Wednesday, June 3, 2015

U.S. Ranger goes to bat for Israel

Brian Mast

     People react to abuse in different ways.
     Some ignore it. Some get mad.
     And then there's Brian Mast's way.
    He is a vet, a decorated U.S. Army Ranger from Florida, a double amputee after stepping on a mine in Afghanistan in 2010.
      Back in civilian life, Mast decided to snag one honor that had eluded him—a college diploma—so took his wife and kids to Harvard University, where he's studying economics.
     There he discovered a new battle.
     As with so many campus in the United States, undergraduates at Harvard, in their undergraduate hunger to abolish the injustices of the world, throw themselves vigorously into ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through sheer public outcry, casting the complex, half-century old tragedy into a set piece Victorian melodrama with a mustache-twiddling villain, the Israelis, and a Little Nell victim, the Palestinians.
     "Being up in Boston, no question there is a lot of anti-Israel sentiment, and protests going on around Harvard," said Mast, who stumbled upon one last year while walking with his family on Boston Commons.
     "It doesn't take a genius to figure out that I'm a service member, with my Army Ranger cap and my two artificial legs," he said. "These four or five guys start saying things to me and my family. A little girl could push me over, but this is a fight I'm perfectly willing to have. I was inviting them to take me up, but in the end they left me and my family alone."
     That was not the end, however. For Mast, it was a beginning.
     "It was a very important reminder to me," said Mast. "I don't know why certain battles find their way into my life, but this is how fighting for Israel found its way into my life. This kind of torment goes on in Israel's neighborhood daily: Syria. Jordan. Iran. Egypt, doing this, day after day. It's a sign to me I need to stand up and show my support. This battle has come to me. I don't want to turn my back."
     Over the Christmas holidays, Mast went to Israel as a volunteer.
     "I couldn't have received a warmer reception," he said. "It was amazing."
     Spending time in Israel cemented his feelings for the country.
     "As I was over there, volunteering with immigrants, orphans, refugees from Sudan and Ethiopia, what struck me is these individuals skip over countries like Egypt to get into Israel, a country constantly under threat of attack. There must be a very good reason to skip over those countries, and it's the same reason immigrants from places like Guatemala and El Salvador skip over countries like Mexico to get into the United States, because the same freedom and opportunity offered here."
     I pointed out that a lot of American Jews -- myself included --have ambivalent feelings about Israel. While we don't embrace the "Give us your country" hallucinatory rhetoric of the Palestinians, we can't ignore the fact that they are indeed there, four million of them, living constricted lives, and that the hard liners and settlers aren't helping.
Mast  could understand how pro-Israel college students yield the field to Palestinian protests.
     "You're facing a mob mentality, not just mob mentality from individuals, but from the people who are supposed to be your educators. It can be extremely difficult thing to face," he said. "It's a little bit different for me. I'm a 34 year old man. I spent a good amount of time being in combat. I have that advantage. I had the life experience that nobody is going to tell me what to think."
     Mast is not ambivalent.
     "The anti-Israel protests, I just thought, 'It's completely wrong,' I literally didn't get how any American citizens were protesting Israel defending itself,," he said. "As I see this, year after year, the Palestinians fire rockets at Israel and then go hide behind the civilian population and cry the sky is falling when Israel defends itself.   It's this stupid game and it boggles me this double standard being applied."
     Back in the states, he now speaks on behalf of Israel--he was in town last week speaking at the Chicago chapter of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces annual dinner. 
     He was surprised to hear from his fellow vets.
     "Tons of my peers, fellow wounded warriors, saying, 'What are you doing in Israel? How did you get there? Can I do something similar to this?'" He said he is putting together a group of 10 to 12 fellow vets to go back and do it again.
    Mast is working for the federal government, advising Homeland Security on explosives, a job he had in the Army. As a federal employee, because of the Hatch Act, he can't say he's running for Congress in Florida's 18th Congressional district until that employment ends.     
     Which it does on Saturday. So his ability to help Israel might only grow.

91 comments:

  1. A little surprised/confused by the end of this post, as it appears that he's running as a Republican (and to the extent this issue would influence one's vote, I doubt the Democrat replacing the current incumbent [running for senate] would be insufficiently supportive of Israel given the nature of the district).

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    1. The idea being a Congressman has more influence than a non-Congressman. If you want to debate that, go for it.

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    2. I read the end as a prediction that he will win (see the word "will"), an endorsement (given what precedes it) or both. I didn't read it to mean that merely running for Congress in the GOP primary will increase his ability to help Israel. The flipness of your question aside, it raises an interesting (to me at least) point about the effect of the deep partisan divide in Congress. The influence a freshman representative will have on Israel is more an effect of strengthening (or weakening) the GOP's hold on the House than anything they'll do as an individual. If you think the GOP is more helpful to Israel than the Dems, you might vote for a Ron Paul rather than the most fervently pro-Israel Democrat, because his/her one vote won't matter but cementing the GOP control of the House will matter immensely. If this was a seat that was gerrymandered to ensure a GOP win, arguably a non-partisan war hero actively fighting the BDS movement would have more -effective- influence. Of course, all of the above is in the vacuum of Israel - I'm sure he's running for many other reasons.

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    3. oh no, not again

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    4. hmm, you may have a point anon not anon, although I'm getting a headache now

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    5. ANA, were you the president of the debate club in HS or college? Well that's nice but arguing just for the sake of it, is getting ridiculous. Those club days are over.

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    6. I don't always agree with NS and yes, he can be curt but how the hell is his question flip? go find something to do where you can vent your frustrations

      If this were my blogged, your posts be removed 98% of the time.

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    7. meant blog not blogged

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    8. would be, not be, error correction, I don't do ebonics

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    9. To be honest, it's such a hair-parsing qualm, that it's easy to shrug off. I knew, yesterday, he'd come back with something moderate, and knew, today, it would quickly devolve again. But to be honest, I don't want to enter into it. I had my say, if you want to Talmudically analyze intent that isn't there—I have no idea whether he'll win or not and don't care one way or another— have fun.

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    10. exactly, you have better things to do and he is an overanalyzer and o/c too as far as I can see-not trying to brownie you, I don't agree with you at tines either but he's ridic, don't have him make you sour on the blog- most of us are not so bad

      yes, he would remind me of Hassidics who debate the Talmud all day- no disrespect to Jews in general

      believe me, my Reformed Jewish pal practically sounds like a Nazi at times

      Anon not Anon, while I like a few of your posts, I think you need some counseling. YOu have some pent up frustration that's being taken out in the wrong way.

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    11. Mr. S, A/N/A needs an Italian to tell him off.

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    12. *Really* not seeing what was so "not moderate" in those comments, but I did say a while back I'd try not to post first thing in the morning as I'm an early riser and this, um, "interest" with my persona could be distracting, especially if it's the first thread. My suggestion to some of the commenters-on-the-commenters is to take a queue from NS: in some ways the opositte of love isn't hate, it's indifference.

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    13. Well, if it were MY blog, I'd rather be presented with A-n-A's thoughtful comments, whether misguided or not, than 8 comments in 13 minutes from a nameless chatterbox who is more concerned with other folks' O/C problems than her/his own. Sorry if that's mean, and I realize it belongs in the Rocket Motel, not here, but at least I'm not cursing in Italian to more colorfully express my opinion. : )

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    14. You are counting comments and time now? Then Jak, you must be anal and o/c. I'm not oc, just opinionated. Don't have such an overinflated opinion of yourself. That's the trouble with you, ANA and sometimes NS. But at least he's a real writer and it's his blog.

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    15. I'm taking you all to the woodshed. Wait I till get my switch.

      Spare the rod, spoil the child.

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    16. I don't hate you, ANA.

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    17. Jakash, are you sure they are all the same person?

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    18. 1:07 Anon,

      No, how could I be? I certainly couldn't testify to it, but that many comments in such a short period made it seem likely to me. Just as I assume, but don't know for sure, that the person cursing me in Italian on a different thread was the same one cursing A-n-A below.

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    19. Jakash, wait, that was a curse?! He or she told me not to translate and that it was being sent with respect, so I just figured...

      Again, I'm going to try to comment later in the day (or at least morning) - hopefully those who care to will read and/or comment and if the others rant it won't be so intrusive.

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    20. Mr. Jakash, do you speak Italian?

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    21. ANA, you need to sleep in a bit.

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  2. What a heroic man. Even as a moderate Dem. and non Jewish person- I don't understand how some of the libs have decided to support terrorist, radical Muslim supporting nations over Israel. I'm not saying Israel hasn't made errors but look at how the Palestinian terr. organizations act.

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  3. My ultra liberal, Reformed Jewish, American pal is anti Israel and anti Orthodoxy. Just like the soldier says, many here are.

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    1. I often tell her, why would you not want a strong Israel, against terrorist groups. She says they have too much influence on Amer. for. policy. Perhaps some, but I'd rather they have it than the alternative. Funny how years back most Jews and dems, supported Israel. Now it seems more of a born again or Repub. thing to do. (or Ortho. Jews are more conserve. on the matter of course)

      Interesting topic, at any rate, Mr. S.

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  4. Imagine trying to start a fight with this man. How low end, speaking as a moderate Dem. I see an overly left wing swing to the Dem. party, which is evidenced in those types that this soldier meets in Boston. It's being hijacked as a party by the overly pol. correct radicals. As I said before just like the Repub. party is hijacked by the overly religious, anti science bunch. Usually it was just the party for big business or such,(since Reconstruction days) bad enough as that was. Where's the moderation?

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    1. (with the exception of Teddy Roosevelt) It' s so ridiculous when southerners whose ancestors hated Lincoln, now claim to love him and the Repub. party. That was a different party way back then , then what it represents in later years. (And we all know those so called southern dixiecrats, weren't really Dems at all)

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    2. They can claim to love Lincoln now that he's safely dead. Sometimes I think the same goes for Jesus Christ.

      "Christ crucified rules, and it may be that the true business of modern Christianity is to crucify him again and again so that he can never get a word out of his mouth." --Barbara Ehrenreich

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    3. That's an interesting point, Scribe for the first sentence.

      For the 2nd point though, Ms. Ehrenreich might be Jewish so that may be a biased thought.

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    4. 1) She is not Jewish and in fact has a fundamentalist background.

      2) Are Jews all biased when it comes to evaluating the effects of Christianity? You're sure free with your comments about Jews.

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  5. I saw this in an article I read by Ilan Pappe. He is kind controversial from what I have read. For what it is worth he is Jewish and a native of Israel. This is the relevant passage that is the background for this article.
    THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for
    Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering
    of the Exiles; it will foster the development
    of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants;
    it will be based on freedom, justice
    and peace as envisaged by the prophets
    of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of
    social and political rights to all its inhabitants
    irrespective of religion, race or sex; it
    will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience,
    language, education and culture; it
    will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions;
    and it will be faithful to the principles
    of the Charter of the United Nations.

    Here is the article. I thought it was interesting, but like most Americans and American Jews we probably have no idea what really happened in 1948 when the State of Israel became a state. You really have to go back to at least World War 1 how Israel finally became a country.


    http://www.ameu.org/PDF-Archives/vol48_issue1_2015.aspx

    I had send this to Neil who responded he wasn't interested and guessing he didn't read this. His choice but as long as he brought up the subject I thought I would link to this article. I thought it would make for an interesting discussion.

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  6. For a Hollywood movie, not so bad, watch the old 60's film Exodus, if you can.

    Yes, interesting about Ben Gurion, the Knesset, old Palestine, the Brit protectorate, late 1940's. etc.

    Thanks, Sanford.

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  7. For a taste of the bewildering complexity of Middle Eastern politics, read Lawrence in Arabia and/or A Peace to End All Peace. Of course, picking one side and sticking to it gives more satisfaction all round.
    John

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    1. Or Benny Morris' "Righteous Victims" (I think Morris is a more objective and fair-minded reporter on the shades of grey about Israel's history [though attacked by many Likkud-ish types, he's not that far from them vis-a-vis current negotiations with the Palestinians) than some other recent "revisionist" historians.)

      Ask somebody firmly on one side or the other on Israel/Palestine what they would do if Native Americans somehow gained superiority, rejected the argument that the passage of time erased their historical claims to at least half of the United States (in this case, the half that the person is living on) and took it by force. Would they say "sure, it's yours, I'm off to integrate in the rest of the U.S." a la Partition in Pakistan/India? Would they, if living in camps or in third-world reservations (kind of like, um, Native American reservations today), endorse terrorism and/or refuse to negotiate a "two-state solution" if it meant giving up their claim to take the rest of the nation back one day and just stay in a perpetual state of war?

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    2. Anon not anon, I never cared for revisionist Historians much. And they aren't automatically right, either.

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    3. Ah yes, Indian partition of the late 40's-good stuff. Gandhi sometimes wasn't realistic like his ideas of being against industrializing the cloth making industry or reverting to spinning only. Still he's a good guy compared to Ali Jinnah and the Paks. Jinnah was more self serving.

      Same with East Pak. later Bangladesh.

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    4. Interesting the Brits actually did do some good things there, modernized it, stopped some awful local customs and some Indian merchants liked to deal with the Brits. Some soldiers said, the Brits actually paid them. Not to say that IMperialism was great but look at what happened in Africa, esp. and still some parts of India after? Not much improvement.

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    5. A good general text on that and more, History of Asia, Rhoades Murphey, for more East Asian History anything by John Bank is good.

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  8. As for your Wednesday morning paper column,NS, praising MR. Jenner. Why do you assume that those that don't agree with him are Mr. or Mrs. Joe 6pack, trashy? maybe they are very well educated, NON religious fanatics moderate Democrats? Why don't we have free speech rights to give an opinion? Why can only the far left judge??? What if I don't want to deny him rights but just don't agree? Do you really think I'm alone in my thoughts? Is disagreeing automatically judging? Maybe judging is needed sometime. And what's wrong with the Cleavers? are traditional thoughts, to a point, automatically wrong? (I won't say Mayberry's okay, because of the awful racist, Jim Crow style south)

    I guess I feel a bit sorry for the average Joe/Jane trans who can't afford to do all that and whose insurance won't cover them if they did. Or they have to actually work a lot and wouldn't have time for that.

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    1. I'm posting that here tomorrow -- there was confusion as to which column I wrote yesterday was going to run. Of course you have the right to condemn people based on your narrow definitions of gender, and of course I don't mean that educated people can't be judgmental asshats. It isn't that traditional thoughts are wrong, they're just ignoring reality as it is lived. Of course you have the right to do so, to cringe fearfully, etc. Just don't expect a bunch of applause.

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    2. Perhaps with Jenner bringing more attention and acceptance to the idea, more insurance plans will begin to cover the surgery for the less wealthy, as some already do, and employers will gradually become more willing to grant time off for such procedures. I have a sense (although no actual knowledge) that this has been a big factor in why Jenner has been somewhat public about her transition: to make it easier for others in less advantageous positions.

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    3. Usually I'm pro labor but no employer should have to allow time off for that.

      And what's so narrow about gender? In nature it's male and female. Sure now and then some hermaphrodite is born but that's a different story.

      Jak, stop trying to kiss A/N/A's tail feather.

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    4. Mr. S, I'm not cringing fearfully, I can assure you. But I don't understand it. Remember not agreeing with something doesn't make one phobic or scared. Puzzled or a bit angry perhaps but not scared.

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    5. Jak, just be glad I'm giving you free southern Italian dialect , Italian lessons.

      With all due respect, Mr. Steinberg, someone isn't an asshat just because they don't agree with transgenders or your opinion. As long as we don't bother them or discriminate in any way at work, school, etc.

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    6. In life we dread the thought of having to have serious surgery, let alone purposely seeking non necessary surgery out.

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    7. See, it's the "non-necessary" that shows you're not thinking about this. It isn't a question of agreement. "Ooo, these people are gross" is not a philosophical reaction. It's a gut feeling that doesn't take into account the possibility of other people who feel other things. What's there about "Keep these people jammed into the shadows where I don't have to think about them" that's worthy of respect?

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    8. Okay, one must consider another person's feelings. Incase this isn't just a mental illness. Maybe they don't deserve my full respect but I don't know what they are feeling then, is the better approach.

      It shouldn't be my way or their way or the highway.

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    9. "It shouldn't be my way or their way or the highway."

      With regards to the decisions they make for their own bodies, it should absolutely be their way or the highway. You don't have to accept their decisions, but they shouldn't have to pretend they don't exist because you don't accept their decisions.

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  9. Hey , with those of us with old fashioned, rough, immigrant parents we wished we had the Cleavers as folks, lol.

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  10. Here's a good piece on Palestine around WWI or the so called Great War, involving Turkey/Ottomans of course. Many confuse Allies and Axis, with allies / or Triple Entente Triple Alliance mix of WWI and the Central powers , not Axis in WWI. It's great we can discuss History on here, love it.

    http://www.palestinefacts.org/pf_ww1.php

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  11. Revisionist historians are the ones who think the U.S. or the West should beat itself up and only non whites are great. They give no credit at all to the West or act as if the West never did a good deed and the non westerners are so marvelous. Traditions in the Far East, Mid East or Africa aren't so wonderful.

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  12. And what's with the bullshit of BCE and CE. BC/ AD will do and one doesn't have to be super religious to say that. That's just over agnostic hairsplitting.

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  13. Why is it some people can't say ask? They'll say axe instead-that doesn't mean I'm racist, just don't get it. Speak proper English if you were born and raised here. It will help in the college and work world for your own good and we wish you well.

    NS, don't I make your blogs even more thought provoking?

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  14. Mr. S., when you put down the Cleavers, you are in a way, putting down Senior Citizens who may have liked what that show stood for.

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    1. Again, I'm not putting down the Cleavers, I'm saying they're not the whole. They're a slice that people mistake for the whole. What Jenner means, to me, is just what I said in the column. Unexpected respect for someone who doesn't fit into your narrow little world. I didn't say that nobody objects--of course they do. Just as there are bakers who won't bake wedding cakes for queers. But suddenly they are, if not in the minority, then exposed for what they are. Of course they don't like that.

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    2. okay, I see, now I won't have to hit you with my cane

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    3. I say bake them the damn cake and make a face later. Take the money and run.

      (born 1959)

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  15. Ana- With all due respect- va fa in cullo a te e la vostra madre- tu non tiene le coglione, mangiede cus (barese (bari) dialect, don't bother with translators), voi sei uno cazze, figlio di femmina brutta e mascalzone (g is silent when followed by letter L, letter I as in rid, pronounced like long E as in read. comme una putane

    okay I feel better now

    anyhow we know you can be clever, so can others here, you don't have to prove anything, try to be less insecure

    and if you think I'm some low end, uneducated person, you'd be sadly mistaken

    Even those with a Master's Degree can swear well.

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    1. Just for the record, it was NS who asked me to post under a specific moniker rather than just "Anonymous" ("Anon-not-Anon" is a reference to the request).

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    2. So what's your point? You could have called yourself Cool Hand Luke too.

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  16. Okay, NS, you owe me a wall poster.

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    1. just teasing

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    2. I'd rather spend that on book buying, your books too. Now maybe if you had your pic on it...

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    3. Do you offer senior citizen discounts?

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  17. In my view, if you don't actually live in or have ties to that region, and you're entirely and unreservedly on one side or the other in this conflict, you're a fool.

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    1. good point, BS- it isn't so black and white and has 48 shades of grey involved

      what a shame , Jak, that you are so anti -Italian

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    2. Wondering why somebody chooses to vulgarly berate another commenter in a foreign language in no way indicates that I'm anti-Italian. Sheesh!

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  18. After reading it twice, I'm still left wondering if this was ghost-written by Charles Krauthammer, perhaps. Aside from the paragraph referring to NS' own ambivalent feelings, it seems like some pretty unreserved appreciation for this gentleman's certainty with regard to the issues regarding Israel, and his interest in adding to its already outsized political power in this country. Perhaps NS is just demonstrating for us the process of how some of the folks that exercise that power arrive at their certainty. I hope that's the explanation, anyway...

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    1. No, this vet was served up to me--he's the darling of the AIPAC crowd. He had an interesting story, and a point, and I thought I would pass it along. I don't think kneejerk support of Israel really helps them too much, at this point, but I can't say I'm broken up that people do it. It's better than kneejerk criticism.

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    2. Yes, better to knee jerk support Israel then some Muslim nation.

      Wow, this blog is happening.

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    3. Wish that Rabbi Eisenberg could come here and comment on this today.

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  19. Charles Krauthammer? that monkey faced Fox or Faux news commentator with his hair dyed jet black and a bad nose job? Hell no- I don't like conservatives.

    Jak, you're just envious that I have more time to post. Chatterbox you say? isn't that an old fashioned, possibly sexist term? and I think there's more than one anon on here.

    No, ana, some won't be indifferent and just let you get away with whatever on here.

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    1. Oh, I welcome disagreement on substance - that's one way to learn stuff. We learned today that this individual is running in the Republican primary and that AIPAC is "serving him up" to the media - I find that interesting.

      The difference between Jakash (and Coey and Tom Evans (hope he's ok) and Tate and apologies-for-who-I-missed) is that their criticism is substantive. I even learned something from the rare substantive responses from NS (e.g.,on landmines, though I'm not persuaded that there's no military value in them ever - Israel itself uses them in the Golan Heights and with ISIS' ascendency and Israel's small population I can see their logic, but the link he provided was persuasive).

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    2. Old-fashioned? Perhaps. Sexist? I'm aware of no evidence of that. More than one anon on the whole thread? Almost certainly. Envious? Definitely not! : )


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    3. Well said, Anon Not Anon., except that I don't agree that NS is only "rarely " persuasive, etc.

      And don't forget Bitter Scribe.

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    4. I knew I was forgetting someone (sorry Scribe!) -To clarify, I didn't mean that NS is rarely persuasive in general, I meant that he rarely substantively engages my posts (usually he ignores them or makes a fly-by comment).

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    5. Thanks, fellas.

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    6. You mean, thanks Lady. I also liked your posts, Scribe.

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  20. Why aren't you indifferent to NS, if you don't like his postings, ANA?

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  21. diane boone talbotJune 3, 2015 at 12:50 PM

    Ooooh....the words I think Anonymous said!!!!

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  22. a ha, good one diane!

    but one of the anons here has anger management issues

    I wonder what Bruce's parents would think if they were alive and if they are rolling in their graves now.

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  23. Perhaps Mr. Jenner is mentally ill.

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  24. I'm spitting mad. I just saw that some courage award was considering giving that to Bruce. Really???? is that courage or someone lacking testosterone? Let's save the courage award for real heroes.

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    1. Unless you're a charter member of whatever organization is giving Caitlyn the award (which I doubt because you don't seem to even know its name), I don't see why you should be spitting mad about it, or concerned in any way.

      I'm sure that, for example, that useless boob Sarah Palin has received lots of awards from somebody or other about this or that, but why should I care?

      If it bothers you so much, just remember this line from some movie whose name I no longer remember: "Awards are like hemorrhoids. Sooner or later every asshole gets one."

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    2. Caitlyn Jenner will be receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage Award from ESPN at the upcoming ESPYS.

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    3. I don't care for Palin either but that's a different story.

      Bruce isn't normal, the end.

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    4. Bruce wasn't normal, but Caitlyn is. That's kind of the point.

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    5. She's not a she, I think she still has certain parts attached.

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  25. And some women might have too much testosterone and thus need more estrogen perhaps.

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  26. Maybe the celebrity world got to him. He's not living in reality. Yes, I know some trans are non celebs but still...this is too much.

    It says something about pop culture.

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