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.

My Mideast Punchlines: they won’t like it up ’em….

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz hit out strongly at the interim government for what he described as its inaction over repeated incidents of rocket fire from Gaza against southern Israel after a barrage of rockets was fired from Gaza by a terror group Friday night.

Gantz also implied that he would renew Israel’s former policy of assassinations against the senior terrorist leaders should he become prime minister.

“We will restore deterrence at any price, even if we need to harm those personally who are leading the escalation,” said Gantz in seeming reference to the heads of the various Gazan terrorist groups.

biffSuch retaliation, of course, is a two-edged sword. Revenge attacks would be a given, and any replacements might prove much worse. Nevertheless, in the immortal words of Cpl Jones in Dad’s Army, “they don’t like it up ’em”. While Jones, of course, was referring to the old-fashioned bayonet thrust into a certain orifice, Israel is developing sophisticated weapons that will target miscreants more effectively, while keeping collateral civilian casualties to a minimum. The Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaderships should be made aware that they will all be targets, and that any replacements will be targeted immediately. Ad infinitum until the terror groups cease their attacks and Hamas changes its genocidal charter calling for Israel’s destruction. Israel must be, in a word, relentless.

As the Arab saying goes, the fruit of timidity is neither gain nor loss. No other country would countenance the continual rocketing of its border towns. The status quo needs to end.


My Mideast Punchlines: simply pants….

A Syrian Kurd undercover agent took a pair of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s underwear for DNA identification ahead of the US raid that killed the jihadist leader, a Kurdish official said Monday.

Polat Can, a senior adviser to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), published details of the intelligence work that led to the US raid in which the founder of the Islamic State group was killed.

“Al-Baghdadi changed his places of residence very often,” Polat Can said, adding that the asset managed to reach the house where the IS chief was believed to be hiding.

“Our own source, who had been able to reach al-Baghdadi, brought al-Baghdadi’s underwear to conduct a DNA test and make sure (100%) that the person in question was al-Baghdadi himself,” the adviser wrote on Twitter.

biffHow nice to know that it was “skid marks” that put the skids under the odious al-Baghdadi. I hope the undercover agent in question wore gloves. Judging by President Trump’s remarks that the terror leader whimpered and cried before he blew himself up, it’s safe to assume that any underpants he was wearing were also somewhat soiled. Also, Al-Baghdadi’s habitat was levelled, and as the Arabs say, “the house of a tyrant is a ruin”. In his case, literally.

My Mideast Punchlines: beware of bonkers Bernie…

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said Monday that part of the $3.8 billion in annual US military assistance to Israel should instead go toward humanitarian relief in Gaza.

The Vermont senator, speaking at the annual J Street national conference, vowed to use American military aid as leverage to get Israel to roll back its settlement enterprise and enter peace negotiations with the Palestinians, an idea that has gained ground among some Democrats.

“I would use the leverage of $3.8 billion,” he told the confab, referring to the US-Israel memorandum of understanding brokered under the Obama administration. “It is a lot of money, and we cannot give it carte blanche to the Israeli government, or for that matter to any government at all. We have a right to demand respect for human rights and democracy.”

biffThat’s right, bonkers Bernie, but firstly we have a right to demand respect for human rights and democracy — from Hamas. But that just ain’t gonna happen in a month of Sundays. And where do you think all that moolah you want to give them will end up? Answers on a postcard. As my Israeli father-in-law of blessed memory always used to say, beware of Diaspora Jews in high places. In his time, Austrian chancellor Bruno Kreisky was his  bête noire. “They’ll always try to prove that they’re “good Jews” by aligning themselves with those who would do us harm .”  For Shmuel, the astonishingly naive Bernie Sanders would no doubt have slipped easily into that category.

My Mideast Punchlines: stuck in a groove…

American military officials have said the operation that resulted in the killing of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi succeeded not thanks to US President Donald Trump, but despite his actions, a report said Sunday.

Trump took credit for the success of the daring Saturday nighttime raid by US special forces deep in northwest Syria, claiming in a press conference Sunday that Baghdadi had died “like a dog” and that the achievement was bigger than the killing of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden during the Obama administration.

According to The New York Times, however, the raid had been planned for months, but Trump’s recent decision to pull US troops from northern Syria “disrupted the meticulous planning and forced Pentagon officials to press ahead with a risky, night raid before their ability to control troops and spies and reconnaissance aircraft disappeared.”

Baghdadi’s death “occurred largely in spite of Mr. Trump’s actions,” the report said, citing military, intelligence and counter-terrorism officials.

biffWell, waddya know, the NYT once again pulls the rug from under The Donald. Sure, Trump is going to claim credit with the lack of humility that is his signature characteristic, but any media organ can cite officials without naming them. The so-called “newspaper of record” has become so stuck in the groove of fake news and conspiracy theories that it can no longer be taken seriously.