Posted by Uri Dromi
Mr Binyamin Netanyahu has just formed the largest government ever in the history of Israel: 30 ministers and seven deputy ministers. People have raised doubts about this government’s ability to function. A government spokesman agreed to address questions of the concerned public.
Q: Why so many ministers? Isn’t that just a pure waste?
A: On the contrary. This is a good use of taxpayer money. Had all these people not been ministers, they would be roaming around the Knesset, scheming against the government and trying to undermine it.
Q: But isn’t that the duty of the parliament — to limit the power of the government?
A: In normal democracies, yes — but not in Israel. In a country surrounded by so many enemies, the last thing you need is hassle from parliament.
Q: What will a government meeting look like? If every minister speaks for 10 minutes, it’s 300 minutes altogether, or five hours.
A: You really have to look at the bright side. When the first 15 ministers speak, for two and a half hours, the others can take a nap. Then they rotate. Hard working ministers need a rest.
Q: How will this government deal with the economic crisis?
A: That’s simple. It will take from the poor and give to the rich.
Q: You mean, the other way around?
A: Yes, of course, I’m sorry. It will give to the rich and take from the poor.
Q: What about the peace process?
A: What peace process?
Q: Between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
A: Oh, that peace process. This government will surely give it its fullest attention.
Q: But how? Half of the ministers are for a two-state solution, while the other half are totally against it.
A: Precisely. This government is fit to address the situation we are facing. Those favouring a peace move will deal with Fatah and Abu Mazen, while those opposing it will deal with Hamas.
Q: How the [expletive] is it going to work? This is nothing but a government of paralysis!
A: Calm down, sir. Sometimes, inaction is better than action. Look, for example, at the actions of the last government, in Lebanon and inGaza.
Q: What about Avigdor Lieberman?
A: What about him?
Q: Is he really the right person to represent Israel as Foreign Minister? Didn’t he threaten in the past to bomb the Aswan Dam? Didn’t he just declare the Annapolis agreement null and void? Isn’t he a bull in a china shop?
A: Don’t worry, we already took care of it. As we speak, the police are investigating him for money laundering.
Q: What’s the matter with you people? Every prime minister or minister you elect is eventually found to be a crook.
A: Not true. We know they are crooks before we elect them. This way we avoid the scandal later.
Q: Excuse me, but it just occurred to me, that the date this government was established…
A: Sorry, I really have to go…
Q: …No wait, wasn’t it April 1, All Fools’ Day?
A: Well, if you insist, yes, it was.
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April 7, 2009 | 5:18 pm
Posted by Uri Dromi
Recently, stories reported by Israeli newspaper Haaretz and covered extensively in The New York Times revealed the darker side of operation ‘‘Cast Lead’’ in Gaza. Soldiers who participated in the fighting spoke about being trigger-happy, about not sticking to the ethical code of the Israeli Army when it came to sorting the Hamas terrorists from the local, uninvolved Palestinian population.
Anyone who believes in the justice of Israel defending itself should nevertheless call for an independent and thorough investigation. If any of what was reported is true, those responsible should be severely reprimanded.
Critics of Israel, however, wasted no time and accused Israel of committing war crimes. However, we have been through this before. Israel has faced rushed accusations based on versions of the story told by Palestinians that turn out to be only partially true—and more often than not are exposed as lies and fabrications.
In the first Lebanon War of 1982, Palestinian propagandists floated the rumor that Israel had killed 10,000 people. The world media picked it up and without any serious checking, repeated the lie. It took weeks to refute it, and still, the libel stuck.
And remember the ‘‘massacre’’ in Jenin in 2002? After clashes between Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) forces and Palestinian terrorists, the secretary-general of the Palestinian Authority, Ahmed Abdel Rahman, said that thousands of Palestinians had been killed and buried in mass graves, or lay under houses destroyed in Jenin and Nablus.
However, according to Lorenzo Cremonesi, the correspondent for the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera in Jerusalem, who visited the camp on April 13, 2002, ‘‘it was all talk and nothing could be verified.’’ Cremonesi added: ‘‘At the end of that day, I wrote that the death toll was not more than 50 and most of them were combatants.’’ Two weeks later, Qadoura Mousa, director of Fatah for the northern West Bank, had to admit that the dead toll was 56.
Cremonesi, who is a personal friend of mine, has been a longtime critic of Israel’s conduct vis-a-vis the Palestinians. His report, therefore, guided by his sound journalistic professionalism, carries much weight.
And it was the same Cremonesi who in the wake of the recent clash in Gaza went there to get a first-hand impression. On Jan. 22 he reported that Hamas had vastly overstated the number of civilian deaths in Gaza. He went on to confirm Israel’s allegations that Hamas had used civilians as human shields and used ambulances and United Nations buildings in the fighting. Those who tried to drive the terrorists away in order to protect their families were beaten.
Israel, however, never gets a fair deal in such cases. I’m not even talking about the lack of context by which Israel is always portrayed as the aggressor, even if it is acting in justifiable self-defence. I’m talking about the ritual by which later retractions are barely noticed. Such was the case with the allegation that Israel had intentionally shelled a U.N.-run school in Gaza. Everybody memorized headlines such as the one in The Independent on Jan. 7 Massacre of innocent as UN school is shelled. How many remember, or even know, that Maxwell Gaylard, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Jerusalem, later admitted that the IDF mortar shells fell in the street near the school, and not on the school itself?
Why am I telling you all this? Because whenever I see or hear allegations of Israeli war crimes, I have a sense of déjà vu. These kind of accusations need to be thoroughly investigated, and this is exactly what the IDF is doing right now. Furthermore, our vibrant press will not tolerate any whitewash. Yet this is a slow and complex process that takes time. Will Israel get that time or, as usual, will it be sentenced again by a field tribunal of impatient, hostile public opinion?