The demise of Israel’s pampered revolutionaries

The leaders of Israel’s social protest movement are rallying their scattered forces for another showdown on Saturday night. The consensus in the media is that it will be a muted affair; like the defeated remnants of Stalingrad dragging themselves to yet another hopeless battle.

My impression is that the social protest movement has imploded. The reasons for that are instructive. In my view they include: Continue reading

The Great Gilad Shalit Binge

As I write, Israel is preparing for the Gilad Shalit bacchanalia. For the next 72 hours, perhaps more, the country will indulge in an elaborate orgy of media overkill, voyeurism and self-congratulation that has no equal in the modern world.

Last night, the Supreme Court rejected the petitions that had been lodged against the prisoner swap. That, too, was part of the ritual. The fact that Israel is releasing people accused of horrific crimes, and who clearly remain dedicated to their struggle, can’t be allowed to derail the ceremony. In fact, it’s the entire point. Without the release of hundreds of dangerous prisoners, the whole thing would lose its potency. It would be no more than a human interest story; big-time reality TV. Continue reading

The Descendants of the Canaanites and the Jewish State

One of the least understood nuances of the interminable and numbing haggling between the Netanyahu government  and the Palestinians concerns the government’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish state.” On the face of it, it’s an odd demand – Israel has never made the same requirement of any other country with which it established diplomatic relations – but also an innocuous one. After all, Israel does have a decisive Jewish majority and all governing institutions are in safe Jewish hands. That being the case, why should the Palestinians object, even if the demand is unusual?

The answer is that it’s all in the subtext. For only two relatively short words, “Jewish state” carries an extraordinary amount of baggage. Continue reading

Yom Kippur in the State of Nirvana

The pool stage of the rugby world cup is now over and the knockout games begin tomorrow. So, it’s a good time to take stock.

Not of the rugby, of course. I wouldn’t try the patience of my devoted readers, most of whom have yet to reach full sports enlightenment, to that extent. Though maybe just a spare thought for the French (with apologies to Philippe.) I have never been much of a student of  things French, so I don’t have the tools to understand why it is that, come crunch time, French sportsmen seem to go to pieces and start stabbing each other with knitting needles. It happened during the football world cup and, right on schedule, it has happened in the rugby as well. Continue reading