Thursday, December 29, 2016

"Current Events" Discussions

Upcoming Discussion Sessions:

·        9am Monday January 29 at the North Shore Senior Center 

·        9:30am Wednesday January 31 at the JCC on Revere Drive

·        7pm Wednesday, February 7 at The Lodge

·        10am Thursday February 8 at the Northbrook Library

The government shut-down is delayed until February 8. Congress is seeking White House involvement. But what is Trump's position? Will Republicans support any kind of Immigration legislation when the base hates it? Should Democrats agree to fund The Wall? Does America expect our President to take the lead and broker a bipartisan deal?

Should immigration be "merit based"?  Who decides “merit”? What is the upside of restricting folks from poorer Black/Brown countries? If America admits only those likely to add value now, how many of our immigrant ancestors would have been denied entry?  How much of who we are as the greatest country in the world is because of our historic diversity? 

Does President Trump harbor racist views? Or does he just use "strong words to tell it like it is”—a main reason why he won in 2016?  Is Racism so ingrained in our DNA that racist views, even at the highest office, matter less than other issues? How do you see candidates on both sides dealing with this during the Mid-Terms?

Is the person depicted in “Fire and Fury”--and who did use "s-hole"--essentially no different and no less qualified than the person we elected in 2016? Is there any “buyer’s remorse” from those who elected him? While his approval is in the 30’s, he is supported by a majority of Republicans. Does the President accurately reflect who we are as a country and how we want to be seen by other countries?

What should we make of Saturday's "Women's Marches"?

What does it matter that Trump's lawyer paid $130,000 hush money to a porn star just before the 2016 election?

How significant is presidential behavior as a role model for our children? Or is the President's behavior more reflective of who WE are as a what do we expect?

Mainstream Media: truly "enemies of the people"?   Most Conservatives do feel it's "fake news", outside of FOX. Does Trump shape FOX News...or is FOX shaping this presidency?  Conversely, many Liberals only use sources that support their Progressive views.  Given so many choices, are we all trapped in a vicious cycle of only reinforcing our opinions served up to us...with no significant way to even consider alternative views?

In what ways does an "America First" policy affect the way we are perceived by other countries?  Is such a policy--America basically standing alone, not as concerned about partnering with other nations--more of a "plus" or a "minus" for us? 

What are the "pro's" and "con's" of the administrations new nuclear weapons policy, which basically says we will use smaller atomic bombs as needed in tactical ways--not just for "all out war". This broadens opportunities to use such weapons in a less catastrophic way.

What's the bigger risk to America deserving higher priority--illegal Immigration or the opioid epidemic?

Will we see negotiations with North Korea before there is military action?  Both China and now Russia are both helping North Korea, which affects how sanctions bite. Have we reached a point where America has no other option but to accept North Korea as a nuclear power? What should we make of North and South Korea marching together in the Olympics? Has Kim diminished America's role by meeting with South Korea without us?
What's the significance of Bannon basically being relegated to the sidelines—and now being subpoenaed by Mueller to appear before his Grand Jury? Looks like he is going to talk.

Why is the administration ignoring Russia's attempts to undermine our democracy by meddling in elections?  What is gained by treating Putin/Russia better than our allies? How much "fire" is behind increased "smoke" with Russia, Trump Jr., Wikileaks, more?  Is all of this “a hoax”? 

What do Democrats stand for besides being "anti-Trump"?  Is that enough to win big in 2018? Is a booming economy (jobs, stock market, tax cuts) enough to offset "anti-Trumpism" and drive America to support Republicans more in the Mid-Terms?

President Oprah? How serious is this idea?

Trump is moving toward requiring Medicaid recipients to work. Good idea? the administration FOR or AGAINST the "Iran Deal"?

Sessions says the DOJ will no longer follow Obama's directive to not pursue federal charges where states have authorized recreational marijuana. Your thoughts.

Is “Single Pay” Health Insurance a good idea for Illinois? Who pays? Pritzker wants Illinois to be the first state to allow “single pay” health insurance, establishing insurance exchanges operated by the state. This would allow us to buy insurance through the state.

Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital and will move our embassy there. Most countries condemn the action. Trump also threatens to cut billions in aid to Palestinians if they don't negotiate. What is the upside for America?  How does our unilateral action affect chances for Mideast peace? Can we still be considered mediators? What did we receive in return? How does unifying Israel's neighbors against this action reduce violence against Israel, our embassies and American travelers in the region? 

President Trump dismissed his Voter Fraud Commission saying states are not cooperating in providing the details that would prove massive illegal voting. Your thoughts.

Given huge tax cuts, and deficits, how can we address improving America's aging infrastructure? Trump says he does want to work with Democrats on this.

How do you feel about The Israel Anti-Boycott Act--legislation introduced in the Senate by Cardin (D-Md.) and in the House by Roskam (R-Ill.)?  It would make it a crime to support or even furnish information about a boycott directed at Israel or its businesses called by the UN, the European Union or any other “international governmental organization.” Violations would be punishable by civil and criminal penalties of up to $1 million and 20 years in prison.

Is Amazon good for America or is it becoming too powerful?

Obama's "net neutrality" was killed by the FCC along Party lines. Internet providers no longer need to treat each web site the same.  For example, they can charge us more to provide faster connections to selected premium programming.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Great Ideas: " Zionism & Israeli History"

Upcoming Discussion Sessions:

9:30am Wednesday January 10 at the JCC on Revere Drive

10am Thursday January 11 at the Northbrook Library 

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

Slides for Northbrook Library - Israeli History: Post 1967 

Thursday, January 11 at the Northbrook Library
Mark will lead a discussion reviewing events leading to the road to Camp David.

Slides for JCC - Israeli History: Zionism through 1967  

Wednesday, January 10 at the JCC on Revere Drive - 9:30am

Mark will discuss early Zionist leaders.

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

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.