Friday, August 31, 2018

Red Dot Design Yearbook 2017/2018: Living, Doing, Working & Enjoying (English and German Edition) Hardcover – September 30, 2017 by Peter Zec (Arnoldsche Verlagsanstalt)

The design yearbooks are among the most important publications of Red Dot Edition. Year after year, they document the results of one of the largest and most prestigious design competitions in the world. The books in the field of product design have been appearing for over 25 years, and in communication design and design concept for more than ten years. They thus offer a unique summary of the development of design in the last decade. Accordingly, these large-format coffee table books are coveted collectors’ items – and not only among design professionals, but also among architects, interior designers, journalists, lecturers and students in design. They are also used by buyers and product managers in the sectors for whose development the books provide a permanent record.

Year after year, the Red Dot Design Yearbook edited by Peter Zec, one of the best design experts in the world, shows model developments, potentials, and trends in current product design that will whisk you away into a fascinating world full of beauty and functionality

•The Red Dot Design Yearbook 2017/2018 set - consisting of the four volumes Living, ISBN 9783899391947 Doing, ISBN 9783899391954 Working, ISBN 9783899391978 and Enjoying, ISBN 9783899391961 - marries the areas of life and living, activity and lifestyle, work and technology as well as leisure and relaxation

•The four volume set is a must for design professionals, design universities, design students, product managers, marketing experts, heads of purchasing, as well as design enthusiasts all over the world

Red Dot Design Yearbook 2017/2018 set (Living + Doing + Working + Enjoying) marries the areas of life and living, activity and lifestyle, and work and technology, as well as leisure and relaxation. Anyone with an interest in design will want to invest. Year after year, Red Dot provides a vibrant picture of the design industry and its current developments, broken down into different thematic categories. The winning products showcase model developments, potentials, and trends in current product design that will whisk you away into a fascinating world full of beauty and functionality.

A must-buy for design professionals, design universities and design students, this book is also aimed towards product managers, marketing experts and heads of purchasing; as well as being a sought-after collectors' item for design enthusiasts all over the world.

Text in English and German.

Liberal Zionist under fire ... My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel by Ari Shavit Spiegel and Grau, 445 pp., $28.00 Genesis: Truman, American Jews, and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict by John B. Judis Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 432 pp., $30.00 Old Wine, Broken Bottle: Ari Shavit’s Promised Land by Norman G. Finkelstein OR Books, 97 pp., $10.00 (paper)

Rina Castelnuovo/The New York Times/ReduxIsraeli soldiers on a hill overlooking an Israeli settlement in Ofra, the West Bank, 2001

In the toxic environment that characterizes much, if not most, debate on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, a special poison is reserved for the liberal Zionist. Such a person, who stands by Israel even as he yearns for it to change, is fated to be hated by both camps: hawkish Zionists despise the liberal for going too far in his criticisms, accusing him of a hand-wringing betrayal of the cause that can only comfort the enemy, while anti-Zionists denounce the liberal for not going far enough, for failing to follow the logic of his position through to its conclusion and for thereby defending the indefensible. The liberal Zionist is branded either a hypocrite or an apologist or both.

The treatment meted out to My Promised Land, a personal history of Israel by Ari Shavit, a columnist for Israel’s left-leaning daily Haaretz, is a case in point. The laptop warriors on both sides donned their familiar armor and set about attacking the book from right and left. “Far from self-criticism, this is simply self-debasement,” wrote the former World Jewish Congress official Isi Leibler in The Jerusalem Post, suggesting that among Shavit’s motives was an ingratiating desire to win “endorsement from the liberal glitterati for whom debasement of the Jewish state has become a key component of their liberal DNA.” Meanwhile, the leftist academic Norman G. Finkelstein has devoted an entire, if short, book to taking down My Promised Land. In Old Wine, Broken Bottle he insists that Shavit’s insights “comprise a hardcore of hypocrisy and stupidity overlaid by a tinsel patina of arrogance and pomposity. He’s a know-nothing know-it-all who, if ever there were a contest for world’s biggest schmuck, would come in second.”

Which is not to say that My Promised Land has not won prominent admirers. It has, receiving praise from Thomas Friedman, Leon Wieseltier, Jeffrey Goldberg, David Remnick, and others. That fact is unlikely to trouble the critics. On the contrary, they will see praise for Shavit from that quarter as a simple act of group solidarity, the lions of liberal Zionism huddling together in a pride.

The squeezed nature of the liberal Zionist’s position is hardly new, but in recent years the predicament has become more pronounced. The decline of the peace movement in Israel, along with the serial failures of the Israeli Labor Party, has suggested a cause in retreat. In the United States, the liberal lions have also come to resemble an endangered species, for reasons that reflect those long-term shifts in Israel. As Peter Beinart explained in a much-discussed essay in these pages in 2010, “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment,” the leadership of US Jewry has adopted ever more hard-line, Likud-friendly positions on Israel, which leave cold the emerging generation of young American Jews, whose views, on domestic issues at least, tend toward the ultra-liberal. With a Netanyahu-ist AIPAC leadership to their right and a new generation increasingly disengaged from Israel to their left, the liberal Zionists can seem beached on a strip of land that is forever shrinking.

At least one aspect of this used to be very different. In Genesis: Truman, American Jews, and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict, John B. Judis notes that the founding fathers of American liberal Zionism—chief among them the Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis—seized on the nascent cause of a Jewish homeland in Palestine partly because it helped reconcile two aspects of their identity: their Jewishness and their liberal values. By supporting Zionism, they were not only supporting a beleaguered, oppressed people fleeing Europe, they were also backing an experiment in collectivist living. Brandeis was particularly impressed, as many would be for decades to come, by the then-embryonic kibbutz movement. As Judis writes of Brandeis in the second decade of the twentieth century, “Jews in Palestine were building the cooperative democracy that he wanted to create in the United States.” There is a sour irony to the notion that the cause of Zion once served as a bridge between Jews and the liberal left. These days it drives them apart.

If the luminaries of liberal Zionism have greeted My Promised Land with enthusiasm, it is hardly a surprise. It articulates their creed perfectly. For what characterizes the liberal Zionist, and what so infuriates opponents on left and right, is the insistence that two things, usually held to be in opposition, can both be true. So while, say, the left denounces settlements and the right highlights Israelis’ fears for their own security, the liberal Zionist wants to do both, often at the same time.

That this is Shavit’s intention is established early. His introduction warns the reader that “duality” will be his watchword, that he will be in the business of both/and rather than either/or:

On the one hand, Israel is the only nation in the West that is occupying another people. On the other hand, Israel is the only nation in the West that is existentially threatened. Both occupation and intimidation make the Israeli condition unique. Intimidation and occupation have become the two pillars of our condition.
One might dispute whether the sense of intimidation is justified, given Israel’s regional and local dominance militarily. But that is beside the point. That Israelis perceive themselves to be endangered, for obvious reasons of history and geography, is entirely clear and in this respect perceptions matter: national security does not exist if a nation feels insecure. Shavit is surely right to say that any account that fails to understand both that fact and the fact of a forty-seven-year occupation cannot hope to “get the Israel story right.”

The book delivers on that promise of duality. It provides, for example, a chapter on the danger posed by Iranian nuclear ambitions, endorsing with a full throat Netanyahu’s talk of the existential threat to Israel. It is an argument that AIPAC could happily reproduce as a campaigning document (and one that, incidentally, has long separated Shavit from many of his more skeptical Haaretz colleagues). Curiously in a book that spans more than a century, it is this section on the current scene that comes across as one of the more dated in My Promised Land. In view of US–Iranian talks on the nuclear issue and, more recently, the tacit cooperation between the two countries over the threat posed by the Sunni organization ISIS in Iraq, such hard-line rhetoric on Iran sounds as lonely and out-of-step coming from Shavit as it does from Netanyahu.

Hawkishness of that kind will duly antagonize dovish readers. But then they will come across passages such as this, prompted by a visit to the West Bank settlement of Ofra:

The settlements have placed Israel’s neck in a noose. They created an untenable demographic, political, moral, and judicial reality. But now Ofra’s illegitimacy taints Israel itself. Like a cancer, it spreads from one organ to another, endangering the entire body. Ofra’s colonialism makes the world perceive Israel as a colonialist entity. But because in the twenty-first century there is no room for a colonialist entity, the West is gradually turning its back on Israel. That’s why enlightened Jews in America and Europe are ashamed of Israel. That’s why Israel is at odds with itself.

Shavit goes further, choosing to include in My Promised Land the account he wrote as a young reservist of his twelve-day stint as a jailer in a Gaza detention camp in 1991, originally published in Haaretz and later in The New York Review. Though the young Shavit writes that he has “always abhorred the analogy,” he quotes a fellow soldier who says “that the place resembles a concentration camp.” He uses the words “Aktion” and “Gestapo.” He says of the camp doctor, “He is no Mengele,” which of course invites a comparison to Mengele.

You might think this makes the Finkelstein view—that Shavit is engaged in sophisticated hasbara, propaganda for Israel—tricky to sustain. But critics of liberal Zionism have a ready reply. The Hebrew phrase of choice is yorim u’vochim, literally “shooting and crying,” used to deride the tendency of the Israeli left to lament the horror of killing Arabs or occupying Palestinians in eloquent prose, stirring poetry, and award-winning movies, while the killing and occupation continue. This way, runs the criticism, the Israeli dove gets to win the admiration of the outside world, Jew and non-Jew alike, for the beauty and sensitivity of his conscience even as the behavior of his country, and the army whose uniform he continues to wear, does not change. In this view, the liberal Zionist is more disreputable than his hard-line nationalist cousin because, unlike the latter, he insists on having his cake and eating it.

That charge can, and has been, leveled at Shavit. One could say that his chapter on Gaza meets the standard definition of “shooting and crying.” But that would be too flippant a response to the larger story My Promised Land is telling, a story in which the book itself may even come to play a part.

The ultimate question leftist opponents of Zionism like to hurl at liberal Zionists, the one the former believe the latter cannot answer, is, to use Finkelstein’s formulation: “How does one excuse ethnic cleansing?” If one is a liberal, committed to human rights, how can one justify the expulsion and dispossession of Palestinians in 1948 as Israel was born?

Shavit’s answer comes in the form of the two chapters that sit at the heart of the book. First comes “Lydda, 1948,” a meticulously assembled account of the three July days when soldiers of the new Israeli army emptied that city of its Palestinian inhabitants and, according to Shavit, killed more than three hundred civilians in cold blood and without discrimination. Piecing together the testimony of those who did the killing, Shavit writes: “Zionism carrie[d] out a massacre.”

It was this chapter, unflinching and forensically detailed, that so exercised Isi Leibler in his Jerusalem Post review. As we shall see, the mere fact of setting out such brutal facts is itself to take a stand, but Shavit touches on the question of justification too.

First, he implicitly accepts what anti-Zionists have long argued: that the eventual dispossession of Palestinians was logically entailed in the Zionist project from the outset, that it could not be any other way. The problem was, the Jewish homeland was not empty. As the two rabbis dispatched from Theodor Herzl’s first Zionist Congress in Vienna, sent to Palestine like the biblical spies who first entered Canaan, reported back: “The bride is beautiful but she is married to another man.” Shavit seems to accept as obvious the implication that Palestine could not become the home of the Jews unless Palestinians lost their homes in Palestine: “If Zionism was to be, Lydda could not be. If Lydda was to be, Zionism could not be.”

Micha Bar Am/Magnum Photos
Amos Oz in the Hulda kibbutz, Israel, 1983

Does that mean that Shavit believes the massacre at Lydda was justified? He avoids a direct answer. The question is “too immense to deal with”; it is “a reality I cannot contain.” But he won’t join

the bleeding heart Israeli liberals of later years who condemn what [the Israelis] did in Lydda but enjoy the fruits of their deed…. If need be, I’ll stand by the damned. Because I know that if it wasn’t for them, the State of Israel would not have been born…. They did the dirty, filthy work that enables my people, myself, my daughter, and my sons to live.

This answer is underpinned, again implicitly, by what follows. The chapter after Lydda is “Housing Estate, 1957,” which describes a single shikun, a small neighborhood on the outskirts of Tel Aviv that became the new home of a group of Holocaust survivors. Shavit quotes, uninterrupted and at length, the harrowing childhood experiences of three eminent Israelis: novelist Aharon Appelfeld, former Chief Justice Aharon Barak, and Professor Ze’ev Sternhell (whom Shavit calls “a lauded political activist against Israeli fascism”), all of whom endured the whirlwind of the Shoah before they reached Israel.

The juxtaposition of these two chapters makes Shavit’s point for him. It reminds the reader why Jews came to believe with such urgency and fervor that a state, a haven, was a necessity. As it happens, both hawkish Zionists and anti-Zionists tend to dislike this line of reasoning. The former fear it weakens the Jewish claim to Palestine if that claim is deemed to have arisen not out of a millennia-old attachment to the Land of Israel, but simply the need for a postwar sanctuary. The latter see it as a kind of moral trump card, designed to close down all argument.

Yet Shavit is right to raise it, because the experience of the Holocaust did indeed convince Jews in Palestine and beyond that a Jewish state had become a mortal need. Judis, whose perspective differs sharply from Shavit’s, confirms as much when he quotes Truman’s envoy Mark Ethridge telling the president that the Jews believed they had had a “narrow escape…from extinction.” Judis reports that most of the Reform Jews who as late as 1942 had founded the American Council for Judaism—which led the fight against US support for a Jewish state—radically reversed their position once they knew of the Nazi horror. “After reports of the Holocaust surfaced, many of them embraced Zionism as the only alternative for Europe’s displaced Jews.” That experience—of Jews, once ambivalent about Jewish statehood, dropping all doubts in the face of the Shoah—was all but universal in the Jewish world. It seemed clear that Jews needed a country where, even if their safety would be far from guaranteed, they would, at least, be able to defend themselves.

Still, believing that a Jewish national home had become a moral necessity is not the same as believing that the dispossession of the Palestinians was logically inevitable. The two views are separable. Judis’s central argument is that things could indeed have turned out differently, had Truman followed his instinct for evenhandedness between Jews and Arabs and backed the Zionism of Ahad Ha’am and his followers, who called for a binational state in Palestine. That he didn’t, says Judis, is owing to the muscular pressure of American Zionism, as Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, Stephen Wise, and others strong-armed the president into favoring the Jewish case over the Palestinian.

The echo in that argument of recent controversies over “the Israel lobby,” including the furor stirred by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer’s book on the subject, has seen Judis similarly accused of reviving age-old tropes of overweening Jewish power. All of which has tended to obscure his attempt to recover from obscurity the binationalist strain within Zionism. The conventional view is that the vision of Ahad Ha’am and the Brit Shalom movement he inspired—which included Judah Magnes, Martin Buber, Henrietta Szold, and Gershom Scholem among others—was impossibly utopian and doomed to fail, that the two peoples were always fated to clash. Judis rejects that, insisting that Truman could have used US might to impose a binational solution on Palestine.

Others, including the political scientist Jerome Slater, argue that a binational state was not the only way that expulsion and dispossession could have been avoided.* Slater describes plans in circulation at the time for voluntary resettlement by Arabs, along with substantial financial compensation, which might have made a Jewish state possible without much of the brutality that ensued.

These should be important questions for liberal Zionists because they challenge, at the very least, the notion that violent dispossession was unavoidable and inherent in the Zionist enterprise. In the cold language of logic, they suggest that massacres such as that at Lydda were contingent rather than necessary. Shavit does not consider these alternative possibilities, but if he had it might have shaken his certainty that had it not been for “the damned” of Lydda, the state of Israel would not have been born.

While critics on the left have criticized the conclusions Shavit draws from Lydda, the fact that he tells the story of that massacre at all, coupled with the way he tells it, is significant in its own right. The effect of the chapter is to take a stand against the early Zionists and insist on seeing what they did not see. On this Shavit and Judis agree: Zionism’s founding fathers were afflicted by selective blindness, unable or unwilling to register what was in front of their eyes: the presence of another people in the Land of Israel.

Shavit retraces the journey to Palestine made by his great-grandfather, the well-to-do British gentleman and Zionist romantic Herbert Bentwich, in 1897. Arab stevedores attend to him at Jaffa; Arab staff wait on him in his hotel; Arab villagers are all around. But they leave no trace. “My great-grandfather does not see because he is motivated by the need not to see,” writes Shavit. “He does not see because if he does see, he will have to turn back.”

In this, Bentwich was typical. It’s well known that too many of the first Zionists had a blind spot when it came to Palestine’s indigenous population. They were eager to accept the myth of a land without a people, for a people without a land. (The binationalists were the exception, among them, incidentally, Herbert Bentwich’s son Norman, attorney general in Palestine under the British mandate.)

Less well known is that America’s lovers of Zion were similarly sightless. Judis is all but baffled that men of impeccable liberal credentials could fail to see what was obvious. Stephen Wise was a founder of the ACLU and NAACP but, like his fellow Zionist liberals, he was “oblivious to the rights of Palestine’s Arabs.” “They knew next to nothing about Arab Palestine,” writes Judis. They were men of their time, if not of the previous century. In November 1929, Brandeis wrote: “The situation reminds me of that in America, when the settlers who founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony had to protect themselves against the Indians.”

In Israel itself, the denial has not passed. On the contrary, Shavit argues that his country is built on layer upon layer of denial. Its most obvious form is physical, Israeli villages built on the remains of places that seventy years ago were Palestinian, their names erased:

This denial is astonishing. The fact that seven hundred thousand human beings have lost their homes and their homeland is simply dismissed. Asdud becomes Ashdod, Aqir becomes Ekron, Bashit becomes Aseret, Danial becomes Daniel, Gimzu becomes Gamzu, Hadita becomes Hadid.

And of course Lydda has become Lod, home of Ben-Gurion Airport. Shavit goes on to argue that it was not just the pre-1948 Palestinians who were the victims of this Israeli tendency to forget. The Holocaust survivors he speaks to were if not silenced then barely heard, their experiences pushed down below the surface where they could not disturb the forward march of Israeli progress. He describes too the fate of the mizrachim, the Jews from Arab lands, who came to Israel only to be denuded of their customs, heritage, and pride—their traditions dismissed as backward and shamefully Middle Eastern. He explains that a country bent on forging and uniting a new nation had no time to look back.

But it is the willed forgetfulness toward the original inhabitants of the land that preoccupies Shavit. His target is not just his long-ago ancestors, but his immediate forebears: the leaders of Israel’s peace movement. He takes them to task for focusing on the legacy of 1967 and the occupied territories, for fostering the delusion that if only Israel righted that wrong and pulled out of those lands then harmonious resolution would follow.

This is not to say that Shavit in any way defends the occupation. On the contrary, he longs for it to end, regarding the West Bank settlements as an Israeli error of catastrophic proportions. He does not offer details or a map, but his support is clear for the international consensus that calls for a withdrawal to an adjusted version of the 1967 lines. The difference he has with his erstwhile comrades in the peace movement is that he no longer believes such a move will bring peace: “We should never have promised ourselves peace or assumed that peace was around the corner. We should have been sober enough to say that occupation must end even if the end of occupation did not end the conflict.”

Implicit in such a view is that Israel need not wait for agreement with the Palestinians to draw a border and, as Shavit puts it, “gradually and cautiously withdraw to that new border.” He is with David Ben-Gurion himself who, in the immediate aftermath of the 1967 war, suggested that Israel unilaterally return the territories it had just conquered (except for Jerusalem). On this logic, the recent failure of John Kerry’s peace process, or the flare-up in violence following the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teenagers in June, need not delay a unilateral move. With no illusions about peace, Israel can get started on the more practical business of deoccupation all by itself.

Shavit is explicit about why such a withdrawal to the 1967 lines, more or less, won’t bring peace. It is because the heart of the matter is not 1967 but the birth of Israel itself in 1948.

In a pointed choice, he visits Hulda, the kibbutz that was for decades the home of Peace Now’s spiritual leader, the novelist Amos Oz. But Hulda was also the name of the neighboring Arab village. In April 1948, the village was conquered, its houses demolished, its fields pillaged, and much of its land eventually absorbed into the kibbutz of the same name.

It’s Hulda, stupid. Not Ofra [on the West Bank], but Hulda, I tell myself. Ofra was a mistake, an aberration, insanity. But in principle, Ofra may have a solution. Hulda is the crux of the matter. Hulda is what the conflict is really about.

Of course, Shavit is hardly the first to contemplate the reality of 1948. He quotes the famously frank funeral oration by Moshe Dayan in 1956 that was similarly clear-eyed: “We have turned their lands and villages, where they and their forefathers previously dwelled, into our home.” Shavit is also following a lead set in the 1980s and 1990s by Israel’s “new historians,” who scoured the archives, exhuming the buried facts of Israeli expulsions of Palestinians.

But Shavit may get a hearing those scholars did not. While some new historians described themselves as anti-Zionists, others as post-Zionists, Shavit is a scion of Zionist aristocracy. His positions on Iran and other issues place him well within the Israeli mainstream. Yet in this book he not only denounces the post-1967 occupation, he engages emotionally with the events Palestinians regard as the nakba, the catastrophe, of 1948.

What’s more, Israel and especially its supporters in the Jewish diaspora might be willing to accept this from Shavit in a way they would refuse it from the likes of Norman Finkelstein. By writing as not only a liberal but a Zionist, Shavit makes clear that his critique is from within rather than without. He supplies the family history of everyone he speaks to, whether he agrees or disagrees, giving a background to their views that cannot help but humanize them. He is not standing on the outside, gloating at Israel’s misfortune, but rather sharing in it. That much is made clear in the chapters devoted to celebrating Israel’s triumphs, its astonishing feats of absorption of waves of immigrants or its burgeoning high-tech sector.

Such praise grates on anti-Zionist ears, but it makes Shavit a much more powerful advocate than they could ever be, at least if shifting Israeli public opinion is the goal—which, for those who want to effect change and end the conflict rather than simply win debating points on Twitter, it should be. Perhaps this is a weakness, but Jews tend to listen to those who argue from inside rather than outside. Witness the Haggadah’s distinction at the seder table between the wise son and the wicked. Technically, all that separates them is the grammatical difference between the first and second person. What does this mean to you, asks the wicked son; what does this mean to us, asks the wise son. But that distinction makes all the difference.

This contrast in tone might be why Judis has drawn fire from the very writers who lavished praise on Shavit, Leon Wieseltier among them. Judis’s book is rigorous, well sourced, and well argued and he has Zionist credentials of his own (he volunteered to fight for Israel in 1967 but was too late). But at times his prose strikes the wrong note, as if he is less concerned to win over Jews than to expose their moral failings. In view of his thesis that American Jews have made, and can make, the difference in the Israel–Palestine conflict, he might have done more to persuade rather than alienate them.

This, perhaps, is the ultimate role of the much-derided liberal Zionist. They are better placed than most to move Zionist, including Israeli, opinion. Finkelstein concludes his philippic against Shavit with a declaration that, despite the “original sin” of its creation, Israel’s fate is not set in stone. It can take a first step toward closure, consigning the past to the past, and perhaps even toward reconciliation, with a “formal acknowledgement of what happened in 1948.” For an Israeli patriot such as Shavit, profoundly committed to his country, to have written this powerful, complex, absorbing book and for it to have received the plaudits it has suggest progress toward that necessary goal.

The Power of the Prophetic Blessing Hardcover – August 30, 2012 by John Hagee ( Worthy Publishing)

John Hagee presents a quite frustrating but fascinating read with this book. I have always admired John Hagee's preaching - he speaks with great conviction and power. I have also learned so much from his writings about the nation of Israel. (His book "Jerusalem Countdown" is a great example).

Let me begin with the positive aspects of the book. I really enjoyed his discussion of the nature of the blessings of the Old Testament - particularly, of Jacob blessing the sons who would become the fathers of the 12 tribes of Israel. There is also the great section talking about the power of affirmation through touch in a child's life and development. Those two sections alone are worth the price of the book, in my opinion. Then, Hagee forcefully reminds fathers (and mothers, but fathers especially) about their role as spiritual authority in the home - and of the overwhelming need to pray over our wives and children. This is a much needed message for the church today.

The negative aspect of the book is one that I had feared from the start. Hagee goes beyond the bounds of God's intention when he claims that we can speak our own prosperity into existence. With all the strong words Jesus had to say against materialism and with all the warnings God gives against money and the love of worldly things, I am quite sure that the blessings God has for his children are not primarily of a materialistic nature. It is not wrong to think that unexpected material blessing comes from God, but it is wrong to imagine that there is no way God can bless you other than to give you prosperity, promotion, wealth, riches, and even health and right relationships - all of which Hagee points out repeatedly in his book. I would imagine God's greatest blessing to man would be a more accurate understanding of God Himself - which he gave to Job, but only after Job had LOST all material blessings, wealth, health, and even relationships.

I would say that, to the wise reader who can avoid the pitfall of the prosperity teachings, this book can be an informative tool. My wife and I have already talked about some of the things I learned in it, and we are going to try to follow God's Word more accurately when it comes to praying for each other.

My fear is that weak or easily misled believers will get one thing only out of this book: if I believe hard enough, God will give me a new car and heal my cancer. There is nothing wrong with praying for either one of these things, but what will become of the man to whom God refuses to bless in this way? Will he become angry at God? Will he cease to pray, assuming that it is of no value because his prayers weren't answered?

Killing Jesus Hardcover – May 7, 2013 by Stephen Mansfield (Worthy Publishing)

Mansfield takes the reader by the back of the neck via multiple POVs, so the story kicks into high gear taking on fresh emotional lenses every chapter. A satisfying pace with plenty of cultural perspective gives this journey a lively, gritty edge. You are in the crowd, a witness.
Not to be confused with Bill O'Reilly's book of similar title which does not have the breathing, lyrical sense Mansfield has penned so well. I first encountered Mansfield's non-fiction Manly Men book, so knew he could write well, and got excited when I found Killing Jesus, a fictional perspective based on the true Bible account, informed with historical research. It truly is a unique piece of work.
There's nothing here to upset nor offend. It's a beautiful, inspired writing. You should go there, now!

The execution of Jesus was a crime born of the streets, the barracks, the enclaves of the privileged, and the smoke-filled back rooms of religious and political power brokers. Its meaning lives in these places still."

It is the most fiercely debated murder of all time. Its symbol is worn by billions of people worldwide. Its spiritual meaning is invoked daily in time-honored rituals. In Killing Jesus, New York Times best-selling author Stephen Mansfield masterfully recounts the corrupt trial and grisly execution of Jesus more than two thousand years ago.

Approaching the story at its most human level, Mansfield uses both secular sources and biblical accounts to bring fresh perspective to the human drama, political intrigue, and criminal network behind the killing of the world's most famous man.

Stephen Mansfield is a New York Times bestselling author and a popular speaker who also leads a media training firm based in Washington, DC.

He first rose to global attention with his groundbreaking book "The Faith of George W. Bush," a bestseller that Time magazine credited with helping to shape the 2004 US presidential election. The book was a source for Oliver Stone’s award-winning film “W.” Mansfield’s "The Faith of Barack Obama" was another international bestseller. He has written celebrated biographies of Booker T. Washington, George Whitefield, Winston Churchill, Pope Benedict XVI, and Abraham Lincoln, among others. Publishers Weekly described his book, "Killing Jesus," as “masterful.”

Stephen’s humorous but fiery "Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men" has inspired men’s events in the US and abroad. His more recent "The Miracle of the Kurds" has been selected as “Book of the Year” by Rudaw, the leading Kurdish news service. As a result of this book, Mansfield has become a respected voice in support of the Kurds against the evils of ISIS in the Middle East.

Stephen speaks widely about men, leadership, faith, the lessons of history, and the forces that shape modern culture. His media training firm, The Mansfield Group, has worked with top politicians, CEOs, rock stars, major publishing firms, and educational institutions around the world.

Mansfield lives in Nashville and the nation’s capital with his wife Beverly, an award-winning songwriter and producer.

The Truth About the New Rules of Business Writing Paperback by Natalie Canavor and Claire Meirowitz (FT Press)

Natalie Canavor and Claire Meirowitz have written a 208 page guide on The Truth About The New Rules Of Business Writing. Together they are the founders of C&M Business Writing Services. Their knowledge on communicating what you mean to get what you want is written in a compact, easy to use guide book. The book is divided into 52 truths about writing, each truth "chapter" being a mere two or three pages long. This book is a perfect example of the authors doing as they teach. They teach you to write in a simplified, organized, to the point structure, just as the book is written in.
This book is not just for business communications, but can be used literally for ever type of written communication you can think of. For a strong resume, the authors say to focus on your accomplishments, not your responsibilities, because everyone has responsibilities, but not everyone has accomplishments. Re-writing in shorter sentences is important as less is always more. The details of the past are no longer important in a fast, high tech world. They point out that when you write, all cues of your voice, facial expression and body language are missing, so it's important to develop being truthful in words without seeing the person's response. However, you must never write something too personal, as anything too personal is best said in person, where you can see the person's response. This book is packed with this type of great advice on writing.

From emails, business letters, personal letters, texting, writing articles to every form of written communications, the tips to better writing are all here in the simplest book I have ever read. All 52 of the Truth Chapters are worth their weight in gold, as in Truth 27, Letters do build relationships and in Truth 17, the best writers don't write, they re-write. Writing as if you are speaking is the best communication and with this great, short, to the point guide, it makes it easy! This small book gets a big 5 stars

Key Strategy Tools: The 80+ Tools for Every Manager to Build a Winning Strategy 1st Edition by Vaughan Evans (FT Press)

This is a collection of strategy models like Porter's 5 Forces or the BCG Matrix but it's more than that. The author has written a strategy handbook on how to use these models as practical tools. Strategy models are a diverse bunch and they relate to anything from how to set up a distribution chain, to employee knowledge management, to competitive positioning to... well as I said, almost anything. Vaughn Evans, a management consultant and former banker and economist, presents a framework that puts each tool in a natural context. This framework is in itself an excellent tool that displays how various strategy niches fit together. To me this framework is actually one of the main contributions of the book. True, some of the tools presented to a certain extent have to be squeezed into one of the niches, but that's easily forgiven.

This framework is not only a categorization but also a step by step manual for how to develop a coherent corporate strategy. The only issues hindering this book from being the CEO's one stop shop are the lack of advice on strategy implementation/execution and also of more mundane lower level tools concerning procurement, production, distribution etc. No matter, the new CEO at least got half of his job covered by Evans text.

As the chapters progress and follow the framework the author at times arrives at necessary tasks related to forming a strategy that has not been covered by a fancy matrix from Michael Porter, McKinsey or Peters & Waterman. Instead of jumping to the next task Evens simply writes a short text on the job at hand, calls it a tool and moves on. Even if some of Evans 88 strategy tools are more to be characterized as concepts such as DCFs, tipping points, Taleb's Black Swan, price elasticity etc. that the author thinks the corporate manager should know of and use, the fact that no step in the process are skipped makes it possible to build a strategy from the text. Evans also contributes a couple of "proper" tools of himself of which I will use the Suns and Clouds chart frequently in the future.

Despite the pocket book like appearance this book contains 339 rather packed pages and since every tool is summarized the text is rather fact rich. This could be a heavy text if the writing hadn't been so fluent, at times helped by small pinches of dry humour. The framing of the models also make the reading easier and for those who don't want to dwell too much on alternative models Evans has picked out those he thinks are the most important ones to use at each step of the strategy formulation. If I could have wished for something more it would have been more pointed tips for further reading. As it is now there are references presented for each rather long chapter and it's not always clear which of these books if any that relate to the tool you wanted to study further.

It's hard to pick out favourites out of all the models presented. However, the manual for corporate acquisitions is simple but excellent. If all those involved in M&A historically had followed it serious amounts of shareholders money would have been saved. I also appreciated a trio of connected tools called Customer Purchasing Criteria, Key Success Factors and Rating Competitive Position. Here you first identify what customers need from a product (the CPCs), then what a company and its competitors has to do to deliver the CPC (i.e. the KSFs) and lastly you weigh the KSFs according to their importance and rank all the relevant competitors on how they fulfil them. This gives a highly revealing picture of the competitive position of a company. I also feel I have to read more about the Blue Ocean strategy.

On top of getting a reference toolbox of strategy models and a manual for strategy formulation those who read the book cover to cover also receive a useful crash course on the history of strategy and management theories. This book will be the first one I return to whenever a task of strategic nature has to be handled.

A Pragmatist's Guide to Leveraged Finance: Credit Analysis for Bonds and Bank Debt (paperback) (Applied Corporate Finance) 1st Edition by Robert S. Kricheff (FT Press)

I am a senior analyst in a buy-side leveraged finance shop and believe the book does a great job of outlining the process of credit analysis and bond assessment for the junior analyst. I read the book to see whether it made sense as a training tool for our new junior analysts and I believe strongly that it does. In addition, while I didn't think I was the target market, I found the book to be an interesting read and a worthwhile look into the mental systems used by a long-time analyst. I definitely took away a few ideas on how I might alter my own procedures for the better. Mr Kricheff lays out the nuts and bolts of who the players are in the market, then moves on to the issuance of a new piece of debt and shows the new analyst what pieces of information are important to look for and even how to prioritize between different pieces of information. The book lays out the basics of what a bond is, how they are priced and how to analyze the structure of the security. He looks at how to analyze the underlying company. He covers what he thinks are the two first items to consider (liquidity and asset coverage) and then moves on to discuss which financial measures are important and why; what are the important covenants and how can one use them. How much modeling do you need to do, how can you begin the process and how in-depth should a model realistically be? How can you use your model to adapt to changing newsflow or market pricing? What are some other pieces of information used by an analyst to decide between competing investment choices? These are all of the types of things covered in the book. The book does not target the senior analyst, but if one were interested in reading about another analyst's process, you could find the book interesting. For the new junior analyst, I think the book could accelerate the learning process significantly and give the new analyst a significant leg up in starting his/her career.

Do You Matter? How Great Design Will Make People Love Your Company Hardcover by Robert Brunner (Author), Stewart Emery (Author), Russ Hall (Author) (FT Press)

A lot  of companies like Apple and BMW get credit for designing beautiful physical objects, but physical designs can be copied. It seems that there's something more to the design of great iconic products. `Do You Matter?' is about the design of the experience of using these products-everything from how you buy the product, to what the box looks like, to how you carry it around with you. Perhaps a more interesting place to start is, why do we need relationships with companies at all?

When I was in college, one of the hit "The" bands was a raucous group from Down Under called The Vines. Now, the Vines definitely had a great sound, and their writing and melodies were great, but their press just revolved around their wacky lead signer, Craig Nichols who oscillated between adorable and totally insane. Now, Craig was an interesting guy, who was trying to fuse melodic rock with something grunge-y like Nirvana. Craig said weird irreverent things, and was often so `anti-establishment' that his fits of `quirky behaviour' cost the band many huge media appearances, hoards of mainstream fans and lots of money. After hearing of Nichols' obsession with McDonalds fries, I found myself pulling up to the Golden Arches more often. In a weird way, I didn't just connect with the band by listening to their music, and following the music news, I connected with them by eating the same junk food they ate. Because Craig loved McDonalds, I loved McDonalds. It was my way of connecting with a fun goofy carefree vibe (which has nothing to do with McD's actual marketing, by the way).

In a way, the rockstar analogy is perfect: another band I loved (and still do) was Pink Floyd. To say to someone that you loved Pink Floyd, was to admit two things: a) that you loved great guitar, and great sounds, and great rock b) that you were creative and imaginative, and hence, appreciated art and color in life, c) the words in the songs touched you, meaning you weren't just a rocker, you had a brain, and a heart as well. And so Pink Floyd fans get this feedback from each other when they talk about great albums, great concerts, and little nuances about the band members.

So this is my long winded way of saying we have relationships with these companies when and only when they seem to represent ideas that we like, and want to surround ourselves with. The BMW driver has an attitude about the world, and he wants everyone to know, not that he's rich, or successful (although the association doesn't hurt), but that he thinks a certain way. The popularity in late 1990's of the Christian WWJD (What would Jesus Do) wristbands was a perfect example of this: it combined something that was trendy and good looking, with ideas that millions of people truly believed in. When you combine a good product with a belief, an ethos, an attitude about the way the world is, you have a powerful brand, and a powerful following. Just hope they all have credit cards, and you have a business model.

And thus, Macintosh users, for many years, had the same identification: not only did they like good tech, but they loved what the Mac was about, and what it represented; they took it as a badge of honour to be a minority marketshare, knowing that in many other realms of life, the best is often in low numbers, and the masses often settle for mediocrity. But it's more than just that: what the Mac lovers believed was not just a belief about technology, but a belief about the world. The belief was that by being a little different, I'm not a bad person, actually, I should embrace it, because the status quo makes me puke, and never leads to anything great. Fittingly, Apple has never looked to polls, or focus groups to design its products. Focus groups don't lead to greatness, they lead to average. And to be average, even if it's incredibly profitable, is not worth it.

Ironically, it turns out that being average isn't so profitable after all. You can mass-produce cars, but you can't mass-produce average cars, and expect to still be in business 10 years later. No way. It turns out that companies who make amazing products, like imported cars, and superior electronics (like Samsung), always win because of the amazing experience their customers have using the products. Paying attention to detail means paying attention to the experience of using the product, and the best designers in the world know that that experience is why the customer bought that piece of plastic in the first place. You don't sacrifice great design for dollars. It doesn't work. You will end up destroying your company. Growth comes from great design.

Those experiences add up to one great truth: Great companies are a positive force in people's lives. Now, you may not be a Pink Floyd fan (breathe Mike... breathe...) or like Bimmers, but there is bound to be a company out there that makes products that you believe in, and it's got nothing to do with the taste, or the 0-60mph time, or the specifications of the technology. We bring friends into our lives that think like we do, and we bring MP3 players into our lives that `think like we do' as well. And what is the goal of all this consumption and qualification? People are seeking a great experience of being alive, and will buy products and surround themselves with things that help them do that. As Simon Sinek once said, People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

The Secrets of Economic Indicators: Hidden Clues to Future Economic Trends and Investment Opportunities (3rd Edition) 3rd Edition by Bernard Baumohl (FT Press)

The #1 Plain-English Guide to Interpreting and Using Economic Data--Now Fully Updated! 
New analyses based on up-to-the-minute data
New easy-to-understand graphics
New real-time indicators for anticipating global economic swings
New forward-looking domestic economic markers

More than 80,000 investors, strategists, and policymakers have used this unique book to make smarter decisions and more profitable investments! Now, renowned economic analyst Bernard Baumohl has completely updated his best-seller to reflect the newest global and U.S. indicators and data. Baumohl identifies powerful new indicators of emerging economic shifts, eliminates indicators that have lost predictive value, and explains key points using powerfully intuitive new visuals. The Secrets of Economic Indicators, Third Edition, is simpler, clearer, more relevant, and even more indispensable!

If you want to translate economic data into better decision-making and higher profits, The Wall Street Journal says one book is “the real deal”: Bernard Baumohl’s The Secrets of Economic Indicators. Now, Baumohl has thoroughly updated his classic best-seller to reflect today’s most valuable U.S. and foreign economic indicators and offer new insights into what they mean.

This brand-new third edition introduces many new, forward-looking economic markers, including those that monitor small business plans, freight traffic shifts, Web searches, and even gambling. Baumohl identifies new real-time foreign indicators that help anticipate swings in European and Asian economies and reveals how the financial crises have changed the behavior of even the most familiar indices. Baumohl also lists some free cell phone apps that will keep you on top of the economy and financial markets wherever you are.

New graphics make it easier to understand how key indicators impact interest rates, bond and stock prices, and currency values, and Baumohl has systematically updated his comprehensive listings of U.S. and global Web-based data sources.

Which economic indicators matter most today? 
Choose the indices that offer the best predictive value and most crucial insights
How has the new global economic environment reshaped the use of indicators? 
Understand the implications of deeper economic integration and increased sovereign risk
How do you transform data into better investment decisions? 
Discover how key indicators impact interest rates, bond prices, stock prices, and currency values

About the Author
Bernard Baumohl, Chief Global Economist at The Economic Outlook Group, oversees its forecasts of economic trends and geopolitical risks. He also conducts seminars on how corporate leaders and investors can use forward-looking economic indicators to stay ahead of the business cycle. He has lectured on economics at New York University, Duke University, and the New York Institute of Finance.

Baumohl was also an award-winning TIME magazine economics reporter who covered Wall Street, the Federal Reserve, and the White House. As an economist for European American Bank, he conducted research on the global economy. He also served as an analyst with the Council on Foreign Relations. Baumohl has a Master’s degree in international affairs and economics from Columbia University.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Science: How to Sort Through the Noise Around Global Warming, the Latest Health Claims, and Other Scientific Controversies (FT Press Science) 1st Edition by Sherry Seethaler (FT Press)

This is an excellent book that provides the qualitative critical thinking necessary for making better rational decisions regarding purchases, health care, and lifestyle. Many books impart the statistics to differentiate what is truly different from what is not. But, few books focus on framing the question correctly, understanding the biases of the stakeholders, and how to evaluate the findings. Ultimately, the qualitative thinking the author imparts is as important as the quantitative knowledge imparted by math books.

The author does an excellent job explaining how science works. It is a constant feedback loop of battling hypothesis and rebuttals that confuse the public. But, if you make an effort to understand the issue, you will grasp the evolving nuances of the arguments. Through this process our knowledge invariably advances.

Some highlights of the book include the matrix of stakeholders issues on page 34 regarding Global Warming, Drug approval, Genetically engineered food, and Mad cow disease. This matrix succinctly fleshes out all stakeholders positions on those four complex issues. The table of evidence being studied to understand climate change on page 83 is really thorough. Also, the concept of "pseudosymmetry of scientific authority" as explained on page 16 is interesting. It means the Media sometimes allocates as much print to both sides of an issue when the vast majority of the scientific community is on one side (that's why it is called pseudosymmetry). The entire chapter 5 on differentiating between cause and coincidence is excellent. Chapter 7 on interpreting statistics is also very good including its specific section on elucidating hidden confounding factors. Within this chapter, she also states the most important phrase in statistics: "results can be statistically significant without being statistically meaningful." Or given a large enough sample size, stat tests invariably uncover at least small differences which may be trivial. Chapter 9 is an interesting overview of widespread thinking flaws including anchoring, confirmation bias, confusing randomness for a trend, overgeneralization, and mistaking cause and effect. Those themes are now often covered in the trendy topic of behavioral economics. Chapter 10 discloses many websites that are helpful in investigating various claims.

On the other hand, I also found an error and a debatable position. On page 78, the diagram mapping out a clinical study should have Group 1 getting a placebo and Group 2 getting the drug. The diagram instead shows Group 1 receiving nothing and Group 2 receiving both the placebo and the drug. I bet this has confused many readers. Additionally, the mentioned concept of pseudosymmetry is very interesting. But, one should not immediately derive that science is a popularity contest and accept that when many more scientists are on one side of the issue they are right. This is not necessarily so. Thomas S. Kuhn, in his classic "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions," has exposed that correct new scientific ideas often come up against massive resistance from the scientific establishment hoisting the status quo. This suggests that sometimes pseudosymmetry is not so "pseudo" after all.

If this subject interests you, I recommend Motulsky Intuitive Biostatistics: A Nonmathematical Guide to Statistical Thinking that will provide you a strong quantitative foundation to evaluate any hypothesis. I also liked Greenhalgh How to Read a Paper: The Basics of Evidence-based Medicine and Stanovich formidable What Intelligence Tests Miss: The Psychology of Rational Thought. Both books explore various facets of Seethaler's critical thinking in greater details.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Science: How to Sort Through the Noise Around Global Warming, the Latest Health Claims, and Other Scientific Controversies (FT Press Science) 1st Edition by Sherry Seethaler (FT Press)

And this book is aimed at providing the tools to reduce ignorance.

How can a non-scientist make sense of science when so much science-related information is poorly presented, incomplete, contradictory or wrong? What tools can we use in order to assess and make sense of what is presented as fact? So much of the `information' we receive is packaged and presented in a format which makes it difficult to understand let alone analyse the underlying facts.

In this book, Dr Seethaler covers topics such as the use and misuse of statistical data; identifying logical fallacies; uncovering the difference between cause and coincidence; and how to identify both the relevant stakeholders in any particular issue and their motivations. In short, this book is a guide to the techniques of critical thinking and evaluation applied to science.

Dr Seethaler reminds us how science really works, and how progress can involve disagreement between scientists. There are a number of examples discussed in this book: including BSE (Mad Cow Disease); global warming, genetic engineering of crops, and drug treatments for depression.

I enjoyed this book. The tools of critical thinking and evaluation discussed here are used in a number of different fields - including health, science and public policy more generally. These tools are not just restricted to these fields: we each have to make decisions based on science, and live with the consequences of such decisions made by others. It makes sense that we seek to understand the material presented so that we can make informed choices.

Spies, Inc.: Business Innovation from Israel's Masters of Espionage (paperback) Paperback – September 14, 2004 by Stacy Perman (FT Pres)

They say that all is fair in love and war, so you can't expect a country that's been surrounded by enemies for over 65 years to always play nice. Here's a fascinating book that will tell you how a tiny country kept itself from being destroyed by using mostly its wits. Whatever you may think about Israel, you've got to admit that from its inception, the odds were against it. And you've also got to give it credit for surviving while being outnumbered by over 100 to 1 from the onset. Under those conditions, the only way to keep afloat is to outsmart your enemy, and that's what this book is about. The major focus here is on the technological side - that being things like computers, electronics and advanced weaponry - and how one division in particular had a large hand in it all. That unit is called 8200 which is part of the Intelligence Division of the IDF.

But this book isn't only about one army unit and its effect on the IDF. This book also delves past that and into the influence that the graduates from 8200 have had in helping Israel to become one of the biggest innovators in the Hi-Tech business world today. And we're talking about really big strides in technology that are affecting the whole globe. For instance - ever send or receive an SMS message on your cell phone? Ever take part in a video conference? Perhaps you sent a song or perhaps a picture to someone's cell? What about that great, yet simple invention - voice mail? Well, there you go - those are some of the things that ex-8200 soldiers invented. And the list goes on.

One of the more interesting facets that this book investigates is why such a large concentration of young men and women achieved so much in their short lives. One of the answers that the author gives is similar to the old adage "necessity is the mother of invention". When your existence is at stake and any errors in judgment could cost the lives of both your fellow soldiers and innocent civilians - if not your whole country - then there's just no room for conventional thinking. In fact, you've got to find solutions to problems that haven't even cropped up yet! The IDF set out to find, sow and nurture and grow the minds that could do this, and of course the harvest from this is going to be exceptional. This developmental process is what this book is all about.

It should be noted that author Stacy Perman wrote this in a very pro-Israel prospective. This may disturb some readers, and I thought you should be warned. Mind you, she does seem to have a slightly left-wing bent here, as - for instance - she describes the then PM Ariel Sharon with words like 'hawkish', and seems far more enamored of the outspokenly 'dovish' Shimon Peres. You should also know that you're not going to learn any previously unrevealed secrets from this book. Everything in this book has been cleared by the IDF, and very few military things you'll read will be news to you. However, what will be enlightening is the methods used, and the innovations that came from those same young people who developed these methods.

You'll also find that Perman's style here has a very fictional flavor to it. In fact, some of the accounts of historic triumphs in Israeli espionage sound like excerpts from a joint effort between John Le Carre and Robert Ludlum. So you're not going to feel like you're being bombarded by boring statistics and list of bland information. Take this quote as an example, so you can see what I mean:

"In the inky darkness of the pre-dawn hours, the Red Sea had turned choppy. The sun had yet to bathe the sea, known in Arabic as 'Al Bahr Al Ahmar', in its winter light. Fishing boats moored in the waters surrounded by Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and the Sudan rocked in the stormy darkness. An old, blue cargo ship, sailing under the flag of the kingdom of Tonga, cruised northward, making its way toward the Suez Canal, while on board most of its 13-man crew slept."

By the way, this is one of the first times that I've found the preface and acknowledgments to be equally as fascinating as the body of the book. What's more, the endnotes are just as interesting.

I must add at this point that I felt a touch cheated when I finished reading this book. I was hoping to learn much more about the start-up companies and amazing products that these 8200 graduates have gone on to develop. Instead, I feel she gave us a touch too much about the military side of the story, and not quite enough about the entrepreneurial side of the take. She did, however, handle the business side as even-handedly as possible, by also including how the bust in the Hi-Tech industry affected these fledgling companies. Well, hey, nobody's perfect, right? We're talking about inventors and innovators here, and we all know that this type of creative genius doesn't always make for financial wizards as well - if ever.

In sum - I found this book to be very well written, very carefully researched and totally fascinating on a subject that I most likely would have never read about, had my son not heard of the book and insisted I buy it. Mind you, it is slightly biased on the pro-Israel side with a touch of a left-wing slant. But for a non-fiction book on business, this reads more like the history of Ian Fleming's development of gadgets invented by Q, with some scintillating episodes that any 'double-oh' agent would have been proud to have been a part of. And at only 256 pages, it's not going to take a long time to read, either. This is one book on spying that doesn't, and shouldn't be kept a secret - four out of five stars and highly recommended!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

1-2-3 Magic: 3-Step Discipline for Calm, Effective, and Happy Parenting Paperback – February 2, 2016 by Thomas Phelan (Sourcebooks)

If you are a parent of young kids I do recommend that you pick up this book for a read as it would help you understand more about how to cope with your children during their outbursts.Lays out a simple program for parents to help manage, and keep from overreacting, to behavior that seems incessant and annoying, like a continual request for junk food right before dinner.Since the sixth edition of the self-proclaimed No. 1 child-discipline book in America came out last year, Dr. Phelan's strategies have seen a resurgence in the parenting world. Maybe that's why you feel like everywhere you go, you keep overhearing other moms say to their misbehaving children, "That's one. That's two. That's three." And then you watch in disbelief as their kid actually stops! 

The sixth edition of the 1.8 million-copy bestseller 1-2-3 Magic by internationally acclaimed parenting expert Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D. compiles two decades of research and experience into an easy-to-use program designed for parents striving to connect more deeply with their children and help them develop into healthy, capable teenagers and adults. Dr. Phelan breaks down the complex task of parenting into three straightforward steps:

1. Helping your children learn how to control their emotions and refrain from negative behavior, including tantrums, whining, and sibling rivalry
2. Encouraging good behavior in your children and providing positive feedback 
3. Strengthening your relationships with your children to reinforce the natural parent-child bond

You'll find tools to use in virtually every situation, as well as real-life stories from parents who have successfully navigated common parenting challenges such as reluctance to do chores, talking back, and refusing to go to bed or getting up in the middle of the night. For years, millions of parents from all over the world have used the award-winning 1-2-3 Magic program to help their children develop emotional intelligence, raise healthier, happier families, and put the fun back into parenting.

Along with other highly-respected parenting classics such as How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, Parenting with Love and Logic, The 5 Love Languages of Children, No Drama Discipline, and The Whole Brain Child, 1-2-3 Magic is an essential tool for parents hoping to connect more deeply with their children.

3 Tips for Tantrums
Stop talking – Children see parents' reasons and explanations as whimpering—sure signs that the parent doesn’t know what he or she is doing. Parents need a plan that focuses on gentle but decisive actions—not words.

Check out – When a child whines or melts down after a denied request, the parent has 10 seconds to decide what to do. No talking, for example, no eye contact, increase physical distance as much as possible. Soon the kids will begin to realize that tantrums get them only one thing: Nothing.

Be Consistent – Can you apply the same strategies in public? Not only can you, you have to! Feeble attempts at reasoning or distraction in a restaurant or grocery store will bring on a tantrum in no time at all.

This book of recollections and reflections encompasses personalities, places, culture, religion, politics, demographics and history. The author lived in Jerusalem from 1938 to the mid 1950s; he compares his recollections of those years with the Jerusalem of today. He covers a wide array of subjects, including archaeology, the Dead Sea scrolls, the history of the Kibbutz and the divisions in Israeli society, from the Haredim (Ultra-Orthodox) to the Post-Zionists, a small group of academics. A typical chapter would start out with famous or obscure personalities from the past and then evolve into a gripping discussion of important issues. Chapter 4 does a good job of explaining terms like Sephardim, Mizrachim and the Jews that came from North Africa and Asia, whilst the next chapters are devoted to German Jews and their contribution, as well as the famous scholar of Jewish Mysticism Scholem Gershom, and the Hebrew University. The Holocaust and Yad Vashem museum are discussed in chapter 7, Musa Alami and the Arab-Jewish conflict in the next, whilst early Jewish attempts at creating a binational state form the subject matter of chapter 9. The author is at his most engaging when describing certain sections of Jerusalem - then and now - in the chapters on Talbiyeh, Mea Shearim and Musrara. Other chapters deal with the influx of Russian immigrants that started in 1989, the city's famous holy places and the psychological condition known as Jerusalem Syndrome. The quotes about the city from reference sources published during the 1800s are quite funny and revealing. In the epilogue, Laqueur laments what he considers the deterioration of Jerusalem, where problems include poverty, municipal debt and demographic challenges. The inner city is not doing well although the satellite towns around the city are prospering. This chapter includes interesting facts on the city's media like the Jerusalem Post, and a long discussion of the old and the contemporary Jaffa Road. There are 14 black and white illustrations and photographs, the dust jacket contains a portrait and short biography of the author, and the book concludes with an index. One aspect of the author's style is slightly annoying: his extreme detachment and aloofness, and his pessimism about the future of the city. I sincerely hope he is wrong on this. Overall, this is a valuable and informative work about the people, places and recent history of this remarkable city, and a brilliant chronicle about how Jerusalem has changed since the 1950s. (Sourcebooks)

This book of recollections and reflections encompasses personalities, places, culture, religion, politics, demographics and history. The author lived in Jerusalem from 1938 to the mid 1950s; he compares his recollections of those years with the Jerusalem of today. He covers a wide array of subjects, including archaeology, the Dead Sea scrolls, the history of the Kibbutz and the divisions in Israeli society, from the Haredim (Ultra-Orthodox) to the Post-Zionists, a small group of academics. A typical chapter would start out with famous or obscure personalities from the past and then evolve into a gripping discussion of important issues.

Chapter 4 does a good job of explaining terms like Sephardim, Mizrachim and the Jews that came from North Africa and Asia, whilst the next chapters are devoted to German Jews and their contribution, as well as the famous scholar of Jewish Mysticism Scholem Gershom, and the Hebrew University. The Holocaust and Yad Vashem museum are discussed in chapter 7, Musa Alami and the Arab-Jewish conflict in the next, whilst early Jewish attempts at creating a binational state form the subject matter of chapter 9.

The author is at his most engaging when describing certain sections of Jerusalem - then and now - in the chapters on Talbiyeh, Mea Shearim and Musrara. Other chapters deal with the influx of Russian immigrants that started in 1989, the city's famous holy places and the psychological condition known as Jerusalem Syndrome. The quotes about the city from reference sources published during the 1800s are quite funny and revealing.

In the epilogue, Laqueur laments what he considers the deterioration of Jerusalem, where problems include poverty, municipal debt and demographic challenges. The inner city is not doing well although the satellite towns around the city are prospering. This chapter includes interesting facts on the city's media like the Jerusalem Post, and a long discussion of the old and the contemporary Jaffa Road.

There are 14 black and white illustrations and photographs, the dust jacket contains a portrait and short biography of the author, and the book concludes with an index. One aspect of the author's style is slightly annoying: his extreme detachment and aloofness, and his pessimism about the future of the city. I sincerely hope he is wrong on this. Overall, this is a valuable and informative work about the people, places and recent history of this remarkable city, and a brilliant chronicle about how Jerusalem has changed since the 1950s.

Dying for Jerusalem: The Past, Present and Future of the Holiest City Hardcover by Walter Laqueur ( Sourcebooks)

The title of this book is deceiving. Relatively little of this book is actually about the conflict(s) over Jerusalem. The phrase "Dying for Jerusalem" makes me think of Arabs fighting Jews over construction of new neighborhoods or Orthodox Jews attacking secular Jews over the nature of life in Jerusalem. Those issues receive very little attention in this fascinating book.

In this book, the highly-regarded scholar Walter Laqueur uses the biographies of famous Israelis as a way to discuss issues from Israeli history and issues facing Israeli society, not just Jerusalem. Also, there is a good deal of background incorporated into the text, but it really helps if the reader is already familiar with the layout and neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

There are a few problems with this book. First of all, some parts are awkwardly written or poorly edited. I will cut Laqueur, the author, some slack. English is his third or fourth language, but his editors should have . . . well . . . edited more. That's their job. They should have made the prose flow better, found and removed the typos, and cut some of the repetition. Another problem with the book--though this will not bother everyone--is that it's very politicized. Laqueur seems to be a moderate (or even non-ideological) Zionist with center-left political views, and he is a moderate, reasoned scholar who disdains extremism, overblown rhetoric, and shoddy scholarship in the service of political ideologies. He uses this book to settle scores with his political or academic opponents. Rarely does he name names, but he describes them, lists their books, or names their university employers. So, readers in-the-know will know whom he's criticizing.

Still, this book is a good way to learn about important figures from a variety of different fields in Israeli history, and it is a good way to become acquainted with various issues that have complicated Israeli history and life in Jerusalem. I definitely recommend it.

Global Antisemitism: A Crisis of Modernity by Charles Asher Small (Editor) (ISGAP)

Antisemitism is a complex and, at times, perplexing form of hatred. Some observers refer to it as the “longest hatred.” It spans centuries of history, infecting different societies, religious, philosophical and political movements, and even civilizations. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, some have even argued that antisemitism illustrates the limitations of the Enlightenment and modernity itself. Manifestations of antisemitism occur in numerous ideologically-based narratives and in constructed identities of belonging and Otherness such as race and ethnicity, as well as nationalist and antinationalist movements. In the contemporary context of globalized relations, it appears that antisemitism has taken on new complex and changing forms that need to be decoded, mapped, and exposed. The academic study of antisemitism, like prejudice more generally, has a long and impressive intellectual and research history. It remains a topic of ongoing political importance and scholarly engagement. However, especially at this important historical juncture, unlike prejudice and discrimination directed at other social groups, antisemitism―in particular its contemporary forms and processes―is almost always studied outside an organized academic framework.

The process of globalization has led to an increase in adversarial identity politics. In this environment, Israel, as a central manifestation of contemporary Jewish identity, and Jews more generally have become the focus of scapegoating and hateful rhetoric. At a more structural and socio-historical level, the old ideologies and tendencies of antisemitism have re-emerged and are being fused with anti-Zionism or what in many cases might be more appropriately described as Israel-bashing. The old theological and racist forms of European antisemitism are being amalgamated with anti-Jewish and anti-Israel pronouncements emanating in particular from the Muslim world, which is located mainly, but not exclusively, in and around the Middle East. Contemporary globalization and the related socio-economic, cultural, and political processes are being fused with these historical tendencies, creating the conditions that pose a threat to Jewish people and Jewish communities in the Diaspora. In addition, new structural realities within the realm of theinternational relations and the emergence of anti-Israel propensities appear to pose a threat to Israel and the Jewish people in a manner not seen since the end of World War II. Once again, in this age of globalization, the Jewish people seem to be caught between the “aristocracy” or “wealthy establishment” (core) and the marginalized or disenfranchised masses (periphery), as they have been throughout most of history.

With the advent of the “socialism of fools,” a term describing the replacement of the search for real social and political equity with antisemitism that is frequently attributed to August Bebel, Jews continued to be targeted.9 In much the same way, the current marginalization of the Jewish people in the Arab world―or, more accurately, the marginalization of the image of the Jew, since most of them were pressured to leave or expelled from Arab countries between 1948 and the early 1970s after a strong continual presence of thousands of years―is staggering. As the social movements in the Middle East have turned to their own version of the “socialism of fools” (i.e., the antisemitism of radical political Islamism), they have incorporated lethal forms of European genocidal antisemitism as their fuel.10 However, many scholars, policy-makers, and journalists of record still refuse to  acknowledge this fact and to critically examine the ideology and mission of this social movement.

Anti-Judaism is one of the most complex and at times perplexing forms of hatred. As
evident from the range of papers presented at the conference and in these volumes, antisemitism has many facets that touch upon many subjects and scholarly disciplines. The
term “anti-Semitism,” which was coined in the 1870s by Wilhelm Marr,11 is also cntroversial and at times confusing. Yet despite its etymological limitations and contradictions, it remains valid and useful. The term refers specifically to prejudice and discrimination against the Jewish people. Some incorrectly or for reasons of political expediency use the term to refer to prejudice against all so-called “Semitic” peoples,claiming that Arab peoples cannot be antisemites, as they are Semites themselves. This is fine in terms of etymological musing but not in terms of the history of language and thought, where terms acquire specific meanings over time that diverge from their etymological origins. In fact, antisemitism refers to a specific form a hatred that is mainly European in origin and focuses upon the Jewish people. Some scholars prefer to use the term antisemitism, without a hyphen and uncapitalized, since it refers to a form of hatred or a phenomenon rather than to a specific race or biologically determined group. Emil Fackenheim, for example, used the unhyphenated form for this reason.

This volume contains a selection of essays based on papers presented at a conference organized at Yale University and hosted by the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA) and the International Association for the Study of Antisemitism (IASA), entitled “Global Antisemitism: A Crisis of Modernity.”

The essays are written by scholars from a wide array of disciplines, intellectual backgrounds, and perspectives, and address the conference’s two inter-related areas of focus: global antisemitism and the crisis of modernity currently affecting the core elements of Western society and civilization. Rather than treating antisemitism merely as an historical phenomenon, the authors place it squarely in the contemporary context. As a result, this volume also provides important insights into the ideologies, processes, and developments that give rise to prejudice in the contemporary global context. This thought-provoking collection will be of interest to students and scholars of antisemitism and discrimination, as well as to scholars and readers from other fields.

The Yale Papers: Antisemitism in Comparative Perspective Paperback – July 21, 2015 by Various (Author), Charles Asher Small (Editor) (ISGAP)

Between 2006 and 2011, the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP) established and sponsored the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA), the first academic research center dedicated to the study of antisemitism based at a North American university. During its mandate, YIISA hosted a successful graduate and post-graduate fellowship program, research projects, and a high-level interdisciplinary seminar series at Yale University. The present volume – The Yale Papers: Antisemitism in Comparative Perspective – includes a selection of the papers presented in the framework of this seminar series, as well as several other working papers, conference papers, and lectures commissioned by or submitted to YIISA by eminent scholars and researchers from around the world. In addition to providing a fascinating overview and scholarly analysis of some of the many facets of historical and contemporary antisemitism around the globe, this volume stands as a solid and incontrovertible testament to the abundant – and, above all, productive – academic activity that characterized YIISA’s truncated tenure at Yale University.

Introduction, Charles Asher Small;
Anti-Israel Sentiment Predicts Antisemitism in Europe, Edward H. Kaplan and Charles A. Small;
The Road to an Internationally Accepted Definition of Antisemitism, Dina Porat;
Hitler’s Legacy: Islamic Antisemitism in the Middle East, Matthias Küntzel;
Continuities, Discontinuities, and Contingencies: Anti-Alienism, Antisemitism, and Anti-Zionism in Twentieth-Century South Africa, Milton Shain;
Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism: Cosmopolitan Reflections, David Hirsh;
This Green and Pleasant Land: Britain and the Jews, Shalom Lappin;
Never Again? When Holocaust Memory Becomes Empty Rhetoric, a Diplomatic Tool, and a Weapon against Israel, Walter Reich;
Leo Strauss as a Jewish Thinker, Steven Smith;
The Academic and Public Debate over the Meaning of the “New Antisemitism,” Roni Stauber;
Western Culture, the Holocaust, and the Persistence of Antisemitism, Catherine Chatterley;
Demonizing Israel: Political and Religious Consequences among Israelis, Yossi Klein Halevi;
Uncivil Society: Ideology, the Durban Strategy, and Antisemitism, Gerald Steinberg;
Victims of Success: How Envious Antisemitism Foments Genocidal Intent and Undermines Moral Outrage, Peter Glick;
Why Well-Intentioned Westerners Fail to Grasp the Dangers Associated with Islamic Antisemitism:
Some Arguments Considered, Neil Kressel;
Trauma in Disguise: The Effects of Antisemitism, Hadar Lubin;
Mixed Emotional Needs of Israeli-Jews as a Potential Source of Ambivalence in their Response to the Iranian Challenge, Nurit Shnabel and John F. Dovidio;
Global Antisemitism: Assault on Human Rights, Irwin Cotler;
The Principles and Practice of Iran’s Post-Revolutionary Foreign Policy, Brandon Friedman;
Missing from the Map: Feminist Theory and the Omission of Jewish Women, Jennifer Roskies;
1948 as Jihad, Benny Morris;
Jews in China: Legends, History, and New Perspectives, Pan Guang;
Our World of Contradictions: Antisemitism, Anti-Tutsi-ism, and Never Again, Berthe Kayitesi;
Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Diplomatic Progress in Combating Antisemitism, Michael Whine;
Memetics and the Viral Spread of Antisemitism through “Coded Images” in Political Cartoons, Yaakov Kirschen;
From Sayyid Qutb to Hamas: The Middle East Conflict and the Islamization of Antisemitism, Bassam Tibi;
Israel, Jordan, and Palestine: One State, Two States, or Three?, Asher Susser;
A “Paradise of Parasites”: Hannah Arendt, Antisemitism, and the Legacies of Empire, Dorian Bell;
“I Don’t Know Why They Hate Us – I Don’t Think We Did Anything Bad to Hurt Them,” Nora Gold.

The ISGAP Papers: Antisemitism in Comparative Perspective, Volume Two (Volume 2) Paperback – December 21, 2016 by Various (Author), Charles Asher Small (Editor) (ISGAP)

The “Antisemitism in Comparative Perspective” seminar series of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP) continues to generate a steady flow of high-quality presentations and papers on a wide range of topics relating to antisemitism. Between 2012 and 2014, ISGAP hosted seminars at Harvard University, McGill University, Columbia University Law School, Fordham University’s Lincoln Center Campus in New York, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, the University of Miami, Sapienza University (Rome), and other academic institutions. The present volume―a worthy follow-up to The Yale Papers: Antisemitism in Comparative Perspective (2015)―contains a selection of papers presented during this period. Like the seminars on which they are based, these papers cover topics that have profound implications for our understanding of contemporary antisemitism, its impact on Jews and non-Jews, and our efforts to combat this irrational yet enduring prejudice.


Charles Asher Small, Founder and Executive Director, Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP); Visiting Professor, Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, Tel Aviv University

The Roots and Themes of Turkish Antisemitism
Rıfat Bali, Research Fellow, Alberto Benveniste Center for Sephardic Studies and Culture, Religious Studies Department, École Pratique des Hautes Études, Sorbonne; Member, Ottoman-Turkish Sephardic Culture Research Center

The Roots and Current Implications of Iranian Antisemitism
Matthias Küntzel, Author and political scientist; research associate, Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (SICSA), Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Antisemitism in the Public and Private Discourse of Hezbollah
Matthew Levitt with Kelsey Segawa, Dr. Matthew Levitt is the Fromer-Wexler fellow and director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Kelsey Segawa is a research intern in the Washington Institute’s Stein program

Arab and Muslim Antisemitism: Reconsideration, Reflection, and Some Propositions
Salim Mansur, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Western Ontario, Canada

Radical Islamism and the Arab Upheaval
Meir Litvak, Associate Professor at the Department of Middle Eastern History, Director of the Alliance Center for Iranian Studies, and Senior Research Fellow at the Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University

Antisemitism among Muslims in Europe
Günther Jikeli, Visiting Associate Professor, Justin M. Druck Family Scholar, Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism at Indiana University. Research Fellow at ISGAP, the Moses Mendelssohn Center for European-Jewish Studies at Potsdam University, and the Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (GSRL/CNRS), Paris

Muslim Antisemitism: A Litmus Test for the West
Neil J. Kressel, Professor of Psychology and Director, Honors Program in the Social Sciences, William Paterson University of New Jersey

The Thinking Class and the Middle East: Pride and Prejudice vs. Intelligence
Michael Widlanski, Schusterman Visiting Professor, University of California, Irvine; Lecturer, Bar-Ilan University

Free Speech and Antisemitism: Comparative Approaches to Antisemitic Speech in the United States and Europe
Alexander Tsesis, Raymond and Mary Simon Chair in Constitutional Law and Professor of Law, Loyola University, Chicago, School of Law

Antisemitism, Higher Education, and the Law
Kenneth L. Marcus, President and General Counsel, Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, Washington, DC

The Swastika as a Symbol of Happiness: Polish Judges and Prosecutors in Antisemitic and Racist Hate Cases
Aleksandra Gliszczyńska-Grabias, Research Fellow, ISGAP; Junior Researcher, Poznań Human Rights Centre, Institute of Legal Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences

The Forgotten Nuremberg Hate Speech Case: Otto Dietrich and the Future of Persecution Law
Gregory S. Gordon, Associate Dean (Development/External Affairs) and Director, Research Postgraduates Programme at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Faculty of Law; former Prosecutor, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and United States Department of Justice; J.D., U.C. Berkeley School of Law

Misunderstanding of the Phenomenon of Antisemitism in Some Recent Influential Studies on the Holocaust
Dan Michman, Head of the International Institute for Holocaust Research and Incumbent of the John Najmann Chair of Holocaust Studies, Yad Vashem; Professor of Modern Jewish History and Chair of the Arnold and Leona Finkler Institute of Holocaust Research, Bar-Ilan University