Friday, November 30, 2007


The remains of Annapolis: Not a great moment for Women's power, according to this report.

Condi Rice, doing her impression of Jimmy Carter, declares she knows what it is like to be a Palestinian ...

Tzipi Livni pleads with Arab representatives at the summit to stop "treating her like a leper," questions why they refused to shake her hand.

In a gathering in which a show of Arab force is on display, both Condi and Tzipi resort to what we call in Hebrew (inspired from Yiddish), cheindalach . . . It is probably best translated as trying to curry favour, soliciting some goodwill from someone who is in a position of power, and is known to be implacably rigid and ostensibly austere. Think Nora from Ibsen's "Doll's House" and how she tries, in something near desperation, to ward off her husband Torvarld's anticipated asperity over what he considers her gross deviation from the norm, which he set.

Israel's Foreign Office published a refutation. Of course. It is too humiliating an image: The eternal Jew, hat in hand, asking for what is only decent and fair. It does not work. Rock solid hatred cannot be dented by feminine words of entreaty and sympathy.

It is clear, from the body language of Arab leaders, * that any transaction between Israel and the Arab world will be made in the spirit of enmity, not friendship. Too bad, says Tom Friedman, who has taken to much supplicantismh imself of late:

The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, announced even before he got to Annapolis that there would be no handshakes with any Israelis. Too bad. A handshake alone is not going to get Israel to give back the West Bank. But a surprising gesture of humanity, like a simple handshake from a Saudi leader to an Israeli leader, would actually go a long way toward convincing Israelis that there is something new here, that it's not just about the Arabs being afraid of Iran, but that they're actually willing to coexist with Israel.

The Saudis remain true to form. They never disppoint our worst expectations.

Let me repeat this story:

When Henry Kissinger first visited the Saudi Kingdom as US secretary of state, he was received by the King who welcomed him with these words: You are welcome here, Dr. Kissinger, not as a Jew but as a human being.

To which speech Kissinger replied: Some of my best friends are human beings...


Chesler Chronicles offers a thoroughly blood curdling assessment of Annapolis:

Livni and Gillerman have just both been publicly shunned. Israeli diplomats will have to grow bionic skins in order not to suffer the effects of such interpersonally cruel behavior. But look: Israelis have been kidnapped, blown up and wounded for life by Islamist terrorists. It can always be worse but the two kinds of assaults are intimately connected. The fact that the world allows the state sponsors of terrorism to isolate and shame Israeli diplomats also allows and even encourages terrorist fanatics to continue their murderer us rampage. One breeds the other; this is the cycle of violence.

Israel’s civilian supporters have also been shunned, both behind closed doors and in public. May we all continue to bear this mistreatment with honor, patience, grace, and faith. And, as we count our blessings, let us also remember that Israel is a nuclear power whose military prowess has already proved essential in the battle against Iran and Syria—and that Saudi Arabia is also well known for refusing to extend its hand when it comes to aiding other Muslims.


Update: It is possible that Tzipi Livni may have addressed her Arab counterparts in a manner different to Timmermans' account , and more in line with what I would think is appropriate under the chilling circumstance of Arab snubbery... According to this report:

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni reportedly rose to her feet in the closed meeting room, waving her hand and declaring she would not press for a handshake.

She continued in an ironic tone: "But let us imagine what might happen if the worst possible scenario occurs and there is a handshake between an Israeli leader and an Arab leader whose country has no diplomatic relations with Israel, and that handshake is broadcast around the world. Then the extremists in the Arab countries will understand that a new era is beginning."

That is the official version from a transcript Livni released of the rare encounter on Wednesday between a senior Israeli decision-maker and representatives of Arab states who view her and her country as foes. But The Netherlands' European Affairs Minister Frans Timmermans had a more colourful version. Timmermans said Livni asked the Arab politicians present to stop treating her like a pariah and "Count Dracula's younger sister".

The encounter between Livni and her reluctant Arab peers underscores much of the fraught diplomacy at the Annapolis gathering, which was meant to stimulate dialogue. It also makes clear where the peace process will be played out during the crucial 13 months ahead: in places far from prying eyes, and with plenty of interlocutors managing the dialogue.

Publicly, Livni and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who at least had a public handshake with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas alongside US President George W. Bush, had few friends at the naval base near Washington. Anyone interested in reaching out to Israel had no desire to be seen doing so. The Arab states came to Annapolis with a united stance to disavow any perceived moves towards a warming of relations until Israel returns to the borders it held before the Six-Day War of 1967. Ignoring the Israelis, at a time when they want the world to see that attitudes towards them are changing, is a bargaining chip. It is perhaps the most powerful card the Arab world can play.

I thank Pajamas Media commenter Pierson for the reminder that reports must always be always double-checked for accuracy and veracity.


Update II: *

"During the ceremony, while the world press was watching Olmert’s speech, Barnea, who always has a sharp eye for telling detail, was watching the Saudi diplomats watch Olmert as he delivered his speech.

“All of the foreign ministers put on their headphones (for translation.) All of them, except for one, the Saudi minister, Saud Al-Faisel. His ears, underneath his red keffiyah, were left bare. And no, it wasn’t because he understood Hebrew. It was the Saudi method of demonstrating their relationship to the State of Israel. Even as the Israeli Prime Minister was greeting him and speaking of peace, they were refusing to listen. For a minute I thought I was wrong that maybe there was a technical problem. But then I saw his aide next to him – also leaving his ears demonstrably naked.”


At 7:34 AM EST, Blogger Boycotted British Academic said...

Hi Noga,

I came on here to leave you a link, as it made me think of your great handshake post. It's about how Livni was forced by Rice to use a different entrance to the other guests - she had to use the service entrance! So much for Rice having the perspective formed by her experiences as a child in the South!

Here it is:

Thx for your advice on my blog about shutting out the noise. Easier said than done! That's the problem... I keep trying to shut it out without much success.

Be well,


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