Another Tack: Zissel means Sweetie

Last photo of little Zissel at the Western Wall, a short time before her murder

Last photo of little Zissel at the Western Wall, a short time before her murder

Oftentimes what is barely mentioned – if at all – by the world’s media is (or ought to be) as thought-provoking as what the talking heads focus on with undisguised relish.

The fetching face of three-months-old Chaya Zissel Braun, for example, was missing from front pages around the globe and it was never featured on any foreign TV news outlets. She was murdered (as was 22-year-old student Karen Yemima Mosquera) last week by an Arab terrorist who homicidally rammed his vehicle into a crowd of passengers waiting at a light rail stop. But to observers abroad this amounted to dog bites man.

Uninteresting. Been there. Heard that before. Jewish whines. Who cares?

Newsroom groupthink doesn’t only trickle down to conformist reporters on the scene who quickly figure out what the chiefs want to hear and what they shouldn’t be bothered with. The signals from atop the journalistic hierarchy also determine for news-consumers what constitutes news and what does not.

Media linchpins put together the current-events agenda and they shape mass awareness. Perforce they dictate public opinion. What doesn’t pass through their selective filter will forever remain esoteric knowledge – even in these days of social networking on the World Wide Web. Continue reading

What Moderation?

Reyhaneh JabbariA young woman – 26-year-old Reyhaneh Jabbari – was hanged last Saturday from the gallows in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. Her crime was self-defense.  She struck down an attacker as he attempted to rape her when she was still a teenager in 2007.

President Hassan Rouhani, who won election last year on a purportedly liberal reformist platform, failed to intervene and commute the death sentence imposed back in 2009.

If anything, this tragedy underscores the gaping chasm between the regime’s “make-nice” affectations toward the international community and the unchanging face of the harsh ayatollah rule at home.

Jabbari’s sad story exposes Iranian hypocrisy and double-dealing vis-à-vis the West, which could barely contain its alacrity to ease sanctions on Tehran as soon as Rouhani was sworn in. Continue reading

Anarchic Reality

unnamedFor quite a few hours it was assumed last Wednesday that terrorists had launched the attack from Sinai on IDF troops patrolling, inside Israel, along the border with Egypt. It wasn’t far-fetched conjecture considering that the extremist Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis rushed to claim responsibility. Wounding an Israeli officer and her adjutant was a prestige-booster.

Later, however, it transpired that this was a drug smuggling caper gone wrong. Nonetheless, there is no cause for any sigh of relief here.

The undeniable fact of Sinai’s anarchic reality is that the lines between crime and terrorism are so blurred that they often become altogether indistinguishable. Sinai’s rampaging outlaws dabble in everything indiscriminately. All their diverse illegal pursuits are intrinsically intertwined and mutually beneficial. Continue reading

Another Tack: The 14th Century in Washington

Medieval manuscript showing Jews burned at the stake in Flanders according to the popular antidote to the Black Death

Medieval manuscript showing Jews burned at the stake in Flanders according to the popular antidote to the Black Death

In all fairness, it’s not just the Obama Administration which is fond of insinuating that somehow Israel is to blame for all that ails the Mideast. This has been the underlying theme of the US State Department since Israel’s birth in 1948.

The variations in the stance vis-à-vis Israel derive from the intensity of antipathy – the subtlety and sophistication of the tone in which it’s expressed. Given its strident hectoring, the Obama Administration is doubtless America’s least-subtle and least-sophisticated ever.

While past presidents and their secretaries of state took greater pains to pretend not to side with glaring Arab anti-Israel falsehoods, such niceties are all but absent from Barack Obama’s and John Kerry’s rhetoric.  Anti-Israel idioms and calumnies are repeated by them as an obvious and infallible politically-correct gospel.

And thus Kerry had the colossal gall last week – significantly at a White House ceremony for the Muslim fest of Eid al-Adha – to claim no less that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (i.e. the Jewish state’s struggle for survival) bolsters the mass appeal of Islamic State radicalism.

Hardly knocking Israelis for a loop, the State Department’s spokeswoman later accused us of getting it all wrong.  In deadpan delivery she insisted that Kerry “did not make a linkage between Israel and the growth of ISIL [Islamic State]. Period.”

But her boss’s words speak for themselves and belie her assertion. Continue reading

Judicial Imperialism

On the sidewalks of south Tel Aviv

On the sidewalks of south Tel Aviv

The High Court of Justice has dealt Israeli democracy a grievous blow this week when for the second time in a year it nixed the notion of detaining illegal infiltrators and struck down Knesset legislation on the matter.

The operative upshot is that 2000 detainees will soon be back on the crime-ridden streets of south Tel Aviv – which has been turned into a festering lawless African enclave – exacerbating the already dreadful plight of its Israeli residents.
Worse yet, it means that all Africans have now been told that if they only manage to sneak into the Jewish state, they’d become legally invulnerable despite having willfully broken Israeli law by their illegal entry. This is a potent message.

Continue reading

Another Tack: Hey Diddle, Fatah and the Fiddle

if we only pay up, the cat will ably strum jolly tunes on its fiddle [Arthur Rackham’s illustration, 1913]

if we only pay up, the cat will ably strum jolly tunes on its fiddle [Arthur Rackham’s illustration, 1913]

In her authoritative clipped cadences, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni admonishes those of us who refuse to sweeten Ramallah figurehead Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah cohorts with “daring initiatives.” She sternly disapproves of Israelis who “are not willing to pay the price of a diplomatic arrangement.”

We might of course nitpick and wonder whether a diplomatic arrangement is in fact attainable. And if so, we might further press and inquire why such arrangement hadn’t already been attained.

We might point out that the moderation Livni ascribes to Abbas connotes goodwill and that a minimal supply thereof should have facilitated some arrangement long ago – long before the advent on our scene of Hamas’s religious bad-guys. Secular enemies, as per Livni’s idiosyncratic political lexicon, aren’t quite enemies – certainly not extremists or terrorists.

So why then the absence of peace? Are we to understand that she pins the blame on Israel’s supposed small-minded stinginess?

We could ask in what gospel it’s written that diplomatic arrangements (which are hardly irrevocable) must be purchased with hard territorial and strategic currency (which cannot thereafter be recovered). But since in her world Livni writes the rules, this question is unlikely to be answered. Continue reading

Another Tack: Old Antipathies Die Hard

Feisal I, arbitrarily declared King of Syria and later King of Iraq [1919 portrait by renowned British painter Augustus John]

Feisal I, arbitrarily declared King of Syria and later King of Iraq [1919 portrait by renowned British painter Augustus John]

Why are the White House, Whitehall and hubs of diplomacy in all the capitals of the EU so irascibly indignant over Israel’s decision to declare 400 hectares in Gush Etzion state lands?

Under whichever conceivable future compromise (if any) this minuscule area is sure to remain Israeli, as it was even before Israeli independence.

The Etzion Bloc fell to Arab besiegers in 1948 and its Jewish defenders were cold-bloodedly massacred after they had already surrendered. Destroyed and desolate, it languished under Jordanian occupation for merely 19 years. Nonetheless, the dysfunctional family of nations decrees that for the sake of world peace the Etzion Bloc must forever revert to its brief erstwhile judenfrei status.

Why? Because old antipathies die hard. In some cases they just never die at all, the staggering volatility around us notwithstanding. Otherwise sterling democracies still hold fast to their archaic prejudices despite the dizzying flux and scary savagery of our times – especially in the logic-defying Middle East.

Until lately hardly any statesmen, observers or scholars dared question the region’s national divisions or the borders delineating them. The sole exception, not unexpectedly, was their inimical perception of the Jewish state’s legitimacy.  To all and sundry it seemed that Iraq, Syria or Libya were ancient nations with distinct characters and cohesive identities all their own. Continue reading

Another Tack: Mideastern Mirror Mania

Hamastan lustily celebrated the triumph it proclaimed absurdly among Gaza’s ruins

Hamastan lustily celebrated the triumph it proclaimed absurdly among Gaza’s ruins

Anyone with pretensions to make sense of what parades as reality in the Mideast must first know mirrors. Nothing in this region is what it seems at first glance and that’s as true for Jews as it is for Arabs. In order to figure anything out, it’s essential to first examine the particular mirror used by each side.

The Israeli mirror is illuminated by ultra-powerful and harsh fluorescent beams from any and all possible directions. Theoretically, the resultant reflection is super-true-to-life. However, the intense brightness is unforgiving and uncomplimentary. It seems to bring out and accentuate apparent flaws whose existence in natural conditions is highly doubtful. It makes us look bad even when we strike quite a fine figure.

Overly analytic and always breast-beating, we Jews can take an ordinary mirror and mercilessly turn it into an instrument for searing our own image in our own eyes. That is something we’ve been uniquely accomplished at for thousands of years throughout our long history, going back to biblical days. We always second-guessed and always pondered where we went wrong.

It can be stated with no hesitation that there’s no other nation with an analogous predilection for heaping so much scorn on itself. Continue reading

Another Tack: Genuinely Knocked For A Loop?

The British-bred terrorists before they set out to bomb Mike’s Place - Hanif on the right and Sharif on the left

The British-bred terrorists before they set out to bomb Mike’s Place – Hanif on the right and Sharif on the left

The heart of any feeling human being must go out to the shaken Brits.  They have duly earned our most compassionate commiseration. Out of the blue they were suddenly confronted, most unpleasantly, with the information that American journalist James Foley had been beheaded by a born and bred Londoner. Ouch!

Intelligence analysts at MI5 and MI6 think the decapitator in-the-most-hallowed-name-of-Allah is 23-year-old Abdel-Majed Abdel-Bary, who joined the Islamic State jihad in Syria last year.

The widespread sentiment uttered by the usual politically correct chorus of politicos (whose electoral prospects now to no small measure depend on Muslim votes) was one of utter consternation. It’s a no-no not to chime in with the accepted multicultural babble about the delights of diversity and not to aver that British Muslims are loyal members of British society.  It’s jolly de rigueur to claim that they abide by western codes of democracy and decency.

Hence the declamations of dismay at the nasty surprise that the rapper L Jinny could be “Jihadist John” – the executioner who brought Foley’s life to a cruel end.  Continue reading