Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Oh Israel, you are so hilarious.

First, Shimon Peres confirmed suspicions that he is, in fact, everyone's senile old Jewish great-uncle in a spectacular two-fer: Not only did he totally miscount how many US Presidents were around between 1948 and 2008 (hint- there is a world of difference between 7 and 11), he also managed to simultaneously bore and horrify onlookers with a rambling, incoherent anecdote about how Abraham Lincoln supposedly was "totally pro-Israel."

That's right, despite the fact that Zionism did not exist in the 1860s and that Lincoln died 80 years before the state was founded, Peres is trying to count him as "one of ours."

Haaretz has more:

In his speech, Peres also said that president Abraham Lincoln once promised his Jewish "doctor," Isachar Zacharie, to support the establishment of a Jewish state. Peres did not invent Zacharie, but- how shall we put this gently- there are several versions of this story. It seems that one of Lincoln's acquaintances did indeed tell him about an idea to establish a state for the Jews in the Land of Israel, and Lincoln replied that the option was worthy of consideration. He added incidentally that he had respect for the Jews, since his podiatrist was Jewish.

In actuality, Zacharie was not a medical doctor. In England and the U.S. you can treat foot problems without being a physician, and Zacharie was in fact an English Jew.

Let me get this straight: the big claim to fame here is that Lincoln supposedly made a noncommittal (and totally unfulfillable) promise to his Jewish podiatrist?. His unlicensed, Jewish podiatrist, no less. I told this story at someone's Shabbos dinner and the guy across from me seriously did a spit-take, which was impressive given that he was eating tuna salad at the time.

Not only does Haaretz point out that the story is unprovable apocrypha, I feel someone must also ask the all-important "so what?" question- unless the point here is to demonstrate that even antebellum US Presidents had Jewish physicians who bugged them about Israel and who got patronizing pats on the head to get them to shut up about it. This is like when your alter kocker relatives start twisting your ear about how many Jewish Nobel Prize winners there were, or claiming, without any justification, that other famous people were Jewish, half-Jewish, had Jewish friends, liked Jewish foods, or maybe just had an affinity for beards. When the task at hand is playing psuedo-historical Jewish geography, any connection, no matter how dubious, is fair game.

But wait, last week was a really great one for weird Israel news. We all remember the trials and tribulations Jerusalem has suffered the past few years as its gay residents, shameless heretics as they are, have tried to organize pride parades through the capital of the Jewish people (which they apparently lost their citizenship to when they decided to head off the hetero-derech). The Orthodox have not been happy about and have continually voiced this dissent in that most timeless form of political discourse, burning neighborhood trash cans. A while ago a delightful irony (which, IMO, made it all-but-certain that God was secretly rooting for the gays) came up: it turns out the plastic bins release carcinogenic smoke when ignited. The haredi mobs were in fact poisoning their own families and neighborhoods in their mad dash to let their gay bretheren know just how much ahavat yisrael they felt for them.

Now, the police and government have repeatedly made tough statements like "mob rule will not be tolerated" and the like. However this story shows the truth of the matter. Pride is coming up again and as the gays prepare to unleash the rainbow hordes on the city of gold, how has the local government chosen to respond? Will they be reaching out to the haredi community to urge leaders to rein in their hothead activists? Will they put more cops on the streets to enforce order? Just how will they solve this ongoing dilemma?

The answer is stunning in its simplicity. Or is that... stupidity?

The Jerusalem Municipality has replaced dozens of plastic garbage bins with noncombustible metal ones, this after recurring ultra-Orthodox riots in protest of the annual Gay Pride Parade have cost the city more than a million shekels over the past five years.

Yeah, replace their trash cans. Way to show them who's boss. They'll think twice before they disturb the peace again. (And such a sturdy material, too! I know if there's a riot going on, one thing I want to make sure of is that the mob has plenty of lightweight, hard, weapons to throw and smash things with.) Who paid for those replacement cans, by the way? I'm guessing it's not the bozos who necessitated the "switch."

The Jerusalem Municipality. Run by idiots, sucking up to idiots.


Garnel Ironheart said...

1) I wouldn't doubt the Lincoln story is true.
First the idea of licensing doctors is much more recent than the civil war. All the more so for podiatrists so unlicensed physicians and podiatrists treating Lincoln isn't such a stretch.
Second, in the middle of the 19 th century there was a religion Zionist upswing, the Chovevei Tzion. COuld be that this podiatrist was a member.

Friar Yid (not Shlita) said...

AFAIK, the podiatrist was a historical person, no one's contesting that. But it definitely feeds into the trope of this being an exaggerated tale of some unimportant shmoe who happened to have the ear of a head of state. (The Jewish podiatrist element, IMO, is what pushes it over the top into silliness.)

I think the bigger issue is that even if the Dr. was an early Zionist, the fact that he may have gotten a noncomittal, "sounds interesting" from patient Lincoln still has very little historical importance, since nothing came of it. I like historical trivia, but I don't see the point here- Lincoln might have had a Zionist doctor- so what? At best, it's a tiny footnote. To me, it seems like Peres was reaching for something to talk about, and he wound up having to go very, very, deep.

BBJ said...

Great. Fireproof trash cans.