Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bibi, meet Bieber

Here I am, a silly diaspora Jew in a position of some influence, trying to counter the uncomplimentary image that Israel enjoys in leftist circles, wringing my hands over every second-rate washed up aging rock star (Elvis Costello, Roger Waters) who announces his commitment to boycott apartheid, racist, illegitimate Israel, worrying about this and angsting about that.
And every week, no matter how hard I try, the incompetent, venal, and corrupt politicians who populate the Israeli government make my self-appointed task just that much more difficult, that much more impossible.
This week Justin Bieber (Twitter followers: 8,803,025) came to Israel for a Thursday night concert in Tel Aviv. This week, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu (Twitter followers: 3,870) apparently extended a clumsy invitation to Bieber, claiming that he, Bibi, was approached by Bieber's entourage with the idea of a meet.
After a day of Middle East wrangling, which included Bibi's ham-handed demand that the meeting include Israeli children from the communities around Gaza currently under missile attack, the meeting was canceled -- we don't know by whom -- and Bieber was tweeting his sincere disgruntlement with his frustrated encounter with the modern Jewish state. Watch Bieber's wide-eyed wonderment turn into something very different, first by the local paparazzi, and then by the politicians -- "so sweet cruisen on scooters around tel aviv this place is beautiful :)" "amazing place...not a bad day. just wish got a little more space and privacy from the paps [paparazzi] to enjoy this time with my family. thanks" "im in the holy land and i am grateful for that. I just want to have the same personal experience that others have here" "You would think paparazzi would have some respect in holy places. All I wanted was the chance to walk where jesus did here in isreal" "They should be ashamed of themselves. Take pictures of me eating but not in a place of prayer, ridiculous" "People wait there whole lives for opportunities like this, why would they want to take that experience away from someone" "staying in the hotel for the rest of the week u happy?"
And the takeaway tweet?
"I want to see this country and all the places ive dreamed of and whether its the paps or being pulled into politics its been frustrating"
And finally, the lesson we've all learned at the feet of Bibi: "patience is a virtue"

So, after all the hullabaloo about boycotts and delegitimization, comes finally the absolute mega-star of the moment, and within 36 hours Bibi helps (along with the local paparazzi) to turn a trip to the Holy Land into a trip to hell.

Why do we even try?

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Judge Goldstone Revisits His Report

     This is rather surprising. Judge Richard Goldstone, the South African (and Jewish) human rights jurist who issued a damning report in late 2009 against Israel in the wake of its conduct during Operation Cast Lead in December 2008-January 2009, has published a semi-retraction (certainly a serious modification, at the very least), of his original report.
     Takeaway line? "If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document."
     This Goldstone Report has become a rallying cry for the delegitimizers and demonizers of Israel, like Norman Finkelstein and Philip Weiss who have published breathless, hate-filled books or web reports based on Goldstone's original findings. (BTW, I noticed that Weiss on his scurrilous website Mondoweiss had not a word to say about Goldtone's retraction - at least not more than 24 hours since it was published in The Washington Post. [NOTE: A piece has since gone up on Mondoweiss, calling the retraction "confusing and potentially damaging." You gotta love the slavish consistency of Mondoweiss.]) Since I once referred to the Goldstone report in an approving way in one of my earlier posts, I believe it is my duty to now point out that its author has retracted the most serious allegations of intentional crimes against humanity on the part of Israel, and criticizes Hamas for failing to investigate its own alleged abuses, something Judge Goldstone readily admits Israel has credibly done.
     I still maintain that this outcome -- a one-sided report that has circulated for over a year, now repudiated by its author on a much smaller bully pulpit -- could have been avoided if the Israeli government back in 2009 had decided to submit itself to the Goldstone investigation process. But Israel self-righteously chose to shun this UN-backed judicial venue, resulting in a completely lopsided presentation of evidence.
     This is not to take away from the utter naivete of the esteemed judge. Wrote Judge Goldstone yesterday:
Some have suggested that it was absurd to expect Hamas, an organization that has a policy to destroy the state of Israel, to investigate what we said were serious war crimes. It was my hope, even if unrealistic, that Hamas would do so, especially if Israel conducted its own investigations. At minimum I hoped that in the face of a clear finding that its members were committing serious war crimes, Hamas would curtail its attacks. Sadly, that has not been the case. Hundreds more rockets and mortar rounds have been directed at civilian targets in southern Israel. That comparatively few Israelis have been killed by the unlawful rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza in no way minimizes the criminality. The U.N. Human Rights Council should condemn these heinous acts in the strongest terms.
    What a rube...
    Now of course be on the lookout for all of Israel's detractors to come up with some grand conspiratorial explanation for Goldstone's change-of-heart.