Forgive me, Reader, for I have sinned. It has been nearly three weeks since my last blog post 😉
Whether it’s because I have been so busy, trying to learn my music for the two concerts I have coming up with my choir, on March 22nd and March 23rd, both of them involving the music of Leonard Bernstein (the “Chichester Psalms” on the 22nd and the incredibly difficult “Kaddish” the following evening), and attending three or four rehearsals a week, or because so much has been happening in the political arena that I simply can’t blog fast enough to keep up, I just haven’t had either the time, or the energy, to blog.
However, I don’t want you all to forget me 😉 so I thought I’d just drop a line or two about the hottest subject this week, namely Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress yesterday.
Yes, that speech. The one Obama is trying to portray as Israeli interference in US internal affairs and taking sides with the Republicans against the US President. The one Bibi’s enemies at home have claimed has “destroyed Israel-US relations” and is “intended to boost Bibi’s election campaign”.
Well, neither the one nor the other is true. How can a speech to Congress about a matter of foreign policy, in which Israel has a vital interest, be interfering in the internal affairs of the US?
And another thing. The Obama Administration claims, on the one hand, that Netanyahu doesn’t know all the details of the proposed agreement with the Iranians (whose fault is that, anyway, if the Americans are deliberately keeping Israel out of the loop?) – thus implying that his opposition to the agreement is fueled by ignorance of its details. Yet, on the other hand, they threaten him with “punishment” if he dares reveal the secret details (which he supposedly doesn’t know). Which is it? Does he oppose the proposed deal because he is ignorant of its secret details? Or does he oppose it because he does know the details and he knows that the West is preparing to throw Israel to the wolves in exchange for a worthless piece of paper guaranteeing “peace in our time” – the way they did to Czechoslovakia at Munich in 1938?
As for “taking sides with the Republicans” – Congress is made up of both parties. If Bibi had accepted the invitation of some Democrat members of Congress, to come and speak to a closed meeting of Democrats only, that could certainly have been construed as taking sides.
And as to the claim that Netanyahu’s speech before Congress is all part and parcel of his own election campaign at home, let us not forget that he invited the leaders of the other parties to join him. Only Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home party accepted the invitation. The others – who call themselves “the Zionist Camp” – rejected the idea with contempt. It seems to me that this proves one thing. It isn’t about Bibi’s election campaign. It’s all about their own – and frankly, their own campaign seems to lack any kind of substance, since their only policy seems to be, to get rid of Bibi at all costs.
Okay, that’s the politics out of the way and now we can get back to safer subjects – that’s if there are any. In “My Fair Lady”, if I remember rightly, Eliza Doolittle is advised, on her first foray into “polite society”, to stick to two subjects – the weather, and everybody’s health.
Right then. The weather. Well, I’m not sure how safe a subject even that is, considering the way it has become politicised over the past decade or so. Take the hot potato of climate change, for example.
However, I am going to stick to the subject of the weather in my little corner of the world.
The week before last, we had snow again, and the roads from Jerusalem were closed for a day. One day only, but it happened to be the very day for which I had tickets for the opera in Tel Aviv. Fortunately, I managed to exchange tickets and thus, was not forced to miss a scintillating performance by the visiting State Operetta Company of Budapest of Emmerich Kalman’s delightful “The Bayadere”. Brimming with lovely tunes, lavish sets and costumes, exotic “Indian” and fiery Hungarian dances, it was a delight from start to finish.
An interesting curiosity – an English-language version of this operetta was produced on Broadway in 1922 under the title “The Yankee Princess”
As I said, the snow only lasted for a day but it produced some beautiful landscapes.
This was the view from my bedroom window at about half past six in the morning:
And it just got better and better – or worse and worse, depending on your point of view 😉
Did you ever see a palm tree covered with snow?
Or tender cyclamens, their hanging heads struggling to stay above the freezing white blanket?
And, of course, the snowy slopes at one’s very doorstep presented something approaching a European winter playground for children and adults alike:
Alas, it was not to last. As soon as the sun emerged, the snow began to melt.
I had not been at all sure that the snow would actually settle, preceded, as it was. by copious amounts of rain. But settle it did, and the snow stopped, to be followed by even more rain, leading to flooding all over the country. Neither the rain, nor the floods, stopped at the border and there was heavy flooding in Gaza also. However, the “Palestinians”, as usual, had someone to blame for this. Naturally, it was – as always -all Israel’s fault. They claimed that “Israel opened the dams along the river and flooded the Gaza Valley”. And – again, as usual – there were always those too gullible, too stupid, or just too obsessively anti-Israel, to carry out the most basic examination of their sources, who always take the word of the “Palestinians” at face value, especially if it offers an opportunity for Israel-bashing. A case in point is the Daily Mail, which, in a banner headline, libelously accused Israel of deliberately flooding the Gaza Valley. Only one problem here – well, several, actually. First, Gaza does not lie in a valley, but on the coastal plain. Secondly, there are no dams in the vicinity. Hell, there aren’t even any rivers! The story was a lie from start to finish. Moreover, the same so-called “reporter”, one Lydia Willgress, who has clearly never opened an atlas in her life and doesn’t even know how to use Google Earth, otherwise she would have known this, also accused Israel of cutting off electricity for what she called “two of Gaza’s West Bank cities”. Had she taken the trouble to open an atlas, she would have seen that the Gaza Strip and the “West Bank” are two geographically separated areas. Moreover, had she any knowledge whatsoever of the subject she was supposed to be covering, she would have known that the Gaza Strip is ruled by Hamas and the “West Bank”is ruled by the Palestinian Authority.
Either Ms. Willgress is such a bad journalist that she completely failed to check her sources but published verbatim, under her own byline, the “Palestinian” press release, or she deliberately lied, in order to blacken Israel. In either case, she should be fired. But she won’t be – because the Daily Mail is, itself, complicit in the deliberate libel. They did, eventually, publish a clarification, but the damage has been done. They should have published a headline, stating that the story was a complete fabrication, but instead, they only made a slight correction to the original headline (which you can find on the excellent Israellycool blog, and the Honest Reporting website, along with the whole story). Nobody who read the original story is likely to go back and check it and the impression left in the minds of millions of readers, that Israel deliberately and maliciously opened the (non-existent) dams in order to cause further suffering to the “Palestinians” is now indelibly fixed.
As I said before – even the weather has become hopelessly politicised and is no longer the innocuous subject it once was.
Oh – and that power cut to two “Palestinian” cities?
The Palestinian Authorities owed millions of shekels to the Israel Electricity Company which supplies them with electricity. When you, or I, or any other ordinary citizen (ie. not “Palestinians”) owe money to the Electricity Company and don’t pay, our electricity is cut off until we not only pay our debt in full, but also pay an extra charge for reconnecting us. We don’t get a 45-minute (yes, that’s all it was – 45 minutes) power cut as a warning, after which full power is restored. For that kind of special treatment, I guess you have to be a “Palestinian”.