Another Tack: The first day

‘It is with great joy that I hereby close the Mandatory Police record book,” wrote an anonymous duty officer at Tel Aviv’s central precinct precisely as David Ben-Gurion recited the renascent Jewish state’s Declaration of Independence.

Just below that spontaneous hand-inscribed historic annotation, appears the first criminal entry ever in sovereign Israel’s annals. It documents the capture of a thief. He stole a book, perchance pointing to preferences peculiar to the People of the Book.

Several hours later, the first ship docked in the new state. It began its journey furtively five days earlier in Marseilles when Israel was still under British rule. Its 300 young passengers were outfitted with fake IDs, forged at the Hagana “laboratory” in France.

But the Teti would claim special distinction – it became simultaneously the last “illegal” aliya boat and the first legal one. The counterfeit visas proved superfluous. The vessel proudly hoisted the Israeli flag as the new day dawned. Because it was the Sabbath, the newcomers were issued their new country’s entry permits only at sundown.

With such seemingly ordinary bureaucratic yet emotionally charged tasks, the Jewish state adeptly began the business of self-determination. In time that would be presented to world opinion as inherently sinful. By its very brazen determination to be born, it would be asserted, Israel had displaced the Palestinians, condemning them to miserable refugee subsistence. Continue reading

Another Tack: What’s that about daughters?

Can the world offer a sympathetic hearing to a group that claims divine rights to annihilate an entire nation? Apparently so.

Hamas is increasingly indulged by self-acclaimed forward-thinkers who might not relish being reminded that the Hamas Charter’s first section opens with the blunt assertion that “Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors.”

And lest anyone pooh-pooh this, Hamas anchors its Jew-revulsion in the Koran: “Ignominy shall be their [the Jews’] portion wheresoever they are found…. They have incurred anger from their Lord, and wretchedness is laid upon them…. They disbelieved the revelations of Allah, and slew the Prophets wrongfully… They were rebellious and transgressed.” (Surat Al-Imran III, verses 109-111)

This is no trifling lip-service which Western postmodernists so blithely belittle. Dissidence is deemed as heresy in Muslim dominions and heresy exacts pitiless retribution, as the Hamas Charter indeed warns: “Whoever denigrates the Hamas movement’s worth, or avoids supporting it, or is so blind as to dismiss its role, is challenging Fate itself. Whoever closes his eyes from seeing the facts, whether intentionally or not, will wake up to find himself overtaken by events, and will find no excuses to justify his position.”

Hamas isn’t about amicable accommodation. It “strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.” Continue reading

Another Tack: The German robbed Cossack

This week in 1903 Shalom Aleichem, the giant of Yiddish literature, wrote a letter to Leo Tolstoy, the giant of Russian literature. It was shortly after the gruesome Kishinev pogrom. Shalom Aleichem planned to publish a modest compilation about the atrocity, to which he asked Tolstoy to contribute a short message to “Russia’s millions of distraught and disoriented Jews, who more than anything need a word of comfort.” Tolstoy never so much as bothered to reply.

The famed novelist, feted as the conscience of Russia, received dozens such letters urging him to speak out against the slaughters – then a seminal trauma in Jewish annals. The Holocaust was decades away. Nobody 109 years ago could imagine anything more bloodcurdling than the horrors of Kishinev.

But not everyone was moved – not even a renowned humanitarian like Tolstoy.
Not only did he not speak out, but he resented the entreaties.

He replied to one Jewish correspondent only, Emanuel Grigorievich Linietzky, to whom he caustically complained about being pestered. Tolstoy then blamed the Czar’s government, absolving the masses who bashed the skulls of babies, gouged children’s eyes, raped their mothers and sisters, eviscerated them, beheaded men and boys, quartered and mutilated them and looted all they could carry.

We hear much the same throughout Europe at each memorial to the Holocaust. Continue reading

Another Tack: Obama of the open mic

‘The tongue weighs practically nothing,” notes the anonymous aged adage, “but so few folks can hold it.’

Some supercilious sorts don’t even seem to try too hard – like American President Barack Obama, given to remarkable and repetitive chattiness when he’s precariously near open microphones. He is so accident-prone, in fact, that we’re forced to deduce that he personifies that most rare of hybrids – the schlemiel and schlimazel rolled into one.

Yiddish clearly distinguishes between the two categories of klutziness. The schlimazel is the one on whom soup is spilled, while the schlemiel is the one who spills it. The uncommon confluence of bad luck and clumsiness leaves one and the same character suffering embarrassment while serving as the instrument of his own embarrassment.

It’s bad enough that Obama chooses to make nice to foreign headliners and disclose to them defeatist strategies – the sort he cultivates secretly and most certainly shouldn’t want exposed to all and sundry. However, if the penchant to resort to such manipulative candor cannot be overcome, it should – one would think – be best practiced behind closed doors.

Obama’s predilection to prattle in the vicinity of plugged-in sound equipment can either denote extraordinary overconfidence and a smug presumption of invulnerability or it’s indicative of exceptional foolhardiness.

Whatever it is, Obama is serially careless. Continue reading