Tarheeltalker

Some Israeli Humor

A friend of mine emailed me the following story. It sounds  plausible and she is a  quite reliable source. Whether the actual event occurred or not is not germane to the truth lurking in the story. So read and laugh a bit but take note of what is being said.

                         An ingenious example of speech and politics  occurred recently in the U N General Assembly which made the world community smile ( probably not all of it though) . An Israeli representative began: ” Before beginning my talk I want to tell you something about Moses. When he struck the rock and it brought forth water ( Old Testament book  of Exodus, Chapter 17, verse 6) he thought, ” What a good opportunity to have a bath.” He removed his clothes, put them aside on the rock and entered the water. When he got out and wanted to dress, his clothes had vanished. A  Palestinian has stolen them.”

                  The Palestinian representative to the U N jumped up furiously and shouted, ” What are you talking about? The Palestinians weren’t there then.”

                 The Israeli diplomat smiled and said,” And now that we have made that clear, I will begin my speech.”

Shalom!

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July 29, 2010 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Goldstone Report and Israel

Today, the United Nations approved, by a narrow vote of  114-18, with 44 nations abstaining, an Arab supported resolution that endorses the Goldstone Report. This paves the way for the UN Security Council to consider the matter. What did we do, voted no, along with Canada and obviously  only a handful of other countries.

The aforementioned report calls on Israel and the Palestinians to investigate the allegations of war crimes during last winter’s Gaza  incursion.( The report is named for South African jurist and UN investigator Richard Goldstone.) Deputy US ambassador to the UN, Alexander Wolff, called  the report”deeply flawed”. His main concerns were  the lack of attention or  mention of Hamas and the unbalanced focus on Israel.

Doubtless, the US would veto any Security council action. So, why is Israel concerned enough to say, via its UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalav, that granting any legitimate status to the report would essentially deny Israel “the right to defend ourselves.”  That is quite important to them, existing as they do in the world’s toughest neighborhood, as its most isolated member.

Perhaps they watch events and listen to statements with increasing nervousness, some of these from their heretofore staunchest ally.

What do Israelis think about us and them? Prior to January, 2009, some 88% of  them  believe Bush wa s pro-Israel. In May, a Jerusalem Post poll discovered that 31% of  them believed that about  Obama. A similar poll  just 3 months later showed  a figure of  4%. Quite  a precipitous drop. Joel Rosenberg referred to US Israel relations  as a coming “train wreck”, just 7 months ago. Now, he thinks the situation has only worsened. Even if one is not very pro Israel, the above numbers represent a significant concern. Are we tending to tilt more Arab, seems to be so. Is  that a good thing? I wonder.

November 6, 2009 Posted by | Foreign Policy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Secretary Clinton Overdid It

Want to know what she overdid ? Sure you do. She overdid her praise for Israel, of course and now she is having a bit of  a mea culpa. Madame Secretary was in  Marrakech, Morocco to speak to Arab concerns about the “positive reinforcement” she had provided Israel just 2 days earlier. (And you thought Marrakech was just part of a Crosby, Stills and Nash song).

The uproar relates its seems, primarily, to the  construction of Israeli settlements and their unwillingness to bring that construction to  a halt.  This seems to be a major stumbling block regarding Palestinian- Israeli  negotiations. Obama had earlier talked tough on the matter indicating that the construction would have to stop-period. She in fact repeated this assertion that the administration does not accept the legitimacy of the settlements. Unfortunately, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu seems disinclined to completely stop the construction. So, we have  a conundrum, No wonder, Mrs Clinton was reluctant to make the Middle East trip, anticipating all might not go well. Better watch that thinking or John Kerry might have her job.

Anyway, her new old statements seemed to satisfy a number of the Arab leaders in attendance including individuals from Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq.

To more fully reinforce her statements today, she will add a previously unscheduled trip to Egypt. There she will meet with President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday. As of today, there has been no report of what Israel thinks of this” Back to the Future “endeavor . Doubtless, we will hear more.

November 2, 2009 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

NAMESTAN

The World's Toughest NeighborhoodThe above acronym is often used by Joel Rosenberg in his political/religious thrillers which have been quite successful and eerily prophetic. The  letters described a division of the CIA known as North Africa, the Middle East and the stan countries; Pakistan, Afghanistan etc. Fictional or not, the phrase almost epitomizes tough neighborhood in a geopolitical sense.

Look at a map of the area some time and then look at major news headlines from any source of your choosing. While not always the top story, the are seems to carry a weight far beyond its size. This weekend was a real case in point. There  were some major suicide bombings in what was considered a relatively secure part of Iraq. Baghdad was the site of two bombings whose death toll approaches 200 with many more injured. And it may have damaged Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki even more.

Travel a relatively short distance to the west to Jerusalem and what do you discover? Israeli police with stun grenades. Palestinian protesters throwing rocks and who knows what else outside the holiest site in all of Israel, the Temple Mount in the center of Jerusalem. What sparked the clash? Probably no one  knows. David Cohen, Israel’s national police chief laid blame on Muslim extremists. Muslim leaders claimed there were plots  to damage the sites. Israel has controlled the site since 1967 but in a situation that only makes sense in the Middle East allows a Muslim clerical body, the Waqf, to handle day-to-day administration. Tourists and Israelis can only visit at certain times.

And  we have Iran, who virtually lives on the front page. Nukes or not, selling enriched uranium to Russia or not ? Will there be talks? What part will Russia play? That is another Big factor when one looks at Russia’s position geographically versus the Middle East.

One more  factor is of course Afghanistan. It was the site for deadly helicopter crashes  just a few days ago, killing a number of American troops. Will Obama send troops, how many and when? Whose advice is better, Sen Kerry or Gen. McChrystal? Remember that during the campaign,the Afghan war was the one we should be fighting.

It seems that the are is a dominant feature of every president’s foreign policy, from probably Truman through Obama and rightfully so. One thing that is quite easy for us to overlook, given our Western tendency to take a short term view, is that the problems  that are there far predate our involvement; by a long time. No, make that a very long time.

My woeful lack of knowledge and historical perspective point up once again my need for te historical study of  a region whose importance can hardly be overstated. Try these phrases from your long ago study of history: Mesopotamia, Tigris-Euphrates, pyramids; there are many more and there is much history from which to learn.

October 26, 2009 Posted by | History, International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Wisdom(?) of Jimmy Carter

President of these United States, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Governor of Georgia and Plains,Ga’s favorite son. Who is it? Why, of course, it is James Earl Carter, Jr. I was living in Georgia at the time Mr Carter came  from   nowhere and  became   president. For a long time I thought that he was not a very good president but probably our best former president.

The C-SPAN historians rankings see him a better president than I did; ranking him 22nd in the year 2000 and 25th in 2009. At least his rankings are headed in the right direction. Anyway, back to his post presidency  period.  He left office in 1981 at the relatively young age of 57. Since than he has been quite involved in Habitat,which was founded in Georgia, in election watching, and in the Carter Center. Founded in 1982 by he and his wife, the organization has worked to ease suffering and  advance human rights worldwide. His work there earned Carter the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize.

So, no problems right? Just a moment. Personally, I have been nagged for some time with the feeling that Mr Carter was more sanctimonious than necessary and tended to speak with an air of superior moral authority.He has been outspoken in recent years about the cause of the Palestinians versus Israel and has not earned friends in Israel for that. His 2006 book, entitled,Palestine:Peace not Apartheid, was not only pro-Arab but “blessed” with a number of factual errors.( For example, Arafat never called for the destruction of Israel. )He published  a new book this year about peace in the Middle East and in at least one interview about that book called his previous one balanced-Ok.

Among other things that Mr Carter has done is to monitor elections around the world. His Carter Center has monitored more than 70 elections in various countries in the last 20 years. Lots of moral high ground here.

I think he honestly believes that he holds the moral high ground, so what must be the reasoning for his latest comments. Yep, calling Joe Wilson’s comment  indicative of racist attitudes that still exist, rooted in racism is the terminology he employed. Wilson’s son, predictably, disagreed. Not so predictably so did the Obama Administration through spokesman Robert Gibbs. Nor did GOP chairman Michael Steele think much of the comment.

So, why did Carter make the comments? To stir up controversy, don’t  think so. I think he genuinely believed what he said,whether or not he was familiar with Joe Wilson. That is the kind of ting that has me wishing he would drive more nails and stay more out of politics.

Gotta get this in. His latest Mideast book has been “endorsed” by none other than Osama Bin Laden. Wonder what his opinion on that might be?

September 16, 2009 Posted by | Culture, Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Iran and Venezuela or Hugo and Mahmoud

Now that is a scary twosome. And they seem to have  a lot in common, but with  some notable differences, but not many. Perhaps the main one is that we have  a  picture of Obama and Chavez smiling and shaking hands. And Chavez has spoken of how much more he likes Chavez than Bush. So far, there are no pictures of Obama and Ahmadinejiad.

Chavez has just completed  a tour of  the Middle East  and is being his usual charming self, accusing Israel of genocide against  the Palestinians and seeking to exterminate them. He also said, while in Paris. that there are things about ur foreign policy he doesn’t like. Among them are the installation of U S bases in neighboring Colombia. He inadvertently provided a potential campaign slogan for the Republicans, by saying that  Obama’s election had brought about hope but not change.

Now, what his  OPEC buddy from Iran with nuclear ambitions that seem to be growing. He just recently used a term unfamiliar to me when he referred to Iran’s “nuclear rights” . A very interesting statement indeed, saying they were “undeniable” and non-negotiable.

The two countries are increasing their ties and Chavez’ recent visit was his eighth to Iran. Between them they used terms such as  staunch ally and  expanding the “anti-imperialist” front in the world. Chavez even hinted  at a  nuclear Venezuela  at some future date.

Perhaps my favorite line was how Chavez described his 11 nation tour. He said that he was seeking  to counter U S influence and build a ” multi-polar ” world. Watch out, North and South Poles, you may have competition.

Could the two be BFF’s ? We shall see. Come to think of it, Chavez looks a bit more polished. Perhaps he provided Ahmadinejad tips in that area as well for when he speaks at the United Nations next week. Cannot wait for that speech. Oh, wanna know where Chavez headed to after Paris,why Russia, of course. Greattt.

September 9, 2009 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hilary-About Face

I am shocked,I tell you,  I really and truly am. There are people in New York, Jewish leaders around the country,etc who are going nuts over Secretary Clinton’s  support for Hamas and the Palestinians which,by the way, reflects very much her views as First Lady rather than her views as a Senator. What shocks me is that people would be  surprised at a Clinton about face of any kind. Perhaps it is hyper critical to say that her support for Israel(very strong she said in February, 2000) was 100% politically motivated but not much. To get elected in New York she had to be pro- Israel and she was. Now, she has no need to be pro-Israel and she is not.

Yesterday, she hammered Israel on the need to speed up aid to Gaza. Of course, the fact that the Obama administration is sending Hamas  $900 million is just a coincidence, is it not? New York Assemblyman Don Hikind, Democrat, perhaps said it best when he stated that he liked her as a Senator from New York. Now he wonders as he once wondered before who is the real Hilary Clinton?

And this from Solomon Loewi of Monsey, NY, ” The easy way to make a peace agreement is to pressure Israel because you can’t pressure the Arabs.” Well said sir, well said.

Oh, Mrs Clinton is due to arrive in Israel next week for talks. The weather forecast is for chilly conditions.

February 27, 2009 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment