Yearly Archives: 2018

“Solving” the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

At first glance, this title is both arrogant and unneeded. After all, haven’t there been multiple peace accords, from Camp David (1978) to Madrid (1991) to Oslo (1992) to Camp David (2000) again? Nobel Peace Prizes, smiles and handshakes and promises of “final negotiations” all win world approval…only to break down, with both sides blaming the other.

With the recent relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem (in accordance with U.S. legislation since the 1990s), all the tensions come to the surface again. Gaza rioting at the border wall, Syrian rockets, Iran and Turkey calling for the destruction of Israel – same song, new singers.

What can be done? The EU and many others keep calling for Israeli “restraint” as rockets from Gaza and the Golan rain on Israel and hundreds of terrorists attempt to infiltrate through tunnels. At the same time, Palestinian Authority leader Abbas continues to perpetrate the nastiest antisemitism, refusing to acknowledge 3000 years of Jewish history in the land, rejecting the truth of 6 million dead in the Holocaust and refusing to accept Israel as the national home of the Jewish people. Anti-Jewish sentiments continue to grow throughout the world.

What can be done?

There is a pathway forward. It is truly “the road less traveled” and will require heroism for success. If pursued, however, an era of genuine peace and prosperity is possible. Here are the necessary conditions for a “final” accord:

  • Israel’s existence as a sovereign nation with a right to peace and security is essential. Extermination chants of, “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free” will only continue the conflict. Until Palestinians and other Muslim leaders say yes to Israel as a nation, no peace is possible. Egypt, Jordan and others are reaping the benefits of not being at war.
  • Demanding the return of all descendants of people displaced in 1948 is a non-starter. Clear borders, generous aid and economic opportunity can help a new Palestinian State prosper…if they will end their perpetual war.
  • The Palestinian Authority, with help from others, must end ties to Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda and others that only want the elimination of Israel. The PA must renounce a tradition of Islamic deception (taqiyya) that allows for truces, but no true peace.
  • Israel will relocate many settlers once the new boundaries are established. It is unrealistic to expect pre-1967 boundaries, but the aforementioned accords open the door to two sustainable states.
  • Economic development and a potential free trade zone could transform a new Palestinian State from one of dependent refugee camps to a sustainable and flourishing participant in the local and global economy.

Underneath the details are the moral and spiritual evils associated with antisemitism and the delegitimizing of the Jewish people’s right to a secure home. All of the above points are only possible when Jews are seen as equal human beings and not dehumanized as dogs and pigs, bloodthirsty bankers and enemies of Islam. Israel leaders are not leading an “apartheid” state, they are not “Nazis” and the border wall has actually saved hundreds of lives. Israel is not perfect, but there is NO moral equivalence between the only democracy in the region and the hatred taught from birth in the territories surrounding Israel.

All forms of neo-Nazi thinking must be rejected. All Leftist canards about Israeli oppression need severe modification in light of empirical evidence.

Peace is possible, but the burden is 90%+ on Palestinian, Arab and world leaders to accept Israel as a gift of freedom, ingenuity and morality for the world.

“Solving” the Budget Deficit Crisis

For over 50 years, Democratic and Republican Administrations and Congressional leaders have tolerated and sometimes touted deficit spending, resulting in a huge national debt. Balanced Budget Amendments are often proposed but dead on arrival in committee because no one wants to offend constituents or appear lacking in compassion.

The fundamental flaw is simultaneously maintaining a federal welfare state and a close to wartime economy at the same time. “Guns and butter” are problematic. This does not mean we must sacrifice adequate defense and concrete compassion! What we need is a complete reprogramming of political mindsets that merely “kick the can” down the road for the next generation in order to appease various special interests.

As I write these words, tax revenues are at an all-time high. So why are deficits also ballooning? Every new President and set of Congressional leaders promise to “sharpen the pencils” and “go line by line” through the budget….and then they cave to political expediency.

Underneath the surface is even more ominous news – there are no “savings” locked away for Social Security or Medicare/Medicaid needs in the decades ahead. Since the 1970s, it is all a numbers game!

As an aside, if we managed our family budgets like our national (and sometimes local and state) government(s), we would declare bankruptcy and perhaps face serious criminal/civil charges.

So, what do we do? Here is a prescription (using the insights of many folks much smarter than me):

  • Decide to live within our means. Apart from extreme global emergencies, this is vital.
  • Privatize government pensions and benefits so that elected officials are not immune to economic realities.
  • Streamline government services with the help of ethical and efficient business leaders so that recipients get what they need, and bureaucracy is minimized. It is a moral issue when government keeps ballooning and the poor and our soldiers barely make it.
  • Simplify the tax system and eliminate the egregious loopholes that reward the crafty and penalize workers.
  • Establish priorities so that when revenues go up, there are places for the extra funds (including debt reduction). And if revenues fall below expectations, plans are in place for judicious cuts.
  • Begin debt repayment and true Social Security savings once there is a balanced budget.
  • Establish alternatives to the public employees’ unions that forget their source is the American taxpayer.

With these starting points, we can wisely confront our warfare and welfare policies and devise new strategies for defense and compassion. Compassion is best administrated locally, with federal ethical oversight. We must be prepared to confront terrorism and aggression without being an occupying force longer than needed. And our veterans deserve good care.

Every day, thousands of families happily discover debt-free living. When normal includes sacrifice and saving, stewardship of limited resources and creative budgeting, families flourish and the foundation for prosperity is assured. It is time to get the government off the credit cards and on new pathways.

Careful budgeting will not “starve the children” or weaken our military – just the opposite. Today’s discipline is tomorrow’s destiny. Imagine the USA being the largest creditor instead of the largest debtor. It is possible within a decade if we have courage and self-restraint, creativity and vision for generations yet unborn. We need no long fear being held hostage by hostile powers that own our debt.

We can do this.

 

“Solving” Immigration

USA immigration history is full of draconian and hospitable seasons. Our Statue of Liberty represents the best in our history as Ellis Island welcomed millions willing to brave the journey, go through the vetting and find a new home in a new nation. We have also had horrific seasons of xenophobia and racial injustice, from the suffering of the Irish in the 1840s to the anti-Chinese laws on the West Coast in the 1890s to the anti-Semitism of the 1920s -1940s. Dark chapters indeed. With huge borders with Canada and Mexico and relative economic prosperity from the end of WWII to the 1970s, comprehensive policies were not needed, and many found their way to flourishing.

With the open-door policies initiated in the 1960s and never refined since, we have crises of capacity and compassion, economics and social cohesion. People from nations other than Mexico or who are not officially refugees and follow the rules sacrifice much as they wade through the red tape and often pay thousands of dollars to get legal residency and eventually citizenship. Meanwhile, millions of “undocumented” pour over the border, use our services and find work. Billions of dollars are sent back over the border. Most folks are hard-working and want a better future. Some are felons and need permanent deportation. A few use our porous border to infiltrate as terrorists.

The solution comes in three steps: First, real reform that solves the genuine hardship issues of DACA and refugees, while allowing for screening out terrorists. Pathways for temporary work and long-term residency and citizenship need clear guidelines, fair application and a hospitable spirit. Reform must also not favor foreign students for college dollars and the undocumented for entry-level labor. Second, border security and ICE enforcement must be unimpeded by the misguided and sometimes hostile sanctuary movement. Third, current undocumented and temporary residents who are repeated violent felons should be deported and security personnel alerted to any attempts at reentry.

The above can be done in a matter of weeks with courage and wisdom; however, Democrats must stop vying for cheap votes and Republicans for cheap labor. Both parties are responsible for the mess and it will take people of conscience and intelligence in both parties for reform to work. Security on our borders and screening some from a handful of countries is not racism and xenophobia. Favoring the productive is good common sense and national policy.

Finally, a word to the compassionate: reasonable guidelines and enforcement of the law is not a violation of either the Bible of human pathos. If one feel certain laws are unjust – change the laws! Extreme positions of groups like La Raza must be rejected in favor of inclusion with integrity and a refusal to exchange one form of racism for another.