Jewish World Review May 22, 2003 / 20 Iyar, 5763
Edward I. Koch
It's lots of fun to remain relevant
http://www.jewishworldreview.com | Memorial Day -- formerly known as Decoration Day -- is upon us. Some might not know the holiday was originally celebrated on May 30th to memorialize our Civil War dead and now honors the dead from all wars fought by Americans. In cemeteries across America, the graves of veterans will be decorated with the flag they fought for so bravely. The freedoms we enjoy today, we owe to them.
When Memorial Day weekend comes around, I think about the fact that Labor Day and autumn leaves are not far behind. I always seem to be looking one season ahead. Maybe that's because I'm at that stage in life when the days go by faster than a breath. I recall being told long ago that for the young, time does not move fast enough and, for the old, it moves far too fast. I have found that to be true. So, what's the lesson? Make the most of every day. You already knew that, of course. Yet, it bears repeating.
Adulthood is the pinnacle of our lives. I have repeatedly said I have no intention of ever retiring. I intend, assuming my mental faculties and physical stamina hold up, to work until the day I die.
For most of us, life requires structure. That normally means getting up every weekday morning and going to a place of employment. Many long for retirement. However, there are plenty of retirees who have learned that retirement can bring with it irrelevance. I am convinced, without having any statistics, that retirement can also bring a quicker death.
Now let's move on to various subjects big and small.
First, throw away your non-stick pans. As the nonstick substance wears thin and breaks down, it releases poisonous substances into the food you are cooking. It isn't good for you. Just use more olive oil and butter to keep the skillet slick for eggs, etc.
More important and closer to my heart is the tourist boycott of France. It is working, and the number of Americans traveling to France is way down. Keep it up. The Chirac administration placed every obstacle in our way while we pursued regime change in Iraq. Thirty percent of the French, according to a poll by the French newspaper, LeMonde, hoped Iraq would win. President Bush has made clear that the United States government will not forget the betrayal by this NATO ally. The French forget or resent our having saved them from near total defeat at the hands of the Kaiser's troops in 1917 and our having liberated them from occupation by the Nazis in 1940.
Meanwhile, the war against terrorism goes on. We should keep in mind that, while our leaders, for tactical and strategic reasons, continually state we are not involved in a cultural war with Islam, we in fact are. Wahhabism, the national religion of Saudi Arabia, which is spreading throughout the Muslim world, is supported by Saudi money, Saudi imams and Saudi terrorists. According to Professor Bernard Lewis of Princeton's Near Eastern Studies Department and the preeminent Western scholar on Islam, Wahhabism does threaten the Judeo-Christian world. Professor Lewis states, "The Wahhabi demand, as far as I know, is not that Christians and Jews convert to Islam, but that they accept the supremacy of Islam and the rule of the Muslim state. On that condition, they may continue in the practice of their religion."
The U.S. and, hopefully, other nations as well, will not surrender to these demands out of fear of terrorism by Muslim fanatics. Today, these fanatics are living -- many openly, others in sleeper cells -- in Western countries, including France, Germany, Great Britain and elsewhere throughout Europe. They are capable of perpetrating and have launched attacks against the U.S. and Israel as well as other countries, including Muslim countries in Africa and Asia, the most recent being Morocco. Some European countries evince a willingness to compromise with terrorists, standing silently by as Jews are singled out -- for example in France -- thereby encouraging these fanatics. In the midst of these threats, America, under President Bush, has stood tall and has been guided by the President's September 20, 2001 declaration before a joint session of Congress: "Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."
Britain is one nation that has been with us. So why is our government so slow in honoring Prime Minister Tony Blair, our magnificent ally, who supported us against daunting opposition, including from the radicals in his own Labor Party who almost succeeded in dumping him as Prime Minister?
Here at home, it's not too late to send to jail the stock analysts, stock brokers and investment bankers responsible for defrauding and looting the stock portfolios of millions of Americans to jail. Figuratively speaking, hanging them from lampposts would be the appropriate punishment, if it were not for the Eighth Amendment.
As we mark another Memorial Day, we have much to be thankful for.
It's lots of fun to remain relevant.
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