Monday, 9 October 2017

EUREKA


I finally know what must have happened: this misunderstanding between Greece and the EU, in which it turned out that Greece fed the EU with false data, that enabled it to become a member if the EURO, whilst continuing to run the country, as it always has. It is all in the language. Today’s politicians and civil servants, did not take Greek at school, as one did in the old days. 

You see: the Greek word “Neh” does not mean NO, but YES. On the other hand, the Greek word “okhi”, contrary to what one would have guessed, does not mean OK, it means NO.

You can imagine that I was curious, when I walked by a shop, with a big sign ONAN.




It turned out to be a betting shop. You know, a place where people are enjoying themselves but which – at the end – bears no fruit.

I was even more curious to find this spray can in the drugstore:



Unfortunately, the shop assistant was unable to explain what exactly PUBEX does. Nor did he quite understand my question whether it could be used by both men and women.

The place next door


There are several tavernas right next to our house, just by the sea. One of them – at the best location of all –  seemed to open only occasionally. Nevertheless, the blackboard outside continued to list – not only all the traditional Greek dishes, but also –  various fresh fish, one could eat there. The owner, a full-bodied 50-year-old man, would sit at one of his tables, sometime on his own, occasionally with a friend, smoking and drinking. Every day, all day long. He was friendly and would respond with a smile when greeted in the morning. But he was closed for business.

I was curious. Reluctantly, after some questioning, neighbours told me that the place is deteriorating, that the man is simply lazy. One evening, when the place was open, we went there for dinner. It turned out that on some afternoons, when the 17-year-old son comes home from school, they’ll open. The food, the son told us, is made by his mother, who works full time as a teacher in the small village. We decided not to take a chance with “fresh” fish and ordered food that could be warmed up, of the Moussaka and filled pepper variety. We did not immediately book a table for the next day.

The location is great and the restaurant did get occasional business. The first to notice were always the cats, who would immediately be there, hoping to join the party. You cannot eat in a restaurant on these islands, without myriads of well-fed cats surrounding your table. The thing is that most of these islands swell up in the summer months and are left with only the locals, virtually emptying them, in winter. What happens with cats in winter, I asked the fine looking woman, who runs a tavern on one of the other islands. Ah, the taverna owner told me, there is an organisation that comes twice a week and brings food for the cats. They place it in the parking area and the cats all come there. But, she hesitated and then added, the cats get sterilised.

So here’s the riddle: if all those cats get sterilised, how come there are so very many cats everywhere? Some sort of feline immaculate conception?

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Camilla's Fork



Is that how she was taught to hold a fork at finishing school?


הנסיך צ'רלס ורעייתו קמילה, דוכסית קורנוול. להמעיט בערך האלטרנטיבות


Greece - Commercial


Haven’t been to Greece for many years and am pleasantly surprised by the cleanliness and friendliness almost everywhere.  

Greece - Fish


I still remember the delicate texture of freshly caught fish grilled on a Greek beach. That was a long time ago.

You go to nice quaint and full-of-character Tavernas in small island ports and order fish. What else.

More often than not, what you get – the fish on offer – is frozen and not fresh. Have even been offered Lobster from Cuba!

Sailing

I recently came back from a week’s sailing in the Aegean. We were a group of good friends with a skipper and his catamaran - a rather intense intimacy for someone who has chosen not to join kibbutz.

The winds were light, which meant more use of the boat’s motor than its sails. It also meant that none of us got seasick or even uncomfortable. Full disclosure: we all took a daily pill against motion sickness with our breakfasts.

The seasoned and experienced skipper-owner of our catamaran, was good at handling his boat and also knew how to find beautiful secluded bays, where we would anchor for a few hours, for a meal, drinks or a swim. But…

On about day four of our trip our skipper turned out to be a nutcase. After three days of friendly chats, he out of the blue started shouting and ranting. I had just asked him for information about the next day’s course and thus his anger was directed mainly at me. After several hours he calmed down. For a while, we considered disembarking at the next island, for our safety.  We decided to stay, but the situation was delicate. The two doctors on board thought that they could diagnose a smoker’s brain: that is damage to the brain from too much smoking. 

Despite all of the above, I hope to go sailing again. Unlike two of our friends, who have sailing certificates and who seemed to take great pleasure from playing with masts, steering wheel, anchor chains and ropes, I was interested only in the very enjoyable experience of being on a boat on a calm sea, moving from island to island and swimming in small quiet and sheltered coves. This is something I hope to be able to do again. 

However, next time it should be a boat with somewhat bigger bathrooms. I was sort of prepared for small cabins. But bedroom and bathroom ceilings of 1.80m were a real nuisance. As was the toilet procedure, which more seasoned travellers will be acquainted with. It was a relief to be able to use a normal bathroom after the week was over.

Of course, next time I will ask for a doctor’s sanity certificate in addition to a skipper’s license.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Jerusalem on Fire


One of the interesting aspects of the original 1947 partition plan that the United Nations had envisaged and decided for Palestine, (UN Resolution 181) was the concept that it had for Jerusalem. It called for a corpus separatum, a special international regime, to be established for the city of Jerusalem.

As we know, this UN resolution was accepted by the Jews and rejected by the Arabs. That was the death of the boundaries set by that resolution.   

Last week there was again an outbreak of violence in the holy basin, an area that both Jews and Muslims consider to be holy. The incident was badly handled by Israel’s right wing prime minister, who is besieged by competing populists in his cabinet, whilst the Arabs managed to play their cards cleverly. Israel lost face in this latest round. It had to dismantle, sensible but not sensitively installed security measures it had put in place (metal detectors and security cameras), and return to the status quo ante, hoping to lower the flames, which the Muslim waqf, the Islamic trust that manages the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, has been fanning.

The land issues between the Arabs and the Jews in Palestine are complicated enough without the incendiary qualities of religion and sites of worship, which one or more groups consider to be sacred. It would be better to take religion out of the equation. The corpus separatum solution was a good idea.

As things seem now, Israel will not agree to give up its status in Jerusalem. It should.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Macron and the Jews


French president Macron turns out to have a knack for theatrical productions. (Any connection to the fact that his wife was his high school theatre teacher?) He persuaded the universally despised Trump, (who is on record with “I was in Paris recently, and Paris doesn’t look like Paris anymore”) to fly to Paris, just three days after he came back from the G20 Meeting in Hamburg, by inviting him to a military parade (that Trump apparently likes). As an add-on, dinner was served at the top of the Eiffel Tower. In fact, so big was Macron’s success, that Trump must have overlooked the “my tower is bigger than your tower” aspect of this part if the visit. 

Next in line was Israel’s also despised prime minister Netanyahu. To create the right atmosphere for a meeting with the recalcitrant Netanyahu, the work meeting at the Élysée palace was preceded by a Holocaust memorial event – specifically, the annual remembrance ceremony for the 1942 deportation of French Jews. The mass arrest and deportation of over 13,000 Jews to their deaths in Auschwitz was organised and carried out by French police. In his moving speech, Macron again pointed out to French responsibility for this act, in which, he said, no German was involved.

Netanyahu – who likes to present himself as the prime minister of the Jewish People, which he is not – was allowed to fit into that role by Macron. The real present, which Macron gave Netanyahu, was his statement that anti-Zionism is a new form of antisemitism. This plays right into Netanyahu’s hands. It is, however, patently NOT TRUE, M. Macron.

Macron should not have politicised this ceremony commemorating France’s shameful deportation by giving Netanyahu a stage. Moreover, Macron should not have come out with a blanket ruling on Antisemitism, as if he was an expert in this highly disputed area.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

6th Letter to Jared (or: Run, Jared, run)


Dear Jared,

It has been almost two months, since I last wrote to you. You have evidently not be listening to me and daily, we get more information about your complicity in the allegedly illegal goings on of your crime family.  

You are probably too busy and will not have noticed a remark made by a fellow Jew, who like your own father was a Netanyahu backer, and like your own father has been found guilty of various tax offences and like your father has been sentenced to jail.

“All the other accused, who fled to Israel, are sitting on the beach”, Arnaud Mimran, recently complained to the French court that would not mitigate his 8-year jail sentence. See, Jared, this bit about fleeing to Israel to evade justice, gave me the following idea:

Why wait until a prisoner swap deal is worked out (much more complicated): Let Netanyahu who is being investigated in 12 separate corruption cases, seek and be granted asylum in the USA, and in return, you can take advantage of Israel’s Law of return that grants every willing Jew the right to settle in Israel.

As an added bonus, both you and Netanyahu can decide whether you wish to take your wives with you, or whether this would be a good opportunity to open a new page.

The problem with my swap idea is that whereas you (unless you are already in jail) can make use of the right to “return” to Israel whenever you like Netanyahu does not have such rights under US laws.

Run, Jared, run, before it is too late.  

Your well-meaning pen-pal David



Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Hamburg – Context / Perspective


Demonstrations surrounding last week’s G20 meeting in Hamburg have produced more headlines than the issues discussed at the meeting itself. Is that justified?

Beyond the obvious fact that G20 meetings logically tend to discuss existing topics that have been in the public debate for some time, rather than hitherto unknown topics –  violence, hundreds of policemen hurt, looting of shops, and above all pictures of torched cars, smoke and fires burning in the streets of a rich city are what makes news.

Germany is a well-managed democracy, which tries to allow outlets for venting political and social frustration. It is in this context that the German government wished to demonstrate the ability of permitting, whilst containing, the democratic display of opposition. It went terribly wrong. But is that of any long term significance?

Unlike the Muslim world, which is undergoing a monumental internal culture war – a war that is being financed and enabled by competing powerful states, that seem to be successful in causing trouble on one hand whilst being total failures in looking after the true interests of their own populations – Germany is at peace with itself.

It is a shame (although, to be expected in an election year) that some German politicians are trying to make party political capital of the Hamburg fiasco. But at the end of the day, it was no more than out of control hooliganism together with most probably a small number of extremist political activists. It was this combined with the German government’s wish to allow peaceful demonstrations and rather unfortunate and inefficient policing. As such, it is of no long term significance.