Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Just a Dinner Party in Germany

Out of the blue, a friend of mine said that he was uncomfortable with the fact that Israel was patrolling the Persian Gulf with two U-boats that Germany had given to Israel as a present and which Israel had armed with nuclear weapons.

My friend continued and explained that the whole world knows how in 1981, Israel had “started a war with Iraq” to bomb its nuclear reactor and that it was now planning to do the same with 17 nuclear sites in Iran. He added that the Iranians were not stupid and that they had buried their sites deep in the earth and that Israel was mad with its plans to attack Iran with those two small U-Boats.

I blew up. But he was adamant, yes, he said, he knew that those were Israel’s plans and this would not be Israel’s first mistake. Israel, after all had gone into that war in Gaza and a couple of years ago in Lebanon. I explained that I had no idea what Israel’s plans were and that I doubted very much that my friend had any inside information from the depth of Israel’s – probably non-existent – strategic planning. However, I reminded the flabbergasted dinner table – flabbergasted because of my reaction – that unlike Germany or any other country in the world, Israel had enemies that made clear their wish to annihilate it. Iran is one such enemy and that country has now been allowed to become nuclear.

Before Israel allows Iran or anyone else to annihilate it, it will strike. I have no moral qualms about that. My German friend does. Israel is not considering the other six billion inhabitants of the earth, he said. Some Germans are rightly uncomfortable with the fact that Germany had started two world wars. My friend is taking this discomfort a step further: he is terrified by the idea that German U-Boats – be they in Israeli hands- could trigger a third world war. This would be a third world war that could be laid at Germany’s door.

Israel’s irresponsible and immoral conduct vis-à-vis the Palestinians produces more and more anti-Israel sentiment. The willingness to accept a serious threat to Israel’ existence is where such sentiment should not be allowed to go.

2nd Dinner

Two days later, at a different dinner party in Germany, I was lectured to by a German lawyer. This man explained to me how well Israel had done in the last twenty years. Every year – he told me – Israel enlarges the territory that it populates; every year it cultivates more land. To top it all, Israel manages this without waging war.

Choosing who to dine with is an art.

The F.. French, Eggs and Nurses.

The other day, in a small town in the Alsace, I entered a Leclerc store, one of those enormous French hypermarkets, when the cashier called after me to tell me that I had entered the wrong way. It was forbidden to enter by the tills, she said and insisted and made me go back and re-enter through the special entrance aisle.

I wanted to know why and was told “c’est le règle”, this is the rule. I asked why it was the rule and her explanation was “par c’est que”, because.

The cashier may have been just a stupid French girl but her thinking seems to shed light on what is wrong in the European Union. When the precursor to the EU, the European Economic Community, was created, the two main players were France and Germany. France that had twice failed to fight the Germans was afraid that Germany might at some point want to start another war. It wanted to hug Germany into a collaborative structure. Germany, at the time still a pariah, was grateful for anyone who was willing to partner with it. Germany a federative state, allowed France a super-centralised state, to structure the European institutions as it wished.

The result of this marriage of Mr Guilt and Mrs Fear, are bloated and wasteful EU institutions and a constant downpour of directives with which the administration of the European Union makes our lives a misery. Recently, UK hospitals were instructed that they were not permitted to test foreign nurses from European countries to ensure that their standard equals that of British nurses. Would it not be terrible if one such untested nurse would mistakenly poison the originators of this directive? The latest idiocy is a European directive that sets the number of eggs to a carton throughout Europe at ten. Sell twelve eggs in a carton and the EU will fine you.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Israeli Soldiers Rock the Casbah

A short video clip that was aired in YouTube last week has caused much controversy in Israel. The clip shows six Israeli soldiers doing a dance routine in an empty street in Hebron. It was prepared by the soldiers for their farewell celebration at the end of their stint in Hebron. The Israeli army is considering punitive action against the soldiers who participated in the making of the video.

This short video is just innocent fun. The only scandal is the fact that Israeli parents continue to send their sons to secure the illegal and immoral Jewish settlement of Hebron and the ultra right-wing settlers who were allowed to move into Arab Hebron after the Six-Day War.

British Ambassador to Lebanon: Cow – not Pig

The British ambassador to Lebanon, a woman named Frances Guy, referred to the late Ayatollah Hussein Fadlallah, a staunchly anti-American cleric who was mentor to the militant Hezbollah in Lebanon as a decent man whose death was sad news, adding, "the world needs more men like him".

An Israeli spokesman diplomatically responded, "Sheikh Fadlallah was behind hostage-taking, suicide bombings and other sorts of wanton violence, but Ambassador Guy said he was a man of peace, and Ambassador Guy is an honourable woman."

Not being bound by diplomatic niceties, I would have said that she is a pig but that would have made her unacceptable to her Hezbollah friends, and we would not want that. Cow?

Foreign Secretary Hague should fire her without delay.