Israel mocks Iranian leader in undiplomatic Tweet.

I’m on record as thinking that the current Prime Minister of Israel tends to overstate his country’s case against Iran—that while official Israel’s long-standing concern regarding the possibility of Iran achieving nuclear capability is surely understandable (particularly considering the latter’s oft-stated hostility to the existence of a Jewish State), we mustn’t forget that Israel itself has nuclear weapons (yes, it does), that not everything’s another Holocaust, and that furthermore, if your government has spent more or less the last decade claiming with tones of urgency that we’ve only got six months, a year, two years in which to prevent calamity—your government might be overstating its case.

But you know what? Israel’s long-standing concern regarding the possibility of Iran achieving nuclear capability is surely understandable, particularly considering the latter’s oft-stated hostility to the existence of a Jewish State. If I were an Israeli official, I, too, would want to make sure that the U.S. government was not messing around and that whatever precautions being taken to protect my people were good and solid. That seems only reasonable, and certainly to be expected. Overstating a case doesn’t mean that the case doesn’t actually exist.

And yet.

And yet, there is asking the President of the United States to dot his I’s and cross his T’s; there’s making sure your concerns are heard; there’s even pressuring your allies and asking your friends to do the same because this is actually kind of a big deal and you’re truly alarmed.

And then there’s this nonsense.

Israel embassy tweet Rouhani 9 23 13


Rather than treat the rolling tide of news regarding a possible thaw in relations between the U.S. and Iran as the serious matter that it is, rather than take into consideration all that’s at stake, rather than—oh, I don’t know—consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe, if the Obama Administration manages to achieve an agreement with Iran, it might actually meet Israel’s security needs and improve the lives of everyone in the Jewish State—the Israeli Embassy in the U.S. decided to try its hand at biting social media wit, by way of fifth grade level sarcasm. Creating a false LinkedIn account for your country’s arch-nemesis carries about as much gravitas as does poking your friend at lunch and saying: “Hunh-hunh! Let’s give Hassan devil’s horns in the yearbook!”

And then Israel’s UN Mission re-tweeted it. Because why not.

Are these people professionals? Are they seriously concerned about Iran? Do they honestly believe that no one in the Islamic Republic can ever be safely trusted—or, alternatively, are they genuinely concerned that Iran’s leadership change its ways and be brought back into the community of nations? If the answer to any of those questions is “yes”—then what on earth were they thinking?

This kind of amateur hour performance is an embarrassment, pure and simple—and it does little but strengthen the impression shared by many across the globe (including many Jews both inside and out of Israel) that the fear-mongering has always been more about distracting the world from the occupation of Palestinian lands than it has been about Iran.

Else the Israeli government might be just a little more interested in seeing it resolved.

Crossposted from Open Zion/The Daily Beast.

Israel Embassy: Palestinians would “lynch” Jesus and Mary.

Every now and then, one reveals more than one intended. And gets caught in the act.

Yesterday there was a bit of a kerfluffle when Israel’s embassy in Ireland posted the following on its Facebook account:

A thought for Christmas…If Jesus and mother Mary were alive today, they would, as Jews without security, probably end up being lynched in Bethlehem by hostile Palestinians. Just a thought….

israel in ireland christmas

It was removed from the page in a couple of hours, and replaced with this:

To whom it may concern: An image of Jesus and Mary with a derogatory comment about Palestinians was posted without the consent of the administrator of the Facebook page. We have removed the post in question immediately. Apologies to anyone who may have been offended. Merry Christmas!

Last month I wrote about what Israel doesn’t get about Twitter, but I might as well have called the post “What Israel Doesn’t Get and Has Never Gotten About Communicating With the Outside World,” because the Twitter mishaps and Facebook comedy of errors are not isolated events. They reflect attitudes and policies that have characterized official Israel for as long as I’ve known official Israel (since 1982), and those attitudes and policies are, simply put, part of Israel’s problem.

Nearly every facet of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank (Bethlehem included) speaks to the fact that Israel sees Palestinians as suspect simply because they’re Palestinian—that indeed, random lynchings are to be expected, because that’s what Palestinian culture looks like.

Moreover, nearly every facet of Israel’s foreign policy appears predicated on a kind of us-against-the-world-ism that casts the rest of the global community as a set of stock characters, the behavior of each predictable and entirely unrelated to anything Israel might actually do.

America is “a thing you can move very easily,” for instance, and Palestinians hate and want to kill us because that’s just what Palestinians are like. That’s who they are. (Iranians, too). It doesn’t matter if Israel builds settlements or incarcerates children or surrounds Palestinian homes and farmlands with a 25 foot concrete wall—they just hate us. Haters gonna hate.

All of which explains why any event in the world can be seen though the eyes of Jewish suffering. Jesus and Mary? Not really that important unto themselves, but boy do they serve to make a point about Jews who’ve been killed by Palestinians. Friday’s tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut? An opportunity to completely de-contextualize the decades-long war between Israel and the Palestinian people via sympathy note. The current geo-political stand-off between Israel, Iran, and the US? It’s all about the Holocaust, baby.

The problem with this, of course, is that people insist on being actual people, no matter what we think of them. Though Israel has tried to force the Palestinians into a mold for 64 years, the Palestinians have continued to insist on behaving as autonomous actors—and it’s really hard to get anything done when one is negotiating (or not) with a caricature rather than reality.

It is a good thing that someone in Israel’s Irish embassy caught the folly of whoever’s running their Facebook page (though they might want to take a look at the Twitter account, too), and I suppose that the apology, while rather anemic, is nice. Also, too: Merry Christmas!

But as long as we’re indulging in historical thought experiments, it bears noting that Jesus actually was killed, after all, and by folks who thought they could control his people through violence, and stripping them of their heritage.

How’d that work out for the Romans?

Crossposted from Open Zion/The Daily Beast.

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