Ayatollah, it’s the Economy, Stupid

The reports of severe and extensive riots in Iran couldn’t come at a better time for Pres. Trump and the West.  With the US out of the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), Iran is teetering on the brink of spending vast amounts of money on a new nuclear weapons initiative.  The crowds are protesting the spending of Iran’s wealth on foreign expansionism, including funding Hezbollah, the Houthis and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, established to destroy Israel and take over Al Quds (Jerusalem).  This is highly resented by the generally young and impoverished Iranian public.  That is why they have been shouting “Death to Palestine!” the opposite of the usual regime chant of “Death to Israel!

Many years ago I read a scholarly article in Science magazine analyzing the Soviet economy.  Its authors, after calculating the cost to the Soviet Union of maintaining its armed forces and control over the E. European satellites, concluded that the economic production of the Soviet Union could not maintain this occupation and would soon collapse.  Very few noticed this article, but it was prescient.  Another way of saying this is “it’s the economy stupid.”  If your production cannot keep up with your expenditure, as Charles Dickens said, the result is ruin.

The Ayatollahs who run the regime in Iran are not economists.  The writing is on the wall, the Iranian currency lost 30% of its value last week, mainly because of the re-imposition of the extensive sanctions previously removed by Pres. Obama.  But, the Ayatollahs firmly believe that God is on their side and God demands that they smite the infidels.  And what better way for the leaders of Shi’ism to show how Islamic they are than to smite the Jews, especially in their city of Jerusalem.  They cannot give up this obsession, it was a center piece of Ayatollah Khomenei’s revolution.  The protesters in the streets of Tehran will have to fight to take control away from the Ayatollahs and put it back into the hands of rational people who are not war-mongers and who have the interests of the Iranian people at heart.

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Prince William’s Visit

Seventy years after British forces were kicked out of our land by Jewish military action, a representative of the British Royal Family has come to visit.  Prince William is the heir presumptive to the throne, so it’s about as close as we can expect to get to the Queen.

As an Israeli, I welcome the Prince, better late than never.  But, as a British citizen I say that I really have no use for monarchic figure heads.   I long ago decided that while I could give my loyalty to the country of Britain, I could not support the monarchy.  I have watched the series “The Crown” chronicling QEII’s reign, and am now going backwards in time, watching the series “Victoria.”  Everything I have seen, the crass wastage while people were starving, the amateurishness of the rulers, the sheer stupidity, for example of deciding to have a fancy dress ball to “help the poor,” it’s all too much.  It seems that all women want is to treated like a Queen, but Queens want to be treated like a woman.

But, to get back to Prince William’s visit, I suppose it is meant to send a signal that relations are now back to “normal” between Israel and the UK.  Of course, the Brits behaved abominably during their Mandate of the Holy Land, that they called Palestine.  The Mandate of the League of Nations and then the UN lasted 28 years, during which the British at first did what they were supposed to do, establish a National Home for the Jews.  But then around 1936 they reversed themselves and did everything they could to ensure that the Jews would get nothing.  They wanted to take Palestine as part of their own Empire. Jewish immigration into Palestine was prevented, leaving the European Jews to their fate, and while Arabs in Palestine were allowed to carry arms, Jews were not!

Fast forward and now we should have good relations, after all we are both democracies, something we gained from the British, and we are both advanced and affluent countries.  The Prince in his visit to Yad Vashem was struck by the enormity of the Holocaust. But, of course, the Prince spent most of his time saying how he favored equal rights for all, Jordanians, Palestinians, Arabs, and of course Jews too.  How nice of him.

Then PW visited Ramallah and the current headlines are that “Prince William Visits Palestinian Refugee Camp in West Bank.”  However, this is factually incorrect.  Everyone agrees that the West Bank is part of Palestine, yet the definition of a refugee is one who leaves his/her country.  Since the West Bank is part of Palestine, people living there are NOT refugees, they are internally displaced, like millions in Syria.  Let’s be correct in our designations, otherwise the news continues to be unreliable and fake.

 

US Travel Ban Upheld

The Supreme Court upheld the third version of Pres. Trump’s travel ban against the entry of certain persons into the USA.   Many critics termed this a “Muslim travel ban,” that it never was.  For example, it did not prohibit the entry of the vast majority of Muslims from most of the Muslim countries in the world, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, etc.   It is a ban against the entry of potential terrorists from the most dangerous countries in the world, where there have been civil wars and where the fundamentalist extremists, including ISIS, al Qaeda, Hezbollah and the Taliban have been active.  These include Muslim-majority countries Syria, Iran, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.  In addition two non-Muslim nations are included in the ban, namely North Korea (despite Pres. Trump’s recent meeting with Kim Jong-Un) and also Venezuela.

Some of these countries can be considered “failed states,” where the government is not effectively functioning, such as Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Venezuela, and others can be considered states supporting anti-Western terrorism, such as N. Korea and Iran.  The origin of the ban was to protect the US public from the entry of potential terrorists from these countries, particularly since it is impossible to distinguish terrorists from non-terrorists and the US asylum system is completely dysfunctional.

Because of the huge number of migrants and asylum seekers, the US system has been overwhelmed for years.  There is no place to house those who request asylum in the US, and even if they have no good reason to be granted asylum, the law requires that they must come before a judge, and this takes months, so they are usually released into the public, where they quickly disappear.  Is it comforting for US citizens to know that there are in fact thousands of undocumented asylum seekers freely roaming around the US, many of whom could be potential terrorists?

It was to put a stop to this ludicrous situation that Trump introduced this travel ban in the first place, and after some modifications, it has now been accepted by the Supreme Court as lawful.  Let those who opposed it because of their liberal views now come to terms with the fact that this partial ban is intended to protect their lives and the lives of their fellow citizens.

The Trade War

Fear of a trade war as a result of the tariffs that Pres. Trump has levied on certain imports into the USA seem to have come to pass.  It started with the decision by Trump to levy a 25% duty on imports of steel and 10% on aluminium.  It has been known for a long time that several countries, especially China, have been dumping cheap iron and other metal products in the USA, thereby ensuring their factories can keep producing and at the same time undermining the US industries and putting factories and men out of work.  Previous Presidents have been unwilling to become protectionist.  But, Pres. Trump has taken the bull by the horns and decided to protect US industry against these unfair practices, that incidentally are against international trade treaties.  In this way be seeks to re-establish a “level playing field.”

Some of America’s allies pleaded with Pres. Trump to exempt their countries from these tariffs.  But, in the case of some other products, even America’s allies were being unfair, such as the importation of cars from Germany, of butter from Holland and even of ham from Canada.  Each of these countries have established tariffs to protect their own industries while decrying the general use of tariffs and the imposition of equivalent tariffs by the US.  So now these retaliations have developed into a trade war.

As a result of this outcome the US stock market has gone down and Trump has been widely criticized.  But, the fact of the matter is that most of these other countries need the American market far more than the US needs their markets.  The issues with China are by far the most significant, but there again, China is far weaker economy than the US.  Look how Pres. Xi pleaded with Pres. Trump to allow exports of necessary components from the US in order to save his own high technology company XTE.

In a short period of time the one-sided tariffs and import duties will be eased and both sides will benefit.  So that American cars will be cheaper in Europe and elsewhere and US industry will benefit.  However, in the short-term there will be set-backs, such as the decision by Harley-Davidson to move some of their production out of the US because of their dependence on the cheap metals that US industries are now being protected against.

Dreams

I went to a lecture on “Dream Interpretation” at our Thursday Senior’s Discussion Group given by Celia Livermore, a psychologist with an interesting background.  She is an Israeli who moved to Australia and was very successful there, but after retiring she moved back to Beer Sheva where she grew up.

She is an expert on dreams and gave an interesting talk on the subject.  She pointed out that modern interpretation of dreams does not rely on simple allegories as in the Bible nor on the largely sexual analysis of Sigmund Freud.  Dreams tend to include some form of conflict, which is now often interpreted as the attempt by the brain to bring issues that bother the individual from the subconscious mind (the id representing the child and the super-ego representing the adult) into communication with the conscious mind (the ego or self).

Dreams are known to occur during the last stages of sleep (after 5 or so hours) during  REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.  Some people (like myself) who never or rarely dream may be because they never have continuous sleep for up to 8 hours, and if sleep is interrupted never get to the REM stage.  Alternatively they may not “remember” their dreams.  In order to help remember dreams Celia recommended having a note pad and pen next to the bed and writing in it whatever comes to mind immediately you wake up.  Sometimes in this way dreams are remembered that would otherwise be forgotten.  Once people start to record dreams their dreams often become more easily remembered.

The interpretation of dreams is quite complex and often includes recent happenings in one’s life, that the brain is trying to deal with and interpret.  Complexity comes about partly because the sub-conscious mind uses symbols to represent people or things in the real world.  Celia related that there is a specific kind of dream that is particularly vivid and often involves two people talking about a serious subject.  These are known as “lucid” dreams and often are an attempt by the conscious mind to resolve some specific personal problem.  For example, Celia had dreamt that she was talking to someone who had jumped out of a plane.  After analyzing the dream she realized that both people were versions of herself, her conscious self and her sub-conscious self (or id) and that the plane represented a relationship she had recently terminated.  Jumping out of the plane was her sub-conscious mind’s way of dealing with the ending of this relationship.

I mentioned the famous short story of 1938 by Delmore Schwartz, the American Jewish intellectual and writer, entitled “In dreams begin responsibilities,” in which he dreams that he is watching a movie of his father and mother meeting, and he tries to stop the film.  In this he intimates that dreams are a way of dealing with the sometimes difficult reality of life.

 

The Migrant Crisis

All over the Western world from California to Greece there is a migrant crisis.  And this is not merely a function of the economic progress of the West, which in some cases has not been so great (including the southern tier of Europe from Greece to Spain), but rather the fault of the political and economic failure of the Islamic, African and Spanish-American worlds.

All along the southern borders of the EU there are hundreds of thousands of migrants clamoring to get into the EU and particularly the northern EU states (Germany, Scandinavia, Britain).  All along the southern US border there are hundreds of thousands of Central Americans (Honduran, Nicaraguan, and Mexican) clamoring to get into the USA.  But, the fact is that none of the developed Western countries are required to take the vast majority of these economic migrants.  That is not true of so-called refugees who have legitimate political reasons and who can apply for asylum, but they are a small minority of the migrants.  The problem is how to distinguish the latter from the former.

The immigration crisis of 2016-7 resulting from the Syrian and Iraqi civil wars, that resulted in a flood of migrants streaming across Turkey into Greece and thence into the Balkans and trying to make their way mainly to Germany is largely over.  This is because the Assad regime has largely won the Syrian civil war, the Iraqi civil war is largely over and Germany took over a million immigrants.  But, now in Europe the flow is more from Libya, which is a failed state with no effective government, and hundreds of thousands of Black Africans and North Africans  are streaming thru Libya across the Mediterranean mainly to Italy.

Several Governments have closed their borders, against EU policy, including Serbia, Hungary, and now Italy.  The current more right-wing government in Italy has said it can take no more migrants.  The ship Aquarius filled with a thousand migrants was refused entry to Italy and France and ended up in Spain.  Two other ships are following this.  The Italian Government is right in that the pro-migrant organizations are in effect operating a taxi service, taking migrants from boats off Libya to Italy,  Certainly it is laudable to save lives, but there is simply no more space for all these people.  They should be off-loaded in Libya, not Europe.  This is the only way to stem the tide.

In the US, the mistaken policy of separating children from their parents, that was introduced during the Obama Administration, has now been rescinded by Pres. Trump.  But, drastic measures are indeed needed to re-establish the southern US border, and if it takes building a wall, so be it.  Yes, the US was built by immigrants, but times have changed.  Crime and drugs are clearly a major component of the neglect of the southern border by previous US Administrations.  As a legal immigrant to the US, I resent these thousands of illegal immigrants expecting to be able to enter the US without due process.  Let there be immigrants, but let them only be legal according to US law.

 

 

 

US leaves UNHRC

Among the articles in The J. Post on the US decision to leave the UN Human Rights Council was one by Seth Frantzman entitled “Is the UNHRC an old boy’s club of dictators?”  This contains a very illuminating table that lists members of the UNHRC that shows unequivocally how biased it is.  Out of its 46 member states there have been (from 2008-2018) 26 that are are considered to be “not free” based on analysis by the Freedom House, an international agency that monitors human rights around the world. And these countries have been re-elected time and time again, and by this means prevent criticism of their own human rights records.

Such countries as Saudi Arabia, Libya, Ethiopia, Cuba, China, Vietnam, Russia, Qatar, Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, and so on, all with scores on the Freedom index of less than 36% , pass judgement on western democracies and Israel.  Not only has Israel been censored more times than all other countries in the world combined, but the UNHRC has a permanent item (#7) on its agenda requiring that it rejudge Israel every six months.

This is a ludicrous situation whereby countries with no human rights protections are able to sit almost permanently in judgement on all others.  The problem is that if only countries with good human rights records were allowed to be members, then it would be a mainly American-European Club and open to criticism by human rights violators (most of the rest of the world) that it was biased.

It was right for the US to leave the UNHRC, because the situation is farcical.  It’s like the foxes guarding the chicken coop.  The UNHRC needs to be disbanded in its present state as useless.  But, how the UN could reform itself seems beyond the realm of possibility.