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Jack is a graduate of Rutgers University where he majored in history. His career in the life and health insurance industry involved medical risk selection and brokerage management. Retired in Florida for over two decades after many years in NJ and NY, he occasionally writes, paints, plays poker, participates in play readings and is catching up on Shakespeare, Melville and Joyce, etc.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Kerry in Israel, A Black Ops Incident, Accomplishing Wealth Redistribution

Let's take this opportunity to wish all of you and your families a happy, healthy and successful  2014 in all of your endeavors. 

We also are introducing a slightly revised and much brigher format for the Blog today.  Hope you like it !!


Kerry’s Task in Israel

About two weeks ago in his New York Times column, Tom Friedman discussed the approach Secretary of State Kerry was taking in his efforts to arrive at some sort of agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.  Basically, as is the case in most negotiations, it came down to both parties having to give up something.

Kerry senses that Israel would like to achieve three long term goals, which are (1) remain a Jewish state, (2) remain a democracy and (3) have some sort of dominion over the whole of historic Israel.  Friedman contends that Kerry's approach is that the Israelis must be content with achieving only two of these three goals.

If Israel wants to control all of what was ancient Israel, or in current terms, insist on a one-state solution incorporating the West Bank as part of Israel, they can also choose to remain a democratic state.  In doing so, however, Israel will lose its Jewish identity because demographics will result in its Muslim citizens becoming a majority.
If, on the other hand, Israel chooses to maintain a Jewish identity for the single state, it will have to depart from democratic principals and treat its Palestinian cititzens in a second-class manner.

This is why Kerry, and do most Western observers, sees a two-state solution as the logical solution, whereby Israel remains Jewish and democratic, but renounces the idea of ever having dominion over all of what was ancient Israel (the West Bank).
  Kerry and Abbas talk

As for the Palestinians, they can have their own state and with it, the kind of economic assistance which would guarantee its viability, but only if they are willing to give up their long-term claims to all of what is now the State of Israel, any claim of a right of return for those who left Israel, and a cessation of the promotion of hatred of Israel among their citizens and in their schools.  There would have to be some kind of monitoring and limitation on the Palestinian state’s military establishment and guarantees that it would not become a proxy for anti-Israel designs of other states.

These compromises are all that it comes down to.  To finish off the agreement, Israel will ultimately give up a small parcel in East Jerusalem so that the Palestinian state can have a capital there, and after a few years, abandon its West Bank watchtowers on the border with Jordan in favor of electronic monitoring.  

Contiguous West Bank Israeli settlements would become part of Israel in exchange for Israeli territory elsewhere which would become part of the Palestinian state. 

Borders will be adjusted so that the many existing Israeli settlements on the West Bank which are contiguous with Israel will be incorporated into Israel, but swapped for an equal amount of comparable territory to be made part of the new Palestinian state. This will be the most contentious part of the negotiations because some of the Israeli settlements on the West Bank are some distance from Israel proper and only connected to it by roadways.

As for Gaza, control of which is not in the hands of the Palestinians with whom Israel is negotiating, it would have to be dealt with separately, once the Palestinian state is established.

In a nutshell, this is what John Kerry is trying to make happen.  Will it make everybody happy?  No.  Will it work?  Maybe.  Is it worth trying?  Yes, particularly when one considers the alternatives.
Jack Lippman

Sid's Corner 


Sid Bolotin

The car drove up to the resident entrance at the rear of the complex in Boynton Beach in southeast Florida. The driver approached the gate as if to activate the sensor that would swing the barrier open, paused, and acted as if he was reading the posted warning that the entrance was inactive after midnight.

As he did so, the rear passenger door quietly opened, his black-clad passenger slid out, softly closed the door, and rolled under the gate. As the car retreated from the gate, the intruder, barely visible in the moonless darkness, skulked over to hide by the shrubbery along the boulevard.

While Karen quieted her nerves, she mentally re-ran her assigned operation. For a highly-trained black ops operative it would be a cake-walk. The man she was to assassinate was living in this community under an assumed identity. She did not know why he needed to be terminated, nor did she care. Orders are orders. A lamppost’s dim light allowed her to check her watch and note that it was 2:00 a.m. She’d be on target within fifteen minutes, just as he’d be going onto his screened-in patio to watch television to alleviate his insomnia. The car was to return in one hour.

The black, rubber ski mask completed her black ensemble of long-sleeved tee-shirt, stretch-pants, and running shoes. The suppressed Glock 17 hung in its

holster under her left armpit. The surveillance team had provided the route to his house on the lake, less than a mile away. Slipping on her night-vision goggles, she crouched, and began scampering toward her victim.

Karen arrived at the house and sidled through the narrow swale between it and his neighbor’s, toward the lake’s shore in the rear. She dropped flat just as her victim settled in front of the glowing screen.    

Using a commando crawl she inched her way along the damp grass, shielded by shrubbery, to get into position for a clean head shot.

Suddenly something landed hard on her back, snarled in her ear, and began biting the back of her head. Screaming as she reached backward, she felt multiple stabbings along her back. As she rolled over trying to dislodge her attacker, the glow from the TV lit up her attacker. Almost blinded by the blood flowing from her scalp wounds, she howled, “A cat, a God damn big cat!”

Back at the Operations Center, the night-vision video from the drone at 18,000 feet shocked the mission controllers. The cake-walk had turned into a disaster. They watched helplessly as Karen tried to dislodge the cat that had locked its talons into her back and continued to maul their agent.

Trained agent that she was, Karen collected her wits, pulled her Glock, placed the muzzle against the predator’s head behind her, and fired. The dead cat fell away allowing Karen to begin sprinting back to the gate, shouting into her headset for her driver to return immediately.

                               *   *   *   *   *   *

Karen sat at the conference table for the fact-finding debriefing. She had used the first-aid kit in the car to doctor her wounds. The worst were the shallow scalp bites that had produced the copious flow of blood, and she still wore a large gauze bandage. The target had been whisked away by his handlers; which meant they’d have to penetrate his new identity and put out a new termination directive. She just hoped that the next time, the surveillance team included in their assessment the existence of a wild bobcat being on the loose in a residential, retirement community.




Redistributing Wealth Through Taxation and Benefits

The previous posting included a piece on the growing income inequity between the haves and the have-nots in our society, as well as the increasing unlikelihood of succeeding generations having the ability to rise from the economic level of their parents.  Redistribution of the nation's wealth through higher taxes to pay for increased government benefits was offered as a way of such wealth redistribution. 

Reproduced from the Dec. 19 issue of BloombergBusinessweek is a chart showing how we are already accomplishing such wealth redistribution.  Is this bad?  Is this good?  It's up to you to decide.


Redistributing Wealth in the U.S. Tax System

The U.S. has a progressive tax system, which means the highest earners pay the most in federal taxes. The lion’s share of entitlement benefits, such as Social Security, goes to the lowest earners.
Glassman is a producer for Bloomberg TV. 


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