My Mideast Punchlines: formidable, messieurs!

The lower house of France’s parliament on Tuesday approved a draft resolution that calls hate of Israel a form of anti-Semitism, drawing praise from Jerusalem and Jewish groups.

The 577 members of the National Assembly voted on the draft, which also calls on the government to join other European nations in adopting the definition of anti-Semitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

biffFormidable, mes amies! The Dreyfusards among us greet the news with just two words: about time! The French move will be highly irritating for liberals and lefties, especially one Jeremy Corbyn.

I’m a simple soul. In the Israel-Palestinian conflict, one side wants the other dead. How any rational person can support the cause of a misogynistic medieval culture at the expense of the only democracy in the Middle East is beyond me. Is anti-Zionism modern anti-Semitism? You bet it is. Heaven protect us from the politically correct liberals and Marxists like Corbyn who want to emasculate this country.

I am reminded of the poem by Martin Niemöller (1892–1984), who was a prominent Lutheran pastor in Germany. He emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps. He is perhaps best remembered for these words:

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

The modern version would be….First they came for the Israelis, then they came for me…but not now in France, it seems. You know, I don’t recall the last time I had something nice to say about the French, so once again: formidable, messieurs!


My Mideast Punchlines: black and white…

Israel will no longer release the bodies of terrorists, according to what appeared a new policy by Defence Minister Naftali Bennett.

This will be the case regardless of which terrorist organisation the person belonged to.

Bennett instructed the IDF and the defence establishment on Tuesday to completely stop the release of terrorist bodies. The decision came following a number of discussions that he held on the issue of deterrence with senior security officials.

Exceptions, according to a statement by the Defence Ministry, will only be made in extenuating circumstances and at the discretion of the defence minister.

The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday called Israel a “terrorist entity” after the announcement.

In Israel, Arab Joint List MK Yousef Jabareen said: “Bennett is despicably politicising a humanitarian issue, and that should be steadfastly opposed. Holding on to bodies and preventing immediate burial are immoral and violate international law…”

biffA well-known British politician once said that some British Jews do not understand English irony. Well, it’s safe to say that all Arabs certainly do not understand irony. Islamic culture just doesn’t allow for it, especially where the Infidel is concerned. The jabberings of Mr Jabareen take no account of the refusal by Hamas to release the bodies of dead Israeli soldiers, let alone to free two Israeli civilians who wandered across the divide and have been rotting in a Gazan jail for years. Conscience and irony play no part in a culture that sees everything in black and white.

My Mideast Punchlines: shameless….

Two political countdown clocks started ticking on Thursday.

The first started after President Reuven Rivlin officially gave the Knesset, represented by Speaker Yuli Edelstein, the mandate to find someone who 61 MKs support to form the next government. That is a 21-day clock; the buzzer will go off on December 11 at midnight.

The second started when Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit announced that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Now, Netanyahu has 30 days – until December 22 – to ask the Knesset to grant him immunity from prosecution.

biffIf you want to discover more about this extraordinarily complicated saga, then you’ll have to do some more research yourselves. My punchlines are deliberately kept short to avoid sliding across the boredom threshold. Suffice it to say that Mandelblit’s decision represents the greatest threat to Israel’s waning democracy. The country is run by lawyers for the sake of lawyers, most of whom are lefties. I suffered from a corrupt system myself in my failed medical negligence case in Jerusalem. But that pales into insignificance when compared to the witch-hunts against Bibi Netanyahu and his friend Donald Trump. Senior American jurists appeared before Mandelblit in Netanyahu’s (self-evidently unserious) pre-indictment hearing to warn him that pursuing bribery charges against politicians for receiving positive coverage is a recipe for destroying freedom of the press and democracy itself. If Netanyahu is found guilty of crimes that were invented for the purpose of destroying him, then at the drop of a hat the goose of other politicians — left and right — will also be cooked by those lawyers. And here’s the real punchline: Netanyahu never received the favourable coverage from the media organ accused of providing it. Now you know why the general public despise lawyers almost as much as they do estate agents. The law should be above politics, but it never is. Meanwhile, the left-inspired circuses against Bibi and Trump continue to gain momentum. It’s bound to end in tears — so let’s hope it does so for those shameless lefty lawyers.


My Mideast Punchlines: double standards..

US Democratic presidential candidates, including front-runners Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, last Monday condemned US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement that the Trump administration was softening its position on Israeli settlements.

Pompeo told reporters at the State Department that “the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law,” breaking with decades of US policy.

Vermont Senator Sanders denounced the move, saying that “Israeli settlements in occupied territory are illegal. This is clear from international law and multiple United Nations resolutions. Once again, Mr. Trump is isolating the United States and undermining diplomacy by pandering to his extremist base.”

biffThe bald-faced lies of the Democratic cohort represent the moral bankruptcy of the Democratic party. Firstly, the Israeli settlements are and never have been illegal under international law. Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War, the 1920 San Remo conference of the Great Powers agreed that Jews had the right to settle anywhere in their ancient homeland — and this included even Gaza and what is today part of Jordan. The resolution, ratified by the League of Nations, has never been abrogated, and Trump’s team of lawyers came to the same conclusion. It is fair to say that the territories administered by Israel are disputed, but that’s about it. For the Democrats, not to speak of the European Union and various international courts, to say otherwise is a double standard of the worst kind.

My Mideast Punchlines: double-speak…

When Iran speaks of wiping Israel off the map, it doesn’t mean the mass slaughter of the country’s Jews but rather eliminating the Jewish state’s “imposed regime” of “thugs such as Netanyahu,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Friday.

“The disappearance of Israel does not mean the disappearance of the Jewish people, because we have nothing against [Jews],” Khamenei said, speaking alongside senior Iranian officials at the so-called 33rd International Islamic Unity Conference.

Khamenei further argued that “had the Islamic world been committed to unity, there would have been no tragedy in Palestine.” He lamented that Muslims couldn’t even adhere to what he called the lowest level of unity — non-aggression between Muslims.

“We are not anti-Semitic. Jews are living in utmost safety in our country. We only support the people of Palestine and their independence,” he said.

biffThere are only 10,000 Jews in Iran, so not much threat to the regime there. But most telling was Khamenei’s lament about Moslem disunity. Millions of Muslims have been slaughtered by other Muslims since the second world war. Khamenei and his ilk are always spouting that Islam is the solution, when it is clearly part of the problem.  If he’s so intent on espousing peace to all (except “thugs” like Bibi Netanyahu), he should do the world a favour by shaving off his hair and beard, donning saffron robes and then prancing along Oxford Street singing Hari Krishna.

My Mideast Punchlines: pure scatology…

A Jordanian television host called to “trample underfoot” the country’s peace treaty with Israel and “gouge out the eyes” of Israelis on Tuesday following the return to Jordanian hands of two small border areas farmed by Israel under the two nations’ 1994 peace agreement.

The treaty had created special arrangements for Israeli farmers and their employees to work lands in Naharayim and the southern Tzofar enclave on the northern end of the countries’ shared border for 25 years.

In a Tuesday comment on Jordan Today TV, host Rana Hmouz celebrated the Jordanian decision, and then called for the cancellation of the peace treaty itself, followed by the destruction of Israel.

She added: “After Baqoura, we want to gouge out the eyes of the Zionists and their [Arab] supporters. After Ghumar, we want [our hearts] to overflow with joy when we annul the peace agreement in support of the blood of our martyrs and the Arab identity of Palestine.”

biffAdmittedly, and despite her heavily bottoxed lips, Ms Hmouz is a bit of a looker. Such a pity, then, that the only thing that comes out of her mouth is scatalogical invective. Whenever I wake up in the morning bemoaning how hard it can be to be a Jew, I’m always comforted by the fact that at least I’m not an Arab. Ps. You wouldn’t have thought that we have a peace agreement with Jordan, would you?

My Mideast Punchlines: buzz, buzz….

As of this writing, the ceasefire between Israel and Islamic Jihad seems to be holding. So what lessons can be learned? Well, this was the first time that Israel and its security forces distinguished between Islamic Jihad and Hamas, and, secondly, Hamas stayed out of the fighting.

But the main lesson is that it’s damned hard contesting an asymmetrical war while fighting with one hand tied behind your back. IJ or Hamas can rocket Israeli citizens with impunity, at least when it comes to facing international justice for war crimes, whereas Israel has to be ultra careful in not killing or maiming “innocent” civilians.

Recognising that any attempt to overwhelm the IDF in a frontal assault is doomed to failure, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have sought to exhaust Israel through continuous numerous mosquito-like “stings.”

Contrary to the belief that the IDF’s prowess will enable it to easily defeat any threat from the prospective Palestinian state, the Gaza experience in general and the latest conflagration in particular illustrate the limits of Israeli power.

biffWith half the country being paralysed in the current round, the major lesson to be learned is that there can never be a two-state solution. The West Bank would become Gaza overnight. Life in the Jewish State would become untenable. Meanwhile, the Gazan mosquitoes will keep on biting until Israel is forced into a massive incursion. However, as the Arabs saying goes: entering a bathroom isn’t like leaving it (meaning, it’s not easy getting out of tricky situations).


My Mideast Punchlines: damned if you do…

Best line in the current round of fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad in Gaza has come from interim defence minister Naftali Bennett:

“This morning we send a clear message to all our enemies, wherever they may be: Whoever plans to hurt us during the day can never be sure that he will make it through the night. You were and will remain in our crosshairs.”

biffBennett’s message was not solely aimed at IJ leaders. As of now, Hamas is keeping a low profile. It is in the unenviable position of being regarded as pusillanimous by the Gaza street for not standing shoulder to shoulder with its weaker brothers in the resistance. On the other hand, they’d love nothing better than to have the Islamic Jihad millstone removed from around their necks. With the threat of renewed targeted assassinations against them, the message to the Hamas leadership is clear: you’re damned if you do, and  you’re damned if you don’t.


My Mideast Punchlines: leg up…and over

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday mocked Israel’s political system and joked, at a Jewish event, that if impeached he could move to Israel and become prime minister.

“What kind of a system is it over there, right? They are all fighting and fighting,” Trump said, addressing an event hosted by the Orthodox organization America First in New York City.

“We have different kinds of fights. At least we know who the boss is. They keep having elections and nobody is elected,” he quipped, eliciting laughter.

“If anything happens here” — a likely reference to efforts in the US Congress to impeach him — “I’m making a trip over to Israel and I’d be prime minister there very soon,” he continued, receiving more applause.

biffWell, Mr President, to paraphrase past Israeli leaders, that’s what you get when you are a prime minister of a nation of millions of prime ministers. Not being erudite, Trump missed the opportunity to quote a fellow Republican president, one Abe Lincoln, who praised his Jewish chiropodist for “putting me on my feet so many times that I would have no objection to giving his countryman a leg up.” One thinks that rather than giving Israel a  leg up during the current electoral malaise, Trump would be hankering to get his leg over Israeli beauties like movie star Gal Gadot.

My Mideast Punchlines: boo-boys…

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz was booed Sunday as he entered the wedding of the son of ultra-Orthodox lawmaker Yaakov Asher, where protesters called him a “terrorist” and told him to “go to the Arabs.”

Right-wing parties have accused Gantz of planning to establish a minority government propped up by the Arab parties.

President Reuven Rivlin last month tasked Gantz with attempting to form a coalition, after Netanyahu failed in the wake of the September 17 elections. But Gantz’s chances of succeeding where the prime minister failed are seen as just as slim, with the Netanyahu-led bloc of 55 lawmakers Likud formed with ultra-Orthodox and national-religious factions vowing to only enter a government together.

biffThus Israel’s electoral malaise continues ad nauseam. The choice between a government containing fifth-column Arabs and people who believe the dinosaurs never existed is no choice at all. As is often said, you don’t have to be crazy to live in Israel, but it helps.