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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 12/23/20

Good morning, Here in California it feels like Spring. We are near the end of December and hardly a cloud in the sky, with temperatures in the high 60s and low 70s. SIX WORDS OF THANKS, REDUX Feelings of thanks about the election and the future, in six words, as accumulated by the New York Times: Vaccine is coming, Trump is going. Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter Biden won the election—thank God. Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Georgia Paris Climate Agreement returns in January The first female Vice President, baby The women who came before me. Democracy triumphed. Now pass the stuffing. DON’T MISTAKE POLITICAL CONVENIENCE WITH LOVE In the midst of all the political news, there is this strange fiction that Donald Trump somehow is “great for the Jews.” This conclusion apparently is reached by weaving together several proofs, to wit:

  • There are Jews in positions of power in the Trump White House

  • Ivanka Trump married a Jew and is raising Jewish children

  • Trump acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

  • Trump supports the building of settlements in the West Bank

  • The Trump administration was instrumental in securing the Israel-UAE/Bahrain deals

Let’s be clear—Jews are not new to the halls of power. The troubling Stephen Miller thankfully is not the first Jew to serve in a position of power in a presidential administration. As to marrying Jews, several of Joe Biden’s children married Jews. To be clear, the United States always and consistently has acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital; although Trump was the one who moved the embassy. I would argue that recognizing the settlements actually works against Israel’s longer-term interests—but that’s another discussion. And while Mr. Trump deserves an “assist” for the normalization of relations with the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco, let’s remember that there already have been de facto relations between these countries and the practical effect of the current openings is unclear. But everything comes with a price. To receive this formal recognition, the U.S. had to sell advanced military jets to the UAE and wade into the long-term Western Sahara border dispute by recognizing Moroccan claims there. But what I think is most critical—and it extends beyond questions of Israel— is to recognize the difference between ideological or ethical/moral support and transactional convenience. I believe people who trust Mr. Trump to continue to behave consistent with his current stated desires do so at their own peril. Mr. Trump is first and foremost concerned with his own interests. His interactions, as a businessperson and as a president, are transactional in nature. He prides himself on “deals” and not relationships. He prides himself on his impulsiveness and his quick decision-making, not on detailed analysis. Fundamentally, his actions are not grounded in fundamental beliefs or ideals but on short term political or financial expediency. When inconvenient or no longer beneficial to Mr. Trump, similar to his handling of his subordinates, they are discarded. One final point…recall that this fellow who claims to be the friend of the Jews spoke to the Proud Boys “standing by” and finding “good people on both sides.” And this president, who claims to be the best friend of Black people since perhaps Abraham Lincoln, maintains that the peaceful protest of Black Lives Matter were comprised of lawless “mobs,” regularly retweets messages of white supremacists, created the “birther” movement and urged the death penalty for the innocent Central Park Five. FUN OBSERVATIONS FROM 2020 We’ve all seen any number of lists based on the pandemic and the crazy year about to end. Here is one of my favorites, provided by Chuck Kenworthy: 1. The dumbest thing I bought was a 2020 planner. 2. 2019: Stay away from negative people. 2020: Stay away from positive people. 3. The world has turned upside down. Old folks are sneaking out of the house and their kids are yelling at them to stay home. 4. This morning I saw a neighbor talking to her dog. She thought her dog understood her. I came in the house and told my cat. We laughed a lot. 5. Every few days try your jeans on. Pajamas will have you believe all is well in the kingdom. 6. Does anyone know if we can take showers yet or should we just keep washing our hands? 7. This virus has done what no woman could do. Cancel sports, shut down all bars and keep men at home. 8. I never thought the comment, I wouldn't touch someone with a 6' pole would become a national policy, but here we are. 9. I need to practice social distancing from the refrigerator. 10. Never in a million years could I have imagined I would go up to a bank teller wearing a mask and ask for money. Have a great day, Glenn

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