Thursday, December 29, 2016

"Current Events" Discussions

Upcoming Discussion Sessions:  

·        9am Monday July 22  at the North Shore Senior Center
·        9:30am Wednesday July 17 at the JCC on Revere Drive
·        10am Thursday July 18 at the Northbrook Library
·        7:15pm Wednesday August 7 at The Lodge

The President of the United States tells four Congresswomen, all of them American, “Why don’t you go back where you came from?” How is that statement anything but racist? What benefit does Trump see with his remarks? Which Party does Trump’s comments help the most? Does supporting a Racist make you a Racist?

Rep. Omar has made anti-Semitic remarks. Trump says “She hates our country, and Israel”. She represents a district in Michigan that apparently feels as she does. How is this any different from districts in the South who send Representatives to Congress who are anti-Black, anti-Muslim and xenophobic? How much do both extremes represent the true moral compass of our country?

Who is likely to receive greater support in today’s Democratic Party: “Mainstream” Moderates, or more Progressive/Activist younger voters?   

How much does Social Media affect the political landscape?  

Democrat’s highest polled Hopefuls are currently: Biden, Harris, Sanders, Warren.  Who do you see possibly breaking out to join them as the Democrats most solid contenders?  If Joe Biden candidacy fails, which Moderate is likely to replace him? Or do you believe it’s more likely that Democrats will nominate a Progressive/Activist? 

Would America support “Medicare for all” as proposed by Liberal Democrats? Biden supports expanding Obamacare by adding a public option.  Which plan might have greater appeal?

ICE began going after thousands of illegal immigrants targeted for deportation. Does action like this slow down the flow of migrants at our border? How will it play out, politically? What is the primary cause of the crisis at our Southern Border? Is separating children from their parents working as a deterrent?  How culpable is Congress for not legislating to either temper the influx, or provide the resources to deal with the numbers arriving?  What is the President’s responsibility to address it? Does a strong anti-immigration focus help Republicans/Trump now as much as it did for 2016?

How important is the Citizenship Question courts denied being added to the 2020 Census?  

Should the Women’s US Soccer Team be compensated the same as the Men’s? 

The door opened on an armored truck spilling $175,000 on an Atlanta highway. Less than $5,000 was returned.  It was covered by insurance. What would you do if this happened on Willow?

Did the 4th of July military display at the Lincoln Memorial help increase Patriotism or diminish it further? Patriotic? Or “It’s not who we are as a country”? Pride in America has fallen to 45%--lowest level since Gallup started polling in 2001. Did this event help matters?

Despite public outcry, TN Gov. Lee re-signed a proclamation declaring 7/13 as Nathan Bedford Forrest Day, honoring the KKK grand wizard and former Confederate general. Your thoughts.

The Supreme Court say gerrymandering is a political decision not settled by any Federal Court. Roberts: “It might seem unjust, but we just can’t solve this. It’s not our role. It has to be handled by state and national legislatures.”  In other words, Roberts expects injustice caused by skewed voting districts must be fixed by these same skewed voting districts. What can be done?

Mueller will honor the Democrat’s subpoena and appear before Congress on July 24. What kind of difference will this make?

What should we make of the Epstein situation, and Acosta’s resignation?

Sanders wants the government to wipe clean student debt held by 45 million Americans - including all private and graduate school debt - as part of a package that makes public universities, community colleges and trade schools tuition-free. He pays with a tax on Wall Street his campaign says will raise more than $2 trillion over 10 years, though some tax experts give lower revenue estimates. Good idea? 

Eagle Scout Rapist? A New Jersey judge ruled a 16-year-old boy accused of raping a drunk teenage girl should have leniency because "he comes from a good family," attended an excellent school and was an "Eagle Scout." The judge expressed concern whether the victim's family had considered the "devastating effect" a trial in adult court would have on the boy's life.

Two and a half years into his term, Trump has little to show for breaking with erstwhile Republican Party orthodoxy on trade and budget policy. Far from delivering on his promise to cut America’s trade deficit, Trump has presided over a ballooning deficit that’s on pace to be some 25% higher than when he took office. This is happening at a time when the budget deficit is widening and the country’s public debt is well on its way to exceeding 90% of GDP. What are the consequences?

Why is FOX now being so critical of Trump to the point of his wrath?

Do you believe Donald Trump did rape his latest accuser, or is she lying to sell books? Will America simply move on—because Trump’s “bimbo” issue was “litigated” during the 2016 race…and he won? How much of an election issue is “morality” for Republicans if not for Trump?

A group of Israeli scientists have developed a method that allows gender to be designated at conception. While this could be a game-changer for livestock breeders…in theory the method would work for humans. Your thoughts.  

An Alabama woman was charged with manslaughter because she started an argument that led to her being shot in the abdomen killing the fetus. Charges were eventually dropped. 

How likely is it that Trump will replace Pence with Nikki Haley to win over more Women? Is it virtually guaranteed if Democrats put a woman on the ticket as the top of the Ticket or VP?

Elizabeth Warren calls for repealing the decades-old law criminalizing unauthorized border crossing ― the law the administration used to systematically split up families. Good idea?

Should felons who have completed their sentence be allowed to vote? An estimated 6.1 million people with a felony conviction are barred from voting in elections - a condition known as disenfranchisement. Each state has its own laws on disenfranchisement. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Israeli History/Israeli Current Events

Upcoming Discussion Sessions: 

10am Thursday July 11 at the Northbrook Library
Reviewing events after the Camp David Accords

9:30am Wednesday July 3 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
· "Then They Came for Me - Martin Niemoller, the Pastor Who Defied the Nazis" - Matthew Hockenos

Thursday, March 6, 2014


¨  Please silence your cell phone during our discussion

¨  Respect the person speaking—please no side conversations

¨  If you’re not called upon by name, tell us your first name

¨  “Current Events” meets the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month  

¨  “Israeli History/Israeli Current Events” 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.

Ron's Rules:

1. Civility means treating each other with respect. Hate the comment. Love the commenter. When you make it personal, I will stop you. Look at me and talk to the issue. Respond like this: “I disagree. Strawberry is not better than butter pecan. Here’s why. ….”  Responses like this are out of line: “You’re an F-ing idiot if you think strawberry is better than butter pecan!”   Our goal is to shed light more than heat.

2. If someone else makes your point, you don’t need to make it again.

3. I try to seek different views. In doing so, I will call on some folks more than others so there’s a chance to hear different sides. But I won’t get to everyone for most topics.

4. If you’re seeking a “support group” to vent heart-felt rants, go elsewhere. Come with an open mind. You don’t need to agree with what you hear—just do try to see the other side. I’m preaching to myself here as well.

5. About our Diversity: be cautious. Ron does not speak for all Italian Americans.  I represent only Ron. Boris speaks only for Boris, not all Eastern Europeans. Charles just for Charles—not all Blacks. Richard speaks for Richard--not all Conservatives. (However, Mark probably does speak for most Jews. Just one man's opinion.)

6. Finally, It’s perfectly OK to push back against my questions you feel are too slanted or flat out incorrect. That’s going to happen.  Just don’t be picky in the interest of time.