Trump Doubtful About Peace After Meeting Sara

In a rambling and disjointed series of tweets before dawn on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump appeared to stipulate his preconditions for peace in the Middle East.

“No chance of peace until the slut shuts her trap and Bibi wipes the cat-got-the-milk grin off his face,” Trump wrote in his first tweet.

“And no more shaking hands with Israelis. Ever!” he wrote in a subsequent tweet.

Political observers in Jerusalem who were questioned by The Kibbitzer differed over whether Trump’s remark that Oren Hazan “should be nuked” was a fourth condition for peace or merely a recommendation.

A source in the Trump entourage who asked to remain anonymous told The Kibbitzer that the president appeared “shaken and unnerved” after his first encounter with Israelis en masse.

“He is a lot less confident about making peace after the airport reception and then dinner with the Netanyahus,” the source said. “He has finally realized what he’s up against.”

Meanwhile, The Kibbitzer has learned that Melania Trump required three booster shots of botox on Monday to keep her face smiling and immobile throughout the day.

 

Israbluff Facing its Greatest Challenge Yet

The secret but highly influential Israel Bluffers Association (IBA) has urged its members to exercise utmost caution during the visit to Israel of United States President Donald Trump, which begins tomorrow.

The IBA counts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, cabinet ministers and most Knesset members among its membership. Critics say that the association exercises an undue influence on government policies and activities.

“Our monopoly over deceit and mendacity in the Jewish state will face an enormous challenge with the arrival of the acknowledged world lying champion,” the IBA said in a confidential memo that was hand-delivered to its members this morning. The memo has come into the possession of The Kibbitzer.

“Proud as we are of the long and honored tradition of Israbluff, we should not bluff ourselves that we are invincible,” the memo continued. “Not since the days of Nixon have we come up against a bluffer whose skills equal, if not exceed, our own.”

“It is incumbent on all members to ensure that they don’t fall for Trumpbluff and find themselves agreeing to reduce the pace of settlement or even, God forbid, to hand over parts of the Land of Israel to heathens.”

The memo ends with the admonition that failure to take care when conversing with Trump could “spell the end of over 70 years of Israbluff.”

 

 

The surprising longevity of apartheid

The Afrikaner still reigns supreme in the Kruger National Park, South Africa’s largest and most popular game reserve. The reception desks, restaurants and stores in the reserve’s rest camps are now manned by blacks, but otherwise little has changed in the past thirty or forty years. Afrikaans-speaking South Africans in khaki clothes and floppy sun hats still dominate among the almost exclusively white clientele. Practical, if not official, apartheid lives on in the Kruger Park, as it does in most of the formerly white areas of the country.

At a Saturday food market adjacent to the Waterfront shopping complex in Cape Town, my daughter and I played “spot the black.” There were many black people, of course, but they were all preparing and serving food. Those paying the money and eating the food were white. When we eventually spotted a colored (mixed race) man eating at one of the tables, we agreed to count him as black. We were bored with the game by then.

Wall-to-wall whiteness also prevailed at Cape Point Vineyards, where I tasted seven wines, one of them magnificent and three pretty good, while overlooking the spectacular beach of Noordhoek on the Cape peninsula. (The tasting, by the way, cost 60 Rand or $4.50.) Same story at Constantia Glen, a boutique winery set among exquisite hills and vineyards close to the city.

At the Waterfront itself, a vast, gentrified portion of the old Cape Town port, there were quite a few, coloreds, Indians and even blacks among the swarming crowds, but that was a semi-multiracial exception. The malls and restaurants in Johannesburg were again solid white. The only times I mingled with substantial numbers of non-white people were in a buffet restaurant in Cape Town (situated in the building that formerly housed The Cape Times newspaper), a weekend market in Hout Bay (which, many whites will tell you, has been “overrun” by their more swarthy countrymen) and at an Indian restaurant in the predominantly Indian area of Fordsburg south of the Johannesburg city center.

And then there was the mall at the Carlton Center, deep in downtown Johannesburg. These days, the city center is a no-go area for whites, who prefer to live with their own kind in the leafy northern suburbs of the city. My friend Jeremy and I ventured into the Carlton Center mall for coffee, finding ourselves the only whites in the place (as far as we could see.) It was a bit unsettling. No-one seemed to pay us any attention and the people we encountered were typically friendly, but after almost two months in South Africa I had grown used to predominantly white surroundings. The Carlton Center was pure Africa, which is a pejorative concept for many whites on the tip of the continent. “Welcome to Africa,” they say, when the electricity suddenly goes out or a black cashier takes too long counting out the change.

Social apartheid is still alive and kicking in South Africa. Twenty-three years after the last apartheid government fell, white families still have black servants, shop in predominantly white shopping centers and live in large houses (with high walls topped by electrified fences) in white suburbs. Today it is a segregation enforced by economics, rather than law, but it looks and feels like the good old days of apartheid and white privilege.

In Sea Point, a mainly white suburb of Cape Town perched between the mountains and the sea, the bid by a Jewish educational trust to purchase an abandoned school and its property led to a full-scale crisis. Social activists demanded that the provincial government, which owns the land, use it instead for building affordable housing for poor people who currently commute long distances to work in the suburb. The government eventually decided to sell the property to the trust, but not before the controversy had aroused a lot of bad blood. All the whites I spoke to about the issue, most of whom would probably describe themselves as liberals and former opponents of apartheid, were opposed to the use of the property for low-cost housing. They used such terms as “social incompatibility” and “lack of economic logic,” but their real objection was to the influx of poor blacks into their white neighborhood.

To be fair, the precedents for building low-cost housing in the midst of middle-class (read white) neighborhoods have been less than successful. In Hout Bay, formerly a mink and manure oasis some twenty-five kilometers down the coast from Cape Town, the authorities built a few permanent houses for homeless people who had been living on a local beach. Those houses soon turned into a massive squatter camp of some 20,000 people that today straggles a good way up one of the mountains that surround the town. Hout Bay locals say that crime has spiraled and property values have plummeted, both by dozens of percent.

A fire broke out in the camp while I was there and nine people died. Fire engines couldn’t make their way through the sprawl of makeshift housing to fight the blaze.

The concerns of the residents of Sea Point are real. It’s not necessarily racism to be concerned about the value of one’s property and rising crime and it’s arguably human nature to want to retain one’s standard of living. But there’s something seriously askew when the wider context of those concerns is the most unequal country on earth (according to both the Gini index of inequality and the Palma ratio.) By and large, South Africa’s whites have thrived since the end of apartheid, despite the niggling inconveniences of black empowerment, university entrance quotas and bureaucratic bungling. But the majority of the population remains entrenched in horrific poverty.

The failure of the four ANC governments since the first democratic elections in 1994 to tackle poverty and provide basic living conditions (housing, education and healthcare) for the majority of the population has been catastrophic. The incumbent President, Jacob Zuma, doesn’t even seem to have tried, preferring to enrich himself and his cronies. The result has been what South Africans call “state capture,” the takeover of the levers of political and economic power by Zuma and his allies for their own personal financial gain and to solidify their hold on power.

Things reached boiling point at the end of March, when Zuma sacked his finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, who had been an obstacle to some of the president’s more flagrant escapades. His replacement, Malusi Gigaba is expected to be a lot more amenable to the Zuma-led kleptocracy. The sacking of the respected Gordhan outraged the international financial community and resulted in the downgrading of South Africa’s debt to junk status by Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings, two of the Big Three international credit rating agencies. Foreign investment in South Africa is now an endangered species.

Zuma, who is scheduled to step down as the head of the ANC at the end of this year, is said to be grooming his former wife, Nokosazana Dlamini-Zuma, as his successor. If elected, she would replace him as president in 2019, when he has to step down according to ANC rules. Assumedly, he is planning on retaining political clout after he leaves office, not to mention staying out of jail after he loses immunity. With 249 seats in the 400-seat parliament, the ANC is unlikely to lose a no-confidence vote before the end of Zuma’s term. Nor is there much chance of a significant number of ANC MPs turning against the president; Zuma has wisely spread the largesse.

As things stand, then, things are at an impasse. Zuma isn’t going anywhere and he has given no indication that he intends to change his thieving ways – nor those of his allies in provincial governments, the public service, the security forces, the judiciary, parastatals and more. But the money will soon run out. Here are two possible scenarios of what could transpire:

Bereft of foreign investment and bled dry by the kleptocracy, South Africa turns to the IMF for assistance. The terms offered by the IMF are unacceptable – both because they would mean the end of the corruption orgy and because the traditional fiscal recipes of the IMF are anathema to the influential Communist Party of South Africa and its trade union allies. Left to its own devices, South Africa dwindles into an African basket case, with less and less development, state services and growth. Power cuts become routine, infrastructure crumbles and poverty and crime both soar, with the underfunded police unable to cope. The tribal clashes that led to some 14,000 deaths before the 1994 elections flare up again. Armed and hungry men roam the countryside. Whites are now the obvious and natural target. Those who can, pack up and leave, now a lot more concerned for their lives than for their living standards. South Africa becomes a failed state, like Somalia and South Sudan.

Another scenario is that Zuma undertakes “radical economic transformation,” which in South Africa is synonymous with nationalization, income and land distribution and stripping whites of company and business ownership. That frees up the capital held by whites and reduces the need for foreign investment. But the poor to whom the land and businesses are distributed don’t know how to farm or how to run a business. Soon, the land is lying fallow and commercial activity is at a standstill. Deprived of their livelihoods and much of their property, most of the whites leave. South Africa becomes a second Zimbabwe.

Perhaps I’m being over-negative and there is still a good scenario for South Africa. But I don’t see it. Even without the corruption of Zuma and friends, the country would still be a bog of inequality, racial tension and class conflict. It remains deeply segregated and has few prospects for growth. The end of apartheid certainly improved human rights and sparked the growth of a small black middle class, but very little prosperity has percolated down. South Africa desperately needs sound leadership and heavy investment, neither of which is visible on the horizon. All I see is a solid mass of very black clouds.

 

Zuma: World Recognizes SA Economic Excellence

The excellence of the South African economy has been internationally recognized, President Jacob Zuma told The Kibbitzer in an exclusive interview yesterday.

Zuma was responding to a question regarding the country’s downgrading by Standard and Poor’s credit agency to BB+ last week.

“I never went to school, but a friend of mine who did told me that the highest you can get in an exam is an A and the second highest is a B,” the president said.

“That means that our double-B-plus is almost the highest a country can get. We’re almost at genius level.”

Reminded by The Kibbitzer that BB+ is regarded as junk status, Zuma said: “I have a friend who started out buying and selling junk and today he’s a multi-millionaire. Under my leadership, we’re becoming a country of millionaires.”

The president rejected the widespread criticism that he had brought the country close to collapse.  “If I, an uneducated boy from a very poor background, can end up with three (or is it four?) wives and a big house with a swimming pool, anybody can do it,” he said.

“All it takes is some hard graft.”

 

Friedman Planning Sacrifice at Temple Mount Home

David Friedman, the newly sworn-in United States Ambassador to Judea and Samaria, intends locating his official residence on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, The Kibbitzer has learned.

“My predecessors stayed in the kapo ghetto of Herzliya,” Friedman told The Kibbitzer in an exclusive interview following his swearing in by Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday.

“But that is very far for the faithful to drive for the annual Passover sacrifice. I decided that it would be much more convenient for all of us if we did it on the patio of my residence on the Temple Mount.”

Friedman added that his representatives were still looking for an appropriate building on the Temple Mount, but “there’s a nice mosque there that they think could be adapted for residential use at minimal cost.”

President Donald Trump will soon issue an executive order for the residence to be available for the Passover sacrifice in ten days’ time, the new ambassador said,

“I can already picture us on the patio, doing al ha’esh (barbecue) and drinking our wine with a joyful heart as the sun goes down over the kotel,” Friedman said.

 

Netanyahu to Present Prime-Time TV News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will anchor the prime-time evening news on the new TV channel that will replace Channel 1, The Kibbitzer has learned.

The prime minister’s new media position was agreed last night in a compromise solution resolving the long-running crisis over a new broadcasting corporation. On Saturday, Netanyahu threatened to call new elections if he didn’t get his way.

“Bibi wanted to disband the new corporation because he couldn’t control it,” a source close to the prime minister told The Kibbitzer. “So anchoring the prime-time news seemed to be a good solution.”

“It will be a lot easier than submitting the news items to him for approval, which was the other option.”

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who had clashed with Netanyahu over the corporation, said that he would only agree to the compromise if he was appointed the channel’s news director.

In Beijing, meanwhile, a government official said that Netanyahu, who is currently visiting China, had asked to meet with former Politburo member Chen Liangyu, who is in jail for corruption. “My understanding is he wants to assess the prison conditions of politicians convicted of graft,” the official said.

Iranians Plotting Another Purim Massacre

Quoting intelligence indicating that Iran was “once again planning to destroy Israel,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today urged Israelis to display utmost vigilance over Purim.

“Our intelligence shows clearly that there has been no letup in the Iranian efforts to destroy us since the last time they tried,” the prime minister said in a TV interview on Channel 2.

A source in the Prime Minister’s Office told The Kibbitzer that the intelligence referred to by Netanyahu included wiretaps of recent conversations between Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khameini and Haman, leader of the previous plot to destroy Israel.

“It’s the same Haman and the same Revolutionary Guards,” the source said. “Nothing has changed.”

Prof. Alon Shimoni, head of the Jewish History Department at Tel Aviv University, told The Kibbitzer that he considered it unlikely that Haman was involved in the current Iranian effort to destroy Israel.

“I’m not privy to the information that the prime minister has,” Prof Shimoni cautioned, but “Haman hasn’t been seen in public since the fifth century BC. Personally, I doubt whether a man of his age would still be politically active.”

 

Israel Pursues True Apartheid

For those of us who consider Israel to be an apartheid state, it is sobering to realize that things are likely to get a lot worse before they get better. In South Africa, racial segregation took a long time to gestate, before reaching its full potential in apartheid. The Israeli version is only now showing signs of approaching maturity, never mind reaching its inevitable demise.

The term “apartheid” emerged in 1947 as the slogan of the pro-segregationist National Party in South Africa while it was still in opposition. It represented a slew of policies aimed at tightening white control over the country, deepening segregation and “balkanizing the country into separate socio-economic units,” as Richard Steyn put it in his new biography of South African statesman Jan Smuts.

In other words, apartheid was the formalization of the segregation that had existed in the colonies that made up the Union of South Africa, as it was then, for well over two hundred years. It’s implementation, in the years following the Nationalist victory in the 1948 elections, provided the legal framework for the entrenchment of practices – of a social reality – that, to a large extent, already existed.

The whites of South Africa were no more or less racist after the introduction of apartheid than they were before. What had changed was that they felt sufficiently unencumbered by their previous colonial master, Britain, were more organized and they finally had a plan.

It’s worth remembering that less than 50 years before apartheid became state policy, the Afrikaners were fighting the British in the Boer War, which they regarded as a struggle for survival against the colonial, commercial and, in particular, mining interests – represented by Britain – which threatened to swamp them.

Apartheid, then, was the culmination of a long and hard struggle by the Afrikaners to overcome foreign rule, establish themselves on the land, build up their power and create a nation. The presence of a large black population throughout that process was a problem that necessitated increasingly discriminatory and harsh measures, but until the formation of the Nationalist government in 1948, no overall solution to the race problem was ever put forward.

Even Jan Smuts, an international statesman and the drafter of the preambles to the charters of both the League of Nations and United Nations, was at a loss when it came to solving what was called the “native problem.” For most of his career, he preferred to side-step the issue. It fell to the Nationalist government of 1948 to propose an overarching race policy – apartheid. And it took close to another 50 years for apartheid to collapse under the weight of its own internal contradictions and in the face of international obloquy.

In a very similar vein, Israel has failed to come up with a policy for its own “native problem.” It wants the land of the West Bank, but it has no idea of what to do with the population. Like Smuts, Benjamin Netanyahu’s only policy is to side-step the issue, his vague nods in the direction of a two-state solution notwithstanding.

In a technical sense, therefore, Israel is in a pre-apartheid phase. It has the functional segregation, the oppressive measures and an apathetic population that is largely disinterested in the fate of the other. It is apartheid-ready. What it lacks is the legal framework in which to implement its aspiration toward a state in which Jews control all the land and all the power.

That could soon be on the cards. Following the passing of the so-called Settlement Regularization Bill in early February, Knesset members from the coalition have now set their sights on annexing the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim to Israel. That is likely to be followed by further annexation, either on a piecemeal basis or of large swathes of the West Bank in one go.

The Regularization Bill, which retroactively legalized Jewish theft of private Palestinian land, was the first law passed by the Knesset that dealt with the fate of the Palestinians and their land. Until then, the displacement of the Palestinians had been accomplished by means of military decrees and Supreme Court dismissal of appeals by Palestinians or their Israeli representatives against the decrees.

To put it another way, the bill was the first occasion on which the Israeli legislature passed a law enabling discrimination by one segment of society against another. As such, it was an important milestone in the advance to fully-fledged apartheid.

Apart from David Ben-Gurion, Netanyahu is Israel’s longest serving prime minister and he has fought numerous bruising diplomatic battles. He may not be the most appropriate person to lead Israel into the full bloom of apartheid. That distinction could well fall to Naftali Bennett, head of the avidly pro-settlement Habayit Hayehudi party, who, unlike the prime minister, does have a proper apartheid plan. Until now, Bennett has anchored the right-wing of the ruling coalition and prevented any deviation from the coalition’s pro-settlement line on the part of Netanyahu.

Bennett’s plan would involve the extension of Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank, the herding of West Bank Palestinians into areas reminiscent of bantustans and the creation of two legal systems, one for Jews living anywhere in the greater territory and the other for West Bank Palestinians. It is a plan of which the South African architects of apartheid would have been proud.

To the best of my knowledge, Bennett’s plan doesn’t envisage discriminatory action against the Palestinians living within Israel proper, but that could be only a question of time. With apartheid fully in place in the West Bank, it’s unlikely that Israeli Jewish baasskap (domination) will tolerate unregulated Palestinians elsewhere. Their model could be the scrapping of the qualified black franchise in South Africa’s Cape Province by the apartheid regime.

If the experience of South Africa is anything to go by, therefore, apartheid is a slow-growing plant that needs ample time and water. In Bennett, Israel has the means, but will it have the time?

 

Comptroller Recommends Compulsory Weed Smoking by Ministers

Israel’s state comptroller has recommended that marijuana smoking by government ministers be made compulsory during meetings of the country’s security cabinet.

The government voted on Sunday to decriminalize personal use of the noxious weed.

“I am of the firm opinion that being stoned will help the members of the security cabinet see things that they don’t otherwise see,” Comptroller Yosef Shapira told journalists this morning.

“For instance, they may finally see the explosive humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. They may even see that the settlers are stealing Palestinian land left, right and center.”

“I’ve never tried the stuff myself,” Shapira continued, “but I understand it gives a sensation of euphoria and calm. That may be a step too far for Israeli politicians, but it could be a worthy goal.”

In his report on the 2014 Gaza War, issued last week, Shapira castigated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of the security cabinet for ignoring clear signs of desperation and distress from Gaza before the war.

 

Bibi Orders Emergency Relief Supplies of Cigars for Gaza

Stung by accusations that he had ignored explosive economic and humanitarian conditions in Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday ordered Arnon Milchan to organize an immediate shipment of cigars and pink champagne to the beleaguered enclave.

“To all those who say I am indifferent to suffering, let this be the answer,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

“And to prove my commitment to the wellbeing of Gaza, I have instructed Milchin to send exactly the same Cohiba Robustos and Charles Heidsieck 2006 that Sara and I consume. There will be no discrimination while I’m in office.”

“I feel deeply for any human being who is unable to return home to a good smoke and glass of bubbly after a hard day in the office.”

The prime minister went as far as to indicate that he was prepared to break open his own supplies, stored in tunnels beneath his Jerusalem home, if Milchin was unable to arrange the emergency shipment with sufficient speed.

In a report issued earlier this week, the State Comptroller accused Netanyahu and his senior ministers of doing nothing to avert a looming humanitarian and economic explosion in Gaza in the year leading up to the 2014 war.