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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.

Saturday, February 3, 2024

February 3, 2024 - 150 Million Supreme Court Replacements, Non-Existent Republican Loyalty, and Israel Commentary


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To Your Honors, the Voters

I am convinced that none of the litigation involving our indicted and defeated former president will be fully resolved by the November elections.  Lawyer-initiated delays, appeals, and the time needed to even consider frivolous excuses will assure that in all 50 States, Donald Trump will be on the ballot with slates of electors pledged to support him. 

The Supreme Court in Action

Like a football team on fourth down on their own twenty-yard line, the Supreme Court will ‘punt,’ coming up with legalistic, technical reasons (some are calling them ‘off-ramps’) for doing nothing and not making meaningful decision about the defeated former president’s eligibility to run for office, or in regard to the numerous court cases stemming from the charges made by our government’s lawyers against him.  His having appointed three SCOTUS justices might be the reason for this.

The bottom line is that a judicial system accustomed to taking its time to do anything will have failed a country needing its clear decisions before the next presidential election. That being the case, it is the American voting public that must be the judge and jury in these cases.  The judges have abdicated their roles.

Folks, put on your black robes.  The Supreme Court has put theirs in a closet somewhere.

Most of the evidence that has been or will be presented in court is available to you, the voter, on TV and in the newspapers. You can be the judge and the jury in deciding whether the charges against Donald John Trump have any merit, and whether he should be returned to the White House.

The judiciary will find a way to avoid its responsibilities, and therefore, it is your decision, your Honors, to make on November 5, 2024, not theirs any longer.


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No Such Thing as a Loyal Republican

The Trumpublican Party has turned on one of their own, Oklahoma Senator James Lankford, for his support of a bi-partisan bill to help solve the immigration problem on our southern border.  He risks following the path pioneered by Liz Chaney. 

Clearly, following the dictates (that’s what a dictator orders to be done) of the G.O.P’s likely presidential candidate has a far higher priority than doing what's best for the country.  Even though the measure contains most of what Republicans have been asking for, its passage, Trump feels, might reflect favorably on President Biden.  So letting the crisis persist becomes Republican policy.  Ugh.

'Traditional' Republicans should open their eyes to the fact that today's G.O.P. is not a decent place for them to call home.  It ain’t their fathers’ Republican Party.  While not expecting them to become Democrats, Republican Senators can at least declare themselves to be 'Independents' and act that way, as Senators Sinema, King, and Sanders have done for various reasons, free to let their consciences (and their constituents wishes) be their guides. 

As for traditional Republican voters back home, they have three choices:  1. Vote for Democrats, 2. Skip voting entirely, or 3. Hold their noses and vote for Republicans. (They should remember that It is impossible to hold one’s nose for four years, as many unsuccessfully tried to do from 2016 to 2020.)


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Latest Thoughts on Israel 

Every time I think I’ve written what I thought was a comprehensive, definitive, piece about Israel, the situation there boils over and I start typing again. The following is my summation, as of this moment, of the problems facing Israel and a tentative solution.  I am certain many reading this will disagree with me.  Your constructive criticism is invited which, with your approval, can be included on Jackspotpourri.

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Benjamin Netanyahu depends on allies from Israel’s extreme right to maintain a majority in the Knesset.  By themselves, these extremists are a small minority in that body.  Many Israelis do somewhat agree with them though, but only because they are not being offered any practical alternatives at this time, especially in the light of Hamas’ October 7 attack. Netanyahu, whose Likud Party falls short of having a majority on its own, depends on the support of these extremists to form a government and has given several key cabinet posts to their leaders.

This dependence on extremists creates problems for what I believe are the majority of Israelis. Right now, their criticism of the extremists who support Netanyahu is muted while all Israelis unite to defend their nation from Hamas, work to permanently destroy it, along with hoping efforts to bring about the safe return of the hostages Hamas holds will succeed. Sooner or later though, they will have to deal with the increasingly unpopular Benjamin Netanyahu and the extremists he has brought into his government.

Basically, the extremist Israeli position is a mirror image of that of the Palestinian extremists, currently manifested and spearheaded by Hamas, which believes in fighting to establish a Palestinian state that extends ‘from the river (the Jordan) to the sea (the Mediterranean)’. To Israelis, this sounds like a frightening Arab version of Nazi Germany’s effort to be ‘judenrein.’  

But getting back to that ‘mirror image,’ the Israeli extremists look back thousands of years to when all the territory comprising today’s Palestine was their homeland, a powerful state which only disappeared after being subjugated by the Romans, who had no tolerance for the religious beliefs of those whom they conquered. Consequently, all but a tiny remnant of Jews left what had been their homeland for more welcoming parts of the world in what became known as the Diaspora.

Late in the Nineteenth century, motivated by antisemitism in a Europe, to which many Jews had migrated, the idea of returning to their historic homeland, Israel, was popularized by Theodor Hertzl. This became known as Zionism. In the Twentieth century, the Holocaust made Zionism more than just a hope, but a reality. (The anthem ‘Hatikvah’ translates as ‘the hope.’)

After the fall of the Roman Empire, control of Palestine ultimately ended up in the hands of the Ottoman Empire, which was not unfriendly to Jews returning to what had once been their homeland. After all, the Muslim Ottomans thought, at least they weren’t crusading Christians.

Over four hundred years of Ottoman rule, some Jews did exactly that, purchasing land and establishing communities in Palestine.  Into this environment, as Hertzl’s Zionism took root, some antagonism between the growing Jewish population and the Palestinian Arabs appeared, occasionally erupting into violence. 

After the First World War, the Ottoman Empire disappeared, and Palestine became a ‘mandate’ administered by Great Britain. In 1947, the United Nations partitioned it into two areas, one for Jews, which became the State of Israel in 1948, and one for the Palestinian Arabs, who refused to form a State, counting on their Arab neighbors to rid Palestine of the Jews and provide them with a state running ‘from the river to the sea.’  Militarily, they repeatedly failed to do this, and since 1967, the State of Israel has also occupied the territory that would have been a Palestinian state, territory they never really coveted, except for strategic areas such as the Golan Heights.  And that, more or less, is where we are today.

The Israeli extremists’ mirror image of the Palestinian extremist vision of a state extending ‘from the river to the sea’ would be a State of Israel with its borders expanded to what they were before Israel fell before the Roman legions many centuries ago, and that is the desire of Israeli’s extremists. The Palestinians could remain if they chose to, but their citizenship there would have some limitations, since an expanded Israel would clearly be a Jewish state, or they could leave if they wish, despite no Arab nation throwing out a welcome mat for them. 

Both goals, an exclusionary Jewish state or an exclusionary Palestinian state, are one-state solutions, doomed to failure.

Netanyahu’s government, and prior Likud leaders, have gone along with allowing extensive Israeli settlements in the territory that would have been the Palestinian state under the UN’s partition plan.  Approximately 700,000 Israelis live in such well-established, usually fenced-off, and armed settlements there, supported enthusiastically by the right-wing Israeli extremists to whom Netanyahu owes his position. To my way of thinking, that is the crux of the problem.  Because Netanyahu caters to Israeli extremists is no reason for us to also take that position. Many, if not most, Israelis do not support them either, although they are hesitant to attack their government while it is fighting a war against Hamas and trying to negotiate a return of hostages held by Hamas.

To put this in a demographic perspective, The State of Israel’s total population is a bit under nine and a half million, of which about 73% are Jewish and about 21% are Muslim.  Beyond its borders in the occupied territories are two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and perhaps three million on the West Bank.  Looking at the entire area, encompassing the State of Israel and the occupied territories including Gaza, population-wise, it seems safe to say that Palestinians account for more than 40% of the people there. These numbers, which cannot be ignored, seem to point in one direction, and that is to a two-state solution. The presence of these 700,000 Israelis in the settlements constitutes an obstacle to that. (Quietly, almost on tip-toes, the United States government is slowly swinging toward a position recognizing that and beginning to criticize the militancy of some settlers and of the Israeli troops stationed there supposedly to defend them.)

My feeling is that there must be such a solution because a one-state solution would not provide an answer for those, either Israeli or Palestinian, who would be excluded from, or at best be second-class citizens of, whatever single state were established, and would be willing to fight to maintain their dominant identity there.  That would guarantee continuing violence by Hamas-inspired extremists or by armed Israeli settlers. The attack by Hamas from within Gaza is an example of this, going so far as to include Israel’s armed forces in the struggle. 

Months ago, on this blog, I outlined the way to a two-state solution.  It starts with incrementally moving those 700,000 Israelis back to within the borders of the State of Israel over twenty years, from what then would become part of a disarmed Palestinian state that must first agree to permanently live peacefully next to the State of Israel.  These Israelis would be compensated and resettled within Israel.  The borders of the two states would approximate what the 1947 United Nations partition laid out.

To this I now add that the peaceful intentions of such a disarmed state would have to be guaranteed and financed by Sunni Muslim states such as Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, all of which desire and would benefit from peaceful relationships with the State of Israel, undeniably motivated in part by the need for unity against a common adversary, Iran.  

As for obvious Iranian objections to such an arrangement, either directly or through its ‘proxies,’ that would be a challenge to be dealt with by the United States independently as well as through the world’s financial community, without whose support Iran would be bankrupt. Iranians must have a market for their petroleum. They cannot drink it.

If snags and problems develop in bringing about this two-state solution, remember that it would take place incrementally during the twenty-year period mentioned above, providing the time and opportunity to make changes and modifications in its details.  Certainly, this is preferable to the violence and war which would accompany any one-state solution.


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Housekeeping on Jackspotpourri

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