Monday, July 24, 2006

I rarely watch the news on TV. In any case, the news of late has been numbingly and depressingly repetitive. Katyushas landed causing casualties, the air force struck targets, ground forces suffered casualties, some politician said something or other. Like in Groundhog Day, we seem to be doomed to live the same day over and over again until we get it right.

And yet in the midst of this high drama, there is a tiny bit of comic relief. Every day there is a new "envoy" who has come to bring good tidings from "the world". The world believes that we must "give peace a chance". What is needed is diplomacy, restraint and hundreds of other duplicitous words pulled straight out of some Orwellian thesaurus. Like most people, I used to watch these guys and start muttering something like, "Who the f%$# does that Nazi scumbag think he is to give us morality lessons bla bla bla".

I finally caught on that this is the wrong approach. The last thing these guys expect is to have their little soliloquies taken seriously. They're just character actors, on what they think is a sitcom, doing their shtick.

With this in mind, have another look at that French Minister of Self-Righteousness, just blown in for cocktails with Shimon Peres, as he holds court on the Evening News. Ignore the words (easy for me since, unlike my cultured friends, I don't speak a word of French). Think Kramer barging through Jerry's door in a mad fit over some bit of inanity. It's intended to be amusing. "The French Republique (pregnant pause, look to the right, look to the left), bleh bleh bleh Violance! bleh bleh bleh Securite! bleh bleh bleh Egalitaire! (double pregnant pause, self-satisfied smile, imagines wild applause on the laugh track)." The French are not even trying to do politics; they're just letting the world know that they're still doing business with Upper Case Nouns.

The German envoy character is always the most congenial of the bit players to pass through our little drama. Hans will always be seen yukking it up with "my good friend Shimon", in a relentless display of cheery good fellowship. Ignore the words. Here's the subtext: "We're getting on just fabulously here with Shimon and the other Juden, so we can assume that all that, um, unpleasantness is behind us, yah? Shtimmt. So here's what we were thinking you ought to do now..." Jawohl.

The English chap is despairing of ever securing the Middle East on behalf of Her Majesty. But he will explain to the natives yet again -- with the exasperated look of a schoolmaster teaching declensions to the sons of coalminers -- that their own interests would be best served if only they would listen to the voice of reason bla bla bla bla.

The beauty of the EU and the UN is that they ensure that the world stage isn't hogged by recently-decayed empires. Long-ago-decayed empires and never-will-be empires also get to do a soliloquy from time time. The EU always sends us some guy from a place where the last major cultural event was an auto-de-fe. His role is to bring pride to the bullfighters and cork-growers back home by swaggering as if he comes from a real country. The UN sends us a Scandinavian whose role is to absolutely never lose his cool even if he has to clench his teeth every time he mentions Israel's name. And, finally, the ultimate cameo role always goes to Kofi Annan, who does that passive-aggressive thing even better than the Brits in one of whose colonies he was born. In short, his role is to be the only guy even whiter than the Scandinavian.

So, like I say, whenever one of these characters turns up on your TV screen, just kick off your shoes and imagine you're watching a rerun of Hogan's Heroes. It'll add years to your life.


Blogger Rafael V. Rabinovich said...

We indeed have our selves to blame. Not for the "disproportionate" BS. There are no rules of fairplay in WAR.

We have ourselves to blame, for we've created the Golem which now turned against us.

Israel GAVE Southern Lebanon away to Hizballah, betraying our South-Lebanese Christian friends and allies. Israel GAVE the Gaza strip to Hamas, betraying the JEWISH residents who suddenly went from wealthy farmers to homeless, jobless, internal refugees.

Giving land away -- even if done in the name of peace -- is poison to the life and prosperity of our nation.

Are we learning anything?

Not yet. Olmert still thinks he's going to go ahead with the HitnatKRAP!

7:31 PM  
Anonymous marallyn said...

ahhhhhhhhhhhhh now i get it...thanks...what a relief...i can feel my blood pressure lowering even as i type...shabbat shalom...stay safe...thanks

5:52 AM  
Anonymous peter sampson said...

NOAM CHOMSKY: Yeah. Well, he's correct that hundreds of rockets have been fired, and naturally that has to be stopped. But he didn't mention, or maybe at least in this comment, that the rockets were fired after the heavy Israeli attacks against Lebanon, which killed -- well, latest reports, maybe 60 or so people and destroyed a lot of infrastructure. As always, things have precedence, and you have to decide which was the inciting event. In my view, the inciting event in the present case, events, are those that I mentioned -- the constant intense repression; plenty of abductions; plenty of atrocities in Gaza; the steady takeover of the West Bank, which, in effect, if it continues, is just the murder of a nation, the end of Palestine; the abduction on June 24 of the two Gaza civilians; and then the reaction to the abduction of Corporal Shalit. And there's a difference, incidentally, between abduction of civilians and abduction of soldiers. Even international humanitarian law makes that distinction.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about what that distinction is?

NOAM CHOMSKY: If there's a conflict going on, aside physical war, not in a military conflict going on, abduction -- if soldiers are captured, they are to be treated humanely. But it is not a crime at the level of capture of civilians and bringing them across the border into your own country. That's a serious crime. And that's the one that's not reported. And, in fact, remember that -- I mean, I don’t have to tell you that there are constant attacks going on in Gaza, which is basically a prison, huge prison, under constant attack all the time: economic strangulation, military attack, assassinations, and so on. In comparison with that, abduction of a soldier, whatever one thinks about it, doesn't rank high in the scale of atrocities.

9:41 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Heh. Thanks for shedding a bit of humor on a non-humorous subject. Well said.

7:41 PM  
Anonymous blair baker said...

Donald Rumsfeld briefed the President this morning. He told Bush that Three Brazilian soldiers were killed in Iraq. To everyone's amazement, all of the color ran from Bush's face, then he collapsed onto his desk, head in hands, visibly shaken, almost whimpering. Finally, he composed himself and asked Rumsfeld, "Just exactly how many is a brazillion?"

10:51 PM  
Anonymous Daniel said...

Shalom. I am the publisher of Herut, blog in spanish. I invite you to visit Herut and to leaving your commentaries. Excuse me, but my English is very bad. The direction is:

Congratulations for your blog.

6:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check your blog all the time. As do others in my place of work. We wish you would blog more often - or are you in miluim?

6:38 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

I'm away. Will blog again when I can.


11:21 PM  

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