Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Those Danish cartoons

Jyllands-Posten today decided to apologise for bringing the clash of civilizations to the world's attention. Just in case you don't know what the fuss is about, they published a dozen cartoons in late September, the result of a competition for drawings about Mohammed. Several months later, the big furore we are now involved in has kicked off. More reaction coming soon, but in the meantime a chance to see the pics in full. Thanks to QuickRob for the easy c&p!

By the way, if you don't like the fact that I am showing these, a heads-up that the full Freedmanslife response is going to show you a vast collection of anti-Semitic cartoons from the Muslim world, and will outline what the world would have done if we Yids had responded in a similar manner to such continued provocation. ORFTORFU!






Saturday, January 28, 2006

A dance at Dachau

In "Munich", Spielberg's recent and controversial film, we learn that Israel spent a decade ruthlessly hunting down Palestinians who may or may not have had a hand in the event, with a footnote about the 11 athletes murdered in 1972. So will his "prayer for peace" do anything to see that these innocent people, whose crime was representing their country, finally get a fitting memorial?

London is beginning the serious prep work for the 2012 Games. There are no plans to commemorate 40 years since the atrocity at the London Games.

The football World Cup will be held in Germany, the first major international tournament since the Munich Olympics. There is no intention to do anything at the World Cup to honour their memories.

The massacre of 11 Israeli athletes was not considered sufficiently serious to merit cancelling or postponing the 1972 Olympics. “Incredibly, they're going on with it,” Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times wrote at the time. “It's almost like having a dance at Dachau.”

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A little respect

This week saw the unveiling of St. Tony's "respect agenda", the consequence of his realisation that, after 9 years of power, we still live in a neo-Thatcherite world of indivisualism where his vision of Mutual Responsibility Societally Accepted is as poisonous to the motley collection of rich capitalist whores and underachieving chavs as the other acronym MRSA that Blair's Babes have been trying to eradicate.

Of course, the "respect agenda" will fail for three reasons:

1. It needs an untainted leader who can inspire the people and be seen as personally moral enough to bring us into the new dawn. Blair has lost the trust of the people over Iraq (wrongly in my opinion: see Freedmanslives passim), and is clearly at the end of his mandate and time in office.

2. It has to be driven by some real innovation. Instead, it is a pot pourri of assorted New Labour policies that were semi-introduced and are now being repackaged and linked together into what should be a cohesive strategy. Too late for that - most of the pieces of this jigsaw are already bent out of shape, dismembered by council estate yobs and the diehards of left and right, or bloated by the classic wastefulness of all parts of our beloved public sector.

3. As Patience Wheatcroft pointed out (Rav Beni can vouch that I told him exactly the same thing the day before her article), Gordon Brown will make sure that nothing worthwhile will come of it through his typical meddling. Any dynamism will be slowly suffocated, any local variation will be quashed in favour of his centralising control-freakery.

So in short, what could have been inspired and powerful in 1997 when Blair had hair and Brown hadn't started screwing our economy, appears in 2006 to be another half-baked piece of spin and bureaucracy in the offing.

There is hope. Brown will help New Labour to implode. The Lib Dems will self-destruct as always. Cameron will pander to the centre-ground and not regain the vote of Middle England. And in the resulting hung Parliament, Freedmansparty will sweep in and start an era of benign dictatorship. Can't be worse than George Galloway ruling the country in a red leotard, can it?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Goodbye, England's Rose

The nation is united this week in its mourning of a true heroine, the Princess of Whales. After breaking up with her family, and making the front pages of the world's newspapers as she became confused and disorientated, and battled an alleged eating disorder, she died as she was chauffeured under a bridge on a river in one of Europe's great capitals.

First seen as a single female prancing around the Chelsea area, she caught the public's imagination and crowds gathered to see her wherever she was spotted. Paparazzi were soon in tow, gleaning whatever gossip could be had from her Royal minders.

But sadly, no sooner had she captured our hearts as we hoped and prayed she would be happily reunited with her loved ones, than she was snatched away. Now we grieve together, as we await news of how she will be honoured. It seems fitting that she is given a funeral cortege and service at Westminster and that flags be placed at half-mast over Buckingham Palace. A memorial fountain is proposed for Kensington Gardens, and Elton John has been asked to create a song for the occasion, entitled "Tallow Candle In The Wind".

Rest In Peace, Princess of Whales. You were the queen of our hearts and the people's princess.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Shakespeare's Sister

Got into a debate on another site about the most incredible lyrics. "Allegra" quoted from one of Shakespeare's sonnets, so without thinking, I posted a reply:

Ah the marvels of Shakespeare. Funny, Shakespeare's Sister wrote good lyrics too...

if this world is wearing thin
and you're thinking of escape
i'll go anywhere with you
i'll do anything it takes [just wrap me up in chains]
but if you try to go alone
don't think i'll understand

stay with me, stay with me.

in the silence of your room
in the darkness of your schemes [ ... dreams]
there among the souvenirs [you must only think of me]
and the useless memories [there can be no in between]
when your pride is on the floor
i'll make you beg for more

stay with me, stay with me.

you'd better hope and pray
that you'll be safe [ that you make it safe]
in your own world [back to your own world]
you'd better hope and pray
that you're gonna awake [that you wake one day]
back in your own world [in your own world]
[cause when you sleep at night they don't hear your cries]
[in your own world]
[only time will tell if you can break the spell]
[back in your own world]

stay with me, stay with me


Having posted thus, as well as REM's The One I Love, I started wondering what these two rather flippant choices said about my psyche and feelings towards love and relationships. Funny, the first one is a little reminiscent of the Police song "Every Breath You Take", which seems to be about a stalker. Shakespeare's Sister take it one step further; the unwitting victim is trapped in the relationship. The second song I mentioned, by REM, suggests that love is fleeting, convenient and dispensable.

I am sure the psycho-analysts among you will agree therefore that my selection of song lyrics may relate to a subconscious fear of commitment and scorn for the need to depend on others. On the other hand, I was just trying to get a cheap laugh out of the connection between some well-written sonnets from the mid-16th century and some shrilly-delivered lyrics from the mid-80s of the last century.

Which segues me neatly to a conclusion, from my second song choice:

This one goes out to the one I love
This one goes out to the one I’ve left behind
A simple prop to occupy my time
This one goes out to the one I love

Sunday, January 15, 2006

TWAJ: The numbers excuse

Was having a good old muse about why people assimilate. There are of course the obvious reasons of lack of identity, inconvenience of kashrut, threat of Jewish mother-in-law etc, but the one most people fall back on is that they fell in love with a non-Jew or don't want to narrow down their options to such a small selection.

This excuse doesn't hold much water to me. Everyone plays the rational numbers game:

280,000 UK Jews aged 0-70+
= 4,000 in each age bracket
I can date women 4 years younger and 2 years older
= 4,000 x 7 / 2 (sorry to disappoint male friends who like my pert ass)
= 14,000
Then knock off half of them who are already in relationships
= 7,000
Then subtract those living outside London or on the wrong side of the Thames or the A10
= 5,000
Then take out the mingers and the ones who are out of my league
= 3,000
Then take out the ones who think I ming or am out of their league
= 1,000
Then eliminate the ones I already know or have dated
= 500
Then factor in my Myers-Briggs profile which requires me to find someone with the "NF" combo in their letters (this will be the subject of a guest posting from Bison at some point, no doubt), accounting for only about 10% of the population
= 50

So my total potential pool, under this rational system, is "only" 50, whereas not restricting oneself to Yidden would give a starting point of 60 million people. No wonder so many people are quick to divest themselves of their Jdate profiles. But actually I think this approach is wrong and an excuse. The reality is that anyone who is gainfully employed, maintains a social life and has some moral fibre about them simply will not have time to find and date more than 50 people in their lives. Plus we live in the same areas, go to the same bars, and have plenty of willing shadchanim (matchmakers) to assist. And there's always going to be something in common - usually via the wonders of the Jewish name-game.

But I think the numbers excuse is valid for as long as the community fails to provide a positive and proactive reason to make that choice to date from a gene pool that largely stems from the same four women. This year I will try to make a weekly TWAJ posting and lay out what I see as the threats and possible solutions regarding Anglo-Jewry, so be sure to tune in.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Love's labour's lost

I have recently been inspired by the wonderful blog of Johannes Kerkorrel II, and reminded by the gentle teasing of a wonderful girl I should really have been smoother with, that the content of Freedmanslife these days has not much to do with Freedman's life. On the other hand, when I actually post something personal, Freedmansmother complains and usually makes me take it off the site. I shall press on regardless...

Among the many quirks I have are a habit of over-analysing situations and a pressing need for concrete answers, even if they are not the ones I am looking for. Uncertainty, when there is any means of being sure, is not something I like living with. So I enjoy the process of evaluating a given situation, exploring every possible outcome using the facts at my disposal, and making sensible conjectures to fill in the gaps and form an opinion.

This is partly why I enjoy having a blog. It's a great place to go and brain-dump as I try to fathom the various goings-on in the big wide world and attempt to draw some conclusions. It's also why, much as I would love to stimulate debate, I keep on writing regardless of the ambivalence of most of my readers. Anyway, until now I have largely kept my musings to newsworthy events and occasional TWAJ postings. But from now on I will try the occasional attempt to throw the net a bit wider. You have been warned!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Watch Big Brother, support Palestine!

A marvellous Catch-22 presents itself on Big Brother tonight. Everyone's favourite dhimmi George Galloway (who declared himself the most famous person in the house ahead of Dennis Rodman and Michael Barrymore because "1.5 billion Muslims know who I am") is up for eviction. And here's the conundrum:

a. do we keep him in the house where he has a mouthpiece and can increase his public profile but could also completely embarrass and further discredit himself

or

b. do we vote him out, in the knowledge that a part of the money paid for the premium call goes to his nominated charity, Interpal?

Interpal have been in the news recently, having defeated the Board of Deputies in a libel case after the Board said they were involved in terrorist-related activities in an article a couple of years ago. I have no wish to be similarly sued, so instead I am going to quote from a Daily Telegraph article which points out that "The US Treasury department in 2003 described Interpal as a 'Hamas-related charity' and designated it a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, banning US citizens from dealing with it."

In case there are any lingering doubts about Gorgeous George's purpose for being in the BB house, he clears it up on the Socialist Unity website:

"Firstly it was for Palestine. Millions of people vote by premium phone and text lines to choose who should face eviction. A percentage of the proceeds goes to the charity of the participants choice. My choice is Interpal, led by my friends Ibrahim Hewitt and Ismael Patel in Leicester, Anas Al-Takriti in Leeds and Dr Azzam Tammimi in London. Like me Interpal have faced the witch hunters in Washington and the Zionist movement in London. But every smear against them has fallen away and the truth about their humanitarian work amongst some of the most oppressed people on the earth has prevailed. They don't get many opportunities to raise really serious amounts of money. My appearance on Big Brother will give them the chance to move up the Premier League."

Oh joy. An organisation proscribed by the US Treasury Department, fronted by a friend of Saddam and exposed recipient of dodgy cash, supported by a cast of millions. The terrible choice we are now confronted with is whether we allow him to perpetuate his views further. I suggest we vote him out before he says any more, and before the numbers voting become so big that the donations can pay for some serious damage.

In the meantime, solace can be found on this wonderful website, Hang Galloway. My preference would be for Galloway to drown in the spa whilst Barrymore is in the diary room, thus having a perfect alibi. Of course ex-Baywatch star Traci Bingham is on hand in the BB house to dive in and save him...

Esteemed guest II: Amir Taheri

Israel must claim victory over Palestine
Sharon's policy will endure because it makes strategic sense
(The Australian, hat tip: Melanie Phillips via Bison)
As Ariel Sharon fights for his life, his sudden removal from centre stage has already had the effect of a political earthquake in the Middle East. It is not only Israel that ponders the post-Sharon era with apprehension. Judging by the coverage of the Arab media in recent days, the broader Middle East is also concerned about the imponderables of a post-Sharon era.

While the al-Jazeera satellite channel was airing the jubilant utterances of radical Arabs over Sharon's stroke, more moderate Arabs appearing on the rival channel al-Arabiyah acknowledged that the Israeli leader had become the Palestinians' "most serious partner for peace".

Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak has described Sharon as "a man of peace", echoing his Tunisian counterpart Zin El Abidine Ben Ali's "esteem and admiration" for the Israeli leader. Sharon also has a surprising number of friends in other Arab countries, from Oman to Mauritania, Qatar, Jordan and Morocco. In the wider Muslim world, Sharon has fostered a "working dialogue" with leaders in Indonesia, Bangladesh and Pakistan, with a view to establishing diplomatic ties.

Things were different even a year ago, as far as Sharon's image in Arab and Islamic countries was concerned. At that time the former general was seen by many as the quintessential "Zionist enemy", as portrayed by years of propaganda.

What changed that was what Israel's interim prime minister Ehud Olmert describes as "the Gaza magic". This was the first time that an Israeli leader had made a unilateral withdrawal from disputed Arab territory without being subjected to internal or external pressures. At the same time, Sharon proceeded with the construction of his "security fence", and insisted there would be no further unilateral withdrawals.

All that gave Sharon a new image, one that resembles a holograph.

Seen from one angle, Sharon appeared as the man of peace that a majority of Israelis have longed for since the 1980s. The fact that he promised that there would be no more withdrawals did not bother the "peace-now" Israelis, who were more convinced by what they saw in Gaza than what they heard from Sharon.

Seen from another angle, the Sharon holograph presented a leader who had given up Gaza in a tactical move to be better able to hang on to the West Bank. That image appealed not only to Likudniks, Sharon's former party colleagues, but also to the more enthusiastic partisans of Greater Israel. They preferred to ignore what they saw in Gaza and focus on what Sharon said about his determination not to make any more unilateral concessions.

The holograph earned Sharon a place that no previous Israeli leader had enjoyed in public opinion. According to most recent polls, almost two-thirds of all Israelis believed that Sharon was the man to lead the country at this moment. That would almost certainly not have been translated into Knesset seats for Kadima, Sharon's new party, in March's election. But enough of that support would have come in the form of votes to give Sharon a lead to reclaim the premiership.

Was the Sharon holograph an illusion or, worse still, a political conjuror's trick to mislead friends and confuse enemies? No. Sharonism, to coin a phrase, reflects the complex realities of the Israel-Palestine solution.

Sharon is an instinctual politician, an increasingly rare breed, in the sense that he can cut through the metapolitical stuff that renders political decision-making difficult or, at times, impossible.

As a professional soldier, Sharon saw that Israel had won all its wars with the Arabs in military terms but failed to translate those victories into lasting political gains. At some point he must have wondered why.

For a war to be won it is not enough for one side to claim victory, although that is essential. It is also necessary for one side to admit defeat. The problem in the case of the Arab-Israeli wars, however, was that the side that had won every time was not allowed to claim victory while the side that had lost was prevented from admitting defeat.

This was a novel situation in history, throughout which the victor and the vanquished had always acknowledged their respective positions and moved beyond it in accordance with a peace imposed by the victor.

In the Israeli-Arab case this had not been done because each time the UN had intervened to put the victor and the vanquished on an equal basis and lock them into a problematic situation in the name of a mythical quest for an impossible peace.

In this novel situation, bizarre new concepts were invented to prevent the normal mechanisms of war and peace from functioning. These include such concepts as land for peace and peace with justice.

There is, however, not a single instance in history in which the winner of a war has given the loser any land in exchange for peace. Nor is there a single instance in which justice and peace have gone together as Siamese twins. In every case the winner wins the land and gives the loser peace. In every case the peace that is imposed is unjust to the loser and just to the winner.

Without going far back into history, it is sufficient to glance at some of the dozens of wars in Europe, Asia and Africa in recent decades to see that they all ended with a peace designed, if not dictated, by the winner. Thus for more than 50 years Israel and the Arabs have been asked to achieve what no other warring parties have ever achieved.

Israel-Palestine became the only conflict to defy a resolution. Successive Israeli governments preferred to wait until there was a Palestinian partner that would accept the kind of peace Israel could offer. This was mirrored by the Palestinians, who were asked by their Arab brothers and others in the UN to wait until Israel offered a peace they would like.

Sharon understood that if such a formula remained in force there would never be peace between Israel and the Palestinians. It was necessary for the victor to claim victory, regardless of what anyone else said. It was also necessary for the victor to take unilateral action by imposing the peace it could live with.

Paradoxically, many Palestinians say, even in public, that they would rather see Sharonist unilateralism at work than a prolongation of the stalemate that has lasted since 1948. It was clear that Sharon, his denials notwithstanding, was planning to claim victory for Israel and impose an Israeli peace.

That Israeli peace would see Gaza and perhaps up to 90 per cent of the West Bank allocated to a putative Palestinian state, while Israel would demarcate its permanent border on the ground, part of which would run along the security fence.

That would not be the kind of land-for-peace deal that UN resolutions have called for since 1968, nor would it satisfy the radical Arabs, who would not see any peace as just without the elimination of Israel.

Sharon may never return to the helm. But Sharonism need not fade away. It is still possible for Israel to create on the ground the kind of peace it can live with and then let the Palestinians decide whether or not they, too, can live with it. My guess is that they will.

Amir Taheri is an Iranian author of 10 books on the Middle East and Islam. He is a member of Benador Associates.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Esteemed guest I: Leo McKinstry

The monstrous inversion
(hat tip: Melanie Phillips)

A herogram for Leo McKinstry. In the Daily Express he has written, a propos the illness of Ariel Sharon, that Israel has been outrageously demonised by being wrongly portrayed as the oppressor in the Middle East impasse — and he goes on to talk about the anti-Jewish hatred which has been unleashed in Britain as a result. It is rare indeed to see a piece like this in the mainstream press in Britain. Since it appears to be subscription only, here’s a sizeable chunk of his column:

In a remarkable inversion of reality, Israel has become a pariah state because of its determination to defend itself. A grotesque double standard now operates, where murderous Arab terrorists are hailed as ‘freedom fighters’ yet Israeli security forces are treated as fascistic thugs. No nation has been more demonised than Israel. One recent survey across Europe revealed that Israel is now regarded as ‘the greatest threat’ to world peace, an utter absurdity given that Israel is actually the only democratic, free society in the Middle East. But such a finding reflects the strength of the hysterical anti-Israeli propaganda that fills the airwaves of Europe. No matter how much this anti Israeli feeling is dressed up as support for Palestine, it is in fact profoundly anti-Semitic. Questioning the right of the Jewish people to their own homeland, muttering about the influence of the ‘Zionist lobby’ on US foreign policy or cheering on the vicious terror group Hamas amounts to racial prejudice against Jews.

The tragedy is that antisemitism masquerading as ‘anti-Zionism’ is poisoning the civic culture of Britain and Europe. Earlier this week, the Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks spoke of ‘a tsunami of hate’ sweeping through the continent, with synagogues attacked and Jewish schools burnt to the ground. In Britain alone, the number of antisemitic attacks recorded by the police in 2004 rose to 532, compared to 260 in 1999. Because of the obsession with the supposed iniquities of Israel, casual antisemitism is tolerated in British public life in a way that would apply to no other ethnic minority.

So, in the field of education, university professors organise a boycott of Israeli academics. BBC cultural critic Tom Paulin publicly calls for American Jewish settlers on the West Bank to be shot dead yet is allowed to carry on working at the corporation, while former presenter Robert Kilroy-Silk loses his programme for making far less inflammatory comments about Arabs.

Traditionally, antisemitism in Britain was a feature of the far-Right, most notoriously in the British Union of Fascists. But because of the modern hatred of Israel, it is now driven by an unholy alliance of leftwingers and Muslims. The Left may make a fetish of antiracism in Africa but abandons all such concerns where the Jewish state is involved. Even more disturbing has been the malign influence of Islamic extremism and the ingrained Arab hatred of Israel that has been imported into Britain through mass immigration. Disgracefully, so-called Muslim moderates have refused to join in Holocaust Day ceremonies because they say they find the event "offensive" since it only recognises Jewish victims of Nazi oppression.

Our political system has also been tainted by this obscene kind of racism. In the 2005 general election, the bullying leftwinger George Galloway won Bethnal Green from the black Labour MP Oona King, who was attacked by many local Muslim residents not only for her support for the Iraq war but also her Jewish parentage. Similarly, in Rochdale, the sitting Labour MP Lorna Fitzsimmons was thrown out after a local Muslim group circulated a leaflet that stated, wrongly, that she was ‘Jewish’. Her defeat represented a shameful triumph for naked sectarianism. Muslims have undoubtedly been behind the rise in violent attacks on Jews yet because of political correctness this has remained hidden. In 2003 the EU suppressed a German report which showed that Arab gangs across Europe were largely responsible for the surge in antisemitic violence. That finding did not fit with the EU's political agenda, which pretends that only whites are capable of racial prejudice.

The great irony is that the governments of Europe have this problem because of our obsession with so-called racial tolerance. As a consequence of the institutional fixation with race, inspired by the terror of any repeat of Nazism in Europe, there has been a reluctance to challenge Muslim mass immigration. So, in the name of antiracism, we now have in our midst a vast Islamic culture which possesses an instinctive hostility to Judaism. We cannot go on denying this because that road will only lead to more suffering and oppression.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Kadimah to where?

We live in interesting times. This is a fascinating moment in Israel's history and politics; the point in time where the usual rule of two Jews, three opinions is shattered, because nobody knows what to think. People do not dare speculate on what comes next.

The only certainty is the sight of Palestinians handing out sweets on the streets of Gaza and celebrating the pain of the Jews, blithely ignoring the irony that without Sharon they would be doing so under the watchful eye of IDF soldiers.

A likelihood is that Sharon's role in politics is over. We can only now hope that he recovers sufficiently to enjoy living out his days on a slightly more careful diet on his Negev ranch. In the meantime, there will be a political vacuum to fill. Ehud Olmert is already rattling around in that space, and there are few characters with the credibility and clout to do much better. With Labour heading left under Peretz and Likud heading right under Netanyahu, Kadimah ("Forward") already needed to decide exactly which direction that was in, and it needs a new visionary to make that move now that Sharon is removed from the scene.

The people need a leader with a vision. All the opinion polls show that the standard retrenchments to old battle positions on the flanks of politics have alienated most of the electorate. Sharon had yet to explain his vision but his instinct in forming a centrist party with a blend of old warhorses like Peres and technocrats like Olmert and Livni was correct.

Without the leadership figure Kadimah needs, one suspects that the real winners here will be Likud or Shinui, and some of the smaller parties. As the imprint of Sharon's personality fades, so might Kadimah.

This might be the shot in the arm required for the fading Shinui party, who sit somewhere between Kadimah and Likud, and under Tommy Lapid's smart leadership are certainly cunning enough to steal into that centre-right ground if it is left available by Netanyahu sticking firmly to the right.

Alternatively Netanyahu, being the shrewd and somewhat amoral politico he is, can pick up the centre-right vote by adopting most elements of Sharon's policy on the Palestinians, combined with his widely acclaimed business-friendly approach that has started to yield rewards for the Israeli economy. If he fails to do so, some of the harder-right voters could look towards Yisrael Beiteinu and other meshuggenes.

The same is true of the left - Labour under Peretz can move closer to the centre, opening up the hard-left vote for Meretz and other staunch socialists bent on destroying the market economy and making the IDF's job impossible, or he can move further left and pick up the ex-Kadimah vote, especially if the ex-Likud Olmert wing is clearly leading it rather than the more doveish ex-Labour Peres wing.

There is one more possibility, which has yet to be talked about much in Israel; that old man Peres will take over the leadership of Kadimah. At the moment, he is acting as the statesmanlike figure bringing in the centre-left vote and adding credibility and nuance to Sharon's more rumbustuous approach, whilst staying somewhat out of the limelight. He will also be wary of standing in an eleventh election at the age of 82, having lost the previous ten and seen the damage done to Sharon's health.

But in many ways, it would be foolish to write him off, or to consider - as many on the right and in the anti-Israel camp do - that he would be a soft touch. Peres has flexed his muscles before and borne the consequences for doing so (Grapes of Wrath for example), and he wears the badge of honour of Chomsky's accusation that he is a mass-murderer and war criminal. Plus he has shaken hands with important world leaders including Clinton and me (see posting below). At his age, he is like Sharon in that he is battle-hardened and willing to make radical gestures to achieve Israel's goals, like Rabin in that he is not afraid of being unpopular even if his personal safety is jeopardised, and crucially, like Barak and Netanyahu, carries the memory of all that passed with Arafat's lies and violence.

All this puts him at a point on the political spectrum that prioritises security and stability over the falsehood of peace with an implacable enemy. However, he carries the stigma of being Shimon Peres, perennial runner-up. It is a shame that Barak's political career peaked so early, as he may now have the maturity and courage to hold the post with more certainty, as well as having developed a keen instinct for large and successful business ventures that provides hope for some sound domestic financial policy.

The key to Kadimah carrying the next election will lie in their ability to assemble a team with more vision, panache and dynamism than the current group of adherents to Sharon's personality cult. Whoever ends up in charge may also end up leading a government that has to confront Iran militarily, as the shrinking violets in the Western world tut-tut and do nothing despite the very real threat to them too - much easier to let the Zionists take the fall.

No wonder there are so few hats to throw into the ring.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year's Day

A new year's greeting to Freedmanslifers around the world!

One of the best things about being in Israel at this time of year is that Xmas is only found in a handful of goishe bars and the obvious Christian shrines, there's no tinsel, definitely no houses clad in tacky Santa sleigh outlines made of hideous multicoloured bulbs, and no nasty commercial exploitation. Bah humbug...

Also New Year's Eve is not the same drab anti-climax as in London. The weather is better for a start, and because most festivals revolve around the Jewish lunar calendar, it's just another excuse for a chilled Israeli party rather than something elaborate, fancy and extortionately expensive. We went to 2 good places, both full of top-class Heeb totty, for a total of under £30 including, at the second place, unlimited free bar. I was even caught dancing at one point.

Anyway, I need to recover a little more so will leave it here - have a great new year!