Questions for prospective boss

Questions for prospective boss
What is your management philosophy
If you walk past a meeting and there is laughter - what do you think
How do you show value in this organization
What are the plans of upper management for this department
Explain the organization structure
How do you make decisions
What do you enjoy about your job
What is the communications plan
What are your day-to-day responsibilities
What is the long term outlook for this job
What is the company policy on training and seminars
What is the decision making aspects of this job
Describe an ideal employee
Describe how performance reviews are conducted and received
What happened to the last person on this job
What is the turnover in this job, department and company
Why do you release/file employees
What are the challenges of this job


Can Obama recognize the “Nakba” Nakba?

President Barack Obama came to town riding on a series of assumptions about the Middle East. But the region's harsh realities have contradicted his fanciful notions. 
Demanding a settlement freeze increased Israeli mistrust and Palestinian extremism. The "Arab spring" proved that the Palestinian problem was not the keystone to Middle East progress, or world peace. This week's "Nakba Day" violence revealed that Israel's existence since 1948, not its occupation since 1967, remains the Palestinians' target. Obama must recognize that this "Nakba" nakba – the Palestinians' catastrophic reading of Israel's founding as a catastrophe – damages peace prospects. Yet again, Palestinians seem more committed to destroying Israel than building their own state.
Although outsiders cannot tell Palestinians to ignore their anguish that resulted from Israel's founding, Nakba Day is a new, post-Oslo, 1990s phenomenon.  Yasir Arafat inaugurated the day in 1998. It feeds Palestinians' worst instincts – freezing time, distorting history, wallowing in victimhood, dodging responsibility, vilifying Israel, treating the conflict as a zero-sum game. Mahmoud Abbas's May 16 New York Times op-ed epitomizes these vices with ahistorical statements claiming: "Shortly" after the 1947 UN Partition declaration, "Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened." Reversing chronology and causation, Abbas ignores that: Palestinians rejected the partition plan; many Palestinians fled voluntarily; Arab armies attacked as Israel became a State, not because of any Israeli action.
Yet the Palestinians have snookered the world, seeking a free pass for violence, incitement, delegitimization, exterminationism, and intransigence.  World leaders function as the great enablers of Palestinian dysfunction, rationalizing Palestinians' political culture of negation and hatred, while according them special treatment, including only treating Palestinians' refugee status as hereditary, whereas tens of millions of other refugees from the 1940s settled down.
Every President must make post-inauguration adjustments, replacing outsiders' presumptions with the insider's perceptions. Obama's Middle East-related rigidity is not some idiosyncratic shortcoming.  He is imprisoned in a groupthink reading that is popular and resistant to reality.
Too many elite Americans mistakenly compare Palestinians' struggle for statehood with African-Americans' struggle for civil rights (when most Europeans hear "occupation" they think Nazi- or Soviet- which is even more inaccurate and problematic). In his Cairo speech, by reminding Palestinians that American blacks rarely resorted to violence, despite "suffer[ing] the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation," Obama made the comparison. George W. Bush's Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was more explicit, equating her childhood miseries in the segregated South with Palestinian suffering, while comparing Mahmoud Abbas to Martin Luther King, Jr.
This analogy is, in my opinion, sloppy, perverse yet irresistible to many Americans. Americans usually view the world through homemade prisms, with the civil rights movement looming as a compelling, heroic and digestible historical standard. Additionally, Palestinian propaganda has pushed this comparison for decades. The UN's New Big Lie in 1975 labeling Zionism racism implicitly cast the Palestinians as "noble blacks" and the Israelis as "oppressive rednecks."
The false analogy distorts the story into one of racial oppression not national conflict. This reading sanctions Palestinian violence, given our abhorrence of racial tyranny. Perpetuating the "Nakba" nakba treats Israel's very founding as its original sin, like slavery is America's original sin, which had to be undone violently by Civil War. This falsehood also views Palestinians as passive, less responsible players, feeding into a modern liberal condescension empowering those perceived as white rather than those labeled black (ignoring the light-skinned Palestinians and dark-skinned Israelis).
By contrast, recognizing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a national conflict – linked to the Arab-Israeli conflict – restores balance. It makes Palestinians responsible for their choices. It highlights their power, as part of the broader Arab assault against Israel, which, unlike the Civil Rights movement, threatens Israel, seeking its destruction.  Understanding this fight as a national struggle among more evenly-balanced forces also explains Israeli sensitivity to Palestinian rhetoric. Calling Israel's founding, its very existence, a catastrophe, delegitimizes Israel and dehumanizes Israelis, justifying violence against this supposedly disaster of a state.
Restoring historical balance and moral accountability would also restore mutuality. Imagine the outrage if Israeli leaders spoke about Palestinians the way leading Palestinians speak, write, teach, preach, and broadcast about Israel. Imagine the scandal if Israel ever proposed let alone adopted anything paralleling the Hamas Charter's anti-Semitic and genocidal wording.  Note that, this month, while Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is volunteering new concessions, President Abbas is embracing Hamas terrorists.
Jews' culture of acute self-criticism juxtaposed against the Palestinians' culture of self-righteous condemnation creates absurd imbalances. While Jews, mired in guilt, anguish over how to validate detractors like the playwright Tony Kushner who is accused of spreading Palestinian lies alleging Israel committed sins like "ethnic cleansing;" Palestinians, in their enforced no-criticism zone, feel their biased accusations are justified, yet again dodging any responsibility. Similarly, minor Israeli abuses are treated as major human rights crimes; major Palestinian abuses are ignored.
The multi-dimensional war between Israelis and Palestinians includes a clash of narratives. As America's story-teller-in-chief, President Obama can shape a narrative that brings the parties closer -- or divides them further. Obsessing about Israel's settlements, exaggerating the conflict's international significance, excusing Hamas's genocidal rhetoric, or encouraging the "Nakba" nakba intensifies Palestinian intransigence and Israeli insecurity. Barack Obama must affirm that "Threatening Israel with destruction – or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews – is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of [Holocaust] memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve."
He said that in Cairo. Now, Obama should show he means it, by insisting that all parties, especially the Palestinians, end incitement, stop demonizing others, and learn to preserve their own national stories, including tales of woe, without using words that reveal a collective desire to destroy those whose trust you need to achieve peace.

Gil Troy is Professor of History at McGill University and a Shalom Hartman Research Fellow in Jerusalem. The author of "Why I Am A Zionist: Israel, Jewish Identity and the Challenges of Today," his latest book is "The Reagan Revolution: A Very Short Introduction."giltroy@gmail.com


Britain's reaction to bin Laden's assassination: surely some mistake?

Britain's reaction to bin Laden's assassination: surely some mistake?

William Hague and David Cameron have lavishly praised the Americans for assassinating bin Laden. Yet  when the Israelis were suspected (but never proved) to have assassinated Hamas front-man Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, Hague and Cameron were so apoplectic with rage that they expelled an Israeli diplomat from London in protest. 

This was despite the fact that Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was the person responsible for shipping Iranian weapons to Hamas in Gaza. His work posed a direct threat to Israel's survival. In contrast, bin Laden no longer represented any kind of analogous threat to the USA.

And here are some other differences worth thinking about:
  • in the bin Laden assassination several civilians were also killed
  • in the al-Mabhouh assassination no other person was harmed
  • the bin Laden assassination took place in a country that is supposed to be America's 'ally'
  • the al-Mabhouh assassination took place in a country that is a sworn enemy of Israel.
  • al-Mabhouh was personally responsible for the slaughter of several Israeli hostages.
  • as despicable as bin Laden was he had never personally murdered any Americans. 
 And while on the subject of British hypocrisy has anybody noticed the deafening silence when NATO airstrikes kill children in Libya? Funny how the argument about 'despots using civilians as human shields' is used as a valid defence in this case but is never allowed to be a valid defence by Israel. 

Finally, while the news on bin Laden is obviously welcome, it has two extremely worrying long-term implications.

  1. It will enable Obama to claim a personal military victory that could propel him to a second term in the White House (notice his consant use of the first person in his speech today). Such a term will go a long way to achieving bin Laden's objectives anyway.
  2. The media blackout of all other stories will enable Assad in Syria to crush the rebellion there with even greater brutality and speed, thereby possibly ensuring the survival of the Syria/Iran axis which poses the greatest threat to the world.
Update: Guess who has condemned the bin Laden assassination decrying "the killing of an Arab holy warrior"? Cameron and Hague's new best friend Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. What's the betting you won't hear about that in the British media?

posted by Edgar Davidson @ 4:09 PM


Sir, – As our prime minister prepares for his forthcoming visit to the US ("Big speech or big sleep," Diplomacy, May 13), I would urge him for the sake of his supporters who may be intimidated by the constant barrage of big lies that have become "conventional wisdom" to clearly state what I believe is the view of the overwhelming number of Israeli Jews.
We are not occupiers of anybody's land. State lands beyond the 1967 borders came into Israel's possession as the result of a defensive battle. Palestinians never owned these lands and Jordan has relinquished all claims.
Both from the point of view of international law and historical association, Israel has the strongest claim. Nevertheless, it stands ready to make accommodations for a Palestinian entity as a neighbor living in peace, mutual respect and cooperation.
Israel owes the Palestinians nothing. It is up to them to articulate their vision of statehood, their role in the region and their relationship with neighbors.
Should they do so they will find a generous response on the part of Israel.
Binyamin Netanyahu will never have a more sympathetic audience than AIPAC and the US Congress, nor a more auspicious time as the present. Let these words be heard, for they are the words of truth.