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Monday, December 24, 2007

"Yes Virginia..."

According to Wikipedia, the the headline over the New York Sun's September 21st 1897 editorial page read "Is there a Santa Claus?" and was followed by the following letter from a young girl named Virginia O'Hanlon:

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.  Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.' Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?"

This left the editors with a difficult decision; to maintain the child's innocense/ignorance, or tell her the truth (as she so directly asked). 

In the now famous response (it remains the most reprinted editorial in any English language newspaper), that begins "Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus", newsman Francis Pharcellus Church actually succeded in doing both!   He crafted a reply that would allow one of two possible answers to be apparent to the reader, depending entirely on his/her level of sophistication.

However, over the years one crucial line - the line on which the entire duality of the response pivots - was omitted from re-printings of this famous editorial:

"Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies."

With the inclusion of that essential line, the editorial served as both a gentle preserver of innocence for a young reader, and a wink and a nod to the more sophisticated adults reading along.  But without it, the editorial was nothing but a bald faced (and even cruel) lie to a child whose question suggests she is ready and willing to give up her belief in fairies and elves. 

So with that in mind, I would like to share some other well-loved myths that have recently failed the 'fairy' test:

Yes Virginia...

... Yassar Arafat was not a terrorist.

It has now been revealed * that the Nobel Peace Prize-winning horse to which a generation of U.S. and Israeli leaders hitched their collective hopes for peace was the founder of the Black September terror organization.  You know, the one that hijacked all those planes... assassinated Jordan's prime minister... attacked U.S., Saudi and Israeli diplomatic missions around the world... assassinated three U.S. diplomats in Saudi Arabia... shot up an Athens airport lounge... Oh, yes, I almost forgot, and murdered a good portion of the Israeli Olympic team at the Munich Olympics.  You know, that Black September.

... rockets will never rain down on Israeli towns and cities near the Gaza border.

In a speech delivered in July of 1995 Yitzchak Rabin famously said "The nightmares and scare-stories which the Likud party spread are known. After all, they also promised that katyusha rockets would be fired from Gaza."  OK in truth, only a few ketyushas have been fired from Gaza, but countless other types of rockets and mortars have been pouring over the border from Gaza... with one of the most recent barrages hitting a factory in Ashqelon's industrial zone.

... the disengagement was necessary to improve Israel's standing with the rest of the world, and will also improve our security.

How many times did I hear these myths during the spring and summer of 2005?  Well meaning defeatists who cared more for Israel's international standing than for its physical safety ignored warnings that an autonomous Gaza would immediately become a terrorist state.  They insisted that it was our occupation of Gaza that was making us an international pariah.  Well, a Hebrew University study has now revealed that Israel's international standing has actually plummeted since our withdrawal from Gaza... despite having been subjected to constant rocket and mortar attacks from the newly autonomous strip.

... releasing security prisoners will be perceived as a good faith gesture and will bolster the moderate Palestinian leadership.

Over the past year Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his Cabinet have approved and implemented the unilateral release of several hundred terrorists security prisoners, claiming that such 'good will gestures' would pay dividends in the peace process.  None of these prisoner releases has in any way been tied to gaining information (or even a sign of life) about Israelis held by our 'peace partners' and their Islamic comrades.  This begs the question; 'If we don't have a problem with this arrangement why should the International Red Cross voice an objection to not having access to our kidnapped soldiers?'  Well Virginia, Hamas has now announced that it will consider releasing Gilad Shalit if Israel first releases 500 more prisoners... many of whom are members of the Mahmoud Abbas' 'moderate' Fatah party.  Um, forgive me... but isn't it their turn to release someone?

When, oh when will we be brave enough to tell this delusional (and corrupt) government the truth... and then elect a leadership mature enough to leave behind childish beliefs?

* Source: LGF

Posted by David Bogner on December 24, 2007 | Permalink

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About the much-maligned disengagement. I maintain now, as I did then, that the removal of civilian settlements was a good and neccesary step, HOWEVER the army should have stayed, in bases near to and with observation of, all major Palestinian population centres. That would have freed the army to do its job, instead of being a taxi and baby-sitting service to the "settlers". Pity that no-one in the government asked my opinion....

Posted by: asher | Dec 24, 2007 12:47:33 PM

".. the disengagement was necessary to improve Israel's standing with the rest of the world, and will also improve our security."
Let's stop and think for a moment. When, in recent history, was Israel incredibly popular with the rest of the world - and even some Arab countries were mildly supportive of Israel? Oh, right - it was last year - when Israel was invading Lebanon!!!
Maybe we need to rethink this whole "if we're nice wimpy ghetto Jews the world will feel sorry for us" approach. Maybe what the world really wants us to do is to flippin' stand up for ourselves and teach the bad guys a lesson they'll never forget. Virginia.

Posted by: psachya | Dec 24, 2007 4:14:17 PM

... the disengagement was necessary to improve Israel's standing with the rest of the world, and will also improve our security.

At the time I thought that there were some security issues that would be resolved by the disengagement. I was flat out wrong about that. However I also said that Israel should retain the right to go back in with both barrels blazing.

Obviously we can't live in the past, but I have wondered from time to time what would have happened had Sharon not taken ill. Olmert might never have taken office.

Doesn't necessarily mean that things would be better, but then again Sharon had a certain credibility with the Arabs that Olmert does not.

Posted by: Jack | Dec 24, 2007 6:14:53 PM

כל הכבוד! נהניתי לקרות את המאמר הזה ומסכימה עמך

Posted by: Yaeli | Dec 24, 2007 7:47:20 PM

Good 'un, David. And as long as we're fantasizing about what might've been...

If the CIA (and our leadership) had been worth a crap, Yasser Arafat would have been "disappeared"; and the moment the Iranians had taken the US Embassy personnel hostages back in November 1979, a quiet little discussion would have taken place with Khomeini, to the effect of, "If our embassy personnel are not all released unharmed within 48 hours, Iran loses a city. We'll decide which one."

A whole lot of problems would have been prevented, say I, had these things happened...but, alas, they did not.

Posted by: Elisson | Dec 25, 2007 8:13:30 AM

Asher - where exactly do you live? Of all the complaints I have heard in the past about what Tzahal does or doesn't do in my neck of the woods, being a "taxi and babysitting service" has never been one of them. What do you think we do, call a jeep when we need to go to the grocery store?

Posted by: westbankmama | Dec 25, 2007 1:19:06 PM

Hi Trep,

Great post!

I've really missed your posts... my work Internet was just re-filtered and I can't get your site there anymore (...even on break or after work) and my home Internet connection can be dicey at times.

I'm also glad to hear that the C-RAM or Phalanx anti-missile system may be put in place soon.

Happy holidays to your family and may the secular New Year be a wonderful one for you and your family!

Shalom,
Maksim-Smelchak.

Posted by: Maksim-Smelchak | Dec 25, 2007 5:00:44 PM

Another Jewish blogger had a similar idea - very funny and worth linking to:

http://yidwithlid.blogspot.com/2007/12/yes-virginia-there-is-terror-war.html

Posted by: Ben-David | Dec 25, 2007 9:07:06 PM

In answer to westbankmama, where I live is of no concern, but it's in Israel though, rather where did I do reserve service too many times (combat unit for what it's worth).
Scenario A - Brigade commander to Battalion commander "get all your troops spread between point A and point B immediately"
Batt. Com. - "right away Ma'am"
Scenario B - Brig Com to Bat Com "get all your troops spread between point A and point B immediately"
Bat.Com "sorry Ma'am no can do"
Brig. Com. "cough splutter deletive expleted"
Bat Com "A company is accompanying the mothers' and toddlers' trip and B company is preventing palestinian schoolgirls from going to school without walking less than 5 miles so that the crazy mitnach(b)elet who shouts "Sharmutot" shouldn't get annoyed, and C company is making sure that nothing happens to the nice kids who've gone to show their love of the Land by overturning stalls in the Souk and D company is guarding three guys and a dog who have gone to live in a refrigerator that somebody junked and are calling it the settlement of Ma'ale Makrer" (No jokes about a settlement freeze)
Sorry I see you that way, but that's what I saw enough times in the reserves, and no amount of "come and spend Shabbos" will convince me otherwise.
And yes, westbankmama, we did get orders from the civilian sector.

Posted by: asher | Dec 25, 2007 10:19:10 PM

Asher -
How long would a purely military presence have lasted before it was declared an "illegitimate apartheid policy"?

There's a reason why even Labor governments encouraged Jewish settlement in post-67 Israel.

... and maybe we should be asking why Jewish schoolchildren have to be accompanied by soldiers 20 years into a "peace" process.

Posted by: Ben-David | Dec 26, 2007 10:46:19 AM

asher... Your antipathy towards settlers as a group is as familiar to me as it is bigoted. We are no more a monolithic/homogeneous group than the secular left.

psachya... Don't cloud the issue with facts. :-)

Jack... and if pigs had wings. :-)

Yaeli... Wow, either I'm moving left or you've moved to the right! Since when do you and I see eye to eye on politics?! :-)

Elisson... It might surprise you to hear that I would much rather have seen him arrested and tried for war crimes. If Israeli generals are being accused of war crimes certainly an arch terrorist like Arafat should have been sitting in the dock, not on the stage in Stockholm.

westbankmama... As much as it may surprise you to hear this, I am 100% against the question you asked. While I think Asher's point is flawed, the idea should be addressed, not the speaker.

Maksim-Smelchak... Shame on you for reading blogs at work! ;-)

Ben-David ... Thanks, you just did. :-)

asher... I agree with Ben David's response. You can't object to the army having to chaperone school children to their classrooms without acknowledging that the larger issue is the fact that our enemy sees nothing wrong with targeting children (and all civilians). On a larger scale, the IDFs role in the shtachim helps keep the bombs out of Tel Aviv cafes... so in a sense they are babysitting those who live in the merkas as well.

Ben David... Good point.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Dec 26, 2007 1:44:59 PM

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