Archive for February, 2010

25
Feb
10

Izzie in HolyLand – Part 6

Izzie: Oh my G-d, Ehud, I’m soooo stoked about Dubai! How cool was that operation?

Barak: Yeah, it was pretty good.

Izzie: Oh, and that death squad! SOOO smoooooth. Did you check out that Gail Folliard? How hot is THAT chic?! Oh my G-d, it’s like the Mossad must have some kind of Simon Cowell filtering out the ugly ones!

Barak: Yup, she’s hot, she’s hot.

Izzie: Oh my G-d, I HAVE to call our buddies and see what they think…

Ring-Ring!!!!

Izzie: Gordi?

Brown: Izzie? Is that you?

Izzie: Yeah! Holy shit, Gordi, did you see the pics coming out of Dubai?

Brown raises his voice, making sure everyone outside the room hears him

Brown: Oi! Izzie!!! Are you bloody mad?!?! Stealing identities of British citizens?!?!?!

Izzie: (Disappointed at Brown’s reaction) But Gordi, this guy was a mega-terrorist, he –

Brown hushes Izzie up and whispers into the phone, making sure nobody hears

Brown: Shhh, I know, I know… great job Izzie. Oh my G-d, I though I was watching a James Bond movie! Don’t listen to everybody ,it’s all a load of bollocks!

Raises his voice again

Brown: I’m summoning your ambassador, I hope you understand how serious this is!

Whispers again

Brown: Cheerio Izzie, keep it up! Gotta go!

Izzie: (Too happy for words) Bye Gordi!

———————————————————————————–

Ring-Ring!!!!

Izzie: Nicola?

Sarkozy: Izzie? Iz it vous?

Izzie: Oui, mi amor!

He makes sure everybody outside the room hears

Sarkozy: Merd, Izzie! Dis fooleesh operation iz a deezaster! It will not bring ze peace!

Izzie: (Once again, disappointed with the reaction) But Nicola, this guy –

Sarkozy: (Whispers) Shhhhh!! Shhh! Oh my G-d, Izzie! It was fabulous! Fantastic! I thought I was watching my favorite film, Nikita! How do you do it, tout-le-monde is so jealous!

Izzie: (Grinning widely) I know, it’s sooooo cool, huh?

Sarkozy: Oui, oui, beacoup cool!

His aide enters, so he raises his voice

Sarkozy: D’accord. I will speak to vous later! But je condemn this horribleh act of merder!!!

Izzie: Bye Nicola…

———————————————————————————–

Ring-Ring!!!!

Izzie: Kev?

Rudd: Streuth, Izzie? Is that you?

Izzie: Yeah, Kevin! How goes down under? Did you see the Dubai cam pics?

Rudd raises his voice

Rudd: Well, I’ll be stuffed! You’ve got some nerve using Ozzie passports, Izzie!

Izzie waits for the whisper. Smiles as it comes…

Rudd: Shhh! Good onya Izzie! Wow, how you guys do it I’ll never know. Our guys can barely pick out a dingo from a dog pack, mate! It was a beaut, Izzie! See ya!

Izzie: Bye Kev!

———————————————————————————–

Ring-Ring!!!!

Izzie: José?

Zapatero: Izzie? Es tu?

Izzie: Si, mi caballero!

Zapatero raises his voice

Zapatero: Estas loca?!?!? Que cigarillo have you been fumando???? Dis operacion was ee-leh-gal!

Izzie: Anything else you wanna say, José?

He whispers

Zapatero: Ay, caramba! Izzie, your Mossad is grandioso! Felicitaciones on this maravilloso act against de terroristas de bandistas conquidistas maldistas gordistas sandinistas!

Izzie: Gracias, mi querido primero ministerio! Hasta luego!

———————————————————————————–

Ring-Ring!!!!

Izzie: Baracky?

Emanuel: No, Izzie. It’s Rahm

Izzie: Oh, it’s you. So, what now, you’re taking his calls?

Emanuel: No, I was just in the office.

Izzie: Whatever. Is Barack there?

Emanuel: Yeah. But he’s busy.

Izzie: (Whispers) Fucking self-hating Jew…

Emanuel: What did you say? What the fuck did you just say now, Izzie!!?!?

Izzie: Nothing! I said “I’m still waiting for my juice!” That’s all! I asked for some juice a minute ago, jeez!

Emanuel: Yeah, right.

Izzie: Just tell Barack I called.

———————————————————————————–

Ring-Ring!!!!

Izzie: Silvio?

Berlusconi: Izzie? Iz it tu? Come sta?

Izzie: Oh, Silvio, tell me you saw the pics from Dubai…

Raising his voice, so all the consiglieri outside hear

Berlusconi: Izzie! You steala de identities off de European a nationalistas! I shoulda shoot tu in dat bellissima face of yours!

Izzie waits for the whisper

But Berlusconi raises his voice even higher

Berlusconi: But it was fantastico!!!

Izzie: Silvio!!!! SHHHH!!!! They’ll hear you!!!

Berlusconi: Who will hear? I don’t give a de fuck who is a listening. Izzie, you can a give me de telefono numero of that Gail Folliard…? I’m a having a pool party tomorrow…

22
Feb
10

Squeezable Bibi

Cross-posted with The Huffington Post

The U.S. administration has played it all wrong with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. After one year with both Netanyahu and Obama in office, the only “success” America has chalked up is a “freeze” on settlement building in the West Bank which is actually only a temporary freeze, and isn’t really enforced to begin with.

The Mideast experts in the West Wing apparently think they’re up against one tough negotiator, a guy who stands up for his principles. But if anyone in the White House would actually bother to show a bit of interest in Israeli media and its coverage of the prime minister, they would be shocked at some of the headlines which repeatedly pop up. Some of the most popular ones go a bit like this: “Bibi Backtracks Once Again” or “Bibi’s Never-Ending Zigzag”, and that old favorite “Bibi Caves in to Pressure – Again”. Everyone in Israel knows that Bibi is what we call in Hebrew “Lachitz”; he’s as squeezable as a ketchup bottle.

But this important fact seems to have evaded those D.C. experts. Indeed, what Obama and his aides have apparently failed to see is that Netanyahu is one of the weakest prime ministers this country has ever seen. As Yoel Marcus wrote just this week:

“One of Benjamin Netanyahu’s critics said the prime minister doesn’t know what to fear when he gets up in the morning. Why? Because he’s afraid. Every issue on which he feels he is likely to lose or fail – he abandons. Fact: Since coming to power he has not lost a single vote in the Knesset. He doesn’t submit any proposal on which he is liable to fail.”

2010-02-21-netanyahu.jpg

Over the past year, Netanyahu has succumbed to pressure from coalition members and from his own party that has made him renege on so many of his initiatives, it’s hard to keep count. Here are just a few examples:

Value added tax on fruits and vegetables

Netanyahu backed down from a plan to impose a Value Added Tax on fruits and vegetables after he met strong opposition from the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, a partner in his coalition. Shas Chairman Eli Yishai said that the tax would harm the weaker sectors of society. Eventually, Netanyahu claimed that “A central part of my job is to listen to the will of the people. I’ve reached the conclusion that now is not the time to impose this tax.”

The drought tax

The government had a great idea to hike up water prices to make people use less of this disappearing resource. But the huge public outcry meant that Netanyahu had to let this initiative go down the drain.

Expulsion of the children of foreign workers

Netanyahu’s government isn’t exactly known for its tolerance of minorities and foreigners. So, when he and his Interior Minister Yishai decided it was time to kick out the children of foreign workers in Israel, the public outcry worked once again. The deportations won’t begin until August 2010, assuming he sticks to his guns this time…

The Highway and Railroad Plan

Just two weeks ago, Netanyahu unveiled his plan to spend over 80 billion shekels ($20 billion) on new highways and railroads connecting the Galilee to the Negev. But officials in the Treasury got up on their hind legs and seem to have derailed this plan, as well.

National Heritage Sites

And just this morning, Netanyahu added two controversial sites to a list of sites that would be granted 400 million shekels (100 million dollars). After pressure from right-wingers, Netanyahu added the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem to the list.

The “Jobs” Law

This would have allowed municipalities across the country to appoint dozens of deputy mayors to public offices at a huge cost to the public coffers. The huge public outcry did it again (thank G-d for Israeli public outcry…).

The Absorption Budget

When Foreign Minister and head of the extreme right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party Avigdor Lieberman heard that the Absorption Ministry’s budget would be cut along with all the other ministries, he called a press conference and announced his party wouldn’t be voting with the coalition. Bibi quickly put in a call, and invited him in for a chat at his office to promise it wouldn’t happen.

Right to vote for Israelis living abroad

Netanyahu’s initiative to allow all Israelis abroad to vote will probably change drastically, if not vanish totally into thin air. The goal, of course, was to strengthen his fan base, since most of the several hundred thousand Israelis living abroad are known to lean to the right. Netanyahu has met strong opposition from his coalition partners, mainly Ehud Barak and the Labor Party. It now seems the privilege will be given only to those who left the country one year before elections.

And this is just a partial list, from one year in office.

So, why is it that small-town politicians, officials and public outcry can twist Bibi’s arm, but the leader of the free world can’t even beat him in a thumb-wrestling match? Simple. Everyone knows Bibi is “Lachitz”, and everyone knows his weak spots. Everybody knows he cares what people think of him, that he can’t take the pressure, and most importantly: all he wants is to do what most prime ministers never do – finish a full term without going to elections.

You might ask then, “Why is it that when it comes to Iran and the peace process he doesn’t give in”? Well, that’s because those are precisely the areas where he has no pressure to do otherwise – not from abroad, and not at home.

U.S. administrations have rarely put any pressure on Israeli governments. The last time Israel faced any real pressure was when Bush Sr. threatened Yitzhak Shamir that the U.S. would cancel loan guarantees – a threat which many analysts say made Shamir eventually attend the Madrid peace conference.

Obama has done nothing of the sort. Even when his envoy, George Mitchell, hinted about using the loan guarantee threat again, America failed to follow through.

And it’s a shame. Because the experts in D.C. obviously don’t know what a huge opportunity has fallen into their laps. They have no idea what a weakling of a leader Netanyahu is. He never leads. He never initiates. It’s all about survival for him.

If only they knew that with a bit of pressure, in just the right spot, they could have Bibi eating out of their hands.

19
Feb
10

Once Again, Israel Shoots Itself in Both Legs

Cross-posted with The Huffington Post

Israelis have been going on and on for decades about how nobody understands us, about how we’re fighting for a just cause, and how it’s always the other guy’s fault.

Over the years, governments in Jerusalem constantly changed their Hasbara tactics, but to no avail. (Hasbara, as Wikipedia points out, is “a term that has been used by the State of Israel and by supporters of Israel to describe their efforts to explain Israeli government policies, and to promote Israel to the world at large”.)

2010-02-18-YuliEdelstein_small.bmpJust today, The Minister of Public Information and Diaspora Affairs, Yuli Edelstein, the guy who’s basically in charge of Israeli Hasbara, told Prime Minister Netanyahu he’s swamped. Apparently, he’s so busy dealing with the repercussions of the Goldstone report and with the diplomatic effort to get sanctions against Iran, he asked Netanyahu to relieve him of some of his other duties.

Meanwhile, Edelstein managed yesterday to launch his new campaign, an ambitious attempt to enlist basically every citizen into the Foreign Ministry, by training the common Israeli in how to answer the tough questions posed while travelling abroad, or, G-d forbid, by some lunatic leftist who happens to be against the occupation (how dare they!).’

The campaign is now all over the place: Radio, TV, internet and more.

As you can probably imagine from the tone of my words thus far, I’m against such adventures. I prefer changing the policy itself to something a tad more, how shall I say, “correct”. It seems a bit more reasonable than explaining ridiculous existing policies like… “settlements”.

But when I first caught a glimpse of the campaign on TV, I cringed.

Talk about low standards… This stuff is something no advertising executive would ever want in his portfolio.

Take a look:

How pathetic is this ad? (And did you notice how terrified the “reporter” was of the camel?…)

It’s so pathetic, it’s actually mocking Israelis themselves. It shows that the Ministry believes Israelis are a bunch of ignoramuses who think that the rest of the world believes that we ride on camels, and worse: When I went into the official campaign site, I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry.

Apparently, the rest of the world thinks Israel is all one big hot desert, that we only eat falafel, that the country is ruled by a military junta, and more.

Here’s a taste from the “Myth vs. Reality” page on the site:

Myth: Israel is a primitive country.

Not true. Israel is known around the world for its achievements in the sciences, arts, technology and more.

Yes, it actually says “Not true” after each “Myth”.

Here’s one of my favorites:

Myth: Because of the settlements there is no peace.

Not true. … Tel Aviv and Jerusalem may also be seen as settlements by the Arabs…”

The pages about “Israeli History” and “Israel and its Arab Neighbors” are so conservative, they’re even more right wing than Likud policy. A very tough read.

But they certainly save the best for last, where Edlestein gives us a lesson in persuasion on the “Tips” page:

  • First listen, then speak.

  • Eye contact is very important. If you look to the sides, the person you are speaking to will feel uncomfortable.
  • Body language – Use large arm gestures, it shows that we mean well…. Smile only when you really mean it, make it an honest smile… Posture – the straighter you stand, the more confidence you demonstrate…

And it goes on, and on…

The first thing that came to mind, is that this ad blitz tells Israelis how to deal with exactly nothing. That’s right – nothing. Because people abroad aren’t going to ask Israelis on vacation how fast a camel can make it from Haifa to Tel Aviv. Instead, they might be asked something like: “So, how does it feel to live in an apartheid state?”, or “So, 1,300 Palestinians dead vs. only five Israelis during ‘Cast Lead’, how do you explain that?”. Edelstein doesn’t really give us any ammo for the tough ones, huh? I don’t know, maybe if I stand straight enough…

But then I got to thinking, how bizarre is it that this campaign coincided with the unfolding story about the Dubai killing of a Hamas militant, most probably by the Mossad. It’s just too good to be true.

Another case of Israel spitting in the face of international law, and here comes Edelstein telling us how to deal with our tarnished image abroad.

I’d pay a lot of money to see him practice what he preaches in front of UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, when he has to explain why Israel sent a death squad to Dubai and in the process stole identities of at least six British citizens to carry it out.




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