Monday, 27 July 2009

Provincial Salzburg

Saturday was the opening night of the Salzburg Festival. They performed an opera I had never heard, not even heard of before – Handel’s Theodora. The rather repetitive music is quite beautiful and pacifying to listen to. But, the music often does not convey the drama of the opera’s storyline. It was beautifully performed with splendid soloists and a wonderful choir.

I am not a music critic and the reason I am posting this story is a Salzburg phenomenon that has always amused me. Whenever one goes to opening nights or premieres at the Salzburg Festival, the narrow road in front of the Festival hall is full of local onlookers who stand to await the so called VIPs and admire them. This time, the most important guest was the President of Portugal. His car, accordingly, was marked “VIP 1”. 

Most of the popular applause, however, is not directed at the foreign dignitary but at B list media celebrities. An aging German talk show host named Gottschalk traipses up and down together with his wife to the joy of dozens of press photographers and the street shouts in jubilation. Not seen last night was Bianca Jagger, the Salzburg regular, famed divorcee of the aging rock star Mick Jagger. The likes of her or of Gloria von Thurn and Taxis regularly bring out the Salzburg hordes. 

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Tour de France

Steve, my personal trainer, told me that he would only read my blog if I would write about the Tour de France. As eager as I am to widen my readership - what can I say about the Tour de France?

I have now read up on it and have learned that the route is 3500 km. long, that some 200 cyclists participate and that millions (I cannot really believe that) line the route to watch the cyclists.

I also know that drugs and doping are rife and have always been used by participants.

I can understand the attraction of drugs but what I don't understand is the attraction of sitting on an uncomfortable saddle and cycling up and down French mountains. Why don’t they just do the drugs without the cycling? 

Friday, 17 July 2009

Pro-Israel Lobby Eroding Obama’s Resolve

In a recent article in the Washington Post, disgraced and currently-under-police-investigations-for-corruption Ehud Olmert, Israel’s former Prime Minister, opined that the “United States' focus on freezing construction in the West Bank [is] an impediment to the Middle East peace process.”

Olmert calls for settlement construction to “be taken off the public agenda and moved to a discrete dialogue, as in the past… allow us to deal with the essential issues: the political process; preventing Iran's attempt to obtain nuclear weapons; eliminating Islamic extremist terrorism...”

Is Israel’s settlement policy not comparable to state terrorism? Should the settlements not, just like the Iranian bomb, be dismantled rather than frozen? 

Why, unless Israel is lying about its willingness to give up the Occupied Territories, does it not dismantle these illegal settlements? Obama could find out. 

Sadly, Obama’s resolve is weakening. AIPAC, the Pro-Israel lobby that succeeds to muster blind Congressional support for any Israeli government, is eroding him. There is no hope for peace, unless the US President disregards this lobby.