There’s a well-defined distinction between a schlimazel and a schlemiel. The former is the one on whom soup is spilled, while the latter is the one who spills it. In the rare instance that both categories of klutziness coalesce in one persona, it’s an out-and-out disaster. Such an embarrassing, uncommon confluence of bad luck and clumsiness may go a long way toward accounting for Amir Peretz’s incredible recurrent gaffes.
The one in which he sat alongside then-chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi in February 2007 and inspected paratroop maneuvers on the Golan through capped binoculars far exceeded the merely preposterous. It was more like a symbolic embodiment and accentuation of how Peretz and the lame Olmert government in which he served as defense minister looked out for Israel’s most critical security interests.
There Peretz was, peering intently into opaque black plastic lens-covers, yet nodding – apparently knowingly – to explanations by the IDF’s top commander. Peretz focused attentively, as if he actually saw something and even made professional sense of what he so keenly observed. This farce, seemingly straight out of a Marx Brothers madcap spoof, was repeated no fewer than three times on that one occasion.
In truth, though, it doesn’t much matter what Peretz did or didn’t see that morning. His peerless brand of piercing perception and knack for disregarding empirical evidence was recurrently demonstrated throughout the Second Lebanon War (to resort to extreme understatement). All these years later, and his ignominious resignation from the defense helm notwithstanding, Peretz is still avidly at it, still superciliously confident of his uncanny insight, still seeking to convince us that no one gets things as right as he does. Continue reading →
Fear-mongering is largely the forte of the fringes. When it infects the mainstream, however, we ought to get seriously worried.
This denotes a successful scare-job by forces who, in the words of America’s immortal satirist H. L. Mencken, aim “to keep the populace alarmed – and hence clamorous to be led to safety – by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”
There’s therefore more than ample cause for concern when Ehud Barak conjures up tsunami images to warn us that we’re about to be inundated if we don’t heed him. It’s even more disconcerting that he infects others, who then wail, panic-stricken, about the imperative to stem the tide with yet more conciliatory concessions.
This doesn’t augur well. Appeasement never solves problems. It doesn’t even facelift tarnished reputations. It inevitably makes bad situations immeasurably worse.
To be sure, what we may face in the UN come September will be unpleasant. No joy will be instilled in our hearts when the General Assembly’s automatic Israel-bashing majority votes in favor of Palestinian statehood within the 1967 lines – in flagrant disregard of what led up to 1967 and what later followed.
Yet we needn’t quake and shiver in our sandals. We have been through worse. Continue reading →
Just try to imagine what would have happened had Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stood before some Jewish forum and exclaimed that “from now on we won’t allow the presence of one Arab in our independent Israel with Jerusalem as its capital.”
The cacophony of condemnation from abroad, we can safely assume, would instantly surge into hysterical pandemonium. Livid politicos, their press and the public opinion they mold would seethe and fume as if nothing more racist were utterable. Inside Israel, the righteous ruckus would be no less frenzied and deafening.
But we can heave a sigh of relief. Luckily these words could never conceivably cross Netanyahu’s lips. This unkind sentiment, however, isn’t unfamiliar in our neighborhood. The Palestinian Authority’s head honcho and self-styled moderate keeps serially mouthing it – though in reverse.
Addressing a recent emergency session of Arab League foreign ministers in Doha, Qatar, Mahmoud Abbas unabashedly declared that “when an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital is established, we won’t allow the presence of one Israeli in it.” Continue reading →
The remarkable ease with which the world hails Palestinian figurehead Mahmoud Abbas as a “man of peace” beggars the imagination. This has become so axiomatic that even Israel’s most forthright headliners hesitate to depart from the bon ton, lest they be judged as “anti-peace.” And so falsehoods become entrenched as self-evident truths.
Elements of this travesty are paradoxically consistent. After all, Abbas (Abu Mazen) is nothing if not a consummate counterfeiter, who honed his craft at Moscow’s Communist-era Russian University for Friendship between People (a.k.a. the People’s Friendship University of Russia, also a.k.a. the Patrice Lumumba Friendship University).
As befits Friendship U’s academic ambiance, Abbas specialized in revising history, an endeavor which in 1982 ripened into a PhD dissertation that both denied the Holocaust and yet blamed Zionists for it. Two years later, Dr. Abbas further expanded and embellished his “research.” He never apologized nor retracted a single nuance of his learned treatise. Nonetheless, political correctness stringently prohibits discussion thereof.
The emboldened manufacture of lies is graciously overlooked because it’s too troubling to debunk cock-and-bull chronicles and expose the faithful followers of fanciful fabrications as fools. Harping on misrepresentation is impolite, uncool and so yesterday. Best leave the sham undisturbed or – better yet – enshrine it. Continue reading →