Friday, February 15, 2013

Hizballuvya, Baby!

A pair of Lebanese journalists from opposing sides of the Lebanon/Hizballah divide, on set recently at Hizballah’s Al Manar TV for a chat about Syria, lost control of themselves, going after one another with fury. Or rather, one of them—the one associated with the March 8 Movement, the pro-Assad, pro-Hizballah, anti-freedom face of Lebanon—went after the other—the one affiliated with the March 14 Alliance, the anti-Syrian, anti-Hizballah movement born during the Cedar Revolution of 2005, after Bashar Assad had Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri assassinated—accusing him of having been in cahoots with Ariel Sharon, of kissing the hands and feet of Condoleezza Rice, and of recruiting “collaborationists” for Israel.

Thanks to MEMRI, we non-Arabic–speakers have all this and more on tape. At one point, Mr. March 8 Movement becomes so enraged he is no longer able to hold his water—literally—and splashes it in the face of the Sharon-loving, Condi-kissing, collaborationist, Mr. March 14. He douses his host, too, whose only (apparent) crime is the immense ludicrousness of trying to force the pair to shake hands.

This would be very amusing—a pox on all your houses, whatever your dates—if the apparition of our new secretary of state, John Kerry, weren’t hovering over the proceedings, and any others involving the Middle East—in particular Syria, and what to do about his dear friend the Butcher of Damascus—like a fog of grease in an unvented kitchen. “This is a complicated time in the world,” he said just the other day, and so it is, indeed. Still, “Were taking a look at what steps, if any, diplomatic particularly, might be able to be taken in an effort to try to reduce that violence and deal with that situation.” 

Been down that road so long, it looks just like Hizballah hell to me. But hes secretary of state, and hes a foreign policy expert, and hes married to Heinz Ketchup, so what do I know? 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sand Gets In Your Eyes

On Wieseltierian tears 

Oh blithersome couturier of wordifactious spewage,
Your loathsome predilection for effluxicating brewage
Has found its proper gallery in hurricanus sewage.

Oh odious splendiferatious tonguer of all piety,
Ambassador-at-very-large for platitudiniety,
Your prosody’s ontology’s all Sartric nullibiety.   

It’s thus we say, with due respect, and many years’ assizing:
Oh, literary colporteur, the words of your devising
Appear to land upon the page without palpable revising.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

On That 70 Percent of the Jewish Vote

I’d like to congratulate my co-religionists on yet another job well-done. 

We Jews have frequently enjoyed risking our own future in elections (and hey, if that of others who may not have as much reason to know better is jeopardized in the process, well, tant pis), and we’ve successfully done so once again. But never mind: We champions of the welfare state have had a Welfare State of our own, which has saved us from ourselves, with a few cataclysmic exceptions, time after time across our long, stiff-necked history. Lessons unlearned in our wanderings may have germinated like Topsy in the blood-fertilized lands of our erstwhile Arab and European hosts, but we’ve sprouted up in them, and elsewhere, over and over nevertheless, thanks to an unaccountably forgiving Unseen Hand.

So, will we dance that same irresistible tango of lesson and salvation in throwing ourselves behind a “right” to unlimited, uncensored abortion on demand that may include acts of infanticide; in cherishing the exquisite freedom of the “transgendered” adult “female” who hasn’t quite made the cut to expose his not-as-yet-transgendered genitals to our nine-year-old daughters in swimming-pool locker rooms; or in complying, open-eyed, in the establishment of a fully-armed and arming Iran, whose weapons, cocked, are pointed directly at us?

We’d damn well better prayif we still know how—that the answer is yes.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"When You Run on the Streets and People are Killed and Buildings are Burned Down, Those Who Provoke Have Succeeded"

Thus spake Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations (and once-upon-a-time Diplomatic Advisor to Olof Palme, the Swedish champion of Central American left-wing guerrillas and the dictator of Cuba, among others) the other day, and his every sentence was a trove of gems, dropped upon the community of nations—no one more exceptional than any other, except maybe members of the Non-Aligned Movement—like so many nuggets of conciliatory guano from on high the bat cave:

So this issue comes up every now and then, and there are three dimensions to this issue that we always should keep in mind, and sometimes they are difficult to reconcile.  The first one is the basic human rights of freedom of speech and freedom of expression.  The second one is the respect for the value and beauty of this right, that provocations, a lack of respect towards others, in a world where there is enough of contradictions, antagonism and even hatred, that we should recognize that you have this gift given to us by the [Universal] Declaration of Human Rights, but it also implies some type of responsibility to use that in such a way that you don’t cause situations; which brings me to the third point, namely, of course, always strong reactions, condemnations of the violence, as a result of the provocation.  So you have to have to keep in mind, yes, this is the basis for, I hope, most of the countries in the world — the freedom of speech, the freedom of expression, since this is in the Universal Declaration — but that this also is a privilege that we have, which in my view involves also the need for respect, the need to avoid provocations, in a world where we have enough of contradictions and hatred; but that when you respond to the provocations, and actually those who wanted to provoke had succeeded with the violence and the results of the violence.  So we need to really make sure that we understand each other on all these three counts, and there, there is a need for dialogue.  We have the Alliance of Civilizations.  You have the fact that so many speeches dealt with this in a very deep way was, in my view, also a way of saying to the other side, yes, you may think that this is horrible to you, but if we infringe on the freedom of speech, we have other problems, but yes, we understand you, that you were provoked, that it was an absolutely unnecessary, stupid way of causing even more hatred among you.  And when you run on the streets and people are killed and buildings are burned down, those who provoke have succeeded.  We shouldn’t fall in that trap of provocation, so that’s the line I think we’ll take.  And the more we talk about this in an open way on the basis of our values, then the better it is.


So, just to get this straight: The freedom of speech that includes the right, oh, let’s say, for argument’s sake, to call the prophet of Islam a defiler of little girls, may derive from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or it may originate with Allah himself, or it may be given to us by the Alliance of Civilizations, or it may come from an Archie comic; who’s to say? Certainly not a conflict-resolutionist and visionary of Peacebuilding such as Mr. Eliasson. And anyway, what does it matter?

What does matter is that it’s a relative right, which may—no, which must—be wrested away from the benighted rest of us who have never belonged to the Non-Aligned Movement by fellow-travelers of the Allah-worshipers who retain the privilege of defiling little girls (and boys) according to their marvelously diverse religious customs.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Post-revolution, Salafis Swoon

Sneezy, Doc, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Bashful, and Sleepy find life as Egyptian parliamentarians in a post-Tahrir Square, post-Mubarak world surprisingly exhausting. Revolution takes it out of you.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

On Guns and Religion and Othering the Other

Here’s how it was, in his own felicitous words, back in the bad old days of America, before Barack Obama was elected president: “[I]n a lot of these communities in big industrial states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, people have been beaten down so long, and they feel so betrayed by government . . . .

You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

Was it any wonder then, that a whole passel of back-woods wretches, possessed for decades by bellicose and fiscally irresponsible demons both Bushian and Clintonian, should wind up such a benighted lot of “working-class lunch-pail folks” bitterly “cling[ing] to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment . . . as a way to explain their frustrations,” and needing an Obamic exorcism? None at all.

But there was a little piece of heaven hovering like a pakalolo-scented brume over fields of bleached-out Danville, OH fescue and Pontiac G8s rusting on blocks in the front yards of laid-off Monessen, PA steel workers—and that was Mr. Obama’s promise to

close tax loopholes, roll back, you know, the tax cuts for the top 1 percent. Obama’s gonna give tax breaks to middle-class folks and we’re gonna provide health care for every American.

And just so for “Muslims around the world,” as well, whosetension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.”

The traditions of Islam may seem to some of those above-mentioned uncivilized rednecks whose votes Mr. Obama was courting back then to consist mainly of a Boschian hell of savagery and brutality in which “enemy” children are exploded on buses, women are used as human shields and children as human mine-sweepers, mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters are maimed by genital mutilation, tortured by pre-pubescent marriage, and destroyed by honor killings, and little boys are turned into sexual slaves and turned out as whores. If so, he would like them to know those traditions have been woefully misunderstood.

Even now, as the alienation of anti-Western Islamism explodes in violence and murder around the globe, the “othering” of The Other, to use the odious academic parlance, remains a concern of Mr. Obama’s, and keeps his language careful and Ban Ki Moony. “Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths.  We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,” he says with impeccable banality, then turns inanity to slag: “But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence.  None.  The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts.”  

No more Punahou chooming over the Dust Belt/Rust Belt for him—he’s president of the Unites States, and he’s progressed: No longer a man condescending to be unsurprised by the gun-clinging, Bible-thumping skepticism of unemployed Americans, now hes a leader—only one of manyof a world that can stand together, a man unafraid to express a little sympathy for the rocket-slinging, Koran-pulsing distrust of rioting Muslims, a man urging “all leaders ‘to speak out forcefully against violence and extremism’ and join the U.S. in confronting the root causes of the rage across the Muslim world.”

In sum, says our president, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.

Fair enough: There’s no future in slandering the prophet of Islam. But what of his latter-day representatives here on earth, whose mission it is to malign, insult, slander—and incite against—the Jews, descendants of apes and pigs,” and as many as possible, before the Mahdi shows up and/or they ascend to meet their seventy-two virgins or olives or grapes or whatever it is they are going to meet in Heaven? I suppose there’s a future in that.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Arab Spring in Fall: Blood in the Streets

“There is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence—none,” says Barack Obama, speaking of the slaughter last night of the American ambassador to Libya and three of his colleagues in the streets of Benghazi. And, he adds, “We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.  And make no mistake, justice will be done. 

But of course there is a justification: It’s the justification of an unhinged mass of primitive savages kitted out with modern weaponry who stand upon their religion to justify horrific acts of violence against innocents at every turn and in every land, spilling blood indiscriminately—the blood of their own children and their own women, when it happens to suit them, as well as that of “the enemy”—when “their religious feelings have been hurt”:  here in defense of their prophet, Muhammad, when they feel he has been maligned, and there in their own defense, when they feel modern Western thought has leered at them lasciviously. This is the Arab Spring in Fall.

As for justice: What is it? It’s said we’ll hunt the killers down and drone them. But who are we hunting down, exactly? Will the CIA identify individuals in a book of al Qaeda mug shots? Will this reluctant, apologizing president order the droning of them from behind the skirts of the re-Islamifier of Turkey, Recep Tayyip “bonds of trustErdo─čan? Will he “shoot first and aim later,” as his vice president and foreign-policy guru has so often and so proudly done? What if we capture one or two of them? What will we do with them? Who will defend them at their trial when we bring them to justice?” (And what, for that matter, will justice look like in the case of the two thousand Islamist jihadis threatening the U.S. embassy in Cairo and desecrating the American flag with the full knowledge and cooperation of their Muslim-Brotherhood head of state?)

Or will Mr. Obama man up at long last, shoulder the burden of the American presidency in a very, very hostile world, as his predecessor was forced to do, and take the fight to the source—Iran, this time, and again—to give the Islamofascists supplying the weaponry and the religious absolution for bloodletting the only justice they understand?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Thank You

To my grandmothers of blessed memory, for their bounteous affection, their great good humor, their amused patience—and their baking

To my mother, for her deep love and wisdom, the comfort of her embrace, her wicked wit—and for making motherhood and womanhood look so easy

To my sisters, for their friendship incomparable, every shared secret (and tear), the delights of their splendid progeny—and all the laughing

To my mother-in-law of blessed memory, for her no-nonsense love, her enormous generosity—and the gift of her golden son

To my sisters-in-law, for their loving-kindness, the joys of their marvelous children and grandchildren—and the pleasure of their companionship

To my daughters-in-law-to-be, for making this mother’s sons so happy

To my daughter, for the pure, unadulterated LOVE that bursts the heart at the birth of a grandchild—and for the greatest blessing possible a Jew can be given, the next generation

And Happy Mother’s Day.

And to every mother living in the world’s vast wastelands of unfreedom and inhumanity—trammeled, imprisoned, enslaved, humiliated, mutilated, and murdered in the name of some rotting ideology or the monstrous blood-letting religion into which you’ve been born—a prayer: May next year’s Mother’s Day be the one on which you can be grateful, unshackled, for your life. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Love Song of J. Alfred Taliban

In the mountains the butchers come and go
Talking of boys in native Pashto.  

Or is it perfume from a burqa
That tempts me from my loya jirga?
(Apologies to T.S. Eliot)

Like other of their fellow poets, Talibani “insurgents,” too, have sometimes laid down their tools and taken up the pen to declare their “wounded hearts, lyrical souls, and  . . .  passionate love of language.” The torture and slaughter of non-combatants; the administering of purdah and the unsexing of women and little girls with brutality, burqa, mutilation, and murder; the beastly coercion of little boys into a life of feminized sexual slavery and the turning of them out as prostitutes—these are all things that can try a mujahid’s spirit. He will thank Allah, then, for the balm of poetry-writing, even such poetry as might have been written by Emily Dickinson tripping on cough syrup:

I spend my nights hoping for you,
I spend the long nights in waiting.

I, cupbearer at your doorstep,
Still spend the poisonous cup of separation.

Always, in your grief, towards my shirt,
I cause a cascade of lukewarm tears.

And he will also thank a couple of London boys, Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn, who’ve got a very old-fashioned British jones for the savagery that poses as manhood in the Hindu Kush (and among Islamists generally), for their collection of Talibanic versewith an appeal that transcends the insurgencywhich is about to be published in the UK, and will appear in the U.S. in the fall.

“The poetry shows that the Taliban are people just like we are, with feeling, concerns, anxieties like ours,” says Mr. Strick van Linschoten, and indeed, that is just so very likely so. Their anxieties may be particularly acute, what with all the “overheated rhetoric that sustains a one-sided interpretation of the alleged merger between [al Qaeda and the Taliban] as well as the policy implications for Afghanistan that flowed in the wake of its acceptance by Western governments and their militaries” coming from our side.

And we are people just like the Taliban, opinions of Messers Strick van Linschoten and Kuehn notwithstanding. But we may put our own concerns to rest, because
the Talib killers we’ve been releasing secretly from detention in Afghanistan have promised to give up violence, and we therefore have every reason to hope and expect that in future they will be producing this kind of thing on paper only:

The spring of change needs blood to rain down,
It requires the irrigation of the gardens with blood.
Valuing the blood of the people of the past
Requires the price of human blood.
Each drop of it has become a Nile of the dawn’s blood;
The Pharaohs want to fill the Nile with blood.

We grow cold . . . We grow cold . . .
We shall see the killers of our children consoled.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Yom Ha Shoa

Pour out Thy wrath upon the nations that know Thee not,/And upon the kingdoms that call not upon Thy name./For they have devoured Jacob,/And laid waste his habitation.
Pour out Thine indignation upon them,/And let the fierceness of Thine anger overtake them./Thou wilt pursue them in anger, and destroy them/From under the heavens of the Lord. (Passover Haggadah, Glatzer edition)

Now theres something for us Jews to remember, as we commemorate our Holocaust dead. 

Does the violence offend you? The chosenness horrify you? Youre free to memorialize your disgust as you wish—and so often dofrom your despotic/autocratic, left-wing/right-wing, murderous/pusillanimous, armed/prostrate roosts; you may even enter Israel’s eternal and undivided capital, Jerusalem, and cram little Israel-scourging prayers of denunciation into the crevices of the Old City’s Western Wall with your manicured, Kabbalah-braceleted handswhich is more freedom to pray or dissent than most Mussulman descendants of Nazi collaborators and “citizens” of any of the oppressive, brutalizing, terrorizing lands encircling the Jewish State will ever experience, or remember, in their lifetimes.

But please, by all means, wail on. And while youre doing all that disapprobatory shuddering; while youre sobbing over your false Davids and specious Goliaths; while your fingers are twitching on your pens, and your rocks, and your grenades, and your rockets; while that familiar little frisson of horror over the detested Jews who unaccountably will rise up from subjugation is snaking its way up your spine once again; while youre whispering your love for Israel in the tongue of anti-Semitism; while youre sniffing the scent of our blood, well be counting our dead, and when were done with that, well be reminding you never to forget the mighty hand and the outstretched armand the long memoryof the Israeli Defense Forces.