Thursday, March 12, 2020

The Armageddon That Wasn't

If you're living in Israel, it certainly feels like the End of Days, especially this afternoon. First, there's the whole Coronavirus thing. Aside from the threat to life, this has basically shut down the airport and hotel industries, and an announcement this afternoon that all schools might close.

Then, this afternoon, there's weather which I haven't seen the likes of in the quarter-century that I've lived here. The unbelievable winds shook my car as I drove home; I stopped off a store and someone asked how my End Of The World is going. Right after I parked at home, the howling gale toppled a tree outside my house, entirely blocking the road. Then the power went out in the entire city.

There was also a power outage earlier today in the museum, and together with the unusually over cast skies, it felt like the Plague of Darkness. And I saw locusts, frogs, and wild animals. Though, come to think of it, I see those every day, so perhaps that wasn't significant.

But enough about the End of Days, let's talk about Armageddon.

I have to preface what I'm about to say by stressing that I utterly despise Donald Trump. He's like Yosef Mizrachi, but even worse. A while ago I was offered a chance to meet with him at an exclusive event, and I turned it down. Trump is a repulsive person (and I don't think that he's done much good for Israel either, practically speaking).

Yet I firmly believe (and it should be obviously true) that just as very great people can do terrible things, so too very terrible people can do great things. Recently I saw an ordinarily level-headed person write that in the next US election, he will vote for absolutely anyone who isn't Trump. This is irrational. However bad Trump is, it's certainly conceivable that there is someone who is a worse president. Just as, several years ago, a certain crowd was irrational in automatically hating absolutely everything that Obama did, so too other people are irrational in automatically hating absolutely everything that Trump does.

A case in point is the Armageddon that wasn't.

It's always easier to notice things that do happen rather than things that don't. So let's refresh our memories. A little over two months ago, the United States took out Iran's major general Qasem Soleimani.

Do you remember what many people were saying? They were convinced that World War Three was going to immediately break out. It was going to be Armageddon.

Now, I'm not saying that it was necessarily strategically wise to take him out. And it's certainly possible that there could still be negative repercussions. But it's not exactly looking like the Armageddon that people predicted is going to happen. Furthermore, it's not even as though they said that it might lead to Armageddon; they were absolutely convinced that it would. (Along with moving the embassy to Jerusalem, which they were also certain would set the Middle East on fire.)

There are three lessons to take from this. One is that End Of The World predictions often don't come true (in fact so far, there is a 100% failure rate). Another is to remember to notice the things that don't happen. And a third is to bear in mind that knee-jerk responses to the actions of people that you love or hate are not necessarily correct.

(If you'd like to subscribe to this blog via email, use the form on the right of the page, or send me an email and I will add you.)


  1. Regarding Trump and his support of Israel, you wrote:
    "I don't think that he's done much good for Israel either, practically speaking."

    Please explain.

    1. Trump has literally been the best president for Israel. I hope there is a typo in his statement.

      Is Trump supposed to send buckets of cash to Israel?

    2. And Trump's moving the Embassy was just finally carrying out what was promised (and approved by Congress) in 1995. Israel had implemented Oslo II, so America decided to reward Israel's pursuit of peace.
      The only reason why the Embassy move was delayed until now was that American presidents were afraid of the "Palestinian reaction". That's hardly the behavior I would expect of a superpower. Trump was finally willing to call the Palestinians' bluff.

  2. not the entire neighborhood. as of now, 18:54, we have not lost power even for a moment. pfut pfut pfut

  3. "Do you remember what many people were saying? They were convinced that World War Three was going to immediately break out. It was going to be Armageddon."

    Many people? Sounds like a trumpism to me.

    No one leader of any substance was saying that at all. ABSOLUTELY NO ONE. What some global leaders were saying was that it risked heightening tensions in the region to untenable levels and the risk of increased conflict if Iran were to act in an irrational manner or strike out. And in a way that has happened - albeit atomized. The vacuum in power in Syria and Iraq has worsened the situation in Syria. Turkey and Russian are even more deeply mired and the refugee scenario has worsened in the past few months. The chaos in Iraq has worsened as well. The mere fact that nuclear war has not been unleashed does not change the fact that the region is a slow burn disaster - and with the US excercising almost zero leadership it is at best acting piecemeal and at worst, simply fanning the flames of an out of control fire.

  4. Why do you dislike Donald Trump? His middos are not great, but his actions are. He has good common sense policies, loves America and wants to give back to his country. I'm pretty shocked by this.

    1. I agree with you. I am also a Trump person, as is Ben Shapiro. For one, Trump moved the US embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing it as the nation's capital. And I agree that Trump's wall is essential. Even Greece is now taken Trump as an example and wants to build walls around Europe due to a recent threat by Turkey's weaponization of humans. These people who want to enter Greece are actually not real refugees. They are undesirables and they have ruined Sweden with rapes, bringing lower IQs amongst the populace of Europe in general. And with coronavirus spreading, now, more than ever, we must be considerate for our safety. Bernie Sanders recently said that he would not close the borders in face of coronavirus. That is very foolish. Furthermore, because we closed our borders we prevented Ebola, an, even deadlier virus than coronavirus, from spreading across the country.

      Last night, President Trump addressed the nation. I think he did well. And I think it's childish to say he is the "worst president." Attacking presidents is nothing new. Since George Washington, Americans have been attacking presidents. Misconduct is not a violation of meeting impeachment. See Alan Dershowitz.

      Before we call Trump a racist we should remember that every "honest Jew" here, without exception, whether they admit it or not, would agree that Bibi should build walls to keep the militant Islamic Arabs out. Like it or not, coronavirus is a threat and Iran could bring it to Israel unless we do something about it.

    2. I'm not saying that YOU have to love or hate Trump, but asking why people dislike him so much simply means that you haven't been paying attention to the conversation or are brushing aside the myriad of concerns people have about him.

    3. Rabbi Slifkin perhaps does not know about American culture, American philosophy and American policy. Which would make sense, he did not grow up here, nor does he live here.

      You bring up very good points, attacking presidents is normal, and perhaps good. They need to be held to high standards as it is the most powerful position in the world. But, when they do something well, we should applaud and criticize when they do something wrong. Ben Shapiro has this approach. Which is funny, because he didn't even vote for Trump in 2016, but has said that considering current trends he will in 2020. He has even said that on policy, Trump has a chance to be the greatest president ever, and if he could get his temperament under control, perhaps the greatest overall. Ultimately, Trump was elected partially to fight back against the left, since they have been abusing religious people and rational people for some time now.

      I hope that Rabbi Slifkin will take an open minded approach. He should travel to central USA, meet the humble average American Christian, and the average working American. I think he would get a good picture as to why Trump was elected, and why he fights so hard.

      Oh, and by the way, it is a known thing among Jews here (Midwest) that Trump LOVES Jews. I have heard from someone in my community that when he was running his business, he would always try to hire Jews.

    4. "His middos are not great." -- You could have said "His middos are appalling," but you went for the euphemism.

    5. I agree with you. Rabbi Slifkin should visit America or call in one of Ben Shapiro's shows.

    6. Because I don't think they are appalling... There are good parts and bad parts. I happen to think he has a lot of good qualities.

  5. " it's certainly conceivable that there is someone who is a worse president"

    Trump is certainly the worst president since Warren Harding. But not everything he has done has been bad. Another example of the End not happening was the "move" of the US embassy to Jerusalem. My major concern right now is that he is looking like a deer in the headlights
    on the coronavirus pandemic.

    I have gotten quite a bit of grief by pointing out that it is not obvious that Bernie Sanders would be an improvement. He shares many of Trump's negative characteristics. I have been working to try to have the Democrats nominate someone else.

    1. I agree with much of what RNS wrote and that it is irrational to totally despise any president, even Trump. We need to be cautious of fear-mongering panic, and yet we don't want to call coronavirus a "non-issue."

    2. It seems that they have, although, WADR, Jim Clyburn's endorsement probably meant more than yours ;).

  6. Oy. Boynie Sanders. An octogenarian, Jewish, atheist, Israel-hating Communist. An angry, crotchety, cantankerous old man who never accomplished a single thing in his wretched, miserable life aside from becoming a millionaire in politics. And how? By moving his political donations to his advertising campaign manager: his wife. A Communist millionaire. Yeah, he's for real. Very sincere in his beliefs. Talk about a hypocrite. And he never met a tyrant from Russia, China or South America he didn't love. All that is sure to play well in Peoria!
    Luckily, you don't have much longer to go to kick that alte kocker out. He literally embodies the lesson of Animal Farm: " all are equal, but some are more equal than others."
    Goodbye Boynie! Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

    1. Look, I agree with you and Ben Shapiro that Bernie Sanders is a Communist who never met a dictator he didn’t like, and wrong for calling the Bibi led-government “racist,” and is an atheist (he shouldn’t use the Jew card because he is not Jewish in any other sense other than being born of a Jewish mother). He associates himself with anti-semites. He never worked a day in his life (for 30 years) until he became a millionaire and now only complains about billionaires (despite ow wing here houses and a golf club). But your being a little too harsh on the poor man. He lost the nomination. But overall, I agree that Trump is better for Israel.

    2. I am no Bernie Sanders fan but there is no evidence that he is an atheist and he certainly is no communist. Spreading slanderous lies about him only creates a backlash of support.

      He became a millionaire because he wrote some books that sold well. Nothing wrong with that -- I would love to be able to do that and so would most of us! Resentment of honestly earned wealth is not a Jewish value. And for most of his career he was one of the poorest members of Congress.

      Sanders' appreciation for despots is deplorable but remember that the guy who loves Russian tyrants today is Trump.

    3. He's an atheist.
      He's a Communist.
      He's a millionaire because he funnelled his political donations to his wife.
      He's a hypocrite.
      He hates Israel, as all Communists do.

    4. I disagree. Senator Bernie Sanders does not hate Israel. He even lived in Israel for about three months. But he IS a Communists. He is also an atheist, but that does not belittle him to me. Rabbi Kook said that we need to respect everyone, even atheists, Communists, and Russian tyrants. Trumps' relationship with Tsar Putin is consequential to good Russian-American, (post-cold-war) relations.

      Tonight Bernie Sanders will be debating Joe Biden for the first time without an audience because of coronavirus. This isn't the first time a debate was held w/out an audience in the history of the United States. In the 60s' debates often went solo. In any event, I respect Bernie Sanders who is Jewish, even if I may disagree with much of his policy.

  7. Yikes. Didn't realize you were a TDS guy. Sad!

  8. You wrote " (in fact so far, there is a 100% failure rate)" I think that depends on your definition of the end of the world, there are many historical events that could be classified as the end of the world, if you don't mean strictly ending all human life. The world wars are examples. Millions dead that kind of thing. So, there is ample reason do be afraid of such events and try to avoid them as best as possible. So agreeing and disagreeing sometimes such events do come true. That being said given the tumult going on right now, practically it is better to be optimistic then pessimistic.

    1. Since the beginning of time people have been screaming about the “end of days” and it hasn’t happened yet...

  9. "He's like Yosef Mizrachi, but even worse."

    I have to disagree. Why would you say Trump is worse than a person whose personally criticized you with insulting vehemence: calling you a heretic and epikoros?

    President Donald Trump may be, as he calls himself, a "bad Christian." He may even be, as Ben Shapiro observed, a "huge" sinner, but he's definitely not as fanatical as Yosef Mizrachi. Mizrachi is even anti-rational. But before I go through all the details; it is worth mentioning here that Mizrachi actually brought me back into Judaism. So I give credit where credit is due. On the other hand, I am happy to accept rational Judaism over his fanaticism any day.

    For starters, there is a tape of him threatening two messianic Jews with their lives. Worse, he is a full-fledge holocaust denier, claiming that only a million Jews died in the Shoah! Yes, he apologized later, to a holocaust survivor at that. But I don't buy it and nor should you.

    I once saw a lecture by him where he quotes Albert Einstein saying that 'G-d does not play dice with the universe.' Later Einstein allegedly repudiated the statement but Mizrachi was convinced that we should reject his later statements since the former are his true views. The following are Mizrachi's own words. He said:

    “Many times you say something in a lecture, or you write in a newspaper article and people begin to pressure you and it invites so much pressure and you’re trying to be politically correct and avoid the pressure. So what happens in the next day? You try to fix the damage you made. But everyone knows already who you are, right? If you are a racist and you spoke against one race and the next day everyone started to attack you and now you say, 'No you didn’t understand me. You know it was—you took things out of context.' You know everyone knew what you meant and everyone knows your [true] opinion. Now you can say millions of words to correct the impression that you made. People may forgive you. People would say at least your apologizing. But everyone already knows what you think.”

    Eat your own words, Mizrachi. By that very statement, he just shot himself in the foot. By his own admission, he admitted that he denied the holocaust and is racist towards Asians, Blacks, Arabs, non-Jews. It follows, that by his own advice, we should not accept, but reject his apologies.

    1. You're right. Although Trump may have been or is a sinner, does not mean he is a bad president. Also, people can change! Who says he hasn't done some form of teshuva? What's important are his actions today, which have been overall terrific. He is a staunch supporter of religious people in America.

    2. Yes, I agree. I think he is even handling the coronavirus well (or, at least I like to think he is doing his best). I think 4 more years of Trump will keep america great.

  10. Almost all western governments have been appalling in their reaction to the Wuhanvirus, but there's no doubt that Trump has been the worst. On the other hand, whereas other leaders feel some need to slowly transition into imposing social distancing measures and travel bans (even though it's already a 2 weeks after these should have started!), Trump is shameless enough to just switch directly, so that's a plus.

    Overall, we are incredibly lucky that Italy, for whatever reason, was 3 weeks ahead of the the rest of the western world in Wuhanvirus spread. The chaos there has finally forced western governments to do what any sane system of government would have already done. We're probably looking at around 10 millions deaths not 100.

    1. Hopefully the Wuhanvirus does not kill 100 million!

  11. Also, Mizrachi called R’ Slifkin a resha’im! He added that it is forbidden to watch Slifkin (since according to him he is a rasha) and those who do are going to hell. In fact, he preaches that anyone who disagrees with him are going to hell (scare tactics). Mizrachi continues to bring insults to rabbis who critique his perverse teachings (with good reason). On top of that, Mizrachi boasts about criminals and murderers and encourages them to murder his critics (two messianic Jews who responded with their one video, preaching the love of Yeshua (Jesus)). This is bad news for Jews since Mizrachi gives Judaism a bad name. Surprising as it may be to him, today's Christians are good people. Evangelicals are Israel's best friends. Note the two messianic Jews taught love rather than hate. Thus, Mizrachi is spreading more anti-Semitism and hate speech, and in doing to, he denigrates G-d's name— G-d forbid!

  12. In defense of R. Slifkin's anti-Trump friend, I think he meant that there was no one who he can imagine Democrats nominating who will be worse than Trump, not that he literally would vote for every single human in the United States over Trump. For example, I suspect he would probably vote for Trump over the Unabomber.

  13. I think R. Slifkin's friend meant that he couldn't imagine the Democrats nominating anyone worse than Trump, not that he literally would vote for every single one of the United States's 350 million residents over Trump. I am sure that among the nation's hundreds of thousands of homeless, at least a few are crazier than Trump.

  14. Trump is the first president to give Israel truly defensible borders, saving at minimum 10's of thousands of Jewish lives in future wars when the Arabs attack it.

    Pikuach Nefersh Docheh Hakol including temperament Shmemperament

    May his name be for a blessing.

    My heart started thumping like a rabbit tail.

    You mean the Palestinians lose if they don’t agree to peace? Does President Trump support this? I asked in stunned disbelief.

    Yes, of course, he supports this. It’s his plan, after all, Friedman said, smiling and a bit surprised at my reaction.


    Unannounced, tears began flowing out of my eyes.

    Are those tears of happiness or sadness, Friedman asked, concerned.

    For several moments, I couldn’t speak. Finally, I said, I feel like I need to take off my shoes. I’m witnessing a miracle.

    Shortly thereafter, after thanking him and wishing him well, (and washing my face), I left his home, got in my car and drove to the Kotel.

    As I listened to his briefing, there in his study, I didn’t feel like I was alone. There with me were fifty generations of Jews in every corner of the globe mouthing the Psalmist’s verses, “And the nations of the world will say, God has greatly blessed them; God has greatly blessed us, we were like dreamers.”


Comments for this blog are moderated. Please see this post about the comments policy for details. ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL NOT BE POSTED - please use either your real name or a pseudonym.

More Tzedaka Shenanigans

Kupat Ha'ir, the charity with the unfortunate tagline of "100% Pure Tzedaka," sent out an interesting campaign before Rosh H...