Well, it’s probably no surprise how I start this week’s post but I promise not to dwell on it—for too long at any rate although I’m aware that what I consider “not too long” might be “more than enough” in other people’s assessment.
Two things happened last week. Very early on Thursday morning, the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, voted to dissolve itself less than three months after a second election in half a year failed to produce any kind of government — unity, extreme right-wing or centre-left.
Some people seem to think that the main reason for this continuing fiasco has been the unwillingness of giant-sized egos to shrink in any way, to compromise with one another. However, I think that that’s a naïve way of thinking because even some giant egos have principles above and beyond the procurement and wielding of power. In Israel, it’s related to the inflated ego of one individual and his more and more desperate attempts to remain in power so as to have the Knesset legislate to grant him immunity from trial thereby declaring him different to ordinary mortals. However, even some of his most loyal and diehard supporters are beginning to regard him as something of a liability rather than an asset.
And in the latest out of Israel—or at least what appeared in one of the newspapers late last week is that Avigdor Lieberman, (ex-Netanyahu confidant, former foreign minister and defence minister) whose loathing of Netanyahu and refusal to join a narrow right-wing government led by him is possibly the main reason for us having to vote again March 2, has now suggested that Bibi be pardoned in return for his agreeing to leave public life.
I felt like throwing up on reading that.
Let him stand trial—after all his mantra for the past three or four years has been “they’ll find nothing because there’s nothing there”—and if found guilty, then and only then, if the State President so wishes, pardon him to save him from spending several years in prison. If it were up to me, were he to be found guilty of the crimes for which he has been indicted, I would sentence him to the maximum number of years for his felonies but instead of sending him to jail, would require him to bring meals on wheels six days a week to those poor sods throughout the country who voted for him consistently over the years and love him so. Moreover, he should be required to have his wife and older son accompany him on these charitable trips to learn humility. All sides would gain from it!
Later in the day, following the dissolution of the Knesset, the disUnited Kingdom went to the polls and some went earlier than others; what’s more, the voters seem to become younger and younger. In the family pictured above, I understand there was a split vote but what’s a little difference of opinion among friends and family if not to give the kids to understand that there are differences of opinion and you’re free to express them and vote in accord with your views in a democracy?
As I say, no sooner had the Israeli parliament decided on its own demise but with absolutely no connection to that event, Brits went to the polls and the Leader of the Labour Party, a man not quite after my own heart and one who inhabits a very sinistral bijou nook in cloud-cuckoo land, managed to hand a landslide majority to the Conservative party. It’s not that the Labour Party doesn’t have good ideas that could benefit the people but it seems as if many of the voters and even those in constituencies that have returned Labour Members of Parliament for most of the last century couldn’t really see Mr. Corbyn as a natural tenant of No. 10 Downing Street. On the other hand, one Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, a graduate of Eton College and Balliol College, Oxford and former President of the Oxford Union seemed to fit into the surroundings more naturally and it’s actually something that’s been on his mind for at least four decades, if not longer.
Mr. Corbyn also seemed to me not exactly to exude leadership qualities unless he was leading people who were in full agreement with him, a characteristic, incidentally, that might also apply to Mr. Johnson. Moreover Corbyn’s handling of the antisemitism issue in his party, an item that seemed to balloon out of all control due to lack of attention, was dire. Having said that, antisemitism is not the sole property of the Labour Party. One has only to recall Harold Macmillan’s comment regarding Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet four decades ago when the it contained five Jewish members and when it was reported that he said that the cabinet contained more “old Estonians” than “old Etonians” or when Leon Brittan was forced to resign from the cabinet as Trade and Industry Secretary in 1986 over the Westland helicopter affair and a right-wing Tory backbencher, John Stokes, appeared on the BBC 6 o’clock news and when asked who he thought should replace Brittan somewhat crudely said that his replacement should be “a red-blooded, red-faced Englishman, preferably from landed interests”.
What Mr. Corbyn lacks in charisma is more than compensated for by the animal magnetism that Bojo oozes. However much charm and self-confidence Boris emits from his supercharged personality, we still haven’t a clue as to how much leadership qualities he possesses, though I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough and however much it is, it surely has to be better than those of his erstwhile opponent.
For now, it looks as if Boris will be Prime Minister until 2024—unless he grossly misbehaves. Like the 45th President of the United States who will probably celebrate a happy Christmas at Mar-a-Lago or wherever where he can tweet all day to his heart’s content to please his most fundamental and loyal voters, waiting to be impeached by the House of Representatives and then cleared of any wrongdoing by the Senate but otherwise unblemished, these are two people who, it has been demonstrated over and again, cannot tell truth from falsehood, fact from fiction. That’s not because they can’t tell truth from falsehood or fact from fiction but because truth and fact are neither concepts that occupy any specific location in their brains nor words that appear in their lexicons. As far as Boris is concerned, that is little more than an inconsequential triviality, the most important thing from Boris’ viewpoint being that Boris is now legitimately the Prime Minister, elected not just by a coterie of venerable old ladies in the shires of rural England but by the people at large.
Bojo has a mandate the likes of which Bibi could not have hallucinated even in his most delirious dreams. For a start, he has an absolute majority—with no need to suck up to interest groups that don’t really interest him. As a friend from the UK wrote to me the other day, “Now we’ll see what living under a fascist-leaning, lying populist will be like. VERY nasty: get ready for changes to the constitution, politicisation of the legal system, control of independent media and yet another surge in hate crimes”. Sounds vaguely familiar! It may not happen—or at least all of it might but one needs to get ready in case it does.
Which reminds me that last week we went to a concert of the Israeli Chamber Orchestra. In the first half, they played some variations by Alberto Ginastera and some music and songs by Manuel de Falla and it was all very pleasant. However, the second half was given over to songs by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill with the wonderful soprano-actress Keren Hadar. In the course of talking to the audience in between the songs, she quoted from a poem by Brecht, On the Birth of his Son. (It appears to a poem translated by Brecht from Chinese.) I’d never heard or read it before but it seemed appropriate to quote it here. Whatever, it’s a piece for our times.
Families when a child is born to them
Wish it intelligent
I who through intelligence
Have entirely ruined my life
Can only hope my son
Will turn out ignorant and too idle to think.
Then he will have a quiet life
As a cabinet minister.
But why should we dwell on such nastiness and pessimism?
Enough! Time for some pictures.
One can never be quite sure what sorts of two- or three-wheeled transport devices one will pass on the streets of Tel Aviv. Children on child seats while their parents ride the bikes are pretty standard although I was of the opinion that the picture below might have been carrying things a little far. It looks like one small child and one larger one had already been deposited at their seats of learning while a third one, too young to be seated in front of the rider was instead strapped to her back…
…while in the image following, it looked as if now that the occupant had been unloaded, the apparatus could be folded up for the return journey home.
In the image below, it is quite obvious that the texter is not prepared to waste his time just by riding pillion and is getting on with the job of keeping in contact with the outside world. His “driver” is wired with mobile phone and bluetooth attached to the crash helmet so that he doesn’t miss anything either.
But in the park, en route to a surfing expedition early on a chilly morning, you wouldn’t really need your cellphone, I would have thought. Nevertheless, the earbuds are in place anyway.
It’s that time of the year and the kumquat trees in the neighbourhood are in full fruit.
And avocados often make for model photo models.
Walking through the park the other day, I watched this parakeet fly into the tree and it took me some time to locate it as I approached, the camouflage being almost perfect.
It turned wintry and blustery for a few days last week but it ended after three or four days and that’s it until the next event, which will hit us, it seems, around Christmas Eve (or the second day of Chanukah).
Penultimately, en route home the other day, one of the local cats was busy acquiring its own breakfast.
Finally, one doesn’t often get as clear a view of the Reading Power Station, as it appeared one morning last week …
… and in my ongoing attempts to photograph the power station and the Yarqon stream, I decided to have a go at combining the two and the image below is what transpired, a picture that pleased me when I’d finished editing it.
Well, all of this makes a grateful change from writing about Bibi and Bojo and Jeremy and Trump but now that I’ve given vent to my feelings, I promise to behave my self over the next few weeks — if possible!