Election Bombshell: Nothing Will Change!!

The one prediction I can make about tomorrow’s Knesset election with a high degree of certainty is that it will have little short-term impact on the deluded and incestuous entity that is Israel.

The best that we can hope for is that it will begin to reverse one trend – a chilling one, to be sure – and gradually initiate a slightly less terrifying one. But a sane, enlightened Israel is not in the offing.

There is reason to suspect that the prospect of losing power and standing trial on charges of corruption has unhinged Benjamin Netanyahu. His hysterical and overtly racist conduct during the course of the election campaign has revealed him to be anything but the competent, trustworthy pair of hands he claims to be.

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Howard Jacobson Has Nothing to Fear From Me

I seem to be going through a Howard Jacobson period. I’m reading his latest book (Live a Little), found significant fodder for thought in a recent column of his published in Tablet (Writing Jewish) and now a JTA interview with him, published in The Jerusalem Post, has more or less decided things. Howard Jacobson, a smart and funny Jewish writer from Manchester, is trying to dybbuk me.

The reason is clear: Ever since I gave up my day job and retired into full-time writing, his monopoly of the English-Jewish novel (in the sad absence of Bellow, Roth etc.) is under threat. I’m not aware of his trolling me on Twitter, bad-mouthing me on Facebook or any of that stuff – yet. But it’s only a matter of time. The Jewish reading world (which unfortunately does not seem to include my children) is not large enough for two titans of the written word.

True, I’ve yet to publish a novel – or any type of book, for that matter (I don’t think self-publishing counts) – but we Jews don’t need written evidence for our competitive tentacles to quiver. This sort of thing gets around like pollen and our noses are big enough to hoover it up. Jacobson, I’m certain, has sensed me in the ether.

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EXCLUSIVE: Netanyahu Eyeing Bolton’s Old Job

JERUSALEM – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced today that he would extend Israeli sovereignty over John Bolton’s former job if he is re-elected in next week’s elections.

National Security Adviser Bolton was fired by President Donald Trump earlier today, reportedly because he was too hawkish.

“It’s about time Israel ran America’s national security and I am the most qualified person in the world to do it,” Netanyahu said during a briefing for the media. “Only when I am National Security Adviser will Israel control its own destiny.”

Asked by reporters what experience he had with countries such as North Korea and Afghanistan, Netanyahu replied: “Don knows as well as I do that Iran is the only show in town. All the rest are insignificant.”

Sources in Washington told The Kibbitzer that Trump was interested in giving Bibi the job, but refused point blank to have “his nosy slut wife” anywhere near the White House.

‘Acknowledged Expert’ Bibi Offers Boris No-Deal Help

JERUSALEM – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has written a letter to his UK counterpart Boris Johnson offering to help him in his efforts to achieve a no-deal Brexit, The Kibbitzer has learned.

“I regard myself, in all humility, as something of an expert in no-deal diplomacy, having withstood the efforts of Clinton, Bush Junior and Obama the Muslim to reach a deal with the Palestinians,” Netanyahu wrote. “No-one is better than me at not achieving a deal.”

Netanyahu gave credit to his predecessors in office for their own efforts at avoiding a deal under all circumstances. “History shows that Israel has heroically maintained its no-deal policy for over 70 years, a record that I believe to be unrivalled anywhere in the world,” he wrote.

In the letter, Netanyahu offered to counsel Johnson on no-deal tactics for “a box of Cohiba Majestuoros (cigars) a week, a case of Dom Perignon a week for the missus and positive pre-election features (full page + pics) in The Telegraph, The Times and the Daily Mail.”

It is not known at this stage whether Johnson has responded to Netanyahu’s offer.

 

 

 

Security and Elections: An Israeli Tragi-comedy

It was inevitable really. Israel’s leaders find it very difficult to get through a hot summer without a little war and, with an election on the horizon, it’s hardly fair to expect them to even try. Ergo the current tension in the north (Hezbollah), the east (Iranians or Iranian proxies) and the south (Hamas) – all, if Israeli propaganda is to be believed, at the behest of Iran and with Iranian material backing.

As I’m writing, the Israeli army is reporting the firing of anti-tank missiles from Lebanon at an army base in northern Israel, and the Lebanese army is reporting Israeli drone activity in the south of that country. Israelis living within four kilometres of the northern border have been instructed to open their air-raid shelters and stay in their homes. The next few days are bound to be tense.

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America is no democracy but is it ripe for King Donald I?

Speaking about Donald Trump’s America in a recent interview with the Guardian newspaper, singer Taylor Swift said: “We’re a democracy – at least, we’re supposed to be – where you’re allowed to disagree, dissent, debate. I really think that he thinks this is an autocracy.”

Well, yes and no. I have little doubt that Trump would like the powers of an autocrat, but experience has probably informed him that the power structure in the US is designed to make an autocrat’s life difficult. It’s likely that his apparent fondness for North Korea’s Kim Jong-un is based in no small part on his envy for the younger man’s unassailable status (barring a coup, I guess) at the head of his country’s governing structure.

Kim, unlike Trump, is a true autocrat, sitting at the head of an autocratic power structure. In North Korea, government by a single ruler with supreme authority and total political and legal power, is the way things are meant to be. It was designed that way – by none other than Kim’s grandfather. It must be galling to Trump, that his grandfathers were operating brothels during the Klondike gold rush (Friedrich Trump) and catching fish off the coast of Scotland (Malcolm MacLeod), instead of becoming communists and establishing autocratic family dynasties.

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Netanyahu Livid at Trump Betrayal with Greenland

JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “incandescent with rage,” after learning that US President Donald Trump had expressed interest in purchasing Greenland from Denmark, one of the premier’s closest advisers has told The Kibbitzer.

Netanyahu reportedly described the president as a “greedy and rapacious two-timer,” for casting a lascivious eye on Greenland when “he’s already got Israel for free.”

“Apart from about four billion a year, Israel doesn’t ask for much from the US,” the prime minister’s adviser said. “But we do ask for fidelity and respect. Without them, no monogamous relationship can succeed.”

“I mean what does Greenland have that Israel can’t offer, except for a measly million square kilometers of snow?”

“Bibi’s like that,” said Foreign Minister Israel Katz, when asked about the PM’s reaction. “He doesn’t like rivals and clearly he regards Greenland as a rival for Trump’s affections. He’s just going to have to get used to the fact that Trump likes to play around.”

Man’s suicide creates mass amnesia among fair weather friends

NEW YORK – Jeffrey Epstein may have to be buried as a John Doe due to the total inability of anyone to recognize his name, The Kibbitzer has learned. Some of those who never knew him are named as beneficiaries in his will.

“Epstein … Epstein, don’t think I ever met the fella,” former President Bill Clinton said. “I really have no idea why he would leave me his cigar and penis expander collections.”

“Never heard of him,” said Prince Andrew, responding to a question why Epstein’s will named him as the beneficiary of the late financier’s well-thumbed edition of Teen Pussy Grabbing for Beginners.  “Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m not a beginner.”

“I’m clueless as to why someone I never met should leave me an island,” said former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who Epstein named as executor of his will. “And I really have no idea who he wants me to execute on the island.”

Celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz denied that he had ever met anyone named Epstein and threatened to sue anyone who said otherwise.

In Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that while he had never met Epstein, he was deeply disappointed the deceased financier had not left him anything in his will. “I’ve gotten very used to rich people giving me stuff,” Netanyahu explained.

To Bibi or not to Bibi

Israelis are due to go to the polls in just under five weeks for the second time this year. When prime minister nominee Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to form a government after the previous election (last April) he took the dubious expedient of calling new elections, rather than handing his mandate back to the president. Doing so was not illegal – in Israel a duly constituted parliament can vote for elections – but it certainly defied tradition and precedent. When Tzipi Livni was unable to form a government in September 2009, she returned the mandate to the president, who then tapped Netanyahu for the job. He, of course, was not keen to return the favor earlier this year.

It is unlikely that Elections 2 will turn out any better for the contestants than the previous one did, despite the desperate bloc-building and arm-twisting that have characterized its runup. The country is virtually split down the middle between two competing ideas about its nature and place in the world – a conservative, hawkish, anti-Palestinian and largely religious weltanschauung versus a more nebulous inclination toward democracy, secularism, liberal values and diplomatic compromise. The former bloc has a numerical edge over the latter, but not sufficient to prevail against the jokers that often leap out of the pack.

The current jokers are the same ones that stymied Netanyahu’s previous effort at coalition building and are capable of doing likewise next month – Netanyahu himself and Avigdor Lieberman, a veteran immigrant from Moldova with a taste for riches and high office and a penchant for being the enfant terrible. It was Lieberman’s refusal to join the mooted coalition unless he could hold the bloodied scalps of the ultra-Orthodox parties in his hands that scuttled the previous negotiations.

Netanyahu recently became Israel’s longest-serving prime minister. In office since March 2009, he has presided over the interment of international peace efforts, a massive growth in West Bank settlement, the trivialization of high-level corruption and the gradual inoculation of the population against humaneness, morality and compassion, as generally understood in the West. With at least three corruption indictments pending against him, Netanyahu is generally believed to regard the next government as being his only escape route from prosecution – by enacting legislation forbidding the prosecution of a sitting prime minister and giving the Knesset the power to overrule court rulings (should the High Court annul the aforementioned legislation.) For him, therefore, winning a plurality in the elections and forming the next government is a lot more than merely holding onto power (something he has never been loath to do.) It is literally a case of power or prison.

Lieberman, who in the early stages of his career worked for Netanyahu, shares many of his previous boss’ attributes. A settler himself, he is no less hawkish, no less anti-Palestinian, no less authoritarian, no less power hungry and no less prone to the pleasurable excesses that can be had at the nexus of power and money. Where he differs from Netanyahu is in his antipathy to the ultra-Orthodox, his Moldovan belligerence and petulance and his flair for showmanship, which makes him a sucker for the grand gesture. Netanyahu has always been prepared to give the religious parties whatever they want as the price of staying in power, but Lieberman is hostile to them and determined to dislodge them from government. Doing so involves forming a coalition with parties outside the conservative-hawk bloc, which Netanyahu is (or feels) unable to do, given the influence of his “natural” partners to the extreme right of his Likud Party.

Netanyahu, therefore, is hoping that the elections will strengthen the conservative-hawk-religious bloc sufficiently (a mere three or four seats is all it will take) for him to establish the coalition that eluded him earlier this year. Lieberman, whose five-seat party is expected to be strengthened following his antics earlier this year, is planning to be the kingmaker, conjuring up a so-called national unity government out of the Likud, the Blue & White Party, the largest grouping in the liberal-dove bloc, and of course his own Yisrael Beiteinu faction. If it works, he’s eyeing one of the top three jobs – defense, foreign affairs or finance.

But will it work? That, of course, depends on the Israeli electorate, a Janus-like creature that can’t quite decide whether it wants to be biblical or modern and which has been anesthetized by decades of conflict, brainwashing, Bibi and a strong economy into a state of blissful somnolence. Not all Israelis are sleepwalkers, of course. Many, particularly on the religious-settler right and among the ultra-Orthodox, are highly politicized and partisans of the parties that have traditionally upheld their points of view. In the past that was also true of Israel’s Palestinian population, though decades of affronts and frustration have resulted in a widespread environment of lethargy and ennui. Their voting rate is significantly down.

It’s all the rest, the silent majority, who are the political sleepwalkers. Some of them incline toward Netanyahu and the conservative-hawks, while others incline to the liberal-doves – but very few of them are overly concerned with the “big issues.” The shekel is strong, the standard of living is high, jobs are abundant, particularly in high-tech, there  are no obvious wars around the corner (bombing Gaza is now routine) and cheap flights (and a strong shekel) enable them to travel regularly and shop compulsively. What’s not to like? On the face of it, the bulk of the country’s population is doing just fine.

It’s a fair assumption that issues of life and death – the occupation, potential war, Gaza, the plight of the Palestinians, BDS – will not be a significant factor in the election. The Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are largely out of sight and therefore out of mind. After over 50 years, the occupation has settled comfortably into the Israeli subconscious without leaving a trace. Tel Aviv revels in his reputation as party city to the world, untroubled by the apartheid-like regime maintained by Israel just 20 kilometers from the city which never sleeps. Those Israelis who care about such things will support Blue & White or the parties to its left, but they will be far from a swing vote. The lefties in Israel are a known quantity and they don’t win elections.

With the economy doing well (a leg-up for Netanyahu) and the occupation-conflict of little interest to the bulk of the electorate, the election is likely to hinge on three issues: Whether the semi-consolidation on the right leads to a less fragmented vote than was the case last time; whether Lieberman’s stand against the ultra-Orthodox after the previous election will win him sufficient support to continue playing the role of king-maker; and whether Netanyahu has overstayed his welcome and alienated a sufficient number of voters though his machinations to stay in power.

There are signs of Netanyahu overdose among members of the public, but it’s hard to see those who want to be weened off him moving decisively to the liberal-hawk bloc. More likely is that they will vote for parties to the right of the Likud, thus boosting the overall conservative-hawk-religious bloc (which Netanyahu leads.) If the bloc is further strengthened by the recent consolidation of several (but not all) of the extreme right parties, the bloc could well win an overall majority and establish a government without Lieberman or the liberal-dove bloc.

Less likely is that the anti-Netanyahu vote will move strongly to Lieberman and the moderate Blue & White Party, thus depriving the religious-conservative-hawk bloc of its majority. The obvious scenario then is a Likud-Blue & White unity government, with or without Lieberman at its fulcrum. The problem is that Lieberman has already said he will not sit in a government with indictment-pending Netanyahu and it’s possible that quite a few members of Blue & White will feel likewise. Were that veto to eventuate, Lieberman (a born shit-stirrer) and the leaders of Blue & White will probably attempt to persuade their Likud counterparts that they – and the country – will be a lot better off without Netanyahu.

To prevent such an outcome, Netanyahu has demanded that all candidates on his party’s Knesset list sign an undertaking that they will not support anyone else for the leadership of the party and the bloc. Of course, they may well sign and then change their minds when the cards are down. Such things have been known to happen in Israeli politics.

There is no way that the liberal-dove block will be able to form a government without Lieberman and/or the religious parties. To do so, even in the most favourable circumstances, they will need to make a pact with the three Arab parties, which are now running as their own little bloc. Israel has never had a coalition government reliant on the Arab parties.

As things stand then, the smart money is on Netanyahu forming the coalition that eluded him earlier this year. But there are still five weeks to go and five weeks is a long time in Israeli politics – particularly during summer, which is traditionally the time of year that Israel likes to stage its wars. Things could still get very interesting.

Jacob & Bibi: Viva the grandchildren!

FROM THE OFFICE OF THE EX-PRESIDENT

February 25, 2018

Dear Bibi:

So Friday afternoon I bade farewell to my former staff at the Union Buildings and needless to say there was a huge amount of weeping and so forth. We South Africans, Bibi, besides being happy and smiling, are a sentimental bunch. Only things we love more than money and bemoaning the evils of our holocaust (the apartheid years) are public farewells, funerals and apologies.

The farewell was of course captured in glorious technicolour by one of my (former) trusty photographers from the oddly-named GCIS, Government Communication and Information System, also known by many as the JGSU, Jacob Gedleyihlekisa – or sometimes Joseph Goebbels – Strike Unit. But I never named the GCIS; that’s one they can’t blame on me; if memory serves, it was christened during Thabo Mbeki’s reign or maybe even the Old Man’s.

But none of the pictures, though they were dispatched to all the fake news practitioners, will appear in this morning’s newspapers. If they did, the white monopoly capitalists and all their thousands, nay millions, of followers would erupt in a mammoth wail and general gnashing of teeth. On the other hand, Squirrel teeing off at some charity golf jamboree, even more incompetently than I ever did, two days ago, will be the lead story on the front pages for weeks to come.

But I have to say that Squirrel is learning fast. Very fast. Everyone’s chosen not to notice that a few days ago, Gigabyte the finance minister gave Squirrel R700 000 a year more than I got. Not, I concede, a lot in dirhams, rupees or dollars, but still.  And four days ago, Squirrel hosted a farewell function for me at the Tuynhuys (we have more official dachas than you fellows) in Cape Town – and, without even blanching, he paid tribute to me for my “contribution to South Africa’s development” during my nine years in office. Not bad, given that even an easily-bamboozled person such as he is knows my main contribution was always to my own development and my family’s.

Because you see, Bibi, I have always been, above all, a family man, as you obviously have also been – though, if you don’t mind me saying, my 23 (or 24 – sometimes I lose count) kids have been kinder to me than your few to you. Did you know, by the way, that I have a Jewish grandson? I have insisted he call me zeyde – and he does! I call him Bafana, which means boychik.

Yes, my boy Duduzane, cognizant that happy congress with a beautiful Jewish woman is accompanied by seven years’ good luck (but also, as you say, some tsuris), has shown himself to be as fruitful as I have been, and will,Insha’Allah, continue to be. My point is that, even amidst my troubles, I have put some money aside in Dubai for the young lad. Surely, after you complete your imperial ambitions in the Middle East, as you surely will, the bank there will be easily available to Jewish people?

Viva the grandchildren!

Jacob


 

THE PRIME MINISTER’S BUREAU

Dear Jacob

February 25, 2018

I’m delighted to hear that you have a Jewish grandson. You beat me to it! Normally, I would urge you to send him to Israel to absorb a little yiddishkeit, but the timing is probably not appropriate. You see, we’re trying to get rid of our black Africans right now and I wouldn’t want him to be mistaken for an infiltrator and sent to Rwanda. (Though that’s in Africa, so he could probably take an Uber home, couldn’t he?)

Your best bet would be to ensure that he gets a good Jewish education in South Africa – Zionist, but I’d steer clear of the Lubavitch – and then send him here to spend some time among his own kind. Yair has kindly to offered to show him around the strip clubs and whorehouses of Tel Aviv, complete with state-financed bodyguard and car. Though, come to think of it, that may not be a good idea. Most of the women are Russians, who are not particularly partial to people of color. Maybe Sara knows some appropriate non-Russians.

But I must insist that you teach him to avoid the mistake that you yourself made in your last email. There was, is and always will be only one Holocaust (spelled with a capital H) and that is the Jewish one. Other people have tragedies, disasters – catastrophes, even – but only Jews have a Holocaust. Talk of other holocausts is in most cases no more than disguised anti-Semitism. God gave the Jews the Book and the Holocaust (and a gift for finance, some say.)

Seeing that your grandson – I think you said his name is Banana – has a Jewish mother, it would be best to leave his Holocaust education up to her. That way, he’ll be up to speed when he gets here.

As for me, the local gestapo has ordered me in for questioning this week on what are colloquially known as Cases 3000 and 4000. Not, God forbid, 3 & 4. The Nazis want the public to believe that my supposed indiscretions run into the thousands! After all I’ve done for the Jewish people, they want to grill me like a common criminal – and about what? About favors I purportedly doled out to an old friend (almost family!) in return for positive coverage about me and my family in the press.

Could even Goebbels have made up a better lie? (By the way, I noticed your reference to him but didn’t really understand the context. Were you referring to the lies about you in your local rags?) Is it the fate of all great men to be besmirched by pygmies?

Last week that righteous Christian Donald Trump announced that the US embassy would move to Jerusalem in May. One of the greatest achievements of the Jewish people – a miracle no less than that of Hanukkah or the salvation of the Jews on Purim – that happened on my watch. But do you think I get any recognition for it? Any thanks? Forget it. Case 4000 is what I get!

Your brother in anguish

Bibi