Welcome to my first blog. I have no idea how many viewers will actually read this blog, or how many, if any, will ever want to comment on it. Maybe it will only be for posterity, for my children (if I force them to read it….) and other people close to me. Maybe there will be more of you. Probably it will only be for me to vent my frustrations and to air my views for my own personal satisfaction. There are many, many difficult issues that cannot be defined simply and those and other things will be covered in my blogs.

Be that as it may, it is important for me to make some disclosures so that if there is anyone one out there who will bother to read this blog, they should know who I am. So here goes: My name is Ra’anan Ben-Zur. Most people call me Ronnie but my blogging “avatar” is going to be Ra’anan. That is how I was born and it is time to go back to origins.

I am an Israeli who has been living in the US for 17 years now (since 1993), legally I may add (especially as at the moment when I write this blog the new immigration law passed by Arizona is all the rage).

As some of my blogs will relate to foreign affairs, the fact that I am an Israeli is of some importance. I have in the past been very critical of the Israeli government on many occasions but if we come down to basics, in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel on the whole is more just and right. There is no pure right or wrong, no one side is 100% right or wrong, Israel made many errors, mistakes and bad choices. On balance though, it has done more right than wrong and its position on the conflict is more justified than that of the Palestinians. That is my view today, as it has been so for many years and unless a major change occurs, I do not expect to change my position in my lifetime.

This is a good opportunity to discuss my life: I am 55 years old. I have six amazing children and one dear, beautiful grandson.

English is not my “first language” and as such it is not as perfect and/or as fluent as I would want it to be. I am always ashamed of the fact that I write with spelling and grammar errors so please forgive me if you notice those.

I am a businessman and I have always been my own boss. I’ve never had to look for a job or face a job interview. I was born into comfortable standard of living. Maybe not “silver spoon” worthy, but I never had to face real difficult day-to-day choices about consumption.

Of course, that is not to say that I never faced difficult times—I did. After the attacks of 9/11, my business suffered badly and I had to tighten the belt materially. I did that proudly and without any shame. It worked and my business recovered very strongly. I never, however, faced the need to make real hard financial decisions or live on a tight budget so I am very aware of the fact that I never really knew hardship and it makes me humble when in the presence of people who did face it.

I am a real estate developer with strong emphasize on hotels. Times in my business are very tough now, too. I am certainly not flushed with business success and am again in a belt-tightening mode. Whether or not I will recover again and to what extent, will surely be the subject of some ongoing blogs.

I am very conservative in my economic philosophy. I have seen firsthand the rise (at least from the early 1960s) and fall of Communism. I have seen the fallacy of socialism first hand, both in Israel and in Europe where I lived and worked for a long time, too.

I am a very strong national security advocate. There is evil in the world. There are people who will never cease their murderous and terrible plans unless they are defeated by force. You cannot gain the hearts and minds of everyone with good deeds. There is a place for “soft power” (the relatively new buzz word for Europeans and unfortunately some U.S. administration people, too) but unfortunately soft power cannot work without the umbrella of strong, military-backed power.

I am very liberal when it comes to social issues. I believe that as long as things are legal we should not judge other people’s morals. Of course many things that are immoral are also illegal but generally when it comes to consensual relationships between people—let them be, subject to no force, no violence, no coercion—legal.

I strongly believe in the freedom of the media and fully support the statement by one of the great U.S. presidents, Thomas Jefferson, who said, “If I had to choose between government without newspapers, and newspapers without government, I wouldn’t hesitate to choose the latter.” However a big portion of my blogs will be devoted to criticizing the media. The media today has become completely irresponsible, very biased, shallow, not reporting the facts, allowing players to manipulate it, and have started taking part in forming the agenda rather than reporting on it. I believe that the media is one of the most critical elements generating the overall weakness of the Western, free society, world of ours and the strengthening of the totalitarian regimes in the world. These are harsh words but I will support them in future blogs with specific examples.

No nation is perfect and I have many things to criticize the U.S. about. However, on balance, my view is that the world is lucky, possibly blessed, that the U.S.A. exists, that it was formed by giants, intellectual and practical, that the constitution of the U.S.A. is the second most important document ever written (after the Bible) and that without this country, the world would be a much worse place than it already is.

Thank you, U.S.A.

So…these are my thoughts for today. What are yours?