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