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Israel in Real Life

I've been a pro-Israel blogger for some years now, but I had never actually visited the country until last month, when I went on a tour given by the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute.

Among other activities, we: went to Masada, swam in the Dead Sea, saw Qassam rockets in Sderot, walked around the Kabbalistic city of Safed, visited the Knesset, had a lunch at a kibbutz and a barbecue at a tank battalion base, heard Natan Sharansky speak, and wandered around the Christian, Jewish, and Armenian—but not Muslim—quarters of the Old City of Jerusalem, all in nine days.

The visit confirmed my impression of Israel as a miracle. Seventy years ago it was a barren desert, a vestige of the Ottoman Empire then under nominal British control. After fighting—and prevailing—against five Arab armies in 1948 (and in between regular attacks for the next 60+ years), Israel has somehow found time to set up a functioning pluralistic democracy and a lively free press, make amazing archaeological discoveries, invent drip irrigation, win a few more wars, and become a hub of medical and tech innovation, all while giving its people (including its Arab citizens) a standard of living unmatched in the neighborhood.

It's the only place in the Middle East where you can be a gay Muslim and not fear for your life. The only place in the Middle East where you can write nasty things about political leaders and not risk jail. The only place where Jews, Arabs, and Christians can serve together in parliament. (Although that's kind of a trick question, since there aren't any Jews left in Arab countries to hold public office.)

Israel isn't perfect, of course. There's plenty of corruption and stupidity, just as there is in any other country. And life is not all milk and honey for the hapless Palestinians, although a lot of that is their own fault. But we don't expect perfection from any other nation; why do we require it from Israel?  Doublestandard much?

One of the images I will always remember is the IDF soldier with braces. We saw her near the Western Wall, dancing and laughing with her compatriots. A strawberry blonde, dressed in Army fatigues, her gun slung around her shoulder, she couldn't have been more than 18 years old. She was just a kid—she still had braces on her teeth!—but in the eyes of the world she is an evil baby-killer. Is it ignorance or hate that fuels this? Either way, all we can do is continue to tell the truth and hope someone listens.

Why Silicon Valley should Worry about Merrick Garland

The President has finally chosen his pick for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland. While much has been written about his judicial views, one thing stands out in particular; he does not view the second amendment as something to be protected. This one aspect about Judge Garland should be scrutinized for all angles. While gun owners might have an issue with his nomination, Silicon Valley should as well. There has been a brewing war between Apple and the FBI about the IPhone encryption program. This is not a new battle; it dates back to the 90’s.

During the Clinton administration, the second amendment played a crucial role in trying to curb encryption.  Encryption takes electronic information and scrambles the data to make sure that only the recipient is able to decipher the message. If you are sending unimportant messages to your friend, the government really doesn’t care. If you are a terrorist planning an eminent attack, it is a big problem.

The so called “Crypto Wars” was an effort by the Federal Government to maintain full control over cryptography devices. During that time the government claimed that these devices were a weapon and therefore covered under the second amendment.  The government claimed that this technology can help plan attacks of foreign entities.

As technology has developed, Apple is now the leader in encryption and the iPhone represents the latest battle between the Tech world andthe Government. Even though this case has seemingly resolved itself, Apple and tech should be on alert. One of these cases will very likely end up at the Supreme Court. With the court holding at 4 conservative and 4 liberal justices, the Obama pick of Merrick Garland will change it to a 5 to 4 liberal court. In fact Apple’s CEO, Tim cook has already brought up the Second amendment as a backing for his case against the government.

Judge Garland has shown to be more liberal in his interpretations of the Second amendment. It would not be a huge stretch that the Second amendment will be argued in relationship to phone encryption. If Mr. Garland is confirmed, it could have not only a lasting impact on gun owners, but the technology sector for years to come.

Trump’s Elephant and the Hypocrisy of Everybody

This column was originally supposed to be titled The Trouble with Trump. My initial intent was to use his comments last Wednesday to expose his lack of any policy to support his statements and his clear inability to think through and understand an issue. I had a plan, a good plan to pull the wool off everyone’s eyes with regard to what Trump actually said and what he should have done had he understood what he said. I had several discussions with various friends on Thursday to ensure that my understanding of the law was correct and that my logic was sound.

As I continued to mull over what I wanted to write, I found myself watching the Kelly File because The Blacklist was still on break. Then I heard Mark Thiessen say the following and my head has not stopped spinning since:

"Well, basically what it is, what Donald Trump said about abortion is something that no conservative would say. But it's something that a liberal pretending to be a pro-life conservative would say. It's like when he say[s] two Corinthians instead of second Corinthians. It's a tale that he really is not conversing, doesn't understand what pro-lifers really believe. He said in that interview with Chris Matthews, he said, this is a direct quote, conservative Republicans would say, yes, they should be punished. No, they would not say that. And what Donald Trump does is because he doesn't understand what conservatives think or he doesn't understand what pro-lifers think, he repeats the liberal caricature of conservatism and he says it because he thinks that is what conservatives want to hear. 
But it's really what Liberals what to hear because Liberals and Democrats want to run against the caricatures of conservatives, they want to run against the Republican who wants to put women in jail. Not the Republican who wants to stop abortion because women are victims just like the babies are. So, he doesn't understand the issues. And so he's saying things that are utterly silly."
That is what all of this has come to, a bunch of mumbo jumbo.

Donald Trump accidentally hits on the crux of the issue, the elephant in the room nobody wants to talk about and everyone attacks him from all sides of the issue, both conservatives and liberals, pro life and pro choice, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, Hillary Clinton and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Mark Thiessen says, well, that.

And then Trump takes back what he said, multiple times in case we didn’t understand him the first time, because that seems to be happening to him a lot in this campaign, right?

But is what Trump said wrong? If abortion were illegal then the law would be broken, right? So shouldn’t the lawbreaker face some sort of punishment?

I know, that’s called a logical argument, and coming from Trump I am shocked, shocked I say!

It’s a big elephant, the law I mean, in this hypothetical scenario where Trump bans abortion.

And what would the punishment be? It’s actually quite obvious. Let me present a scenario:

Kevin premeditatively kills Dave. Kevin is guilty of first degree murder. But John ordered Kevin to commit the murder. John is also guilty of first degree murder. Now let’s say John is Jane, and Jane has Dr. Kevin abort her viable fetus, Dave. Is not Jane just as guilty as John of first degree murder?

The slogan is “My Body, My Choice,” right?

This elephant in the room is the real issue that nobody wants to talk about. Conservatives don’t want to talk about it. Liberals don’t want to talk about it. Pro Life and Pro Choice lobbyists don’t want to talk about it. Ted Cruz and John Kasich don’t want to talk about it. Hillary Clinton and Debbie Wasserman Shultz don’t want to talk about it. The main stream media doesn’t want to talk about it. Conservative and liberal news outlets don’t want to talk about it. And Fox News doesn’t want to talk about it.

Why?

Because apparently following Trump's statement to its logical conclusion will cause the end of life as we know it or something like that. But really because Mark Thiessen is right about one thing: Everyone on both sides would rather argue against caricatures of each other’s positions than admit the logical repercussions of their own positions.

I present hypocrisy at its finest, the whole lot of them!