Another Tack: The Perils of Peace

Twin inspirations: Abbas inflames his volatile masses in eerily the same idiom as Arafat

Twin inspirations: Abbas inflames his volatile masses in eerily the same idiom as Arafat

It’s a perplexing fact of our life: anything that remotely and vaguely resembles peace in Israel’s neighborhood is serially shattered once peace negotiations are kick-started. This is how it has invariably been – all the more emphatically so since the advent of Oslo.

According to this unique pattern, unequalled anywhere else, peace overtures are tantamount to harbingers of death and destruction.

Then, once the violence of peace somehow subsides, we briefly luxuriate in the lull of an impasse – the closest we ever get to calm.

But these rare respites inevitably rub do-gooder meddlers the wrong way both in the US and in the EU. With obsessive peevishness they begrudge us our breather. They summon summits, draw road maps, determine deadlines, weave tapestries, formulate fantasies and in short terminate the temporary time-outs.

It’s an inexorable rhythm.  After each round of jibber-jabbering about peace comes the carnage.

Sometimes the weapons of choice are rockets from Gaza. Sometimes they comprise rocks, axes, knives, Molotov cocktails, vehicles, guns and suicide bombs from Mahmoud Abbas’s Ramallah realm.

On occasion, if the mayhem lasts long enough, we call it an intifada. There are those among us who already opine that we are now in the preliminary throes of the third intifada. Others shudder to use such terminology.  Continue reading

Another Tack: Not Telling It Like It Is

 Hebron 1929: exhorting the mobs to save al-Aksa from the Jews

Hebron 1929: exhorting the mobs to save al-Aksa from the Jews

For hours after last week’s vehicular terror in Jerusalem (capped by an attack on passersby with a metal rod), Sky News persisted in not telling it like it is.

Its running news ticker at the bottom of the screen single-mindedly informed viewers that “Israeli police say a driver has rammed his car into pedestrians in East Jerusalem in an ‘intentional’ attack causing several injuries.”

The very inclusion of the verb say sufficed to cast doubt on Israeli communiqués. Then, to chip further away at residual Israeli credibility the word intentionally was tendentiously placed in quotation marks. This surely was overkill, considering that the reliability of the Israeli report was already challenged by the caveat of the opening phrase.

If during the first few minutes of the incident Sky could somehow make excuses for what looked like thinly-veiled antagonism, it certainly couldn’t long after the event. Nevertheless, that hardly objective news bar was still featured when any duty editor of even grudging goodwill or nominal neutrality should have known better.

In contrast, another report was cited with unadulterated acceptance. Sky’s above mentioned “breaking news” flash was accompanied throughout – for as many hours – by a bulletin that stated matter-of-factly (without any caveats this time) that “Israeli police have clashed with Palestinians inside Jerusalem’s al-Aksa Mosque compound after Jewish nationalists announced plans to visit the site.” Continue reading

Another Tack: Before the Chickenshit Hit the Fan

Obama and Sarkozy in Cannes: No hint of an apology ever came from either Washington or Paris

Obama and Sarkozy in Cannes: No hint of an apology ever came from either Washington or Paris

Gosh darn! Smack dab on the eve of a midterm election, US Secretary of State John Kerry phoned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to almost sort-of say sorry for reported name-calling in high Administration places – ‘chickenshit’ comes to mind.

A morsel of humble pie, after all, is prescribed when one’s party suspects its headliners may have offended voters at the close of a crucial campaign.

So, is everything now peachy keen in our world all over again?

Maybe, if this were the only memorable outburst and if Obama’s administration were as forgiving as it imperiously decrees Israel must be. Trouble is, though, that there was loads of loathing even before the chickenshit hit the fan.  Continue reading

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

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

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

Another Tack: Groundhog Day in Gaza

Like the unfortunate Phil, we too seem to be stuck in a repetitive pattern of reenacting the same sickening scenario

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