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Kibbitz

How Yitzhak Rabin Rates on the De Klerk Scale

Several readers of my previous column have asked why I made no mention of Yitzhak Rabin when writing about Israel’s need for a redemptive figure like South Africa’s F.W. de Klerk. The short answer is that it didn’t occur to me. The longer answer is given below.

In order to compare the motivations and actions of Rabin with those of De Klerk, I have identified five factors which, I believe, were essential to De Klerk’s dramatic reversal of direction in 1990 – the qualities that defined his decisive role in history.

Firstly, he came from the heart of the Afrikaner people and, for most of his life, he shared its ideological commitment to white racial domination. Had he been an Afrikaner pariah, like Breyten Breytenbach, say, his transformation would have been less dramatic and a lot less potent.

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Kibbitz

F.W. de Klerk’s Message for Israelis

Theunis Christiaan de Klerk, an ancestor of former South African president F.W. De Klerk, was hanged by the British in 1815 for his role in the so-called Slagtersnek Rebellion. Another ancestor, Lourens de Klerk, was killed by the impis of Zulu king Dingaan in 1838, one of about 100 people to die in a brutal massacre.

The former president’s grandfather fought against the British in the Boer War, one of his uncles was J.G. Strijdom, South Africa’s fifth prime minister, and his father Johannes de Klerk, was a senator representing the apartheid National Party who served as a cabinet minister for fifteen years under three prime ministers.

One of his earliest memories, F.W. wrote in his biography, was sitting on his father’s shoulders during the emotional cornerstone laying ceremony for the Vootrekker Monument (arguably South Africa’s Wailing Wall) outside Pretoria in 1938. He was three at the time.

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Uncategorized

Between Witch-Burners & Identity Zealots: The Liberal Dilemma

With witch-burners and flat-earthers on the one side and dour identity absolutists on the other, it is becoming difficult to maintain one’s moral equilibrium. Concepts and designations that I once thought immutable – left-wing, progressive, humanist – have now become porous and threatening.

The conservatives, whose myth-based self-images, fears and prejudices have led them to knowledge-denial and irrational flights of fancy, are not my concern here. Not that I doubt the danger they pose – their idiocy could well lead us to climate catastrophe and other nightmarish scenarios – but there is nothing about them that causes me to question my own values.

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Kibbitz

The Apocalyptic Peter Wilhelm

Many of us, I suspect, have been flirting with apocalyptic anxiety over the past 18 months, in the face of both the Covid pandemic and the contemporaneous worsening of the global climate. For my generation, that dual whammy has been the first real wake-up call after decades of post-WWII stability, growth and relative peace. All of a sudden, in our old age, we are having to contemplate the possibility of the end of the world.

One person who didn’t need an epidemic poke-in-the-ribs to begin concerning himself with the Apocalypse was the journalist, author and poet Peter Wilhelm – my mentor and friend – who spent the past three decades conjuring up extraordinary visions of a dystopian future and the post-apocalyptic world that might follow.

Categories
Satire

EXCLUSIVE: New Government Caps Successful Clinical Trial

The creation of a new government in Israel was the successful outcome of a clinical trial conducted over the past few months, The Kibbitzer has learned.

The trial, conducted by a wide spectrum of mental health experts, tested the efficacy and safety of social interaction methodologies and group emotional support sessions in treating patients suffering from PBSD, a rare syndrome found only in Israel.

“We weren’t certain that it would work,” Prof. Yair Lapid, the trial’s convenor, told The Kibbitzer.

“Post-Bibi Stress Disorder is a mental disorder provoked by exposure to severe Bibi trauma. Normal treatment methods have had only limited success. But I had an inkling that if PBSD sufferers spent enough time with each other, sparks would begin to fly.”

The Kibbitzer understands that the initial trial group comprised a number of severe PBSD cases – among them a former general, a former settlement leader and high-tech whizz and a former Moldovan bouncer – with others who were not suffering from PBSD but were able to empathize.

There was also a control group convened by Dr. R. Rivlin, which used the same clinical methodologies but was unsuccessful in forming a government.

“I don’t want to give the impression that PBSD has been cured,” Prof Lapid cautioned. “Many people are still vulnerable to the trauma. But I think we can say we’ve come up with a successful treatment.”

 

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Kvetch

Gaza and Warsaw: The Iron Fist in Action

On a visit Tuesday to the mixed Arab-Jewish town of Acre, where Palestinian rioters had torched Jewish property the previous day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the incidents reminded him of “sights from our people’s past, and we cannot accept that.”

I understand him. When I see TV clips of Gaza going up in flames from Israeli bombardment – foreign news clips, to be clear; Israeli TV is entirely focused on Jewish suffering – I am also reminded of sights from the Jewish past.

I see the burning buildings and wailing children of the Warsaw Ghetto during the Jewish revolt of April-May 1943 – the savage, sadistic German response to a futile rebellion by desperate people who had no future and were prepared to sacrifice their lives to preserve whatever scraps remained of their own dignity.

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Uncategorized

Israel’s Political Pyromaniac Strikes Again

With Gaza under sustained attack and Hamas rockets targeting wide swathes of southern and central Israel, it is perhaps too early to draw conclusions about what precisely caused the latest round of blood-letting in the Middle East. That said, there are three factors that are already clear at this stage.

The first is that Bibi Netanyahu never intended to leave office quietly. In the days before yesterday’s descent into open warfare, his opponents appeared set to announce a new government – one with the single, overriding objective of getting rid of the prime minister. Netanyahu, who faces doing prison time without the shield of office, was never going to let that happen.

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Kvetch

The Dark Side of Israel’s Vaccination Miracle

I had my second Covid vaccination yesterday. Within the next week or so, I should achieve above 90% percent immunity. That doesn’t mean that I won’t catch the virus or transmit it, according to my understanding. It simply means that I will be spared the symptoms. That in itself is a huge relief.

While thankful to have come this far so quickly – hardly anyone I know outside Israel has received the vaccine – my satisfaction is tempered by the awareness that my good fortune is the result of something I have lamented and criticized for my entire adult life.

Israel’s uncanny stranglehold on sentiment in the West has again enabled it to profit over most other countries, without any real justification and despite the human rights abuses that should – and probably would, in the case of virtually any other country – condemn it to international pariahdom.

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Kvetch

Ode to Phil Spector

So Phil Spector is dead, then,
crazy fuck, musical magician,
engineer of walls
that Trump could never build.
To know him was to love him,
before he became an unhinged melody.
He was the Wagner of electric excess, the
little corporal of the recording studio.
Inducing hard-ons in teen jeans
and nipples standing to attention under polyester blouses.
But stoned and sodden,
flailing,
demented,
he played god one time too many.
Farewell, then, spectral Phil.
For a while all your stars were shining bright
and then you killed us.

Roy Isacowitz (with thanks to EJ Gordin, 12 ½)

Categories
Satire

Jews Protest Ouster of Protocols by QAnon

A legendary Jewish organization broke its 120-year silence today to criticize the QAnon conspiracy theory, reportedly the intellectual and spiritual home of the patriots who ransacked the US Capitol last week.

“We have long believed that silence is the best policy, but the grandiose and totally unjustified claims of the QAnon faithful have left us with no option but to go public,” the Elders of Zion said in a press release sent to major news outlets in the US, Russia and Moldova.