BigMo’s Blog

Politics and Economics in Israel

Apology necessary

About fifteen years ago, I was fortunate to find myself working under a very capable and talented manager. What did I learn from him? The list is short: attention to detail, planning, execution, initiative and finishing the job. “Putting the ball in end zone,” as he often said. Any successful organization, such as the one in which we were working, is a dynamic environment.

Consequently, sometimes the balance between planning and execution, or execution and putting the ball in the end zone, would get out-of-whack.
At times like those, it became necessary to hold people accountable. This is when I learned another valuable lesson: praise in public, criticize in private. Genuinely praising a person’s performance in a public forum raises awareness of what tasks need to be done and how they should be done. It sets a positive example. Criticizing in private allows for dialogue and discussion that permits one to learn from one’s mistakes in a dignified manner.

From this life-lesson, I derived a formula for making or accepting apologies. I do not know if it is truly unique or whether it is just such commonsense that no one has ever bothered to write it down. However, I would like to share the three basic principles of it.

First, an apology – and its acceptance – should be sincere.

Second, an apology should be delivered (and accepted) in the same forum in which the original offense was given.

Third, the person apologizing should not repeat the original offending behavior and the person originally insulted should not return it in-kind.

I’ll try to expand briefly on these three rules.

An apology that is made solely with the intention to avoid worsening a situation or in order to escape an unfavorable outcome is not sincere. Likewise, making an apology but excusing one’s behavior on circumstances (I didn’t sleep well last night, I’ve been under pressure at work, I didn’t like what you were implying, etc.) is not sincere. For the recipient, it is often difficult to accept a sincere apology, particular if the offense is still fresh. A cooling down period is often necessary.

Secondly, if an offense is made publicly, it should be redressed publicly. To do otherwise can leave the impression that a particular form of non-acceptable behavior is, in fact acceptable. In contrast, if some sort of offending behavior occurs in private, it is best for both parties to settle the matter privately. There is no need for public spectacles ala the sobbing confessions that are all too readily available on afternoon television. One doesn’t need to go on the Opera Winfrey Show to say, “I’m sorry.”

Finally, repeating the insult – either publicly or privately – is an indication that the original apology was insincere.

I cannot say with all honesty that I have been able to live up to my own standard consistently. I won’t dismiss my own failure to be consistent with the cliché ‘We’re all human beings, we’re not perfect.’ Rather, I’d like to think that there is a level of perfection that we can all strive for, and that continuously striving for it helps all of us develop our potential more fully.

May 31, 2011 Posted by | Middle East | , , | Leave a comment

It’s all in the timing

Rehovot, Israel
21 March 2010

So much in life is about timing. Five minutes can make the difference between catching the bus and making it to work on time or missing the bus and having to endure the wrath of an irate boss. A one-week vacation can be a welcome respite from work (and the aforementioned irate boss). Three months, well, what can one expect from three months?

For the next three months, Israel can expect to endure a publicly televised and coordinated policy assault from the Obama administration in Washington. Forty years of American policy in the Middle East will be thrown overboard – along with Israel’s security – in order for the Obama administration to achieve its ill-conceived foreign policy objectives. Why three months?

After the American July 4th celebrations, campaigning for the mid-term congressional elections will hit full stride. At stake is the Democratic Party’s on-going control of the House of Representatives and Senate. While the Democrats are almost ensured of retaining a majority in the House, the Senate may be up for grabs.

If the Senate falls into Republican hands, the first two years of President Obama’s administration will end with scant few accomplishments. Despite having controlled both the White House and Congress, Obama will have precious little to show for it, except a still floundering economy and a bevy of dictators contemptuous of America’s resolve. Commentators and pundits will begin to write him off as a lame-duck, a “one-term wunderkind.”

President Obama can expect no help on the economic front. The US economy will not suddenly begin creating 500,000 per month. Housing prices will not recover their pre-depression values. The stock market may rally, but it must essentially climb 50% just for the average investor to get back to where he stood two years ago. China will not reverse its currency policy and cheap goods subsidized by the Communist regime will continue flooding into American stores, thus sending dollars overseas and draining American industries.

President Obama can expect no foreign policy dividends either. The American body count in Afghanistan will continue to rise. Iraq has reached equilibrium of sorts, sectarian violence only claiming a hundred lives or so every week. Iran has, as expected, skillfully eluded Obama’s grasp. There are no objectives in Africa, Asia, Europe or South America that would fire American voters with a sense of accomplishment. Only the Israeli-Palestinian conflict holds such “promise.”

This is why Obama must push it as much as possible.

However, by July 4th the President Obama will be called upon by his party to deliver the votes – and the more important dollars – that the congressional campaigns require. This will require the president to withdraw from foreign policy and concentrate on domestic policy. Certainly, in districts in Baltimore and Detroit, Florida and California, New York City and Philadelphia, the president and his minions will raise the Middle East in order to wring money out of Arab and Jewish voters.

He must not be allowed to succeed! Here is what you can do.

1. Register to vote: either as an independent or a republican.
2. Contribute what you can – be it financially or otherwise – to non-Democratic Party candidates.
3. Make your voice heard for those candidates: bumper stickers, signs in front yards, editorials to newspapers, write your own blog supporting the candidate, call into radio talk shows.
4. In November, get out and vote! Get your siblings, parents and children of voting age to the polls. Get your neighbors and co-workers to the polls.

Every day Hamas and the Palestinian Authority utter the most despicable anti-Semitic lies since Adolf Hitler. Neither President Obama nor his Jewish capos, David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel, react.

Every day Hamas and the Palestinian Authority inculcate school children with hatred towards Israel and the Jewish People. There is no censure, no protest from Washington.

Every day, the Israel Defense Forces uncovers and foils another terrorist attack. President Obama does not object to Palestinian terror directed at Israel or the Jewish People.

All it takes for evil to succeed is for people of good character to sit idly by and do nothing. Act!

March 21, 2010 Posted by | Israel, Middle East, Obama | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iran Watch Update

The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog on Sunday said inspectors would be examining Iran’s recently revealed nuclear facility on October 25. Mohamed ElBaradei spoke in Teheran following talks with Iranian officials over a recently revealed uranium enrichment facility located near the Iranian city of Qom. “It is important for us to send our inspectors to have a comprehensive verification of the facility and to make sure that it is for peaceful purposes,” he said. “We agreed that our inspectors will inspect the site on the 25th of October.”

Meanwhile, Iran’s president claimed on Saturday that his country had not sought to hide its construction of a new nuclear site, arguing that Teheran reported the facility to the UN even earlier than required. Apparently, no one at the IAEA got the memo, Mr. Ahmadinejad. In a speech on Saturday, Ahmadinejad said that Iran voluntarily revealed the facility to the IAEA in a letter on September 21. By his interpretation, that was one year earlier than necessary under the agency’s rules.

In a meeting last Thursday, October 1st, Iran agreed to allow UN inspectors into the facility after the P5 + 1 group finally started putting serious pressure on the rogue regime at a meeting near Geneva. In a related development, the New York Times reported on Sunday, October 4th, that it had access to a secret report compiled by IAEA officials.

The report indicates that Teheran has acquired “sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device,” based on highly enriched uranium.

The discovery of the facility near Qom is the third time Iran has been caught red-handed deceiving the world about the extent of its nuclear ambitions. The first time was in 2002, when the National Council of Resistance of Iran revealed in a press conference that Iran was building a massive uranium enrichment facility – filled with thousands of centrifuges – in an underground, heavily-fortified bunker in Natanz. Several years later, in the second case of deception, the CIA uncovered evidence that Iran had secretly tried designing a nuclear weapon and warhead.

It would appear that the stage is set for a show-down between Iran and the US and Europe by late-October. Will inspectors be allowed into the 2nd uranium enrichment facility? How much access will they have? What evidence – if any – will the Iranians be “sanitizing” between now and then? The UN Security Council has already levied three rounds of sanctions against Iran with apparently no impact on the Islamic regime’s nuclear program. And while US President Barack Obama has recently talked tougher on the issue, this might be his administration’s first true foreign policy test. Let’s hope he passes.

October 5, 2009 Posted by | Middle East | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Houston, I think we have a budget

Prime Minister Netanyahu succeeded in passing his proposal to change the way the state’s budgets are passed, when it bothers to actually pass a budget.  It’s now April, two months since elections and four months into 2009 and still no budget.  So, I guess this is some kind of achievement.  Likud was compelled, by parliamentary procedure, to endure a Kadima-led filibuster in the Knesset plenum that lasted a staggering 21 hours before it could savor the flavor, though.

A 21-hour boycott!  Wow!   Like, that’s a lot, isn’t it BigMo?  To better put this in context and split an infinitive in the process, consider Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia.  He’s been in the US Senate for something like three centuries.  He’s filibustered about 125 years!  Half the time, he doesn’t even know he’s doing it.  It’s just reflexive, like when the doctor hits your knee with the rubber hammer.  Once, he even filibustered one of his own bills.  The man is legendary.  And don’t get me started on Strom Thurmond!

However, this is Israel and when anybody who draws a paycheck from the government – aside from our military – actually does something that looks even suspiciously like work might have been involved or at least thought of, well, people take notice.  By the way, that doesn’t include the four public servants I call “friend,” and from whom I might need to ask for a lift to the airport next week.  You guys are just peachy!

The loyal, but none-too-bright, oppostion

Kadima MKs requested amendment after amendment and delivered long-winded speeches about soccer (sorry, too late, you’re not getting that demographic) and the forthcoming Passover holiday (ditto) in deliberations that started on Monday at 11am and did not finish until Tuesday at 8am. Holy matzoh meal, Batman!  Don’t they ever have to move their bowels?

Meretz MK Ilan Gilon spoke from the Knesset rostrum about his diet, Kadima MK Nachman Shai read the soccer scores and Kadima’s Yohanan Plessner sang a song he wrote about Netanyahu to the tune of the Pessach song Dayeinu.  What creative minds (for six year olds)!  How is it possible they are in the opposition?  Could we possibly send them to run the government of Syria or Iran for a couple of weeks?

Habayit Hayehudi MK Zevulun Orlev reportedly took pictures of MKs sleeping in their chairs and all over the Knesset chambers.  What a character!  If he had any real initiative, he could have put-up at least a dozen settlements inside Nablus or TP’d Nachman Shai’s house.

So shat’s the skinny?

The proposal called for approving the state budget every two years, instead of annually, because it’s such hard work!  It also extends the deadline for passing the 2009 budget from mid-May until July. Or maybe even later. Who knows?  I mean, we just worked 21 hours over the last four months.

Does this mean I don’t have to pay taxes until July?  Maybe they’ll decide to cancel income taxes.  Wouldn’t I be a fool for having paid them?  The bill passed its final reading Tuesday morning, with 63 MKs in favor and 27 opposed.  Ta-da!

I’m sure that if a pay raise was involved, there’d be a budget vote tomorrow without so much as a coffee break to delay matters.

Snatching defeat from the jaws of, uh, defeat

Former finance minister Ronnie Bar-On of Kadima – who did nothing for three months while 50,000 people lost their jobs – declared Kadima the victor of the night.  Ronnie didn’t do well in math or bother to pay attention when his colleague was reading the soccer scores.  “The Kadima-led opposition proved its determination and its impressive perseverance in its parliamentary struggle against the Likud,” Bar-On said.  Impressive perseverance?  They’ve been in the opposition for a whole week!

It was so impressive that the English-language edition of Ha’aretz, the left-leaning daily newspaper that makes Al Jazeerah look like it’s published by Theodore Herzl, ignored the non-event.  They chose to run with a story about how the polar bears in the Ramat Gan zoo were given a “special” meal of carrots and matzah for the Pessach holiday.  I’m not an expert on polar bears, but I can tell you what they’d like to see next on the menu: bone-headed zoo-keepers!  Maybe Roni Bar-On, too.

Unfortunately, Kadima politicians have been slinging this same dreck at the public for years.  Just last week  Tzipi Livni declared that, like Moses, she would lead Kadima through the desert.  Based on the size of her rear-end, I’d say she hasn’t been in the habit of walking anywhere in some time.  First try walking to the salad bar and past the dessert bar, honey.  Then we’ll work on sharpening up those survival skills.  Toss you in with the polar bears for a week.

April 7, 2009 Posted by | Middle East | , , , , , | Leave a comment