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
May this be a truly Good Year – full of health and happiness for each one and for all of us collectively.
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.
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
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
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
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
Like the unfortunate Phil, we too seem to be stuck in a repetitive pattern of reenacting the same sickening scenario.
Back in 2006 when then-PM Ehud Olmert sent units into battle without sufficient ammo or provisions and all around managed to mismanage the Second Lebanon War, he at one point gloated that victory up north would expedite what he dubbed “Realignment” on Israel’s winding long eastern flank.
That was to be his sequel to the unilateral Disengagement from Gaza a year earlier.
At the time, Olmert’s indiscreet blabbing set off a ground swell of protest among troops who didn’t take kindly to the notion that they would sacrifice life and limb to advance Olmert’s consensus-breaching political agenda. In the view of too many soldiers in harm’s way, the idea of shedding their blood to extend the by-then-obvious Gazan disaster to Israel’s most densely packed population centers wasn’t an appealing prospect.
But some subplots never die. A variation on the theme is being revived right now. All too many in the political arena – both nominal coalition members and opposition leaders – presume to exploit a consensual conflict to advance their non-consensual agenda. They portray Operation Protective Edge as the vehicle to propel their pet project of reinstating Ramallah figurehead Mahmoud Abbas (a.k.a. Abu-Mazen) at Gaza’s helm.
Winning Gaza back for Abbas wasn’t what most fighters fought for. Continue reading
Sisyphys (1548–49) by Titian, Prado Museum
The most effective weapon which Hamas wielded against Israel throughout Protective Edge was its manipulation of civilian casualty numbers and images. The cumulative impact was used to provoke hate campaigns against Israel and/or Jews worldwide and misrepresent Israel’s self-defense as a calculated massacre of helpless civilians.
Some of the ploys were cynical beyond belief.
Photos of dead bodies from the Syrian conflict were recycled as Gazan victims of Israeli malevolence. Even pictures of the Fogel family children, slaughtered inside their Itamar home in 2011 by Palestinian terrorists, were purported to show Arabs murdered by Israeli troops.
Footage from the emergency room at Shifa Hospital in Gaza was rerun continually as if chronicling brand new incidents. Patients brought in due to disease, accidents and domestic violence were all exhibited as casualties of deliberate Israeli barbarity.
But none of this rivaled the numbers game.
UNRWA, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, has joined Hamas’s clamor for lifting the blockade on Gaza forthwith. This was the gist of what UNRWA’s Gaza spokesman Chris Gunness demanded. No surprise here. UNRWA never played a remotely constructive or impartial role in the Mideast.
Its self-preservation interests perhaps rule out neutrality and fairness to begin with, lest these actually lead to improvements that might obviate the sham pretext for keeping UNRWA around. UNRWA’s continued existence hinges on not solving this region’s problems.
Put differently, it’s in UNRWA’s distinct interest to keep the flames of conflict burning high. Continue reading