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May 22, 2009     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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May 22, 2009

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PAGE 4A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 22, 2009 David Bornstein Hat trick Three years ago I took a group of my best friends and closest family on a fly fishing trip to Montana to celebrate my 50th birthday. There were only two conditions: all guys, and my guests had to pay their way there. I handled all the rest of the expenses. We were a great, eclectic group. A close friend from high school. A nephew. A cousin. My oldest son and my brother. My best friend from college. My brother-in-law. My best friend since college. One of my closest friends since moving back to Orlando, and my best friend from Disney. We fished for two days on the Little Bighorn, and caught and released a ton of trout. We boated for a day on a reservoir that looked like a mini-Grand Canyon. We played poker at night, and drank good wine and ate great food and laughed and told stories and caught up on our lives. It was the last adventure of my brother's life. A perfect time. It wasn't long before I started taking notes. It seemed everyone had something brilliant to say, something hysterical, something off the cuff. I began to collect lines, and planned to Letter from Israel he new Cold By Ira Sharkansky The New York Times reports that the American'commander in Afghanistan is being replaced in order to bring a new approach tO "a worsening seven-year war." This comes on the heels of several recent articles in the same newspaper about chronic corruption in Af- ghanistan, the importance of drug production to the economyand politics of the country, and unreliable Afghan security personnel. News from Iraq i~ continued problems of suicide bombers, while in Pakistan the worry is the spread of Taliban influence, and even the possibility that it will take over the country and its nuclear weapons. It is appropriate to think in terms of a con- frontation equivalen.t to the Cold War. That lasted for 40 years from the late 1940s to the late 1980s. and still lurks in tensions between Russia and the United States. We can date the confrontation of the United States with Islamic violence from September 11.2001, or from the attack on a Marine base in Beirut that killed more than 200 Americans in 1983. The United States again is leading a coalition. It is similar in composition to the coalition of the Cold War, and again does not always row in concert. France took its forces out of NATO in the Cold War: Germany is reluctant to give up its commercial options with Iran. Russia is enough of an outsider to wonder if it is a member of this coalition, despite its problems with Chechnya and other Muslim regions. The enemies in both were defined by the intensity of their ideas, either Communism or Islam. Social democrats could join the coali- tion against Communism, just as a number of Muslim states and individual Muslims feel threatened by Iran and its satellites. Neither conflict was all-out, or total. There was intense fighting in Korea and Vietnam, but not overt warfare with the Soviet Union. Now the American coalition is battling in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pakistan might become the equivalent of Cambodia. Israel is doing its part against Iran's satellites. So far no one is taking on the Iranians directly or announcing a region- wide crusade against religious extremism, and certainly not against Islam. There are domestic issues today that might be compared with Loyalty Boards and extensive requirements for loyalty oaths in the United States. They include expanded monitoring of communications, as well as escalating inspections at airports and border controls. Complaints of harassment of Muslims. or in- dividuals who look Middle Eastern, resemble complaints by people claiming to be unfairly' labeled loyalty risks decades ago. Politics as well as warfare marked the Cold War, and this conflict. Summit meetings, both one-on-one and larger conferences, played their part. as well as protracted negotiations, agreements, claims that each side was not living up to them, saber-rattling, and actual fighting on the fringes. In both the Cold War and the fight against Muslim extremists, there are persistent efforts to broaden one's coalition. The Cold War saw competition initially for Italy and Greece, and later for countries in Africa. Latin America. and Asia. Now the competition is for Muslim states that may be kept in the moderate camp. Especially sensitive are Lebanon, Iraq, and some of the Gulf states with substantial Shiite populations actively courted by Iran. Coalitions in the Cold War were not solid, and they are not in this conflict. Yugoslavia left the alliance of the Soviet Union. China occa- sionally displayed its independence. Numerous ,countries of the Third World sought to play off the coalitions in the hope of richer gifts. Currently the most prominent competition is between ostensible governments and armed others in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, with the United States seekingto prop up and maintain the loyalty of those it supports. Media broadcasts resemble Radio Free Europe. There are overtures to opponents of the Syrian and Iranian regimes, either those in country, or exiles hoping for places in a new government. Overseas Syrians and Iranians bear some resemblance to the Cubans of South Florida. The collapse of the Soviet Union took the West by surprise. Until then the Cold War seemed likely to go on and on, hopefullywithout a nuclear exchange. The battle with Muslim extremism is already toward the end of its first decade, or somewhere in its third decade, depending on accounting. The conflict may be escalating; as Iran seems intent in pushing toward a nuclear option and neither it.nor Syria seem inclined to end their support of cli- ent troublemakers. The Taliban's successes in Sharkansky on page 5A THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. , CENTRAL FLORIDA'SINDEPENDENTJEWISHVOICE z ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 40 Press Awards HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721) is published weekly for $37.95 peryear to Florida ad- dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, Inc., 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730 Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices POSTMASTER: Send address changes and otheF correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 email: Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Assistant Editor Gene Stare Lyn Payne Mike Etzkin Society Editor Bookkeeping Gloria Yousha' Paulette Harmon Kim Fischer Account Executives Barbara do Carmo Marci Gaeser Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky Steve Levine Tim Boxer David Bornstein Gall Simons Production Department David Lehman Teri Marks Louis Ballantyne Elaine Schooping Gil Dombrosky turn them into a memento poster at the end of the trip. "How do youfeel about handguns?" "When I was 8 I stole a box of raisins." "See, I can walk a straight line." "That's the look of a man who wishes he'd had a vasectomy earlier." "I don't follow norms. I believe in outside the lines." "I just paid the bill. Who wants to give me mouth to mouth?" And the line that got repeated the most by all: "Give him the f-ing hat!" You see. a few people brought presents, though it wasn't requested. Books. a Mexican sombrero, a fishing vest. But what I fell in love with out there under the sun as we floated down the river was my cousin Sam's hat. He wore the coolest looking water buffalo hat that he'd picked up on a trip to South Africa. It was a Crocodile Dundee sort of hat. with a natural swagger to its curved rim, with soft and mottled texture unlike any hat I'd ever seen. It looked good on everyone who wore it. and I told him how much I liked it. My friend David Krinker overheard me, and since Sam had not. given me anything as a birthday gift David got a great idea. "Give him the hat." He went further. "Give him t~e ~-ing hat. You're gonna give him the f-ing hat." For two relentless days David pounded Sam. And Sam didn't, couldn't give me the hat. He was too attached to it. No hard feelings. I understood. It would have been an extraordinary gesture. The trip ended. Our lives returned to normal. My brother passed away. But the story of the hat remained. Then, just a few days ago, unsolicited and out of the blue, a box arrived at my door. and in the box was the hat, with a note from Sam. "I've been meaning to send this to you for a long time," he said. "Here's hoping that this brings you good times and new beginnings." I was stunned, overjoyed in the simplest way. It By Andrew Silow-Carroll New Jersey Jewish News I sometimes joke that I am going to make a fortune by publishing financial newsletter. And the gimmick is this: Whatever I do. do the opposite, and you're bound to make money. Sflow-Carroll's buying a house? Sell. sell! He's putting his money into socially responsible mutual funds? It's time to gobble up shares of tobacco and firearms--and opium, while you're at it. Of course, even my newsletter couldn't have helped you in the past year, when everyone did the opposite of everyone else and still we all lost money. But I'm proud to be what an economist might call a lagging economic indicator. I may have no savings, but I have my contrarian streak. And so." for the past few decades, while Americans were on a record consumer binge, I lived like a cheapskate.-No, I didn't save the. last slivers of soap and then mash them into a recycled cake. I didn't buy my clothes in con- signment shops. But let's say this: When I see all these articles about "The New Frugality," I rarely find a suggestion I hadn't taken to heart 20 years ago. Retire your credit card debt? I never had any. I'm what the credit industry calls a "freeloader" I actually pay my bills at the end of the month. Skip the name brands at the supermarket and go with the generics? I'm already there, if you'll overlook the breakfast cereals. (Childrenwill accept vacations close to home, but they draw the line at things called "Marshmallow Mateys" and "Colonel Crisp.") So while our neighbors settled down in their "media rooms" before giant fiat-screen televisions; we smugly gathered on the floor near our 25-year-old color television (which you know isn't state-of-the-art because itactu- ally says "color television" on the front). Oh, we had couches, but with a 24-inch screen, you want to skootch a little closer lest you miss anything, like facial expressions and the characters' gender. And I say smugly, because my wife and l just knew that while our neighbors may have driven late-model SUVs, taken vacations in Tuscany, and rested their beers on the roof of the Mets dugout, they were living li es of quiet desperation. Beneath their tans and their smiles, gathered around their aircraft carrier-sized dining room tables, they were miserable, weren't they. Weren't they?! And if they weren't miserable, they were headed for a fall. Just wait 'til those balloon mortgages came due. and the warranty ran out on the television, and their fancy hedge funds took a nose dive. Our quiet, conserva- tively invested nest egg would see us through the inevitable downturn. Then we'd be sitting brought back memories of the time we spent at the lodge, on the river. It made me think of all the people who are most important to me. And I think, I hope, maybe, that Sam is right. This is a time for new beginnings, a time to put aside old ways, to put on something new. to take on a different look. a different approach. and begin again. The recession has many of us down, hanging our heads, worried about tomorrow, about survival. I'm one of them. But I also am one who believes in change. I believe. as day follows night, that life will get better. I believe we can shift our destiny, crawlout of old habits and old ways and use this difficult, sometimes devastating time as an opportunity. I'm looking at this new world in a new way. I'm stepping back, and as I've often pushed our commumty, I m pushing myself to make a paradigm shift and move forward, outside the lines. I'm doing something I've always dreamed of I'm starting to write a book. for fun, with my youngest child as inspiration. I'm beginning. I'm starting.from scratch. And I'm scared and hopeful that life and our world will turn around. So this is it. for me, this season of writing for the Heritage. I accomplished some of the things i wanted, and others remain on the bookshelf, waiting to be dusted off for a future column. I believe the times have changed. I'm wearing my f---ing hat with a little swagger in my step and keeping my eyes open for the next great adventure. I wish you well. Have a great summer, and if you can, make it a great beginning. And that's the good word until next week. The opinions in this column are those of the writer and not the Heritage or any other in- dividual agency or organization. Send your thoughts, comments, and critiques to the Heritage or email pretty, snatching up their used plasma screens on Craigslist for a song, enjoying 30 Rock while eating Cap'n Crunch and sitting on our couches--yes, our couches. But then the reckoning came, and---noth- ing. Our neighbors were miserable.sure, but so were we. Where was the great correction? Where was the payoff for years of thrift? tt was like a grade school arithmetic problem gone awry: "'If the Silow-Carrolls buy a three-bed- room house with a modest mortgage and the Yoknaplotzes buy a seven-bedroom McMan- sion under risky lending terms, who will be more comfortable come an economic freefall? Answer: Neither. but at least the Yoknaplotzes can draw on memories of the good times. The Silow-Carrolls must sip on the bitter gall of their miserliness." And suddenly, we're all Silow-Carrolls. Time magazine runs a cover story on how "America Becomes Thrift Nation,"- and the downsizing in the face of recession. "Sales of canning and freezing supplies rose 15 percent during the first three months of the year compared with the same period last year. Cough- and cold- remedy sales are down 9 percent because you can make your own chicken Soup; vitamin sales are up, maybe because you hope you won't need to." But don'tworry, there's an upside: "Acollege- admigsions officer, watching families reassess their means and ends. suggests that maybe the insane competitiveness will recede. The yoga instructor says living more simply relaxes us, as if the entire country needs to slow its breathing... The discount shoppers view their task as a scavenger hunt and take a certain pride in finding the bargain, cutting the deal." Yeah, yeah. I did the thrift thing. And you know what it got me? Nosebleeds from sitting in the cheap seals, radiation poisoning from hunkering too close to theMotorola, headaches from whacking my head on the doorframe of our tiny Corolla. Sowatch my next move, America. We played by the rules, invested wisely, stayed out Of debt. took a"certain pride" in finding a bargain. And where'd it get usafter 20 years? Somewhere between 1986 and 1987. But no more. The Silow-Carrolls are living large. Is that the delivery guy with our Limited Edition Sharp AQUOS large-screen LCD TV? Wheel it right in, and put it next to the mas- sage chair. And yes, this is an Armani jacket, thanks for noticing. And how am I paying for it? Don't worry. I've bought a bunch of bargain stocks in a few big city newspapers. So things are definitely looking up. Andrew Silow-Carroll is editor-in-chief of the New Jersey Jewish News, from which this column is reprinted with permission.