Wednesday, October 02, 2002

I just heard British Ambassador to Israel, Sherard Cowper-Coles, being interviewed on Israel television in very nice Hebrew. According to his biography, on the British Embassy site, this is a newish effort, on his part, although he has been studying Arabic since 1978. I’m very impressed that an ambassador should take the time to learn the language of a tin-pan country like Israel.

What did he say? Oh, the usual ambassador stuff: Prime Minister Blair is Israel’s friend blah blah blah.

The British Embassy site is very polite, pleasant and bland, as only a British Embassy site, could be. You wouldn’t believe the embassy has any connection to the British Foreign office. It’s informative, too. Here is Tony Blair’s speech at the Labour Party Conference in Blackpool, yesterday, for those who missed it.

He said: “Some say the issue is Iraq. Some say it is the Middle East Peace Process. It's both. Some say it's poverty. Some say it's terrorism. It's both”.

Now that I’m doing a bit of writing, on a regular basis, I find myself sometimes writing things that sound great and that I really love. Often, when I reread them, I find that their content is utter tripe. (I know what you're thinking! You just watch it!). The thing is that I’m so in love with the way they’re written, I find it sad not to use them. It’s very upsetting having to rewrite them to make them less idiotic. It’s like … er… cutting your child’s long hair short (I think. I wouldn’t know, I’ve never had the urge to shorten my daughters’ hair, I love it long, and so do they) or … or… I can’t think of any other example, sorry (not that the first one was so hot. OK, I'll come clean. This was just an attempt to prove my point. Please disregard.). Anyway, doesn’t it look like this is what happened to Mr. Blair’s speechwriter? He must have thought: “It sounds so good. No one will notice it’s a load of meaningless demagogic rubbish”.

And then there’s the passage devoted solely to lucky old us: “And yes what is happening in the Middle East now is ugly and wrong. The Palestinians living in increasingly abject conditions, humiliated and hopeless; Israeli civilians brutally murdered. I agree UN resolutions should apply here as much as to Iraq. But they don't just apply to Israel. They apply to all parties. And there is only one answer. By this year's end, we must have revived final status negotiations and they must have explicitly as their aims: an Israeli state free from terror, recognized by the Arab world and a viable Palestinian state based on the boundaries of 1967. (Duh!)

“UN resolutions should apply here as much as to Iraq”???? What is this horrible comparison? Is he insinuating that we’re next? I know there are a lot of Brits out there dying for the US to invade Israel, remove the cruel totalitarian ruler, who regularly maims his most loyal subjects (after his son has finished raping their daughters), having gassed and massacred the opposition and install a puppet government until norms of democracy and freedom can be instilled in those nasty Jews. What a great idea. It’s sure to get full backing in the UN as well, that home of such honored Security Council members as Syria, a well-known upholder of democratic norms.

Yes, Mr. Cowper-Coles, Mr. Blair is our friend. He went out of his way to be nice to us in this speech, on the whole, and we are grateful. But I think we’d better not turn our backs on him, lest he borrow a nice big sword from his oil-producing pals, (the one on the Saudi Arabian flag would do nicely) and stab us in the back with it.

Update: Oops! Two people have corrected me. Israel is apparently a TIN-POT country and not a tin-pan country. Well, actually, Diana was polite enough to say it isn't either - see comments. I know for a fact that the other person to correct me is British born AND has actually met the aforementioned ambassador in person, so he must know what he's talking about.

I was going to write TIN-CAN at first, so tin-pan isn't all that bad!

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