Thursday, 21 February 2008

Elevated Political Discourse and Earthquakes

Israel is the only functioning democracy in the Middle East, or so we're told over and over again. Anyone would think that democracy is actually a good thing.

But then then Mr Shlomo Benziri, Member of Knesset goes and spoils it with this

It's not as if I'm a big fan of democracy per se - any system that allows me to have a say in who runs the affairs of state must be flawed - but even so, stuff like this does make one cringe just a little.

It's not even as if he is speaking on behalf of Orthodox Jewry in general - I had an interesting conversation with a Chabbadnik this afternoon at my doorstep, when he came soliciting funds for some do-gooder scheme, and his considered opinion was that he didn't particularly agree with homosexuality either, but each to their own and when the Messiah comes, he can sort it all out.

Of course, Shas - the Political party Mr Benziri represents - have form with this nonsense. After Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans the year before last, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the party's spiritual guide suggested that, with all the Blacks in America running around doing naughty things, it's no surprise that such devastation was wrought upon them.


Anyway, that's neither here nor there. Of course, there is the small question of why a political party should have a spiritual guide in the first place. I thought that only happened, let's not even go down that path.

The earthquake, as it happens, was rather surreal. I was in my mother in law's apartment, pretending to work and desperately searching for a diversion when suddenly, quite literally, the earth moved beneath my feet.

Her apartment is on the fourth floor and I figured that there was no point in trying to run down the stairs anyway since (1) I wouldn't make it all the way down, anyway and (2) all the boring stuff about women and children first meant that I'd never make it past the door (aside from my better half and the small noisy child, there was also my sister in law, her small (less) noisy child and my mother in law. So instead, I started a game of Solitaire.

When the interim Winograd report (no English language links, I'm afraid, but there's a bit about it on Wikipedia here) concerning the grand fuck up that was the second Lebanon War (and it was, no matter how you choose to look at it; all wars, ultimately, are fuck ups), the promise was that when the grand old men (and lady) finally pulled their collective thumb out and finished deliberating, there would be a political earthquake. Amir Peretz, the hapless Defense minister resigned, as did Dan Halutz, the Chief of Staff who took time out after declaring war to liqudate his stock portfolio (so 21st Century).

The prospects looked so grim for Tricky Udi that Ehud Barak, at the time trying to convince his party members to make him their leader (again) promised that he would lead the Labour Party out of the coalition as and when Winograd landed it's killer punch.

And then...nothing. No earthquake. No fireworks. Just a very damp squib, really. The 600 odd pages roughly translate to 'it's no-ones fault. Except Amir, and he's gone anyway.'

I must say I was disappointed. Elections in Israel resemble nothing so much as all-in, no holds barred wrestling with no time restrictions - the fight goes on until only the last man's standing. I've observed a couple of elections from abroad, and actually look forward to the day when I will enjoy the spectacle, as they say, up close and personal. But, of course, Mr Barak failed to oblige, and the Olmert government totters along.

My friend Na'ama actually took the time to read the final report - she said something about her civic duty as a citizen, I forget what exactly, and my eyes started to glaze over - and she likened the government to the Fools of Chelm. One person would speak about one thing, a second about something totally different, they would reach a compromise that had no connection to either of the original issues and they would walk away, patting themselves on the back.

Anyway, no resignations, no elections and nothing to look forward to on the political front at the moment.

Back on planet Earth...

Still raining. Still sniffling. Not as bad as it was before, but even so...

Been here almost a year. Time flies, no?

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