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PAGE 4A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, NOVEMBER 20, 2009 1 By Andrew Silow-Carroli New Jersey Jewish News I don'tthink they even bad an accurate count of the victims before everyone seemed to have an opinion on what motivated the Fort Hood murders. And by "everyone," I mean the cable pundits, the usual bloggers, and the guy who sits behind you at shul. They only had to hear the name"Nidal Hasan," orthat his parents were Palestinian, or that he wore traditional Muslim dress when not in uniform, and the chatterati had enough to pass judgment. This was a hate crime. This was jihad. This was terror. And here's the thing: All of that may be true, and the more we learn about Maj. Hassan, the more likely it seems that much of it is true. But that doesn't vindicate or justify the rush to judg- ment (including among those who immediately ruledouttheideathatthekillingswere religiously motivated, with no more evidence than those who said they were). We seem to have come to a post- modernplacewherethe needforspeedtrumps the quest for accuracy, where opinion supersedes facts, and trust in traditional authority--the police, the FBI, the military--has sunk to a new low. Let's start with speed. I understand why cable news has become a forum for instant analysis. They have 24 hours to fill. Their competitors--- down the dial or over on the Web--are also 24-hour operations, with the potential to steal a scoop and audience share. They can't wait for new information to dribble out at an official news conference hours away, or. for a reporter to quietly and deliberately work the phones and streets to uncover a new angle. So they fill the time with prognosticators. Seers. Soothsayers. With the barest of disclaimers ('~/e can't say for sure, Bill," or "Mind you; this is just a best guess, Keith"), they present the "truth" of the moment, barelyapologeticwhentheir certaintyproves false. I have a harder time undertanding the audi- ence for instant judgment. Bfame all the usual suspects: Short attention spans, a diet of cop shows where a murder is solved every 60 minutes, minus commercials. And the 24-hour news cycle bewitches the coflsumer the ~rne way it bedevils the producer. Where once we waited for the eve- ning news or morning paper--and the passage of an appropriate interval during which reporters could actually, well, report--we now simply turn on TV or fire up the Web and expect news. New news, even when there's nothing new. Not yet. But those are explanations, not excuses. We each bave in us the power of delaying irritant gratification. We tell our kids about it all the time. So what's the rush? What harm would it do us to wait for the facts to come in? Except too many of us see plenty of harm in waiting. Because in the interval between opinion and fact, we can score our political points and settle ideological scores. That's where opinion is so much better than fact. Because if you can get the media to debate what can't be known for sure, you can say almost anything. You can float your trial balloon, and even if it crashes to earth Letter from Israel Ridicule or analysis? By Ira Sharkansky This is one of those times to wonder ifridicu!e or serious analysis is in order. The occasion is a combination of two moves by the Palestinian leadership. It is not even clear which of the two warrants ridicule or analysis, or if they are both just part of the noise coming out ofanentitywith doubtful credibility. Perhaps they deserve no more attention than the bull sessions heard in the halls of a legislature, or in the dorm rooms of individuals aspiring to make a splash in student government. One of the moves is a threat by the ostensible president of Palestine, MahmoudAbbas. to resign or not to run for re-election if Israel is not im- mediately forthcoming with respect to Pale'stin- ian demands. The other is to seek international recognition for an independent Palestine with the borders of 1967 and Jerusalem as its capital. To be precise, it is not clear, whether the threat is to resign, or not to run for re-election. The picture is confused by the formal end of Abbas' term some months ago. which has led the Hamas leadership to declare that he is no longer the president. There is a further problem insofar as the Palestinian Election Commission has indicated that it may not be possible to implement the election scheduled for January, and Hamas has indicated that it will not let Gazans vote in an illegal election. President Barack Obama. the heads of several European governments, and prominent Israelis in and out of government have urged Abbas to continue. No doubt it would be easier for those saying he should stay if he accepted their call. Leaving aside the human factor (doesn'tan ineffective 74-year- old have a right to retire?), his continuation would avoid learning how to deal with someone new. Some of those urging him to stay on are mak- ing the claim that "there is no one who could fill his shoes." Apparently they come from places where the cemeteries are not already filled with indispensable people. Palestinians are threatening that ifAbbas goes, the only viable candidate is Marwan Barghouti. He has a following of unknown size in the West Bank, but was convicted of involvement in numerous murders and is serving several life sentences in an Israeli prison. One doubts that the Israeli governmentwill respondwith a"Sure, why not?" to Barghouti's selection. The other threat is that without Abbas, the Palestine National Authority will collapse, Israel will be saddled with governing the West Bank, and that will advance the idea of one country from the Jordan to the Mediterranean, with majority (i.e., Palestinian) rule. If the Palestine National Authority does collapse, it is more likely that Israelis will not notice the difference fromwhat currently exists. Those who do notice will be overseas Palestinian investors who are remaking the faces of Ramal- lah and Jenin. Perhaps their threats to halt the financial inflows will move the Palestinians in a direction of realism. Those overseas investors might also work to moderate the Patestinian maneuver to seek international recognition for an independent state with the borders of 1967 and Jerusalem as its capital. No doubt there are many unworthies of the world who will support the Palestinians. Will they notice that Israel surrounds the Palestinian areas of the West Bank. controls who and what moves in and out, including water and electricity? Will they pay attention to existing agreements between Israel and Palestinians that make changes of the kinds indicated dependent on an agreement of both parties? Enough analysis? Or is this ridicule? Ira Sharkansky is professor emeritus, Depart- merit of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. 0 CENTRAL FLORIDA'SINDEPENDENT'JEWISHVOICE O ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 40 Press Awards F~tor/Pub~sher HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721 ) is published weekly for $37.95 per year 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 other 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: news@orlandoheritage.com Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Assistant Editor Gene Starn Lyn Payne Mike Etzkin Society Editor Bookkeeping GloriaYoushaPaulette Harmon Kim Fischer Account Executives Barbara do Carmo Marci Gaeser Jim Contributing Colmmists Shipley Ira Sharkansky Tim Boxer David Bornstein Production Department David Lehman David Gaudio Teri Marks Louis Ballantyne Elaine Schooping Gil Dombrosky a few hours later (withoutthe kid you swore was aboard), that's okay. Sowhat the Oklahoma City bomber turned out to be a redneck, not a Muslim. as you insisted a few hours earlier? For a few glori- ous news cycles, you were the go-to pundit, and your ideas were being aired from Dallas to Dubai. And if the killer turns out to be the radical Muslim you said he was? Then you have a new opportunity to bash the authorities. After all. didn't they spend--what was it. 24 whole hours? 72? offering boilerplate pieties like "That can't be confirmed at this time" or "We continue to explore all leads" and'"~Ve'd prefer towait until all the facts are in"? Imagine! You knew the answers all along. The fact that the investigators didn't reach the same hasty coneiusions only suggests that they were too incompetent, too blinkered, too politically correct to admit what was obvious to anyone with a blog or a guest shot on "The Situation Room." It doesn't matter if you're Left or Right since 9/11. everyone thinks the law is an ass. Conservative or liberal, we're all hippies now. As we continue to learn more facts about Hasan--his e-mails to a radical Muslim cleric, the frighteningly intolerant speech he delivered to fel- low mental health professionals, his allegedshouts of "Allahu akbar" as he pulled the trigger--the less likely we are to regret the assumptions that gushed forth in the immediate aftermath of the shootings. But we should try. Not in the name of "tolerance," not in the name of"political correct- ness," but for the sake of the truth. And the truth is worth waiting for. Andrew Silow-Carroll is Editor-in-Chief of the New Jersey Jewish News. Between columns you can read his writing at the JustASC blog. Wexler's departure from Congress By Tend Fine for someone to campaign for the seat. Naturally, the question arises: Will another Jew ish Democrat The next Congressional election thatwill take prevail in November 2010? If that can happen, a place Nov. 2, 2010, about one year from now, is JewishDemocratmustrunforthatseat.whether meaningful for the nation and for Florida. It will or not that person is elected to complete Wexler's be either the first (if he is re-electedin 2012) or the current term in the special election thatwill take only (if he is not) midterm election for President place this spring. Barack Obama. Further. due to an unusually The question of who will secure Florida's large number of shifting political ambitions at 19th Congressional District (serving parts of the state level, there will be open seat races for Palm Beach and Broward Counties) begs two a U.S. senator, governor, attorney general and questions: Should a Jewish Democrat serve in chief financial officer, that sea~ And. what does it mean for Jews in Why so many state-level open seats? Because Florida and elsewhere when Jews hold seats in Gov. Charlie Crist declared his intent to run for Congress? The U.S. Census Bureau reports that. the U.S. Senate seat that former U.S. Senator as of 2007. 1.7 percent of the nation's population Mel Martinez vacated after he announced his isJewish.while3.6percentofFlorida'spopulation decision not to run for re-election in 2010. Two is Jewish, representing approximately 655.000 personsvyingforthegovernor'sseatareFlorida's residents. Does Florida's 19th Congressional ChiefFinancialOfficer (AlexSink, Democrat) and District represent a "Jewish seat?" Attorney General (Bill McCollum. Republican). Theconceptofrepresentationhasbeendebated For Crist to run for Senate. he must leave his long since before the writing of the Declaration gubernatorialseat:forMcCoUumandSinktorun of Independence in 1776. In 1788. Alexander for governor, they must vacate their respective HamiltonandJamesHamiltonwroteinFederalist Cabinet posts. Jeff Kottkamp. the state's lieuten- Paper #52 that the U.S. House of Representatives ant governor, plans to leave his position to run shouldbe"thatbranchofthefederalgovernment for attorneygeneral in 2010as well. which ought to be dependent on the people Midterm Congressional elections play a cen- alone." The 85 Federalist Papers were written tral role in American politics because the word by Hamilton. Madison and John Jay, individually "midterm" holds two meanings. The clearest and together, as a way to convince a wary New meaning is that this is the election that occurs York legislature that the proposed Constitution at midpoint in the president's term. The second was a good idea (New York's support was crucial meaning is that, like an examination given to in thatdebate). Hamilton and Madison further students in the middle of the semester so that argue in Federalist #52 that"the door of this part they know how they are doing in a course before ofthe federal government is open to merit of every the finalexamination, amidtermelectionspeaks description, whether native or adoptive.whether tohowthepublicviewspresidentialperformance, young or old, and without regard to poverty or While there is no presidential election in 2010, it wealth, ortoanyparticularprofessionofreligious is typical forvoters to incorporate their opinion faith." (Confused? It Was not until 1914 that U.S. about presidential performance into their vote Senatorswerefirstelecteddirectlybythepeople; choiceinCongressionalelectionsatthemidpoint thus, under the original U.S. Constitution, only of the president's term. In 2006, for example, amid the House, and not the Senate.was electeddirectly strong negative presidential approval ratings, by the people among all federal offices.) These Democrats won enough seats in Congress to take statements from Federalist #52 suggest that the the majority back after losing it 12 years earlier, founding fathers saw the House of Representa- The U.S. Constitution sets terms for the U.S. tires as that best able to represent the will of the House of Representatives at two years, with an peoplebecausetheHousewasbasedonascheme unlimited number of terms, and elections that of direct representation linked to population size take place in even numbered years. One-third and locale representation isdistrictbased.each of the U.S. Senate also stands for election, with Representative serves approximately the same unlimitedsix-yearterms, everytwoyearsineven number of constituents. Representatives must numbered years. This means that the entire liveintheirdistricts,anddistrictsarerepresented House of Representatives, and one-third of the by only oneperson. U.S. Senate, is up for election every two years, Predicting the outcome of the 19th District'~ including the midpoint of the president's term. 2010 contest requires that one consider many Why does all of this matter? Because one of factors that include presidential approval (high Florida's Congressional seats has now certainly approval=high likelihood that the Democratic become an open seat for the 2010 Congressio- candidate will win because President Obama hal election. On Oct. 14, Congressman Robert is a D~mocrat), campaign spending (higher Wexler, one of four Jews representing Florida spending=higherlikelihoodofwinning),political in the U.S. House of Representatives (the other party (the 19th Districtis two-thirds Democratic three, all Democrats, are Alan Grayson, elected registrants), voters' feelings toward the candi- 2008; Ron Klein, elected 2006; and Debbie dates, and other factors, such as interest group Wasserman-Schultz, elected 2004;), announced endorsements. Will candidate religion matter in his decision to vacate the House seat that he has the 19th District? Will Jewish religious affiliation occupied since being elected in 1996. Put dif- serve as one of the "doors" that Hamilton and ferently, Florida's most senior Jewish Congress Madison referred to in Federalist #52 through member has announced his decision to leave a whichDistrict19'snextRepresentativewillhaveto reasonably secure (more than 90 percent of Con- pass through? Put another way, does one need to gress members are re-elected) seat in the most be Jewish to represent that part of Florida? More powerful legislature in the world so that he can importantly, do voters in District 19 think so? become the executive director of the Center for All that ~ve can be certain of is that there will Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation, be an election on Nov. 2, 2010 for all Of Florida's a Washington-based nohprofit think tank that Congressional seats. As to the outcome of those describes itself as advocating for "the peace that races, let's check back in a year. Israelis and A!'abs seek." Dr. Tern Susan Fine is a professor ofpolitical Wexler's October announcement that he will science at the University of Central Florida. She step down in January leaves more than one year can be reached by e-mailat tfine@mail.ucf.edu.