My Middle East Punchlines: yack-yack, Barack…

News has it that Barack Obama is making one-hour speeches to investment banks for up to £400,000.

Weeks before he entered the White House in 2009, Mr Obama said that he had not run “to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street”.

I have no problem with politicians making U-turns, but I sincerely hope that Mr Obama isn’t thinking about giving speeches on the Middle East.

Because as far as that is concerned, if he had twice as much sense he’d still be a moron.


My Mideast Punchlines: an Apple a day keeps BDS away….

Supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement may face a dilemma over buying the new iPhone X, because some of its manufacturers are located in Israel.

Apple unveiled its iPhone X last week for a market price of $1,000, along with launching the iPhone 8, and the iPhone 8 Plus. Although the American tech giant is based in California and employs hundreds of sub-suppliers, many of the components found inside Apple’s iPhones and products are built and assembled in Israel.

Israeli technology has also contributed to the facial recognition technology behind the iPhone X. Nicknamed Face ID, the all-screen phone requires your face to unlock the new iPhone. With no physical home button, Apple has ditched Touch ID functionality.

There’s a rumour that the phone only unlocks if the face projects good rather than evil. Now, isn’t that a nice thought?

My Mideast Punchlines: vays and means……

Weeks after two attacks on a synagogue in Germany, police in the city of Ulm say the motive may have been anti-Semitic.

State security officials are investigating incidents on Aug. 26 and Sept. 2 in which one or more perpetrators kicked at the facade of the New Synagogue and later rammed it with a metal post, breaking through the outer wall. According to reports, repairs will cost several thousand euros.

Zer are vays and means of carrying out an investigation. Mind you, I think they could have drawn the same conclusion after, say, two-and-a-half seconds.

My Mideast: Bibi pops in to discuss poppy pods?

As Netanyahu continued his Latin American tour, Mexico and Israeli agreed to deepen business ties, update a free trade agreement and pursue plans to develop Central America. Netanyahu and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos also signed a tourism cooperation agreement and discussed how Israel can help rebuild Colombia after a half-century of civil war.

Helping Colombian farmers grow avocados instead of  opium poppies would be a start. Far better to be addicted to the single-seeded berry fruit than the multi-seeded poppy pod.

My Mideast Punchlines: a ‘hole’ lot of nothing…..

Turkish media conspiracy theories claim Israel is sending Jewish Kurds back to Kurdistan. The Israeli embassy in Ankara was briefly evacuated when Turkish ultra-nationalists demonstrated outside on Friday, calling the Kurdish bid for independence a Zionist plot.

Ho-hum, yet another ‘Zionist plot’. No doubt this latest conspiracy was engendered by the sight of Kurds waving Israeli flags after Netanyahu endorsed Kurdish independence last week. Iraqi Kurds are expected to vote for independence in a September 25 referendum.

Conspiracy theories are like bagels. If you keep swallowing them, you’ll have nothing left but the hole.

My Mideast Punchlines: anti-Semites, one and all…..

A devastating UK survey finds half of Britons agree with anti-Israel statements.

It also establishes an “unambiguous” link between anti-Semitism and hostility towards Israel – suggesting that the stronger the level of anti-Israel feeling, the more likely it is to be accompanied by anti-Semitic attitudes – and probes the attitudes of those who support the far-left and the far-right, as well as British Muslims.

I didn’t know there were that many Guardian readers.

My Mideast Punchlines: sh*t….

A Palestinian push to unilaterally join the UN World Tourism Organization was stymied by heavy US pressure. Haaretz reports the Palestinians ultimately backtracked and the UNWTO announced it would defer the issue to its next session — in two years.

According to the official, during recent visits by U.S. President Donald Trump’s special adviser Jared Kushner and Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt, the two met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who promised them they wouldn’t renew their attempts to push through unilateral decisions against Israel in the UN.

The senior official noted that the Americans made it clear to the Palestinians that advancing the resolution at the UN’s tourism agency does not align with Abbas’ promise to Trump.

I’m for the Palestinians on this. I can think of nothing more enticing to foreign tourists than the sewage-filled seas off Gaza. Okay, so Abbas is thinking more in terms of the West Bank, but, hey, they keep saying they want to be a united people. Well, The U.S. has responded to that with one word: Merde!

My Mideast Punchlines: so very taxing….

In response to an Amnesty International campaign calling for governments and businesses to sever their trade ties with Israeli settlements, the Israeli Finance Ministry is moving to deny tax benefits to Israelis who donate to the human rights organization. More at Haaretz:

It is the first time the government will apply the so-called anti-boycott law, which penalises organisations and individuals calling for Boycott of Israel or the settlements. The controversial law was passed in 2011.

Although many human rights organisations support a settlement boycott, none that fund raise and Israel has thus far made such an explicit boycott call.

Amnesty International’s Israel office only became eligible for the tax benefit last October. Most Israeli human rights organisations do not qualify for this status.

How very taxing for Amnesty. When it comes to Israel, the organisation seems to have a permanent blind spot when it comes to fairness. While it’s true that the Talmud says that the heart of  virtue is good intentions, Amnesty should also remember the Biblical exhortation: there are none so blind as those who will not see. Their unreasonable stance is now going to prove costly, for Israel is a desert country where taxes grow without rain.

My Mideast Punchlines: no need to queue…..

Last Friday, JTA reported that the State Department intends to abide by an agreement it reached in 2014 with the Iraqi government and return the Iraqi Jewish archives to Iraq next year.

The Iraqi Jewish archives were rescued in Baghdad by US forces in 2003 from a flooded basement of the Iraqi secret services headquarters. The tens of thousands of documents include everything from sacred texts from as early as the 16th century to Jewish school records.

The books and documents were looted from the Iraqi Jewish community by successive Iraqi regimes. They were restored by the National Archives in Washington, DC.

The Iraqi Jewish community was one of the oldest exilic Jewish communities.

Between 1948 and 1951, 130,000 Iraqi Jews, three quarters of the community, were forced to flee the country. Those who remained faced massive persecution, imprisonment, torture, execution and expulsion in the succeeding decades.

When US forces overthrew the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003, only a dozen or so remained in the country.

And today? a big fat zero.

When asked how the US could guarantee that the archive would be properly cared for in Iraq, all State Department spokesman Pablo Rodriguez said was, “When the IJA [Iraqi Jewish archive] is returned, the State Department will urge the Iraqi government to take the proper steps necessary to preserve the archive, and make it available to members of the public to enjoy.”

Members of the public, yes. Jews, no. Because, remember, there aren’t any Jews left. I can’t imagine Iraqi Arabs queuing politely in their masses to view the archives. They’d be more likely to smash the doors down in order to burn the contents. Yet another example of State Department perfidy. The denizens of Foggy Bottom seem unable, or unwilling, to dispel the mists of antisemitism that have enveloped the department for decades. Indeed, they appear to revel in it.

My Mideast Punchlines: peace on you….

The PA arrested a Hebron man for hosting Likud MK Yehuda Glick for the Eid al-Adha holiday. Glick, who lives in the settlement of Otniel, near Hebron, is a prominent activist for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount.

Glick tweeted photos of his visit on September 3 at the home of Muhammad Sabir Jabir, with a caption saying he was at “the home of my friend” and calling for “us all to live here in peace. Happy Eid.”

The Palestinian news agency Ma’an said Sunday, “it remained unclear what Jabir was being charged with.” But it confirmed from sources in the PA’s General Intelligence agency that it was due to Jabir’s hosting of Glick.

A big glick (Yiddish for a big thing), and I don’t think. Hospitality is legendary in Arab culture, but in the Palestinian Authority paranoia reigns supreme.