Reflections on Courage

Many criticize those who chose to remain silent in the face of Donald Trump’s many moral and political outrages without publicly criticizing him and/or resigning from his company or his administration in protest. Yet, it is something that we ought to respect when people decide at last to go on record when everything is on the line in our democracy.

Young Cassidy Hutchinson worked for years in the Trump Administration. How she was able to do so is a question only she can answer for herself. However, what she did this week and over the past months in testifying before the January 6 House Committee was no small thing even though her break from Trump came so late in the game. The nation owes her a huge debt of gratitude.

I have been compiling a book of quotations on every conceivable theme over the past 30+ years. I read through the long list concerning “courage” today and I thought to share with you the most compelling among them given this current moment in American history.

I hope these have meaning for you.

“Courage is never to let your actions be influenced by your fears.” –Arthur Koestler (1905-1983), author and journalist

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear— not absence of fear. Courage is not the lack of fear. It is acting in spite of it.” –Mark Twain (1835-1910)

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” –J.K. Rowling (b. 1965), author

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”  –Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)

“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs.”  –Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

“It is not the critic who counts … The credit belongs to the person who is actually in the arena; whose face is actually marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows great enthusiasm and great devotions, whose life is spent in a worthy cause; who, at best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and at worst, if failure wins out, it at least wins with greatness, so that this person’s place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”  –Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”  –Anais Nin (1903-1977), writer

“The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.”  –Robert G. Ingersoll (1833-1899), lawyer, writer, and orator

“No one ever achieved greatness by playing it safe.”  –Harry Gray (b. 1935), professor of chemistry, Cal Tech

“Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality of those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change.”  –Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961)

“For in a democracy, every citizen, regardless of his interest in politics, “hold office”; every one of us is in a position of responsibility; and, in the final analysis, the kind of government we get depends upon how we fulfill those responsibilities. We, the people, are the boss, and we will get the kind of political leadership, be it good or bad, that we demand and deserve.”  –John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)

“Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change… Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their peers, the censure of their colleagues [and] the wrath of their society.” –Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968)

Roe v Wade

Today’s Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v Wade is infuriating and disheartening not only because of the damage it will cause to millions of women’s lives, but because this decision lifts the veil over the perjury that the last few justices so obviously committed in their confirmation hearings, as well as the pie-in-the-sky denial of Senators such as Susan Collins who testified that these justices promised them that they respect Supreme Court precedent generally and specifically with respect to Roe v Wade.

The credibility of the Supreme Court was seriously damaged today and reform is needed – suggestions ought to be taken up ASAP such as instituting term limits on Supreme Court Justices and adding justices to compensate for Minority Leader McConnell’s blatant disrespect of Senate tradition when he denied President Obama the privilege of appointing a Supreme Court Justice when Justice Scalia died a year before Obama’s term was up, and then rushed to fill a vacancy on the court with another justice after RBG’s sudden death after Joe Biden was elected and before he took office thus denying Biden also the privilege of appointing a justice.

McConnell and Trump did this just as the 5 justices who voted to overturn Roe (Roberts abstained) did it.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, CEO of T’ruah The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, issued the following statement, which says it all: 

“Reproductive freedom is a Jewish value. According to Jewish law, abortion is not only permitted in at least some circumstances, but even required if the life of the pregnant person is at risk. Today’s ruling ignores the First Amendment right for Jews to practice their religion without government interference, and will also have life threatening implications for millions of Americans, primarily low-income people of color, by giving states the power to revoke essential health care from nearly half the population. 

Abortion-related deaths are rare in countries where abortion is legal, accessible, and performed early by skilled providers. Yet with bans on most abortions in many states, potential criminal penalties for those who seek abortion or assist others in doing so, along with unnecessary waiting periods, ultrasounds and other barriers, patients no longer have access to essential health care. 

Pregnant people will now be forced into giving birth or in some cases will lose their lives, due to the financial, legal, health, and personal limitations imposed by this decision. We will see people arrested and imprisoned for seeking essential health care, and we can expect a rise in the horrifying specter of those who have suffered miscarriages and stillbirths being criminally charged as well. 

T’ruah, along with our partners in the reproductive health and justice spaces, will remain steadfast in supporting the right of people to make their own decisions about their bodies, lives, and futures. We call on the Biden administration to take action where the Senate failed and to ensure equal access to abortion nationwide. This is a necessary step forward for racial justice, for abortion justice, and for religious freedom for all.”

Meet Richard Core – Riding his bike SOLO across the United States – with MS

When Richard Core and Susan Freudenheim (his wife) told Barbara and me that he was about to fulfill his dream of riding his bike solo across the United States starting at the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles and ending in Massachusetts, we looked at him and thought he was nuts.

“Really?” We incredulously asked.

“Really!” Richard said with a twinkle in his eye.

We knew he was a bike rider, but this was bike riding as an extreme sport. But, Richard has dreamed of doing this his entire adult life. He loves riding and the solitude that comes with it. And – did I mention that Richard has Multiple Sclerosis?

He is currently somewhere in Indiana having taken the southern route to New Mexico around the Rocky Mountains, up through the mid-west and east from Illinois towards his end destination. He originally planned to be there by the end of May – but weather, wind, rain, weariness (who would have thought?), broken bike-parts, and other obstacles he knew would come, came and delayed his journey more than he anticipated. He is averaging, when he is riding, between 60 and 80 miles a day – every day!!! Now he plans to conclude his trip at the end of June.

Susan met him in his native Iowa to see family and to see the two of them together, so happy to be reunited half-way through his journey is sweetness personified.

We all have dreams that we either fulfill or don’t, but Richard did not want this long-held dream to pass him by.

He originally confesses in one blog that he relished the solo aspect and solitude of this effort, but was telling everyone he was going to do it. Why? In a recent blog he explains:

“No matter how many details I gave people about my dream and my planning, and how much I stressed that I knew what I was doing (or at least thought I did), I knew very few of them expected I would follow through on the idea. But I kept telling people. And more people. Even strangers. I had to. Because if I didn’t, it would have been too easy not to make the commitment. Years from now I’d still be talking about my dream. An unfulfilled dream is all it would ever be.”

Richard, a long-time journalist, has been keeping a blog and taking gorgeous photographs. I’ve told him he has to write his version of John Steinbeck’s “Travel’s with Charley.” His book could be titled something like “Biking with MS.” He’ll no doubt have a much better title, should he write the book – and I hope he does. As an example to anyone with MS or any kind of disability, Richard Core is an example worth emulating. Actually, Richard doesn’t have a disability. To the contrary, he has many abilities.

As you can see in the photographs, as Billy Crystal would have said: “Richard – you look Mahvelus!”

Stay healthy, my friend. We can’t wait to actually see you when you return home.

If anyone needs a dose of inspiration – here is the link to Richard’s blog!

https://sites.google.com/view/richardsride/home

A Confederation-Two State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is Inevitable and Possible

I am pleased that the Editor-in-Chief of The Forward, the star-ship American Jewish newspaper, endorsed the idea of a Confederation – Two State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is an idea that is gaining currency in both Israel and Palestine as it addresses virtually all the substantive issues of both peoples and is attracting substantial support. It is a proposal worked out by Israelis and Palestinians together and deserves American Jewish pro-Israel pro-peace support and the support of anyone concerned for the well-being of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and justice for the Palestinian people.

Read Judi Rudoren’s piece in which she argues:

“It’s hard not to feel hopeless about the prospects for peace in the holy land. It has been that way for a long time. But last week I heard a proposal that was both optimistic and pragmatic — more of both those welcome qualities than anything I’ve encountered since I started covering the region a decade ago. It’s time we start talking seriously about a Confederation of Israel and Palestine.”

I am a supporter of this proposal because it preserves the two-state solution in a Confederation organized in much the same way as the European Union, with open borders and populations staying in place as residents of another state. The status quo is unsustainable, and a one-state solution will sacrifice either Israel’s democratic character if it chooses to rule over 2.5 million Palestinians without giving them the right to vote, or its Jewish character if Jews are not in the majority population.

Though extremists among Israel’s right-wing settlers and among Palestinians will likely react violently, that is not a reason to prevent moving forward with the only resolution to this conflict that preserves Israel’s democracy and Jewish character and brings justice and sovereignty to the Palestinian people.

Borders, security, refugees, Jerusalem, water, and policing (among other issues) are all taken into account in this proposal that was developed by Israelis and Palestinians together. They are well aware of the potential vulnerabilities and address them in the proposal.

Frankly, it is the only proposal that has given me hope for a just, secure, and complete resolution to this conflict since the 1990s Oslo period.

A New Podcast Worth Hearing

First: A Disclaimer! Rabbi Ammi Hirsch is a dear friend. But…I wouldn’t advocate that you waste your time listening to a podcast unless it was unique, stimulating, exciting, thought-provoking, and important. This one is all of that and more.

Ammi started his podcast in mid-May called “In These Times.” Ammi, as Senior Rabbi of the Stephen S. Wise Free Synagogue on West 68th Street in Manhattan, is one of the most eloquent and thoughtful speakers and writers in the American rabbinate today.

The first episode aired on May 18 with Hussein Aboubakr Mansour, a young man born in Cairo and raised in a traditional Arab Muslim family hating Jews and Israel. By the age of 11, he became radicalized and aspired to jihadism. His is an extraordinary story of his journey from innocence to hate to political prisoner and ultimately, to life in America and steadfast support for Israel.

The second episode aired on June 1 with Natan Sharansky, who sought passage to Israel from the Former Soviet Union in the mid-1970s, was arrested, and paid the price: nine years of hard labor and solitary confinement in a Soviet prison only because he taught Hebrew in Moscow and advocated for human rights and the rights of the Jews to immigrate to Israel. The gulag hardened his resolve to leave. Hear Natan’s legendary story of Jewish resistance and his take on Russia’s war against Ukraine.

From Ammi’s Website about the podcast:

“Every other week, Rabbi Ammi Hirsch hosts intellectually honest conversations unpacking current events through the lens of Jewish wisdom. Unbound by politics and untethered by party lines, Ammi and his expert guests discuss everything from race and antisemitism to all the other issues that keep you up at night. Recorded from New York’s Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, a historic Reform congregation deeply rooted in liberalism, support for Israel and social justice.

Here is the official 1 minute trailer – https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/official-trailer-in-these-times-with-rabbi-ammi-hirsch/id1622485978?i=1000559663500

You can prescribe here – https://redcircle.com/shows/in-these-times-with-rabbi-ammi-hirsch

Killing America’s Children

This was sent to me by my friend Steven Koltai, now living in Maine.

Here (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/05/25/us/gun-control-republican-senators.html) is a list of Senators and where they stand on gun legislation. Most of us have a home state (or vacation home state) on this list. Of course, we all have Congresspeople as well.

If you really care about chipping away at the control of guns in America, and you believe (as do I) that there is no realistic chance of changing the filibuster in the current 117th Congress OR, at least in the next Congress (118th), achieving 60 votes to change gun laws, then the very least we can do is write to our respective Senator to urge passage of pending legislation.

You can find a good list of pending legislation here (https://giffords.org/lawcenter/gun-laws/policy-areas/other-laws-policies/key-federal-regulation-acts/).

You can find the address for your Representative and Senator here (https://www.senate.gov/senators/senators-contact.htm and https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative).

Feel free to copy and paste this letter.

BEGIN TEXT

Dear Senator ___,

Like 90% of Americans, I favor substantial tightening of gun laws. There are numerous (and soon to be even more) proposed bills that accomplish this. A good list appears here:  https://giffords.org/lawcenter/gun-laws/policy-areas/other-laws-policies/key-federal-regulation-acts/.

I know you already know all the facts, including that guns are the #1 cause of death for children in the United States (true since 2020). There are no wealthy countries besides the US where this is true, and even among poor countries, most are safer for children than the US. We are in the same category as “failed states” or countries in outright state of war, such as El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Yemen, Syria, Ukraine, Somalia, Sudan, Congo and Myanmar.

I know you care deeply about human life. We can debate at what point in gestation a life begins, but surely, we cannot debate that a child sitting in a classroom is not only alive, but is precious and is our responsibility to protect.

I hope you will not only consider, but actually help lead the campaign to pass one of the pending laws already on the books, before this Congress ends.

Thanks much for your consideration.

[Your name, town and state]

Why Israel Matters – Rabbi Martin Weiner Memorial Lecture

This past Friday evening (May 20, 2022), I delivered the first Rabbi Martin Weiner Memorial Lecture at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco where I served during my first 7 years as a rabbi (1979-1986) with Rabbi Marty Weiner, my senior rabbi, mentor, and life-long friend.

Marty invited me before Covid to speak about my 2019 book Why Israel [and its Future] Matters – Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to his Children and the Millennial Generation with an Afterword by my sons Daniel and David Rosove (New Jersey: Ben Yehuda Press), but the event was delayed until Marty called me this past October (2021) and we set the date for May 20. Sadly, Marty died at the beginning of March.

In my talk (with a Q and A period following my talk – also recorded) I address in as concise, clear, and nuanced way as possible, as I did in my book, our American liberal Jewish relationship to Israel. I knew that if I hoped to penetrate the thinking of younger generations of Jews (and older Jews too), I had to speak honestly to their questions, doubts, struggles, and need to understand why our relationship with Israel matters for our future and the future of the Jewish people.

For those interested, you can watch on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fHEmDRayWo

Vote Aarika Rhodes for Congress (CA-32) on June 7

In October, I endorsed Aarika Rhodes, an exciting young candidate for Congress in California’s 32nd District, and now, two weeks before the June 7 primary election, I hope that those of you who live in CA32 will vote for her, or if you live elsewhere and know people who live in this district, ask them to vote for Aarika.

California’s 32nd congressional district covers communities in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles and parts of Simi Valley including Toluca Lake, Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Tarzana, Woodland Hills, Chatsworth, Northridge, Porter Ranch, Reseda, Canoga Park, and Pacific Palisades.

Aarika’s policy concerns include promoting education reform, parental leave, and foster care reform; addressing the socioeconomic conditions that give rise to poverty, hunger, and homelessness; promoting universal basic income, climate change, immigration, and criminal justice reform; expanding Medicare and a host of other issues (see website link below).

Aarika believes in working together with everyone (left, right, and center on the political spectrum) and bringing people of different backgrounds (racial, ethnic, national, and religious) together to find common ground and get important things done. By nature, she is a people-person, moderate in temperament, without guile, smart, curious, and well-spoken, energetic, and politically savvy. She hopes to be a model of honest and inspirational leadership for people of all ages, especially children and young people who she believes need positive role models to inspire them to engage in politics and public service.

Aarika is an award-winning elementary school teacher in math and science and not only loves children, but children love her.

As a woman of color (Aarika’s father is African-American and her mother is Chinese-American), I wanted especially to know her positions on Israel and peace with the Palestinians. She told me (without knowing my background as an American Progressive Zionist Rabbinic leader) that she strongly supports Israel’s security, is for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, justice for the Palestinian people, and had she been in Congress she would have voted for the $1 billion Iron Dome bill for Israel after the last Hamas-Israel war.

I have spent many hours one-one-one with Aarika discussing the issues she cares most about. I am comfortable with her and her views, and once I was persuaded that she would be a fresh dynamic and intelligent voice in Congress representing my own district (CA-32), I offered to advise her on Israel and Middle East affairs. She welcomed my help whole-heartedly.

Aarika Rhodes is challenging Congressman Brad Sherman in the June primary election. Her goal is to win one of the top two spots to qualify her for the run-off in the 2022 general election. She is the most serious challenger to Sherman among four other candidates.

Why am I supporting Aarika against Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman?

  • I agree with her on 85-90% of the issues.
  • I am a progressive American Zionist and Sherman’s positions vis a vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are to the right of my own.
  • It is time for a change in the congressional leadership of CA-32. Aarika Rhodes represents a new generation of young, dynamic, smart, able, compassionate, and can-do leaders who cares about people, equality, and justice, is humble, and wants to serve. She feels an affinity with the Jewish community and would be an important ally in Congress on issues domestic and foreign that the liberal American Jewish community supports.

I include below the link to Aarika’s website and a few short campaign videos so you can get a feel for her dynamism, political concerns, and positions (check her policy positions most especially).

Aarika Rhode’s Website – https://www.aarikaforcongress.com/

Aarika’s Campaign Videos

“Memo: President Biden’s Upcoming Visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territory”

Note: The following memo contains positions of J Street, a leading pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy political organization in our nation’s capital that advocates for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be negotiated between the two parties with American support and agency.

Jeremy Ben-Ami, the founder and President of J Street, was just named as one of the top 40 most influential foreign policy advocates in America. Since he created J Street in 2009, the organization has become a safe political space in Washington, D.C. for pro-Israel Congressional Representatives and Senators, as well as those in the Administration and amongst all Americans (Jewish and non-Jewish), to express their love and support for the State of Israel, its security and democracy while reserving the right to critique Israeli government policies that do not comport with liberal American Jewish values and what we believe to be in Israel’s best interest as a secure, democratic, and Jewish state.

J Street endorses more than 200 members of Congress who support two states for two peoples, American and Israeli democracy.

I have been a supporter of J Street almost from its beginnings, and serve as a co-chair of its 1000+ member Rabbinic and Cantorial Cabinet representing America’s Jewish religious streams.

The following is a memo from Jeremy Ben-Ami, President of J Street regarding President Biben’s upcoming visit in Israel:

“President Joe Biden is scheduled to make his first official trip to Israel as president next month. The trip provides an important opportunity for the President to reaffirm the strong bilateral ties between the countries as well as to reiterate US support for moves toward normalization between Israel and some Arab-majority countries and American opposition to Iran ever acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Looming over the trip, however, are deepening concerns that tensions between Israelis and Palestinians could spiral into another round of violence. Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis, provocative Israeli violations of international law and Palestinian rights in East Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank, and the lack of a political horizon for ending the ever-deepening occupation have shredded the simplistic notion that normalization accords that ignore the conflict could still materially impact it in positive way.

President Biden should not only acknowledge the growing threats to his stated goal of a two-state solution on his visit, he should use the trip to take at least a few actual steps toward reversing the current trajectory of the conflict toward permanent occupation by meaningfully pushing back on de facto annexation and violence.

This memorandum lays out steps the President could take if he decides to use his trip as an opportunity to do so.

1) Reaffirm US security aid to Israel and make clear its scope and limits

President Biden should rightly reaffirm the strong commitment of the United States to Israel’s security. He should, and no doubt will, restate his and this country’s full support for the unparalleled assistance the United States provides Israel in a number of ways, not least of which is the security assistance pledged in the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding concluded when he was Vice President under Barack Obama.

The President should also, however, be clear with Israelis about the sacrifice this entails for American taxpayers. $3.8 billion per year — plus an additional $1 billion in extraordinary funding for Iron Dome replenishment — is a substantial sum as the United States stretches to meet the critical needs of its own citizens in trying times.

President Biden should make clear that all American aid, as required by US law, is for Israel’s legitimate defense purposes only. He should be firm and explicit that no US-origin arms or military equipment, whether bought with aid or not, may be used in connection with de facto annexation activities such as expanding settlements or settler-only infrastructure, demolishing Palestinian homes or community structures, or evicting and forcibly relocating Palestinians from their homes in the West Bank or East Jerusalem in violation of international law and Palestinian human rights. The President should be clear that the United States regards such acts as inconsistent with the US-Israel bilateral relationship, international law and Palestinian rights whether they are carried out using US-supplied materiel or not.

The urgency for such a warning is especially clear in light of recent significant acts of de facto annexation, like the Israeli High Court’s green-lighting of the eviction of around 1,000 Palestinians in the Masafer Yatta area of the South Hebron Hills and the decision to advance the construction of nearly 4,500 new settlement units in the West Bank — moves which the President should address directly on the trip.

The President should be frank that while he stands fully by US aid commitments to Israel, such assistance is facing increasing skepticism from a growing number of voters and lawmakers.

Questions are being raised both about the use of equipment bought with American taxpayer money in connection with violations of Palestinian rights, and Israel’s actual economic need for such aid when Israel’s government is spending large sums on building illegal settlements rather than on defensive systems it deems necessary for its security.

2) Encourage Israel to take the steps necessary to enter the Visa Waiver Program

President Biden should reiterate his hope that Israel will soon qualify to join the Visa Waiver Program. He must also be clear about the steps Israel must take to meet the requirements to do so. He should be frank about the US Government’s assessment that Israel has yet to satisfy all of the program’s criteria, including the key benchmark of reciprocity, which requires Israel to allow all Americans to enter Israel on equal terms.

The President should be clear in particular about Israel’s need to end the practices noted by the Department of State in its international travel information for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza under which Israel subjects US citizens of Arab or Muslim heritage, particularly Palestinian-Americans, to disparate and discriminatory treatment. Concerns in this regard with new rules for West Bank entry, promulgated by Israel as the occupying power, should be firmly treated as a step backwards from — not toward — Israeli entry to the Visa Waiver Program.

3) Insist on Israeli cooperation in reopening a separate consulate in Jerusalem

Nearly a year and a half into his administration, President Biden has yet to fulfill his promise to reopen a physically and hierarchically separate consulate in Jerusalem. This consulate would once again serve as a key conduit for the Palestinian people and is essential to effectively conducting US-Palestinian bilateral affairs. The Israeli government has thus far refused to grant the United States permission to do so, even as it allows a number of other countries to maintain consulates-general in Jerusalem.

The President should emphasize what Israel’s own top security experts have said about the benefits of having an independent US consulate in Jerusalem. The Chair of Commanders for Israel’s Security Maj. Gen. (ret.) Matan Vilnai wrote, “Few political/diplomatic measures – with no security downside – can make a greater contribution to strengthening the stature of the PA among Palestinians, stabilize its governance capacity and hence secure the continuity of security coordination, more than reopening of the American consulate.”

4) Hasten the end of the Palestinian Authority prisoners’ payment program by incentivizing reform

When meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, President Biden should commend Palestinian leaders’ ongoing security coordination with Israel and their continued support for the two-state solution. He should also be forthright about US concerns with instances of officially-sanctioned incitement as well as with the ongoing prisoners’ payments program.

Palestinian leaders are considering proposals for reforming the program to meet the requirements of the US Taylor Force Act, which suspended US direct budgetary support to the Palestinian Authority while the program as currently constituted is in effect.

To further incentivize reform of the program, President Biden should publicly and expressly pledge that, once the program is reformed to comply with the Taylor Force Act, he will use existing statutory authority to terminate an outdated 1987 law that legislatively designates the Palestinian Liberation Organization as a terrorist organization. Ending the designation would be a meaningful achievement for Palestinian leaders who recognize Israel’s right to exist and renounce violence, facilitating deeper diplomatic and collaborative relationships between the Palestinian government and the outside world.

5) Insist on bringing Palestinians into the normalization agreement process

It has been reported that President Biden may attend a multilateral convening involving leaders of Arab countries that have recently concluded normalization agreements with Israel. The President should use any such opportunity to not merely reaffirm US support for efforts to normalize relations between Israel and its neighbors, but as a chance to make clear that the Palestinians must be an integral part of a process that was touted by too many of its proponents as an end-run around them and addressing their conflict with Israel.

Specifically, President Biden should encourage the parties to the existing Accords to find ways to engage Palestinian leaders in regional cooperation emerging as a result of the agreements. He should also make clear that future agreements should commit the parties to meaningful positive steps to improve conditions for Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Further, we strongly recommend that the President expressly acknowledge the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative as a reference point for a comprehensive, regional normalization with Israel. He could do this as part of a reaffirmation that the December 2016 Obama-Kerry principles on the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict constitute official US policy. The President should make clear that, as important as it is for Israel to normalize relations with Arab states, its future as both a democracy and as the national home for the Jewish people depends on reaching a negotiated agreement culminating in a viable Palestinian state.”

“It wasn’t by accident that 1 million died”

Myah Ward writes today on Politico the following (Excerpted from her longer piece):

“May 1, 2021 was the day the White House announced that there are so many Covid vaccines that any American who wants to get vaccinated can get vaccinated. Yet we lost another 200,000-300,000 Americans after that date. Those who were defiant to vaccines were overwhelmingly in red states, and the redder the county as measured by Trump voters in the 2020 election, the higher the vaccine refusal and the greater the loss of life.

It wasn’t by accident. It was a deliberate effort by members of the House Freedom Caucus, in the House, some U.S. senators, amplified nightly on Fox News.

I don’t even call it misinformation or disinformation anymore. I call it anti-science aggression, to convince millions of Americans not to take a Covid vaccine. And at least 200,000 Americans between May 1 and the end of 2021 died needlessly from Covid because of it. And everyone’s afraid to talk about it because it’s very unpleasant to have to point out that these deaths occurred along such a strict partisan divide. Even the White House won’t talk about it in that way.”

My postscript: Many, of course, got sick and died through no fault of their own. And many are still getting sick after being vaccinated and boosted. But, too many people are becoming lackadaisical about masking up, as though this pandemic is history. It isn’t, and I hope people will keep their masks on every time they are with a group of people inside a restaurant, synagogue, church, mosque, concert, theater, market, drugstore, and even in a moderate to large crowd in the homes of friends. The White House announced that 100 million people will be infected with the new sub-variant of the disease by the fall, which means many will become infected this summer too. So – Be vigilant.

Myah Ward’s piece is worth reading – it isn’t long. She is a young journalist (I’m an old guy so everyone seems young to me) who writes for POLITICO, The New York Times, Bloomberg News, MSN, MSN Canada, Yahoo News, Yahoo, Yahoo Finance, Fortune, Playbook PM Newsletter, Charlotte Business Journal. You can read her entire piece here:

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?shva=1#inbox/FMfcgzGpFqVJXlzZQxdWBLffFQbvgcpn