Howard and I, Part II: He Should Stick to Fiction

The political acuity of Howard Jacobson is inversely proportional to his skill as a writer. The better he writes – his latest book, Live a Little, is wonderfully whimsical and delicate – the more foolish are his public remarks on current affairs, particularly as regards Jews and Israel.

That fatuousness is on stark display in a recent interview Jacobson gave to the Jewish Telegraph Agency, which was published today by The Times of Israel.

“To not see the necessity of Zionism, or to refuse to see the necessity of Zionism, and to think of it as an ideology of cruelty, you have to be an anti-Semite, you have to be uneducated and ignorant,” Jacobson says in the interview.



Sorry about burdening you with a glut of Kibbitzers in recent days, but I have an important announcement to make and it cannot wait.

This is a sincere and heartfelt apology to all my readers regarding an incident in my past of which I am now terribly ashamed.

While idling through a collection of family photographs earlier this week, I came across a Purim photo of me, aged about six, dressed in a pirate outfit.

I can only imagine the hurt and trauma suffered by all pirates due to my act of cultural appropriation. As one who cares deeply about social justice, inclusivity and diversity, I can only apologize from the depths of my soul.

I was old enough at the time to understand the traditional oppression of pirates and I beg all pirates to forgive my insensitivity.

What’s worse, that same Purim photo includes my brother Steven, aged about four, dressed as a clown. My heart dropped to my ankles when I saw his mindless misappropriation of the disadvantaged clown minority. Our privileged background has clearly left us with a massive blind spot, which we are going to have to rectify.

Stephen is in the jungles of Papua New Guinea right now and unable to convey his own apology, which I’m certain will be profound. Please accept these words on his behalf.

There is also a photograph of the two of us wearing women’s shoes. Words can’t express my remorse at the obvious sexist and racist implications of something as dreadful.

I will be contacting all the world’s pirates, clowns and women to apologize personally for my behavior, after which I will take time to reflect on how deeply bigoted I really am.




Secular Israelis May Be Celebrating Too Soon

Spare a thought for the religious parties.

It’s true that the election results have been a blow for the entire religious-right community, but the knitted kippot and seculars among them will muddle on. Most of them have jobs to go to, fields stolen from the Palestinians to plough … That sort of thing. They’ll live to fight another day.

But for the ultra-Orthodox – Shas and the Ashkenazi Haredim – losing the election is an existential catastrophe. Lives and livelihoods are at stake.


Down But Not Beaten, Keep Your Eyes on Bibi

Perhaps the most important takeaway from yesterday’s Knesset election is one of procedure, entirely disconnected from the election itself: Benjamin Netanyahu is still prime minister, running the same interim government that he’s been running since April. And that situation is not going to change in the weeks to come.

Acquiring immunity from prosecution on charges of corruption has been Netanyahu’s driving force since before the previous election in April. His preferred method of getting what he needs has been political until now – offering cabinet posts, financial subsidies and other goodies to parties which agree to support immunity bills in the Knesset.

That political option was predicated on Netanyahu himself being mandated to form the next government. But things gave changed. Netanyahu’s Likud Party is lagging by one seat behind the opposition Blue & White coalition, according to the latest figures (with 90% of the votes counted), and his likely right-religious coalition is five to seven seats short of a 61-seat majority.


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.


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.


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.