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In this holiday season when wise commentators summarize what happened, what is happening, and what will happen, it is appropriate to remind ourselves of the obvious, trivial, and continuing realities.


We members of the Chosen People with Jerusalem as our eternal capital may need such a reminder more than others.


The world is not entirely about us. And that part of it that does focus on us as the essence of all that is good or all that is evil is not so powerful or not so fixated on our salvation or destruction.


This is also the time when I get more than the normal rate of e-messages from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Anti-Defamation League, and several others telling me about attacks and threats against Jews, their role in my defense, and how I can help by buying a gift from their on-line store or making a contribution while the tax year is still running.


I''d prefer that the Simon Wiesenthal stop its construction of a Museum of Tolerance on a Muslim cemetery, but that is another story I have already mentioned more than once.


Don''t get me wrong. Things are not entirely rosy for me and the Jewish people. My family has its share of Holocaust stories, and I warn visitors not to take a wrong turn into Isaweea.


I still think that things have not been this good for the Jewish people since the death of King Solomon. My late and loved father-in-law can no longer remind me that he thought the same as a young man in Dusseldorf, but I hear him.


I know about Iran and other problems, but now is an occasion to focus on the myriad of things that complicate this region, and make it likely that bad things will happen elsewhere.


Most prominent on my personal agenda of optimism is France''s declaration about the Armenian Holocaust.


We must start with the admission that the issue is more complex than the Holocaust carried out by the Germans. The killing of Armenians was not the systematic planning, rounding up, transportation, industrial slaughter and disposal of the 1940s. Yet it had elements closer to that than unorganized ethnic murder, or responses to warfare and the unfortunate consequences of forced marches that the Turks claim. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Genocide


The stubborn resistance of Turkish authorities to admit what many view as facts have made this a political issue. The French enactment of sanctions against those who deny the Armenian Holocaust has caused a diplomatic rupture and produced Turkish accusations of an Algerian Genocide done by the French.


The Israeli government continues to resist demands to accept the concept of an Armenian Holocaust, despite the presence of a substantial Armenian community here, Israel''s own history, and its current problems with Turkey. Still the official line is silence, with comments that the issue is one for historians and not politicians.


We''ll have to see what all this means for Turkey, France, NATO, and other issues in the Middle East and elsewhere. It''s good to see a bigger country on our side, even if I haven''t forgotten that misplaced condemnation of Israel in the Security Council.


It reminds me of watching other boys fight in the schoolyard. It''s not about me.


Other events in the same category are explosions in Damascus and Baghdad.


I do not enjoy hearing of people killed. Not even soldiers of some other army, and certainly not civilians of any country.


These atrocities point to continuing conflict, of kinds that are difficult to define: religious, ethnic, political, or more likely a mixture of all. They may spill over to affect Israel, but their centers are somewhere else. They result from long-simmering hatreds between religious and ethnic communities, and/or repressed animosities against harsh and unresponsive regimes, perhaps triggered by clumsy interventions by Americans concerned to produce democracy. No one should risk a reputation by predicting  the outcomes for individual countries, much less a region-wide shift or drift in one direction or another.


It''s a time for concern, but too early to head downstairs for the bomb shelter.


Those assassinations and explosions in Iran also provoke my wonder. Each instance is followed by media speculation about Israel, but more prominent is a continuing discussion about American and Israeli officials hinting in favor or against an outright strike at Iran''s nuclear facilities. One has to ponder if American, Israeli, or some other outside force is already meddling in Iran, with security so tight that media personalities are cooperating in a cover-up. Or perhaps the Iranians are as clumsy as their reports claim, and the explosions are industrial accidents that will do their part to delay the ultimate unpleasantness.


One last bit of optimism comes from an academic friend who spends more time than I on American campuses.


"i wanted to comment on a "myth" which I think that you accept as fact.


I for one am convinced that most American campuses are pro Israel or neutral. Few and very few are anti Israel. One example. Last year 5 or 10 campuses in North America celebrated Palestine Week. Thousands of campuses had no such week. In addition hundreds of campuses had programs commemorating Israeli independence day."


A welcome correction. I still pity those parents who spent years worrying about their childrens'' acceptance, and now pay a lot for lousy education at distinguished campuses, but I accept my friend''s correction that the media exaggerate the problem.


I continue to read what I get from Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, and appreciate what colleagues are doing for me and to preserve the integrity of their campuses. I''ll let others pay to keep it in operation. I''m doing my part by living alongside of Isaweea.


My guess is that I''ll write again before the start of the New Year. But if sanity prevails and nothing provokes me, I''ll record my Good Wishes now.

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