Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bibi Bomb Memes Translated From Hebrew

The following memes appear on the Facebook group "Statusim Metsitsim/Status Hunter."  They illustrate the diversity of Israeli public opinion, and the ever-persistent Israeli sense of humor.

All translations by The Camel's Nose Blog.

Lacking Answers
1.4 million shekels from our pension funds. 

Around here, there's no longer chips, and it's all just air.  

Listen Sara [PM Netanyahu's wife], you have to fill it up to here with water.

This is our enemy.

70% tax, 90%...And the Israeli suckers won't "explode" me
[One interpretation: they won't vote me out of office] 

Ahhh, so this is how it has to be [made].  Hold on, hold on, don't move. 

Sudoku (Difficult).

Sh*t, this is a red marker.  Now I'll have to deal with Maccabi. 

[Menu for the popular Israeli chain "Aroma."]

Everyone repeat after me: [Sign] It's not "al-Quds" it's Yerushalayim!!

Sara-leh, I want this in our living room.


How To Turn Into An Internet Meme:
1. Draw a funny picture
2. Present it at the U.N.


Wile E. Coyote: That's my idea.

Up to here, they've had it with me.
[Sign: Citizens of Israel.]

Components of an Explosion

Radical left - 1%
Israeli left - 12%
Disloyal/Untrustworthy Arabs - 87%

[Intended to represent a right-wing perspective]

Sukkah model.

90% - [Believe] that he's an aardvark
70% - [Believe] that he's a cat

My drawing is prettier than Ahmedinejad's!!!

And that's how I killed the road-runner.

And from the Facebook page "Dosim Metsitsim,"

Flight from the [governing] coalition: Amputation warning.

So as you can see, a pomegranate that you buy from the Machane Yehuda shuk [in Jerusalem] is 70% artificial, and thus I call on everyone to shop at Mashbir [Israeli chain store]! 

Up to here, friends, you need [the wine] for the last blessing.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Yom Kippur Message

Apologies for the sporadic posting.  Real world publications and research have taken priority over blogging.  But normal posting should resume next week.

Apologies for brevity in responses to your messages, or no response at all.

And my apologizes for anything on this blog over the past year which hurt or offended you, whether or not it was my intention to do so.  I ask your forgiveness and resolve to demonstrate greater sensitivity over the coming year.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On 9/11, More Work Ahead In Cairo, Benghazi

Eleven years after the September 11th terrorist attacks, the world is reminded how far we have yet to come.  In Cairo today, protesters attacked the U.S. Embassy, tore up the American flag, replaced it with a flag reminiscent of that used by al-Qaeda, and graffitied the wall in front of the embassy with anti-American and pro-radical Islamist statements.  On - of all days - September 11th.  
In Benghazi, Libya, the U.S. consulate was also attacked and there are unconfirmed reports of a fatality.  

Both protests were in response to a highly offensive filmed produced by American Quran-burning pastor and religious wingnut Terry Jones.  The film portrays the Prophet as deranged and refers to goats as "the first Muslim animals."

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo issued a statement today condemning the film and those "misguided individuals" who "hurt the religious feelings of Muslims."  As the protests began to rage outside, the embassy and its staff kept calm, cool, and professional.  Condemning the exercise of the first amendment is a concerning constitutional position.  However, the embassy's conduct overall today has reflected well on the United States.  In response to a highly offensive and dangerous protest outside, the embassy was empathetic, nuanced in its thinking, and thoughtful.  On today of all days, when emotions were high and no American was inclined to be sympathetic to radical Islam, the embassy responded calmly to the protest.  The fact that it did not overreact opened the political space to regular Egyptians who have roundly condemned the attacks as insensitive and foolhardy.  These reasonable, decent Egyptians also deserve a huge amount of credit for their empathy and sensibility today.

The September 11th attacks were not just an attack on the United States. They were also an attack on all decent and peaceful individuals.  While differences and grievances remain, our remembrance of 9/11 should serve as a stark reminder of the pain and suffering which result when radical extremism dominates.  Out of the Arab Spring comes a new opportunity to unite those who do not see eye to eye politically but agree that progress is better than stagnation.  Facilitating that progress is the charge of a generation, and the challenge which lies ahead.

*note: an earlier version of this post linked the embassy's statement to the protest.  It was in fact issued before the protests began.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

On Iran, Obama No Longer Playing Defense With Bibi

Reports of Israeli attempts to re-align Iran policy with the United States shows that the Obama administration is using the defense relationship with Israel as an asset rather than a safety net.

The Obama administration began touting the strong defense relationship between the U.S. and Israel after the initial Obama-Netanyahu spat over settlement building in 2009.  However, Prime Minister Netanyahu was able to leverage conservative and mainstream Jewish mistrust of the President to compel the Obama administration to lay off pressure to freeze settlements.  President Obama lost credibility with the Israeli and center-to-right pro-Israel public in the United States.  Another concocted spat between president Obama and PM Netanyahu over the "indefensible" 1967 lines before the AIPAC conference in 2011 made crystal clear that for the Obama administration, the West Bank was a toxic issue.

The Obama administration had alienated some Jewish voters during these tense exchanges and was taking heat from conservatives.  In response, it emphasized the strong defense relationship between the US and Israel, a longstanding strength of the relationship.  At the core of this initiative was a $205 million dollar allocation for the Iron Dome anti-missile system.  The White House's statement made clear that the deal was intended to showcase the defense relationship in particular between the U.S. and Israel: "As the President has repeatedly said, our commitment to Israel's security is unshakable and our defense relationship is stronger than ever."  

The White House was - literally - playing defense on Israel.  By leveraging the defense relationship, it was seeking to cut its losses from those it had taken earlier in the Obama administration.  While opponents of the administration could complain that no amount of support was ever enough, the White House had hard numbers to fall back on and actual initiatives to which it could point.

Recognizing the defense relationship as important to Israel - but also to the Obama administration's credibility - the Netanyahu administration began applying pressure on the Obama administration to get tough on Iran.  It's slogan, revealed in the Prime Minister's speech at the 2012 AIPAC conference in 2012, "containment is not an option," was intended to push the Obama administration to set red lines.  While President Obama himself echoed the sentiment, it was followed not by tougher rhetoric but by a renewal of talks between the P5+1 and Iran in Baghdad in May, 2012, which were followed by talks in Moscow in June.  Spurning the conservatism of the Netanyahu administration and its far-right coalition partners, the Obama administration awarded President Shimon Peres, a liberal pragmatist, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  

Recently, and with a boost from his U.S. support, President Peres has been vocal against the Prime Minister's antsy-ness on Iran over the past month.  Despite opposition from highly respected Israeli defense officials and ex-officials, Prime Minister Netanyahu tried to push the Obama administration to lend support for a strike on Iran.  However, he was not successful in this regard, undermined by internal and external dissent.

The Prime Minister allegedly expressed his displeasure with the administration in a meeting with the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro.  This meeting did not go well.  Rather than publicly take on the President as he had in 2009, the Prime Minister directly confronted the U.S. Ambassador in private.  His support for a tougher line on Iran, both inside Israel and from the United States, was fraying.  When the story was leaked to the press, the Prime Minister appeared trigger happy to the extent that he was willing to risk alienating the United States.

Then came the public U.S. response.  It was not from the State Department or the White House, but the Department of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey.  Dempsey, who had classified Iran as a rational actor in February 2012, expressed doubt that an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear program would be effective and noted, "I don't want to be complicit."  On top this clear signal, the U.S. government allowed ex-U.S. diplomat Jeffrey Feltman to visit Iran as a U.N. representative during the Non-Aligned Movement summit.  Prime Minister Netanyahu had asked U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon not to attend, but was ignored.  

The events have now put PM Netanyahu on the defensive.  In response to CJCS Dempsey's statements, Israeli MK Dan Meridor was now the one reiterating the strength of the U.S.-Israel relationship on Israeli television.  Today, Israeli officials spoke of close discussions with U.S. defense officials in an attempt to do damage-control and be sure that U.S. and Israeli policy are realigned.  These talks will likely be successful, a beneficial outcome for the U.S. and Israel alike.

But the failed outcome of PM Netanyahu's initiative demonstrates the success of the Obama administration in moving the defense relationship from a safety net to a tool of diplomacy with Israel.  Aided by internal dissent inside Israel and the United States over a potential strike, the administration was able to leverage CJCS Dempsey's sober assessment that a strike on Iran would simply not end Iran's nuclear program.  What began as the Obama administration's attempt to save face has now become a point of leverage towards PM Netanyahu.  The Obama administration has shown that it is not afraid to use the relationship to derail the Prime Minister's attempt to lock down U.S. foreign policy.