Friday, 10 July 2009

Self Important Cant

Most Fridays, Ha'aretz's Mosaf (magazine supplement) runs an extended, "hard hitting" interview with prominent personages from the the public sphere (the Army, Politics, the Judiciary and Diplomatic affairs, basically. Some argue that the second is merely an extension of the first, and that the only function of the other two is to clear up the mess made by the others...)

Occasionally, the interviews are genuinely enlightening - one recent example was that with Zehava Gal-On, until recently a member of the Knesset for the left wing Meretz Party. More often, they are - unintentionally, one presumes - laugh out loud amusing, dominated by the self-importance of the interviewee.

With these, the common denominator tends to be the presumption on the part of the interviewee that they, and they alone understand the existential threats faced by Israel and that if given a free hand, will restore peace and order within a fortnight, to the point that they'll even have the Israelis and the Palestinians dancing the Hora together etc etc...

This week's interview is with National Security Adviser Uzi Arad, and at times veers into the latter territory. My personal opinion is that the National Security Adviser ought to be keeping a low profile; others may disagree.


A couple of highlights:

On the relationship between Israel and the current Palestinian regime of Mahmoud Abbas: "...on the contrary, he is preserving eternal greviences against us and intensifying them. After (Tricky Udi) offered him almost everything, he says wide gaps remain..." (italics mine)

Lets turn this around slightly. So Olmert offered Abbas almost everything. The implication is that what remained was, in Israel's eyes, relatively trivial. So why not offer it to the Palestinians too?

(Of course, my take on this is that what does remain - the right of return for Palestinian refugees from '67, and sovereignity over parts of Jerusalem - are not trivial matters at all. But, somehow, Arad appears to believe that they are.)

Or, on the Golan Heights:

(Interviewer)...that even in peace, we must ensure that a large part of the Golan Heights remain in (Israeli) hands

(Arad) Yes...for strategic, military and land-settlement reasons. Needs of water, wine and view. (again, italics mine)

I think only the hopelessly naive would suppose that Israel could, under current circumstances, achieve an accomodation with Assad's Syria. For as long as the Syrians provide succor and more to Hezbollah and Hamas, and for as long as they continue to break bread with the Tinker from Tehran, the opportunities for a lasting settlement seem pretty slim. Most people accept this. Doesn't deter them from trying to effect a change in the status quo, but at least they know where the goalposts are. However, Arad places equal emphasis of the Golan vinieries

(The Gamla Merlot from the Golan Heights Winery is absolutely delicious, b/t/w: but that's another matter altogether)

...and the view

(equally breathtaking: but I need to stick to the point)

...seem, shall we say, a little eccentric. I mean, it is kind of him to think of my wishes, to be able to have a lovely evening picnic in Katzrin, a few bottles of decent Red to hand, but I would like to think that there are, like, more pressing reasons for keep control of the Golan...

Or perhaps not.

What is interesting - and isn't mentioned at all in the interview - is that Arad was until recently barred from the United States as a security risk. He was a long time Mossad agent (common knowledge, not giving away any state secrets here), and was implicated - fairly, unfairly, who knows? - in the AIPAC spying case. As such Shrub's people deemed him a security risk and revoked his entry visa into the United States.

The AIPAC two have now had the case against them dropped; for this, and perhaps other reasons, the objections to Mr Arad visiting the United States have been allowed to go away. Good to know it, it would have been just a bit embarrassing to have the Israeli National Security Adviser unable to enter the United States, no?

Mind you, this all happened rather quietly; for the information in the last paragraph, my thanks to the Tikkun Olam blog of Richard Silverstein.


Right, enough of this bollocks.

Goy will be at Ganei HaTarucha in Tel Aviv this evening, boogie-ing down (if one can correctly use this optimistic phrase and my name in the same sentence) to my country-woman, Nneka, performing with Reggae outfit Groundation tonight. Which leads me to another question...How is it that, after two years of being starved of quality live music, suddenly everyone and his uncle have decided to peform in Tel Aviv? Depeche Mode, Suzanne Vega, Calexico, the Pet Shop Boys, Madonna (ok, so I stopped caring about Madonna round about 10 years ago, but still...)?

Very odd indeed. But I'm not complaining.

(ps - if you aren't familiar with Calexico's music, check them out. They are bloody fantastic!)

(pps - there is lots of quality live music in Israel. Much of it Israeli. I'm just being silly...)

Have a good weekend, y'all!


Adam E. said...

Oh, come on. I think "water, wine and view" is a bit unfair. There is a huge military advantage to having high ground.
I read the original interview at Ha', and it has one of the most cringeworthy styles of writing ever. Here is one particular beauty;"You are a technocrat, I lashed out"
I am not sure whether the ineterviewer simply does not speak English very well, or if they are simply a very bad writer. Very.

Goy said...

There is a huge military advantage to having high ground - I agree. And, as it happens, controlling the water resources - or, perhaps I should say, ensuring access to the water resources - is equally important. But Wine?

As for the interview itself...perhaps it is just clumsy translation, I don't know. I'll ask Mrs Goy to look at the original sometime.(I could try myself, but it'll take forever and then some. To finish the first paragraph.)

Ari Shavit has written some eloquent stuff for the New Yorker, so I doubt that he is a bad writer in this sense.