Antisemitism and Wokeness Threaten the Future of Israel and America 

My goal with this essay on antisemitism and wokeness is to bring an important issue to the surface for those who were oblivious to it and to possibly change the minds of those whose minds are still changeable.

In the introduction to the Almanac of my 2023 essays, I wrote that it is my moral responsibility to be an agent of positive change. My new, aligned me will not be avoiding important but difficult topics. 

If this essay does not make some readers upset with me, I will be surprised. If you are not reading people with whom you disagree, then you are locked in an echo chamber — you cannot blame YouTube or social media for showing only what you want to see. You are your own worst algorithm. 

My goal with this essay is to bring an important issue to the surface for those who were oblivious to it (as I was a few months ago) and to possibly change the minds of those whose minds are still changeable.

Article available in Spanish here.

Part 1: A Small Country with a Big Story

My relationship with Israel has always been complex. I am Jewish and was born in Soviet Russia but have lived in America for two thirds of my life. My family immigrated to the US in 1991 and has never looked back. (I pinch myself all the time because I get to live in this wonderful country.) I am an agnostic. Israel is supposed to be my historical homeland, the land of my ancestors — a very academic concept, since I struggle to relate to ancestors more than a few generations back, most of whom came from Belarus or Ukraine. 

After October 7, something changed inside of me. But it was not just the horrific events of October 7 alone. It was a combination of the massacre in Israel, which echoed the cruelty of the Nazis, and the demonstrations that took place in the US and Europe, as well as letters signed by Ivy league students, all condemning Israel before it had a chance to fire a single retaliatory shot at Hamas. 

Antisemitism, which I had gladly forgotten since leaving the Soviet Union, was once again on display. Israel went from being a merely theoretical place of safe harbor for Jews who are unwanted, to a very real, tiny island of refuge, as the world continues to repeat its difficult history with the Jewish people. 

I have never connected the survival of Israel to the wellbeing of my descendants. However, today I see this so clearly. If this tiny light of democracy, surrounded by a desert of darkness, goes out, it will not only mean the demise of the Jews there but also of those around the world. Unfortunately, history is on my side when I say this. 

Four of my good friends from Denver recently took time off from work and went to Israel to help. They told me they were shocked by what they saw when they got there. What really amazed them about Israel is how this country, which was so deeply divided over judicial reforms before October 7, came together and united. This country of eight million Jews turned into one big family, which is single-mindedly focused on winning the war and taking care of each other. 

On October 8, tech companies that had opposed the government on the issue of judicial reforms went to the government and said, “We’ll do anything we can to help.” Within a week, the Israeli government had AI software that could help identify Hamas terrorists. Tech companies created free “Airbnbs” where people can post, “I have a spare bedroom in Jerusalem for a displaced family that needs an emergency place to live.”

The Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem, which has been under construction for a long time and had a soft opening a few months ago, has been turned into a logistics center for all incoming aid to Israel. And there is a lot of aid coming from all over the world. Everyone I know (including my friends) who is traveling to Israel is bringing items, from socks to gun holsters, in duffle bags for soldiers. 

The population of Israel has increased by 3% since October 7 — not something you usually see happen in a country at war. In part that is due to reservists coming home from all over the world, but volunteers like my friends are also going to Israel, taking time off to help their historical homeland. 

My friends have been making sandwiches for the soldiers, cleaning houses for refugees to move into, and working in the fields collecting potatoes that are rotting because a large part of the population has mobilized. 

Billboards in Tel Aviv no longer display advertisements but instead show images of hostages taken by Hamas, with a single message: “Bring Them Home!” The country is calm and determined; people want the hostages to come home, and they want to destroy Hamas. Micah Goodman, an Israeli philosopher, said, “Israel is a small country with a big story…. Big enough to give you meaning and small enough for you to have influence on it.” 

This is why Israelis are so at peace with the awful reality of going to war. When they wake up every morning, they know they can make a difference for their county. They have a purpose. This war in Gaza is not “eye for an eye” retaliation but the elimination of a terrorist regime which, if given the chance, will repeat the cruel events of October 7 across the whole of Israel and then go after other infidels — the rest of the non-Islamic world. 

High (unintended) civilian casualties in Gaza are heartbreaking, but I keep asking myself, what choice does Israel have? Hamas continues to launch rockets into Israel daily and has been doing so for years. Show me a developed country on this planet that would tolerate that. Hamas just massacred 1,200 Israelis — the group’s leaders are not shy about repeating that October 7 is just the beginning. 

What would the US do to protect its citizens if we were attacked? We have an answer for that — just look at what we did after 9/11. What would France do? We have an answer for that, too. In 2015, ISIL terrorists killed 130 French citizens. France bombed Syria for months. I don’t remember any calls for restraint or a proportional response. I don’t remember the UN condemning the US or France for unintended civilian casualties. I also don’t remember the US or France dropping leaflets or making phone calls warning Afghans or Syrians about the locations of attacks. Israel is always judged by a different (and impossible) standard than any other country.

My friends have talked to IDF soldiers who have told them: “You cannot imagine how careful we are at trying not to shoot civilians, especially kids. I have kids at home. I don’t want to be desensitized to the crying of my kids.” The humanity that is often lost during war isn’t lost in Israel.

The IDF is liberating Gazans from Hamas; unfortunately, it is doing it in a densely populated area. It is trying very hard to spare civilian lives, which is incredibly difficult — Hamas fighters are not wearing uniforms. A 16-year-old kid in front of you can be a civilian or a suicide bomber. A 20-year-old Israeli-American soldier from Atlanta was stabbed to death in Jerusalem by a 16-year-old Hamas fighter. 

This war is taking place on the borders of Israel, but this is not just Israel’s war. The war against Hamas is a battle between good and evil. The evil will not stop with Israel. Islamic extremists want to rebuild an Islamic caliphate all over the world. The Middle East, Europe and the US are next. We are the infidels — yes, if you do not accept Muhammad as your prophet and role model, you are an infidel. Our lives and values do not matter to them. We must either bend the knee or die.

Israel will prevail in this war; Israeli Jews have nowhere to go. But I realize that for my historical homeland to survive, the US, which welcomed me with open arms and has been my home for 32 years, needs to prosper as well. I’ll discuss that next.

Part 2: Wokeness Is Destroying America — One Student at a Time

[The topic I am about to discuss may have political overtones. You may decide to pigeonhole me as a member of a political tribe. Please don’t. I do not belong to a political party. I am registered as an independent and have voted for candidates belonging to three different parties in the last six presidential elections.] 

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” –George Orwell

I love the United States and want it to be strong and prosperous. I am embarrassed by the fact that it took a catastrophe in Israel to wake me up to the realization that American universities have become epicenters of “wokeness” and green shoots of socialism that are gradually destroying our awesome country.

I know what you may be thinking: Wokeness is the enemy? Really? Next, he’ll be picking on Winnie-the-Pooh. 

I don’t blame you. 

I looked up the definition of wokeness: “The quality of being alert to and concerned about social injustice and discrimination.” Sounds fair and innocent enough, right? Marvel should create a superhero: Wokeman — “fixing injustice 24/7, always stays woke.”

I am not a political science scholar, but I have an inkling how wokeness started. It was an aftershock of the equal rights movements that tried to fix the side effects of our society’s ugly past and bring equality to everyone. It came from a good, kind place in people’s hearts. However, I am a student of economics and have learned that ideas should not be judged solely on their intent but also on their outcomes. We are often preoccupied with the intent and ignore second order effects, the unintended consequences that often make things a lot worse. 

This is exactly what has happened to wokeness. 

Sometime, while we got up to the get the popcorn, the wokeness movie went from being a Marvel superhero flick to an Orwellian dystopian Animal Farm nightmare: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” 

Although the idea of elevating minorities may sound great on the surface, the US took a wrong turn and started turning into a country where the majority is often penalized for not being a minority. 

Which brings me to the college HQ of wokeness — DEI. I am embarrassed to admit I did not know DEI existed before October 7. If you think these three letters stand for some cool government agency, no, they are way cooler than that. They stand for “diversity, equity and inclusion.” 

How can anyone be against these three awesome words? 

To my great surprise, DEI has turned into antisemitism on college campuses. Billionaire investor Bill Ackman explains DEI’s role very well in this essay:

“Under DEI, one’s degree of oppression is determined based upon where one resides on a so-called intersectional pyramid of oppression where whites, Jews, and Asians are deemed oppressors, and a subset of people of color, LGBTQ people, and/or women are deemed to be oppressed. Under this ideology … one is either an anti-racist or a racist.”

Ackman, a Harvard University grad and major donor, goes on to say: “There is no such thing as being ‘not racist.’ Under DEI’s ideology, any policy, program, educational system, economic system, grading system, admission policy … that leads to unequal outcomes among people of different skin colors is deemed racist. As a result, according to DEI, capitalism is racist, Advanced Placement exams are racist, IQ tests are racist, corporations are racist, or in other words, any merit-based program, system, or organization which has or generates outcomes for different races that are at variance with the proportion these different races represent in the population at large is by definition racist under DEI’s ideology.”

As a result, on some campuses the DEI objective became what Tabia Lee, a former equity director at De Anza College in California, to “de-center whiteness,” and thus it allowed antisemitism to spread. If you fall under DEI “protection,” you become part of a superclass that plays by its own rules. Since Jews are not classified as a minority, they have now been put into the category of oppressors.

Yet, Jews are indeed a minority — there are only 15.7 million of us in the world! That’s right, in the whole world. More than half of our population perished in the Holocaust – an event whose occurrence is now up for dispute not just in Iran but among the TikTok-educated younger generation here at home. (According to an Economist survey, 20% of 18-to-29-year-olds think the Holocaust is a myth.)

Growing up as a Jew — an underclass in the Soviet Union — I never wanted special treatment for being a minority. I just wanted society to be blind to the line in my passport that said “Jewish.” I don’t want my kids to be added to the DEI “superclass.” 

So, if you are attending an American college and are not classified as an oppressed minority under the protection of the woke, you will be treated by a different set of rules. As we have learned from the presidents of Ivy League schools, cries for your genocidal extermination will require “context” and the actual death of Jewish students before college administrators will act — all while you can be expelled from a university for using the wrong pronoun.

A lot of this starts in colleges, but it does not and will not stop at colleges. Colleges are the factories of our future. They are the production lines of future workers and thinkers.

People cannot control their gender, the color of their skin, their ethnicity, or their sexual preference — this sort of discrimination was our sin of the past. People should not be punished for these traits; others should not be favored for them (this is the reverse punishment of others) — the current sin of woke. 

I am going to say what everyone knows but doesn’t want to admit — there are differences between groups of people. Blacks dominate the NBA — they account for 73% of all players. Whites are only 17%. (Something similar but less extreme is happening in the NFL.) Meanwhile, Asians account for only 0.4% of NBA players — they are clearly underrepresented. Yet we find the idea of creating an “equality” NBA by hiring 5’8” Asians so they can get crushed by 6’10” Black athletes laughable. 

However, in the effort to create “equality” in colleges — until the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action in 2023 — we were fine with reverse discrimination against Asian students to limit their admission to elite colleges, which, just like the NBA and NFL, were supposed to be merit-based. But Asians are neither a superclass nor a protected group; therefore, we didn’t care.

When we hire people based solely on their identity (not on their merit), we do not elevate them but rather bring them down. On some level they know that they got the job based not on personal strengths but on their superficial identity. 

This creates a victim and victimizer mentality. It is anti-evolutionary: People possessed by the victim mentality don’t progress or evolve; they see obstacles in their lives as someone else’s fault and thus not their responsibility to overcome. As the eminent English rabbi Jonathan Sacks said, if you are possessed by a victim mentality “you hand over your life to somebody else.”

Life is full of obstacles. History is often unfair, and not just to the DEI superclass. It has not been kind to Jews for centuries. Jews choose to not be victims but to be agents of change. This attitude is deeply ingrained into Jewish culture. Obstacles only make us stronger. If you have the attitude that obstacles are someone’s else fault, you’ll never try to grow beyond them. As Marcus Aurelius, the Stoic philosopher and Roman emperor, said: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

America — the country of meritocracy — is turning into a country where your identity determines how you will be treated along the road of life. A person, be it a Supreme Court justice, a college administrator or an employee at the local DMV, should get a job not because of their identity but because of their accomplishments and their character. 

As a society, we must accept a hard truth: By acting solely based on our hearts and artificially trying to make things better for this or that group of people, we end up not improving things for them but instead creating different injustices. Everyone should be treated equally. Some people should not be more important (protected) than others. And yes, all lives matter, and that statement should not require context. Finally, we should stop living in fear of being canceled for saying the above. 

I was shocked to learn that DEI is already nesting in large corporations and our government. Imagine if air traffic controllers, people who have the lives of hundreds of others in their hands, were selected based not on their skills but on their DEI status. Well, you don’t have to imagine this very hard — it’s already happening. Think about that the next time you board a plane. 

It is not hard to visualize the consequences of someone hired solely based on their identity (not on their skill) colliding planes in the air and killing hundreds. If this woke cancer continues to spread through our economy, it will suck meritocracy out of it and weaken, or even worse, crash the economy. Unlike a plane crash, you won’t see it unfold on the news; it will happen slowly, one DEI hire at a time. 

I wonder how Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech would be received today on American campuses, especially when he said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but the content of their character.” 

Orchestras have a perfect model for how to hire performers. During auditions, the jury sits in the audience. Each performer has a number assigned to them. They play behind a curtain; the jury cannot see them. 

We should copy that model. When I came to the United States in 1991, I was told that in this country we treat all people according to their merits and values, by what they bring to society. I miss that US. 

Part 3: The Socialism of Grades

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” –Winston Churchill

Socialism is a terrific idea in theory. Who would not want everyone in society to have a house with a white fence, the job of their dreams, 2.5 kids and a dog? But plain vanilla socialism has failed every single time it has been implemented, and it turned each of those countries into a totalitarian state: Cuba, the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Venezuela — the list goes on.

In a socialist state, success is pushed down, and failure is elevated — this is how equality of outcome is created. In the Soviet Union’s version of plain vanilla socialism, we were taught to hate the wealthy and empathize with the poor. This empathy was easy for us because everyone (with the exception of the tiny ruling-class bureaucrats) was poor. 

Capitalism does not offer the sexy, utopian promise of socialism, but it works in practice. Capitalism has lifted billions out of poverty; but it is now under threat, ironically, from those who have benefited the most from it — academics. Universities  have been among the biggest beneficiaries of the wealth created by capitalism. 

As I am writing this, I am reminded of Margaret Thatcher’s “Socialism is a great idea until you run out of other people’s money.”

Universities used to be spartan gyms for our minds, places where opposing ideas collided and gave birth to new ones and where our thinking got challenged through healthy debate. This growth came with healthy pain, the type that accompanies and stimulates intellectual growth.

Today, many universities have been turned into day spas, where for $300,000 a student’s mind will be pampered and coddled. Now they are “safe places” from opposing ideas, which are considered as microaggressions. This is where free speech goes to die, unless it calls for the genocidal extermination of Jews; then you can speak your mind.

College administrations are afraid to upset their spa customers (sorry, I meant students). They are not focused on challenging their thinking (the point of education) and producing the brightest but are instead fixated on making students feel better about themselves and giving them their money’s worth. 

I was not surprised to learn that socialism is slowly poisoning our universities, but I was surprised by its new avenue — the socialization of grades. Professors at a local law school are required to grade to a B+. When professors submit their grades, if the average is below a B+, the system will reject it. The university is afraid of making students feel bad about a low, albeit deserved, grade and wants every student to have a high grade-point average upon graduation. 

However, what is inflation for one group is deflation for another. This practice punishes hardworking students, as their work may result in a lower grade than they deserve, compared to classmates who are preoccupied with attending “TikTok University” during lectures. 

Universities are on a quixotic mission to right a wrong — they are fighting against grade inequality. This is what socializing (equalizing) outcomes looks like. In fact, this seemingly innocent practice of equally high grades has the familiar ring of a Karl Marx slogan that I heard endlessly in the Soviet Union: “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” Law students need a B+, so they get a B+. 

With each graduating class, our capitalistic (equal-opportunity) society is being slowly diluted by equal-outcome dogma (socialism).

Grade inflation is happening in virtually every college across the country, but colleges should not receive all the blame for this, as unfortunately it starts in high schools, which are suffering through super grade inflation — grades have gone up while reading and math skills have fallen (with minorities experiencing the largest grade inflation). 

Bad (deserved) grades are a necessary part of education. How else would you know that you had not learned something as well as you thought you did? I failed English as a freshman in college. I had been in the US for two years. My English was objectively horrible. I’m glad I didn’t receive special (woke) treatment for being “fresh off the boat.” I studied a lot harder, retook the class and passed it my senior year. If I had not, my English would not have improved and I would not have written several books or received national awards for writing.

The beauty of the Declaration of Independence is that you are guaranteed the “pursuit of happiness” — you are given an equal chance to pursue it. You are not guaranteed the outcome, just the opportunity. There is enormous value, and yes even happiness and meaning in the pursuit of happiness. This pursuit will often take you down a harder road, but it will result in the best version of you and bring a sense of pride and accomplishment. 

Part 4: How to Save America and Israel

“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.” –Marcus Aurelius

October 7 awakened me; it changed my relationship with Israel, and this country of my ancestors became dear to me. But as importantly, it opened my eyes to the decaying of the country that I love, that has been my home for 32 years — the US. 

The US is becoming a laughingstock of the world, deservedly so. We are still the strongest democracy in the world. People still want to move here, but we are resting on the laurels of our past glory, which was achieved by elevating meritocracy and excellence. Our successes and our grocery stores full of food have gone to our heads and are turning us into a society focused only on pleasant outcomes, independent of how much work we put in.

We are a society that is losing its pragmatism. We used to be a country of practical, innovative problem solvers, and now we are turning into a country of useful idiots, where a tiny woke minority leads us into self-immolation.

Israel will not exist 50 years from now without a strong US. I have to fight for the US – it’s a two-for-the-price-of-one type of deal: A strong United States that supports Israel is mandatory for Israel to survive. 

I learned an important lesson from longtime Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman Charlie Munger, who recently passed away. I have been attending the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting since 2008. At these shareholder meetings, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger would sit on stage in a giant sports arena and answer questions from shareholders for five hours. Buffett would usually have the first chance to answer the question, and then he would direct it to Munger. 

If the question was controversial, Buffett would go into politician mode and give a non-answer answer. Munger would say what he really thought and didn’t care if his answer upset someone who disagreed with it. Buffett was shackled by the fear of public opinion, while Munger was free. 

Munger said, “I think that one should recognize reality even when one doesn’t like it; indeed, especially when one doesn’t like it.” And thus, he told the truth because it mattered more than someone’s hurt feelings or criticism of him. 

Buffett was afraid, Munger was not.

The most important thing is that we should stop being afraid. This is how the loud minority gained their power. The silent majority — that’s most of us — is afraid to speak up and is thus being accused of bigotry or racism. We are afraid of being canceled, and in the process, we stay quiet while the woke minority is killing our country. 

Fighting against antisemitism and the woke cancer is one and the same fight, as we are fighting the same enemy. 

I cannot tell you how much I did not want to write this essay. But I had to. I could not write anything else until I darkened these pages with my thoughts. I realized I can no longer have tunnel vision. As my son Jonah reminded me, with greater power comes greater responsibility. 

Yes, this is the time to fight. Each of us has a different role in this fight, and we all have different strengths. Israelis are fighting Hamas. Some of my friends have gone to Israel and joined that fight, lending a hand wherever it’s needed (farming, cleaning, feeding soldiers). 

I have another Jewish friend who was never involved in politics. He told me that after October 7 he realized, “I won’t need money in the concentration camp.” He is now contributing to opposition campaigns to replace antisemitic politicians.

If you are a donor to universities, work to defund those with DEI departments that are promoting racism and inequality. Redirect your money toward universities that promote free speech, the ones whose objective is not to coddle our youth but to challenge their thinking. If you want to change society’s future, change its universities. 

We all have special gifts. Use them. Fight for what is right, while we still have something to fight for.

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50 thoughts on “Antisemitism and Wokeness Threaten the Future of Israel and America ”

  1. Hi Vitaliy,

    Would love to hear your perspective again on this. I see Israel making many mistakes in this war and the damage to humanity has been great. Some where a line need to drawn on how much “self-defence” response is valid.

    Reply
  2. An old Jewish saying, in times of war the laws go silent!
    I am not Jewish but have Jewish friends, you are right if this
    was happening to the USA would the people cry as bad as they are
    about killing their enemy?

    Reply
  3. Vitaly, I have enjoyed your writings but this article I find way too biased.
    You, and Zionists, conflate anti-semitism with anti-israel’s treatment of Palestinians, which is misleading.
    Anti-zionism and anti-state of Israel is not anti-semitism – many jews deplore what Israel is doing in Palestine and should be applauded for that.
    It is disingenuous to only comment on the Oct 7th attack in isolation and ignore multiple documented instances of IDF brutality toward Palestinians over many years.
    The history of Palestine/Israel since 1917 shows the Hamas attack on Oct 7th was a response to 100 years of subjugation, apartheid, ethnic cleansing and genocide, not an isolated, or unprovoked attack.
    Post WW1, many jews were displaced out of Europe (why?) and found safe harbour in Palestine,
    Where until then, jews, muslims and christians lived in harmony.
    The Balfour Declaration gifted this British controlled land as Israel, via letter to Lord Rothschild in 1917. The area granted was about the size of Gaza today, within the State of Palestine.
    Illegal settlements and massacres by zionists since then including the Nakba in 1948 have increased this land grab until today where all that is left of Palestine is West bank and Gaza. Some of those massacres include:
    Deir Yassin Massacre (April 1948) …
    Abu Shusha Massacre (May 1948) …
    Tantura Massacre (May 1948) …
    Lydda Massacre (July 1948) …
    Saliha Massacre (October 1948) …
    Al-Dawayima Massacre (October, 1948) …
    Qibya Massacre (October 1953) …
    Kafr Qasim Massacre (October 1956)
    Khan Yunis Massacre (November 1956)
    Sabra and Shatila Massacres (September 1982)
    Al-Aqsa Massacre (October 1990)
    The Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre (February 1994)
    Jenin Refugee Camp (April 2002)
    Killing in Gaza – Multiple Israeli attacks in Gaza have led to significant Palestinian casualties:

    Further elaboration here:
    https://english.ahram.org.eg/News/510520.aspx

    The far right in Israel have gone so far overboard in Gaza since Oct 7th as to expose Israel as the pariah state of the world for its brutality and inhumanity.
    To talk about providing lunches for IDF soldiers while 2 million Palestinians are currently starving demonstrates a stunning lack of empathy and awareness.
    Israel has proven over many years to be an appalling neighbour in the ME.
    Israel has lost the moral right to statehood
    No objective that causes so much human suffering is worth pursuing. The zionist israel project is over.
    The world is waking up. Israels entire power base is US funding, and it is time for that to end.

    Reply
    • I hope you write, with equal animus, to Syrians, Jordanians, and Egyptians when you decry the treatment of Palestinians in the Middle East. When you visit you will still see the remains of the housing that Jordan confined Palestinian Arabs to in 1948 to create the optics they needed to show to the UN. Nevermind the suffering their strategy imposed for many years of NOT absorbing the refuges. Jordan also, you may recall, ousted the PLA and Arafat in a “Civil War” in the 70’s. Egypt, as you are no doubt also aware, refused to annex Gaza, nor to continue to provide governance and support to Gaza as part of their treaty with Israel during the return to Egypt of the Sinai. Syria also made no effort to offer support.

      Israel, imperfectly to be sure, stepped up to offer some support to Palestinians. Arabs can live, be citizens and serve in the Government in Israel. Conversely, Hamas murders the families of West Bank Palestinians that sell land to Jews. Egypt required that the Sinai be a Jew-Free zone as part of their agreement and the settlement of Yamit was dissolved and dismantled. Israel treats Palestinians in need a Israeli hospitals and offers employment to tens of thousands of day-workers.

      Your generalizations also neglect that Israel, especially the Kibbutzim Hamas attacked, has suffered over 10,000 rocket strikes during “Peacetime” and thousands more since October 7. What civilized country claiming to be a civil society, attacks it’s neighbors without provocation and celebrates atrocity by paying the perpetrators for their killing?

      You also neglect to point out the complicity of UN employees planning and executing the massacre on October 7, or the tunnels under hospitals, or the embedding of Hamas weapons and soldiers integrally in Palestinian civilian population centers to assure maximum negative optics during any defensive retaliations. Nor do you write of the over 100,000 Israelis who are currently displaced inside Israel.

      Calling for another holocaust without naming it by presuming the Zionist experiment is opposed by the entire world makes your antisemitism pretty transparent.

      Reply
  4. I saw a link to this on zerohedge and then read some of your other stuff too. Very interesting.

    In this case I certainly agree with you on woke/die/Israel and the general American tendency to not understand what they have or why it’s worth fighting for.

    p.s. You may want to check out paul530 for a different [and right 😉 ] explanation of how economies work – and what’s wrong with socialism. You may also want to read Festinger ‘s (1956) study on failed prophecies (really research on how the NAZIs got Germans to kill each other – read the original: most of what most people tell you about his work is wrong.).

    Reply
  5. Dear Vitaliy,

    I an an American of the Jewish faith. When I was 10 years old, I watched the horror of the 1967 Israeli war and told my mother that I wanted to go fight for the IDF. When I was in college in the 1970″s, I wrote articles in the student newspaper about the terrorism from the PLO. I was fortunate to have spent a month touring all over Israel when I was 19 years old. I got to go back to Israel in 2009. I was actually to be cruising to Israel in October 2023 but Hamas committed there atrocities about a week before we were scheduled to leave for the trip and our itinerary was changed for safety reasons so we never made it into Israel this time. My Grandparents were born in Russia. My dear Grandmother emigrated to the USA from Riga Latvia in 1929 and lived to be 104 years old before her passing. Her parents were murdered by the Nazi’s in Latvia in 1940.

    Ever since the Antifa and BLM riots and violence happened in 2020, I too have watched this country go to hell in a hand basket. I am in utter disbelief that these things could happen in America. This woke stuff makes me want to throw up. And echoing on some of your sentiments I have to say that this truly is a battle between good and evil. They always say that it is the darkest before the storm, and things may continue to get darker between now and when President Donald Trump is sworn in. But I do believe that as difficult as it may presently appear, we will get our country back. We will stop the ascent of Marxism in this country. The illegals will be deported. The colleges will no longer be funded with taxpayer money. The schools will stop teaching this Anti-American propaganda. And, the USA will restore its image and its military. And, Israel will defeat the evil Hamas and their terrorist friends.

    Thank you for your amazing 4 part article. Writing is certainly what you were born to do. And remember, there are more of us (the good) than them (the evil) in this country. God Bless Israel and God Bless the USA. I will keep saying that until my dying breath.

    Reply
  6. Somehow the idea of woke has mutated into something else. I think the word was chosen very well. We, as a country, often fall into a mindless and complacent rut of behavior day after day. This is not surprising. Our consciousness often rests so our subconscious can work on the tremendous amount of new sensory data it has access to. We developed a culture where we can wake up to a new day each day and mindfully veer from whatever fix we got ourselves into the previous day. I’d rather that we were more present and had the ability to engage in deep mindfulness to veer at any point in any day after any suboptimal activity, but using the waking of a new day as a mindfulness reminder is better than nothing. I thought the package provided to us all through some enlightening messages did a great job of suggesting we wake up to things that are keeping our country suboptimal. Spread the word, integrate the package, and then move on with those materials integrated well. Sure, continue the woke period until everyone had woken up to the potential provided. Then, continue or lives for a while until the next woke period. There have not been that many in our history, but they have all been necessary for making a better country in response to the most pressing issues. If we don’t do a good job of integrating, we risk retrograding. We don’t integrate by replacing past successes. We don’t integrate by looking for reasons why the new messages are not valid. Our collective subconscious can become better as it works hard to process the dynamic new environment we live our lives in. We need to sleep. That’s the metaphor and it is a pretty good one. Let’s not throw the metaphor out by not identifying the process and trying to get good at it for our collective benefit.

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  7. Vitaliy,

    After the extermination of human live, mainly children, by Israel in Gaza, how do you dare to say “The IDF is liberating Gazans from Hamas; It is trying very hard to spare civilian lives”?
    You are supporting the genocide of the Palestinian people. What a shame, really, what a shame..

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  8. Hello Vitaliy,

    I enjoyed your How to Save America and Israel essay and agree with many of your comments. I am shocked by how quickly academia flipped and decided they didn’t need to protect the rights of Jewish students and that hate speech against them is acceptable, under the guise of free speech. Imagine if that hate speech had been directed against black or brown students, I suspect there would have been an outpouring of shock and indignation.

    I have been thinking about the NAACP, DEI and racism. Agreeing with your example of the NBA and racial inequality represented within the league, is that justified because the inequality benefits minorities? Or should we implement DEI programs to address racial inequality in the NBA and NFL? My opinion is trying to rectify the sins of past racism by implementing new racist policies (DEI) will not create positive outcomes.

    Another topic that is difficult for white people to discuss, without being perceived as racist, is culture. Most of us in liberal, democratic societies can agree that certain cultures, such as those of Taliban, are not beneficial to certain groups such as females or persons of other religions. If we have cultures in the USA that are not helping people within those cultures to thrive and be successful, should those cultures be perpetuated? Or should they be analyzed, critiqued and modified to produce better outcomes?

    To me it seems the black community has been blaming many of its problems on discrimination, racism and the unique culture of black Americans. Other cultures have moved to America and overcome the cultural differences, or embraced them, to adapt and lead successful lives in America. The black culture seems to be embracing a victim mentality, blaming racism and discrimination for the inability of some black Americans to succeed in America. Should American businesses and culture be modified thru DEI or other means to accommodate the small minority of people that are unwilling to adapt to succeed within our culture? Or should the people within that culture modify their beliefs and behaviors to adapt and be successful within the American culture? I see a black culture that wants to be treated preferentially, that perpetuates an identity of being different, and that wants to treated as a protected class with less accountability for its actions.

    The USA continues to draw immigrants from all over the world because of the opportunities available here. My feeling is if you grow up in the USA, and you’re not taking advantage of the opportunities available here, that is generally a failure of education, effort and grit. Not an indication of systemic racism and lack of opportunity.

    Your story is a story similar to the stories of many other immigrants to this country. You arrived in a different country, learned to speak English, learned the culture, kept some of your native culture, got an education, got a job, raised a family, and became a productive citizen. If immigrants can do this, why are there so many groups of people and cultures that are native to this country that aren’t able to adapt and thrive? I believe people should be educated, assisted, and encouraged to succeed within our society. I also think people need to take responsibility for their actions, or lack thereof, in pursuing their American dreams.

    I enjoy reading your articles and wish you continued success.

    Sincerely,

    Reply
  9. I wasn’t sure but with due respect, decided to go ahead and post this. Perhaps you might think of them as some counter-arguments that you may already be aware of.

    Hamas started the events of 10/7. They have always been, along with Israel’s extreme right wing which is currently represented in positions of power, an impediment to peace. One hopes for the safe negotiated recovery of the remaining hostages with the involvement of the US and those who have leverage over Hamas.

    As others note, time did not start on October 7. The long-running history and legitimacy of the Palestinian cause was reflected in the protests seen around the world in the immediate aftermath. It is understandable that Israelis and the diaspora found these huge crowds threatening. Any anti-semitism should never be tolerated. Using the charge of anti-semitism should also not be a cover for precluding criticism of Israel. While Ivy League students may be guilty of using ‘river to the sea’ in their chants, it is doubtful that they had genocidal motives. As Matt Yglesias wrote “I take everyone at their word that when they say “Free Palestine from the river to the sea” they mean a secular democracy with equal rights for all and not “kill all the Jews.” ” There are people in power in Israel making essentially those same statements however without condemnation by the US govt.

    Many of us who wish for peace condemn violent acts such as what was perpetrated on Israeli civilians, or any form of ‘collective punishment’ on the civilians. A Lancet study shows that Gaza MoH casualties correlate well with UNRWA deaths and the official casualties may be an undercount. We do know that there are potentially another 8K still under the rubble in addition to the 25K officially reported dead. With 70%+ of casualties being women/children, civilian to combatant ratio may be 9:1, assuming that 1/3 of all dead males are combatants. Past operations show low involvement by minors in field-documented reports by organizations such as B’tselem (https://www.btselem.org/download/20090909_cast_lead_fatalities_eng.pdf) and may not significantly affect the ratio. We will have to wait until the war is over to get field-documented reports from third parties. There is emerging evidence that an AI driven bombing (https://www.npr.org/transcripts/1218643254?ft=nprml&f=1218643254) that generates targets not far from indiscriminate bombing and loosened guidelines are factors behind very high civilian casualties in comparison with the 3:1 ratio as calculated by B’tselem for the 2008 operation (IDF claimed 1:1). The IDF claim of 9000 combatants dead out of 25K total is impossible to believe given the 70% women and children dead. Further, there is a negative pattern evidenced by the gunning down of escaped Israeli hostages, people holding white flags in safe zones (https://twitter.com/itvnews/status/1750136909467152434) , the Palestinian woman shot in a church by a sniper, and decomposed babies in neonatal care. A quarter of the population is in Stage 5 starvation due to deliberate food and water deprivation. Israel had to defend itself. A more humanitarian alternative may have been to open corridors into the Negev at least for women/children and wage a more targeted campaign against Hamas. Reality is that, given the current sentiment, it also won’t happen. It is negotiations that have resulted in the release of all but one hostage to date and not military action. A negotiated release of hostages and supply of humanitarian relief to the starving population should have the highest immediate priority. Goals such as eliminating Hamas, described by Gadi Eisenkot as unrealistic, might at a casualty rate of 9:1 civilians dead require 100K dead and more than 200K injured, to kill perhaps 1/3 of Hamas’ 30K force. There have to be red lines somewhere when the security apparatus doesn’t think that the political goal of absolute elimination of Hamas is achievable.

    As for the long-term peace prognosis, facts on the ground of annexed West Bank territory via settlements have killed the two-state solution and it is unclear what will replace it. What is on the table now is hardly sovereignty and unfortunately, the US is not an honest broker.

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  10. PS While I have always been sympathetic and supported Israel in the past, Israel’s brutal retaliation against Hamas I cannot support. I am disgusted at the level of death and destruction Israel has meted out which is totally disproportionate and will have disastrous long term consequences for Israel . I view this as deplorable behavior by Netanyahu who wants to extend the war as long as possible as he has failed miserably as a leader and now has 15% approval rating in Israel.

    Do you think the following is something you should support:

    – 55+% of the buildings in Gaza are destroyed or damaged
    – Those that have studied in the damage caused by Israel in Gaza say the scale is worse than what the Russians did in Mariupol and Assad did in Aleppo
    – 50% of the munitions that have fallen in Gaza were unguided and designed to cause maximum damage and have killed vast numbers of mostly women and children
    – Most of the hospitals and health care services are destroyed
    – 25,000+ civilians have been killed, mostly women and children
    – Israel has no end game. And I suspect that they will ask the US to help pay for the horrific damage they caused.

    See this report by Fareed Zakaria on his show this Sunday: https://wapo.st/3O4AkkI.

    No thoughtful person who cares about the future of Israel and long term peace in the region should ever support what Netanyahu and his extremist government are doing. And neither should the US until Israel revises its strategy and works in good faith towards a two state solution, which btw, is the long time accepted US policy and something Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected.

    And Israel has so much to gain including a real treaty with the Saudi’s and others, not to mention maintaining the support of the US. How will a nation of 7 million Jews occupy and control 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and 2 million in Gaza? Netanyahu’s government has no answer to that. This kind of occupation is the long term existential threat to Israel. It would lead to a war with Hezbollah and others and probably a wider Middle East war.

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  11. You talk about the Woke virus here but what about the deplorable cynicism of people like Netanyahu who was trying to do everything to stop any talks on a two state solution while paying off Hamas? https://www.nytimes.com/2023/12/10/world/middleeast/israel-qatar-money-prop-up-hamas.html

    Netanyahu has done everything possible to destroy Israeli Democracy in a desperate bid to remain in power by promoting religious extremism there, increasing illegal settlements on the West Bank in violation of established US policy, doing everything possible to neuter the key checks and balances of the Israeli judiciary by getting rid of judicial review etc. His divisive rule so divided Israeli society that it was completely unprepared for the attack by Hamas and took 7 hours to respond, an absolutely shocking failure by first responders there that his government still refuses to discuss almost 100 days later.

    In a recent podcast on the Ezra Klein show with Thomas Friedman, Friedman called Netanyahu the worst leader in ALL of Jewish history, and that’s a long history. I urge everyone who is fair minded and not blinded by their ethnic or religious bias to listen. It cogently outlines the horrific flaws around the brutal invasion of Gaza that satellites now reveal is worse than what the Russians did in Mariupol. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/19/opinion/ezra-klein-podcast-tom-friedman.html

    You talk about the “woke virus” but what about the right wing authoritarian virus that has so divided Israel and is also destroying US support for Israel? And do you support Trump, who is an ally and soul mate of Netanyahu? THAT is the real threat here. I do not recognize Israel anymore and with Netanyahu in charge, I believe his goals are directly at odds with US goals in the mid-east. Even Biden is losing patience with him. Until you honestly discuss that threat to Israel, I will just view you as another political hack.

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  12. Great series of articles. I share your despair at the woke/dei approach to everything. How far are we from AI enabled DEI giving new born babies their degree grades and jobs for life based on their ethnicity! dystopian nightmare already here in many ways. Whilst i emphatically do not agree with many of Israel’s tactics over the years, i am thoroughly disgusted that people in cities bombed and under daily racially and religious motivated attach because they are not muslim decide that they want to support those self same muslims and ignore their atrocities (or worse, support them). The deepest irony is the lbgt crowd supporting islam. Last i saw islamic countries routinely throw lbgt folks off the top of building for their lifestyle choices….
    I support liberty and freedom, and dislike groupthink, whether it be from either side of the political spectrum, or a religious one. Let everyone form their own ideas, and support what they want, eg if you are green and dont want to invest in oil, dont, BUT allow others who want to profit form that activity to do so. markets will decide based on demand (eg more demand for oil than there is for oil investments).
    EVeryone has a right to life, lifestyle choices, religious choices, investment choices. Seize the opportunity to do so while we are allowed.
    Keep up the good work, and one day we can all go back to focussing on our interests and our investments wothout interference from elites

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  13. Vitally.
    Excellent article. Lots of points you hit the nail on the head. One comment I have and I know you are agnostic, but history shows in Jewish and European history that once that society places God out of the picture, that society is slowly driven into chaos and self destruction. Thanks for the well thought out article that lots of people in the US are on edge about but no one dares to say for fear of being categorized as racist or a bigot( the 21 century term to enslave the mind ).
    God bless.

    Reply
    • Glad you brought that up, John. I think the chaos started when apparently clergy of all religions turn out to be corrupt, and that corruption was revealed in the media.

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  14. Vitaly – so interesting that suddenly our positions merge in one.

    For you “wake up call” was weak and muddled reaction to October 7 HAMAS attack on Israel. For me – war in Ukraine that USA provoked and triggered by 2014 Maidan coup orchestrated by CIA and by NATO expansion to the Russian borders despite multiple warnings by everyone who still able to think including Putin himself (starting from his 2007 Munich security conference speech)..

    I also very concerned about America and how it is losing its core values and competitive age. As a tenured professor in American university I exposed to this nonsense everyday – I can not even be critical of weak students because it “hurts their feelings”. And of course I never allowed to say ANYTHING negative about “diversity students”. That will cause a major problem for everyone.

    My theory is that winning Cold War against USSR was actually bad news for USA. They lost their major competitor in 1990 and with that lost their ability and motivation to compete. And 30 years later we have whole generation of people that do not know how to work hard or compete.

    Meanwhile China and Russia got off their knees and now real competitors to USA and the West – Russia as a military power and China as an economic power. And unless USA population starts behaving as mature adults quickly – they will lose this competition. So far the only idea they have is to elect ultimate immature child – Trump (of course that is better that brain-dead Biden that Democratic party offers to everyone)

    And I completly agree with you – without USA support Israel will not exist. And it will not take 50 years, it will happen much quicker. But this is another issue, if Israel in its present Zionist incarnation should exist. Here we probably disagree.

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  15. Hi Vitaliy,

    Everyone has a bias and you’ve been open with yours: 1) you thank your lucky stars you’re an American and 2) you’ve experienced antisemitism first hand. Unfortunately, this means you’re unlikely to be critical of the U.S. government or the Israeli government. This is a serious blindspot for understanding the nature of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

    The history of Israel is critical, and that history didn’t start on October 7th. The seeds of this century-long blood feud began with the Zionist movement in the late 1800s (“a land with no people for a people with no land”) and really got going during World War I when the British made contradictory promises to the Arabs (who had been living under Turkish rule) and the Zionists. By the end of the British Mandate in Palestine, a faction of the Zionists, the Irgun, resorted to terrorist tactics, blowing up the Kind David Hotel in 1946. That was the last straw and the British left soon after.

    If you want to get a taste of the history of Israel, I wrote a long essay about it two weeks ago: http://www.thecoffeecanportfolio.com/palestine. It ends on a positive note. There is a way out of this mess, a path towards peace, but without acknowledging the history of Israel, warts and all, it won’t happen.

    Best regards,
    Kevin

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  16. Israel is at war today against enemiea that have sworn to kill them. Palestinians are united the same way the Germans and Japanese supported the expansionist ideas of Hitler and Tojo. War is cruel and hard, Germany and Japan had to be destroyed before they surrendered and sued for peace. Now they are the worlds most peace loving people. In WW2 there were no calls for humanitarin assistance or cease fires before the Allies crossed the Rhine and the Russians the Odor in 1945.The war carried on to the surrender. This war must end with Hamas surrender and Palestinians realizing that destroying Israel is a fantasy and making real peace is a better way like the Germans and Japanese did. Now the hard men are in charge but Jews have always had a cadre of apologists and self haters that want to be loved and feel good about themselves no matter what. If the Israeli and Jewish peaceniks have ther way the war will end in cease fire with Hamas still in charge and more Cslos and missiles will be the future. The hard men must ignore the chattering class and wage war as long as it takes to the surrender even if Gaza is totally destyoyed like in WW2. Like after WW2 the world loves dead Jews, they hate live ones. If Israel lost a war the slaughter of Jews would rival Aushvitz. These are cold hard truths that can’t be ignored or wished away.

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  17. Excellent assessment and analysis. I would suggest a slight modification to your comment in Part 4 where you said, “Israel will not exist 50 years from now without a strong US.” It is my firm belief that Israel WILL exist 50 years from now and they will never cease to exist. The U.S. most likely will not exist in 50 years and if we turn our backs on Israel we will be signing our own death sentence and hastening our demise. Again, just my thoughts and beliefs.
    Keep up your good work on all fronts – investments, music and your geopolitical insights. They are quite valuable.

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  18. Certainly the extreme “wokeness” has become an issue we need to deal with especially in this BS about the opresser/opressed class of people.

    However the tone of this article seems to suggest that there is an “equality of opportunity” in this country.

    This I suggest is part of the problem. Until the majority of all children enter the school system with relatively equal opportunities for early childhood education there really is not an equality of opportunity.

    When a class of children are able to enter the system with 2 or 3 years of preschool experience they have much more opportunity to suceed over others who could not afford this experience.

    Public supported preschool for all children should be a major platform for any party who realy cares about equality of opportunity.

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  19. Larry Shillock
    Tue, Jan 16, 3:59 PM (2 days ago)
    to Vitaliy

    Vitaliy,
    Please slow down a bit here. Students are not hired or admitted to elite universities “solely”–a world you use several times–on the basis of their social identities. Such students often bring stellar academic records into places like the Ivies. (As a professor for going on 30 years, I am reasonably expert on such matters.) Did some elite schools go too far in their “Wokeism?” Sure. Did those same institutions do too little for more than a century? Sure. There are almost four thousand colleges and universities in America. The overwhelming majority go about their business by creating conditions for students (many of whom are underprepared) to learn. Professors like me grade students as objectively as possible. We do not institute different grading systems for the oppressors and the oppressed, to borrow your categories.

    Next, there wasn’t some kind of golden age when meritocracy ruled American institutions. Elite members of society were accepted into elite schools in a very high percentage of cases, then and now. If you want to go after a faux meritocracy, you might focus on legacy admissions or athletics. Elite members of society are then accepted in outsized percentages onto Wall Street and in the best graduate schools–and have been for a century. You would find the history of Ivy league and, especially, Wall Street’s attempts to exclude Jews fascinating (and deplorable).

    Now a word about “context” and its role in the six hours of testimony endured by three university presidents. The presidents were “lawyered up” for the occasion. Why? Because defining students’ speech in advance as failing to meet a speech/honor code would 1) open individual students and students’ organizations to abuse and 2) the universities to lawsuits. The phrase “from the river to the sea” is a call for genocide. Where elite universities have gone wrong in the last decade is by letting students yell at each other in such offensive terms without intervening.

    I enjoy your essays, but you got a bit too far “over your skis” on this one.
    Best, larry
    P.S. Mr. Ackman is behaving like a zealot. I would not cite him without some reservations.

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  20. Thanks for your essay ! Few thoughts below:
    Disclaimer: I’m an Arab born in Morocco and living in Europe since a decade now. I’m overall agnostic, I’m in a particular position where I have plenty of arab friends in Morocco and plenty of Jews friends in Europe. I do not have anything against Jews, I admire Jews actually for what they passed through. I’m against what has been done by Hamas AND I’m against what has been done by Israel as well since decades before (occupation).

    1/ Your essay considers the start of the story on october 7 while this geopolitical issue has been there since decades. Did Syria and France had decades of conflicts before ? As a moroccan born, I have been hearing of occupied Palestine since I opened my eyes, this is part of every arab soul, not like Syria or Irak, this is the reason you see arabs (and the world) much more vocal on that than on Syria or Irak, because they have in mind what’s happening since decades there.
    2/ Hamas important number of extermists today is a result of decades of occupation that gave no hope to palestinians apart becoming extremist. I’m afraid actually given current situation that we will have more and more extremists there which is terrible and won’t help solve the situation
    3/ Oslo accords (1993) were a great opportunity to sort this out but unfortunately, both Palestinian extremists (HAMAS killed 22 jews on 19 oct 1994) and Israel extremists (a jew killed 30 muslims on 25 february 1994) at that time were against that accords which gave the current situation. Extremists did win over balanced people unfortunately. You do not have any word in your essay about current Israel government where some extremists can have very questionable ideas. First step toward peace might be to have more balanced people from each side rather than the extremists of each side.
    4/You say Israel has no choice than eliminating Hamas. Of course no one can be against that objective, but is bombing all the city the way to do it ? That’s an emotional reaction of revenge I think. Current bombing will kill many extremists today, but the movement will have new extremists tomorrow unfortunately, all those kids that lost their parents cousins etc etc in the current bombing. I’m afraid that unless Palestinians see the end of the occupation coming with the recognition of a palestinian state, at some point all the population might become extremist.

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  21. We are a society that is losing its pragmatism. We used to be a country of practical, innovative problem solvers, and now we are turning into a country of useful idiots, where a tiny woke minority leads us into self-immolation.

    ARE YOU KIDDING??? + you think the ‘woke minority “ is leading us ??? _
    From my vantage point- it is LARGE CORPORATIONS< LOBBYISTS- EVANGELICAL WHITE MALES – too interested in maintaining power at all costs- ( oh yeah , that CHRIST thing… how’s that working for the greater good????)
    FOLKS LOOKING to hang on to their MONEY – from many walks of life –

    Sincerely
    Kathi Heiber

    Reply
  22. Your last missive struck a chord with me. Here is some food for thought from a former teacher who also is a former employer of high school graduates in the military…

    I have an unusual perspective you might find interesting. I was a commanding officer of a Navy FA-18 squadron, which means I saw the Sailors entering our navy for more than 25 years. Many Sailors had ASVAB scores in the 30’s, and many pilots had SAT scores above 1400 (Math and reading only). I taught high school for 5 years. Finally, today I’m an engineer involved in training new engineers at the USPTO. So, I’ve seen education, or its impact, from multiple vantage points.
    We have three systemic problems that must be solved before we can attempt to solve grade inflation, because grade inflation is the symptom, not the underlying problem. Short story here:
    1) Special Ed has killed the academic bottom half. It’s literally rotting the system from the ground up.
    2) The ‘Dear Colleague’ letter from Obama has killed discipline in schools, again from the ground up.
    3) Teachers who get out of line, get beat down, then they either acquiesce or quit. You can argue this is a symptom, but it’s a major problem.

    1) Special Ed. The well-meaning SpEd trained teachers actually believe that “every student can succeed”. I’ve taken graduate courses (for an M.Ed.) with them, and that’s their dogmatic doctrine. Sounds good on paper, just like socialism. Doesn’t work in the classroom. They don’t care. As long as it looks good on paper, then it makes them look good. Yes, standardized tests repeatedly tell them otherwise, but who are you going to believe, test scores, or the piece of paper that makes you look good? My Independent School District has Nine (9) SpEd administrators who literally never step into a classroom. But they do assure that the paperwork is completed in a timely fashion. Every school has a SpEd diagnostician who merely evaluates SpEd students and a SpEd specialist who makes sure all the paperwork is filed in a timely manner and “looks good”.
    What happens if a teacher “fails” a SpEd student? Well, their other teachers gave them a 70, so you are the outlier, you are the problem. AND you are liable to attend federal court for a violation of their civil rights under ADA. Because these students have something called ‘accommodations’ which virtually no teacher can provide. Again, accommodations sound good on paper, but accommodations are incredibly unrealistic. Mind you, you might have 5 SpEd students in each class, and each of their accommodations are… different. And you have 6 classes. So, do you blame the teachers for giving them a passing 70? Here’s the rub. SpEd isn’t a continuum. These SpEd students sit next to a student who is just barely ‘not’ SpEd. Can you give this student a 60 for the same work? Nope. Because then you have to tell them that Joe is “special”, and they are held to a higher standard. You can’t say Joe is “special” because – that violates his civil rights…
    What about that crazy teacher who actually tells the truth? And that teacher fails a SpEd student? What if they fail 16% of students for a physics class because they do not know their multiplication tables as graduating students? What if you’ve given them the opportunity to learn the multiplication tables? And they just don’t care, or give up, or some SpEd students cannot learn them… Then, You are the problem, and you find that out quickly. Yes, the admin wants kids to ‘succeed’, but not if the student or parent complains. So, they get you in line, or they make working very uncomfortable.
    Kids are lazy, but not stupid. So, your classroom with a single SpEd student becomes a race to the bottom, because the students know they only need a 70 to graduate, and they know exactly how little work they have to perform to get the same grade as ‘Joe’. That gives you our current system. Baltimore just got there first, but every public school is heading there.
    2) If you haven’t read the “Dear Colleague’ letter, you should. It says that disparate treatment in discipline will be construed by the DoJ as evidence of racism. Which filters down to this lecture from a ‘Civil Rights’ attorney: I don’t care if ONLY Purple kids start all the fights in your school. I don’t care if you punish them and have impeccable records for these students dating back 20 years. IF you punish ONLY the Purple kids, then that is de facto evidence of racism. And you will have to defend your district against these charges in Federal Court against the DoJ. (OBTW, Federal Court juries are typically in the big cities – where the makeup of said juries – might be prejudiced against you.) The Civil Rights attorney will then smile, because he doesn’t care which side he’s on – he gets paid for consulting, defending or prosecuting – but he gets paid. Again, Baltimore just got there first, but everyone is going there IF the behavior is De Facto assumed to be equal.
    3) Teachers get beat down. #1 above says they cannot actually hold students accountable for their performance. #2 above says they cannot even hold students accountable for their behavior. Let’s say that doesn’t justify coming home every night. Yes, it takes ‘more time’, every single day, to attempt to hold kids accountable for their work and their behavior. So, it’s easier to keep smiling and doing your job. Yes, I left teaching. 50% of all teachers leave in 5-7 years (depending on the district, parents, and kids). These are folks who spent four years in college to learn how to teach, and only practiced that profession for 5 years. Can you think of any other government bureaucracy with such lousy stats? (Yes, the military, and I’ve been in both.)

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  23. Vitaly, thanks for the article. Parts 2 and 4 are my favorite. Totally agree with your analysis. October 7 events and celebrative response on it taking place in many US universities was an awakening for me and many of my friends. In our society process of pushing down Merit, Qualification and Facts started long time age (see https://www.aei.org/carpe-diem/merit-based-natural-diversity-vs-social-engineering/) but the reaction of woke and BLT supporters to Hamas atrocities demonstrated racist character of those movement. I engage in research of Holocaust atrocities in Ukraine and such level of hate exhibited by Hamas army remain me Nazis atrocities.
    In 2015, CBS correspondent Lara Logan asked Father Patrick Desbois, author of “Holocaust by Bullets”: “Why does the Holocaust matter, all these years later?”
    “It matters because it still happens,” he tells her. “It’s not the past, unfortunately. It seems to be part of the future. ”
    Father Desbois sees genocide as a human disease that “sleeps and awakens from one generation to the next.”
    We witnessed appearance of this virus in ISIS atrocities, in mass killing Ukrainian civilian by Russian army in Bucha, Isum and some other places. Like the Nazis, Russian soldiers feel justified in killing those who are different.

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  24. You make good points, but I think no discussion of real prejudice, racism, or colonialism makes your arguments too one sided. These are real problems that need to be solved. Perhaps extreme wokeness is not the answer, but pretending they don’t exist is not either. The idea that folks used to get into elite colleges solely on merit (legacies, connections, etc) is ludicrous.

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  25. Good afternoon, Vitaliy. I first saw your “Contrarian Edge” articles in Better Investing magazine, and I then subscribed to your email list a few months ago. I enjoy your investment comments along with the inclusion of art and music. My wife, René, and I live approximately thirty miles south of Birmingham, Alabama, a city with a rich Jewish population and heritage. In fact, she is currently undergoing training as a docent (we believe the only non-Jewish docent) at the Alabama Holocaust Education Center. We have studied the Holocaust by various means, and she has a unique emotive interest in that and other tragedies experienced by the Jewish people. But, enough background—

    I read part one of your recent article last week, and I opted to read the entire four-part document at one sitting. I appreciate your perspective, and I agree with many/most of your opinions. However, I thought I’d respond to this particular article because you included very pointed comments about DEI and Woke-ism on college/university campuses. From my perspective, you generalized your treatment of universities’ influence on young people, and I wanted to provide a rebuttal that I hope will encourage you.

    I am a history professor at the University of Montevallo, Alabama’s public liberal arts university, and I can assure you that, with a few exceptions, our faculty members encourage students to consider multiple sides of issues. Our focus is on critical thinking to assist with problem solving in the “real world,” and I believe that we do that well. My dad used to tell me that the primary reason for going to college was to learn to think!

    You are a self-proclaimed agnostic Jew. I am a Christian gentile. However, our traditions recognize the same supreme being—Yahweh—as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Ultimately, He is in charge, and many Jews and Gentiles seek to serve Him. Rest assured, there are many of us in the “not so silent” majority who are doing our part to develop a diverse, equitable, inclusive society centered on forgiveness, tolerance, acceptance, and respect. We just don’t get the press coverage!

    Best wishes for a prosperous (and more peaceful) 2024/5784!

    Jim Day

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  26. Dear Vitaliy-

    Regarding Part 1-
    Firstly, I believe that one statement is incorrect. “This country of eight million Jews turned into one big family,” should read 7,208,000 Jews and 2,634,000 non-Jews-see:
    https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jewish-and-non-jewish-population-of-israel-palestine-1517-present; there are other sources that concur. My point is-Israel is no longer a solely Jewish state, it must also adapt its culture, politics, etc. to non-Jews as well as, I agree, providing a sanctuary for worldwide Judaism. As you well know, Hamas also attacked and killed non-Jews in their 7 Oct. assault.
    Secondly, to further expand the above point. The continual attempts of “extermination” of each other by both Israelis and Arabs does not simply work. We can see the evidence for this from 1948 to the present. The only result is that each successive generation is indoctrinated into the “religion of violence and hate”(perfect example-Northern Ireland), thus these attempts of “extermination” are simply impossible. The killing on both sides must stop-this is inhumane and uncivilised. I don’t have the answer(evidently no one else does either), but both protagonists MUST find an arbitrator that is neutral and they can trust(a big ask), but then they must abide by the arbitrator’s decisions(a bigger ask). As long as there is an ultra right Jewish orthodox party and a fanatical contingent of Hamas influencing the decisions made, there will be no solution-period.

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  27. in california, a gov. newsom committee has declared that mathematics is a form of white oppression and advanced math classes should be eliminated in high school; the progressive/totalitarians will never stop; once you agree with m on one item they will always have another demand

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  28. Hi Vitaliy,

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the topic of DEI. Since you touched upon affirmative action, I would emphasize one of your observations that rings very true: “But Asians are neither a superclass nor a protected group; therefore, we didn’t care.” Since the general population didn’t care, I feel that the universities were trying to push the envelope of what they could get away with in using blatant racist policies against Asians, in order to justify DEI in admissions. Using racism to fight racism, in a sense. It would be preposterous for Harvard to designate the lowest personality score to an ethnic class (other than Asians, which is what it did) as an element of its “holistic” approach to evaluating applicants. Imagine the uproar. But Harvard assumed Asians, as always, would just “sit there and take it,” which is exactly what happened. Growing accustomed to this approach, Harvard assumed the same tactic would work with Jews, and attempted to excuse the blatant racist, anti-semitic behavior on campus . But of course, the Jews didn’t just “sit there and take it,” much to their credit. To me it’s a bit sad that Asians do not have the influence and established presence to exert any real push-back pressure, but very glad the Jewish students and alumni are doing so in order to bring the hypocrisy of DEI to the forefront.

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  29. I am writing to say that I agree with all you’ve said in this latest three part essay. I am not a Jew, nor Agnostic. I am a Christian. But I can plainly see it is the Jews who have contributed far more than their share to humanity; and with such tiny numbers to work with. And who can say but in the end they will prevail though through such misery it saddens me.

    The socialization of grades has been underway in Oregon for some time now. It’s lunacy of course. The plan was conceived to increase political base of the ruling party. It’s not a plan to benefit the future of but a few. I am from Idaho thankfully but in the end we are all in this together.

    Keep writing please. Richard R. White

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  30. Great article. I don’t think Buffett was as afraid as you described him in your article. I liked the way he responded to the father of several girls who said Planned Parenthood promoted promiscuity and internet porn. He isn’t as entertaining as Charlie was. He shows a lot more empathy and tact than Charlie did.

    The problem with America today is that because of the nuts on the woke left we voted a pathological liar in as president. He will probably win again unless we can get enough moderates to vote for someone else. Biden isn’t that someone else. I would like to see our country get a moderate party started. This will be the best way to insure that the wackos on the far left and the far right don’t control our future. We need a renewed focus on the truth and kindness.

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  31. To have a conversation at college you need dissent. So, we need at least people that will speak a position with research and discussion. We want to have discussion to teach discussion. How can we politely disagree and learn at the same time that what we think might be right, might not be right. To come to a debate and accept that our position might need to change as we walk away. If we are not open to change and questioning our position then yes, we have descended into dogma and rhetoric where we allow someone else to decide what we think. Where we allow inaccuracies and lies to position us in a place of stupidity.

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  32. Relative to your grade socialism. This happened in high schools many years ago. I saw some when I was a school board member in the 1980s. I observed other instances as a soccer referee instructor.

    Have you heard of “helicopter” parents? Followed by “snowplow” parents? They are real. The original ones followed their offspring from high school to college pestering professors and administrators.

    As a school board member, I witnessed the push for special advanced classes, gifted and talented, and the like. The child of one of the most vociferous of petitioning parents barely qualified. On the soccer front, I received calls from Dad about how highly qualified their 18-year-old (lazy) child was and should assign pro matches.

    It’s a society thing not confined to the university. Although I am glad I graduated university before Michel Foucault and his ilk took over.

    **One note on your thoughts on anti-semitism. I visited Israel twice. I found nice and generous people. I also saw the subtle racism toward Palestinians similar to what I saw as a northerner in Louisiana in the early 70s. Once again, this seems to be a human thing. (Just a side note. Calling for killing people, and of course actually doing it, are horrible acts.)

    I appreciate your thinking. Don”t stop.

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  33. I emailed you directly, re part 2.

    As to part 3 – once again a bit of a straw man argument. Grade inflation has been around since at least the 1980s. There is nothing new or unique about what you are complaining about. I wasn’t sure how to copy and paste an image, but this link – https://gradeinflation.com – shows that between 1983 and 2013, the all school average GPA went from just over 2.8 to just over 3.1. Happened during Reagan years. Happened during Clinton years. Happened during Bush II years. Happened during Obama years. Of interest, in looking at average SAT scores going back to the 1970s, we see that Math scores have increased a bit, while critical thinking scores have dropped. If you want to complain or worry about something related to our education, that might be the place to look, especially with all of the actual (not Trump-declared) fake news, internet disinformation and outright lies, and the gish-galloping approach of far too many in addressing things like vaccines, climate change, voting security, etc.

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  34. I emailed you directly, but to make sure – here is my comment on part 2 of your series:
    “This is really disappointing. Not so much for the issue of addressing some of the absurdity of extreme interpretations of what it means to be “woke”, but rather for the creation of a straw man argument based on a minority interpretation of what is meant by the concept of being “woke.” It would be the equivalent of saying that “free enterprise “ and “capitalism “ are killing the globe because of the behaviors of certain vulture capitalists and the failure to implement appropriate controls over unrestricted capitalism. But since we are talking about over generations, let me make my own. I have noticed that people who escaped from totalitarian “communist” (in quotes because none of those countries actually practice theoretical communism) countries tend to have a mistrust of ALL governments and pretty much ALL attempts of a government to intervene in the structure and practices of society. It is as if they cannot separate the form of government from the function of government. In reading your piece (so far), I think I see some of that. Finally, I do hope you appreciate the irony of using Mr. Ackerman as a source of wisdom and insight in these matters.”

    As to part 3 – once again a bit of a straw man argument. Grade inflation has been around since at least the 1980s. There is nothing new or unique about what you are complaining about. I wasn’t sure how to copy and paste an image, but this link – https://gradeinflation.com – shows that between 1983 and 2013, the all school average GPA went from just over 2.8 to just over 3.1. Happened during Reagan years. Happened during Clinton years. Happened during Bush II years. Happened during Obama years. Of interest, in looking at average SAT scores going back to the 1970s, we see that Math scores have increased a bit, while critical thinking scores have dropped. If you want to complain or worry about something related to our education, that might be the place to look, especially with all of the actual (not Trump-declared) fake news, internet disinformation and outright lies, and the gish-galloping approach of far too many in addressing things like vaccines, climate change, voting security, etc.

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  35. Wonderful article and perspective on what America is supposed to be. We believe in everyone should have the opportunity given they have the skill. Should everyone have an opportunity to gain the skill necessary, absolutely. Should the people with the skill be oppressed because they don’t have the right skin color, pronoun, etc, no way. It’s all very basic, but we’ve let it get to where the pendulum has swung from too far one way to too far the other. Perhaps “everything in moderation” should apply to how we behave? You don’t have to sacrifice passion, just as you say, think about results before you take a firm one-way stand.

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  36. In my view, Wokeness is the illegitimate stepchild of how I understand Affirmative Action operates, or should. If two candidates have equal qualifications, but one of them is a member of an underrepresented group in the school or company they are applying to, then the preference should tend go to the underrepresented. This does not mean that every underrepresented candidate gets the nod, but it evens the field for candidates who have less opportunities. This approach also limits the choices to candidates of equal abilities. So, let’s not accept a 3.0 student into a university that typically accepts only 4.0 or better; but give more consideration to the candidate from an underrepresented group over the well represented group when both are at 4.0. Unfortunately, AA has been misused which understandably has resulted in blowback from the more priveleged in our society.

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    • Blowback from the “privileged,” or from more qualified people who were denied the position? Opponents of affirmative action argued back in the 1970s that it would lead to quotas, which we are seeing today in wokeness. Seeking only some discrimination is like being only partly pregnant.

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  37. Thanks for the article, Vitaly. Some thoughts I would like to share:

    1/ If there is “a so-called intersectional pyramid of oppression where whites, Jews, and Asians are deemed oppressors”,
    then why aren’t there anti-Asian and anti-White rallies at these same universities?

    2/ Why is it that your article mentioned nothing about illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the living conditions in Gaza?

    To give context, I have copied an extract from Asher Ginzberg’s (aka Ahad Ha’am) book ‘Emet me-Eretz Yisrael’ (“Truth from Eretz Israel”) written after his visit in 1891:

    We who live abroad are accustomed to believing that almost all Eretz Israel is now uninhabited desert and whoever wishes can buy land there as he pleases.
    But this is not true. It is very difficult to find in the land cultivated fields that are not used for planting.

    Only those sand fields or stone mountains that would require the investment of hard labour and great expense to make them good for planting remain uncultivated and that’s because the Arabs do not like working too much in the present for a distant future.

    Therefore, it is very difficult to find good land for cattle. And not only peasants, but also rich landowners, are not selling good land so easily…We who live abroad are accustomed to believing that the Arabs are all wild desert people who, like donkeys, neither see nor understand what is happening around them. But this is a grave mistake.

    The Arab, like all the Semites, is sharp-minded and shrewd. All the townships of Syria and Eretz Israel are full of Arab merchants who know how to exploit the masses and keep track of everyone with whom they deal – the same as in Europe.
    The Arabs, especially the urban elite, see and understand what we are doing and what we wish to do on the land, but they keep quiet and pretend not to notice anything.
    For now, they do not consider our actions as presenting a future danger to them. … But, if the time comes that our people’s life in Eretz Israel will develop to a point where we are taking their place, either slightly or significantly, the natives are not going to just step aside so easily.
    https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/ahad-ha-rsquo-am

    regards,
    Wimal

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