. . and neither does Donald Trump, says an American
IT IS NOBEL PRIZE SEASON, so let’s be upfront right away with our biases. . .
Barack Obama did NOT deserve his Peace Prize. Not as a counterpoint to a regressive and repressive George W. Bush administration, nor in subsequent years when his eloquence as leader of the free world camouflaged drone deaths, red line faults, undocumented immigrant deportations and acts that otherwise would normally have disqualified his nomination.
The Swedish academy has a bad habit of premature advancement of peaceful achievement. How could the same award, presented to Yasir Arafat and his Israeli counterparts Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, ever be considered legitimate? Yes, Rabin died in pursuit of peace. And Peres valiantly tried to achieve peace, but despite living 22 years after receiving the Peace Prize in 1994, never saw peace implemented. Why? Because Arafat (and his successor) continually rejected peace offers.
The trio may have deserved certificates of merit (‘Good first step, now let’s see you sustain the effort’) but not a fully-fledged ceremonial award with the world watching That, surely. comes only after years , maybe a lifetime, of peacemaking; not to reward a blip in your ‘highlights’ reel of death, violence and assault on all things noble and civil.
Which brings us to Donald Trump. The excitement of a possible breakthrough with North Korea is palpable. However, it is way too early to crown any of his and Kim Jung Un’s initiatives as historic peacemaking.
One book does not a Nobel prize in literature make; similarly, one summit meeting does not mean peace is breaking out all over. Will North Korea become less repressive? Will Trump become more tolerant toward the disadvantaged — including refugees and those seeking asylum — and less tolerant of dictators like Russia’s Putin, Filipino President Duterte and the Turkish leader Erdogan?
BETTER LIVING THROUGH CHEMISTRY: A classroom science experiment in a Tennessee high school went badly awry last week, injuring 17.
During my junior year in high school a chemistry laboratory demonstration blew up. It was quite common for our Jewish day school, Yeshivah of Flatbush, to hire retired or near retirement public school teachers to provide quality secular instruction. Mr. Nash had been hired the year before to teach biology.
He was a crusty old man with a raspy voice, probably close to my current age of 69, with wisps of hair on an otherwise large, balding head. With no prior experience of teaching chemistry Mr. Nash embarked on his new mission with the apparent tactic of staying one textbook chapter ahead of the class.
The experiment of that particular day was to observe the reaction when water is mixed with sulphuric acid. You are supposed to add the acid to the water. But Mr. Nash did the reverse. When no discernible reaction occurred, a few students suggested he add more water.
He did; the reaction was instant and violent. The glass beaker containing the sulphuric acid exploded, sending shards across the room. Several students were injured, none seriously.
The outcome involved lots of smoke, some blood. . . and one teacher’s severely bruised ego!
MISSED ME? It has been almost a month since my last column. So a little update seems more than fitting.
In case you’re wondering, I spent the last two weeks succumbing to and recovering from pneumonia.
Without any proof whatsoever, I am convinced I was exposed to the illness by tainted equipment an ear, nose and throat specialist used to explore the recesses of my nasal cavity. Three days later I started to sleep 16 to 18 hours a day, a sure sign something was amiss as I did not cough or sniffle, though I did run a slight temperature.
The pneumonia could not have come at a more inopportune time. I was leading a group of eight Israeli women on a three-day trip to Washington and Philadelphia as part of my synagogue’s annual programme of support for deserving women from tension spots in Israel. This year’s contingent came from the region adjacent to the border with Lebanon in the shadow of the Golan Heights.
Last Tuesday I dropped them off at the Museum of African American History in Washington before going to a walk-in clinic. An X-ray confirmed the pneumonia. I finished the 10-day Doxycycline prescription this morning.
Now I’m hoping for enough energy to resume my softball career in a newly-inaugurated over-50s league at home in White Plains, Westchester County, this week.