“Tiny gnome, Jewish caricature”

Kirill Petrenko

Kirill Petrenko

Even before it was officially announced that Russian-born Kirill Petrenko was appointed to take over in 2018 from Sir Simon Rattle as conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, Petrenko’s Jewishness became a hot issue in Germany.

His very candidacy sufficed to bring to the fore supposedly extinct Judeophobic maliciousness. It most likely lurked all along behind the veneered semblance of impeccable decorum.

In her commentary for Northern German Radio [NDR], Sabine Lange described Petrenko in the Wagnerian idiom as “the tiny gnome, the Jewish caricature.” Continue reading

Another Tack: That Red-Diaper Mess

A self-satisfied Dror Feiler on board the Marianne: he is a classic red-diaper baby.

A self-satisfied Dror Feiler on board the Marianne: he is a classic red-diaper baby.

Israeli expat Dror Feiler, domiciled in comfortable and smug Sweden, has helped organize many of the “humanitarian flotillas” to Gaza, including the 2010 Mavi Marmara provocation, the 2012 Estelle follow-up and the latest foiled Mariannemisadventure. He is a classic red-diaper baby.

In his pro-Hamas fervor, Feiler never mentions that Israel regularly (and quite dementedly) supplies Gaza with goods, electricity, fuel and water, whereas Gaza uses its resources to subjugate its masses and stockpile weapons of indiscriminate destruction.

Feiler either justifies or omits from discourse Gaza’s many and flagrant sins. He grotesquely exaggerates Israeli responses and willfully twists them out of all context. Feiler delights in painting Israel as intrinsically and irredeemably evil. Don’t look for Jewish empathy or a soft spot for the old homeland in Dror. That would contradict his red-diaper upbringing. That’s not where he comes from.

He’s a trusty unquestioning chip off the old block – his mother, Pnina, who spent a lifetime crusading for Palestinian causes and defaming Israel with relish. She hails from Yad Hanna, Israel’s sole Communist kibbutz. It was named in 1950 after heroic WWII paratrooper Hanna Szenes, whose memory and legacy have of late been targeted by artsy leftwing iconoclasts. Self-sacrifice for a Jewish cause and Zionist dedication have become unbearable in their enlightened milieu. Continue reading

Another Tack: Zilch, Zippo, Nada, Gurnisht, Bubkes

Expelled Jews are shoved out of Zion Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem after it was conquered by the Arab Legion in contravention of the 1947 UN Partition Resolution

Expelled Jews are shoved out of Zion Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem after it was conquered by the Arab Legion in contravention of the 1947 UN Partition Resolution

The bottom-line truth is that the decision of the US Supreme Court to uphold official Washington’s pig-headed disconnect between Jerusalem and Israel doesn’t mean diddly-squat. It signifies zilch, zippo, nada, gurnisht, bubkes.

This is quite apart from of the fact that the court technically only dealt with American constitutional hairsplitting on who’s empowered to recognize what abroad. Such pedantry may perturb American jurists but for us Israelis it absolutely doesn’t change a thing.

We simply shouldn’t care if they say we aren’t who we know we are.

What any American higher-up in whatever bureaucracy in whichever branch of government finds it expedient to opine cannot factually alter our identity. It’s as straightforward as that and is in essence what 12-year-old Menachem Zivotofsky understood.

His battle against federal obduracy reached all the way to the highest US court but Menachem lost his appeal to have his American passport register his birth as having occurred in Israel rather than in an undefined Jerusalem.

The fussy legalistic quibbling that led to his defeat cannot obviate the fact that, irrespective of what shenanigans the justices subscribe to, Menachem did come into the world in sovereign Israel. The boy isn’t confused: “I am an Israeli and I want people to know that I am glad that I am an Israeli.” Continue reading

Predatory Wolves on the Prowl

Cops at Damascus Gate soon after the recent stabbing

Cops at Damascus Gate soon after the recent stabbing

Presumably all Israelis are expected to take heart from officialdom’s line that the recent spate of terror attacks comprises nothing but unforeseeable products of “personal initiative.” Presumably the accumulation of deadly and near-deadly terror outrages is nothing but an apparently incidental buildup without a guiding hand pulling strings behind the scenes.

Presumably such learned opinions – both from the top brass and self-appointed experts – are supposed to calm our anxieties.

But those with longer memories will quickly note that such was also the soothing conventional wisdom when the first intifada was at its height and when the second erupted. Indeed, it is always individuals who carry out attacks, except in the case of bombings – suicide or otherwise – where clearly group collusion is required. Continue reading

Another Tack: Mahmoud Abbas’s Careless Candor

Mahmoud Abbas (right) to King Abdullah- We are one nation in two states

Mahmoud Abbas (right) to King Abdullah- We are one nation in two states

Abraham Lincoln once famously said that “no man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.”

Honest Abe of course never encountered Palestinian Authority figurehead Mahmoud Abbas, who’s certainly a hugely successful liar. Nonetheless, Abbas, like most liars, does find it exceedingly hard to keep track of all the whoppers that incessantly escape his lips.

The more he fibs, the harder it becomes to bear in mind at each and every moment what version of which pretense he had used on each occasion and with whom. Eventually, even a consummate liar like Abbas is sure to slip up.

That’s what happened to him during his recent stopover in Amman, on the way back from Doha where he married off his grandson in sumptuous style. But Abbas, alas, found himself in a bit of hot water as soon as his visit began.

The Hashemite Kingdom’s loyalists didn’t take kindly to reports that Jibril Rajoub – Abbas’s fellow Fatah honcho and chairman of the Palestinian Football Association – had failed to vote for Prince Ali Ibn al-Hussein to head FIFA.  Ali is King Abdullah’s own brother who, owing to the monarchy’s non-too-regulated nepotistic inclinations, is also president of the Jordan Football Association. Rajoub’s attempts to kick Israel out of soccer’s international federation didn’t mitigate the royal umbrage.

Seeking to sooth the offended Hashemites, Abbas assured them that “the relationship between Jordan and Palestine is the relationship of one nation living in two states.” Continue reading

Another Tack: Obama, Goldberg and Golda

Golda Meir: Beware the allure of “lies wrapped up in sweet words.” [Jerusalem Post Archives]

Golda Meir: Beware the allure of “lies wrapped up in sweet words.” [Jerusalem Post Archives]

Golda Meir rarely passed up an opportunity to warn about the allure of “lies wrapped up in sweet words.” She knew that shallowness offers smug refuge from the intractable and that syrupy slogans are a convenient copout for the intellectually indolent.

US President Barack Obama probably knows the same which is perhaps why he laid the blarney on so thick in his recent interview with The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg, who himself couldn’t have been more cloying.

It’s undeniably in Obama’s interest to sweet-talk American Jews – whom he must perceive mostly as sycophant dilettantes – into trusting that some of his best friends are Jews.

Nevertheless, here in Israel, Obama’s latest heaping ration of sweet words was weighed up with utmost gravity. Left-leaning opinion-molders were quick to extract the bitter pill – Obama’s caution that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s misbehavior “will have consequences.”

Obviously we may all expect unkind comeuppance for having insubordinately reelected the PM Obama hates. Let’s not forget: Obama did his darndest to defeat Netanyahu, thereby impudently and imperiously interfering in the domestic politics of a fellow democracy. Continue reading

Better off without UNRWA

DryBonesStaging another of its surreal spectacles, the UN last week marked the 65th birthday of one of its most deformed misbegotten offspring – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

UNRWA was established in 1949 to cater exclusively to those deemed to be Palestinian refugees. All other refugees, regardless of degree of plight and objective hardship, are looked after by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), while the privileged Palestinian category is singularly aided by UNRWA.

The defect was already implanted in UNRWA’s genome. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon admitted that UNRWA was never meant to live this long but he contended that “it exists because of political failure.” Doubtless, as per the UN’s dishonorable tradition, Israel is blamed for this failure. The Jewish State is habitually painted as the villain of any piece and its bogus villainy is exasperatingly accepted as an axiomatic premise.  Continue reading

Another Tack: The Great Equalizer Of All Jews

Liege, Belgium- “Entry is permitted to dogs but not to Jews under any circumstances!”

Liege, Belgium- “Entry is permitted to dogs but not to Jews under any circumstances!”

Last summer a café in a suburb of the Belgian city of Liege exposed the current face of anti-Semitism in one compact store-front display.

The window was festooned with the Palestinian flag, decorated with Fatah keffiahs and featured an Israeli flag crossed-out with a big red “X.” But if just-landed Martians failed to get the message, there was written bilingual elucidation as well.  The French version, for the benefit of the natives, boldly announced:

“Entry is permitted to dogs but not to Zionists under any circumstances!”

Nonetheless, politically correct constraints in French clearly don’t cramp Turkish styles. Lest any perplexed Turk encounter difficulties in determining who’s a Zionist, the Turkish sign spelled things out explicitly – without synthetic attempts at European niceties. It let the proverbial cat out of the bag for dog-lovers and haters-of-Zion alike.

“Entry is permitted to dogs but not to Jews under any circumstances!” Continue reading

Pause to Fear

The teetering Bashar Assad- Not the dependable despot the West once assumed him to be.

The teetering Bashar Assad- Not the dependable despot the West once assumed him to be.

The imminent fall of Bashar Assad’s regime had been predicted many times over the past few years – since the advent of the misnamed “Arab Spring” in Syria. So far, however, all announcements of Assad’s demise have proven premature.

This, though, doesn’t mean that he’s holding on. We are merely witnessing a plodding process of disintegration whose direction, nonetheless, is unmistakable. Assad already doesn’t rule his county, except for a few undersized beleaguered enclaves whose survival prospects steadily diminish. Continue reading

Another Tack: The Holy See’s Unholy Sanctimony

Pope Paul VI at Meggido in 1964: He made sure the name Israel would never escape his lips. President Zalman Shazar stands to his right.

Pope Paul VI at Meggido in 1964: He made sure the name Israel would never escape his lips. President Zalman Shazar stands to his right.

The Vatican’s recognition of a Palestinian state (which despite its popularity abroad does not in fact exist) shows that the Holy See can be awfully speedy when it so suits it – even headlong and precipitate.

This is quite a departure from our Jewish experience with the Catholic hierarchy. With isolated exceptions, Jews have consistently encountered an entrenched severity, even hardheartedness – and that’s putting it very mildly.

With impetuous haste the Vatican rushed to recognize a state that so far consists of only radical Muslim bands distinguished only by their brands of zealotry. This is in stark contrast to the excruciating tardiness, indeed the unconcealed reluctance by the same church to recognize Israel.

The Vatican’s ill-will lasted decades after the Jewish state was born, after it survived genocidal attacks by seven Arab armies only three years post-Holocaust, after it successfully absorbed millions of Jewish refugees and after it created a functioning democracy second to none, along with all the institutions of civil society.

Despite Israel’s exemplary attributes of sovereignty, the Vatican remained sour, begrudging and glacially aloof – and that again is resorting to understatement.

So whereas a Palestinian state is recognized prematurely – before actual self-determination – it took the Vatican a whopping 45-and-a-half years after the fact to bring itself to officially recognize Jewish self-determination. Egypt – Israel’s bitter foe for decades – beat the Vatican by 14 years. Continue reading