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Sunday, February 26, 2006

A bad word gets a new day in the sun

[OK, solemn promise... pinky-swear even:  After today, no more political posts for at least a month two weeks a week, mmmkay?  No really... I'm serious!  I can't stand waking up and thinking/writing about politics.  Not only do I suck at it, but I'm clearly no damned good!  (Oh wait... that's the same thing, isn't it?)]

There are some disparaging words that have fallen out of use in polite society because they have their roots in a negative or maliciously stereotype associated with a particular nationality or ethnic group... or they sound like they do. 

A few that jump to mind are 'gypped' (a derivative of the word Gypsy that means to be cheated), 'indian giver' (someone who reclaims a gift), 'Jew down' (to bargain aggressively) and 'niggardly' (a perfectly good word meaning 'grudging or petty' that many people now avoid because it sounds so much like a well-known racial slur). 

But there is one such term - 'welched' (to renege on a bet or fail to keep a financial agreement) - that I may just have to start using again. 

As offensive as 'welched' may be to the sensibilities of Welsh people (among whom I count many ancestors), the recent revelation that Assistant US Secretary of State for Near East Affairs David Welch has told PA leaders that the US has backed away from it's earlier promise to withhold future financial aid to Hamastan, provides a whole new alternative etymology for the word.

Before anyone jumps down my throat, I have to cut the US a little slack because our own acting Prime Minister waffled for almost a week after the PA election on whether (and/or to what extent), to financially isolate the new Palestinian regime.  But the US and most of the quartet had seemed so adamant about shutting down the money train... that this shift in policy is very disappointing.

Oh sure, the media is saying that the aid will be going only to NGOs, charities and other 'humanitarian channels'.  But not one of these non-governmental channels, from the UN and Red Cross on down, has ever provided even a semblence at transparency when it comes to where the money ends up.  In fact, many of the Palestinian officers and workers in these agencies also hold parellel positions in groups that are considered terrorist organizations by most of the civilized world!  So, you'll have to forgive me if I seem less than confident that 'humanitarian aid' won't end up paying for weapons and explosives.

What everyone is willfully ignoring is that here in the middle east, things like food, beverages, cigarettes, cooking gas and a long list of other humanitarian essentials, are all fungible commodities that are treated as hard currency to purchase anything up to and including 21st century military hardware.  Only the most naive (or willfully blind) person would believe that the bulk of humanitarian aid will filter down to the people who actually need it.

According to the most 'pie-in-the-sky' assessments of the PA election Hamas won, not on a platform of calling for Israel's destruction, but rather on their record of playing Robin Hood with some of the overflow from their terror war chest.  Unlike Fatah, which was seen as weak and corrupt, Hamas is seen as strong and corrupt.  This small but important distinction boils down to Hamas being the ones who seem most able to deliver the goods.

Unfortunately, in the months leading up to the elections, the civilized world told the Palestinian people in no uncertain terms that if they elected a Hamas-led government, Robin Hood would no longer have the means to play benevolent benefactor.   The well would simply run dry.

Yet now it seems that the Palestinians were the ones who understood things far better than anyone.  They knew that International resolve would crumble in a matter or weeks, and that nobody would want to take responsibility for causing a 'humanitarian disaster'. 

It's the same reason that on a daily basis the Palestinians can launch dozens of rockets at Israeli targets with impunity from within Palestinian Gaza without fear of Israel turning off the water or electricity.  You see, they have plenty of money for explosives, weapons and rockets... but building a power plant or water desalinization facility would tie up too much of their working capital!

So, on this rainy Sunday morning I'd like to give a shout out to US Secretary of State for Near East Affairs David Welch... and thank him and his handlers for welching on one of the most important commitments the US has ever made in this region.

Nicely done.

219_42

Posted by David Bogner on February 26, 2006 | Permalink

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Nothing to add about the politics, but here's an interesting link as to the etymology of Welch:

http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1520740

Posted by: Dave | Feb 26, 2006 12:44:44 PM

Now remember, you promised!

Posted by: Shevy | Feb 26, 2006 5:20:18 PM

Showing my true colors here, but not a huge surprise given the tenor of this administration. Giving the "Support Bush or you are Anti-Israel" people a little something to think about. Sorry, but that is how I feel. I am not surprised at all. Saddened, angry, yes, but not surprised. No matter how hard a candidate campaigns with an "I support Israel" platform, it is like the game my kids play: Rock, Paper, Scissors. Oil trumps Jews. Cynical maybe, but I think it is true. Not that I think Kerry would have been any different, BTW. I think we are in a political rut right now.

Like the etymological links - very interesting!

Posted by: Ezer Knegdo | Feb 26, 2006 5:25:33 PM

No damned good, my @$$ (excuse me). This was a heck of a lot better than my own post on the subject. Very well put.

Posted by: Ezzie | Feb 26, 2006 5:34:46 PM

I agree with most of Ezer Knegdo. Although personally, I would still like to believe that it would have been different with Kerry (but probably not)

Posted by: Randi(cruisin-mom) | Feb 26, 2006 7:06:15 PM

Unfortunately, I think we are in a huge political rut right now. Both sides are rife with dihonest and/or opportunistic people. The right has gone so far right that Regan looks centrist, and the left is just floundering and unable to articulate what, if anything, they stand for. Both sides are so busy slamming each other and blocking each other, they have little time left for real politics and policy making. The American people are suffering for it. And so is our foreign policy, clearly.

Posted by: Ezer Knegdo | Feb 26, 2006 7:21:57 PM

Trep - why do you think you don't write good political posts? This one is excellent, and describes our frustration very well.

Posted by: westbankmama | Feb 26, 2006 7:52:01 PM

This is "spot on." It's not even controversial; just fact.

Posted by: Seattle | Feb 26, 2006 8:20:07 PM

This is great; I really enjoy your political posts. You managed to show your own point of view without sounding hysterical. Please continue writing on that!

As far as this aid goes... I'm not really surprised. I'm not sure what, if anything, can be done to freeze Hamas economically, since no one has any resolve for it. I'm not sure they even produce anything that we could divest from. Nothing will change until a new generation of politicians comes to power... but for some reason, people who have it in them, tend to avoid politics.

Posted by: Irina | Feb 26, 2006 9:27:45 PM

Dave... Thanks for the link. It basically says what I did... it isn't directly connected to the Welsh, but they are the most vocal in trying to remove it from common usage.

Shevy... Scout's honor! [holds up 3 fingers]

Ezer Knegdo... Unfortunately, Israel is the ugly baby that all the politicians kiss before the elections, and the same baby they forget the day after they're elected.

Ezzie... Very nice of you to say, but let me reqphrase that. I am no good at political DISCOURSE with strangers. When I'm discussing politcs among friends... even friends with whom I strongly disagree... I like the exchange of ideas and almost always learn something. But when I see someone come swooping in with their mouth open and their hands firmly over their ears... it just turns me into a raving lunatic. I guess I need to learn some patience with the idiots since people have been so good about abiding my ravings for so long. :-)

Randi... I think it would have taken longer for the Democrats to turn their back on Israel, but in the end the US State Department is so deeply entrenched that the administration is always going to end up taking orders from state. Sad to say.

Westbankmama... See my reply to Ezzie. I think you and I come from such similar starting points that even when we part ways politically it is still possible to keep sight of the fork in the road. Most of the people who make me insane here (and for whom I must be like a red cape in front of a bull) are so far afield of any place I have ever been that we have no idea (or interest) in finding out where we parted ways.

Seattle... Of one fact, and only one fact, am I sure: There are seldom any such things as facts... only perceptions. I just feel my perceptions make more sense... but I often find out later that I was mistaken. :-)

Irina... The Palestinians (Hamas or any other brand) don't need a product to bring in money. They are selling a hard luck story and passing the hat. What I had hoped would happen was that world would finally say 'get a job'. I was mistaken.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 26, 2006 10:11:15 PM

it just turns me into a raving lunatic.

No, that is part of being of a Red Sox fan. It is impossible to be a fan without being crazy, but not as crazy as someone from cleveland.

Until such time as oil is not a key factor in world politics we are going to see this kind of nonsense repeated.

The best thing that could happen to Israel would be for oil to become a non-factor.

For Twilight Zone fans I would compare this to the Rip Van Winkle Caper

Posted by: Jack | Feb 27, 2006 4:15:20 AM

In my blissful ignorance i used to think that indian giver meant 'giver-to-indians', i.e. the white/European people who made treaties and then broke them.

Posted by: Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) | Feb 27, 2006 5:09:57 AM

I told you (and anybody that would listen) that this would happen. I'm on record on at least three blogs with my statements.

Furthermore I predict this is only the first crack in the damn and that funds will flow like the Nile in flood.

Let me know if you would like to know about the end of time.

Posted by: Scott | Feb 27, 2006 7:31:07 AM

Scott - LOL ... I don't know if everyone here would appreciate it, but sometime I'd like to hear your wisdom about the end of time. With regard to today's topic, it is deeply disconcerting that "funds will flow like the Nile." I'm tempted to go slightly off-topic and make some jokes (in my powerlessness ...) but I feel I need to respect the owner and the topic of the day :)

Posted by: Seattle | Feb 27, 2006 7:39:29 AM

OK, I give in to the moment. This is so messed up, the whole funding issue, I don't know where to begin. My cynical thought was: how long before people decide to pay the PA to protect Israel's ports? [yes, I know that was bad, at a number of levels; sorry in advance. I better go and get my own blog so people can beat me up there instead of on Treppenwitz's site ... sigh]

Posted by: Seattle | Feb 27, 2006 7:45:02 AM

Why should America be "holier than the Pope"?

The US has consistently taken a harder line in reaction to Hamastan than Olmert and his caretaker government.

Days after the Pali election, Olmert OK'd release of tax payments to the Palis - funds that were only coming to them due to Oslo, which the Hamas leaders were proclaiming null and void.

(this was while he was shopping for Jewish blood in Hebron and Amona...)

The same thing happened with the expulsion from Gaza: the Americans were initially deeply opposed - with troops in the area, the last thing they wanted was Al-Jazeera broadcasting victorious Pali henchmen looting Israeli settlements.

The Americans have eyes in their heads. They're not going to take the heat if Israel itself is waffling.

Posted by: Ben-David | Feb 27, 2006 2:24:03 PM

Jack... I honestly don't understand why Israel isn't leading the charge towards alternative energy. It just makes no sense.

Steg... I'm not sure it doesn't. I always took it to mean 'one who gave to the Indians and then took it away'.

Scott... OK, so you were right. It may feel good, but guys like you (and I) need to figure out a way to be heard... because being right doesn't mean anything if nobody knows it.

Seattle... Yeah, I've been watching that whole port business from over here and scratching my head. Who thought it would be a good idea to let an Arab country have any managing role in a US port (much less several of them)?

Ben-David... The US has talked a good game, but the State Department has knocked the legs out of every tough statement any US president has made about the Jews in this part of the world since WWII.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 27, 2006 9:43:32 PM

You wrote:
Ben-David... The US has talked a good game, but the State Department has knocked the legs out of every tough statement any US president has made about the Jews in this part of the world since WWII.
- - - - - - - - - -
This may be true - but it doesn't answer my question/point.

By the schoolyard rules of geopolitics, nobody is going to stick up for Israel more than Israel.

When it mattered, Bush/Condi worked hard against the State Department (and they have shaken things up a bit there over the past 5 years).

Why should they stick their necks out if the Israelis are still cutting checks?

To reprise: Even though we are heavily indebted to a very powerful patron - like most of the world! - we have to assert our own sovereignty - like most of the world! - without wetting our pants worrying what America will think. We may even have to be a little more assertive than most, because our sovereignty is under attack.

The obvious bottom line is that Israel is now taking WEAKER stances than the Americans would be comfortable with - indicating that the problem is more our knocking knees than their policy...

Posted by: Ben-David | Feb 28, 2006 2:17:26 PM

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