My Mideast Punchlines: the sound of silence….

If you haven’t been sojourning on Mars, then you know that President Donald Trump yesterday announced that the United States was officially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – a move that was greeted by mass hysteria from the western media.

Yet regardless of one’s opinion on this policy, it has a firm basis in logic, law and history.

In fact, 124 countries are involved in territorial disputes, including numerous occupations: some considered legitimate, some not. Yet 123 of those countries choose their own capitals without any question from the rest of the world. Only Israel is treated differently.

Yet, as the current hysteria begins to quieten down, I leave you with one thought: what if President Trump had announced that he recognised Jerusalem as the capital of the non-state of Palestine and not of Israel? Would there have been  protests of gevalt! from French President Macron, Theresa May and other European leaders, or would there have simply been…

The Sound of Silence.

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping…

Simon and Garfunkel



My Mideast Punchlines: a job for one and all…..

Mired in a dispute over civil servants and looming Friday deadline for the transfer of government ministries to the PA, Hamas and Fatah opted to delay the handover 10 days. It’s a perfect storm of conflicting patronage, payroll and politics:

After the 2007 power shift, the Palestinian Authority continued to pay around 60,000 staff in Gaza, despite the vast majority not working.

Hamas has hired around 50,000 civil servants to replace them in the past decade, and the future of those staff is a key sticking point.

Easy answer to massive unemployment is to turn the Strip into a socialist model economy.It works like this: employ five people to do the job of one. Like under communism, Hamas could point to full employment. The downside is, of course, that eventual bankruptcy is assured. I remember arriving in socialist Israel by boat in 1966. In order to release my trunk, I had to take my sheaf of papers to five different clerks sitting in five separate cubicles. Each one had a stamp that only he was allowed to use. It left Israel in the economic doldrums for years. The same thing used to happen at London docks (what docks?). That’s the problem with restrictive practices of any kind. Obsolescence is built-in.

My Mideast Punchlines: orange is the new black…..

Sexual harassment is a serious topic and CNN should be commended for a feature article “How it stands around the globe.”

The map highlights in orange what it terms “Arab States.” Note how Israel is also colored orange.

The only small area that isn’t colored orange is the West Bank / Judea and Samaria. While it is a positive that CNN has not marked this area as an Arab state, including Israel as one is an unacceptable and particularly stupid error.

It appears that CNN favours a one-state solution. Wishful-thinking, perhaps? With their dismal record on sexual harassment, the Arab states should have been coloured black.


My Mideast Punchlines: sad Sufis suffer for being kind….

Sinai jihadists attacked a Sufi mosque in Al Rawdah, killing more than 300 people and injuring 128 more on Friday. Survivors described 25-30 black-clad terrorists, some of whom carried Islamic State flags, taking up positions by the mosques doors and windows, opening fire and lobbing grenades inside. Among the dead were 27 children:

So composed were the militants that they methodically checked their victims for any sign of life after the initial round of blazing gunfire. Those still moving or breathing received a bullet to the head or the chest, the witnesses said. When the ambulances arrived they shot at them, repelling them as they got back into their vehicles and fled.

In the fallout from the massacre, Egypt delayed the planned opening of the Rafah border crossing with Gaza.

The Sufis are the most tolerant of all Muslims. Indeed, if all Muslims were Sufis, what a different world it would be. Just think, no Islamic fundamentalism, no Islamic State, no Wahabi-inspired fanaticism, no Muslim Brotherhood, no Israel-Palestinian problem. Indeed, everyone would love the Muslims and, perhaps more importantly, the Muslims would love each other. Instead, yet another massacre. This time it was the turn of a gentle people regarded as apostates by their co-religionists. How sad. How sick.


My Mideast Punchlines: Teheran tentacles….

Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the chief commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), issued new threats against Israel on Thursday, vowing that any future conflict will be the Jewish state’s last.

“It is a proven claim that today we say any new war will lead to the eradication of the Zionist regime,” said Jafari at a Tehran press conference, according to Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency.

I recall discussing the Iranian threat with a Parsi Jewish cobbler in Tel Aviv a few years back. Originally from Teheran, he raised his hand to make a ‘blah-blah’ sign. I prefer to take the Iranian threat more seriously. The Teheran tentacles are spreading throughout the Middle East, and an indifferent world should be constantly reminded that “first, they come for the Jews…..”

My Mideast Punchlines: why Vlad is Putin on the Ritz…

John Kerry turns out to have been even more of an idiot than we’d thought.

Recordings have just surfaced of a speech the then-secretary of state gave in Dubai last December — where he explained that the failure to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is . . . Israel’s fault.

“The Palestinians have done an extraordinary job of remaining committed to nonviolence,” he said — ignoring that fact that the Palestinian Authority rewards terrorists (“martyrs”) and their survivors with cash stipends and has its schools teach Jew-hatred.

And Hamas, which rules Gaza and is now once again partnering with the PA’s Fatah leadership, doesn’t even pretend to believe in nonviolence: It’s dedicated to Israel’s destruction and to atrocities against Jews.

The peripatetic second half of the Dumb and Dumber duo running the previous U.S. administration spent years shuttling to and fro in the Middle East in a bid for “peace”. Kerry spent months wringing concessions out of Israel for a possible deal — only to have PA chief Mahmoud Abbas reject the draft out of hand, and refuse further negotiations. And we mustn’t forget that the worst foreign policy in U.S. history has left Russia and Iran with an ever-strengthening foothold in the Middle East. The sight of Putin, Rouhani and Erdogan hugging each other in Sochi  this week made me feel physically sick. Thanks to O’Barmy and Kerry, it’s no wonder Vladimir the Impaler is Putin on the Ritz!



My Mideast Punchlines: walking a tightrope….

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri returned to Beirut and suspended his resignation. What happens  nextisn’t clear, but nebulous feelgood words like dialoguepartnerships and discussion figured prominently in Reuters and Asharq al Awsat coverage.

Odds are shortening that Hariri could go the same way as his father, Rafic. The former Lebanese premier was vaporised by a massive 1,000-kilo bomb that blew up his motorcade in Beirut in 2005. Fake news now tries to pin it all on Israel (as per usual), but you can bet your bottom dollar that it was Assad. The Syrian president at one time threatened to destroy Lebanon if his opponents there didn’t toe the line. Not before destroying his own country first, of course. Inside or outside Lebanon, Saad Hariri remains the world’s most endangered tightrope walker.

My Mideast Punchlines: the natives are restless…..

An initially positive feature on the BBC Travel website focuses on the Israel city of Caesarea, specifically the discovery of 2,000 gold coins on the ocean floor, the largest stash ever found in the region.

The author of the piece covers Caesarea’s fascinating ancient history, referring to Phoenicians and Greeks and eventually the Romans:

“By 6AD, Caesarea was the capital of Roman Palestine….and when the native people revolted against Roman rule….

By 6AD, Caesarea was the capital of the Roman province of Judea and was not known as “Roman Palestine” or “Palestine.” It was only later, following the suppression of the Bar-Kokhba Revolt in the year 135AD that the Romans changed the name of the province to Syria Palaestina.

And no prizes for guessing who were the “natives”. The name Judea is a clue, although this is seemingly lost on the “natives” of Bush House.

My Mideast Punchlines: well and truly cooked…..

Among the feeding frenzy of coverage in the UK media as government minister Priti Patel was forced to resign over undeclared meetings with Israeli politicians, so the Palestinians attempted to add their voices.

The self-styled Palestinian ‘ambassador’ to the UK, Manuel Hassassian, was quoted as such by almost every newspaper, although the Palestinians do not have an embassy in London, but simply a Representative Office.

Hassassian said Ms Patel’s actions were “shocking”, including her offer to send money to the Israeli army. He told ITV news: “how could a cabinet minister try to funnel funding for one side and pretend the other side is not existing?”

The same way the Cabinet funnels funding to the Palestinians that ends up in the coffers of their leaders, that’s how. What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander. The great pity of it all is that Ms Patel’s goose has been well and truly cooked by a British Foreign Office that remains as pro-Arab as ever.