I recently had a very pleasant dream. A nice Christmas present, in fact. Amram Mitzna, the mayor of Haifa and leader of the Israeli Labor Party, wins the parliamentary election of next January, which in turn causes Norman Podhoretz and William Kristol to accuse Israelis of anti-Semitism and to demand that George W. Bush send in the Marines. Alas, then I woke up.
It is not going to happen—the victory of Amram Mitzna, that is—not that it will stop Podhoretz and Kristol from shouting foul whenever possible. Mitzna seems a hell of a fellow. He has a history of discord with Sharon, asking to be relieved from his command in 1982, claiming he had no confidence in Sharon as defense minister in charge of the Lebanon invasion. His finest hour as mayor was two years ago when he stood alone to address an angry mob of Israeli Arabs in Haifa. It was the beginning of the second intifada, with clashes all over Israel in which police had shot 13 demonstrators dead. The crowd had turned ugly, and the police tried to stop him. He nevertheless went out, addressed the demonstrators, and they dispersed peacefully. His message was “We have lived together in the past and will do so in the future.” Hear, hear!
Mitzna’s bravery is clear: 57 years old, he served for 30 years in the army, was wounded three times in one day during the Six-Day War, and commanded the Israeli forces in the West Bank. No peacenik he. His plan for peace is simple: there can be no military solution to the Palestinian uprising, and the only prospect for peace is to withdraw from the land occupied in 1967 and to dismantle most of the Jewish settlements there. He has said that ruling 3.5 million Palestinians against their will cannot work and will only serve to destroy Israel economically as well as morally. Again, hear, hear!
What I find very depressing is the inability of samurai warriors like those mentioned above to comprehend that occupation does not work. It never has in the past, and never will. As Mitzna puts it, “We have been strong and brave in war. Now we must be even braver in peace.” Actually, it makes sense. One should never change a winning game and always change a losing one. Sharon promised peace and prosperity, and look at the shape of Israel today. The country’s bad economic situation is linked to controlling 3.5 million Palestinians against their will. The latest plan, the real symbol of what is happening, is the security barrier Israel is building around the West Bank and Jerusalem, twice as long and three times as high as the … Berlin Wall. Tear down this wall, Mr. Sharon, says Mitzna, but no one over here in the good old U.S.A seems to be listening.
Just picture it. By building the monster, Israel will unilaterally annex a substantial part of the West Bank and tighten military cordons around Palestinian centers, imprisoning their residents. When Israel first built a fence in Gaza during the 1987-1993 intifada, it allowed Israel to control 16 settlements in the Gaza Strip as well as all Palestinian movement. Ten years later, Israel controls 50 percent of Gaza, squeezing the already overcrowded area and 1.2 million Palestinians. Building a wall around the West Bank means that the Palestinians living there will suffer the same fate as their Gaza counterparts. This has always been the Sharon master plan. (Incidentally, if this plan brings peace, I’m Monica Lewinsky.)
The Iraqi war plans, needless to say, suit Sharon and his disciples over here to the proverbial T. The war will help Sharon further his territorial strategy, which includes entire Palestinian communities being subject to continued curfews that fail to make the nightly news and large-scale new projects to expand the illegal settlements on the West Bank. While President Bush is busy with the war against Saddam, Sharon will be expanding and consolidating his objectives in the Occupied Territories. Worse, concepts once considered unspeakable, such as ethnic cleansing, are now being bandied about, euphemistically known as “transfers.” Sharon has long seen Jordan as the natural home for Palestinians. If the Iraq war topples King Abdullah, so much the better. Turning the West Bank into already tiny Bantustans will go unnoticed as we fight Iraq. It is a good plan, if one believes, as Sharon does, in a Greater Israel encompassing all of the Occupied Territories. In the meantime, he has failed to deliver on security, on peace, on the economy, and the general quality of Israeli life. Yet he’s favored to win big in January.
My Christmas dream was just that, nothing more.
If you thought comedy was dead, consider what the British government recently did. It banned the use of the word “homosexual” following complaints from the gay community. What will they ask for next? For heterosexuals to be called abnormal?
The word was first coined in 1869 as a euphemism for the offensive word “sodomite.” “Homosexual” is a medical term, according to the gay community, and no one wants to be defined as a diagnosis. Furthermore, when drafting legislation, homosexuals—oops, sorry, gays—will be referred to as “orientation towards people of the same sex” (OTPOTSS). The words “lesbian,” “bisexual” and “transsexual” will, however, be acceptable.
What I don’t get is why “gay” is a euphemism for “homosexual,” and why “orientation of people of the same sex” is a euphemism for “gay.” All this does is confuse the issue and create as many linguistic problems as it solves. Mind you, I will continue to use the word homosexual in my Spectator column for as long as the fuzz doesn’t arrest me. But if you don’t hear from me for awhile, it’s because I’m back in the slammer for using a banned word. Where is George Orwell now that we really need him?
The demise of the old-fashioned love letter is a loss romantics the world over will always mourn. It costs the price of a stamp, it takes some effort and a little time, but the result is everlasting. No one, not even the philistines that rule our culture nowadays, throws a love letter away. My father, a great Casanova in the European tradition (we never divorce, never turn in the old for a new model, but reserve the right to discreetly cheat like hell) used to turn them out effortlessly and reaped a generous harvest in return. He once admitted to a friend that the best love note he ever received simply stated, “I do love you.” Love letters do not have to be long.
What is truly sad about the death of the love letter is that an entire aspect of romantic expression known to our grandparents has now vanished. Back in the good old days, people got to know each other through words rather than through deeds, i.e., syntax rather than sex. Mind you, can you see Ben Affleck writing to Jennifer Lopez and vice versa, “Like, you know, like, ah, like you know…”?
Women, far more than men, are the victims of the love letter’s demise. They like to be wooed, and nothing is better for a courtship battle than a letter. And it is far harder to win a woman’s heart than to win her body. Robert Browning won Elizabeth Barrett through the written word, not the spoken one. Furthermore, shyness does not inhibit when writing. At least not nearly as much as it does when speaking. This is why today’s lack of love letters is a paradox. We are a far more prurient society, exposing ourselves in the most ludicrous manner, yet we will not write from the heart. We real conservatives should re-invent the love letter.
To all our faithful readers, Happy Christmas!