Monday, July 20, 2009

Last Joke Before the “Nine Days”of Av

Tonight is the First Day of Av, which initiates a nine-day semi-mourning period that culminates in the Ninth of Av. During that period, merriment is not allowed. So here is my last joke before the period's onset.

A Jew walks into a bar with a parrot on his head

"What can I get for you?" asks the bartender.

The parrot says, "Awk! We are going to remove all the illegal outposts"

The bartender says, "Yeah, I know, you say that every time you come in here. But what can I get for you?"

The parrot says, "Awk! We are going to remove all the illegal outposts"

The bartender says, "Look you said that yesterday and the day before yesterday and the day before that. What can I get for you?"

The parrot says, "Awk! But this time we are going to remove all of them in one day."

The bartender bursts out in uncontrollable laughter, doubles over and drops dead.

The parrot looks down at the Jew and says, "Now can I have a gin and tonic?"

Yoel Marcus has a "scoop" in this morning's Haaretz that Ehud Barak has a plan to remove all the illegal outposts in one day. (Read about it here if you have nothing better to do, like staring at the ceiling.) There was a military exercise last week, apparently, along these lines. Meanwhile, the army admits that secrecy is going to be difficult, since many of the soldiers are either settlers or have relatives there. And now the settlement rabbi Dov Lior has permitted using the telephone on the Sabbath to warn people of the impending evacuations.

Since there is no way that the IDF can evacuate one or two outposts, much less thirty-two, and since these outposts are usually just extensions of the mother colonies, and since every time an outpost is evacuated it pops-up again, wouldn't it be better for the government to just say to the Americans, "We can't really do this." Well, it would if politicians were honest. But it seems that the real purpose of floating these trial balloons is to give some of the Israel-advocates ammunition to slow down the administration's push.

The real bosses of the West Bank, those who decide what outposts stay and what outposts go, are the Council of Settlements in Judaea and Samaria. I heard Pinhas Wallerstein on the radio a few minutes ago. He is not going to go gently into the dark night. He basically nixed the whole thing.

So does this mean that the story is what we call here "Israbluff"? Not necessarily. A huge operation, even if unsuccessful, would convince the Americans that Israel is trying to do its bit. That reminds me of all those times Arafat "clamped down" on Hamas to show the Americans that he was making a good faith effort to control terrorism. There is something commendable about the effort. But it can't succeed.

And maybe it shouldn't succeed. Yesterday an outpost was removed and settlers went on the rampage against Palestinians, burning olive trees and throwing rocks at the Palestinians and the IDF. The IDF's response was to close Palestinians roads "for their own protection".

The beauty of the demand to remove the outposts, like the demand to freeze settlements (or the demand of Arafat to clamp down on Hamas) is that it is unrealizable. You demand something that you know you cannot get. Then when Israel fails to meet that demand (because it can't) you use that as an opportunity to move in yourself.

I hope that is what is behind Obama's thinking.


eyal said...

Also -
Israel constantly frames everything they do as "security". Obviously settlements and outposts are part of the colonization and displacement effort, not of security. Nor is the issue of "house demolitions". By pressuring these issues, he unmasks the practices.

Scott said...

I would think that the feasibility of the Obama Administration "moving in" after Israeli failure to close down settlement outposts is nonexistent. They merely want to be able to declare to the world "we tried but nothing came of it and there's little else we can do" - the U.S. is very strict about adhering to international law when it suits its purposes. The present display by Israel is just a show to convince the American public that the time for closing settlements has long since passed. "Do not lose hope", Obama will say, "we will push for new talks between Israel and the Palestinian people and so continue our committed search for a solution fair to all parties." And the death of a people continues its inexorable, lamentable march.