Sunday, June 28, 2009

Show and Tell

by Aliza Davidovit

As the black-haired beauty with an hour-glass figure walked down Madison Avenue, her long hair bounced against her shoulders and her designer handbag was swinging rhythmically back and forth by its long chain. If I were a man I’d probably say she was the finest thing I’d ever seen, but I’m not, and thus I took much greater interest in her gorgeous handbag. I stopped her to ask her where she got it. She laughed saying it was a knock-off and it cost her $20.

I was new to New York then—I didn’t understand that things of value such as Chanels and Guccis, Louis Vittons and Dolce Gabbanas could be imitated so cheaply. Just slap on a label and you could saunter down Madison Avenue with the best of them. But the concept slapped me on the head like an old woman pummeling a mugger with her lead-laden purse. People don’t care about the truth or the substance, they care about the show. Ouch! It was a harsh welcome to New York.

I deemed it then, as now, a fraudulent fashion faux pas that led me to much profounder questions about life. Those imitation handbags have since reminded me of swine and distinctly why pigs from all other non-kosher animals are the most vilified. The reason being that a pig has exterior features which suggest it’s a kosher animal—it has split hooves-- but it has internal qualities which make it intrinsically not so. Yet this duplicitous show-and-tell of our “external things,” I believe is the underlying cause for so much of our unhappiness today.
Materialistic things have come to define us and confine us, but they hardly refine us.

I guess it bothered me deeply because it was a strong symbolic shout out that we are all on a constant treadmill of lies, each trying to impress the other with B.S. And if we do serve to impress another with our “phony’ external trappings, titles, glitter, no matter what, on the inside we know the truth between what we show and what we truly are. And it is in that gap between “showing” and “knowing” where our better nature rots.

If today’s financial bust has taught us anything, it is to start being happy with less. Much of the crisis has come from people, governments and financial institutions living beyond their means and incurring unsustainable debt. Happiness was defined for so long as “more.” Yet, interestingly, surveys have shown that even as Americans grew richer over a 30-year period, there was no positive correlation with happiness.

It’s fascinating that not too long ago, before the economic collapse, bling was the thing-- it was fashionable for people to flaunt their possessions, wealth and success. Today, it is taboo. The new rage is for people to cry poverty in unison and commiserate how much they lost with Madoff or the market. Understated is the new flashy.

So what happens now? Can we no longer be happy because we are curtailed from showing off? Or perhaps now is the perfect time to reassess what happiness really means, authentically! We should seek happiness that is not manufactured in China or Italy, but rather from within by being kind, doing good, elevating the world, serving G-d and our better natures, and opening those handbags, designer or not, in meaningful and charitable ways. “You can stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. I’ve heard they’ve died of exhaustion.” (anonymous)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The “Zippery” Slope of Adultery

by Aliza Davidovit
And yet another one travels down the “zippery” slope of adultery. Is anyone shocked? Political pants have been falling since time immemorial. The Belt Way boys have always unbuckled their belts along the way. The First ladies may be first, but they certainly aren’t the only ones. The short list of political cheats includes Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, JFK, Rudolph Giuliani, James McGreevy, Gary Condit, Gary Hart, Newt Gingrich, John Edwards, and who of course can forget Bill Clinton, who allegedly dropped his pants so often that his zipper all but collapsed from metal fatigue. And then who can forget Elliot Spitzer, the “Hammer of Wall Street,” who went down the wrong street himself and became client number 9 when Spitzer’s shpritzer went to Washington. And now Gov. Mark Sanford admits that he'd secretly flown to Argentina to visit a woman with whom he'd been having an affair. Well, look who’s crying now Governor, it’s certainly not Argentina, but rather, your wife, your party, your followers, your kids, your career and your G-d.
So what have we learned? That somewhere between being smart players and devoted family men, these politicians keep getting their brains caught in their zippers. Then they go on the apology tour and in time all is forgotten. But sorry shouldn’t be good enough.
I take greater umbrage with the women who stand by their men while every other women is on top of them. By what warped grading system do we give these women credit for sticking around after they’ve been lied to, cheated on, and put at risk of life threatening STDS. What are these women teaching their own young daughters? That “It’s okay if someone treats you badly and betrays you--stand by his side and forgive him. Be weak and accommodating.”
Ladies, if he's a shmo, then you should go!
And in the future, let’s start putting instructions on men’s briefs: Keep your fruit in the loom.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Say it Like You Mean it

by Aliza Davidovit
Some men will tell a woman anything to seduce her and vice versa. Why? Because, it’s human nature to say what you have to say when you desire something bad enough. For life, for liberty, for love, you find the words. But how about for land? The land lust the Palestinians have for the Jewish Homeland has had them not only salivating at the chops, but have had both peoples dripping with blood and sharing the good earth--underground. Yet what remains most telling of the Palestinian agenda is not so much what they won’t do as regards Netanyahu’s speech, but what they will not say: Israel has the right to exist and is the state of the Jewish people.

And that is why Netanyahu’s speech was very wise, despite the naysayers on all sides. (Indeed it is only the Middle East where you can’t please any of the people any of the time.) What Netanyahu’s speech served to do was multifold. To start, the location of the speech held at Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies was certainly symbolic and a silent call to Arab leadership to emulate the courage of Anwar Sadat. (And by the way, is there a Rabin Center in any Arab University?) But in not mentioning the name of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Netanyahu served to undermine Abbas’ already tenuous grip on power and as such sent him--the would be partner in peace--into a rhetorical tailspin evoking the next intifada. The demonizing of Israel is always a way to galvanize political support for Palestinian leaders. The juxtaposition of Abbas’ reaction to Bibi’s policy speech that invoked the word “peace” 43 times served well to illustrate the mentality and temperaments Israel is surrounded by. They won’t even whisper sweet nothings to get Israel into bed, they just want to shtup them right out. Though the West may refer to Abbas as “a moderate” it may serve to be reminded that he is a Holocaust denier, a denial which was the basis of his Ph.d. thesis making him a moderate who has a lot in common with Ahmadinejad. And whereas Ahmadinejad wants to wipe Israel off the map, Abbas has yet to recognize that Israel is on it.

“We want to live with you in peace, as good neighbors,” Netanyahu said in his address. “I know the face of war. I have experienced battle. I lost close friends; I lost a brother. I have seen the pain of bereaved families. I do not want war. No one in Israel wants war.” But good thing Netanyahu was once coined the man most women would want to share a bomb shelter with or Abbas’ rejection might have left him hurt and lonely. To Bibi’s outstretched hand the Palestinians responded: "It's obvious, in the aftermath of this speech, that we are headed toward another round of violence and bloodshed," according to a Haaretz article. If a mere policy speech can launch a new intifada, hmmm maybe, just maybe the Palestinians aren’t quite ready to love their neighbors as themselves.

But students of history should not be surprised by the Palestinian leadership’s reaction to a chance for peace and prosperity for their people. When Israel evacuated the Gaza, instead of building the country they have gladly killed and died for, by developing infrastructure, schools, hospitals, businesses and a future for their people, the Palestinians have built downward, digging tunnels and digging graves. While they vilify Israel for denying humanitarian aid then instead of using those tunnels to smuggle in rockets, let them smuggle in a band aid, a tomato, medication, children’s books and other life enhancing things. And never mind Gaza. The Palestinians were offered a two-state solution in 1917, 1937, 1948, 2000 and 2008. “Ehud Barak shocked the world by offering the Palestinians virtually everything they had been demanding,” Alan Dershowitz writes in his book The Case for Israel, “including a state with its capital in Jerusalem, control over the Temple Mount, a return of approximately 95 percent of the West Bank and all the Gaza strip, and a $30 billion compensation package for the 1948 refugees.” They reciprocated with suicide bombs. That’s no way to enhance a love affair. Olmert offered them even more than Barak. He, too, was spurned. And now a right wing prime minister, Netanyahu, calls for a two-state solution and he is accused of postponing peace for 1000 years and “burying the peace process.” It’s quite obvious by their call to arms and denial of Israel that they’d much rather be burying Jews.

In his speech Netanyahu was correct in questioning, “If the advantages of peace are so evident, we must ask ourselves why peace remains so remote, even as our hand remains outstretched to peace? Why has this conflict continued for more than sixty years?”

Perhaps the answer can be learned in Palestinian classrooms where a next generation is inculcated to hate, to kill and to die. Golda Meir was prescient when she said that there will be no peace as long as the Arabs hate Israel more than they love their own children.

And then along comes Obama, naive at best and certainly an ambiguous friend to Israel, who thinks he can realign the Middle East, dispel ancient grudges, synchronize grating ideologies, and usher in a new age. I simply suggest that if he has such talents let him begin in America and sit down with the KKK and charm them into liking Jews and Blacks. Then he should cast a spell on Democrats and Republicans to fall in love, and finally, he personally should make amends with Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and publicly exchange ideas with them before he tries it with Ahmadinejad. When he has accomplished these great peacemaking feats in his own country, perhaps then he can export his messianic powers to the Middle East.

His apparent lack of understanding of the region is dangerous. And thus if Obama was Netanyahu’s sole intended audience, then the Israeli leader was wise to give him a history lesson. “Those who think that the continued enmity toward Israel is a product of our presence in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, is confusing cause and consequence,” Netanyahu said.”The attacks against us began in the 1920s, escalated into a comprehensive attack in 1948 with the declaration of Israel’s independence, continued with the fedayeen attacks in the 1950s, and climaxed in 1967, on the eve of the Six-Day War in an attempt to tighten a noose around the neck of the State of Israel. All this occurred during the fifty years before a single Israeli soldier ever set foot in Judea and Samaria.” Dear Palestinian leadership, Israel is a na├»ve mistress and even after all the bloodshed and rejection you may find a kind word goes a long way. Teach your children to respect instead of hate, tell Israel she has a right to exist as a Jewish homeland and you just may talk your way into a homeland. Words have power. Look what they did for Obama. “Yes we can” live in peace. Can you?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Let My People Grow

by Aliza Davidovit
The one thing about Israel’s enemies that I’m grateful for is that we know exactly where we fall with them. They want the Zionists dead, the Jews driven into the sea, and Israel, that tiny dot of a country whose land mass occupies only a 1/2 of 1 percent of the Middle East, wiped off the map. The entire Jewish homeland can fit into Iran alone 76 times. Thus, it is no wonder that Tehran is casting such an ominous and threatening shadow over Jerusalem.
An existential threat is consolidating with vigor and purpose as Iran gets ever closer to its nuclear ambitions.

And that, my dear readers is exactly why I would vote for Ahmadinejad. Duplicity is not his forte. He blatantly declares the first Holocaust never happened and he is committed to perpetrating the second one. I thank him for his honesty. After all, forewarned is forearmed. Therefore, when Iran holds its elections on June 12th, I hope Ahmadinejad wins instead of a more moderate face that will placate the West and buy Iran the time it needs. But regardless of which president will face the West, we can’t forget that the true power lies with Ali Khamenei who, on June 4th, will celebrate his 20th year as Supreme Leader of Iran. As Alan Dershowitz recently stated: “When Ahmadinejad incites genocide, he does so with the full force of the Iranian government behind him.”

But as for Israel’s friends? Do we know exactly where we stand with them? In a pre-election speech at AIPAC in 2008, Obama stated his commitment to the Jewish State with his oft repeated phrase, “Let me be clear… Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” And then with a pirouette-like move that would make Baryshnikov envious, he modified his statement saying Jerusalem is a final status issue that has to be negotiated between the two parties. But that’s old news. What is new news is that the world is on fire and appeasement is the dangerously dry hose Obama believes will put it out. As such, he bows to the Saudi Prince, offers rogue nations an outstretched hand filled with “carrots” and its stalwart ally the stick, and tries to outsource our foreign policy to China and Russia, vis-a-vis North Korea and Iran. But America can’t outsource all its jobs, some have to be done here--like that of being a President.

Obama would be better off eating those carrots to enhance his long-term vision and sharpen his insight on global affairs. His administration’s adamant and vocal stance on the dismantling and freezing of settlements seems indeed unsettling relative to his reaction to North Korea and Iran. Basically, his logic is if you’re building a nuclear bomb lets sit down and talk, but if you’re building an extension to your house to accommodate “natural growth,” absolutely unacceptable! What a shame indeed that Ahmadinejad isn’t building houses, maybe then Obama would teach him a thing or two. It is fascinating and tragic that even in their own homeland Jews should not be allowed to build housing to accommodate their growing population. Can you imagine trying to apply that concept in Harlem and telling African-Americas that they cannot move into the area because room has to be made for white people. How racist! How unacceptable. And even if the Obama administration strongly believes houses are an impediment to peace--forget for the moment about Hamas, Hizbullah, suicide bombers, terrorist training camps, weapon smuggling in Gaza--if they were as concerned about Israel’s security as they profess to be, they would accommodate Israel’s need to use the settlements as bargaining chips in any future peace negotiation. But, in the meantime, Mr. President, please “Let my people grow.”

For certain the stage is being set to cast Benjamin Netanyahu as the pariah prime minister who ruined Israel’s steadfast relationship with the United States. It is already being orchestrated with the slight to Netanyahu that Obama sets out on his first trip as president to visit Egypt and Saudi Arabia and won’t be touching down in Jerusalem.
Nevertheless, let’s not forget our history. The love affair between Israel and the U.S. has had its lovers’ quarrels: In '56 Eisenhower threatened to cut off all political and economic support to Israel until Israeli troops withdrew from Sinai; in '75 Ford threatened a major shift in U.S. policy unless Israeli troops withdrew from the Suez Canal; in '82 Reagan warned the country that it would suspend U.S. aid if it continued its operations in Beirut; in '91 the first Bush administration threatened to cut off loans to Israel if it expanded settlements in the West Bank; and in ’98 Clinton promised Netanyahu that if he advanced peace by signing the Wye Agreement, Jonathan Pollard would be released. Netanyahu signed; Clinton reneged. Though Israelis may debate who was Israel’s best friend in the White House throughout the years, Washington never had to question who its best friend was in the Middle East.
But as for the current players directing the course of history, it is true that both Obama and Netanyahu have much in common. They are both telegenic, gifted orators, talented politicians who each at a young age outflanked their veteran competitors and surprisingly seized their respective helms. But Obama needs to understand one thing: politicians in Israel live life in dog years. What Obama has yet to learn Netanyahu has forgotten. Netanyahu, who I have interviewed after his last term in office, may have begun his journey as a glib politician but I believe he has emerged as a statesman. As a student of Churchill, the son of a famed historian, the brother of Entebbe’s killed hero, an advocate of reciprocity, and a custodian of the Jewish people in crucial times who longed to retake the office for 10 years to correct the mistakes of his prior tenure, he will not wait too long to figure out who his friends are. Interestingly, in a biography about Netanyahu, it is recounted that as a young soldier during military exercises and rescue missions he would never lay down on a gurney and play the victim. The symbolism is clear. Today, as Obama is bowing and bending and pandering to Israel’s foes, let us hope that Bibi’s backbone is as tough as his rhetoric and that he will do what he must to save his nation. He owes it to his forefathers and he owes it to his sons.