An Israeli Cabernet and a Halal Steak

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There was a fascinating story in The Times of Israel on a UN panel condemning the Palestinian Authority for institutional racism. It was a surprising first condemnation of the PA, a U.N. darling, forever playing the victim. Not to be lost my delight at this improbable turn of events were two fascinating takeaways hiding in plain sight are worth noting.

First, it took the Palestinian delegation 15 years to produce the report required for entry into the U.N. Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Maybe it took the PA so long to write a simple report because it is a cesspool of hate speech, corruption, press abuse, outright racism against Bedouins and unrepentant promoter of murdering Israelis and any report the P.A. might write would read like a comic book. Or maybe the dog just ate their racism homework. But for 15 years? Hilarious.

The second surprising takeaway was the role of Brazil in forcing this condemnation of the Palestinian Authority.   Unlike previous Brazilian presidents, Yair Bolsonaro is a self proclaimed supporter of Israel.  He has promised to move his embassy to Jerusalem, and visited Israel in his first 100 days, and he is only the second Brazilian president to ever visit! He took a risk in doing so. Brazil is the world’s largest producer of Islamic certified halal beef and chicken and exports $16 billion of it to the Middle East and Turkey, 40% of its total exports. When he visited Israel in April, the PA gave him an economic threat linking the move to a threat against beef purchases from Brazil. Hamas condemned his visit to Israel, opening a trade office and paying respects at the Kotel and Yad Vashem as “cover for Israel’s international crimes,” so Yair, you had me at “hello.”

At every mention of his name, the press insists on labeling Brazil’s president “far-right,” “pro-Trump,” and “pro-Israel,” all journalistic pejoratives. Yet he was elected by a wide margin, replacing a systemically corrupt leftist government with a tide of leaders jailed for embezzlement and voter fraud on a massive scale. Since the press loathes him, one can’t help but be interested in him.  Everyone loves a villain, right? Plus, Bolsonaro is at the center of a huge international story right now about the Amazon rain forest fires. All the stories I read hasten to blame his eight-month old administration with deforestation of the Amazon.

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Is he to blame, or is he a target because he is “far-right,” “pro-Trump,” and “pro-Israel,” as these press corps code worded libels-by-label intimate? Is the lack of context in all of these stories because reporters don’t know, or don’t want you to know the context? His presidential predecessors were Dilma Rousseff and Michael Temer. The US press seemed to love Rousseff:  a woman, a world leader of a newly fashionable “democratic socialist” party (or as she referred to herself, a “pragmatist capitalist proud of her Marxist roots,” if you can decode that) and a gun toting revolutionary in her youth: matching Che and Dilma tee-shirts for everyone! A staunch supporter of all the failing socialist governments of Central and South America made for favorable press coverage for her that for some reason, ignored that she was pro-life, against abortion except for rape and incest, and opposed gay marriage.   But selectively favorable press couldn’t save her from impeachment and removal from office for corruption, proving true to her Marxist roots after all. Her successor, Michael Temer was so awful in presiding over the mess he and his fellow leftist leaders had created, that he only had 7% approval and was arrested and removed from office after “Operation Car Wash,” which found that he and his leftist cronies were laundering billions into their own pockets.  Money laundering… Operation Car Wash, get it? Comedy props, Brazil.

Yes, like Trump, Bolsonaro can be rude and offensive.  But has he actually been responsible in eight months for the deforestation of the Amazon?   Preposterous. The international press is just pining for the fashionable internationalism of Temer and Rousseff, who mouthed enviro-hipster slogans, paid lip service to the Paris accords, but Rousseff “cut 72 percent of the budget for the prevention of deforestation in the Amazon. In 2016, during her second term, deforestation spiked, marking a 75-percent increase from its historical low in 2012. In 2017, Michel Temer reduced the budget of the Ministry of Environment by 51 percent” according to an Al Jezeera story, a publication that might be inclined to dismiss Bolsonaro for his support of Israel, but says blaming him for the rain-forest fires is wrong.   Furthermore, Dilma Rousseff allowed tens of thousands of indigenous people to be forcibly removed from their native land in the Amazon to clear the way for the construction of hydroelectric plants.  And they say Bolsonaro is rude and offensive?

A disingenuous press that uses labels to hide its agenda is not helpful to our understanding.  The NYT published a puff piece in 2016 with the heroic headline, “Dilma Rousseff of Brazil Says She Won’t Be Silenced”…during her impeachment!    Bolsonaro won’t get any such kid glove treatment. He likes Trump, he loves Israel and tried out his best “ani ohev Yisrael” (“I love Israel”) on his visit to the Land (thumbs up, Irmão!), so to an international press corps that loathes both, two strikes, you’re out.   Maybe we should look at what politicians do, not what labels we can hang on them.  In fact, he may be part of the solution, having recently banned the use of fires for clear cutting and planning to attend a regional conference seeking solutions.  Marco Rubio has said he’s a “force multiplier” against kleptocratic failing governments south of the US.

I’ll be toasting Brazil’s actions against the institutional hate-mongering of the Palestinian Authority, counting friends where they’re found.  I think a nice Israeli Cabernet would pair well with a Brazilian halal certified steak on the barbecue.

About the Author
Steve Brown is an architect who studied at the University of Pennsylvania with professional degrees in architecture, landscape architecture and environmental design. He has headed an architecture and construction firm since 1985 in the Philadelphia, PA area.
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