Welcome to the weird world of Pallywood, where truth is pulped into fiction

ON Monday Jewish people the world over celebrate Passover, commemorating how Moses led the enslaved Israelites out of Egyptian bondage towards the Promised Land.

The crisp, flat slabs of unleavened bread, matzo, they’ll eat during the festival meal is symbolic of that exodus. So, too, are the bitter herbs that recall the cruelty, humiliations and injustices meted out by Pharaoh’s taskmasters.

Jesus and his disciples were partaking of exactly this ancient ritual in what Christians recall as the Last Supper.

Except it didn’t happen, because the bible is bunkum, according to one popular, Arab narrative. And Jews have no more right to claim Israel as a homeland than Native American Mohicans, Australian Aborigines or Bushmen of the Kalahari.

Conversely, if you don’t buy that hogwash, there’s the contradictory, ‘We-were-first’ porkie, as propounded by Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian’s chief negotiator, who says he’s ‘the proud son Canaanites’, around when Joshua brought Jericho’s walls tumbling down.

Except he isn’t. Nor, for that matter, are the vast majority of Palestinians.

For the record, genealogists show Erekat belongs to a Bedouin tribe, which originated in pre-Saudi Arabia. A branch began to settle about 200 years ago in the Ottoman province that became the post-WW1 British Mandate of Palestine, so his roots in the biblical soil hardly scratch the surface.

In fact, most Palestinians are descendants of late-19th/early-20th Century immigrants from Sudan, Libya, Egypt, and Jordan, lured by the opportunity to trade with Zionist settlers, who made the desert bloom in territory Mark Twain described as ‘desolate and unlovely’, when he toured the Holy Land in 1867.

Even Yasser Arafat was no son of ancient Palestine, not simply because no such nation existed, but he was born an Egyptian, in Cairo, on August 24, 1929.

There’s no disputing, however, Arafat was the wellspring of the litany of so many great Palestinian myths, tall tales his Palestinian Authority (PA) successor, Mahmoud Abbas, continues to peddle to those gullible enough to listen – principally the West-hating neo-Left, whose boycott, divestment and sanction movement (BDS) is a handy means for many to cloak their anti-Semitic bile under the veil of trendy anti-Zionism.

SON OF CANAANITES: Except Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat's family history hardly scratches Holy Land soil

SON OF CANAANITES? Except Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat’s family history hardly scratches Holy Land soil

So, the ‘revisionist’ history of the Middle East’s most intractable problem is an amnesiac’s dream, neatly forgetting the host of treaties that created a Jewish state, three unprovoked wars Israel won against seemingly insuperable odds and the land-for-peace deals it concluded with Egypt and Jordan.

Selective memory also overlooks the 19-year timeframe, after Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, when the West Bank and East Jerusalem was grabbed by Jordan and Egypt annexed Gaza.

Despite appalling abuse by their Arab brethren, during that interim there was hardly a peep about Palestine statehood, largely because the Jordanians and Egyptian suppressed it, never recognised Palestinians as a people, didn’t assimilate them, but merely pilfered the land.

Only after the Israel’s 1967 Six Day War victory did the Arabs wake up to the potential of Arafat’s invention of Palestinian nationalism, though his stock tactics of terror attacks and airline hijacks initially won few admirers and little influence.

But, in 1968, Soviet KGB spinmeisters turned truth into fiction and created Pallywood, in which Arafat was transformed into the Middle East’s Che Guevara.

And, instead of a plucky, little Jewish state defying the might of a genocidal Arab world, the conflict was ‘re-spun’ to present it as the struggle of a powerless, indigenous people – the ‘Palestinians’ – to free themselves from imperialist US lackeys, the despised Israelis.

Thus, Arafat became a master of deceit, waving the olive branch at the West and the AK47 at his followers. Feted on the world stage, he was regularly offered the chance of a state on a plate by Israeli leaders, but his customary reply was to crank up more terrorism and bloody intifadas.

With the venal warlord dead – and the secret of a missing $1.3-billion of US and European Union taxpayers’ largess buried with him – Abbas continues his old boss’s ploy of negotiate, obfuscate and infuriate, always scuppering talks and pinning failure on Israel.

Last week he succeeded again, forcing John Kerry, America’s latest peace-broker, back to Washington, smarting at being taken for a sucker after nearly nine months of intense, shuttle diplomacy, in which the PA played him like a yo-yo.

Angry his place in history was ebbing away, the US Secretary of State’s knee-jerk reaction was to fault Israel – just as Abbas intended – only to embarrassingly backtrack by laying blame on both sides.

Meanwhile, most sane folk yearn for a two-state solution and wonder why the Palestinians have spurned the offer more times than Mickey Rooney, who died last week, aged 93, had wives – eight at the final count.

But, as the late Abba Eban, Israel’s eloquent Foreign Minister, noted, apropos Arafat, ‘He never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.’

Ditto Abbas, who’s done zilch to advance the peace process and who threw a grenade into the works by breaking off face-to-face talks and scorned Kerry’s plea to extend the pow-wow beyond its over-optimistic April 29 deadline.

PALLYWOOD HERO: The KGB transformed Yasser Arafat into a Middle East Che Guevara

PALLYWOOD HERO: The KGB spinmeisters  transformed Yasser Arafat into a Middle East Che Guevara

Furthermore, he incensed Israel by announcing he’d sign 15 UN treaties – it’s reckoned the PA is already in breach of 11 of them – thus reneging on his vow to seek statehood only via bilateral negotiations and tearing to shreds the 1993 Oslo Accords.

With the goalposts suddenly moved, Israel premier, Benjamin Netanyahu, retaliated by shelving the release of the fourth tranche of 104 hard-core terrorist prisoners, some of them Israeli-Arabs – a new PA condition never in the script – who’d murdered and maimed thousands.

Much to Kerry’s chagrin, Netanyahu also approved housing tenders for a Jerusalem suburb, already earmarked as part of a land-swap deal.

But, in reality, Abbas was simply indulging in more Pallywood petty-fogging , before being caught with a deal-busting, smoking gun by outing his true aims at a recent Arab League summit in Kuwait.

With rare candour, he stated: ‘No’ to recognition of a Jewish state; ‘No’ to renouncing Palestinians’ right of return to their ‘ancient’ homeland; and ‘No’ to Israel extending its territory beyond the 1948 truce borders (a.k.a. the ‘Auschwitz Lines’)

Those words have virtually dealt Kerry’s mission a killer blow.

Because if the US envoy didn’t know it before, he knows now that Abbas will only accept a Palestinian state if it includes all of Israel, too.

 

 

 

Obama’s a gullible President, who wants to believe the unbelievable

TO shamelessly plagiarise from Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, it is the best of times and the worst of times for President Obama.

Putting aside for a moment his shambolic failures on the international stage – viz-a-viz the Syrian civil war, Arab Spring and the risible ‘talkathon’ of hot air that poses for negotiations with nuclear, hell-bent Iran – many US government functions shut down last week in what appears, ostensibly, to be a Congressional brouhaha over the nation’s budget.

It is not unprecedented and last happened 17 years ago under the Clinton administration.

Meanwhile, without boring you witless with the technobabble of this, basically Republicans refuse to sign the blank cheque imposed on them to pay for the Democratic President’s flagship initiative, dubbed Obamacare.

There’s no arguing about its laudable aim to bring 30 million impoverished Americans a quality of cover approaching that enjoyed by a majority of the population, whose workplace insurance gives them access to much-prized medical treatment.

The questions are: is it an apt time to introduce such a far-reaching commitment and, when the US economy is only just rising from its knees after the worst economic slump since the 1930s, how many trillion of dollars will it cost?

The problem is the price-tag is a guesstimate, depending on which bean-counter you believe in a country long resistant to anything smacking of ‘socialised’, NHS-style welfare.

Plus, with Medicaid – a system the poor can to tap into – already in existence (along with Medicare for the elderly), Republicans ask why it’s not beyond the ken of the White House to introduce something less devise and more affordable, especially as polls show a majority of Americans disapprove of it.

TROUBLE AHEAD: Obama should win the battle of the US government shutdown, but there's more aggro ahead over the Debt Ceiling

I BELIEVE: Obama dearly wants ‘peace in our time’, but is he showing signs of placing too much trust in Iran’s sweet talk?

The Right-wing’s rather naïve gambit, however, has played straight into Obama’s hands. And, for once, he’s caught the ball, artfully outmanoeuvring the opposition with something along the lines of, ‘See, I told you Republicans don’t care about the poor.’

That is more than slightly disingenuous as several conservative administrations of recent times have consistently outspent their Lefter-leaning counterparts on poverty relief.

Regardless, it’s one-nil to Mr. President and he should go on to win this showdown, thereby boosting his approval ratings, which are abysmal for a two-term winner.

However sweet is victory, it could be short-lived, because Obama’s next financial hurdle comes later this month, when Congress will debate whether the US can borrow more than $16.7-trillion, known as the ‘Debt Ceiling.’

While the President was able to railroad through his outline plan for Obamacare during his first term – when Capitol Hill was pre-loaded with loyal Democrats – that case no longer applies.

And, gaffe-prone as they are, the Republicans won’t fluff this next chance to give the President a monumental lambasting.

While all this is internal, US politicking and of passing interest to the rest of the world, the collateral damage could do immense, further harm to American flagging prestige.

Firstly, with an ego the size of the Empire State building, Obama doesn’t want to go down in history as merely America’s first black leader; he wants to leave an enduring legacy, which Obamacare would be.

If it fails, his tenure in the White House will solely be distinguished for the colour of the occupant’s skin.

Because, such is the dearth of Obama’s achievements, few but the most purblind loyalists can argue the merits of his presidency, other than point out he’s telegenic and a compelling orator (even if most of his words ring hollow).

At home, he’s floundered as an economist; overseas he leads from the rear, a pushover for any tyrant with the temerity to call his bluff and ignore his warning (i.e. Assad, the Butcher of Damascus).

Woeful White House indecisiveness over the Egyptian uprisings has witnessed the country lurching back into a military dictatorship – still a far safer bet than the Islamic headbangers of Mohammad Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Next, the President virtually relinquished US foreign policy over Syria to Vladimir Putin. This was based on a vague non-commitment by the Russian leader to talk his client, Assad, into halting the gassing of innocent Syrians and, perhaps, come clean about the extent of the repressive regime’s arsenal of nasty weapons

Then, to compound his litany of spectacular miscalculations, Obama has now fallen for the charm offensive of Iran’s smiley, new president, Hassan Rouhani, who claims the oil-rich Islamic Republic want nothing more than to utilise nuclear power to energise a few tellies and vacuum cleaners.

WINNING BY A SMILE? Rouhani might show a more welcome side to Iran's regime, but how sincere is he about the nuclear impasse?

A WINNING SMILE? Rouhani might show a warmer face of Iran’s hard-line regime, but can he break the nuclear impasse?

Despite snubbing Obama during his recent visit to the UN, Rouhani – who freely admits to lying to UN arms inspectors – the pair held a president-to-‘president’ telecon, which greatly enthused the reluctant leader of the Free World.

The trouble is, like his odious predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Rouhani is barely in charge of his own turban, let alone the country. The real – and only – power in Iran lies with the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, who could be realistically described as the organ-grinder to Rouhani’s monkey.

At least Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli premier, isn’t deceived by Iran’s duplicity and doesn’t go along with Obama’s new-found optimism that the nuclear impasse can be sorted in a couple of months.

Netanyahu warned the UN on Wednesday that Rouhani is a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing, pulling the wool over the West’s eyes’, determined to engineer a political thaw, end hard-biting sanctions and advance dangerous nuclear ambitions.

He added that Israel believes Iran already has enough enriched uranium for an atomic bomb, if it is processed further into weapons-grade fuel.

And Netanyahu emphasised that Tehran, which has threatened to ‘wipe the Jewish state off the map’, is building long-range missiles to deliver nuclear payloads, a conclusion the US government shares.

Nonetheless, the gullible Obama continues to be an avid believer in ‘peace in our time’, a slogan which will no doubt resonate with older readers (I suggest younger ones Google it).

Meanwhile, I wonder if the US President is interest in buying my car – an ageing, but thoroughly roadworthy VW, with only 120,000 kilometres on the speedo?

To him, it’s a snip at $100,000 or near offer. Heck, I’m sure he’ll be bidding.

Low hopes for Kerry’s ‘roadmap’ finding a highway to Middle East peace

It’s tempting to write off John Kerry’s efforts to undo one of the most intractable knots challenging world diplomacy before it’s even generated a wisp of steam.

But last week, in Washington, the US Secretary of State at least started the ball rolling by bringing together Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, if only for talk about talks.

Kerry has set a nine-month timeframe for his peace roadmap to flourish or flounder, as all other attempts have done since both sides signed up to the 1993 Oslo Accords.

But if all ends in acrimony, it should produce one, valuable indicator: we’ll find out which of the antagonists sincerely wants to reap a peace dividend, not widen the great divide.

Oddly, despite not even the starriest-eyed optimist prepared to bet a red US cent on the outcome, as the craziest region on earth goes madder by the minute this might be a propitious time to break the longest-running Middle East impasse.

PEACE-SEEKER: No-one is better on John Kerry's Mid-East 'roadmap' reaching its aim of an Israel-Palestinian deal

PEACE-SEEKER: No-one is better on John Kerry’s Mid-East ‘roadmap’ reaching its aim of an Israel-Palestinian deal

Surrounding by chaos and bloodletting in Syria and Egypt – plus another Lebanese civil war looming – even a frosty peace with a Palestinian-West Bank state would allow Israel to concentrate on the far greater existential menace of a nuclear Iran (and plenty are betting the mad mullahs will have their weapon by the end of 2014).

And a deal would also leave Palestinian Authority (PA) president, Mahmoud Abbas, crowing, because it would deliver a triple-whammy to his arch foes, Hamas.

The murderous bigots of Gaza are already isolated, following the ousting of their Muslim Brotherhood buddies in Egypt and they’re in Iran’s bad books for refusing to back the Assad tyranny in Syria.

So, if only predicated on the theory that my enemy’s enemy is my friend, Abbas and Israel’s premier, Benjamin Netanyahu, have some common cause.

Israel, however, is nothing if not pragmatic. It has twice pursued the ‘land for peace’ route, with Egypt and Jordan, returning huge swathes of territory both lost in the 1967 Six Day War, when their invading armies were routed.

In Jordan’s case, it ceded control of a West Bank it grabbed illegally in the 1948 War of Israel Independence to the Palestinians, while Egypt gifted them the Gaza Strip.

A chilly peace continues to exist between the two Arab nations and Israel, but this never prevented shockwaves of Palestinian terrorism, ultimately forcing the Jewish state to construct a wall round itself, resulting in suicide bomb attacks plummeting by 90%.

Meanwhile, with everything in play under Kerry’s ambitious plan, the duplicitous Abbas still tried to insist on pre-conditions, first calling for talks to be based on the 1948 armistice – the indefensible ‘Auschwitz Lines’ in Israeli parlance – which never set borders.

Much to Abbas’s chagrin all historical evidence – i.e. UN Resolution 242 in 1967, which called for ‘secure and recognized boundaries’ and the Oslo Accords, which promoted ‘mutually-agreed’ land swaps – ignored the 1948 ‘lines’, thus exploding more myths Palestinian propagandists have tried to peddle to a gullible world for years.

PEACE GESTURE: Israel PM, Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to release 81 hardened terrorists

PEACE GESTURE: Israel PM, Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to release 81 hardened terrorists

Similarly, Abbas must have known his call for ‘refugees’ right of return’ would fall on deaf ears, since the 650,000 who originally fled or were ejected 64 years ago have now multiplied to 4.5 million.

With Israel’s population of around eight million – and already including 1.5 million Israeli Arabs, who enjoy lifestyles and freedoms unmatched anywhere in the Arab world – absorbing such a colossal influx would be demographic suicide.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu pre-empted an Abbas demand by freezing any new plans for West Bank settlement construction.

However, by attempting to impose his own agenda over Kerry’s, uncertainties arise as to whether the PA president is actually sincere in his quest for peace or whether he’ll invent a  smokescreen excuse to abort the talks and blame Israel for their breakdown.

The Jews have a word for such outrageous impudence: chutzpah, best defined by the allegorical story of a man convicted of murdering both his parents, who pleaded for clemency from the judge…because he was an orphan.

However, as a positive gesture, Netanyahu agreed to phase the controversial release of 81 Palestinian prisoners – all vicious, hard-core terrorists, who have cold-bloodedly slaughtered and maimed thousands of Israeli civilians – and put any potential peace deal to a referendum.

With an overwhelming majority of Israelis favouring the creation of a viable, non-belligerent Palestinian state, subject to final terms, the plebiscite should be a formality.

In stark contrast, after decades of Palestinians being drip-fed a diet of hate-filled, anti-Semitic bile, Abbas faces a hard sell if his people are to accept peace with the Israelis, regardless of the boundless commercial, economic and social benefits it guarantees.

A snapshot of attitudes on the Palestinian ‘street’, as revealed by a recent Pew Survey shows how deeply they are locked into a medieval mindset: 40% believe suicide bombing is justified, 89% think homosexuality is immoral, that women must always obey their husband and favor the imposition of Sharia law, while 45% believe honor killing is permissible.

PEACE PARTNER? Arafat spurned peace, but will Mahmoud Abbas break with Palestinian tradition and give peace a chance?

PEACE PARTNER? Arafat spurned every deal offered, so will PA boss, Mahmoud Abbas, break with tradition and give peace a chance?

Additionally, Abbas’s leadership ratings are in tailspin and his credentials as a potential peacemaker are woeful.

In line with the established custom and practice of many Arab regimes, his presidency is tainted, because his term in office expired over four years ago and he adamantly refuses all calls for new elections.

With a bankrupt exchequer reliant on US and EU bailouts (plus, to some extent, Israel) – though with no significant contribution from his rich, Arab brethren, who frankly detest the Palestinians – Abbas’s presidency is rife with cronyism and graft.

There is little or no financial transparency and civil servants have gone unpaid for months.

In April, former World Bank economist, Salam Fayyad, acrimoniously quit as prime minister and in June, his replacement, Rami Hamdallah, an independent academic, resigned after only two weeks in the job.

Both cited clashes with the autocratic president and his chums from the Fatah party.

So the key question is: will Abbas give peace a chance and break with the traditions of his predecessors – Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Hitler-worshipping Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and venal, money-laundering despot, Yasser Arafat, who, in the words of Israel’s late, eminent Foreign Minister, Abba Eban, ‘Never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity’?

The world waits with hope – and places no bets on peace breaking out.

 

 

 

Did Scarfe’s cartoon of a bloodthirsty Netanyahu go beyond the limit of legitimate comment?

For centuries, political cartoonists have been an integral part of newspapers and are expected to be controversial, since, if a picture speaks a thousand words their lampooning is intended to elicit a similarly dramatic response.

However – as with all forms of journalism – however witty, acerbic or poignant, cartoonists on mainstream publications are expected to work within the same parameters of decency and truth that apply to their colleagues, the wordsmiths.

So Gerald Scarfe’s caricature of a vengeful, malevolent Benjamin Netanyahu bricking up screaming Palestinians in blood-red mortar in yesterday’s Sunday Times (27.1.2013), as his commentary on last week’s Israeli general election, has understandably proved hotly provocative.

The cartoon’s caption: ‘Will cementing peace continue?’ was irrelevant, since the scrawl above it needed no further commentary.

(For copyright reasons, I don’t reproduce the drawing and, since the Sunday Times is a ‘paywall’ site, I suggest those curious view it on http://www.honestreporting.com, where they’ll not be surprised at the level of hostility Scarfe has drawn on himself)

As a result the cartoonist – an award-winner, famed for his spidery style and much acclaimed in the salons of the London’s Left-leaning chatterati – stands accused of being an anti-Semite.

Whether he is or not, only he truly knows. But his latest handiwork bears all the trappings of one, since this ‘comment’ goes well beyond the bounds of fairness, accuracy and, indeed, decency.

This is especially so as it was published on Holocaust Remembrance Day (itself in danger of being hijacked by Western, pro-Palestinian apologists, who swathe themselves in terrorist chic and sickeningly try to equate the defensive actions of democratic Israel with the Nazis).

If Scarfe was unaware of the importance of the day, he should be damned well ashamed of his ignorance. If he was, then it goes far in vindicating his detractors’ accusations of him reprising the old, anti-Semitic canard of the bloodthirsty Jew.

Frankly, Scarfe’s representation of Netanyahu was not far off the bile that appeared in Der Stürmer, Hitler’s pet publication – or nowadays The Guardian, a pale, waning shadow of its former liberal glory, which harbours an obsession with vilifying Israel, bordering on thinly-veiled anti-Semitism.

RETCH-A-SKETCH? Scarfe's critics label his cartoon of a bloodthirsty Netanyahu beyond fair comment

RETCH-A-SKETCH? Scarfe’s critics label his cartoon of a bloodthirsty Netanyahu beyond fair comment

Naturally, those who defend Scarfe will scream blue murder at the ‘Jewish/Israel’ lobby trying to stifle free speech, forgetting that those who found the cartoon insulting and offensive also deserve a similar privilege.

But the holier-than-thou bien pensants of the illiberal Left are so right-on, they don’t tolerate counter views any more than I can comprehend why they defend Islamo-fanatics, who indulge in a death cult, enslave women, murder homosexuals, persecute Christians and want world Jewry eradicated.

Which is why they have wrapped the Israel-Palestinian imbroglio into a neat package: Palestinians ‘good’, Israelis ‘bad’. Full stop and no arguments.

It’s also why they were resolutely silent when a Danish cartoonist exercised his free speech, only to be subjected to death threats for having the temerity to depict Mohammed. And, come to think of it, I don’t recall Scarfe, at the time or since, showing a tad of solidarity with his fellow scribbler.

But let’s return to his cartoon of Netanyahu…

According to the Algemeiner online, the Sunday Times, which has hitherto enjoyed a reputation for balance, integrity and objectivity, says Scarfe is merely being ‘typically robust.’ Then again, some would contend, so was Julius Streicher, Der Stürmer’s notorious editor.

The Sunday Times adds, ‘It [the cartoon] is aimed squarely at Mr. Netanyahu’s policies, not at Israel, let alone the Jewish people.’

That’s a lame excuse to cover an abysmal lapse in editorial judgement and one that sidesteps the historical record.

Before 2000, when construction started on the ‘wall’ – and prior to Netanyahu’s first Premiership – there were 273 suicide-bomb attacks on Israel, murdering 293 people and injuring more than 1,900 others.

Yet, after 2003, when the ‘wall’ – actually it’s mostly a fence – was completed, and up to 2006, only 12 terror attacks succeeded.

So what Scarf perceives as symbolic of Israeli oppression actually does its job, much in the same way as the lock on the luminary illustrator’s front door of his home in leafy St. John’s Wood works to protect his wife, the actress and celebrated cake-maker, Jane Asher.

However, based on one, aberrant example of his pro-Palestinian sympathies, it doesn’t prove he’s an anti-Semite. What it does indicate to me is his patent ignorance of the realities of the Middle East…and that makes him a very silly man.