Monday, May 23, 2016

"Great Ideas: Israeli History" on Thursday, May 26 in the Northbrook Library Pollak Room

Here are two links that will allow you to review, download and print the slides we show and discuss at each session:

Israeli History: Zionism through 1967:

Israeli History: Post 1967:

On May 26 we will discuss the film Above and Beyond we viewed on May 12.  You might want to think about the following:
             What did you think about the film?
What did you learn?
             What had the greatest impact on you?
             What was the most poignant?
What did you like about the film?
What did you not like about the film?
How would you compare attitudes about Israel of men in the film with today's young adults?

If we have time we will continue our discussion of Israeli history  in 1972 with the prelude to the Yom Kippur War.

FOR FUTURE DISCUSSION….May 14, 1948 Israel set a course into the future, based in part upon the following words etched into the country’s Declaration of Independence:

THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
  • Which of these objectives is Israel well on its way to realizing? Which of them have proved most elusive?
  • What elements are part and parcel of a country that has been “developed for the benefit of all its inhabitants?”
  • How would you define “freedom of conscience?”
  • If you were to have the chance to revise this paragraph in 2016, would you make any additions? Would you take anything out?

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

Thursday, May 19, 2016

No "American Politics" discussion on Monday, May 30 - MEMORIAL DAY


Topics for June 6 "American Politics" will be posted several days before we meet.  Take a peek at topics shown on the June 2 "Current Events" post, below.  Some topics will still be relevant June 6.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Current Events discussion topics for Thursday, June 2 at the Northbrook Library

Hillary broke federal rules by using a private email server.  While other Secs. of State did as well, Hillary's was criticized as the worst offender. How might this issue affect the election?

There is rock-throwing and violence at Trump rallies.  How might this issue affect the election?Does Trump need to tone down his rhetoric in any way? What should Hillary be saying to those who are protesting?  

Clearly, Trump's temperament is unlike any previous Presidential nominee in our lifetime. Would an 'unleashed Trump" be a plus or a minus as America's President? 

How does raising the discredited decades old Vince Foster "murder" conspiracy help or hurt Trump and Hillary?  Email hoaxes have flooded the internet--so-called "proven facts" that live for months--sometimes years--passing from each believing recipient to all their contacts.  Truth is irrelevant: if the claim "sounds right" and supports MY belief, it gets forwarded instantly without confirmation. Is Trump counting on this behavior with his tweets--dropping "rumor-bombs" that have been discredited? Hoaxes work well with a devoted base.  But how might this "truth-free zone" play with Independent voters who ultimately will decide who is President?

David Brooks, referring to Yuval Levin’s new book “The Fractured Republic”: "Levin says our politics and much of our thinking is drenched in nostalgia for the 50’s and early 60’s.  The Left is nostalgic for the relative economic equality of that era. The Right is nostalgic for the cultural cohesion. The postwar era has become our unconscious ideal of what successful America looks like—an age of cohesion and consolidation.  But we have now moved to an age of decentralization and fragmentation." How might this affect the 2016 Presidential Election?

China has been extending its influence into the ocean to the south, adjoining Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia among others. Why is China doing this? What is our interest? How far should we go in active (i.e. semi-belligerent) opposition?

How has Gov. Rauner’s business experience affected his job performance?

In what ways will changes to overtime pay affect Businesses and Middle Class Workers?

Would privatized airport security be more efficient and safer than how it's run now by TSA?

Prior to the housing bubble burst, Trump said: "I sort of hope that happens because then people like me would go in and buy" property and "make a lot of money."  Isn't that what every potential home buyer would like to do?

Which side is right regarding "Bathroom Wars"—"states rights", or Obama's executive order declaring the right to use the bathroom of preference based on how you identify yourself? Texas and 10 other states filed suit against the Obama administration over its directive to U.S. public schools to let transgender students use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity. Your thoughts.

What issues are driving this election, so far? Are issues like the economy, deficit,  health care, etc., even important to voters?   How issue-specific does Trump need to be to win the election?

Hillary says Bill will help her focus on the economy. Is Bill a net “plus” or a net “minus” for Hillary?

Is Trump running more to Hillary’s Left on Foreign Policy—i.e., for less intervention?  Is his position closer to where most Americans are today?  

The Senate passed a bill to allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia. Now the bill goes to the House. If the House pass this bill, should the president sign it?

The Republican-led House Rules Committee stripped a provision from the annual defense policy bill that would have required women between the ages of 18 and 25 to sign up for a military draft. Should women register for the draft as required by men and also be drafted?

A federal judge has ruled that Obamacare funding is unconstitutional, spending money to reimburse health insurers without obtaining an appropriation from Congress. What now?

Is FaceBook bias toward Liberals?  Have they edited posts to suppress Conservatives? 

California is increasing tobacco/nicotine purchase age to 21.  Good idea for the country?

Obama commuted the sentences of 58 federal prisoners convicted of drug crimes. 18 of the inmates were serving life sentences, mostly on crack or cocaine related charges. In March, Obama cut short the sentences of 61 drug offenders. Is this a proper approach to the harsh convictions that have occurred in the past or should the President have remained silent on the convictions?

What is Russia after in the Middle East? Is Russia a military threat to Europe? To us? Why are we obsessed with what Putin does?

Trump says climate change "is a hoax".  How serious an issue is “climate change”?

The EU is facing multiple crises: floods of immigrants, unemployment, something of a recession, government deficits (especially in southern Europe) and an increase in nationalism. The fear is that these combined pressures will at least render the EU dysfunctional and perhaps break it apart. How do you see it? What is our interest in the matter?

We are at least talking as if increased isolationism can make our problems better. Some talk of raising tariffs to that we can resume making stuff in this country that won’t be undercut by imports. Is this possible? What would be the result?

Do Liberals reject the idea of America's exceptionalism?  What is meant by this term?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Important Information About Our 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.


At times, during discussions, participants mention an internet article of interest. This page will list such links. Contact Ron Mantegna if you want to suggest a link appropriate to a specific discussion topic.