Category Archives: International News

Totally Under Control Review

When Covid-19 first appeared on the scene at the beginning of the year, no one knew what to make this virus that seemed to come out of nowhere. Looking back, we know now that a little common sense would have saved lives and saved the economy. But there is no going back.

Totally Under Control premiered last month on Hulu. This 2 hour documentary tells the story of how mismanagement and partisanship led to the mess that we are currently in. The film also compares the response of the United States to that of South Korea.

I couldn’t help but get angry as I watched the movie. There were so many opportunities to control the outbreak, but due to a number of circumstances, those opportunities were not taken. The lost opportunities and the missteps created opened the door for the destruction of our economy and the loss of 225,000 Americans.

If nothing else, this is a warning and a lesson learned in a painful way. There will be another virus in the future with the potential to kill hundreds of thousands of people. If we do not take logical and non-partisan steps to control it, we will only repeat the same mistakes that has led to our current predicament.

I absolutely recommend it.

Totally Under Control is available for streaming on Hulu.

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Filed under Hulu, International News, National News, World News

RIP Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

It takes a special person to join the clergy of any religion. It is more than leading prayers and being the layperson at various stage of life events. That person has to be able to speak of that religion and its tenets in a way that connects to everyone, regardless of any specific faiths.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks was one of those special people. Cancer took his life today.

I had the pleasure of seeing him speak in person a few years ago. It was nothing short of inspiring. It was just before the High Holidays. Those who have attended High Holidays services can attest that as important as those days are, they are quite frankly, difficult and not exactly fun. But they shouldn’t be fun.

Rabbi Sacks was able to explain in very simple terms the emotional and psychological importance of those days. I’ve been attending High Holiday services since I was very young. But that was the first time I was truly able to understand the meaning of the High Holidays.

He recently was a guest on the Unorthodox podcast. Though he was there to publicize his latest book, he also spoke about current events and how morality is as important as it ever was.

May his memory be a blessing. Z”L.

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Filed under Books, International News

80 Years After the Holocaust, European Jews Still Have a Target on Their Backs

Among the major cities in the world, Vienna ranks among the most beautiful. The city is elegant and timeless, attracting visitors from around the world.

But there is another side to this city that came to the forefront during World War II. Only 130,000 Jewish residents were able to leave Europe before the borders closed. Of the 650,000 people that remained, approximately 2,000 were alive at the end of the war.

80 years later, European Jews (and Viennese Jews to be more specific) still have a target on their backs. At 8PM local time, six gunmen spread across the city. Their first target was the Seitenstettengasse synagogue. As of the most recent news reports, fifteen people were injured and one person is deceased.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I am getting tired of seeing headlines like these. At the end of the day, we are all human beings. We all deserve the same respect, opportunities, and rights, regardless of who we are as individuals.

Humanity is better than this. We know that. We have seen what happens when we start to love one another. Unfortunately, there are still far too many who believe that their faith/culture is better than all others. I don’t know what it will take, but its time to stop this foolishness.

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Filed under History, International News, World News

Is the Newfound Peace in the Middle East Enough to Sway the Election?

Peace in the Middle East has been the wish of many for generations. The problem is that it is not as simple as it sounds.

In the past two years, you know who declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Then there were peace agreements with the UAE, Oman, and Bahrain.

Now it seems that is maybe a reality, thanks to you know who. But two questions come up. Does he genuinely believe in what he is doing? Or, is this just another ploy to win votes?

A part of me would like to believe that these peace deals were achieved because he genuinely wanted to see these countries work with one another. But I know better. After nearly four years in office, he has yet to prove that he can see beyond number one. He has even admitted that the move to Jerusalem was only to gain support from the Evangelical Christians.

Only time will tell of these peace deals will help in November. The only thing that I know is that I don’t trust him and will not be voting for him.

#BidenHarris2020

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Filed under International News, Politics

Belarus Protests: This is What Democracy Looks Like

Democracy is the kind of government that does not exist for generations or centuries without work. Time and again, history has shown us how easy it is for a country with a democratic government to secede into authoritarianism.

In Belarus, there is growing discontent with the current government. Current President Alexander Lukashenko claims that he won the most recent election fair and square, but many believe that it was rigged in his favor. Ignoring warning of violence from the army and the police, citizens have taken to the streets to protest the results of said election.

This is what democracy looks like. The average Jane or Joe gathering in large numbers to speak out against a government whom they no longer believe in.

These days, it is easy to become cynical. The negative headlines coming from the various news outlets seem to outnumber the positive ones. But there is still a glimmer of hope, represented by the people of Belarus coming together and demanding a legitimate democracy.

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I Agree With Eliezer Sherbatov

For most of the world, Auschwitz is the most well known of the Nazi death camps. Millions of people were starved, tortured, and murdered simply because of who they were.

But the residents this unfortunately infamous town know it as Oswiecim.

Recently, Israeli Ice Hockey star Eliezer Sherbatov signed on to play for Unia Oswiecim. Unia Oswiecim is the local hockey team for Osweicim. The reaction to his decision was both positive and negative, depending upon who one spoke to.

Defending his choice, Sherbatov stated the following:

“I tell them, what happened 80 years ago will never be forgotten. That’s why, 80 years later, I want to show young people that they should be proud of their heritage and that now anything is possible.”

I agree with him. Though I fully understand the criticism, I feel like this is a sign of hope and the ability to triumph over tragedy. While the we must never forget what happened with the borders of the death camp, we must also live. The fact that the Jews and Judaism is alive and thriving nearly 100 years later is sweet revenge on it’s own.

While we cannot go back in time and change history, we can remember those who were taken from us. Eliezer Sherbatov joining Unia Oswiecim is in itself a memorial to those who were murdered and a reminder that love and humanity still exist.

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Filed under History, International News, World News

The Israel/UAE Deal is a Good First Step

In our modern world, the nearly century long conflict with Israel and her neighbors (and Palestine specifically) is just another part of the news cycle.

Earlier this week, Israel reached what many have described as a historic deal with the UAE.

I believe that this deal is a good one and a necessary step toward a reasonable peace in the region.

That being said, I am not surprised about the responses. Both Iran and the Palestinians are displeased, to say the least. You know who thinks that he actually solved the problem as a whole. While this is a positive step in the right direction, it will not create a peaceful utopia. There is still a long way to go.

I am also not sure that temporarily stopping the so called “West Bank Settlements” will create the necessary change. Though this another topic for another blog post, when Israel goes back to building what is essentially Israeli land, she will be met with the same criticism and damnation. But in the meantime, putting the settlements on hold is imperative.

But overall, my gut reaction is that the agreement is one to celebrate. Only when we put aside our prejudices can we see the common goals that exist between us. By putting hate aside, both Israel and the UAE are demonstrating that it is possible to live with your neighbor. It just requires the ability to listen and compromise.

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Filed under History, International News, Politics, World News

Israel Sends Aid to Beirut in Spite of Threats of Destruction

There are two sides to humanity. There are ways in which we are different (which is not all that bad). There are also ways in which are we similar.

One of the ways in which we are similar is how we are instructed to treat one other. The Golden Rule aka “Do to no one what you yourself dislike.” exists in multiple religious texts from a variety of belief systems.

Yesterday, a building filled with chemicals exploded in Beirut. As of tonight, 100 people died from the explosion, thousands are injured and many more are homeless.

In response, other countries have sent humanitarian aid and support. Among those countries is Israel. Yes, Israel.

In spite of the constant threat of destruction by Hezbollah, the Israelis put whatever enmity and bad blood they have aside to help the victims.

That is the Israel that I know and love. Perhaps you should get to know her as I do.

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Filed under International News, World News

Seth Rogen is Wrong About Israel

There are far too many myths and lies about Israel for my taste. The problem with these myths and lies becomes worse when they come out of the lips of my fellow Jews.

Recently, actor Seth Rogen was a guest on the podcast WTF with Marc Maron. Both Rogen and Maron are Jewish. While talking about Israel, Rogen made the following statement:

“as a Jewish person,..I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel…You know, they never tell you that […] there were people there. They make it seem like it was just sitting there.”

Anyone who regularly reads this blog knows how I feel about Israel. I have visited twice and hope to visit a third time at some point in the future. It is a beautiful country with warm people and delicious food. However, that does not mean that I agree with everything that is said and done over there.

The issue I take with Rogen’s comment is that it gives those with antisemitic views the permission to make a similar statement.

If Rogen does not agree with the decisions made by the Israeli government, that is one thing. He is, like all of us, entitled to his opinion. But to publicly make a general assertion without consideration of the facts is another thing entirely and just plain wrong.

We live in a world in which hate and racism have a firm hold on us. The only way to break that hold is to speak the truth and be willing to listen to one another. Unfortunately, Rogen’s declaration only added fuel to the fire that is hate and racism.

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Filed under International News, World News

The Ultimate Social Media Hypocrisy: Iran, Twitter, & Israel

When the Internet and social media took off decades ago, they both seemed to be a beacon of freedom of speech and communication. We would speak to and (virtually) meet people who we might otherwise not meet and become a better world.

But while the technology has changed, the world has not.

While the social media giants claim that they are all for freedom of expression, they continue to ignore the elephant in the room. That elephant is racism and antisemitism that continually flows from various tweets and posts.

Twitter, while claiming that hate speech is not allowed on the platform, does not prevent Iranian officials from threatening Israel with annihilation via tweets.

I wish it was easy to remove ourselves from social media. But, they are so much of a part of lives that to do so would be akin to cutting off a limb. The only solution is that the people who run the social media platforms follow through on their terms of service. The question is, will they?

Probably not.

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Filed under International News, World News