During a recent stay in Berlin, I visited the old headquarters of the East German Ministry of State Security, better known as the Stasi. The building, in a suitably bleak part of what used to be East Berlin, is now a museum devoted to the communist surveillance state.
... the first floor of the Stasi Museum ... is devoted to the propaganda that East German bureaucrats used to foster socialist consciousness in an unwilling public. One display explains the GDR's efforts in the 1950s to politicize what in the past had been family and religious occasions. The state sought to transform weddings, confirmations, and other personal events into "socialist celebrations," to be "committed collectively and aimed at a confession to socialism," according to the awkward English translation of the exhibit.
The exhibition informs visitors that the project "did not gain popular acceptance." Amazingly enough, people didn't want to turn their family holidays into socialist celebrations.
Here at home, this Thanksgiving brings an effort by the Obama administration to turn a day of giving thanks into a day of discussion about the virtues of national health care. On Wednesday afternoon, just hours before Thanksgiving, President Obama's Twitter account -- which has more than 40 million followers -- sent out this message: "Make sure everyone who sits down with you for #Thanksgivukkah dinner is covered." ("Thanksgivukkah" refers to this year's rare overlap of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah.)
The president's tweet linked to a photo of a young man sitting at a table with a turkey and a menorah...
The New York Times published a piece about the White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough on Wednesday: "The Hard Charger at Obama's Side Has His Hands Full." I found it basically unnoteworthy, except for the wonky juxtaposition of this text with the accompanying photo.
".... At the center of these challenges is Mr. McDonough, the ramrod-straight scorekeeper from Minnesota with the close-cropped, prematurely graying hair and the bearing of a military man, even though he never served."
The Associated Press and Al-Monitor kept US-Iran nuclear containment talks secret until after they had reached their conclusion this past weekend.
.... Al-Monitor reporter Laura Rozen says both her journal and the AP had the story and kept quiet about it to accommodate the Obama Administration.
The president may not hold much sway internationally, but domestically he's a bully:
” President Obama’s people can be quite nasty. They don’t like you to say anything bad about their boss, and they’re not afraid to use whatever means they have at hand to stop you from doing that, including threatening your job.” -- CNN anchor Carol Costello
So what could this possibly have to do with this week's parshah (Torah portion)? The answer is in Pharaoh's dream of the seven thin and unhealthy cows swallowing the seven robust cows.
The Weak Bully
... another lesson from this enigmatic dream. How often do you encounter aggressive personalities who love to dominate? These people feel compelled to make every decision and control every exchange. If someone stands up to them, they tear into him and figuratively eat him alive. Having swallowed each of their challengers, and even many of their supporters, such people appear to be invincible, but they often feel weak and beleaguered.
You see, very few people tear into others because they are strong. They often do these things because they lack self-esteem and suffer emotional starvation. They might perceive almost any exchange as a slight, and convince themselves that others are poised to attack them. They put up a brave front and are on the offensive precisely because they feel vulnerable. In their minds, others want to swallow them alive, and they have no choice but to swallow first.
They are like the skinny cows, swallowing their perceived attackers but showing no signs of gain. They “won” the battle, but gained no emotional satisfaction from it. It is the height of irony....
Here is what the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle said, and I think the words apply very much ...
"All these calamities fell upon us because of evil counsel, because tribute was not offered to them at the right time nor yet were they resisted; but when they had done the most evil, then was peace made with them."
That is the wisdom of the past, for all wisdom is not new wisdom.
.... Directly contrasting US President Barack Obama who praised the agreement as opening a "new path toward a world that is more secure," Netanyahu – speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting -- said the world has become more dangerous as a result. "What was agreed last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement, it is a historic mistake," he said.
"Today the world has become much more dangerous because the most dangerous regime in the world took a significant step to getting the most dangerous weapon in the world."
"This is a bad deal. It grants Iran exactly what it wanted - both a significant easing in sanctions and preservation of the most significant parts of its nuclear program," an official in Netanyahu's office said.
Netanyahu's sentiments were echoed by Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, who called the deal a "historic mistake" and a "surrender to the Iranian charm and smiles offensive, and to Iranian fraud, which is aimed at gaining time, without the Iranian nuclear program being substantially harmed."
The deputy speaker of parliament, Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, said on Saturday the interim agreement signed between Iran and the Western powers was tantamount to the Munich Agreement of the late 1930s.
“Like Czechoslovakia at that time, which was not party to the discussions that effectively sentenced it to death, Israel today watches from the sidelines how its existential interest is being sacrificed by the Western powers,” Feiglin said.
Feiglin said that entrusting foreign powers to secure Israel’s defense interests is “disastrous” and “much worse than that which led to the Yom Kippur War.” The lawmaker called on the Israeli government to declare an immediate end to all contacts with the West over the Iranian question and to make clear that it would not be bound by the agreement signed.
Knesset member Eli Yishai reacted Sunday morning to the deal: "the world's countries only saw the economic interests of the deal, and not their obligation to the security of Israel."
He stressed that Israel "has to no one to trust besides god and ourselves".