Steve Levy

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Recovering Politician

THEN: Republican Candidate for New York Governor (2010); Suffolk County (NY) Executive (2003-2011); Member, New York State Assembly (2000-2003) NOW: President of Common Sense Strategies, a political, governmental and business consulting firm Full Biography: link

Steve Levy: Mandela

Mandela, like Gandhi and King before him, taught us how forgiveness and humility can be the most potent forces for change and justice.

Nelson Mandela didn’t just change the world, he changed how we see the world.

Steve Levy: Dear Mr. President — Try this Mideast Solution

When it was announced that President Obama was going to be visiting Israel I thought it timely to forward my humble suggestion as to how we can have a breakthrough in the  Palestinian-Israeli conflict. How about buying from the Palestinians the land they once lived on and is now the state of Israel.

For the last several decades, negotiators had tried to curb the violence by seeking a two-state solution.  Israel would claim a hands-off policy to a neighboring Palestinian State while the Palestinians would simultaneously acknowledge Israel’s right to exist.

The reason this proposal never moved forward is because it did not get to the root of the anger that lies beneath this controversy.  In order to fashion a lasting peace, we first have to look back to the manner in which the conflict erupted upon the founding of Israel in 1948.

There were four major players in this scenario:  the United Nations, the British, the Jewish people and the Palestinians.  It is hard to say that any one of these entities was the bad guy.  Millions of Jews who were uprooted by Nazi tyranny were, after World War II, in a state of shock with no home and needing to regroup.  The U.N., with the best of intentions, looked to provide these dispersed Jewish populations with a singular homeland where they could grieve for their dead and start anew.  The British would retreat from its colony after having tried unsuccessfully to fashion a Jewish homeland since the 1917 Balfour Declaration. It was a magnanimous gesture.  The only problem is that they created the new nation of Israel on land that many Palestinians had called their own.  Palestinians were actually uprooted and forced to flee the area.  So, one can see the burning hostility that would boil within the Palestinian people.

Steve LevyBy the same token, it is hard to expect the Jewish population at this point to have rejected this offer to control their own destiny through their own government.  The problem comes in when some inject into the argument that one people has more of a God given right to the land than another.  I can’t imagine the person on the losing end of that argument feeling very good about themselves.

The Jewish people were merely trying to survive in peace.  They were not seeking to conquer their neighbors or to hurt anyone.  On the other hand, an angry Palestinian population that was kicked off their land, was feeling a sense of humiliation. They have mistakenly concentrated their anger upon the Jewish population and have vowed revenge. Thus we had attacks on Israel in 1967 and again in 1973.

More recently, Israelis have been bombarded with haphazard shellings from over their border.  The restraint shown by the Israeli people is incredible.  I doubt that Americans would be so restrained if we were being bombed every day from a bordering state.  A foreign power attacked our buildings once and we rightfully responded with an overwhelming military fury.

Many Arab leaders, who are despots in their own right, have used anti-Semitism as a way to create a nationalistic jingoism to distract their poverty stricken constituents from the leaders’ evil ways.  Their schools teach their children to despise Jews are the Devil.  Is it any wonder that these younger generations grow up with such hatred toward the Jewish people.

But Israel, America and others seeking the long-term survival of Israel must understand the humiliation and the frustration that many of these generations have harbored – in part due to the repression that they face  through occupation, and even more so from the fact that they were kicked off of their land without any compensation.

What if the U.N. would have been more sensitive to the Palestinian people who were displaced back in 1948?  What if instead of kicking them off their land, they offered to buy their land?  Israel could have been created without the resentment and the humiliation that came about.  Perhaps it’s not too late for that type of justice.  Perhaps the way to finally create lasting peace in this area is to recognize that Israel has a right to exist and that the Palestinians who were displaced have a right to compensation for the land they lost.

So, instead of us wasting billions of dollars in federal aid to thankless powers such as Pakistan, Egypt and Afghanistan, perhaps our money would be better spent in a one-time payment to the Palestinians for the land that was previously taken from them.  The compensation would go far beyond helping people in poverty; it would create a sense of justice for those who feel they were wronged.  Only when that sense of resentment is eradicated from the situation, will there be peace of mind for the Palestinian population and peace for all the region that lasts.

Steve Levy: Top Ten Game Changes of the 2012 Election

We welcome our newest contributing recovering politician to the RP:  Steve Levy, who served as a Suffolk County Executive from 2004-2011, a New York State Assemblyman and was a Republican candidate for Governor of New York in 2010. Steve currently is President of Common Sense Strategies, a political, governmental and business consulting firm.


1.  Occupy Wall Street

This movement, which started as a grassroots, diverse consortium of the disaffected and ultimately morphed into a cabal of old time anarchists and communists, is what gave Obama his sense of direction.  Obama handlers knew there were few accomplishments to harp on, given the stagnant economy, but by focusing public anger on the 1%, they could help galvanize their base while also pointing the finger at the greedy rich folks they could claim were the cause of the mess they inherited.

2.  The Greatest Convention Ever?

History will show the 2012 Democratic Convention as being the best of this century and possibly any convention over the last fifty years.  It played to every constituency in the base,  motivating them in difficult times and used President Clinton to lay the blame for today’s woes on the Bush administration. Romney could easily have accentuate the hypocrisy of  Democrats blaming the current problems on the Bush administration.  Economists agree that Bush policies had little to do with the crash of 2008.  The culprit  was the deregulation of Wall Street by repealing the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999, ironically signed by Democratic President Clinton. The Romney campaign allowed the Democrats to establish traction on the term “Don’t Go Back.”

3.  Define Your Opponent Early

Politics 101 is to seek to define your opponent in a negative way as early as possible.  Politics 101A is for the affected candidate to respond quickly and forcefully.  The Democrats wisely adhered to the former strategy, while the Republicans ignored the latter to their detriment.  In the lull after the Republican primary, the Democrats  spent a good share of their money pummeling Romney, defining him through his association with Bain Capital.  He became the out-sourcing, job cutting, detached  Daddy Warbucks who could not identify with the average worker,  It took away Romney’s narrative that he was the sharp businessman who knew how to fix the economy.   Romney could easily have  defended himself as being the saver of jobs.  Staples, Sports Authority and other companies survived because of his intervention.  The initial jobs that were lost after Bain’s acquisitions would have been lost anyway.  By the time Romney finally sought to aggressively erase this caricature at the debate, it was too late.

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Steve Levy: Top Ten Game Changes of the 2012 Election

Election Night: Join Former Pols in LIVE, Interactive Online Debate As Returns Come In

Tuesday night, beginning at 6PM EST, our contributing recovering politicians will be offering their instant thoughts on the election returns, speechifying and mainstream media coverage via Twitter. We will be broadcasting their live Twitter feed here on The Recovering Politician home page.

Even better, YOU are invited to join in the debate. You can participate in the discussion by using you own Twitter account and adding the hashtag #RecoveringPol to your tweets. We encourage you to participate through the evening, and please free free to engage, question, and challenge our contributing RPs.

So please join us Tuesday night at 6PM EST, until the wee hours Wednesday morning — and who knows, maybe even longer…