SUPER QUIZ II

Another Super Bowl; another quiz (what else at this time of the year). Some of the questions may be too difficult for casual football fans, but I have to challenge the hard core football fans. Remember, no peeking.

1. The first Super Bowl was played in what year?

a. 1966
b. 1967
c. 1968
d. 1969

2. The losing team in the first SB was:

a. Cowboys
b. Raiders
c. Giants
d. Chiefs

3. At which college did Pete Carroll coach immediately before coaching the Seahawks?

a. UCLA
b. USC
c. Oregon
d. Penn State

4. Which city has hosted the most games?

a. Miami
b. Dallas
c. Los Angeles
d. Phoenix

5. How many Super Bowls have been decided in overtime?

a. 0
b. 1
c. 2
d. 3

6. Which franchise has won the most SBs?

a. Dallas
b. San Francisco
c. Pittsburg
d. New England

7. Each of the following teams is undefeated in SBs except:

a. Jets
b. Ravens
c. Bucs
d. Green Bay

8. The name “Super Bowl” was derived from:

a. College “bowl” games
b. Fan vote
c. Media feedback
d. Child’s toy

9. Who has won the most SB MVPs?

a. Bart Starr
b. Tom Brady
c. Eli Manning
d. Joe Montana

10. Who was the only MVP from the losing team?

a. Chuck Howley
b. Len Dawson
c. Bruce Smith
d. Icky Woods

11. How many defensive players have been MVP of a SB?

a. Two
b. Five
c. Eight
d. Ten

12. Which of the below franchises has had the most SB appearances?

a. Green Bay
b. San Francisco
c. NY Giants
d. Pittsburg

13. Which of the below networks has not telecast any Super Bowls?

a. ABC
b. CBS
c. Fox
d. ESPN

14. Each of the following has not appeared in a SB, except:

a. Browns
b. Bengals
c. Lions
d. Jaguars

15. Who performed at halftime last year?

a. Beyonce
b. Lady Gaga
c. Usher
d. Bruno Mars

16. How many times has a team played the SB in its home stadium?

a. 0
b. 1
c. 2
d. 3

17. Which of the below-listed coaches has the most SB appearances?

a. Vince Lombardi
b. Tom Landry
c. Don Shula
d. Bud Grant

18. The coldest temperature for a SB held outdoors was 39 degrees in which city?

a. Houston
b. New Orleans
c. Stanford
d. Cleveland

19. Which of the following coaches has taken more than one team to a SB?

a. Don Shula
b. Tom Landry
c. Bill Belichek
d. Vince Lombardi

20. Which coach has the most SB wins?

a. Don Shula
b. Bill Belichek
c. Mike Shanahan
d. Chuck Noll

21. Which of the below-listed quarterbacks did not win any Super Bowls.

a. Jim Plunkett
b. Dan Marino
c. Joe Namath
d. Terry Bradshaw

22. After whom is the SB trophy named?

a. Pete Rozelle
b. Paul Brown
c. Al Davis
d. Vince Lombardi

23. Which player has won the most SB rings?

a. Adam Vinatieri
b. Charles Haley
c. Terry Bradshaw
d. Bob Lilly

24. Which half-time entertainer became (in)famous for a “wardrobe malfunction?”

a. Beyoncé
b. Janet Jackson
c. Madonna
d. Lady Gaga

25. What marginal player became famous for the “helmet catch” in SBXLII (Giants vs. Pats)?

a. Plaxico Burris
b. Randy Moss
c. David Tyree
d. Bob Schnelker

ANSWERS: 1. b; 2. d; 3. b; 4. a (10); 5. a; 6. c; 7. d; 8. d; 9. d(3); 10. a (SB V); 11.c; 12. d (Tied with Dallas – 8); 13. d, 14. b; 15. d; 16. a; 17. c (6); 18. b; 19. a; 20. d(4); 21. b; 22. d; 23. b(5); 24. b; 25. c

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AUSCHWITZ REMEMBRANCE

Monday, January 27 marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Russian soldiers. The date has also been recognized in many countries as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This year approximately 300 survivors of the camp, according to the BBC, made the pilgrimage to mark the occasion. They were joined by political leaders and dignitaries of many countries.

Originally, Auschwitz was constructed as an Army barracks. Then, beginning in May, 1940 it was used to hold Polish political prisoners. Exterminations began in September 1941. Jews, gypsies and other prisoners were transported there from early 1942 until late 1944. It was the largest of the concentration camps and, in my opinion, the most notorious. The camp was operational until January, 1945.

It is not known for certain how many people were murdered at the camp. First of all, despite the Germans’ reputation for maintaining meticulous records, some of the prisoners were not registered. Secondly, towards the end of the war the Nazis, perhaps sensing they were going to lose, began to cover their tracks. For example, on Himmler’s orders mass graves were opened, the prisoners’ remains were burned, and the ashes were scattered so as to prevent an accurate count of the victims. Additionally, as Russian troops approached, the guards tried to evacuate the camp to hide the evidence. They evacuated most of the prisoners to other camps. The relatively few that remained were liberated by the Russians. Estimates of those murdered at Auschwitz are as high as four million (by the Russian government), but the most reliable and generally accepted number is 1.1 million, approximately 90% of which were Jews. The remainder included gypsies, communists, homosexuals, political prisoners and other dissidents or “undesirables.” This estimate was determined after much detailed research by Franciszek Piper, who is a polish scholar, historian, author and recognized expert on the history of Auschwitz. In his analysis, Mr. Piper went so far as to analyze timetables of train arrivals and deportation records. Approximately 1/6th of all the Jews who perished in the Holocaust were murdered at Auschwitz.

Not all of them were actually gassed. Some died as the result of disease, starvation, medical experiments, or were simply worked to death. Moreover, some German companies, such as Krupp and Siemens, maintained their own “subcamps” staffed by slave labor dedicated to manufacturing their products. Estimates of the number of such camps vary, but there were several dozen whose laborers worked in venues such as factories, mines, chemical plants, and foundries. The workers tried to retaliate as best they could through sabotage and work slowdowns, with some success.

CONCLUSION

This reunion is likely the last one that will include survivors. As Kevin Connolly, a reporter for the BBC denotes, most of them were mere children during the war, but today they are in the 80s or 90s, and their time is running out. For that reason, many of them brought along their children and even grandchildren whom they hope will keep the memories of the Holocaust alive after they are gone.

Some survivors that made the trip, like Marcel Tuchman, 93, feel they “owe[s] a debt” to those who were exterminated. Others, like Isabelle Choko of Paris, have found it difficult to confront the memories of their experiences, even after all these years. She told NBC News that she had maintained silence of her ordeal for decades. Now, she was there to face them and, hopefully exorcise them. “I had only one solution in front of me [she told NBC]. It was to live, love, work, have children, [and] have joy in my life…… because it is only those sentiments that allow you to survive.”

There are many more stories, too many to relate here. The best way we can honor both the victims and the survivors is to keep the memories alive. There are various documentaries appearing on TV this week. I highly recommend HBO’s “Night Will Fall,” which includes interviews of actual survivors plus actual footage shot in 1945 by liberating British, US and Russian troops. It was edited by Sidney Bernstein and Alfred Hitchcock, among others, and contains the most vivid and horrifying film of the camps and the victims I have ever seen. Some parts are very painful to watch, but, at the same time, very necessary.

Remember, NEVER FORGET!

STATE OF THE UNION

The Constitution requires the President to inform Congress on the “state of the union” annually. The time of the year is not specified, but traditionally Presidents have given the address in January or February. Presidents are not required to give it in person. George Washington gave the initial one, in person, in 1790. In fact, during the 19th century most of them were actually delivered to Congress in handwritten form. Apparently, they were not viewed as that big a deal. With the advent of radio, however, Presidents began to see an opportunity to disseminate their policies directly to the people. Hence, they were broadcast on the radio and, later, telecast on TV. Down through the years most of them have been rather mundane, however, a few of the notable announcements were:

1. President Monroe announced the Monroe Doctrine in 1823.
2. FDR described the famous “four freedoms” (freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear) in 1941.
3. LBJ outlined his War on Poverty in 1964.

Last night, President Obama delivered his sixth State of the Union speech. I can sum it up succinctly in four words: “same old, same old.” It more resembled a campaign speech, than an objective state of the union. The rhetoric was fine, but we know from experience that his actions will not live up to it.
For example, he denoted that (1) unemployment is down; (2) the stock market is up; (3) he wants to help the “working man;” (4) he wants to work with Congress; and (5) the world is safer today. But, a closer examination reveals these to be half-truths or down right falsehoods.

1. Statistically, unemployment is down, but some polls show that part of that decrease is attributable to some of the unemployed having given up on finding a job and essentially leaving the workforce. These people are not counted in the unemployment statistics. Polls show that we presently have the lowest percentage of labor force participation since 1978. In addition, many of those who are employed are working fewer hours or even part-time. This is not by choice.
2. The rising stock market is fine, but it only helps those who actually own stocks. According to a recent Pew Research survey approximately 47% of American families own any stock at all. Moreover, there is a direct correlation between income and stock ownership. Only 15% of families with an annual income of $30,000 or less own any stock, whereas 80% of those with an annual income of $75,000 or more do. Thus, the rising stock market has only served to widen the gap between the rich and the poor, which Mr. Obama has often criticized and vowed to change.
3. He wants to help the working man, but the middle class is being squeezed considerably. They are caught between the rich who have benefited from the rising stock market and other factors, and the poor, who have benefited from the growth of entitlements. Wages have been stagnant for a decade. Median income is down. According to an ABC News poll 74% of respondents said their finances have not improved in the last six years, and 56% believe that President Obama’s policies have made the economy worse or had no effect.
4. He says he wants to work cooperatively with Congress, but in the next breath he lists four items he will definitely veto: the Keystone Pipeline, immigration reform, modifications to Obamacare, and sanctions on Iran. Yes, there are arguments on both sides of these issues, but certainly, common ground can be found. Threatening a veto in advance is counterproductive. My conclusion is that he wants to work with Congress but only if they adhere to his policies. I think he is an ideologue who does not know how to compromise and has no interest in doing so.
5. Does anyone believe the world is safer today than it was six years ago? For example, we have had attacks by home-grown terrorists, who are actually American citizens (Fort Hood, Boston marathon), ISIS televised beheadings, al Qaeda attacks (Paris being the most recent), Iran developing nuclear capability, Yemen about to disintegrate, and rogue states such as Russia and North Korea doing what they want with impunity. All this and Mr. Obama won’t even say the words “Islamic terror.” Furthermore, he won’t let his staff say it. So, anyone feel like going on a vacation around the world?

CONCLUSION

The country is in deep trouble, and the President doesn’t seem to realize it. He has tuned out the results of the 2014 elections, which delivered a resounding repudiation of his policies and record. If he won’t acknowledge the existence of the problems we are facing, how is he going to resolve them?

Fox News retained a focus group to listen to the speech and opine on it afterwards. Before some of you roll your eyes at the notion of Fox News, consider that the group consisted of all ages, genders, races and political preferences. About half of the participants disclosed that they had voted for Mr. Obama in 2012. Afterwards, none of them said they were optimistic about the future and Mr. Obama’s ability to deal with it. I am afraid I share their pessimism.

I HAVE A DREAM

Yesterday, we celebrated Martin Luther King’s birthday. For some people the day holds no special meaning; it is just a day off from work; a day to spend with family or friends; part of a long three-day weekend. For many of us, however, particularly those of us who were alive in the 1950s and 1960s, it is much, much more.

MLK was born on January 15, 1929. He became the most prominent and influential American civil rights leader in the 1950s and 1960s, maybe ever. MLK was more than just a pastor. He believed that more could be achieved by civil disobedience and non-violence than by violence. He preached peaceful disobedience, sit-ins, marches and demonstrations, often in the face of violence and cruelty by the police and others, rather than rioting. In this regard, he was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. In turn, he inspired others such as the Black Civil Rights movement in South Africa.

He also recognized the power of the press to bring attention to his cause and influence public opinion. For example, as many as 70 million people around the world witnessed the police brutality inflicted on the peaceful black and white marchers in Selma, including women and children as well as men. Those images, broadcast live on TV and radio, appalled and disgusted many people and provided an immeasurable boost to the public awareness of the injustices being visited upon blacks in the South.

Unlike any African American leaders before or since, he had the ability to unite, rather than divide. Although he was criticized by some of the more militant civil rights leaders of the time, such as Stokely Carmichael, he commanded the support and respect of a large majority of blacks and many whites as well. In that regard, he was similar to Nelson Mandela. After his death, despite the urgings of some civil rights leaders who wanted to continue MLK’s philosophy, more militant African American leaders, such as Mr. Carmichael, came into prominence. There was rioting in over 100 US cities, and a slew of violent incidents at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago in front of the national press and millions of Americans. The Civil Rights movement was changed forever.

MLK came into prominence in 1955 when he led a bus boycott, peacefully, in Montgomery, Alabama. The boycott had been fueled by the famous Rosa Parks incident in which she had refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white person. She was arrested on December 1. (Most people don’t know that earlier that year in March a similar incident had occurred also in Montgomery involving Claudette Colvin, a black girl who also refused to give up her seat to a white man. However, that case did not receive the same notoriety. Civil rights lawyers declined to pursue it because Colvin was 15, unmarried and pregnant. They chose to wait for a case with a more favorable fact pattern, and they were proven to be right.)

Later, MLK became the leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and remained so until his death. He applied his non-violence philosophy to protests in Selma, Ala., St. Augustine, FL, and the March on Washington, D. C., among others. He made it a policy never to endorse a particular political party or candidate. He believed he could be more effective if he were neutral and not beholden to anyone. Furthermore, in his view, neither party was all bad, and neither one was perfect. In his words, “[t]hey both have weaknesses.”

Perhaps, MLK’s most famous moment occurred during the famous March on Washington in August 1963. Ironically, MLK was not the primary organizer of the march. That was Bayard Rustin, a colleague. The primary purpose of the March was to dramatize the plight of blacks in the South. Civil rights leaders, including Roy Wilkins, NAACP, Whitney Young, National Urban League, A. Philip Randolph, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, John Lewis, SNCC, James Farmer CORE, and MLK, wanted to bring awareness of these issues right to the seat of the Federal government. More than 250,000 people of all ethnicities and colors attended. MLK was one of several speakers, and he only spoke for 17 minutes. But, his “I Have a Dream” speech became one of the most famous speeches ever. The March, in general, and MLK’s speech, in particular, are credited with bringing civil rights to the political forefront and facilitating the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Some little-known facts about MLK:

1. His birth name was Michael King, Jr., after his father. In 1931 his father changed his own name to Martin Luther King, after the German theologian, Martin Luther, whom he admired. At the same time, he changed his son’s name.
2. In 1958 MLK was stabbed in the chest after a speech by a woman who had been stalking him and nearly died.
3. The FBI began tapping MLK’s telephone as early as 1963. Robert Kennedy, who was Attorney General at the time and who is viewed as a staunch supporter of civil rights, in general, and MLK, in particular, authorized the tapping.
4. MLK won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 at the age of 35, the youngest age ever at the time.
5. MLK won a Grammy Award in 1971, posthumously. It should be denoted that he won it, not because he displayed a great singing voice, but for a “Spoken Word Album,” “Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam.”
6. Even though MLK was one of the great public speakers of his time, inexplicably, he got a “C” in a public speaking course at the seminary. (Kind of like a baseball scout saying Willie Mays can hit “a little bit.”)
7. MLK is one of three individuals and the only native-born American to have a holiday named after him. In case you’re wondering, the others are George Washington (born in the COLONY of Virginia), and Christopher Columbus.

Some MLK quotes to ponder:

1. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
2. “The time is always right to do what is right.”
3. “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
4. “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 by the content of their character.”

CONCLUSION AND PREDICTION

Today, there is much division among African Americans as well as their leaders. Some are moderate and want to work within the system; others are more militant. Many of them have their own agendas and look for any excuse to foment distrust and discord. I believe that these militant leaders and we all know who they are, do more harm than good, but that is a subject for another blog.

One can speculate whether and to what extent MLK’s assassination changed the course of history. In my opinion, had MLK lived, the Civil Rights Movement would have been considerably different over the last 47 years, more peaceful and less divisive, with better results. Furthermore, his assassination had a significant impact, not only on the history of the civil rights movement, but also on the overall history of the country, itself.

I hope and believe that eventually a moderate leader will emerge and bridge the gap as MLK did half a century ago.

BRAIN DRAIN

In the wake of the recent Muslim terror attacks in Paris, the issue of “brain drain” has gained a great deal of traction in the press. Many observers have postulated that as a result of the overt and blatant anti-Semitism exemplified by these attacks and others, which I discussed in my last blog, large numbers of Jews, French and others, do not feel safe and secure. In many European countries there are areas that are governed by Sharia law; some universities have become havens for anti-Semitism; and Paris has “no go” zones where even the police do not go. Many Jews feel they are being targeted and the government is unable or unwilling to protect them. They have had enough and will seek to emigrate to Israel where they will be accepted and treated fairly. “The Times of Israel” has reported that as many as 15,000 French Jews may make “Aliya” to Israel in 2015, a significant increase from the 7,000 in 2014. (At the same time, it should be noted that according to the Washington Post and Tablet Magazine, a sizeable number of Israeli academics have emigrated to the US. A recent study by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel concluded that about 20% of them are now on the faculties of US universities. Interestingly, Berlin has been another popular destination. There are an estimated 17,000 Israelis living there at the present time.)

Jews in other European countries may follow suit. For many Jews these terror attacks are reminiscent of the pogroms of the 19th and early 20th centuries and the terror of Nazi Germany in the 1930s. In those days, too many Jews were reluctant to leave their respective homelands, which was understandable, and soon it was too late. We all know what happened, and modern-day Jews do not want to make the same mistake.

Brain drain is not a new phenomenon, although the term, itself, was not coined until after WWII (generally attributed to the Royal Society in England). It refers to the emigration of well-educated, highly-motivated, intelligent individuals from one country to another. Typically, the motivations include better education or job opportunities, higher pay, better living conditions or to escape religious or political persecution. The old country suffers, and the new country benefits. Think of a see-saw. It is a zero-sum game. The pattern has been repeated many times throughout history. People with the means and motivation move from undeveloped, unstable, and/or repressive countries to developed, stable, and/or free and open ones. Picture a pyramid. The US, which offers the best combination of education, career opportunities, medical care, political stability, and other lifestyle benefits, would be at the very top. The next rung would consist of other industrialized Western countries, followed by underdeveloped, politically unstable and/or repressive countries. Sometimes, the émigré returns to his original country after a time. For example, someone who emigrates to the US to attend college or medical school may, for a variety of reasons, return to his original country at some point. This phenomenon is more like “brain circulation” rather than brain drain. It has been labeled the “boomerang effect.”

Below please find two of the many examples of brain drain throughout history. Often, Jews have been involved, and, generally, the “drained” country has suffered the consequences.

1. In 1492 Spain began expelling Jews and Moors. The Catholic monarchs, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, had just unified the country, and, basically, if you weren’t Catholic you were no longer welcome. You were either converted or were killed or expelled. The extensive loss of Jews damaged Spain’s financial system and economy significantly. Coincidentally or not, it has never recovered its former glory.
2. Nazi Germany’s anti-Semitic policies in the 1930s caused many Jews with the means and motivation to emigrate, primarily to the US. Some of the more significant ones were Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, Niels Bohr, Theodore von Karman and John von Neumann. Why, you may ask, were these five so significant? They were all brilliant physicists, mathematicians, aerodynamic and aerospace engineers who played significant roles in the development of the atomic bomb. One can argue that if these men had been working on behalf of Germany, it would have developed the bomb, not us, and using it may have won them the war.
3. More recently, Iran and Syria have lost many Jews who emigrated to the US and Europe. Like I said, their loss is the US’s and Europe’s gain.

CONCLUSION

French Premier Francois Holland seems to be cognizant of the negative effects of brain drain. I believe he wants French Jews to stay in France. In a speech last week, he pledged to protect “all minority religions.” The supportive rhetoric is fine as far as it goes, but what actions, specifically, will the French government take? After all, Holland is cognizant of the power, influence and volatility of the significant Muslim population in France. Moreover, he is a socialist, and France is largely a free and open society.

It remains to be seen how effective the French government will be in protecting Jews prospectively. The first thing it must do is rein in the extremist Muslims in France. The “no-go” zones must go. How they have been allowed to exist boggles my mind.

I believe that most French Jews will wait and see how things play out. Actions always speak louder than words. When all is said and done, it’s nice to know that Jews have a safety net, if you will – Israel.

ANTI-SEMITISM IN EUROPE

Anti-Semitism in Europe is on the rise. It is pervasive and all-encompassing. There are many reasons for and examples of this trend, which I will discuss below. To many observers with a sense of history, the situation is beginning to resemble that of the 1930s. Thankfully, however, there is one crucial difference. In the 1930s no country was willing to accept the large numbers of Jews who wanted to emigrate to escape persecution; today, however, Jews have a safe haven in the State of Israel. Jewish emigration from Europe has been increasing sharply. In 2014, 7,000 immigrants came from France alone.

In the wake of the recent terror attacks in Paris Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement encouraging European Jews to emigrate to Israel to escape what he characterized as a “rising tide of anti-Semitism.” He added: “All Jews who want to [emigrate] to Israel will be welcomed with open arms. We will help you in your absorption here in our state that is also your state.” Mr. Netanyahu may be unpopular in some quarters for some of his policies, but he deserves much praise for those supportive comments.

Other than the latest events in Paris, which I discussed, in detail, a few days ago, some of the more recent examples of anti-Semitic terrorism in Europe include:

1. In July, 400 protesters attacked a synagogue and Jewish-owned businesses in Sarcelles, France shouting “death to the Jews.” Some observers have compared these actions to the pogroms of Czarist Russia in that the terrorists had the arrogance to distribute posters beforehand advertising the impending attacks.
2. In Toulouse, France in May 2012 a terrorist gunman shot up a Jewish school killing seven.
3. In Liege, Belgium a café sported a sign that said dogs were welcome, but not Jews.
4. In May a terrorist shot up the Jewish Museum with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, killing four.
5. In 2011 Somali police found documents on a senior al-Qaeda terrorist that described planned attacks on various neighborhoods in London that have sizeable Jewish populations.
6. In 2012 nine Jihadists were convicted of plotting terrorist acts against a rabbi and other Jews in Manchester, England.
7. Right wing extremist political parties have been gaining considerably in elections in France, Greece, Hungary and Germany.
8. A senior Hungarian minister has been advocating the development of a list of Hungarian Jews that work in the government as they constitute a “national security risk.”
9. Malmo, Sweden has become a hotbed of anti-Semitism. There have been many troubling incidents. The one that struck me as particularly egregious was that of a single mom and her five year-old son on a train. The boy was wearing a kippah, which, obviously, identified them as Jews. The woman reported that they were repeatedly harassed by an “Arab” for the entire trip. Neither the other passengers nor the conductor came to their aid or even said anything to the man. Interestingly, in Sweden kosher butchering is against the law, but Hallal butchering is not.

I could go on and on, but you get the point. What are the reasons for this development? I believe there are several, but the primary ones are as follows:

1. The European countries have sizeable Muslim populations, which, to a large extent, have not been assimilated adequately, or at all. Many Muslims prefer to live separately and retain their own laws and customs, such as Sharia Law. For example, in Paris there are several “no-go” zones, inhabited by Muslims, that even the French police avoid.
2. Many of these European Muslims are the children and grandchildren of laborers who were encouraged to emigrate 50-60 years ago to provide cheap labor in factories. Many of them are unemployed, disaffected, and prone to violence.
3. The countries with the largest Muslim populations are France (500,000), the UK (290,000) and Germany (119,000), but Belgium (30,000), Sweden (15,000) and Spain (12,000) also have large populations relative to their overall populations. These populations have become very influential politically and socially.
4. Historically, in bad economic times, such as these, people have sought to blame others for their problems. Governments, whether the kings in the Middle Ages or politicians of more modern times, have always turned a blind eye or even encouraged this to deflect blame from themselves. Jews have always been a convenient scapegoat, and that is true now.
5. We are in an age of excessive political correctness. Many people, especially politicians, are very reluctant to say or do anything that could be construed as anti-Muslim.

Incidentally, yesterday there was a “unity rally” and march in Paris in which some 40 world leaders paid their respects to the victims. Guess which country failed to send anyone? That’s right, the US. Where was President Obama? What other matter was so pressing that he couldn’t attend or at least send Joe Biden? Was he afraid that his presence would offend Muslims or what? A White House spokesman mentioned there was some concern about security, but that is a flimsy excuse. How about the other world leaders who attended? Their security teams were able to make appropriate arrangements.

CONCLUSION

Some of you may recall that I have been blogging for some time about the disturbing trend of anti-Semitism. The recent events in Paris have merely been the latest example. Anti-Semitism is often disguised as criticism of Israel and its policies toward the Arab states in the Middle East and the Palestinians. I view this as bogus. Any objective person would recognize it for what it is. It reminds me of the 1950s and 1960s in the US when bigots would attempt to disguise their racism by espousing “states’ rights” or “separate but equal” education. Then, as now, most people are not fooled. They know what the real deal is.

So, what is the solution? Is there one? I think it is unrealistic to expect basic human nature to change. Bigots and terrorists have always been with us and always will be. They are not suddenly going to modify their beliefs and actions toward Jews after 5,000 years. The human tendencies to blame someone else for one’s shortcomings and hate those who are different are too engrained. It is a sad, but realistic, fact of life that we Jews have to deal with. Jews have to be wary and vigilant. I can understand one’s reluctance to leave their country and start all over again in a foreign country. Personally, I would not want to do so. But, at least now, if one feels that his situation has become intolerable, one has the option to emigrate to Israel.

TERROR IN PARIS

Wednesday, three Islamic terrorists launched a heinous and cowardly attack on the office of a French newspaper that publishes satirical articles and cartoons. Apparently, the terrorists, two of whom were identified as French citizens (the third was unidentified as I write this), had objected to the newspaper’s publishing of a satirical cartoon poking fun at the prophet Mohammed. They murdered 12 people at the publication, including the editorial director, Stephane Charbonnier, and wounded eleven others. They left shouting “Allahu Akbar,” which translates into “God is great.” As I write this blog, two of the three are still at large, but they have been identified and no doubt will be apprehended.

Unfortunately, this was not an isolated instance. We are all familiar with the recent Islamic terror attacks in the US, such as Fort Hood (sorry, not “buying” “workplace violence”), Boston marathon, and police officers Ramos and Liu.  In addition, there have been several such attacks in Europe, to wit:

l. March 2012 – A terrorist linked to al-Qaeda gunned down three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three paratroopers in Toulouse, France.
2. May 2013 – Two al-Qaeda terrorists murdered a British soldier in London. They ran him down in the street and then proceeded to brutally hack him to death.
3. May 2014 – A terrorist linked to ISIS murdered four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels with a Kalashnikov.

Terrorist attacks are definitely on the rise in Europe as well as the US, and virtually all of them have been perpetrated by extremist Muslims. One would be hard-pressed to recall a terrorist attack by a non-Muslim.

In my opinion, France seems to have the biggest problem with extreme Muslims.  Some of the reasons are:

l. France has maintained strong economic, social and political ties with several Muslim countries, notably Algeria and Syria, a holdover from the colonial period. Many of you may recall that Algeria fought a long, brutal war with France in the 1950s to obtain its independence. Consequently, there is still latent animosity among some elderly Muslims, particularly those originally from Algeria.
2. France probably has the most Muslims of any European country, about 5 million. Many of them have emigrated to France from North Africa and the Middle East over the last 60 years. At first, the French encouraged emigration because Muslims were a source of cheap labor. But, now, many of their descendants are unemployed and disaffected. In addition, many Muslims resist assimilation into their new country’s society.
3. Most significantly, France is a very strongly secular country. It has many laws that discourage public displays of religion. These secularist laws, even though they apply to all religions, are particularly offensive to some Muslims. For example:

a. There are bans on crosses, yarmulkes and veils in schools.
b. In one famous (or, perhaps, notorious) case in 2008 a French court denied French citizenship to a Moroccan woman on the grounds that her wearing a veil and her strict submissiveness to her husband constituted “assimilation defects.”
c. In 2010 the French Senate banned the wearing of face-coverings in public.
d. In 2013 the French government promulgated a set of guidelines for schools, which were aimed at excluding religion from schools.

CONCLUSION

Charlie Hebdo has a long history of satire.  It is its “bread and butter.” No person or group has been immune. Sometimes, it has pushed the envelope. For example, just last month it published a cartoon mocking the Virgin Mary giving birth to Jesus. Did any Catholics riot or attack the newspaper? Nooooo! They accepted it as satire or, perhaps, an expression of freedom of the press that was silly and beneath addressing.  Not so in the radical Muslim world where humor and self-deprecation are absent, and the slightest insult, real or perceived, must be avenged violently.

Following the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo many world leaders, including President Obama, issued comments condemning the attack as an affront to the principle of free expression. That’s fine as far as it goes. But, no one seems to want to address the root of the problem, the 500-pound gorilla in the room as it were, which is the ongoing terrorism being perpetrated by radical Muslim groups. Moderate Muslim political and religious leaders remain silent either out of fear or tacit approval. Muslim states that sponsor and/or finance terrorism, such as Iran and Pakistan, are allowed to do so with impunity. Where are the financial or economic sanctions or other measures that might dissuade them? Western political and religious leaders are even afraid to label these attacks as “terrorism” either out of fear of retaliation or of being accused of Islamaphobia. Instead, they use more benign descriptions, such as “demonstrations,” “workplace violence,” or “lone-wolf attacks.” Political correctness is running amok. Enough, already! Do any objective, thoughtful, knowledgeable people “buy” these characterizations? Hopefully, not. Let’s recognize it for what it is, and call a spade a spade. All these wimpy reactions do is encourage further terrorist attacks.

Everyone knows that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are peaceful. There are approximately 1.6 billion Muslims in the world today. If even .1% of them are Jihadists, probably a low estimate, that still amounts to 1.6 million Jihadists. The world has to address the actions of the violent minority. Students of history will see a parallel to Germany in the 1930s. At first, only a small percentage of Germans were Nazis, but the vast majority of Germans stood by and did nothing. Soon, a tipping point had been reached, and it was too late. Soon, it may also be too late in this instance

LUISE RAINER

If I were to ask you to name the only five actors who have won consecutive Academy Awards chances are you would be able to identify three of them fairly easily – Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn and Tom Hanks. If you were a real aficionado of the movie industry you might even know the identity of a fourth person- Jason Robards. Until a few days ago, virtually no one would have been able to identify the fifth person, who was also the first to do so. Her name was Luise Rainer, and she died a few days ago of pneumonia at the age of 104.

Rainer was not nearly as famous as the others with whom she shares that unique distinction. You might wonder why. Well, read on.

Rainer was born on January 12, 1910 in Dusseldorf, Germany. She was raised primarily in Vienna, Austria. She began acting at the age of 16 in Germany and Austria on both the stage and in films. She was discovered by an MGM talent scout who signed her to a three-year contract in 1935. At that time, it was common for the major studios to employ talent scouts who would scour theatres, clubs and other venues, regardless of how unlikely, for undiscovered talent. In an extreme case, Lana Turner was discovered by a talent scout while eating ice cream at Schwab’s Drug Store, because she had “the right look.”

Rainer was an immediate success. She won Oscars for her roles in “The Great Ziegfeld” in 1936 and “The Good Earth” in 1937. But, then she ran afoul of the “studio system” and, in particular, Louis B. Mayer. Briefly, under the studio system, which existed from 1927, when “talkies” became popular, to 1949, when a Supreme Court ruling ended such practices on anti-trust grounds, the major studios – MGM, Loews, Fox, Paramount and Warner Brothers – were able to sign stars to contracts and exert control over their careers. They did this by what is called “vertical integration.” The studios controlled the actors, produced the movies, and controlled their distribution through movie theatres that they owned or controlled. An actor under contract was required to take whatever roles the studio wanted. Being under contract provided security, but many performers who became successful found it stifling.

After her initial success, Rainer’s vision of her career’s direction differed radically from that of MGM’s. Most dissatisfied actors realized that while they were under contract the studio had control over their careers, not them, and they went along with the system. Not Rainer. In her opinion, the studio was offering her roles that were not substantial enough to suit her talents. Two of the roles she wanted were that of Maria in “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” which went to Ingrid Bergman, and Madame Curie, which went to Greer Garson. She got neither. This conflict came to a head in a famous meeting with Louis B. Mayer. MGM controlled Rainer’s destiny and Mayer was intransigent. He demanded that she fulfil the terms of her contract, which required she make one more movie for the studio under his terms. Depending on one’s point of view Rainer either quit or was blackballed. The end result was that her career in Hollywood was over at the age of 28.

CONCLUSION

Some movie historians consider her case to be one of the most extreme examples of actor victimization. Rainer returned to Europe where she married and raised one daughter. Except for infrequent appearances in minor roles, she lived a quiet life away from the movie business. She only returned to Hollywood twice, for the Academy Award shows in 1998 and 2003.

Obviously, Rainer had substantial talent. It would have been interesting to see what her career might have been like. If Rainer had any regrets she expressed them in a 1987 interview when she said “I’ve always felt guilty about not having continued to work. I should have made 50 more pictures.”