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Gary Epstein
And now for something completely different . . .

Wow! That Was A Bunch of Missiles!

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Those terrorist fanatics in Iran–lowlifes and reprobates to a man– launched, or attempted to launch, more than 300 deadly projectiles toward Israel. One seriously injured an unfortunate young Bedouin girl.  The other 299 or so failed to launch, crashed, or were successfully intercepted.  The following day, every newspaper and periodical I saw was replete with explanations:  the Iranians intentionally sent slow, fat missiles because they didn’t want to provoke a war; the Iranian equipment is old and ineffective; the assistance of the US, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia turned the tide; there is no air force like the Israeli air force; every air defense system worked to perfection; the Iranians provided so much notice that the Italian, or even French, armed forces could have neutralized the missiles just as effectively; the Iranians were just sending a benign message, an elaborate dance to persuade the Israelis and the US not to respond.

And so on.

I am reminded of the story of the Jewish man who was very late for a critical business meeting and unable to find a parking space.  He casts his eyes heavenward, and says, “God, I’m not religious, but if You find me a parking spot, I will observe the Sabbath, maintain a kosher home, and donate 10% of my income to charity.” As the last word departs his lips, suddenly, a large truck, which he had previously not even noticed, pulls out of a huge space in front of the building in which the meeting is to take place.  The man thinks fast, lifts his eyes heavenward again, and says, “Never mind – I found one myself.”

There is an Aramaic phrase in the Talmud – Dai Lakhkima Birmiza – which, very loosely translated, means “a word to the wise is sufficient,” but really means that a wise person can pick up on the slightest hint, and does not require elaborate elucidation.

That applies to the story and to the missiles.  Dai Lakhkima Birmiza.  You are wise.  Draw your own conclusions.

* * *

OJ Simpson is dead.  One hopes that all those idiots on campus and marching through the streets can finally stop chanting, “Death to the Juice.”

* * *

Speaking of college students, this is the fourth day of the hunger strike of 14 anti-Israel graduate and undergraduate students at Yale University.  They are trying to call attention to their demand that Yale divest from its investments in defense companies whose weapons are sold in Israel.

I think that their sincerity and commitment deserve some recognition and support, so, “In Honor of the Yale 14,” I am donating $0.10 for every meal they miss (no small sum–$4.20 a day in the unlikely event that each of them misses all three meals, and I am hoping they do and that it lasts at least 60-75 days).  The first round of contributions in their honor will be to One Israel Fund and Friends of the IDF.  I urge everyone to do the same.  Write to the Yale Daily News (opinion@yaledailynews.com) and let the students know what sort of support they are garnering and how much their efforts are advancing the  cause of the only democracy in the Middle East.  If the response is significant, maybe one of the charities can set up a special Yale 14 Fund.

By the way, the last time there was a “symbolic” hunger strike of leftist graduate students at Yale (symbolic because one only participated in the hunger strike until he or she or they got hungry, at which point a replacement took the place of the striker, who went in search of food), the “strikers” were seeking higher pay, and the Young Republicans held an adjacent barbeque.  That’s almost as good as the donations to OIF and FIDF.  But not quite.

* * *

Midda k’neged midda (measure for measure) is a Rabbinic concept based on Scripture, positing that God fits the punishment to the crime, and that courts, to the extent possible, should follow the same precept.  Commentators note that Jacob misled his father with a kid, when he misappropriated the blessing intended for Esau, and he himself was misled with a kid, when his sons showed him Joseph’s coat of many colors dipped in a kid’s blood.  There are numerous other examples.

I think that it is time for the concept to be reintroduced in legislatures around America:    Punishment To Fit The Crime.

With respect to protestors who violate the law by illegally  blocking traffic and inconveniencing thousands of innocent people (in support of their heroes who kill, kidnap, and rape innocent people), it is not sufficient to remove them, or simply to arrest and incarcerate them for a brief period.  They should have their drivers’ licenses suspended for at least a year. They should lose the rights they criminally deny to others.  Measure for measure.

People who interfere with the ability of others to attend or benefit from classes for which they have paid, should themselves be denied the right to attend classes or be on campus–suspended for at least a year or expelled. Those in the US on student visas should have them revoked; that is not the way guests behave. They should also have the maturity of their student loans accelerated and all scholarships canceled.  They should lose the rights they criminally deny to others.

People who damage property should have their property confiscated, or a lien placed on their property or future earnings, until full compensation is made.  Measure for measure.

Of course, people who engage in lawful, peaceful demonstrations should be treated with the dignity and respect they demonstrate to others through their actions and allowed to go about their business.

* * *

Imaginary communique from the Yale 14:

Dear Fellow Jihadis:

Our hunger strike has run into some headwinds after the initial euphoria of the first day, when almost all of us made it to the afternoon before we needed a snack.  Fortunately, we did not need to leave the strike site, as our solicitous parents sent CARE packages (or CAIR packages, get it?).  The sushi was amazing.  Well, anyway, some Zionist colonialist pigs have started to contribute in our honor to One Israel Fund.  We looked it up and it supports victims of terrorist attacks.  This really pissed us off, so we have decided to raise the ante.  We are now demanding not only that Yale divest from manufacturers of deadly weapons.  We want Yale to insist on a ceasefire in Gaza that will leave Hamas in place and in power.  After all, all of the demonstrations, all of the protests about humanitarian aid, all the historically flawed analysis of the “refugee” problem–that’s what they’re all about, isn’t it?  Keeping Hamas in power so it can repeat the  barbarism of October 7–again and again and again.  BUT WE NEED YOUR HELP!!  If you are a member of Jewish Voice for Palestine or Peace Now, or any similarly sympathetic organization, and want to show how progressive you are, please sign up on the sheets conveniently located throughout the campus where the pictures of the kidnaped Israelis used to be, to join us in a rally at which we will say, once and for all, that we, like Hamas, place no value on Jewish lives.  That we, like Hamas, support rape, kidnaping, murder, torture, and mutilation.  Let’s be honest for once, so we can be fully associated in the public mind with the odious behaviors we condone, together with the most vile and violent anti-Semitism and brutality.  Let’s show them that we’re not just a bunch of progressive do-gooders. We can think of no better way for you to show your solidarity with us and counteract the One Israel Fund contributors.  Let’s proclaim, once and for all time, that we who support Hamas are no better than the people who perpetrated those acts on October 7.  Thank you.  Got to go.  Supper awaits.

* * *

That was a little dark, so I am going to tell you a joke, for no other reason than that I laughed out loud when I read it, and then laughed out loud again when I retold it. We could use a few more laughs.  But, unlike the parking space anecdote with which this essay opened, there is no hidden meaning here, and you should not search for one.

I am reminded of, and quote, Mark Twain’s “Introduction” to Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:

NOTICE.

Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.

BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR               
PER G. G., CHIEF OF ORDNANCE.

So here’s the joke: Katz is sitting in his room in the old age home, wearing nothing but a top hat, when his friend Cohen knocks on the door and, unbidden, enters. Cohen takes a long look at his seated friend and says, “Katz, why are you sitting here naked?”

Katz says, “Don’t make a fuss.  It’s not a big deal.  Nobody comes to visit anyway.”

“So why the hat?” asks Cohen.

“Well . . .  somebody might come.”

* * *

One week before October 7, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan bragged about the Biden Administration’s accomplishments in the Middle East.  He concluded with an unseemly, and, it turns out, ill-advised, victory lap.  Ticking off the previously turbulent but now calm hot spots, he concluded, “The Middle East region is quieter today than it has been in two decades.”

Granted that anyone, even the National Security Adviser, can make a mistake, even in the area in which, you know, he is supposed to know stuff.  But why should we ever pay attention to another word he says?

Had I been writing blogs at the time, I might have asked the same question when he trumpeted evidence, later admitted to be fabricated from whole cloth (as he knew), that Trump had colluded with Russia.  Also when he disingenuously dismissed Hunter’s laptop as disinformation.

Does anyone in government ever get fired for being wrong, and following that up by being wrong, and following that up by being wrong yet again?  At some point, shouldn’t some journalist ask him about always being wrong?

But not someone from NPR or The New York Times.  You know–that pot and kettle thing.

* * *

Jury selection has commenced for Trump’s first trial, in which the State of New York is alleging that his falsification of business records in connection with the payment of hush money to Stormy Daniels was a violation . . . of federal election laws.  The State’s Alvin Bragg brought the case after the federal prosecutors, no Trump fans they, declined to do so.  The State’s ability to enforce federal laws in this way is tenuous, but that probably won’t matter, at least not on the trial level.

I only note this to comment on that certain flair for melodrama and broad ridicule at which Trump excels.  God knows that the man is deficient in so many other ways; perhaps this is nature’s way of compensating.

Anyway, after court, Trump went to campaign at the bodega in West Harlem at which the clerk stabbed a man in self-defense in 2022.  The clerk was charged by Alvin Bragg’s office with second degree murder.  Bragg, under significant pressure, later dropped the case.

Trump is pretty good at politics. That should make some people very nervous.

* * *

This week, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Fischer v. U.S.  The defendant was only in the Capitol for a few minutes and did not seem to fit the profile of someone charged with “obstruction of an official proceeding,” part of a 2002 law with a maximum 20-year sentence aimed at white collar criminals who might try to interfere with investigations by tampering with witnesses or evidence, or destroying documents. The Government appeared completely unable to respond to questions from the Justices, especially Justice Gorsuch, on whether a law designed for one type of offense was being misused to pursue political opponents.  It is not beyond the realm of possibility that hundreds of convictions based on this law will be overturned.  This is of special interest because the same obstruction charge is being used against Trump by Jack Smith.

It is difficult to imagine Trump’s thundering and self-righteous response if those charges are tossed.  And then the Democrats’ subsequent assault on the Supreme Court.  Scary.

* * *

Alejandro Mayorkas was impeached by a Republican-controlled (sort of) House of Representatives.  The charges were immediately dismissed by a Democrat-controlled Senate.  Did anyone ever have a hamster with that treadmill kind of toy in the cage?

* * *

I  attended a beautiful Bat Mitzvah celebration.  A young soldier showed up in her uniform.  I know that all the Israelis reading this have witnessed similar occurrences, but I wish everyone in the whole Jewish world could have seen her shy smile as she was greeted, hugged, thanked, blessed by hundreds of grateful people–just an outpouring of love.

We thank God for them and we love them and we pray every minute for their safety.  We don’t take miracles for granted.

About the Author
Gary Epstein is a retired teacher and lawyer residing in Modi'in, Israel. He was formerly the Head of the Global Corporate and Securities Department of Greenberg Traurig, a global law firm with an office in Tel Aviv, which he founded and of which he was the first Managing Partner. He and his wife Ahuva are blessed with18 grandchildren, ka"h, all of whom he believes are well above average. He currently does nothing. He believes he does it well.