Wednesday, January 27, 2010


So what will it be tonight, Mr. President?

(a) A war on climate change?
(b) A war on unemployment?
(c) A war on the National Debt?
(d) A war on the Taliban?
(e) A war on greedy investment bankers?
(f) A war on poverty in Haiti?
(g) A war on the failure to provide more universal health care coverage?
(h) (b) (c) and (d) only
(i) (a) (b) (e) (f) and (g) only
(j) All of the above … and at the same time.

Personally, I'm hoping for a war on the failure to enforce roughing the passer penalties in NFL playoff games. But then again, I'm a special interest voter (specifically, a long-suffering Minnesota Vikings fan).

You, on the other hand, have the entire country -- indeed, the world -- to look out for, and we're all dying to hear what you come up with tonight. Here's a hint: prioritize, stay away from internally-inconsistent messages, and above all else, speak like a visionary and not a policy wonk. The policy-wonk era was so 15 years ago.

And by the way, triangulation isn't going to work this time. The natives on both sides of the aisle are way too restless for that tired old strategy.

Good luck. You'll need it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness.” Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

This time last week, if someone had told me I’d be writing a post with the above title, I would have immediately start researching about Port-au-Prince. We’ve all heard about the devastation there – how the death toll in that area could reach 200,000; how many of those 200,000 will have literally been buried alive; how the survivors will include thousands upon thousands who have lost their homes, their limbs, or in the case of many children, their parents; and how residents have taken to looting just in order to survive. If there were ever a place where panic seems understandable, it would be the capital of Haiti today.

But, as things have developed, I feel compelled to move on from Port-au-Prince, which I wrote about last week, to another capital well to its north. The city is none other than Washington, D.C., my own hometown.

Talk about a tale of two cities. On January 20,2009, Washington was abuzz in Obama-mania. It was indeed a time of “belief” and “Light,” I had never seen Washingtonians so hopeful, so inspired, so proud not only of what their country had become but even more, what it COULD become. Barack, Michelle and their daughters threatened the stereotypical notion of the All-American family. Only the most racist among us couldn’t feel the sense of collective accomplishment. “We did it,” everyone was thinking. “We’ve finally realized Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream, that one day, a man could be judged not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character.” And that day, if you could be sure of anything you could be sure of this: Barack Obama might not have all the antidotes we need to solve the poisons of the world, but at least we could say that he was a man of character. And brilliance. And charisma.

In short, on January 20, 2009, my city felt that it had just won the Super Bowl, the World Series, and the NBA Title all at the same time.

That was the apex of our collective spirit in Washington. Let’s hope, for the good of this country, that January 20, 2010 is the nadir. As I type this, one day later, the city is still in shock. We’re shocked that the seat of Teddy Kennedy in the only state that voted for George McGovern will go to a Republican, and that his election will most likely tank the prospects of meaningful health care reform. But even more shocking is that we can look back at the last year and experience quite vividly so many different reasons why we have fallen from such a high perch to such a deep pit. Different Washingtonians have different explanations, and we feel each of them intensely and painfully. Barack and his senior leadership might have led the fall, but most of us Washingtonians have gone along for the ride. After all, we are partly responsible. It was largely his dominance in the “Potomac Primary” that gave Barack the Democratic nomination.

Lest this sound like a mea culpa, however, I continue to think Barack Obama is a man of character, brilliance and charisma, and that a vote for such a great man made a lot of sense at the time. What’s more, it cracks me up that some observers are stupid enough to write Barack’s political obituary after only one year in office. I was in the tank for the guy from the very beginning of his campaign, but even I figured (and predicted in this blog) that he would struggle in his first 12-18 months. After all, the guy’s experience wasn’t exactly his number one selling point; we all had to recognize that.

So to those Democratic Washingtonians who are panicking, I can only advise them to relax, take a deep breath, and realize that this glass is at least SOMEWHAT full. We’ve got a President with several outstanding gifts and whose fundamental decency has never seriously been questioned. We also have a substantial majority in both houses of Congress. And we have nearly ten months before the next Congressional election to turn things around.

But … and it’s as big a but as Fat Bastard’s … this glass is also somewhat empty, and will continue to leak more and more until Barack Obama realizes the lessons of this past year and implements some sharp course corrections. In other words, he doesn’t have the luxury of taking months to decide what to do next, as he did in handling the Afghanistan War and the health care reform bill. And he also doesn’t have the luxury of making the kind of colossal screw up that he made in entrusting his economic policies entirely to a team who care 100 times more about Wall Street than Main Street.

Like I said, plenty of mistakes were made. But the mistakes are clear, and there is a lot Barack can do to fix them. The Barack Obama we voted for is a guy who is smart enough to understand those mistakes, humble enough to admit them, and courageous enough to fix them. If we’re wrong on any ONE of those fronts … then yes, it would be high time to panic.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Atheists have no shortage of formative influences these days. Perhaps they are moved by Darwin’s theories explaining the flow of history “naturally” and not as a result of conscious agency. Or maybe they’ve been moved by Marx’s view of religion as the “opiate of the masses,” or Freud’s idea that religion is an “illusion … that … falls in with our instinctual desires.” Then again, they could be students of the Holocaust, who look with horror at the depravity of man-on-man violence, and question how a God that is good could ever cause such suffering to “His Chosen People,” or any other one for that matter.

Yes, atheists have plenty of material on which to draw. But before there was Darwin, or Marx, or Freud, or Hitler, there were earthquakes. And it is arguably with the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 that the fire of modern atheism was fueled.

Just think back to Voltaire’s Candide, and how he mocked his Leibnizian character, Pangloss, for thinking that this is the “best of all possible worlds.” Leibniz spoke for most of the 17th century when he uttered those words about God’s creation. But after Lisbon, it was hard to take that statement seriously, at least in Europe, where Enlightenment thinkers were facing the reality of roughly 50,000 deaths and not one human being on which to place the blame. If ever there was an “act of God,” it was an earthquake. And yet that act of God whisked away saint and sinner alike in magnitudes that can only be described as “Biblical.” For Voltaire and other free-thinkers, it was high time to either give up traditional theism or the devotion to truth. One simply couldn’t have both.

Well, that was then, and this is now. Here we are, 255 years later, and how should our new year start? With another earthquake that has apparently killed roughly 50,000 people and surely destroyed the lives of countless others who survived. Most of us hardly needed this reminder that no benevolent, superhuman consciousness is pulling the strings around here. But I’ve been starting to wonder if people had forgotten that the world we inhabit is fragile and deadly. Perhaps if there is a silver lining in this awful Haitian catastrophe, it’s that we truly did need a wake-up call – not this much of one, mind you, but some kind of lesson -- about what will happen if we continue to blow off our environment. I’m not saying that because I’m a prophet. I’m saying that because I’ve seen “An Inconvenient Truth” …. or more to the point, because the climate change in this world is palpable and increasingly scary to anyone who doesn’t have a hard-right agenda.

Candidly, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the GOP is fighting Barack’s efforts to declare war on climate change. Once the Democrats took the lead on that issue, the GOP became duty bound to obstruct any kind of progress on the issue by denying that the issue even exists. “Forget the melting of the ice of the Arctic,” they’re essentially telling us. “This global warming is a purely cyclical phenomenon, and before long, the polar bear will be the luckiest species on the Earth.”

Yeah, I expect GOP push-back on climate change legislation and am counting on another 60-40 party-line vote in the Senate on that topic, just as we had on health care. But what I didn’t expect was to see people like Rush Limbaugh politicize the issue of Haiti relief. Since when were earthquakes political footballs? I don’t recall Al Gore focusing on them in his crusade against climate change. So why then did Rush say that because the U.S. Government will be paying $100 million to help with the Haiti earthquake relief, we American citizens need not pay any of our own money? To quote the Mouth himself, “We've already donated to Haiti. It's called the U.S. income tax." He also claimed that the earthquake would enable the President to emphasize his "compassionate" and "humanitarian" credentials and "boost his credibility with the black community.”

And all this because as the President of the United States, Barack Obama decided to spend roughly 30 cents of taxpayer money per American to help minimize one of the greatest disasters in recent memory. Do the math, folks – the $100 million in federal aid amounts to 30 cents a person, or in the case of my family of four, a buck twenty. Does Rush really think that’s all the charity we need to give to address such an extreme humanitarian crisis? Can anyone listen to that guy and possibly call him a Christian?

I’m still shaking my head that one of our two political parties has been hijacked by such a bastard. And the tragedy is not just that many Americans will follow his lead and refrain from giving the people of Haiti the funds that they need (and deserve), but that many American LEADERS have been so intimidated by Rush that it when it comes time to stand up on climate change legislation, you can count on them to vote no. Hell, you can count on them to filibuster it. At that point, you see, Barack will be asking for a lot more than 30 cents per American. Climate change legislation, if it is to be meaningful, could have far-reaching economic implications. But for this cause, it’s time to open up the wallet. Gas tax? Check. Major federally-funded investment in green technology? Check. Subsidies for people who buy the “right” kind of vehicles, or cut down on their home energy bills? I support that as well. And really, why wouldn’t everyone support those measures?

The next time you hear Rush question the value of climate-change legislation, just remember – this was the same ass who scoffed at the idea of providing more than 30 cents an American to help a nation that is either buried in concrete, mass coffins, or grief. And the next time you hear a politician question the value of climate-change legislation, ask yourself – is he afraid of antagonizing his base, which has become dominated by Dittoheads?

Barack should ask the GOP for their support on this legislation and see if there are any who unabashedly say – like the Republican Governor of California – that they are with him on that issue. But he need not ask twice. We spent most of last year dithering on health care. When it comes to climate change, we don’t have time to dither. The Democrats might have to get this job done by themselves. As W liked to say, “Let’s roll.”

And by the way, let me please urge my readers to stick it to Rush in the best way possible. Don’t just give to Haiti relief. Give now, and give a lot!

Saturday, January 09, 2010


I’ve been trying to figure out what it is that frustrates me most about this Administration. Then it dawned on me: these guys can’t seem to figure out how to beat the blitz.

Football fans know a lot about blitzing and how devastating a maneuver it can be. A blitz is the most aggressive type of maneuver implemented by a defense. There are a number of defensive players whose normal job is to patrol a region (a zone), or cover an opponent’s running back or receiver man-to-man. But when you blitz, you send one or more of those defenders on a bee-line toward the quarterback, and if they get there when the quarterback has the ball, their job is to wreak havoc, throw the quarterback to the ground, and try to dislodge the ball if possible. When a blitz works, it makes your defense look even more macho than your offense and makes the other team’s offense look like a bunch of weenies. Successful blitzes result in sacks, fumbles, interceptions … and puts opposing quarterbacks in desperate need of their mothers.

So, you might ask, if a blitz can be so devastating, why doesn’t a defense blitz on every play? The answer is that there are time tested ways to defeat blitzes. One example is to call a screen pass. On a screen, an offense lets the other team think that it can simply rear back and tee off at its quarterback. Offensive players intentionally do a half-ass job of blocking so the defensive players can move closer to the quarterback. But just before they get to smash him to the ground, he dumps the ball off to a running back. And what does the running back have in front of him? A wall of blockers and not very many defensive players who are capable of making the tackle, as so many of the potential tacklers have been suckered behind him toward the quarterback.

A screen pass is a trick play. In essence, a quarterback has turned himself into a decoy, and once he gives up the ball to the true star of the play – the running back – there’s often smooth sailing ahead … maybe even a score.

When Barack Obama took over the job of POTUS, the hopes in this quadrant of cyberspace was that he would move us beyond the need for football metaphors. He was to be a post-partisan leader, remember? The kind who could appeal to blacks and whites, Republicans and Democrats, Americans and foreigners – and help them forge working compromises that benefit us all. Obama was a multi-racial figure whom everyone could claim as one of their own. He was an international figure, the child of an African father and the product of four years at an Asian schoolhouse. Whether the topic involves domestic or foreign policy, he prided himself in being able to appreciate the positions of all the players in a public debate. Do you recall how, whoever you are, Bill Clinton could “feel your pain”? Well Barack Obama could understand your arguments and incorporate them into his own thinking. Surely, if anyone could end the epidemic polarization that had infected Washington, D.C., this was the man.

Well, folks, it didn’t exactly work like that, now did it?

If anything, the polarization in D.C. has gotten worse. Just look at the votes on the health care bill. In the Senate, the 60 Democrats all voted with Barack, whereas all 40 Republicans voted against him. The vote in the House wasn’t quite so partisan, but close. In the end, the Administration received the vote of only a single Republican Representative. That’s right. Barack Obama, the born compromiser, the man who signaled in so many ways his desire to work across the aisle, in the signature legislation of his first year as POTUS could garner the support of only a single Republican members of Congress out of 217. If that isn’t bi-partisan futility, what is?

When I look at the way the GOP has responded to Barack Obama, I can only analogize it to a blitz. Perhaps it didn’t appear that way at first, for the GOP realized at some level that it had to allow Barack the support needed to jump start the flow of credit, and thereby keep the economy afloat. But once it became clear that the threat of another depression was averted, the GOP could unleash the dogs. “Whatever it is, I’m against it!” – the old Groucho Marx line – became the de facto code of the Republican Party. That principle dominated the voting patterns of GOP Congressmen, not to mention the rhetoric of right-wing commentators on talk radio and cable news. Even when Barack tried to deliver an Olympic games for the United States (specifically, for the city of Chicago), Republicans blasted him for it and rejoiced when he failed.

If this were football, such a strategy wouldn’t simply be called “blitzing.” It would be called ALL-OUT blitzing. You could just see the defenders in the huddle saying “Let’s all of us meet at the QB. If he’s still standing when the play’s over, we haven’t done our jobs.”

So, what do you think. Have the Republicans done their jobs? Have they wreaked havoc in the Democratic backfield? Is Barack Obama still standing?

From what I can see, the answer to the first question is most assuredly “no,” if their job was to support the interests of the United States public, but quite possibly “yes,” if their job was to wreak havoc with the Democratic Party. Lord knows that the number of Democratic incumbents who’ve announced their retirement is growing into a significant number. Public opinion polls don’t register that the Republican Party is especially popular, but the Democrats aren’t fairing well either. And at times like this, voters might simply want to “turn the bums out,” a result that invariably helps the minority party.

But what about that third question: is Barack Obama still standing? You’d have to say yes, he is, but he’s a tad wobbly. The blitz has been getting to him, throwing him off his game – just not enough to result in one of those bone-jarring sacks that puts the quarterback on the sideline trying to figure out how many fingers he has. In situations like this, it always seems to be just a matter of time before the quarterback will get nailed or give up (bailing out before he can complete his passes, thereby allowing himself to fight another day) … unless, of course, his coach can figure out a way to defeat the blitz. In this case, though, the job of determining how to beat the blitz falls squarely on Barack’s head. Remember, he’s the quarterback AND the coach. That’s what makes his job so difficult and unenviable when he’s facing an aggressive opposition.

So, does anyone have any foolproof ideas? I’m all ears. And I’m sure Barack is too. He seems to have tried a lot of things in the health care debate – town meetings, speeches, you name it. In the end, the only thing that worked was to pay off Senators with laughable, almost-corrupt handouts for individual states. We will have ourselves a Health Care bill, albeit a tepid one, but it’s sure to leave an awful taste in everyone’s mouth, and it also is a warning of times ahead. Move the clock forward a year when the Democrats lose a few seats in the Senate and Barack no longer has his 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority. What then? How much money is he going to need to buy off the dissenters? Billions? Trillions? Quintillions? Even Paul Krugman won’t recommend that we borrow a quintillion dollars, and I’m beginning to think Barack is going to need that much to get things done in 2011.

So what can Barack do to defeat this all out-blitz? For starters, he might want to find a running back and an offensive line and trust in them to do their jobs. Football, you see, is the ultimate team sport. Even a quarterback is powerless if he tries to excel without support. Similarly, when you have an entire political party gunning for you, you need visible men and women capable of taking them on.

Barack might think that he can succeed as the only popular figure in the Administration, the only orator who is capable of selling his ideas. Sorry, but it’s time for him to find some lieutenants in both the Executive and Legislative branches who are almost as articulate as he is and who are willing to call out the Republican opposition for what it is: a reckless attempt to risk this nation’s long-term health simply in order to score some temporary political gains. Who are these articulate spokesmen? Give me the name of one powerful orator who has had Barack Obama’s back … other than Barack Obama? It’s time that Barack identify a few names and send them out over the airwaves to combat the blowhards on the right. To use a metaphor from another sport, if only one fighter is throwing punches, even if his punches are hardly landing, he’ll get the judge’s decision.

Secondly, Barack might think about some bold countermoves. To defeat the blitz, you have to take chances. Screen passes, for example, may be things of beauty when they work, but they can also be disastrous. If a quarterback isn’t careful, that little dump off pass to a running back can be intercepted by a defensive player who gets lost in the crowd of guys rushing the quarterback … and when you see a screen pass intercepted, there’s usually nothing ahead of the interceptor but the end zone.

No matter, it’s time to take risks. It might even be time, once the Health Care Reform Bill passes, of considering the so-called “nuclear option.” That’s jargon for the elimination of the procedure that enables 41 Senators to effectively veto any legislation by filibuster. The Founding Fathers didn’t provide for that procedure. Indeed, Thomas Jefferson must be rolling over in his grave that 41 Senators can repeatedly thwart the will of 59 Senators and the clear majority of the American public. Jefferson, after all, was a democrat (meant with a little “d”) who believed that periodic, significant social changes were healthy for a functioning democracy. Unfortunately, far from providing for the possibility of such changes when they are needed, the present filibuster rules lend themselves to legislative paralysis, thereby destroying the one branch of the Government that is supposed to be most responsive to the will of the people.

Why are we putting up with this garbage? And why couldn’t an orator as gifted as Barack Obama, armed with a team of able lieutenants, convince the American public that it is time that the majority ruled in Congress, rather than a cabal of Groucho Marx-like dissenters?

Finally, as I have suggested before, Barack might want to find an issue or two and tackle them with palpable passion. We’ve seen his Health Care Reform strategy of letting Congress set the agenda and the tone. Perhaps that was the right strategy for that particular fight; perhaps not. But once that bill is signed into law, it will be a new day. That’s when we need to see that Barack has a heart as capacious as his mind. That’s when we need to see that Barack viscerally gives a damn about a particular approach to tackling an important social problem. Whether it’s climate change, high unemployment, or the West Bank settlements, Barack must tackle the issue with the ferocity of a gifted blitzer. You see, the best offensive players may look cool as cucumbers, but fires burn in them too. We need time to see that same fire from Barack. Well, it’s almost time. First, we need to make sure that the Health Care Reform bill gets enough votes from the weenies in Congress.

Saturday, January 02, 2010


Happy New Year everybody. This should be a time of relaxing and rejoicing, and not necessarily in that order. However, the Empathic Rationalist is a portion of cyberspace where the words “relaxing” and “rejoicing” do not invariably come to mind. So, if I may steal a term from Annie Hall, let the “total heavy-osity” begin!

Today’s blog-post involves an especially festive topic. Lately, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time corresponding with Palestinians and other advocates of the Palestinians’ cause. I’ve been arguing to them, for example, that any path to peace must involve their willingness to recognize Israel not merely as one of two states that emerge from the partition of historical Palestine, but as a “Jewish” state. While this concept is anathema to the Palestinians I’ve met – they view it as inherently racist and discriminatory -- I have taken it upon myself to explain (a) why that assessment is short-sighted, and (b) that even if Zionism does not comport with their ideals, it is a fact on the ground, and if they want peace, they had better accept it as a permanent part of the landscape.

So far, it’s safe to say that I have changed precisely zero minds in my attempt to spread the gospel of Zionism, and that should surprise nobody. Zionism may not be to the Palestinians what Nazism is to the Jews, but as “isms” go, it’s way down on their list. Such a pity. Given the history of violence in the region, I don’t see how Israelis can be expected to set aside the kind of space Palestinians need to create a viable state of their own unless the Palestinians embrace Israel’s claim to its own state. After all, as long as Palestinians continue to decry the idea of Israel’s “Jewish” character, how can Israelis feel secure that after a partition takes place, the Palestinians will not simply assert their claims to the land that has been set aside for Israel? And if a peace treaty will not put an end to the Palestinian assertions that they are being discriminated against by a racist regime, what exactly does Israel gain by making the concessions that any peace treaty would inevitably entail?

In short, as enemies not just of the way the Jewish state has been behaving in practice but of the very principle of Zionism, the Palestinian community is, in my view, gravely misguided, at least if it is hoping for Middle East peace. Perhaps there are those among the Palestinians who agree with me that Zionism as a principle is not the enemy, but if they exist, the cat has certainly got their tongues. All this does is play into the hands of the right-wingers in the Jewish community. They act with the same defiance as their Palestinian counterparts – the one side stubbornly refusing to talk peace “without security” and the other side stubbornly refusing to talk peace “without justice.” The symmetry of the endless-war scenario appears to be almost perfect, and so those of us who truly place peace first often feel like we’re wasting our time. After all, who are we to disturb the universe insofar as it exhibits perfect symmetry? Nevertheless, when it comes to peace in the Holy Land, the only thing more insane than rolling the proverbial boulder up this hill is giving up the fight, showing up to synagogue, and having the chutzpah to “pray” for peace. So the fight continues, year after year, with few results to show for our efforts.

With those sobering thoughts in mind, this unabashed Zionist must turn to an especially sobering sub-topic. I am referring to the one-year anniversary of what the Arabs call “The Gaza Massacre.”

I trust you recall the war. It began in the last week of December 2008, and ended in the third week of January of 2009. In those four weeks, well over a thousand Palestinians lost their lives, whereas the Israeli death toll totaled 13. When we in America fight wars with such disparate death tolls, they are invariably popular, at least on these shores. And as you might imagine, the Gaza War was popular in Israel. But to say that it has had a devastating impact on Israel’s credibility internationally is an understatement. Indeed, as a result of that war, the chorus of anti-Israeli criticism among progressive American Jews has increased geometrically. Some of these critics have even given up their support of Zionism; that’s how disgusted they are with the Government of Israel and the recent rightward shift among the Israeli people.

If I were able, it would be my pleasure to defend the way Israel conducted the Gaza War, just as I constantly defend Israel’s claim to a secure Jewish state, including its right to wall itself off from suicide bombers. Clearly, I would have no trouble defending Israel’s right to fight back against the Hamas rockets, which terrorized towns in southwest Israel. But it is one thing to support Israel’s right to fight back, and something far different to give Israel carte blanche as to how to fight back. Defensive wars, to be just, must be proportionate to the threat that they are addressing. And in the case of the Gaza War, I see no reason to dispute the claims of the international community that Israel’s counter-attack was anything but proportionate.

I attended a briefing by two U.S. Congressmen who visited Gaza after the war. They reported that Israel is depriving its residents of what can only be called basic foods. When you add to those reports that the War resulted in injuries to many thousands of Gazans, the displacement of many tens of thousands of Gazans from their homes, and the property damage of billions of dollars, the conclusion is inescapable that the people of Gaza are living in an impoverished prison colony, even though most are not suspected of any crimes. This situation is deeply tragic, and it is particularly so for those of us who love Israel and identify with its raison d’ĂȘtre.

Occasionally, I have wondered if much of what we are hearing about the plight of Gaza isn’t the result of biased, anti-Israel propaganda. But then I am faced with one inescapable truth: the Israeli Government had the opportunity to allow neutral witnesses to enter into Gaza during the War but prohibited them from doing so. I am referring to the media. As you may recall, requests were made by members of the 4th Estate to report on the conflict, but Israel denied them access because the situation there was deemed too dangerous, even though the reporters were obviously well aware of the risks and were willing to assume them. That reaction on the part of the Israeli Government made me livid. Given how much that nation cares about international opinion, why would it deny journalists the right to report on such a critical story unless it had something embarrassing to hide? How, under the circumstances, are we supposed to give the vanquishers of Gaza the benefit of the doubt?

For me, Israel has essentially panicked and treated the entire Gazan people as collateral damage of their battle with Hamas. They must snap out of that mentality if they hope to maintain any international support for the Zionist cause. As for the idea that Israel can wage a war in which roughly 100 Palestinians for every 1 Israeli and in which international journalists are not permitted to report on the conflict, a government must always be accountable, and this is particularly important during times of war … especially when the government is waging a war against another nation that is relatively defenseless by comparison.

All who read this blog post owe it to the people of Gaza to study for yourselves the Gaza War and the plight of post-war Gaza. If you believe that Israel is justified in the way it has dealt with that region, feel free to express your views, and I will be all ears. But if not, please don’t sit idly by. Join an organization – like J-Street or Yes-MEP – whose membership is not anti-Israel but is also unafraid of standing up to Israel when it goes too far.

Being “pro-Israel” does not mean supporting whatever Israel does. It means supporting the policies and practices that are in Israel’s long-term best interests. It is difficult to imagine that the Gaza War will be among Israel’s proudest moments. Now that we are marking the one-year anniversary of that war, friends of the Jewish State should study what happened so that Israel’s mistakes are not repeated and so that the people of Gaza can be treated as humanely as possible from this moment forward.