; same goal, different path to achieve this goal. The easy refutability of these libels have proven to be totally ineffective only because propaganda is about imbuing beliefs and emotions rather than facts.
Persuasion (a palatable synonym of propaganda) is also a powerful social science tool. In the past 150 years, it has developed unprecedently into a powerful social and political weapon. Channeling this technological know-how to develop an operational model that incorporates our ideological and political goals, will enable implementing “info-war” model to our advantage—which in our case is a safe, secure Israel and a safe, secure Jewish people in their respective countries.
In order to be able to overcome and outmaneuver the methodology and tactics that are being used against us, it will be necessary to “reverse engineer” the false and manipulative narratives that have been so successfully applied by our enemies. The State of Israel and the Jewish people around the globe are finally coming to this realization, albeit half a century too late. This fact presents the enormity of the challenges facing Israel and the Jewish world, incorporating all facets of the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and anti-Zionist narratives in the converging spheres of; media, social network, academia, progressive politics, social, religious, and cultural.
Anti-Israel propaganda has permeated every single facet of American (and Western) society including: labor (longshoremen’s refusal to unload an Israeli cargo ship and a national teacher’s union putting to vote a harshly anti-Israel resolution); sports (boycotting Israel at international competitions); cultural events (Roger Waters’ campaign to pressure musicians to boycott Israel, and a Swedish art museum glorifying Palestinian mass murderers); higher education (universities outright banning pro-Israel speakers and allowing extremely violent Arab and leftist “protesters” to attack pro-Israel speakers, driving them off campus); science (calls for boycotts of leading Israeli research institutes and termination of cooperation agreements); and numerous other examples. Israel has consistently forfeited her leverage in the world of technology, medicine, research, and military development against supporters and funders of the Palestinian and anti-Semitic coalitions. Without thinking twice or remorse, we simply let them “off the hook” consequentially further empowering their supporters and resulting in even more aggressive tactics/attacks against Jews and the State of Israel.
Progressive narratives embody fundamental assumptions by which any and all actions by the State of Israel are interpreted and presented negatively by the progressive media and within academic circles. Techniques based on Psychological Warfare and the application of “Info war” can provide an effective response to deafen the dissonance that automatically erupts with Pavlovian consistency when pro-Israel, and pro-Zionist narratives are expressed. Continuing on the current path of appeasing those at the forefront of Jew hatred demanding the end of Israel as the nation of the Jewish people, will only wet their appetites to question Israel’s legitimacy and continue to threaten and attack Jews wherever they may be. An endeavor of this magnitude can only be executed by Israel’s governmental agencies or non-governmental NGO’s in Israel who have a formidable reservoir of manpower capability with experience in the field of “psychological warfare” and the “info-war”.