President Quixote

Ron Klain as Sancho Panza

I had written this satirical piece about President Biden, and then suddenly last night the Former President endured an assassination attempt. Another horrible indictment of the violence in this country. So it might not be in good taste to publish the piece right now, but the political battles will go on and Trump will survive.

Fintan O’Toole may have written one of the sharpest and saddest takedowns of President Biden, our current Don Quixote. In his NYR piece Savior Complex he explained it this way: “Biden’s tragedy is that he has come to feel that he alone can rescue America.”

As Biden sees it, his destiny is to defeat Trump, his magic dragon, his doppelganger, his antithesis and nemesis. Like Don Q, Biden is obsessed with his honor, here it’s the notion of “finishing the job.” Unfortunately, like the Don, the disconnect from his own reality has become palpable for all to see.

As I write this, we’re on the cusp of discovering whether a grand council of Democratic sages (Pelosi, Schumer, Obama et al.) might prevail on Joe to step aside and get off his high horse. They don’t have a lot of time. If I were able to consult with Joe, I might render it this way:

“Look, man, here’s the deal. Let me put it to you from one aged American to another. You seem to think you can outrun Father Time. You’re also fond of quoting your father: “Joey, don’t compare me to the Almighty. Compare me to the alternative.” You keep trying to beat the devil, and nobody’s buying it. In fact, what you need is simply to face the discordant music of getting old.

“Getting old means relinquishing a lot of things, and not just your car keys. You have a history of communication failures―lapses, gaffes and solecisms―all compounded because of the complexity and uncertainty of issues you must deal with daily. Your tasks get more difficult, and aging makes them more formidable. Your delivery gets worse, and sound bites are hard to package, as you should have learned. You’ve been a good president, Joe. But now the signs of senility are hard to miss, and you don’t want to end up like Dianne Feinstein, do you?

“I’ve been retired for fifteen or more years, my friend. Of course we all hate the word and the concept behind it. But you don’t have to sit on the front porch of your Rehoboth beach house. If it’s honor that moves you, let it come to you as a highly revered figure of U.S. politics, not as the man who tried to beat the devil.”

Joe Must Go. Politics Ain’t Beanbag.

Some of us remember Lyndon Johnson renouncing the presidency in 1968, one of his finest moments. Some of us remember Nixon being forced out under pressure. Now we hold our collective breaths to see what Joe Biden will do. If he doesn’t resign, there is no hope of beating Trump in the next election. The results of which we leave to your imagination.

In one sense his decision will rest in the hands of his family, his wife Jill and his longtime followers. The more senile Joe has become, the more they have protected him. He offers us few press conferences, infrequent unstaged interviews, clichéd speeches, and the same old downhome Scranton working class bullshit. Senile people forever keep on referencing the past.

As someone who has done debate prep, it appeared to me that he likely had no professional coaching and relied solely on his White House cronies (Ron Klain, Bob Bauer et al.). James Carville said it too: “He doesn’t have advisers. He has employees.” Odds are they stuffed him with the obvious issues and canned responses. No professional coach would have let him appear as he did. Pee in your pants, call in sick, for God’s sake.

Presidential debates generally are more style than substance, and they are a perfect vehicle for a convincing conman.  Trump rapidly floats his same (or worse) whoppers and gets away with it uncontested. He paralyzes our analytical powers and takes obvious joy in manipulating people. Many want to believe him because it’s their form of heroin. In the flood of this the truth cannot prevail; people like Truthful Joe cannot prevail.

Part of the problem is that Biden has usually wanted to avoid being in the public eye―and the public hasn’t been crazy about seeing him either. Lili Loofbourow in the WaPo nicely put it this way: “Biden’s unwillingness and inability to court attention has, for example, made it difficult for him to sell the public on his achievements.”

There have been many comments urging Biden to quit—and many urging the opposite. Among the best and most forthright of the former is Tom Friedman’s. He urges his friend Joe Biden to step aside.

I had been ready to give Biden the benefit of the doubt up to now, because during the times I engaged with him one on one, I found him up to the job. He clearly is not any longer. His family and his staff had to have known that. They have been holed up at Camp David preparing for this momentous debate for days now. If that is the best performance they could summon from him, he should preserve his dignity and leave the stage at the end of this term.

Finally, it’s not overly dramatic to say that the state of the nation is at stake and we face a  drastic challenge to democratic rule. Your decision, like it or not, is a political one―to win the election. You can discount everything else: the mess that will be wrought on the Democratic convention if Biden drops out, loyalty to the party and the president, the shortcomings of other challengers. Trump made it this way. He cannot survive.

Debate Prep: A Remembrance

On Thursday evening comes CNN’s ballyhooed clown show with two unsympathetic candidates. Neither of them is very good at debating, and one has eschewed all preparation. Many will watch to see who stumbles the most, not who wins.

The attraction of a political debate is more than seeing who scores the most points. It’s to discover whom we finally can identify with. The Kennedy-Nixon televised debates in 1960 set the pattern: JFK was relaxed, prepared, and showed some style. Nixon’s presentation was cold-blooded and his tense body language gave him away. TV made all the difference, this for the first time. Though we know political media is very different now, the visual truth remains, despite AI.

When I was teaching presentation skills, I got a great mashup video cassette of those debates from a friend at American Express, where we were coaching some execs. I wish I still had it. Let’s hope that whoever is coaching Biden shows them that tape.

Biden is a hard man to identify with, while Trump is just a bomb-thrower. And debate prep is more than bringing your client up to speed on the issues and your opponent’s weaknesses. You must enable him to show his character, his realness, that he’s not just the guy you could have a beer with but someone you could warm to and respect. Reagan sets the example here.

I worked with two Rhode Island governors in the 1980s, Ed DiPrete, a Republican who later went to jail, and Bruce Sundlun, a Democrat. They battled each other several times for the governorship, and finally Bruce won in 1990 with a landslide 74% of the vote. I coached him in his presentations (speeches and press conferences, etc.) and prepared him for his first debate in 1986. He was not an easy person to work with.

Besides being irascible and unpredictable, Sundlun had had an incredible career as a WWII bomber pilot flying B-17s over Germany, getting shot down and surviving with the French Resistance, then postwar becoming a very successful businessman, which led him into a life of public service and, finally, politics.

I worked with him on the contentious issues, of course, but the main thrust was to get him to relax and open up about his present life―and his goal to make Rhode Island a destination for tourism and business. It was challenging to convince him to talk openly about himself without being pompous. “Captain Blowhard” the Providence Journal called him. Well, the man had a lot to be pompous about. His wife-to-be Susie was sometimes present in our sessions and she hassled him about that.

There are some techniques to get a client to open up and reveal who he really is. One is getting him to tell stories about growing up and remember being a kid again. Bruce finally got the message to humanize himself, I think, even though he lost that race to DiPrete.

Our sessions were also a real lesson to me about what moves people and how persuasion works on television. You’ll see once again on Thursday whether debate prep matters.

Alice in Bump Stock Land

Down the rabbit hole into the dreary land of SCOTUS came Alice, looking for clarity and judgment and finding none. She simply wanted to know if those things they called bump stocks―devices to make those nasty guns they called assault rifles―could be modified to kill even more people. Her White Rabbit was the ATF which had banned the stocks after a gun nut shot and killed 60 people out of a hotel window in Las Vegas.

Years had passed since then and Alice, like quite a few others, thought killing people at random should not be for fun or made-up revenge. The Mad Hatter told her that deer don’t shoot back. He maintained that firing off 30 rounds in 11 seconds would be sufficient to assault a school or Walmart with no problem. Who needs a bump stock? Maybe the justices were smoking some shit?

At the Mad Tea Party the jaundiced justices promoted the theory that you had to keep pulling the trigger to activate more firing. This entirely incorrect notion presented by Clarence the Cheshire Cat concluded the bogus trial, while three justices loudly dissented and the cat kept grinning.

Alice finally recognized that the whole thing was a house of cards.

Hunting Wild Boar in La Pampa II

We all need to lighten up. Yesterday morning Maureen Dowd quoted Bill Maher who “had joked that Trump was the love child of a human woman and an orangutan — what else could explain the tangerine hair?” I wrote this one back in March.

There was nothing left for me to do in Oaxaca. Erstwhile friends had fled north—where they encountered really bad weather while the days here were scorching. Talks at the Library I found totally uninteresting. The news media (CNN and Fox) had become so fixed in their political opinions that their comments were predictable and repetitive.

Movies on Netflix were as dreadful as ever, and the audio was the usual sonic blur. I was out of Bonne Maman cookies. I had begun to read again the fantastical stories of Donald Barthelme, the only inspiration I could find to continue writing. A total break from all this, I thought, might improve my digestion and my spirits.

The service desk at LATAM put me on long holds, giving me time to think about why I’d want to book with them after a recent flight suddenly dropped 500 feet in a dive, throwing people to the roof of the cabin and injuring 50. Still, it was the best way to Argentina where I would join a posse of rich Americans on a wild boar hunt.

“What the hell is the matter with you?” a friend asked. “You can’t afford this and you hate the idea of hunting. Have you been talking with Al Z. Heimer again?”

“I have no bucket list, whatever that is, and boredom has taken over my life here since I gave over volunteering for badly managed organizations, taking falls on broken sidewalks, and eating tacos stuffed with grossly hot jalapeños. Nor can one subsist on old jazz and schmaltzy Sibelius symphonies alone, as some have advised. Even curmudgeonry gets tiresome after a while.”

I told him I’ve never wanted to kill wild animals, or any animal, before now. I don’t like guns. And yet the urge to murder shitheads like Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan became such a preoccupation that it scared me. I decided to invoke what the psychologists call displacement—avoiding the unacceptable and dangerous delusions of seeking death to those lunatics by taking out my aggressions on other beasts.

Of course, the trip to La Pampa never came off. The hold times were too long, and while waiting I read enough blurbs from the hunting lodge that I could hear the bangs of the AR-15s and feel the soggy mattresses in our tents. Not to mention associating with the Harlan Crows, Clarence Thomases and their ilk who would make up the party. Travel is for those with no imagination.

Gerontion (T.S. Eliot, 1920)

Despair is always in fashion. Turning 90 keeps it at bay.

Thou hast nor youth nor age
But as it were an after dinner sleep
Dreaming of both.

TSE, the old Jew-hater

Here I am, an old man in a dry month,
Being read to by a boy, waiting for rain.
I was neither at the hot gates
Nor fought in the warm rain
Nor knee deep in the salt marsh, heaving a cutlass,
Bitten by flies, fought.
My house is a decayed house,
And the jew squats on the window sill, the owner,
Spawned in some estaminet of Antwerp,
Blistered in Brussels, patched and peeled in London.
The goat coughs at night in the field overhead;
Rocks, moss, stonecrop, iron, merds.
The woman keeps the kitchen, makes tea,
Sneezes at evening, poking the peevish gutter.

I an old man,
A dull head among windy spaces.

Signs are taken for wonders. “We would see a sign”:
The word within a word, unable to speak a word,
Swaddled with darkness. In the juvescence of the year
Came Christ the tiger

In depraved May, dogwood and chestnut, flowering Judas,
To be eaten, to be divided, to be drunk
Among whispers; by Mr. Silvero
With caressing hands, at Limoges
Who walked all night in the next room;
By Hakagawa, bowing among the Titians;
By Madame de Tornquist, in the dark room
Shifting the candles; Fraulein von Kulp
Who turned in the hall, one hand on the door. Vacant shuttles
Weave the wind. I have no ghosts,
An old man in a draughty house
Under a windy knob.

After such knowledge, what forgiveness? Think now
History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors
And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions,
Guides us by vanities. Think now
She gives when our attention is distracted
And what she gives, gives with such supple confusions
That the giving famishes the craving. Gives too late
What’s not believed in, or if still believed,
In memory only, reconsidered passion. Gives too soon
Into weak hands, what’s thought can be dispensed with
Till the refusal propagates a fear. Think
Neither fear nor courage saves us. Unnatural vices
Are fathered by our heroism. Virtues
Are forced upon us by our impudent crimes.
These tears are shaken from the wrath-bearing tree.

The tiger springs in the new year. Us he devours. Think at last
We have not reached conclusion, when I
Stiffen in a rented house. Think at last
I have not made this show purposelessly
And it is not by any concitation
Of the backward devils.
I would meet you upon this honestly.
I that was near your heart was removed therefrom
To lose beauty in terror, terror in inquisition.
I have lost my passion: why should I need to keep it
Since what is kept must be adulterated?
I have lost my sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch:
How should I use it for your closer contact?

These with a thousand small deliberations
Protract the profit of their chilled delirium,
Excite the membrane, when the sense has cooled,
With pungent sauces, multiply variety
In a wilderness of mirrors. What will the spider do,
Suspend its operations, will the weevil
Delay? De Bailhache, Fresca, Mrs. Cammel, whirled
Beyond the circuit of the shuddering Bear
In fractured atoms. Gull against the wind, in the windy straits
Of Belle Isle, or running on the Horn,
White feathers in the snow, the Gulf claims,
And an old man driven by the Trades
To a sleepy corner.

Tenants of the house,
Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season.

Doing Time as a Protestor

Tents on the Columbia Lawn

It’s not really déjà vu because the Vietnam era was different. But this week’s massive protests over Gaza on more than 30 campuses brought back heavy memories, mostly illustrating how the principles of protest have changed. I got involved in these early-‘60s protests against the war at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. I was in graduate school studying French Symbolist poetry and its influence in England, enjoying being a bit of an intellectual snob and teaching a course in jazz. Smoking a little pot with friends. Not the profile of your typical bomb-thrower.

But we started marching in local protests around 1963. In those days many on the UW campus were fired up, with the protests getting more violent each time they occurred. Cops gassed protestors in the 1967 campus uproar over Dow Chemical’s production of napalm—which made earlier events look like a cakewalk. Then came the Sterling Hall bombing in 1970, killing a researcher.

By 1965 at age 31 when I moved to New York City, the war had become hugely unpopular and caused angry protests in the city and on many college campuses. One’s status in the culture reflected the growing split between those who opposed the war (the elites, by and large) and those who supported it (the working classes, by and large). And those divisions to an extent have persevered regarding the Gaza conflict. The 1960s gave birth to modern identity politics on a large scale.

I was teaching English at NYU and later at City College, marching in the streets with my colleagues and thousands of others, listening to Mailer and Sontag and Spock speak at rallies. It was a very heady and disconcerting time. Columbia was in the throes of protest and takeovers and, just as today, they spread to City College. When many of our classes were cancelled, my students wanted to keep meeting, in my apartment and other places. But discussing 19th century French poetry while the war was raging and anger in the streets was rising just seemed futile and absurd.

We talked about what was happening at Columbia, and I asked the kids what they thought the leaders like Mark Rudd hoped to accomplish. “They shut down the school, but they don’t have any real agenda,” I declared. Today, it’s all agendas and no real leadership. Maybe the issues with Palestine and Israel are too complex. But we all know the bombing has got to stop.

Now 76 and a pacifist, Mark Rudd says: “They don’t have the violent rhetoric we had, like calling the cops pigs and ‘Up against the wall, motherfucker,’ that kind of craziness,” he said. “I think they’re a lot more careful. I think they’re smarter.” He also says his identity as a Jew used to be based on Israel. “It took me a long time to get over that.”

As I said in my memoir, Vietnam and its turmoil constituted a major reason why I finally quit teaching. After Kent State (1970) I decided to get out of academia and find something more relevant to my interest in media, communications and the world at large. I was not the Peace Corps type; I had a family to support. But I wanted to write and do some good in the world.

It’s easy to forget how much violence was in the air. On March 6, 1970, the townhouse at 18 West 11th Street in Greenwich Village blew up. Working at home just a block and a half away, I heard and felt the enormous boom, ran out to witness the chaos and later learned that the place was a Weatherman bomb factory in which three people had been killed. Homegrown terrorism, right around the corner and heretofore unimaginable despite the constant rhetoric that was feeding it. I had written and marched against the war and helped a few kids go to Canada, but this event took the steam out of my protest, as it did for a lot of people. The unpopularity of the war was growing into a very popular and sometimes vicious cause.

Perhaps the same thing can be avoided now, as thousands of young people across the country protest the criminal actions of Hamas and Israel. Their tactics are very different and their numbers are yet nowhere near those who rioted and bombed in the ‘60s. But Mr. Biden, despite his platitudes about protest (It’s OK if it doesn’t get violent) is totally missing the boat on how significant and powerful their numbers will be for the forthcoming election. If the Gen Zs sit it out and/or fail to vote for him, he will be toast, as I wrote in my little protest here.

As of now, 57 Democrats in Congress have signed a letter urging Biden to withdraw the billions in aid and arms he still quietly permits to flow to Israel. Some 66 percent of the “41 million eligible ‘Gen Z’ voters in 2024 have opposed aid to Israel.” The New York Times is generally conservative about such matters. Yet they write:

Just as students then could no longer tolerate the horrific images of a distant war delivered, for the first time, in almost real time by television, so many of today’s students have found the images from Gaza, now transmitted instantly onto their phones, to demand action. And just as students in ’68 insisted that their school sever ties to a government institute doing research for the war, so today’s students demand that Columbia divest from companies profiting from Israel’s invasion of Gaza. And students then and now have found their college administrators deaf to their entreaties.

Even the deaf administrators and Mr. Biden should be able to read the handwriting on the wall.

Watching Medical Ads on TV

CNN seems to make most of its money selling this stuff to older people, its evening news audience. They know their viewers, yes they do, and the old ones are far more gullible and needy. Nobody else watches the evening news anyway, and elders buy more prescription drugs than any other group. Rather than consult with their doctors, they will believe what they see acted out on their 1080p screens. And so pharma is delighted to rake in billions each year.

News and medical ads don’t mix well, and so the mute button often comes into play. (I’m stuck with CNN on cable here in Mexico; see CNN Is Tottering and my further complaints about it). The other night I watched prime time news on CNN for two hours, holding off on the mute button so I could encounter the following medical ads with their cacophonous, mindless names.

      • Cosentyx: for arthritis and, yes, psoriasis
      • Instaflex: in which plastic surgery victim Marie Osmond talked anti-aging immature blah-blah about her joint problems
      • Veozah: for hot flashes
      • Sotyktu: for psoriasis, and spelled out phonetically for you
      • Caplyta: for depression, etc.
      • Fasenra: for asthma @ $5,511.41 per dose
      • Rinvoq: for eczema, arthritis
      • Ozempic: for diabetes
      • Skyrizi: for psoriasis

Would you ever mention any of these consumer drugs to friends at a party? Civilized people should avoid such pharmaceutical discussions. Why are the actors in these commercials invariably happy and smiling. enjoying things like camping, entertaining, biking, eating, climbing mountains? Nobody is ever sick in bed and recovering. Black and white, fat and skinny, homely or handsome, these counterfeit people might as well be selling Russian laxatives.

Anyhow, your doctor will surely know if Skyrizi is better than Cosentyx or Sotyktu for your psoriasis. “If you experience any of these side effects, call your doctor,” says the rapid-talking (tachyphemic) voiceover—and see how long it takes to get an appointment. How come all those trivial or deadly side effects end with “call your doctor”? Maybe your doctor has never heard of this drug and thinks you are pushy and offensive for trying to question his competence. More likely, he too is beholden to Big Pharma whose lovely gals visit him regularly to dispense tons of free samples that make his patients happy.

Doctor Aaron Kesselheim of the Harvard Med School says: “Actually, the amount of money that pharmaceutical companies spend on advertising to physicians is far higher than the amount spent on direct-to-consumer advertising because physicians are the ones writing the prescriptions.” So everyone is in on the take.

The take is a lot less for CNN these days, so we can expect to see more medical ads, which pay well. Reports are rife that the network will slash what it pays its star anchors and make some big changes. We’ve heard that before. Long-time anchor Poppy Harlow is quitting. What I wish they would do is stop their constant, sickening pro-Israel bias. If that could happen I’d put up with the medical sludge.


For you nonbelievers, this is Yiddish slang for someone who is or acts crazy. Four years ago, I claimed in a book, “Trump is the certified end of America as we know it.” Since then and even before, more evidence has piled up that the ex-president has moved from being an annoying but flagrant narcissist schmuck to someone with severe mental problems.

The press has seemed unwilling to recognize this. “Day after day the press was gaslighting the American people: Pathologizing Biden’s normal signs of aging, such as forgetting names, and normalizing Trump’s flagrant signs of dementia.” So says John Gartner who has been tooting this horn (his shofar, as religious Jews would call it) since 2017 as founder of the group Duty to Warn and a large group of concurring mental health professionals. Others contributed to a book about this a few years ago.

Read Gartner’s piece especially if you think you understand Trump. He looks at four areas of growing decline into dementia. The samples below are from Gartner’s essay. Trump’s language and usage, if you hadn’t noticed, has long been decaying: “A Boston Globe study found in 2015 that Trump was speaking at a 4th grade level, much lower than the other candidates, but more importantly much lower than his former self.” He used to be fairly literate, but in the last years the decline has accelerated. Of many examples: he confused Nikki Haley with Nancy Pelosi. He has claimed, eight times, to be running against Obama. “He uses non-words to replace real words: “space capsicle,” “liberalation,” “U-licious S Grant,” and so on. He posted this: “Joe Buden DISINFORMATES AND MISINFORMATES”

He drifts from one lunatic thought to another, and we’ve all heard him do it. “They’re weaponizing law enforcement for high-level interference against Joe Biden’s top and only political appointment. A guy named me. A guy named me.” He falls asleep in his recent New York hearings, and his outbursts outside of court become “ever more paranoid, aggressive and confused.” Judge Merchan can’t control him.

Now, you might say, the poor man has been under tremendous pressure. Yes, and if his behavior is disquieting now, what will it be like under the pressures (and the freedom) of the presidency? If he can’t think coherently now, what then?

Perhaps the infection is coming from fellow bizarro Republicans. You may remember this totally meshugenah remark from Marjorie Taylor Greene: “A wildfire in California was started by a laser beamed from space and controlled by a prominent Jewish banking family with connections to powerful Democrats.” Last month Trump noted: “Any Jewish person that votes for Democrats hates their religion, they hate everything about Israel and they should be ashamed of themselves because Israel will be destroyed.”

Or maybe the problem is simply his diet: see A Junk Food Diet Can Cause Long-Term Damage to Brains. A recent USC study on rats confirmed this. King Rat did not participate.

My Disaffection with Biden

In a nutshell it’s this: He is still arming Israel to the teeth while that country commits flagrant genocide in Gaza. A recent story in the New York Review puts it this way: “Hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza are at the brink of famine—a human-made disaster with roots in Israel’s history of using food as a weapon.”

Many, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren and the United Nations, have accused Israel of genocide in Gaza, deliberate and planned. We’ve all heard statements by the jingo Netanyahu and other Jewish leaders to that effect. Sen. Schumer calls for new elections but still supports military aid to Israel. Some Jews like me think this is a spectacularly wrong approach.

Others in Congress oppose the aid or at least question it. Outrage over the murder of food aid workers by the IDF has made the situation much more volatile. President Biden wants the House Foreign Affairs Committee

to approve a package that includes 50 new F-15 fighter jets valued at $18 million [each], 30 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles and a number of Joint Direct Attack Munition kits, which turn dumb bombs into precision-guided weapons . . . .

Last month,

the State Department authorized the transfer of 25 F-35A fighter jets and engines worth roughly $2.5 billion, U.S. officials said. The case was approved by Congress in 2008, so the department was not required to provide a new notification to lawmakers.

And then there are the US-made 2000-lb bombs that have caused that horrific death toll in Gaza. Most countries proscribe them.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently told the committee: “’We don’t have any evidence of genocide being [committed]’ by Israel in Gaza.” This from the man who could not admit he had a prostate problem. Biden has a reelection problem, and he’s alienating thousands of voters, including me. Do you want to placate Israel’s right wing, Joe, or lose in November? For many, it’s become a Hobson’s choice.

Jewish agitprop organizations like AIPAC and the AJC will rise at every opportunity to defend anything Israel does. I’ve written before about this: “One does not expect proportionality in warfare but Israel’s violent response has cost it dearly with a preponderance of people around the world. The conflict has pushed many down the rabbit hole of partisan madness.”

If Biden doesn’t come to his senses about the rearming, he will turn off a great many voters in November. The growing protests, particularly among younger people, show that many will sit out the election if the president doesn’t change course. AIPAC’s talking points in fact support exactly what many Republicans are saying about the conflict. Read them here.

Jewish support for Israel has always been a fraught issue for those who have observed the country’s history with the Palestinians. Peter Maass, a journalist, recently wrote a fine piece about this in the Washington Post that resonated with me. “My Jewish identity was always a bit vague because my ancestors were German Jews who assimilated at the speed of cultural sound; when I was growing up, we even had a Christmas tree.“ Same here, Peter, and I’ve written about that too.

Some of the protests against Israel’s actions have been antisemitic. Still, many if not most Jews recognize the idea that it is not only legitimate to defend the lives of innocent Palestinians; it’s part of what we recognize as the morality of being Jewish. One continues to hope Biden will come to his senses.