Israel and The Golan Heights

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “A Great Day On The Golan Heights.”

Between 1948 and 1967, the Golan was used by Syria to indiscriminately shell and harass Israeli villages in the Galilee, including in April 1967 at which time Israel shot down six Syrian MIG fighter planes as a warning to Syria. Finally, after twenty years of these continuing attacks by Syria on Israel from the Golan, did Syria finally lose the Golan to Israel in the ensuing 1967 War. Contrary to those who say that recognizing Israel’s control of the Golan endorses the forceful taking of land from other countries, the monumental shift in American policy on Purim this week actually provides critical deterrence against war by recognizing the potential consequences to those like Syria that unjustly wage war and lose.


Thank you to President Trump for setting the record straight with respect to Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and for supporting Israel’s right to peace and security.  


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Taking The Bullet

So I learned many valuable lessons when I worked at the U.S. Secret Service–I loved it there!


But one of the lessons that sticks out it that sometimes you have to take a bullet for the President!


This lesson stayed with me and I believe it applies to a lot of other situations in life as well.


Sometimes you take one for the 


– Team


– Cause


– Relationship  


It’s easy to say you are going to preserve you self by “dodging a bullet,” but often it’s really just the opposite that is needed. 


If you take the bullet, you are putting yourself subordinate to a larger cause and what is really important. 


Taking one to safeguard the President of the United States is definitely a larger cause. 


But also your team, the success of an important cause or project, precious relationships that have been built over time–these can all mean more than taking even a significant hit. 


This doesn’t mean to be stupid, become anyone’s punching bag or just take people’s sh*t for nothing. 


Rather what it does mean is that you can suck it up sometimes–when the ends justify the means–and jump in front of that bullet to preserve something bigger and more important than just yourself. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

All American Chair

All American Chair.jpeg

Got to love this all American chair. 

Red, white, and blue. 

And stars and stripes everywhere. 

The only thing that I seriously wonder about is whether this chair was manufactured in the U.S. 

With the U.S. losing 35% of it’s manufacturing employment between 1998 and 2010 (from 17.6M to 11.5M), due in large part to outsourcing, there is a good chance this chair was made overseas. 

Now manufacturing makes up less than 9% of total U.S. employment

Also noteworthy is the loss of 51,000 manufacturing plants or 12.5% between 1998-2008.  

Together, agriculture and industry make up only approximately 20% of the entire U.S. economy

Manufacturing are agriculture are strategic capabilities for this country and any country. 

It’s not just what you know, but what you make!

Sure we can make things faster and easier with automation, but at this point there is a serious skills shortage (with millions of jobs going unfilled), and we need to safeguard the strategic knowledge, skills, capability, and capacity to make things vital to our thriving existence.

We need to be a more self-sufficient nation again and not a one-trick service pony. 

We need to use information to be better innovators, creators, developers, and builders. 

Information is great, but you can’t live by information alone. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Israel-America 2gether 4ever

Israel-America
The other day, I passed the prestigious George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and someone had quite prominently graffitied the wall with “Free Palestine.”



But then yesterday again, we saw another terrorist attack strike Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel, and a 3-month old baby from America was murdered after being thrown 30 feet in the air and landing on it’s head.



I applaud the GW students who came out today to celebrate the enduring relationship between the United States and Israel.



At the event, a banner hung high with the promise from President Obama, as of those similarly who came before in the Oval Office that “The bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable today, unbreakable tomorrow, and unbreakable forever.



Moreover, last month, the Senate unanimously passed a bill upgrading and declaring Israel a “Major Strategic Partner” of the United States.



The defense of Israel as a secure and sovereign nation is an imperative as freedom and democracy shine forth as a beacon of hope and peace for humanity.



May G-d bless the 2 countries and may their flags fly as one–2gether 4ever. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Should Or Shouldn’t The U.S. Attack Syria

Should Or Shouldn't The U.S. Attack Syria

As the hour approaches for a punishing U.S. attack on Syria, here are some thought on why or why not to do it:

Reasons Not To Attack Syria:

War-weary–The U.S. has been fighting back since 9/11 2001, how much more blood and treasure should we spend in a war that has brought limited results with over 5K dead and over 50K wounded Americans and costing almost $1.5 trillion dollars so far.

World policeman–No country alone, including the U.S. can be the policeman for the world. We cannot get involved in every war and skirmish: we can’t afford it; it is a distraction from our full slate of pressing domestic issues, and we ourselves are not perfect.

International Discord–Russia and China, two other U.N. Security Council members are not on board with us in punishing Syria for use of chemical weapons or for ending the conflict there. Even the U.K backed out of the operation.

Potential backlash–Syria, Hezbollah, or Iran may lash out at American interests, including neighboring Israel, embassies/posts worldwide, oil infrastructure, and more.

Limited strike, limited benefits–With all the media and lack of secrecy on this operation, the Syrians have had the notice and time to vacate suspected target attack sites and move critical equipment out. Also, we have already ruled out attacking the chemical weapons themselves due to fear of collateral damage. Plus, we have already said that we are not going to try and unseat Assad or end the fighting. So will hitting some empty buildings in a civil war that has already been going for more than 2 years have anything but symbolic impact?

Reasons To Attack Syria:

Morality–We can’t stand idly by while Assad indiscriminately is killing civilians (including women and children).

Norms of War–We must send a message that use of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) is horrific and a precedent that is unacceptable.

Red Line–We drew a red line and now we must adhere to it; our words and deeds must be consistent or else we lose credibility.

Punish bad behavior–The Syrian civil war has cost over 100,000 lives so far and displaced millions, torturing and executing civilians and using chemical weapons is bad nation state behavior and must be punished to mete out justice, as a deterrent, as a rehabilitative action, and to reimpose some equality back in the fight.

Protect Ourselves–Being clear and sending a global message that use of WMD is unacceptable helps in the end to protect us from being victims of such a dastardly deed as well. It is in our own national self-interest.

Axis of Evil–Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah are working together to spread Anti-American and Anti-Israel hatred, terrorism, and to develop WMD (including Nukes) to threaten us and establish a greater stranglehold on the Middle-East as well as Europe. This is a war that is not desired by us, but one that has been thrust upon us by adversaries seeking our destruction.

Closing Thoughts:

If we do it, then we should do it right.

“Sending a message,” in Syria rather than fighting to win something strategically meaningful and tangible continues to leave us vulnerable and just having to fight another day.

We can’t straddle issues of morality, norms of war, and defense of our nation and way of life–either take out Assad, end the bloodshed, and establish a peaceful, democratic government or what is the point?

Obviously, there are arguments to be made on either side.

But what is frustrating is that making a decision after we’ve concluded wrongdoing, and doing something positive is seeming to take too long, and strong leadership is required to bring resolution and greater good.

Moreover, we need to look at the greater threat picture, so while sending Tomahawk missiles to Syria for their chemical weapons use, what about doing a full stopover in Iran with some Bunker Busters to put an end to their menacing and blatantly genocidal nuclear WMD program?

Wishy washy isn’t going to make us any righter or safer, definitive results-oriented action can.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to zennie62)

Decision-Making With Perspective, Please.

Decision-Making With Perspective, Please.

An article in Fast Company (1 April 2013) by Chip and Dan Heath tells us to use the 10/10/10 rule for making tough decisions.

That is to consider how you will feel about the decision in 10 minutes, in 10 months, and in 10 years–in order to “get some distance on our decisions.”

But this doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, if you are making a decision, looking at it with 3 future lenses does not provide a lot of additional insight even if they are at various points in the future.

What makes a lot more sense is to examine the decision based on past, present, and future consideration.

Past–At home, I learned from my father that when he makes a big decision, he thinks about what his father would’ve have done in a similar situation. My dad greatly respected his father, and believes that he is a guiding force in his everyday life. It is important to consider what our parents, grandparents, and other people that we respect from our past would do in similar circumstances–this is a social view. For example, would your parents and grandparents be proud of your decision and what it represents for you as a person or would you feel ashamed and guilty, if they found out. This is not to say that you can’t express your individuality, but rather that your past is one important guidepost to consider.

Present–In operational law enforcement and defense environment, I learned that you have to respect the decision-maker at the frontline. The details of what is happening or the ground in the here and now can certainly be a decisive factor in both split second decisions, but also those decisions where we have some luxury of contemplation–this is an operational view. Additionally, in making a big decision, we need to be true to ourselves and base the decision on our values and beliefs (i.e. who we are). In contrast, when we make decisions that violate our core beliefs, we usually regret it pretty quickly.

Future–In Yeshiva, I learned to strongly consider the future in all decision-making. The notion that this world is just a corridor to the future world was a frequent theme. From this religious perspective, what is important in how we live our lives today is not the immediate pleasure we can get, but rather what the future consequences will be on our spirit/soul (i.e. Neshama)–this is a strategic view. One teacher exhorted us to always look at things from the future perspective of our death bed–will you feel you lived your life as a good person and in a fulfilling way or did you just do what felt good or was selfish and fleeting? For example, he said, “No one ever looked back and wish they spent more time working. Instead, they usually regret not spending more time with the family and true friends.”

Decision-making is not trivial–you need to consider carefully what you do, with whom, when and how. To do this, looking at 3 points in the future is minimally helpful. Instead, consider your past, present, and future, and you will make better decisions that will enable you to be true to yourself, your family and community, and your very soul.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Leadership Now!

Now

There is a very good interview in the Wall Street Journal today (14-15 July 2012) with George Shultz, former Secretary of State, Treasury, and Labor.

Shultz talks primarily about our countries devastating financial situation today.

On the economy, he states bluntly: “We have some big problems in this country.”

But according to the interview “the policies for revival are obvious with the right leadership.”

Shultz gives an example of former President Reagan (who I blogged about previously (24 June 2012) in It’s The Right Thing To Do] as someone who had what it took to lead us out of difficult times.

“It took long-term thinking…[Reagan] knew and we advised him you can’t have a decent economy with the kind of inflation we’ve got…The political people would come in and say ‘You’ve fot to be careful Mr. President…You’re gonna lose seats in the mid-term election.”

And as Shultz reminds us, what was Reagan’s response?

“And he basically said, ‘If not us who? If not now when?”

The article goes on that “it took a politician with an ability to take a short-term hit in order to get the long-term results that we needed.”

Reagans words and deeds remind me of the Jewish teaching from the Book of Avot (“Ethics of Our Fathers”) from more than 2,000 years ago which reads in 1:14–

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
And if I am [only] for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?”

Reagan was in tune with this ancient wisdom of our forefathers, that we have an obligation to take the appropriate actions to care for ourselves and others and not to put off these actions unto others or for later.

This is one of those true leadership qualities that made Reagan one of the most popular and favorite leaders on the 20th century.

Reagan acted based on principle and not based on votes–the long-term health and outcomes for the country was more important than the minute-by-minute polling.

Of course a leader needs to represent the will and wishes of the people, but he must do so with the bigger-picture and long-term view in mind for the nation to survive and thrive.

Similarly Peggy Noonan writes today about how we need a “political genius” to get us out of the mess we are in as a nation.

She too uses Reagan as an example and explains how he used to state about congress that: “when they feel the heat [from voters], they see the light,” and it is the President’s job to help the people understand and “galvanize them.”

As Ms. Noonan states about a real leader: “he’s direct and doesn’t hide his meaning in obfuscation, abstraction, cliches and dead words.”

A leader who knows and believes as in the wisdom of fathers, and like Ronald Reagan, “If not us who? If not now when?”

(Source photo: here with attribution to Tom Magliery)