WHAT A THOUGHTFUL CHRISTMAS GIFT Donald Trump gave the world: turmoil in the Middle East and any place where Islamic extremists operate.
I don’t envy pilgrims to Bethlehem during this holiday season, or tourists walking the maze-like corridors of the Old City of Jerusalem. Nor, by sanctifying Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, did the Tumult Causer-in-Chief do any favors to Jews the world over. Jews already considered Jerusalem that way, but by caring more about fulfilling a campaign pledge to evangelical Christians than the safety of Israelis and Americans traveling at home or abroad the Provocateur-in-Chief has imperiled any hope for a substantive restart of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians towards a two-state solution.
Maybe that was his intention all along: a stealth strategy in support of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lip service endorsement of a two-state plan while all along enacting and enabling actions that undermine such a solution ever having viability.
Let’s not mince words: Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Judaism. But under Netanyahu’s capitulation to ultra-Orthodox political parties the city has lost much of its religious appeal to Conservative, Reform and Re-constructionist Jews who are accorded second class status there.
Trump ignored what leaders around the world cautioned him not to do. Indeed, it is not outlandish to presume that if he does not see positive movement by Palestinians toward the negotiating table Trump will radicalise them even more by first recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s ‘undivided’ capital, followed by a declaration that the entire West Bank captured in the Six Day War is to be considered part of Israel.
NOW THAT THE TWEETER-IN-CHIEF has not been named Person of the Year by Time magazine, how long before he tweets an attack on the news glossy and the women it recognised for their courage in speaking out against harassment?
FREDERICK, THE CHILDREN’S BOOK by Leo Lionni, was always one of the favorite books my wife Gilda and I read to our kids, and we do so now to their children.
The parable is a simple one: while his four fellow fieldmice gather food for the coming winter, Frederick spends his days seemingly shirking any communal responsibilities. He sits on rocks admiring flowers. He absorbs the warmth of the sun as the other mice scurry about collecting grain and tasty foodstuffs for the desolate months ahead.
The other mice chastise him for not collecting winter provisions. To which Frederick responds that he is indeed doing his fair share. He is collecting sun rays for the cold, dark winter days; and colours, for winter is a grey season; and words, because winter days are long and many.
Inside their home once winter arrives, the mice munch away until they are almost out of food. When they ask Frederick to share his supplies his words warm them with memories of summer days.
Frederick is a charming book with a strong message: work is not just physical labour and poetry, appreciation of nature and the transmission of culture are just as important as food to sustain life. (For those not familiar with Frederick, click on this link for an animated reading:
I was reminded of Frederick’s message by Trump’s decision to reduce by millions of square feet the footprints of two national monuments in Utah. Ostensibly a move to give local officials more control over land in their backyard, Trump’s action was ‘spun’ as a jobs creator, opening the areas to drilling, mining and other activities.
Coupled with antipathy towards funding for the arts and other cultural programs, Trump and his acolytes demonstrate a philosophy that focuses solely on the muscular.
Even in his dedication to jobs, Trump supports fossil fuels versus clean energy alternatives, despite the fact that more workers are employed in producing solar power than in coal mining.
I wonder if Trump reads books to his grandchildren. And if HE ever gets the messages behind those books!