Thursday, December 29, 2016

"Current Events" Discussions

Upcoming Discussion Sessions:

·        9am Monday December 17 at the North Shore Senior Center
·        10am Thursday December 20 at the Northbrook Library 
·        7:15pm Wednesday January 2 at The Lodge
·        9:30am Wednesday January 16 at the JCC on Revere Drive

Please note. For the month of January, Current Events and Great Ideas will meet on a different schedule as follows: Great Ideas January 3 & 31...Current Events January 10, 17 & 24.  This change only affects the month of January.

Trump says he will “own” the government shut-down if his Wall isn’t funded, or “build it through the Military”. Who has the edge in this show-down: Trump, or Pelosi/Schumer? The Republican House has not funded it. Most Americans don’t want it. How effective would a Wall be in addressing the broader issue of legal and illegal immigration? Would a shut-down be good, politically, for Trump with his core supporters, today about 33% of America…but bad for Republicans?

Is Trump lying to “sell” his Wall? Trump claims terrorists are being caught at the border. Yet his own administration cannot support his claims. Facts do not support Trump’s contention that routine border controls allow immigrants and refugees to enter that are “terrorists, rapists, criminals, murderers, diseased, druggies”.  Looking at the big picture, what’s the greater risk to national security—Immigrants? Islamic Terrorists?  White Supremacists? Looking at facts vs. emotion, haven’t most significant attacks, in recent years, been by home-grown Americans?

How should Democrats approach Trump’s deepening legal problems? Cohen gets 3 years for covering up Trump’s “dirty deeds” and following his “path of darkness”.  Cohen says history will not see HIM as the villain. Trump says Cohen is a liar. Should impeachment be considered by the House in January?  How dangerous is it for Trump to say “the people would revolt if I am impeached”?

Turncoats? Or Patriots? Trump, his base and Conservative Media continue to hammer Mueller and Comey. But polls show 29% approval of Trump’s handling of the Russia investigation, and 40% approval of Mueller. Comey: “Our country is led by those who will lie about anything, backed by those who will believe anything, based on information from media sources that will say anything.

Are Republicans taking a politically smart move in totally dismissing court charges of Trump indictable activities?  Are they correct in acting like “this is no big deal”?  

What should we make of a letter signed by 44 ex-Senators imploring the current Senate to act for the good of the country during these trying times, and not to act along partisan lines?

The beginning of Conservative angst? Tucker Carlson on Trump: “I don’t think he’s capable.” Carlson can’t stand Trump’s self-aggrandizement and boasting. Asked whether Trump has kept his promises, the usually quick-witted, long-winded Carlson had just one word: “No.”  

How is Trump managing the Economy? Is the GOP Tax Plan working out? When developing his tax plan and advised that the deficit would explode, Trump is reported to have replied, “That’s OK, because I’ll be gone.”  

Mitch McConnell said the Senate would take up a long-awaited bipartisan bill that aims to reduce the number of people in the nation's crowded prisons. Your thoughts.

Your thoughts about Trump eliminating Obama’s EPA standards on wetlands?

What should we make of the Russian spy who wants a plea deal?  She had ties to Trump supporters, the NRA, and was called upon by Trump at a campaign presser, asking about his thoughts on Russian Sanctions (at the same time Trump was developing his hotel in Moscow)?

What should we make of the President’s “Chief of Staff” saga?   

TIME “Person of the Year” is a group of imprisoned or murdered journalists.  Your thoughts.

The AMAZON deal—are we talking about “corporate welfare”?  How good a deal for the cities? Similar to cities using taxpayer dollars to pay for sports stadiums.  Does it work?

How is Trump’s “America First” approach working out? Trump prefers an America that stands alone, not needing partners vs. teaming up with other countries to seek common goals (like NATO against Russia).  Building coalitions is the approach taken by previous U.S. Presidents.

North Korea is still working on its ballistic missile program.  The summit helped Kim.  How has it helped the U.S.? How would a second summit help matters?

Does pulling out of the intermediate nuke treaty help Russia’s military more than it helps the U.S.? Is it a good idea to “Build up our nukes until other countries come to their senses.”? 

How Conservative is the Supreme Court? It left lower court victories intact for Planned Parenthood in a legal battle with states over access by Medicaid patients to the group's services. The dispute did not involve abortion, but it keeps a hot-button political issue off the docket. Three court conservatives said the court should have taken the case. But Roberts and Kavanaugh decided with the Liberals.

Growing Anti-Semitism in Europe? More than one in three European Jews have considered emigrating over the past five years because they no longer feel safe amid a surge in anti-Semitism. A European Union study in 12 countries that are home to 96 percent of European Jews showed widespread malaise at a rise in hate crimes which Jewish communities blame in part on anti-Semitic comments by politicians that stoke a climate of impunity. Feelings of insecurity were particularly acute among Jews in France, followed by Poland, Belgium and Germany.

In what way is “America so much stronger than we were two years ago”?

How much of Trump’s support comes from Conservatives (i.e., Traditional Republicans who are the flip side of Progressives)?  How many are “cultish” followers of Donald Trump—his dominant personality, his “America first” nationalism, his unique “disrupter in chief” attack mode?

Will the new Congress do anything with respect to Gun Control?

During his Thanksgiving call to U.S. troops, Trump politicized the Military by asking deployed Commanders how they felt about domestic political issues. Commanders side-stepped answering. Trump attacked the 9th Circuit, defended his support of the Saudi’s. Asked what he is most thankful for, said he was thankful for doing such an outstanding job as President.  

Are things better or worse now with Iran?  

Merkel will not seek reelection. Did Germany’s immigrant situation do her in?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Great Ideas: " Zionism & Israeli History"

Please note. For the month of January, Current Events and Great Ideas will meet on a different schedule as follows: Great Ideas January 3 & 31...Current Events January 10, 17 & 24.  This change only affects the month of January.

Upcoming Discussion Sessions:

10am Thursday December 13 at the Northbrook Village Hall
Reviewing events after the Camp David Accords

9:30am Wednesday November 28 at the JCC on Revere Drive
We will be discussing events starting in the 1950's.

Links below allow you to review slides we show and discuss at each session.

Zionism/Israeli History through 1967  

Below is a list of books mentioned during our sessions:

· "The Arab-Israeli Wars" by Chaim Herzog
· "Kissinger and the Yom Kippur War" by David Morse
· "The Making of Modern Israel 1948-1967" by Leslie Stein
· "Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict" by Charles D. Smith
· “The Iron Wall: Israel & The Arab World” by Avi Shlaim
· “Transformative Justice: Israeli Identity on Trial” by Leora Bilsky
· "Six Days of War : June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East" by Michael Oren
· “The Secret War Against The Jews: How Western Espionage Betrayed the Jewish People” by John Loftus and Mark Aarons
· “A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel” by Allis Radosh and Ronald Rados
· "Truman" by David McCullough
· “Louis D. Brandeis: A Life” by Melvin Urofsky
· “The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership” by Yehuda Avner
· “George C. Marshall” by Forest Pogue (a 4 volume work- the most definitive biography)
· “1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War” by Benny Morris
· “Woodrow Wilson: A Biography” by John Milton Cooper, Jr
· “A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East” by David Fromkin
· "Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews": A History by James Carroll
· “In the Garden of the Beasts” by Erik Larson
· “My Promised Land - The Triumph & Tragedy of Israel” by Ari Shavit
· "A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide" by Samantha Power
· "The Physician" by Noah Gordon
· "Start-up Nation: the Story of Israel's Economic Miracle" by Dan Senor and Saul Singer
· "Eichmann in Jerusalem: a Report on the Banality of Evil" by Hannah Arendt
· "The Eichmann Trial" by Deborah Lipstadt
· "The House on Garibaldi Street" by Isser Harrel
· "Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices" by Mosab Hassan Yousef
· “Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of A Mass Murder” by Bettina Stangneth
· "Jaffa Beach" by Fedora Horowitz
· "Operation Thunderbolt:  Flight 139 and the Raid on Entebbe Airport, the most Audacious Hostage Rescue in History", by Saul David
· "Abba Eban", A Biography by Asaf Siniver
· "Jerusalem: The Biography" by Simon Sebag Montefiore
· "The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine" by Ben Ehrenreich
· "Jabotinsky" by Hillel Halkin
· "Doomed to Succeed: The U.S. Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama" by Dennis Ross 
· "The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel" by Uri-Bar Joseph
· "FDR and the Jews" by Richard Breitman
· "No Ordinary Time" by Doris Kearns Goodwin
· "Remember the Liberty!:Almost Sunk by Treason on the High Seas" by Phillip F Nelson, Ronald G. Kukal, Ernest A. Gallo 

· "Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn" by Daniel Gordis
· "Every Spy a Prince" The Complete History of Israel's Intelligence Community by Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman
· "FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith" by Rafael Medoff

· "Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations" by Ronen Bergman

Thursday, March 6, 2014


¨  Please silence your cell phone during our discussion

¨  Respect person speaking—please no side conversations

¨  If you’re not called upon by name, tell us your first name
¨  “Current Events” meets 1st and 3rd and 5th  Thursday  

¨  “Israeli History” meets 2nd and 4th Thursday 

¨   Pick up a Handout with our web address

¨  Visit our website for more information about discussions:¡   Current Events topics updated regularly

¡   suggested readings for Israeli History 

¡   current Israeli History discussion topic

¡   copies of the Israeli History slides – pdf format 

¡   Other locations and times Ron and Mark lead discussions
"Current Events" and "Great Ideas" meet at the Northbrook Library

We meet in Pollak Rooms A & B--with a capacity of 90-100 people.  You can bring in covered cups, mugs, etc. with coffee. Food is not allowed. There are vending machines in the lobby area right outside the Pollak Room if you wish to purchase a beverage. The library will not be providing coffee.

“Current Events” Code of Conduct

We respect each other and conduct our discussions with civility.

This includes:

      Never using loud, abusive, threatening or insulting language.
      Never offending, threatening, or insulting groups or individuals based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or any disability.
      Never being under the influence of anything but our best behavior.
      Never harming anyone, including fighting or challenging anyone to fight.
      Understanding every aspect of Sexual Harassment - This includes: • making inappropriate personal comments or sexual advances • using obscene or lewd language or gestures • staring at, or following anyone in a manner that reasonably can be expected to disturb him or her • exposing others to sexual Internet content.
      Handouts cannot be distributed. All material must be reviewed by the Library and when approved will be placed on our table for you to pick up after our discussion.

A comprehensive Northbrook Library Code of Conduct is posted on their website.