Saturday, December 31, 2011

Time's Person of the Year 2012: You Read It Here First

A day before 2012 begins, I can already predict with 90% certainty who Time Magazine will choose as Person of the Year 2012. I can't give you a name, but I can give you a title: President-elect of the United States. Here's why:

  • Every president since Franklin Roosevelt, except for the unelected Gerald Ford, has been Time's Person of the Year at least once, either during their presidency or in the election year.
  • Between 1932 and 2008, there have been 20 election years. During half of them, the presidential winner was POY. That includes seven of the last ten election years (since 1972), including the last three in a row.
  • If Obama is defeated, the chances of the president-elect to be POY are even greater. Since 1972, presidential election years in which the winning candidate was not selected by Time were only years when the White House did not switch parties: Ronald Reagan's re-election in 1984, the election of then-VP George H. W. Bush in 1988 and Bill Clinton's re-election in 1996.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Predictions: How Did I Do?

Last January, I wrote a post listing some things I hoped would happen, even if I didn't believe they would, and a list of predictions. My list of fantasies was, well, fantastical, and didn't come true. On the other hand, some of my predictions weren't that far off.

I predicted the Labor Party would leave the Israeli government, but that the coalition will remain strong without it. Of course, I did not see Ehud Barak's abandonment of the party coming. Maybe that's why I was wrong to think the Laborites would hold leadership elections.

I was right about Netanyahu not reaching any peace agreement with the Palestinians or Syrians, unfortunately, though I didn't predict the Syrian riots or the release of Gilad Shalit.

All in all, it was a shitty year. I can't remember the last time a year ended and I didn't think it was a bad year when it comes to world events (rather than my personal life, which isn't bad at all). Perhaps it was 1999? 1994?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jewish Terrorists Are Just Like Palestinian Terrorists

The IDF should be allowed to shoot extremist Jews who attack them. Yesterday, settlers attacked an army base and a group of soldiers, including a brigade commander and his deputy. The deputy was injured when his car was stoned. He would have been justified had he shot those who were putting his life in danger.

Yesterday, a mosque in Jerusalem was torched. Today, police officers trying to arrest people involved in yesterday's incidents were themselves assaulted.

It's time to stop talking and start clamping down on these bastards.

Told You So

Time Magazine announced their Person of the Year 2011. Just as I said they should, they picked "The Protester". Of course, it didn't take a genius to predict this choice. Unlike fiction, reality rarely has an all-encompassing theme. This year it did. No "Year in Review" would be complete without the angry demonstrations around the world.

Good choice, Time! But then again, they didn't really have any other worthy choice, did they?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Denying the Existence of a People

Newt Gingrich's statement about the Palestinians being an invented people is, at the very least, unhelpful. There is no denying that the Palestinians exist now, and it doesn't really matter if they became a national group in 1948 or centuries earlier.

Palestinians are right to be angry at Gingrich. However, they need to take a moment to think about their own hypocrisy. They regularly deny the existence of the Jewish people, claiming that Jews are merely a religious group, not a national one. Even the most moderate Palestinians hold this view, and it is one of the greatest obstacles to peace in the Middle East.

Neither Palestinian or Jewish peoplehood should be denied.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Lieberman Defends Russian Elections

While most of the Western world is questioning whether the recent Russian parliamentary elections were fair, and while Russian protesters are being brutally suppressed, Vladimir Putin has one ally he can depend on. That would be Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who vouched for the election's fairness and democratic practices. He should know, as fellow Yisrael Beitenu member Faina Kirschenbaum was an official foreign observer, and she claims there was nothing wrong with the election.

Lieberman, Kirschenbaum and Putin believe in democracy as the rule of the majority. The rule of the current majority, when they're part of it, that is. Then, the majority can do anything to make sure it stays the majority - starve human rights NGOs of funds, toss out votes cast for the wrong candidates, etc.

Yes, I'm sure the recent Russian elections were a model of democracy. Putinistic democracy. It is a model Lieberman would like to implement in Israel. He, members of his party, members of Likud and even members of Kadima, are working on it as we speak. He won't succeed.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Calling All Israeli Expats

A couple of months ago, I first saw the heavy handed ads calling for Israeli citizens to return home.  A friend had posted them on Facebook, saying he found it disgusting. Many answered with equal dismay - all Israelis, but as far as I know, none living abroad.

What's the problem? In one ad, a child calls his sleeping father with the word "daddy", but the father only wakes up to the Hebrew "Aba". In another, a woman looks at her computer and sees the word "Yizkor" ("Remember"). There's also a yahrzeit candle on the table. Her American boyfriend, unaware that these are symbols of Memorial Day in Israel, doesn't understand why she is sad. The third, most irritating ad, shows a girl having a video chat with her grandparents, who are sitting in front of a Chanukiah (Hanukah Menorah). They ask her what holiday it is and she says it's Christmas. You can watch the first two ads below. The third has been removed from YouTube.

I'm not surprised by the uproar the now discontinued ads caused. I'm just surprised by how long it took Americans to notice it. I'm also perplexed by Immigration Minister Sofa Landver's cluelessness. She doesn't understand why American Jews are offended by something that isn't even aimed at them. Well, Minister Landver, even if they aren't the target audience, they can still see the ads, and at least in the Hannukah/Christmas ad, can interpret the campaign as attacking their own Jewishness.

This teaches us something about official Israeli government ads shown abroad. Whether its the Ministry of Immigration, the Ministry of Tourism or any other agency, ads should also be approved by the Prime Minister and Foreign Ministry, including input from the local embassy and consulates. Someone who knows the local culture should make sure the locals won't find the ads offensive.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Protesters Should Be Time's 2011 People of the Year

It's the last month of the year, which means that Time Magazine will anounce its Person of the Year soon. I can't say that any particular candidate, like Barack Obama or Angela Merkel, seems worthy of the title. An amorphous group, though, just might be: the protesters. The magazine's website suggests the 99% as one of the candidates, but it would be a mistake (and extremely America-centric) to choose only that particular movement, especially since they are one of the less influential protest movements that were active during 2011.

This was the year of protesters around the word, on every continent, except for Antarctica. People unhappy with the economic and/or dictatorial status quo took to the streets of Spain, Greece, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Chile, Israel, Yemen, the United States, Canada and other countries. They had varying degrees of success and different grievances, and operated in different types of regimes. What was common was that they all demanded change and they all formed together the greatest global wave of protests since the fall of communism in Eastern Europe.

Can you think of anybody more worthy? I certainly can't.