Oh Mitten, kitten, what ARE we gonna do with ya? More on that in just a sec, but never mind that right now! Kind words were bestowed upon a certain book faithful readers of this irregular fine and friendly feature may have heard of. It may have taken a few weeks for the first review to clear the bowels of a large media organ, but we couldn’t have hoped for a better one.
“Skewering [Israeli] policy with moral clarity and discomfiting honesty”
“[Israeli Dissidents] offers plenty for more keyed-in readers. […] many of the articles are well-researched, magazine-length pieces of hard-hitting journalism — usually providing far more detail than the mainstream media.”
“Idan Landau’s article on the troubling relationship between the US military industrial complex and aid to Israel is a must-read for anyone interested in the international dynamics that fund the violence here.”
“Landau’s articles on Israeli policies in East Jerusalem’s Silwan and the Jordan Valley are illuminating and incisive condemnations of the occupation’s bureaucracy that will surely leave its apologists speechless.”
There’s more, but my readers be quick on the uptake so y’all get the drift by now. Mightily pleased, although I am willing to lay good money that the one about typical snarky blog posts was directed at someone I know from around the way in the mirror… but I don’t care. As long as Idan’s work gets credit, and the rest of the authors are favorably mentioned, I’z a happy trooper.
So read the whole thing, then read the book if ya haven’t already, and see if you agree with the kind Mr. Davis, whom you should follow for informed ME stuff and general intereting-ness (Yeah it’s a word. I just said it.)
Sales spiked, btw, after the review, but we need more coverage. If you work for a media organ with serious reach or have a following of sufficient size and think the book deserves exposure, please do what you can, and the blessings of the Goddess be with you.
But enough about Israeli Dissidents and its glorious march for now, and let us turn our eyes to the pilgrim’s progress. By now you’ve all heard about the Romney camp’s trifecta of gaffes in England, Poland and the Holy Land. But for those of you who rely solely on me for incisive commentary (bad choice btw. Always vary your intel), I will repeat some of the salient points about the erroneous and offensive remarks Dullard made, mention a the leading explanations for them and offer one I haven’t seen elsewhere as of yet.
Willard, as you may recall (that’s his actual name. Mitt is a middle name), unburdened himself of a certain, um, deterministic worldview, if not a an outright bigoted one, when he said that
“I was thinking this morning as I prepared to come into this room of a discussion I had across the country in the United States about my perceptions about differences between countries. And as you come here and you see the GDP per capita for instance in Israel which is about 21,000 dollars and you compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority which is more like 10,000 dollars per capita you notice a dramatic, stark difference in economic vitality. And that is also between other countries that are near or next to each other. Chile and Ecuador, Mexico and the United States. [...]
[Romney then alluded to a point made in "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations," a book by former Harvard professor David S. Landes:]
“Culture makes all the difference. And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things. One, I recognize the hand of providence in selecting this place.”
Let’s parse this, shall we?
The standard bearer of the Republican party, when asked (by himself) to name the two key causes for the economic disparity between Israel and its occupied Paltustanian Authority, names “culture”, and “Providence”
- The reason Israelis enjoy a higher standard of living is that they have the more success-oriented culture, and
- God likes them better.
Now, just to set the record straight, and withholding my usual invective, this pitifully simplistic analysis omits a few key elements:1) Israel controls all of the Palestinian territories. The sham of the Oslo-era A, B and C territories notwithstanding. Israel controls everything that goes in or out of “Palestine” and levies a hefty price for allowing things through. Where imports from Arab countries (which don’t have trade with Israel but will gladly sell to Palestinians) might adversely impact sales by Israeli manufacturers, they are seldom allowed. Security, you see. Just an example.
2) Israel controls ALL of the resources of “Palestine” – be they mineral or ethereal. Israel controls the airspace, the frequencies, the bandwith, etc. All that invisible stuff necessary for progress these days.
3) This deserves its own entry: The WATER (which, even when pumped from under Palestinian land, costs a Palestinian 20 times as much as an Israeli.) Israeli and Palestinian have neighboring enterprises, equally dependent on water. Which of them will more easily turn a profit? The one with the superior (kleptocratic) culture, of course! Not even going into the intentional dehydration of entire areas of “Palestine”. Just on the economic competitive level.
4) In fact, Israel controls the very soil. Israel operates almost all the quarries, and 94% of the soil and rock quarried in “Palestine” is used in Israel or in the settlements. (Israel’s vaunted beacon-of-the-rule-of-law High Court ruled this perfectly OK, since the Palestinian economy benefits by Palestinians working in the quarries).
I mean, just look at all the construction on this side, and over there (as Jon Stewart’s correspondent put it so well) they just choose to live in rubble! Clear case of culture inferiority. Nothing to be done about it
We’ll stop here, though there is of course much more. It’s amazing how when you control everything and anything a people do, make them pay 20 times more for their own water, systematically displace significant little chunks of them all the time, and don’t even let them use their own rocks and dirt for construction – those people suddenly don’t seem to have the right “culture” to compete.
So no, Governor. It’s not all about culture, unless by “culture” you mean rank, vicious, fanatically-inspired colonialism. In fact, if that 10K GNP number wasn’t inflated by donations, it would represent a WILD success under the circumstances. Just as Israel’s Olympic athletes are mostly HUGELY successful when you factor in how little is invested in them. Israel ranks in the absolute cellar of investment in sports per GDP. In the entire world. Countries as developed as New Zealand and as troubled as Zimbabwe invest more. For an Israeli to make an Olympic swimming final means that had his parents relocated to ANY first world country, he would have undoubtedly (barring seriously bad luck absent from the Israeli iteration) had a medal. For an Israeli to win Bronze is a sure gold for the exact same talent in any OECD country and quite a few more. A GNP/GDP of $10K under the utterly kleptocratic occupation would be astonishing.
Even as it is, there is nothing to worry about the Palestinian “culture” when it comes to making money. Palestinians, and my friends of that nation will forgive me if I mention this, are admiringly / disparagingly known as “The Jews of the Arab World”. Their business acumen built the Gulf countries. Palestinian Hi-Tech, while not as dominant as Israel’s (much of Israel’s Hi-Tech juggernaut is militarily-fueled, btw),is quite nimble, inventive and altogether admirable – especially when it has to operate under uncertain power supplies, at times. Governor Romney would know that had he bothered to make an even perfunctory visit 10 miles away.
So why did Romney – why was he even allowed by his handlers – to say such outrageous, offensive, blatantly ignorant and compromising things? I mean, forget the Israeli issue; Are you REALLY courting the crucial Hispanic vote (Hello, Sunshine State!) by saying that the US’s advantage over Mexico was a sheer result of culture? Aren’t you like half from Mexico or some shit, dipshit? (oops, sorry. I’ll try harder).
The obvious answer, much discussed, is Sheldon (the glorified little numbers-runner that could) Adelson, the man who is determined to out-Soros everyone for all time and sink a rumored $100M (either total or on top of eight figures he sunk into Newt) in the upcomin’ in order to unseat the sitting President.
We’ll get to Sheldon and his troubling and innovative role in the upcomin’, but first my own angle, offensive as it may sound to some truly decent and interesting acquaintances, as to why Romney found it so easy to say such an unnecessarily damaging thing.
Mormons are Philo-semites. It’s a thing with them to feel affinity and admiration towards the Jewish People. Joe Smith intentionally or impromptu-like modeled the forced immigration of his church on the Exodus, and no Christian sect save the Jesuits stresses learning for learning’s sake like Jews do. This is not accidental (Ken Jennings was not a fluke), nor overlooked by Mormons.
Sometimes this admiration can feel icky to Jews. Not just myself, most thinking Jews I know from a broad spectrum of opinions find it anywhere from tedious and perplexing to downright creepy at times, depending on the variety they ran into. Some of the non-thinkers are happy about it, while some of the non and thinkers alike have enough residual yid/yahudi instincts to politely accept whatever benefit but be internally wary.
Oh, and how could I forget. The mormons claim some kind of genetic or cultural link to ancient proto-Judaism because according to their mythology, around 600 BCE a Judean priest (or Levite??) named Lehi escaped the impending doom (fall of the first temple in 586 BCE) and tumbled all the way to the new world, where… (read the Book of Mormon for the rest).
Just wanted to mention this, because I believe it IS a factor. And now to THE factor:
So Adelson wants to invest as much money as he feels like to unseat the President. This, in itself, is legal and one may argue even legitimate. Odious as some (cough, cough) may find it, “Citizens United” is the law of the land in the US. The desire to unseat a sitting President in itself is most legitimate and needs no excuse. Most of the time I’d like to unseat the current bastid myself, if I could see anyone better to the right of of the sadly long-shottish Bernie Sanders (love ya, you curmudgeonly Yankee geezer).
What makes Adelson – and Willard’s subservience to him – unprecedented (on top of his unprecedented meddling in Israeli politics) is that Adelson’s chief motivation for this largesse is the benefit of a foreign power. Think about it. It’s one thing to say “I’m a businessman, my primary political concern is the benefit of my business, so I’m gonna do my tootin’ darndest to make sure there’s a President whose budgets and policies benefit me and mine”. This is what is called “the pursuit of happiness”. It is quite another to say “My chief concern is the benefit of a single FOREIGN nation and I’m going to pour in amounts that have never been poured on behalf of a single issue, to the benefit of that nation and not even pretend to be motivated by US interests unrelated to the welfare of that nation.
Of course, Adelson apologists would insist that he is the perfect patriot who just happens to see US and Hawkish-Israeli interests perfectly aligned. However, those not emotionally invested in Israel – and, shocking as it may sound, not everyone is or can be expected to be – should see that for what it is. There is no such thing as absolute accord between the interests of any two countries.
There are laws against this, and for good reason. Adelson eludes those laws because he is an American citizen and is serving as a willing, voluntary and (as far as anyone can prove) uncoordinated agent on behalf of the current Israeli administration.
However, Adelson-Romney’s conduct bodes very very ill for the American electoral system and American sovereignty. Even if you like what Adelson is pushing for, you can’t seriously believe that there won’t be an Arab Adelson. A Chinese one. A Russian one. (Yo, Mikhail Prokharov, kagdela?)
It also bodes extremely ill for American Jewry to have Israel used so blatantly as a wedge issue, by a man like Adelson. An entire generation of democrats is learning to despise both. Israel’s greatest success over the years was using its influential American minority to attain true consensus-level in American politics. It was never a wedge-issue before because differences were truly negligible. They still are, so the Republicans are going back to their religious roots and thinking up auto-de-fas.
IN FOUR YEARS, OBAMA HASN’T VISITED ISRAEL ONCE!!! screams the Adelson campaign. In 12 years, neither Reagan (Gipper on the Deck! Atten-shun!) nor Bush Sr. (still, a Republican) visited Israel once. So? Nixon did, but only in his second term, and Ike didn’t, and we weren’t around for Hoover. Mmkay?
WTF? Is Adelson insane? Never mind Romney, who’s nauseatingly willing to parrot whatever his moneybags dictates, pretending that once ensconced he won’t pursue what all first-term presidents do (a second term) by the same means that got him there in the first place – only this time with actual policy and soldiers rather than just words.
Does Adelson, for all his prattling about his Jewish pride (he famously said that he regrets serving in the US military and not the IDF. However, he apparently does not regret living the US lifestyle rather than that of the object of his burning loyalty) – does this man really have so little connection to his Jewish roots to not understand how dangerous this is? That there will be terrible consequences for the most successfully integrated yet proudly distinct Jewish diasporum ever should the slightest thing go wrong, and a fall from that crucial consensual status regardless? Does Adelson see himself or his sock-puppet Bibinocchio as the Messiah, so there will be no consequence?
This, Chief Justice Roberts, is what you have wrought. Find a way to mend it, as you will be Chief for a long time to come. As an American, I cannot believe you approve.
I had lots in store to say about internal-Israeli stuff, which is also fascinating in its unraveling into hell (Remember a few months ago when it was “King Bibi”? Well, now folks be wondering what’s ailing the man and how he screwed up so badly, and in last weekend’s social justice protests there was a wonderful sign: We Don’t Want A King, We Want A Leader. The “king” was transliterated from English, as a contempt intensifier).
However, shit be getting long and I owe that stuff to my long-neglected readers in Hebrew first. So comment, share, make some goddamn noise if you learned anything from the above or think others will, and make me want to do the next one afore it get stale.
Oh yeah, y’all recollect this? Well, seems like we gots ourselves a reader in Shin Bet Chief Yoram Cohen, who decided to stay on my good side and fessed up the ver’ next mornin’. Apparently Mr. Jawahari has been a very naughty and busy boy, allegedly not only being contacted by a Syrian Mukhabarat agent (plausible), but indeed enlisting with great alacrity and performing dazzling feats of espionage on behalf of his dastardly, horrid handlers, collecting data on tank counts, troops counts, locations of secret installations and whatnot.
Now, the Stasi KNOWS he didn’t do all this shit, save possibly being solicited by a Syrian intel agent. Maybe. So either They want to flip him and are pretending to go hard on him, or (more likely), they are punishing him, either for REFUSING to flip, or for simply not reporting that he was approached by the Syrian (which, had he done and had been found out to have done, would condemn his relatives on the Syrian side to a cruel and unusually grisly demise). I think he’s been allowed counsel by now, but not sure. Will endeavor to find out.
As always, Keyboard Radical and the Holyland Update are not responsible for any conceptions, illusions or sympathies misplaced along one of our tours. We thank you for flying the crazy skies. Please share and comment on your way out.