Regular readers of this blog might have noticed of late that after three years of more or less weekly posts, it has become rather sporadic. This has nothing whatsoever to do with me having such an obsessive interest in Israel’s election campaign that I have no time for anything else. Nor is it because of a sense of despondency over the farce that is Brexshit. However, it does have a lot to do with family issues. In short, I have spent much of the past seven weeks as a visitor either in hospitals or health clinics and much as I would have preferred to keep a closer eye on what is going on around me, it’s a simple matter of first things first. And it’s not just this blog that has suffered; my photography has more or less ground to a halt as well. I say all of this with more than just a little regret as the photography and blog have kept me more or less on an even keel in the recent years.
Nevertheless, I will endeavour to complete this post, which I began over three weeks ago, by the termination of the vernal equinox (look it up!). So, seeing that my outdoor pictures have become fewer and further between, let me begin the post with an interior concoction.
Foes and critics alike praised [his] … panache, his brains and his energy.… he had mansions, estates and a private island. He liked antique furniture, and fine art, horses, clothes and wines. History may well judge that he was the most gifted … politician of his generation. But it is harder to argue that he put those talents to good use.
Few charges against him stuck … [and m]any had long wondered how he supported a lavish lifestyle on a politician’s salary. [He] had warned [the media] “I can be a very troublesome adversary”.
[R]evelations were tantalisingly partial: … He brushed off … allegations, arguing either that “finances were peripheral” or claiming a precedent: had not Winston Churchill been financed by business admirers too?
Perhaps, but only when out of power, and Churchill did not plunder the Tory coffers … Even his greatest fans would not call him fastidious. It was best to call him simply “Boss”. There was cronyism for chums and thuggish treatment of the rest. Unfriendly journalists’ phones were bugged. His justice minister even considered having dissident members of his parliamentary party arrested.
… He preached austerity, yet practised prodigality, doling out favours and privileges with flair and precision.
In opposition, as evidence of his heavy-handed ways came to light, [his] party split. But [he] had little time to enjoy the fruits of this rare period of goodish government. Old scandals resurfaced and new ones broke. He left politics for good … his reputation increasingly tattered, and with a lot worse to come.
Contrary to what some of you might be thinking, having read this blog for some time now, and having become familiar with the submarine levels of cynicism to which I am inclined to sink, the edited and abridged paragraphs quoted above have absolutely nothing to do with Israel’s embattled Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who was recently indicted for fraud, breach of trust and bribery in three separate cases involving him and wealthy businessmen. In fact, the original and unedited version of the piece above appeared in the June 22 2006 edition of The Economist newspaper—a paper little loved by Mr. Netanyahu, as its Israeli correspondent is his nemesis who last summer published a biography of him, explaining much of his paranoias—as part of the obituary of another rather smart but also corrupt politician, the former Taoiseach, Prime Minister of Ireland, Charles Haughey.
And while on the subject of paranoia, we should remind ourselves of the meaning of the word. It is defined as “a mental condition characterized by delusions of persecution, unwarranted jealousy, or exaggerated self-importance, typically worked into an organized system. It may be an aspect of chronic personality disorder, of drug abuse, or of a serious condition such as schizophrenia in which the person loses touch with reality.” Another definition describes paranoia as “a mental disorder characterized by systematized delusions and the projection of personal conflicts, which are ascribed to the supposed hostility of others, sometimes progressing to disturbances of consciousness and aggressive acts believed to be performed in self-defense or as a mission”. At the same time, we must bear in mind the words of the American writer, Gore Vidal, who said: “I’m not paranoid, No. I’m different in that I have enemies. Very real ones.” So some people are able to put 2 and 2 together and manage to get 4!
Anyway, on release of the indictments by the Israeli Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, (subject to a hearing), of course, several weeks ago, Bibi appeared on prime time television to address the nation and noticeably, his song had changed from “They’ll find nothing because there’s nothing there” to an attack on the “leftists”, the media, the police and the prosecution (persecution???) service, all of which had, it seemed, coalesced in a giant conspiracy in order to prevent a right-wing government being formed again at any cost. (I find the accusation that the “leftists”—whoever they are—would be able to agree on anything let alone plan the overthrow of the government to be risible in the extreme.) The A-G’s actions were described by Bibi’s flunkeys as interfering in the political process (i.e., the indictments might influence the voters’ decisions) but this was rebutted by the Attorney-General saying that the public have a right to know. And good for him, too, for that.
As to interfering in the political process, as I think I’ve said before, the politicians had a pretty good idea as to when the Attorney-General would decide to indict or not to indict and it was the politicians, and not the “leftists”, the media, the police and the prosecution service, who brought the election forward by seven months. It was, dare I be so bold as to say, an attempt to undermine the judicial process. Then in the famous quotation attributed to Abraham Lincoln (though he may or may not have said it: https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/161924), “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” But then again, Abe (if he actually did say it) who didn’t live in an age of social media, might just have been wrong after all, as fake news and all the rest of the internet crap that we have to live with today is part of the armory of the current tenant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, DC.
But the indictment is only the beginning of the story; apparently, it can take up to a year for the hearing to take place. After that, should the A-G decide to proceed, we can expect a trial or trials that might take a year or more and should he be found guilty on even one of the charges, we can expect an appeal to the Supreme Court (if it hasn’t been dissolved by then to be replaced by some sort of tribunal beholden only to the Minister of “Justice”), which will take several months. So we, the citizenry, can expect to be kept busy for a long time yet. Unless, of course, Mr. Netanyahu decides to admit to having committed some errors, comes to a plea bargain, agrees to do Meals on Wheels for six months and then buggers off into the wilderness to write his memoirs, thereby saving the Israeli taxpayer millions of sheqels while simultaneously performing good deeds. But then I wonder if he’d be able t do Meals on Wheels as by that time, he’d have lost his driver.
Better still, perhaps he might give some thought to returning to America and running for the U.S. Senate in The Keystone State (aka Pennsylvania). If that were to happen (ha-ha), I could paraphrase what was said many years ago about a young lecturer who had moved from Cambridge to The London School of Economics and Political Science, where he had been appointed Professor, by one of his erstwhile Cambridge colleagues: “It was a move that enhanced the quality of two departments simultaneously.” Fat chance, of course, of anything like that happening in Israel. Anyway, as Pennsylvania’s motto is: “Virtue Liberty Independence”, it would hardly suit the man.
This election campaign, I’m sad to say, is a competition among fascists of varying degrees. This, with one or two exceptions, is what we have to choose from as politicians from almost every party, sensing a rightward mood among the electorate, attempt to prove their right-wing credentials. So true-black fascists pitch for votes alongside old-time fascists, neofascists, cryptofascists, pseudofascists, protofascists, quasifascists, religiofascists and the like. Perhaps I exaggerate but if so, I do so only slightly and only do it to make a point.
And on the subject of fascism, it seems to have escaped the attention of many people here with whom I have spoken recently, that the Prime Minister (and Foreign Minister and Defence Minister) appointed an “Acting Foreign Minister”, in the person of Yisrael Katz, just before the dissolution of the Knesset. What he might do (or be allowed to do) in his new job, goodness only knows. As to his qualifications, well, he has Mussolinic tendencies. He earned his stripes when, as a student at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and was chairman of the Students’ Union, he was suspended for a year over his participation in violent activities to protest Arab violence on campus. This thuggery included imprisoning the then Rector of the University in his office as a protest. For the past decade or so, he’s been Minister of Transport but that’s where the similarity with Mussolini ends (well, Mr. Katz doesn’t wear a black uniform or a silly hat) as one of the Italian’s purported claims was that he made the trains run on time, which is not a boast that Mr. Katz could make. (Actually, the trains in Italy didn’t run on time but the media of the period were prohibited from reporting anything about that on pain of imprisonment or worse, punishment of which Mr. Katz would surely approve.)
Anyway, to return to higher authority, the thought of having a man in charge of running the government of the country while fighting his personal battles for more than just his political survival beggars belief and the imagination. It is truly amazing how greed (Kiss me once, then kiss me twice), personal stinginess (Why buy it when I can get someone else to pay for it?), and then more greed (Then kiss me once again, it’s been a long, long time), alongside a driving desire to control everything, especially all the media, manages to land people in trouble, E—V—E—N—T—U—A—L—L—Y.
Barak on Netanyahu (From HaAretz, 22/iii/2019)
Anyway, after that tirade, some photos. I’ve already said that circumstances have been such that my photography has taken a bit of a hit.
If homeless people are to be found not exactly in enormous numbers in Tel Aviv, they are not uncommon. If found this one not far from the hospital while I was waiting to cross the street to catch a bus on the way home. He seems to have had some sort of obsession about cleanliness and tidiness but I didn’t want to disturb his well-earned sleep (yes, he’s there, under the blanket, wall-side of the shoe.
This one could was parked on the corner of King George and Allenby Streets and was displaying his artistic talents with crayons and coloured pencils. Nobody seemed to give his as much as a second glance and he continued doing this for the 10 minutes or so that I was in the area,
Not far from the house, I came across two sets of walkers; I think there’s about the same number in each set.
Some new streets signs have gone up in Tel Aviv recently. New fonts. Quite attractive. But — if they’re going to spell the names in Latin characters, for goodness sake, get the spelling right otherwise Mr. Zangwill might be unhappy, as he might well have been anyway by his demotion from street to lane.
Walking along the northern end of Dizengoff Street some day in the past fortnight (I can’t remember when offhand) I encountered this gentleman who can be placed on any shortlist for a prize for improvisation. (He just about made it into the stream of traffic unscathed.)
I watched this hoopoe sit on the gate of a house on the other side of the street one morning. They’re difficult to photograph as they move so fast and I didn’t even have the camera with me.
So I was rather proud of myself when I managed this one in flight on the phone’s camera.
And this tree on Pinkas Street has had its lower toenails clipped!
Finally, the other day, while en route to have an X-ray, I noticed a somewhat unusual pair of newcomers to my hydrant collection—a happy couple of giraffe-hydrants over looking the freeway.
Oh, and HAPPY PURIM everyone