Well, Woody Allen had some fun with this meme in his latest film, Whatever Works. I’m not going to give it away, but I’ll just say that everything dissolves in the universal solvent of New York City. It’s fashionable, whenever a new Allen film comes out, to say things like, “Not his best screenplay” and then something derogatory about his latest starlet and the fact that all his movies are really the same movie, and all his male leads are really himself (all true, by the way). Of course, we’ve known this for a long time. What we never hear is that Allen’s track record for enjoyability is unmatched. So if you get nothing else from the movie than ninety minutes of unwholesome fun, shouldn’t that be worth something?
Next week a campaign will begin in NYC to promote the possibility that people can be moral without God.
Today I’m linking to Michael Totten’s interview with Jeffrey Goldberg called The Real Quagmire In the Middle East. Not only is this a conversation between two intelligent, well-informed journalists about the problems that obsess some of us, it is also remarkably free of hate-speech, proving once and for all that it is still possible to have a reasonable discussion about Israel and its enemies without falling headfirst down the rabbit-hole of loshn hora.
Here’s a choice excerpt to whet your whistle with:
Goldberg: I imagine that if this situation gets more dire, America will say to the Iranians, secretly, in no uncertain terms, that “if you do anything to Israel, we will destroy you.” That just seems prudent to do. “Go ahead and have your dreams and desires, but don’t even think about transferring your nuclear technology to attack Israel in some way, because we will wipe you out.”
Bring the Iranian ambassador to the Strategic Air Command and show him all the missiles that are pointing at Iran. “This one is going to go here, and this one is going to go there. You’re wiped out. You’re finished. You’re done. You are exterminated.”
It wouldn’t really matter, though, because the Israelis would already be dead.
Totten: They can retaliate themselves anyway. They have nuclear weapons in submarines out in the Mediterranean.
Goldberg: Jews are floating around in the Persian Gulf with nuclear weapons in German subs that are aimed at the new Hitler. If you step away from your personal feelings about it, it’s just fascinating.
A great historian, Michael Oren is also Israel’s ambassador to the US. In this interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, he discusses why Israel matters and the meaning of Jewish history. As articulate as he is in his writing, he can’t seem to quite find the words to express his sense of wonder at the longevity of the Jewish people and the existence of the State of Israel. But he wrote the book on the Six Day War.
Hours after the US said it would boycott a UN conference on racism starting Monday in Geneva over objectionable language in the meeting’s final document that could single out Israel for criticism, Australia and Holland followed suit on Sunday morning, saying they were concerned the conference would be derailed by some countries to issues other than human rights.
So let’s see, that makes the US, Israel, Canada, Italy, Holland and Australia the only countries officially willing to admit that tomorow’s conference actually has nothing to do with racism or human rights? Where is the EU? According to JPost,
The European Union was still weighing its own participation.
Well, they still a few hours left to save themselves from embarrassment.
On the eve of Durban 2, it might be worth recalling the story of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I just rushed through the last hundred or so pages of her autobiography, Infidel. It was a much different book than I had imagined, having approached it expecting a sort of female Christopher Hitchens–a snide wit ridiculing Islam, getting in a few punches below the belt for good measure. Of course, Hitchens is better than that much of the time, but Hirsi Ali is different altogether. She has a patient style, judicious even, and tells her tale bluntly. She is not angry with God (she is an atheist, so that would be contradictory), nor is she burning with rage against the Muslim world into which she was born. Her story is probably typical of many Somali women, except that her father was a high-profile revolutionary while she was growing up. Her genitals were excised at the age of six, as is the tradition of her clan. She was educated as a traditional Muslim, and even sympathised with the Muslim Brotherhood for a period while she lived in Kenya. She believed Islam was perfect and held the answers to all of life’s questions. Then something snapped, and she grew up.
She was betrothed to a man she had never met, and pretty much forced into marriage. The facade of tradition was already cracked, and while on a stopover in Germany (on her way to Canada to become her new husband’s property) she snuck into Holland, applied for refugee status, and was eventually accepted. She learned Dutch (which, from what I can gather, is her sixth language–after Somali, Swahili, Amharic, Arabic and English), studied political science, obtained a degree, and then began to wonder what to do with so much freedom.
Fast forward to Sept. 11, 2001. Hirsi Ali began to speak out about Islam, about how suicide terrorism is not the result of ignorance and poverty. She said the attackers were acting in perfect harmony with their faith. The more she spoke, the more people began to listen. She began to receive death threats, which she didn’t take seriously at first. Then, once a member of the Dutch Parliament, Hirsi Ali dedicated herself politically to the betterment of Muslim women’s lives. That was her bone to pick. She said the Prophet Muhammad would be considered a pedophile and tyrant in modern-day Holland, which some people didn’t like. The death threats began to get serious.
Then she made this film with Theo van Gogh:
Van Gogh was murdered in broad daylight in Amsterdam not long thereafter. He didn’t take the death threats seriously. Hirsi Ali was immediately whisked into hiding, shuttled from apartment to apartment, finally ending up in a motel in smalltown Massachusetts. At times even she couldn’t know where she was being hidden. She could not use a telephone or go online for any reason. She could not risk being traced. Her potential killers could be anywhere, ready at a moment’s notice to make good on their promise to cut her throat.
Even Hirsi Ali admits in her book that all this top-security mishaguss was a bit much. But she was a member of the Dutch government, so she got the star treatment. When she was finally allowed back in Holland, she was made to resign and had her citizenship revoked on a technicality. Her neighbors even complained that her presence made them feel unsafe. They rallied to kick her out of her home. So she became a refugee, again.
Long story short, she was offered a job in the United States, where she now lives and works. Her Dutch citizenship has been reinstated.
Days away from the Durban 2 conference in Geneva, and the only major coverage seems to be in the Israeli media. Which isn’t a big surprise, seeing as they have more to lose from the backlash than anyone. Today’s Jerusalem Post explains why Israelis are worried:
Already in advance of Durban II, a two-day anti-Israel NGO conference is scheduled to meet on April 18 and 19th, called “The Israel Review Conference.” An anti-Israel rally is also scheduled in Geneva for April 18.
So this is the secret meaning of the Durban conference. It’s a kind of primer for the real event, when the hevyweights show up to do the big Israel-bashing.
Is there still anyone out there who cannot see this facade for what it is? It is thinly disguised Jew-hatred (oh, but there will be anti-Zionist Jews there doing the bashing–so don’t call them anti-Semites!) sanctioned by the UN–an organization which has completely lost its bearings. And everyone will be there–everyone except Israel, the US, Canada and–I never get tired of repeating this–Italy. The EU will be there “in good faith”, which is how things are officially done these days in Europe.
The UN High Commissionerfor Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, had this to say:
“The goals set out in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action have not been achieved. This reality should prompt us to seek common grounds to move the struggle against racism forward. The tools and capacity for achieving the goals outlined in the Declaration and Programme of Action are within reach if we remain committed to those objectives.”
I take this to mean that Israel still exists, and it takes another doleful “conference” of racists, xenophobes, Holocaust deniers and their appeasers to strike another blow at the Jewish State and its supporters.
Today’s Ynet Culture report has an edifying proclamation: “Italy loves us!”
Liron Bar Sadeh of the Israeli embassy in Rome said that Italy’s treatment of Israel was uniquely positive. “They love us and do a lot to strengthen the ties. It’s important to remember that Italy is the only country in Europe, and one of the only ones in the world, after the US and Canada, which withdrew from the Durban 2 anti-racism conference.
“Italy said that it is appalled by the systematic discrimination of Israel and the fact it is branded a threat to the world, while other countries are not considered a threat despite their actions. Italy published positive statements and supported us throughout the war, during which the Italian media, unlike other news outlets in Europe, has been very balanced.”
None of this means that all Italians really love Israel, just that–perhaps from an Israeli perspective–things aren’t quite as bad here in Italy as in the rest of Europe. Italy has its fair share of naysayers, haters and all-around anti-Zionists, of course. Some of them even have television shows, newspapers and the like. But it’s nothing like England, one place in Europe no Israeli could exactly call chummy.
So what keeps Italy from devolving into a pit of anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic hatred–a sickness which is sucking Europe down into its vortex a mere sixty years after it nearly committed suicide? How come Italy is still the only European nation to have pulled out of the upcoming Durban 2 conference, allied only with the United States, Canada and Israel against the likes of the rest of the world. This is from yesterday’s Durban 2 draft negotiations, courtesy of UN Watch:
Syria “will never be party to a ceremonial or redundant activity,” which fails to address “the agony of millions of victims, especially within countries with a blatant, institutionalized basis of racism” (read: Israeli “racism” against Palestinians). It added, “We will never support the surviving apartheid regime.” It also railed against those who have threatened boycott of Durban II, arguing, “Threatening to boycott or walkout is no longer acceptable within the framework of international cooperation.”
No longer acceptable? What does Syria propose to do, kick them out on their behinds?
As long as freedom of speech–and freedom to criticize religion–are on the line, as well as explicit condemnation of Israel (but no other countries), the entire conference will be nothing but a farce. The fact that so few countries have had the balls to pull out is a telling sign. Will they sit still and listen when Israel is bashed to bits, as they did in 2001?
Italy, always fearful of lagging behind the rest of cultured Europe, for once is way ahead of the pack.
“Iran’s nuclear threat is a symptom of endemic Middle East violent unpredictability and Muslim hostility toward Western democracies. It calls for an upgraded US-Israel win-win relationship, which requires a strong Israel as a national security producer. A weak Israel, pushed into a nine-15 mile sliver along the Mediterranean, pressured to concede the mountain ridges of Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights, relying on foreign troops and guarantees, would become a national security consumer. It would be a burden rather than an asset to the US in a bad neighborhood, which is crucial for vital US interests. “