Thursday, August 19, 2010

Skip the lecture on Israel's 'risks for peace' - George Will - Washington Post

In the intifada that began in 2000, Palestinian terrorism killed more than 1,000 Israelis. As a portion of U.S. population, that would be 42,000, approaching the toll of America's eight years in Vietnam.

For the op-ed piece, click on  the url below:

George Will gives an important history lesson on what Israel risks in her search for peace. Whether you think Israel offers too much for peace or not enough, this opinion piece presents a very good insight for all to consider.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Time to Betray - by: Reza Kahlili

A very interesting autobiography by an Iranian who became a Revolutionary Guard shortly after the overthrow of the Shah and then became a CIA agent.

Quoting from the Publisher's description on
“A true story as exhilarating as a great spy thriller, as turbulent as today’s headlines from the Middle East, A Time to Betray reveals what no other previous CIA operative’s memoir possibly could: the inner workings of the notorious Revolutionary Guards of Iran, as witnessed by an Iranian man inside their ranks who spied for the American government. It is a human story, a chronicle of family and friendships torn apart by a terror-mongering regime, and how the adult choices of three childhood mates during the Islamic Republic yielded divisive and tragic fates. And it is the stunningly courageous account of one man’s decades-long commitment to lead a shocking double life informing on the beloved country of his birth, a place that once offered the promise of freedom and enlightenment—but instead ruled by murderous violence and spirit-crushing oppression.”

The book truly fascinated me. You feel inside the workings of the Revolutionary Guards. You witness torture, beatings and killings. You meet many personalities that are still around today. You are at the front during the Iran – Iraq War. You, too, question why America and the West are supporting the Iraqi thug dictator, Saddam Hussein. The book teaches history from an inside perspective.

Mr. Kahlili weaves a great story. He plays on all of my prejudices about the “democratic” government of Iran. He makes me feel justified in all of my biases. Then I came to an event that just seemed too timely. The event is the death of his friend Kasem. I am not going to reveal exactly why this bothered me but if you read the book you may feel the same. This one incident makes me question all of the other facts in this book. Is Mr. Kahlili really who he says that he is? Did he really work for the Revolutionary Guards? Did he really work for the CIA? Is he just a gifted bard telling us that fiction is fact?

Believe it or not, I enjoyed reading this book. I love spy thrillers. When I started this book, I thought that it was real. I took the publisher's description, stated earlier, as fact. When I finished, I am doubtful.

As always, I appreciate people's comments. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Middle East Coexistence? On Aisle Two, Next to the Cornflakes

Press accounts, political pundits, and pontificating politicians portray the situation in the West Bank as bleak and insoluble. Perhaps that’s why I was in awe on my first visit, when I saw Palestinian families and Israeli “settlers” mingling in the aisles, thumping the watermelons and squeezing the plums. My checkout cashier was a Jewish woman from Kiryat Arba of Moroccan descent, on the cash register next to her was a blue-eyed Muslim woman from Halul, and working the register behind me was a member of the Bnei Menashe tribe from India who had formalized her conversion to Judaism.


Is there really hope for peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis? Maybe if it were just left to the people and not the politicians there would be a chance. This article by Lenny and Shellie Ben-David gives hope that the people can live together in peace. 

I have known Lenny for nearly 30 years. He was at AIPAC before he made aliyah to Israel. He is a consultant today. He has served in the Israeli diplomatic corp. Approximately 12 years ago he was the number 2 diplomat at the Israeli embassy in Washington. Today, he lives in Efrat next door to my cousins. I usually see him when I am visiting them. I hope that you will take the time to read the entire article. Here is the link:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Google Helps Find Simplest Solution to Rubik’s Cube

After 2000 moves, I still was having problems solving the cube.

From the article:
That means all the 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 positions of the Cube require no more than 20 steps to get the Cube in shape.

Read More

Monday, August 9, 2010

Frozen in time, addicted to pity

I just came across this op-ed piece in the National Post (Canada). This piece's viewpoint deals with the plight of the poor Palestinian refugees in the various Arab countries in which they live. Mr. Fulford questions why after 60 years there are still huge numbers of Palestinian refugees when no other group has remained as such. With the Arab world's vast oil resources, why  have the Palestinians not been integrated into the societies in which they live? 

Frozen in time, addicted to pity
Robert Fulford, National Post · Saturday, Aug. 7, 201

Refugees? Canadians, even if their families have lived here for centuries, know something about refugees. We know Hungarians, we know Vietnamese, we know many others. We admire their energy and their accomplishments. Observing them can be a bracing lesson in human tenacity under adverse circumstances.
But that pattern doesn't cover Palestinian refugees. They are a special case. For many reasons, various populations across the planet are displaced; only the Palestinians cling to their "refugee" status decade after decade. They present themselves as helpless victims of Israeli aggression. They await rescue-- as they have been awaiting it for three generations, since Israel was founded in 1948. Members of other history-battered groups choose to live by an urgent ethic: Get up, get going, make a new life. Palestinians have a different approach: Sit down, wait, stay angry till the world provides for you.
For the rest of this op-ed piece, click on the link below:

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Does maintaining team athletics in our school systems make sense today? Our school systems’ primary focus is education. Taking away resources either fiscal or mental is a waste. We can do better for both.

Am I proposing the ending of team sports for middle school and high school age children? Absolutely not! Team sports train young people in working together to accomplish a specific goal. They teach the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat as headlined by “The Wide World of Sports.” They teach sportsmanship and treating your opponent respectfully. They teach working with others who in normal circumstances you would have no involvement. Team sports are a great educator. They are not for everyone. Individuals may not care to be involved. Individuals may want to be on the team but are not capable of being selected. I would not change any of it except to remove them from our school system.

What do I propose? Many team sports already are organized outside of the school system. In Sioux Falls, we have soccer, baseball, swimming and youth football outside of the system. Certainly we have others. I propose that our cities or counties find funding. Maybe we examine our schools’ resources spent on sports and set those monies aside in a separate fund. We should not kill team sports! Teams would become city teams. In Sioux Falls we may have a north or south or other named teams. In the smaller communities school teams already are city teams.

I strongly support youth team sports. School supported team sports takes away from the schools’ mission. A strong educational system is the backbone of a strong America. Let those committed to education concentrate on educating our youth. Let those committed to training athletes teach sports. Is this modernization? Yes!