During a recent get-together with acquaintances, mentioned my “dear friend” the former UK prime minister Boris Johnson, or to give his full name - Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. His adversaries, of which there are many, refer to Johnson as the “greasy piglet”; i.e. a slippery character that until now at least, has not been caught.
Johnson sees himself as a Churchillian character, who by force of words bullies his way through his colleagues. Churchill as we know did the same throughout his premiership during WWII. And, except for Mel, had it not been for Churchill’s leadership, rhetoric, and drive, Nazi Germany may well have achieved their thousand-year Reich which would mean that I would not be writing these words nor would you be reading them.
And there lies the crux of the problem. While without question a brilliant wartime leader, Churchill was a failure during his second term as PM – 1951/55.
Yes, age and a lack of drive/vigor had much to do with his failure but overall Churchill failed to understand that wartime bullying tactics were not suited to a peacetime Britain.
Boris, with his Churchillian stance, has made the same mistake. He did not or refused to learn from Churchill. You can’t bully colleagues in peacetime.
The same acquaintances later discussed the return of our “Crime Minister”. Netanyahu always has the rather strange and negative "leadership" ability to pass the buck onto someone else or to cleverly and sarcastically laugh it off.
I had not planned to comment, but of course, I did, having reviewed the morning’s newspapers online, I was moved to write a few words.
Having discussed yesterday's leaders: presidents, and prime ministers in times of war and in times of peace, and how they respond to numerous predicaments that arise.
Many will recall that US President Harry Truman had on his desk in the Oval Office a plaque that read “the buck stops here”.
Balance that with Netanyahu’s testimony to the Meron committee; he played the waiter Manuel from Fawlty Towers to a T, “I know nothing”
Or as they say in the UK, “It wasn't me guv, it was him”.
Put another way “You can fool some of the people some of the time, you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time”.
And we talk about Leadership!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A few evenings ago, we drove to Netanya and walked along the “tayelet”, something we do regularly both summer and winter (weather permitting).
Walking back to our car, we came across a young lady searching the various trash bins for discarded soda bottles and cans. The collecting of such is a widespread occurrence normally however undertaken by more elderly people. That in itself is a heartwrenching sight, but seeing a causally, well-dressed young woman somehow seemed far more dramatic.
It appears that the young lady in question is a university student and despite a part-time job struggles to make ends meet, hence the collecting of bottles and cans to supplement her finances.
I have no idea if this is an isolated case regarding this young lady or whether other university students (as well as many young couples) are struggling to financially support themselves with the spiraling costs of food, electricity, and fuel.
She did mention as a final thought that there are far fewer empty bottles and cans to be collected. Whether this is due to an increase of others raiding trash bins for bottles and cans to supplement their finances or a reflection on the fact that the public is buying less fizzy sugary drinks due to increased prices. (A new tax was recently introduced on fizzy sugary drinks.)
The episode left me once again questioning the direction and moral compass of this country.
Here we have a mature student after army service I assume who is forced to pick bottles and soda cans from trash bins to supplement her wages from a part-time job. To me, something is off.
It’s odd, maybe funny maybe even sad, I have many acquaintances but few friends. Recently I messaged an acquaintance with birthday greetings. I wrote. The American entertainer Lucille Ball was fond of saying “The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” It’s worth thinking about.
I am pessimistic about the future of a democratic Israel. One only has to look at Aryeh Deri’s recent comments “If judges bar me from being a minister, we’ll legislate to overrule them”.
Yes, to a degree it is a provocation on his part, playing to his supporters, nevertheless, there is an underlying threat in the statement to Israel’s democracy.
I understand that for the vast majority of Haredim (if not all), democracy is considered a secular vice that has zero value in their view of Judaism.
I would point out that there is a near-constant ebb and flow of countries around the world changing format and structure. Simply take a look at global geography over the past 150 years to prove the point.
Recently I was, yet again taken to task, for expressing “negative/leftwing views”. Nothing is further from the truth. Just take a look at the projected statistics to see the estimated growth of the Haredi community in Israel.
“Lies, damned lies, and statistics” is a much-used phrase popularized by Mark Twain and attributed to the British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli. In the case of Haredi growth, the statistics tell a chilling story.
Recently another acquaintance raised the issue of who would serve in years to come in the army. It would of course be too much to hope that by that time the conflict would have been resolved. Instead, a Haredi prime minister will need to consider the need to employ Thais, Philippines, Indians, and various other “goyem” to defend the country. The problem of course is where the money comes from to pay them and support the Haredim in a lifestyle they have become accustomed to.
As I wrote above, I often find myself under attack, not physically thank goodness, because I am unable or unwilling to label myself left, center or right, and by default identify with a particular camp or creed.
Like many in Israel, maybe more than we know or people care to admit to, I have different stances on a range of issues. I don’t want to be identified by a single, all-encompassing label.
I consider myself a conservative/nationalist. Indeed, to borrow a line from the musical Evita, on some issues I stand “Slightly to the right of Attila the Hun”.
I am proud of my center-right conservative outlook. I am equally proud of being called a liberal hawk. And I am proud of being labeled inconsistent, inconsequential, and irrelevant. I encompass a rainbow of views, feelings, dreams, and aspirations for Israel.
It’s no secret that I rage at the disappointment of those that we elect to govern us. Of course, no one is to blame but us.
In a recent chat with acquaintances, we touched on the issues relating to complex layers of music.
I adhere to the words of Dizzy Gillespie, unquestionably a jazz giant. He said “there are only two types of music. Good and bad. Everything else is a personal choice”
I suggested that acquaintances listen to Issac Hayes and the theme from the movie Shaft.
My suggestion was to not watch the clip, but rather close their eyes and picture the streets of New York City.
Hayes was to my mind a genius. The street sounds of New York City resound in the Shaft theme.
If you are so inclined, play the theme at close to full volume thru multiple speakers and let the sound, the colors, and the depth wash over you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqD1ukxUZio
It came as a surprise that not everyone was familiar with the Shaft movie franchise. Therefore a recap:
The Shaft franchise is a series of five action-crime feature films and seven television films, centered on a family of African-American police detectives all sharing the name John Shaft.
In my humble opinion, only two movies in the franchise are worth watching. The original was released in 1971 and starred Richard Roundtree, and the 2000 remark starring Samuel L. Jackson as John Shaft Jr. The 2000 release includes Richard Roundtree John Shaft Snr. All the other additions to the franchise, simply dilute the quality of the innovative storyline.
The movie theme composed by Issac Hayes captures the essence of the early 1970s Bronx, Brooklyn, North Manahatten/Harlem.
Close your eyes and listen to the intro guitar riff. It’s the sound of subway trains passing over the rail tracks. Keep your eyes closed and listen to the brass section. They replicate the cacophony of New York City roads; cars, taxis, trucks, and buses.
With your eyes closed let the music consume you.
You can smell New York City of the early 1970s.
When possible, I enjoy watching Kobi Medan’s סוכן תרבות on a Friday evening, KAN channel 11.
Recently, to close the program, he played a clip of the HaGashash HaHiver from 1977. The original clip was shown on TV just days before the 1977 election which swept Menachem Begin to power.
The clip featured the song “עובדים אלינו”.
In a future broadcast, Kobi is devoting part of the program to the HaGashash and making 15 years since the passing of Poli [Yisrael Poliakov]. Hence the clip to end the program.
Fifty years on from 1977 and we are still being fed the same fabrications, the same BS.
We are, regretfully, our own worst enemy. The very notion of a fifth general election in 42 months is proof of this fact.
Several reports are pointing to Deri being the next minister of finance as a reward for his loyalty to the “Crime Minister”. As someone pointed out, given his past experience with bribery, tax evasion, and more, Deri is an ideal choice for the post.
It is indeed a sad day for Israel. BiBi, so desperate for power has unleashed a demon that he may not be able to control. Israel will change from a democratic state to a religious state where religion is first, second and third on the agenda. We, senior citizens, for the most part, will be ok but think of our children and grandchildren. It is sad but expect an exit of young secular people should BiBi not be able to rein them in his three religious partners.
The problem is that these religious cohorts are going to run the country unless BiBi has the balls to rein them in. Right now BiBi or maybe "she who must be obeyed" is prepared to do anything and everything to ensure he is PM and to show that he is Israel's greatest PM. It is a sad state of affairs.
I am told that I am wrong. That once people sit on the other side of the table, they understand that “what you see from here, is not what you see from there”.
However, many of the new intake are hell-bent on changing Israel to reflect their beliefs, without reference to those who may differ from them.
We, our generation will weather the storm. We have learned flexibility and maybe even coolness! I fear for our children and grandchildren.
I hope that I am mistaken but I foresee an exodus of young secular adults, which may well impact the future of Israel.
There is a line from Alan Paton’s, “Cry, The Beloved Country” that keeps pounding in my head and seems fitting for the current situation “The tragedy is not that things are broken. The tragedy is that things are not mended again.”
I don’t see a Netanyahu-led government improving our domestic circumstances. The exception may be the ultra-orthodox.
It is bad enough that we have a designated PM under indictment. By all accounts, we face the prospect of a twice-convicted felon (Deri) being promoted to finance minister.
Dan Hultz, a former not especially successful IDF chief of staff, wrote an opinion piece recently predicting civil unrest in Israel should the Crime Minister and his cronies regain power. While the very notion of Jew against Jew is alarming, we can I believe expect to see an increase in demonstrations against Netanyahu and his band of cohorts. Just take a look at the numbers; Likud 32 seats, Religious Zionism 14, Shas 11, and United Torah Judaism 7. Check my maths but that makes the religious block on 32 seats as well. Meaning that the block will demand equal standing with the Likud.
Right now “I cry for my beloved country”.
Some will no doubt cast it as “fake news” nevertheless the following from Ynet is worth a read:
“How much incoming government's election promises will cost Israeli taxpayers.” “New Tax Authority report sheds light on impact of coalition members’ ambitious plans, including subsidies on basic commodities and broad tax cuts, on state's revenue”. https://www.ynetnews.com/business/article/rytwif5hi
Will the new coalition bleed the country dry?
Given that “Israel's next government is expected to include at least 30 ministers, not counting deputy ministers, out of the 64 deputies who will make up the coalition, according to Hebrew media.”
“Under the "Norwegian law," lawmakers who become ministers can resign from the Knesset (Israel's parliament) to allow other lawmakers from their party's list to take their place in the legislature.” https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/politics/1668062968-israel-s-next-government-to-include-at-least-30-ministers
The answer is a resounding YES!!!!!!
Lastly, I don’t know if to laugh or cry at the antics, the outburst of Smotrich. This little man and I am not referring to his statue is simply a clown. Consider the following headline:
“Smotrich willing to give up Finance Ministry but will take the Defense Ministry” “Religious Zionist Party chairman told Shas chairman he would give up the Finance Ministry for him and demand the Defense Ministry.” https://www.israelnationalnews.com/news/362476
Someone somewhere needs to pray for Israel.