My Mideast Punchlines: dream, dream, dream…

Having persecuted and purged their Jews as punishment for the rebirth of Israel, many Arabs now realise they shot themselves in the foot.

A million Jews lived in Arab countries in the 20th century. Today, just a few thousand are left, mostly in Morocco and Tunisia.

The purging of the Jews caused a crisis in almost every Arab country from which they came. Despite their relatively limited numbers, the Jews’ impact on society, culture, economy, and trade was crucial to the development of those countries, and their loss was felt. After the Jews were evicted from Iraq and Egypt, for example, those countries experienced crisis after crisis.

There is now a palpable longing in most Arab states for the Jews to return. Many believe that only with a Jewish presence will their countries blossom and develop as they did in the past.

biffWell, having a wife whose family members suffered pogroms in Aden before being expelled, I can’t imagine the queues to return will be very long. Basically, the 850,000 Jews thrown out of Arab countries around the time of the establishment of the State of Israel learned pretty quickly that any hardships encountered in the nascent state were preferable to ending up in unmarked graves in their erstwhile homelands. Is there one Judenrein country in the Middle East that isn’t a failed state? Since 1948, Arabs have been slaughtering fellow Arabs on an industrial scale. The upside is, no Jews, no scapegoats. It all really boils down to a question of trust. So it’s worth repeating the axiom of my late and beloved father-in-law Shmuel. He used to say: you can’t trust an Arab forty years in his grave. So to those Arabs who yearn to see a Jewish return, I simply say: dream on and singalong to the Everly Brothers: https://bit.ly/30M2jf2

My Mideast Punchlines: contract capers…

An Iranian lawmaker announced a 3 million dollar contract to “whoever kills Trump,” Iranian semi-official News agency reported.

“On behalf of people of Kerman province, we will pay 3 million dollar award in cash to whoever kills Trump,” Ahmad Hamzeh told parliamentarians, according to ISNA.

Kerman is the hometown of Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top commander of the Quds Force who was killed by a US drone on Jan. 3 in Iraq.

biffApparently, there’s no truth to the rumour that Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi and presidential wannabe Bernie Sanders are vying for the task.

My Mideast Punchlines: Newspeak, a.k.a. bullsh**t

Iran supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds force should be viewed as a “humanitarian organisation with human values,” while delivering the morning prayer sermon on Friday.

In the sermon Khamenei was expected to throw his support behind the elite Revolutionary Guards after their belated admission that they had downed an airliner in error sparked days of rage on the streets.

biffI am reminded of George Orwell’s Newspeak in 1984. Don’t be surprised if the mad mullahs create a dystopian “Minipax (Ministry of Peace, i.e. Ministry of War).” This, Orwell explains, is similar to “the characteristic features of political language… in totalitarian countries” of the early 20th century. Make that early 21st century.

Newspeak isn’t just a set of buzzwords, but the deliberate replacement of one set of words in the language for another. The transition is still in progress in the fictional 1984, but is expected to be completed “by about the year 2050.” We can’t wait that long. The regime is struggling now more than ever, and Ayatollah Khamanei should remember the Iranian proverb, when misfortune moves over you, even jelly will break your teeth. Opposition to the regime is mounting, so he should also remember that you can close the city gates, but you can’t close the people’s mouths. Are we witnessing the beginning of the endgame? I sincerely hope so.

My Mideast Punchline: moon landing…

Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s Executive Committee, recently described International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s announcement of her intention to investigate alleged war crimes in the Palestinian territories as akin to late US astronaut Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon.

Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969. While on the moon, he famously uttered the words: “One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.”

“It is my belief that I can compare this step to the steps of Neil Armstrong when he put his foot on the moon in 1969,” Erekat told Al Jazeera last week. “I do not want to exaggerate with regard to this matter, but the inability to achieve peace throughout these years…was because the Israeli occupation authorities have not been questioned and held accountable.”

biffWhen Erekat, an inveterate liar, says that he does not want to exaggerate, you can always be sure that the opposite is true. When it comes to reality, Erekat indeed lives on the Moon. How can we forget his most famous exaggeration, his claim that 500 Palestinians were killed in the Battle of Jenin in 2002? The real figure was 53, with 23 IDF soldiers also being killed. “Massacre, massacre,” bleated Erekat and his then boss Yasser Arafat. Yes, Saeb, the only thing massacred was the truth.

My Mideast Punchlines: memories….

Iran announced Saturday that its military “unintentionally” shot down the Ukrainian jetliner that crashed earlier this week outside Tehran, killing all 176 aboard, after the government had repeatedly denied Western accusations that it was responsible.

A military statement carried by Iranian state media said the plane was mistaken for a “hostile target” after it turned toward a “sensitive military centre” of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The military was at its “highest level of readiness,” it said, amid the heightened tensions with the United States.

biffThis incident inevitably brought back personal memories for me. As a freelance journalist way back in October, 1973, I was aboard the first El Al plane to fly to Israel following the outbreak of the Yom Kippur war. Accompanying me were Yael and our baby son, Max. Yael wanted to be with her parents. Five of her six brothers were fighting on various fronts. It was a night flight, and we were told to keep the cabin window shutters lowered. Of course, we were aware that we could be shot down. Egypt’s SAMs (surface-to-air missiles) were not as accurate as today’s, but they still managed to down 102 Israeli warplanes. However, we had inordinate faith in Israel to protect us. Once over the eastern Mediterranean, I peeked out of my window. Reassuringly, we were being shepherded by Israeli jet fighters into a blacked out Ben Gurion airport. The mood was sombre. Many passengers were ex-pat reservists voluntarily returning to their units. Some would not survive the war. They were the real heroes.

My Mideast Punchlines: the price of martyrdom…

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah warned Sunday that the assassination of IRGC-Quds Force Commander Qassem Solemani marked a new era in the Middle East and that the response will be “just punishment” for the crime.

According to Nasrallah, “Soleimani got what he sought on that night: Martyrdom. This was his wish since he was a young man, when he first fought on the front lines in Iran.

“Desire for martyrdom flips the balance of power between us and the enemy. The enemy’s highest punishment against us is to kill us, but our highest desire is to be martyrs. So, we cannot be defeated. When we are victorious, we are victorious. When we are martyred, we also triumph.”

biff“Uncle” Hassan needs to be reminded that there is a major difference between a suicide bomber and someone who is blown to bits by surprise. In order to save his John Thomas for use with the promised 72 virgins, the suicide bomber bandages his penis. Preparation, you see, is everything. So, Uncle, being a eunuch in the afterlife is not much of an attraction to your average martyr, is it? In the West, we think differently. When we are victorious, we are victorious. When we are martyred, we are…..dead.

My Mideast Punchlines: point-scoring…

President Trump has warned the US is “targeting” 52 Iranian sites and will strike “very fast and very hard” if Tehran attacks Americans or US assets.

The president’s remarks followed the US assassination of Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian general, in a drone strike.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Trump accused Iran of “talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets”.

He said the US had identified 52 Iranian sites, some “at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture”, and warned they would be “HIT VERY FAST AND HARD” if Tehran struck at the US.

On Saturday the White House sent the US Congress formal notification of Friday’s drone strike – in line with a 1973 law that states the administration must alert Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to immediate or imminent military action.

It was expected to clarify the authority under which the strike was launched, and the expected type and duration of military involvement. The notification is classified.

Nancy Pelosi, the top Congressional Democrat and Speaker of the House of Representatives, said it “prompts serious and urgent questions about the timing, manner and justification of the administration’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran”.

biffWell, Madam Speaker, you don’t have to wait for President Trump’s response. I can answer those question for you. Timing: perfect; manner: exemplary; justification? For God’s sake, woman, don’t you care about the deaths of hundreds of Americans over the years by the Tehran regime? Don’t you care that Soleimani was plotting “imminent and sinister attacks” on US diplomats and military personnel in Iraq and elsewhere in the region? Or is partisan point-scoring the only thing you truly care about? No need to reply. We already know the answer.

My Mideast Punchlines: donkeys…

The United States moved to the brink of war with Iran this morning, assassinating Qassem Soleimani, the Islamic Republic’s celebrated military leader, along with a key ally in an airstrike on Baghdad.

Nikki Haley, President Trump’s former UN ambassador and regarded as a Republican successor, said that General Soleimani was “an arch terrorist with American blood on his hands,” adding, “his demise should be be applauded by all who seek peace and justice,” she tweeted. “Proud of President Trump for doing the strong and right thing.”

biffPredictably, the oleaginous Mohammed Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, called the assassinations “rogue adventurism”. Of course, in his eyes, Iranian attacks on Americans are purely altruistic. Soleimani was an icon in Iran, so expect a raucous funeral with lots of beating of chests and wailing by the rent-a-crowd. Judging by the Corbynesque reactions of some Democrats in the United States, one felt they had more sympathy with the Iranians than with their country’s own actions. Indeed, one of them went so far as to say that the U.S. should be wary of taking out political leaders of other countries. Sorry, but the recently-expired general was a military man who followed  orders from his political leader, Ayatollah Khomenei. Soleiman’s uniform was a clue. Still, one can’t expect anything other than knee-jerk reactions by Democrats against Trump. Meanwhile, I leave you with an Iranian metaphor which aptly sums up those Democrats, as well as the ever-smiling Zarif. Kireh Khar has myriad meanings, from reaction to a prank, or to a noise or something else that’s troublesome. It can make people laugh or start a bloody fight. In this case, I want to start a bloody fight. What does it mean? Well, Kireh means penis and Khar means donkey. Zarif and all those in the West who are apologists for the Iranian regime, each and every one of you is a Kireh Khar.

My Mideast Punchlines: secrets and lies…

The founder of an Egyptian publishing house was sentenced to five years in prison for “divulging military secrets” in translating and distributing an Arabic version of an Israeli novel, his brother said Tuesday.

The novel, entitled “The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel,” by Israeli writer Uri Bar-Joseph, portrays Ashraf Marwan, the son-in-law of former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, as a spy for the Jewish state.

Marwan has been credited in Israel with telling Mossad head Zvi Zamir about a coming surprise attack on Yom Kippur 1973, though the warning was ultimately ignored and Israel was caught off guard.

A 2018 film based on the book, titled “The Angel,” was met with outrage by Egyptian media, which slated it as a manipulation of history.

Marwan, who also worked as an adviser to president Anwar Sadat after the death of Nasser in 1970, died in 2007 in London in mysterious circumstances. Egyptian authorities arranged a grand funeral and Marwan was hailed as a hero.

biffFirstly, with both Israel and Egypt regarding Marwan (who “fell” from the balcony of his fifth floor apartment) as a hero, one of them has to be wrong. My bet’s on the camel jockeys. Secondly, it’s hard to see what secrets would be relevant after so many years. Thirdly, the secrets have already been exposed in the Israeli version, so it’s a case of closing the door after the horse, or in this case camel, has bolted. And while we’re involving animals, the Arabs have a saying:  a secret is like a dove: when it leaves my hand it takes wing. Finally, of course, a military dictator like al-Sisi hardly needs an excuse to lock up anyone. To him, lies and truth are one and the same. 

 

My Mideast Punchlines: hummus wars…

The Shin Bet announced on December 18 that it arrested approximately 50 members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), ending the investigation into the August 23 terror attack that killed 17-year-old Rina Shnerb and revealing the organisation’s ties to BDS, JNS reported. Shnerb’s brother and father, both of whom were with her during the explosion were injured, but survived.

One of those arrested was Khalida Jarrar, who is said to be the head of the terror group’s operations in the West Bank, served as the vice chairperson, director and board member of the BDS organisation Addameer, according to JNS. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement calls on the world to put pressure on Israel through economic, academic and cultural measures.

In a report entitled, “Terrorists in Suits,” Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs revealed that Hamas and PFLP members invaded organisations involved in BDS, according to JNS. The report stated that 30 terrorists, 20 of whom were imprisoned for their crimes, held senior positions in the 13 BDS organisations that were investigated. More than 100 connections between terror organisations and BDS were uncovered.

Meanwhile, a resolution banning the popular Sabra hummus brand from Dickinson College of Carlisle, Pennsylvania (pop. 19,196) has been passed by the Student Senate, as reported December 5 by news editor Lianna Brown (class of ‘22) in The Dickinsonian.

Sabra brand hummus has been targeted by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) list on many college campuses since 2010, including Swarthmore College, University of Manchester, and University of California Riverside.  Like at Dickinson, the claim for removing Sabra hummus originates from the BDS movement, which cites ownership of Sabra by two independent global food companies, US-based PepsiCo, and Strauss Group, based in Israel.

biffWell, waddya know, Hamas and hummus, two sides of the same plate. In light of US President Donald Trumps’s recent executive order calling on government departments enforcing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, students on campus now have recourse and universities and colleges accepting federal support will need to examine their policies to consider whether campus activities potentially make them vulnerable to lawsuits. I can just picture it in court: exhibit A, your honour, a plate of hummus.