Ert and Bernie Continued

Dearest Ernidette,

Just got back from class. Great language, Hebrew, even if a bit over-gendered. It’ll tell you the sex of your computer and your shwarma (that’s a local delicacy, not an anatomical part), but it’s somewhat casual about vowels.

So, home and looking for a reason to avoid stuffing my head with more over-gendered words, when I found your reply to my reply.

Wow, that was fast. And on your work email, too. Don’t you know they check everything nowadays? Have you given up on making partner?

Cuidado, former BFF with Endlessly  Delightful Privileges. Competition’s tough and times are hard.

Now . . . what made you think you could get away with insulting me by saying my last message read like it came from Bibi Hisself? I sound nothing at all like Bibi. Wish he sounded more like me. You know, get off the Iran shtick and start to get serious about the right kind of independent Palestine and what it might mean for the world.

By the by, please don’t tell that nice Mr. Adelson what I just said. If he finds out, he’ll probably demand I reimburse him for that Taglit trip (singles party on tour bus; great way to get in touch with your fellow y over-gendered young Jewcies) I took so seemingly long ago. Even worse, he’ll start charging me for the privilege of not reading Israel Today.

A give-away paper. Free, and worth every shekel.

As you may know, Bibi’s in the process of forming a new government. Here’s how it works.

Once the election results determine that nobody likes anybody enough to trust them with a majority – this country’s motto ought to be E Pluribus Pluribuser – the President determines who should be asked to form the coalition. He decides this by flipping a matzoh. If it lands margarine side up, he opts for Labor. If it lands Mazola-down, smearing the floor and getting all yucky, he picks Likud.

After the coalition is announced, it goes to the legislature, the Knesset, for a vote. The Knesset has two chambers: the Knish and the Knadle. If both chambers approve the coalition, it fails (consult the Mishnah for legal precedents) and it’s back to the Prez for another matzoh-flip. If both chambers reject, the High Court of Justice is required to submit a decision that everyone will ignore.

If the chambers disagree, the coalition stands and it’s back to CCIS, Corruption, Cronyism, Incompetence and Scandal. The usual, no matter who’s in charge.

I won’t make partner here, either.

OK, time to get a bit more lucid. Bibi’s obsession with Iran smacks more and more of, well, obsession. When did nation-on-nation nuclear deterrence stop working? A ballistic missile leaves a very clear return address. So do aircraft, and smuggling nukes, suitcase bombs and yachts and the rest, is no easy task. Nuclear devices are hard to miniaturize. They’re also very finicky about how they’re handled and maintained, the physics package especially, and sensor/surveillance technologies work pretty well nowadays. Not to mention human spies.

Some people claim that Bibi’s obsession advances his other main goal: keeping the World out, the Territories in, the Redemption of The Land people up, and the Palestinians down.

So that’s Bibi. Obsessed, and indifferent to the larger picture. Namely: that Islamism’s an A List global problem, has been for a long time, and only a serious, enduring global alliance, whatever form that might take, can defeat it.

Not manage it or contain it. Defeat it.

And maybe this global participation and responsibility, Bibi doesn’t want. Maybe he just wants to keep on with “It’s all about us and we’ll do whatever we please and then get mad at the world for noticing.”

And of course, should he or any future leader settle with the Palestinians, they’ll have to reckon with a violent Jewish response, perhaps far worse, from the Religiosos, the more secular Right, and their American enablers.

I wouldn’t mind an independent Palestine. Once, I would have said, “Just pull out of about 95 percent of the Territories, keep the established settlement blocs and some buffers, tell them to build their own charming new capital city (it worked for America), and what would they say?

Come back?”

But maybe it’s best that an independent Palestine hasn’t happened yet. Most like, it would have been scarfed up by Hamas or ISIS or something worse. Israel can deal with an irredentist Palestine. Another murderous jihadi branch office would not be good.

But what about an independent Palestine, part of an anti-Islamist bloc of Israel, Palestine, Egypt and Jordan? Protected by that bloc. Helped to develop by that bloc. No, we’ll never love each other. But . . .

And this, to quote ole Captain Ahab as Moby Dick got closer, is where the blubber meets the boat.

Iran’s national-existential threat isn’t so much to Israel. It’s to its non-nuclear, i.e., retaliation-challenged neighbors, a lot of kings and emirs and generals who’d like to keep their jobs. And their oil fields. And their countries. And their heads.

In like manner, Islamism’s current primary existential threat is to Islamic civilization. And again, there are a lot of kings and generals and kelptocrats and dictatorials who don’t care to part with their power, perks and above-the-neck appendages.

And also, I suspect, there may be a few hundred million Muslims who would not particularly enjoy having ISIS or its likes take over their neighborhoods.

Under these circumstances, a lot of Islamic countries and folks might conclude – no doubt, some already have – that Israel’s maybe not such a bad guy to have on their side.

The right kind of Israel.

Love (Still),


About the Author
Philip Gold made Aliyah from USA in 2010 after several decades as a Beltway "public intellectual" of sorts.
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