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Why Most Jews Vote Biden

Pixabay

The short answer is: Because they are not stupid. They are educated and informed. They leave conspiracy theories to the uneducated and uninformed. Democracy is important to them above all else. They cherish basic decency in human interaction. They oppose fascism and racism. They believe that immigrants should get a fair shake at the American dream. They rather have peace than go to war. Freedom and liberty for all isn’t just a slogan for them, but a belief. They would like to exercise freely their religion, not to suffer from anti-Semitism constantly. And so on.

Now to the long answer: All these things mentioned above, a set of basic beliefs, come even before Israel. Important as Israel is to them, it is no longer the sole reason for their existence. What the current occupant of the White House fails to understand is that while moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem was generally a cause of guarded joy and satisfaction to most American Jews, it did not alter their negative view of him. Nor, they realized, did it solve or advanced the cause of peace with the Palestinians, or generate an avalanche – to say the least – of other countries moving their embassies to Jerusalem. It changed nothing.

The same holds true in regard to declaring Israel’s sovereignty over the Golam Heights. Other than gaining Trump a place to call ‘Trump Heights,’ with a nice golden sign but no houses or people living there, it achieved nothing. It changed nothing. It didn’t bring closer an agreement between Israel and Syria not one inch. As with Jerusalem, it simply created a momentary cloud of dust, avoiding the real issue: the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. As mentioned above, most Jews are not stupid, and they saw it clearly right away.

Just as they saw and realized that the semi, ‘fake peace’ with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and other such sheikdoms – which were never at war with Israel in the first place, and for quite some time entertained open relations with Israel – will fail to advance the cause of peace with the Palestinians, or push them closer to an acceptable resolution. It’s all dust in the air, not supported by the majority of these undemocratic countries and their oppressed citizens. So now, in another attempt to gain an advantage in next week’s election, Trump has pushed Sudan likewise, even taking it off the list of state sponsoring of terrorism, and offering it billions of dollars in order to sign an agreement of normalization with Israel.

It’s the same way Trump deals with the coronavirus pandemic: avoiding the real issue, the hard way to treat and deal with it, and throwing empty promises in the air. Most Jews realized that from the outset and behaved responsibly, suffering minimal casualties, other than the ultraorthodox communities of Jews, both in Israel and in America, his greatest supporters. His other fervent supporters, among “white supremacy” America, didn’t and still don’t realize that – i.e. the full severity of the global pandemic – and therefore are paying a hefty price for it. This president is a buffoon, an imbecilic dictator in the making who has no business leading the most powerful country – if it’s still the most powerful country, which I begin to doubt – in the world.

Biden is a different person, and leader, altogether. A person of common decency. A person of valuable experience. A uniter—not divider. What America and the world need now, most Jews realize, is a president for the people, for all the people. A president who would reunite the country as much as humanly possible, even if the extremists will always stay in the wings, and will try to resist. He will work to bring black and white together, not apart, People with different sexual orientations likewise. They will find an open door in his oval office. He will continue Obama’s work to give people affordable health care insurance and treatment, not take it away from them. He will give new immigrants a chance at the American dream, not build a wall to lock them out.

He will rejoin the international climate accord on day one, as he had promised he would do. He will work with the European countries, and with China too, to reverse the disastrous effects of human brutality against nature: The pandemic, the hurricanes, the global rise in hot temperatures, the melting of the ice, the flooding of cities, the killing of fish and wildlife. He will work with our allies, and with the young people of this world, to reverse course.

He will rejoin the nuclear deal with Iran, and try to reverse course on this issue too. This major achievement of the Obama administration, which Trump did all he can to destroy. Another thing he thought Jews would like and thank him for. But as pointed out before, Jews are not stupid. And they realize what a disastrous policy it is. Appeasing Israel and Netanyahu, causing Iran –the rest of the world too, mind you, like Russia and N. Korea – to go ballistic with their nuclear ambitions.

Under Trump, the atomic clock moved dangerously closer to striking midnight. Biden will try to reverse it. He will listen to scientists and experts. He will read the intelligence reports and pay attention to them. He will try to reverse the slide of the democratic world – Israel included – towards an authoritarian, undemocratic world. Jews read, learn, and understand what’s going on here, in America and there in Israel. And they don’t like it. The great democracy of the Middle East, the bastion of the rule-of-law there, is in grave danger. Jews, as well as Biden, see it. And, if he is elected, they will work together with him and his administration to reverse it.

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Paradise Lost — The Ashkenazi-Mizrachi Fault Line

Kibbutz Heftzibah, circa 1970

My childhood village is so far away these days, yet I never really left it. I’ve been aware of this notion, this conundrum for a long time, yet the stories about ‘The Battle Over the Hassi Stream’ between the residents of the city of Beit She’an and the members of kibbutz Nir David—and the beautiful pictures from the ‘Valley of the Springs’ that are decorated these stories—keep driving this point home again and again. This new battle, as if on purpose, seems determined to reopen old wounds and make them fresh once more.

It so happened that in 2012 I published a short story titled, ‘The Kibbutz is Burning’—originally titled ‘The Battle Over the Dining Room’—in which young people from Beit She’an invade my kibbutz, set it on fire, and engage in a life-and-death battle with kibbutz members over the kibbutz’s dining room. And while the protagonist of the story (see under: ‘The Kibbutz is Burning’ on my literary website) is my late father, David—a Holocaust survivor from Hungary, a salt-of-the-earth kind of a person who escaped three labor camps during that war, and a veteran member of that kibbutz—the heart of the story is pounding on the fault line dividing the haves and the have-nots, and the deep yearning to go back to the old ‘values’ that had built the kibbutz.

A kibbutz modeled on the one where I was born and grew up, Hephzibah, which in the glorious pictures of Nir David, with the aquamarine stream running through it, you can actually see on the other side of Gan Hashlosha—or the ‘Sachne’ as we called it back then—nestled under Mount Gilboa. Growing up we didn’t know it belonged to kibbutz Nir David. It belonged to us, all of us, courtesy of mother nature. As kids, we used to walk there barefooted. Swim there day or night, without a care in the world. Only later came gates, fences, guards, paved roads, showers, and restrooms. The magic was gone. Or almost gone.

Which brings me to the current situation in kibbutz Nir David, and the battle over access to the Hassi Stream. I have no idea how to resolve this intractable situation, this clash of wills, though one solution that was suggested in 2015— “to set aside a section of the stream for public use”—seems to me to be taking the right approach needed for a reasonable, decent compromise. However, as reported in The Times Of Israel, it “is still stuck in the planning system.” Wouldn’t you know that?

Strangely, it reminds me of a different kind of clash, here in America, between President Trump and the renowned journalist Bob Woodward. In his latest book, ‘Rage,’ and in an interview Woodward gave recently to ‘CBS 60 Minutes,’ he said he asked the president, “… do you have any sense that that privilege has isolated and put you in a cave, to a certain extent, as it put me – and I think lots of White, privileged people… we have to work our way out of it to understand the anger and the pain, particularly, Black people feel in this country?”

President Trump—again, wouldn’t you know that?—responded mockingly, “You, you really drank the Kool-Aid, didn’t you? Just listen to you, wow. No, I don’t feel that at all.”

That, indeed, is the problem with some privileged, have-it-all people. For them, it’s my way or the highway. Not only do they lack the capacity to understand the other side, but they also don’t seem to care to understand it at all. It may be—in America as in Israel—that it’s not exactly, or simply ‘justice’ that the under-privileged, the have-nots are asking for but ‘understanding.’ After all, in the case of the citizens of Beit She’an—or the larger population of what used to be called the ‘second-Israel’—what does ‘justice’ really mean?

Certainly not the dislodging, the uprooting of the kibbutz and its members away from the beautiful place they have worked so hard to build and give it to them instead; or as is the case with the Sachne, make a national park out of the kibbutz. Just as in the case of the African-American population of America, what would ‘justice’ be for them? Returning to Africa (as few now do)? Reversing the turning of the wheel-of-history? Give reparations—how much, really?—for descendants of those who died many years ago? (In Germany’s case, reparations are for surviving Jews who were directly affected by the Holocaust.) Take the white people’s money and places away and hand it to them?

No. That’s not justice. That’s more like injustice. What they are looking for, I believe—both in Israel and in America—is understanding. Inclusion. Sharing. Collaborating. Acknowledgment of past grave mistakes. This can be achieved, you see, but not with a president who has no clue as to what hunger—both for food and recognition—is. Not with kibbutz members from the ‘first-Israel’ who may still think that that beautiful stream was given to them by God (not that they are believers)? They were Chalutzim once, pioneers of the ‘Tower and Stockade’ settlements, who received the land—spring-fed warm pool and narrow stream included, a la ‘Garden of Eden’—from the ‘Jewish National Fund.’ The Arabs certainly lived there before them.

Which reminds me of something else, too. The last time I jumped headfirst and swam in that beautiful, paradisical pool, was in the winter three years ago. I visited Israel on the occasion of my mother, also a Holocaust survivor from Hungary, 90th birthday. It was cloudy and cold that January day my brother drove me to the Sachne. I told him I won’t leave the old country without swimming again in my ‘fountain-of-youth.’ We were almost by ourselves there. Us and nature. Like old times. But we had fun galore. And then we sat on a wooden bench and my brother brought his Finjan, his coffee kit, and made us strong cups of black coffee to warm our shivering bones. And as we sipped the coffee and talked, looking at the argentine, peaceful waters while guarded by the rocky Mount Gilboa, paradise—if for a fleeting moment—was found again.

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