No matter what news my grandmother, Myra Cohen, heard – whether it was "Grandma, there's been a terrible flood in India" or "Grandma, the Dodgers just won the World Series" - she always had the same response: "Is it good for the Jews or bad for the Jews?"
Well, last week's Israeli election was VERY bad for the Jews.
Before anyone accuses me of being a self-loathing Jew, my Zionist credentials are at least as good as yours.
My father, who was an Army surplus dealer in Los Angeles after World War II, smuggled guns to the Palmach, the forerunner of the Israeli Defense Force, during the 1948 War of Independence.
The State Department had issued regulations that made it illegal to ship weapons to the Jews in Palestine. But there was a loophole: The ban applied only to working weapons, and a rifle without a firing pin wasn't considered a working weapon.
So Dad would send a shipment of 10,000 surplus M-1 rifles without pins to the Palmach; and his business partner, Leo Fenton, would send them 10,000 firing pins via a separate shipment.
My brother Steve was a big supporter of Israel, too. If you go to the town of Hatzor, you'll see a cultural center, gym, school computer center and a soccer field, all named after him and his wife, Barbara, who raised the funds to build them.
I grew up watching movies like "Exodus," starring Paul Newman as Ari Ben Canaan (a thinly veiled portrayal of Ariel Sharon, BTW), and I rooted for Israel against her neighbors the way you'd root for David against Goliath.
Ironically, all that changed at the moment of Israel's greatest triumph: the 1967 Six-Day War that added Gaza and the West Bank to her possessions. All of a sudden, she didn't look so much like David anymore.
Worse, she now had responsibility for millions of new people who resent their subjugation and have a birth rate so high, it's only a matter of time before they're a majority.
The central question has always been: What is Israel, which was founded as a Jewish democracy, going to do with them?
Netanyhu's inflammatory warning on election day about the danger of Arab voters doesn't give much hope that they'll be granted equal political status, which means Isreal would no longer be a democracy.
The other alternative is giving them equal status, which means Israel would no longer be a Jewish state. It's a no-win situation.
The obvious solution is to create a Palestinian state that will take them off Israel's hands, but Netanyahu now says that's out of the question, too.
Meanwhile, he's busy building new Jewish settlements on the West Bank and burning bridges with the only ally that counts – the United States – by meddling in American politics and turning U.S. support for Israel into a partisan issue.
We know why the Republicans are doing this: It's a handy club to beat Obama over the head with. Besides, the reason a large part of their base supports Netanyahu so fervently is that they believe a Jewish state is a necessary prerequisite for The Rapture – to which no Jews will be invited, of course.
But why is Israel doing this? It breaks my heart to see her on such a suicidal path.