Europhrenia – Tonight’s blog isn’t about Israel

June 3, 2010 § Leave a comment

The boffins at Eurostat have published figures for unemployment across the EU, which now stands at a 10.1% high, with obvious, if I may be so bold, “regional” variations. Without wishing to sound like a Eurovision, here are the results of the pear-shaped jury, and what a pear it is, with all sorts of non-standard lumps. And the lowest jobless figures go to The Netherlands and… welcoming Austria, at 4.1 and 4.9%, while right at the top we find Spain and Latvia at 19.7% and 22.5%. La Lettonie, vingt deux points! When you think that most states diddle their unemployment statistics, how much would we bet that there are many more than a nation-sized 23 million out of work across our fair union?

But a special mention has to go to Estonia. Estonia is a joy for journos, who of recent have been doing cartwheels over its e-government (you can vote online, hoorah) and 2011 accession to the Euro (whizz!). As one writer beamingly wondered over pints of beer (I’d say about at least fourteen) with an Estonian citizen – “How does he explain his country’s magical success and the self-confidence of his compatriots?” Well quite. In the first quarter of 2009 unemployment in Estonia was at an allahkhazam 11%. It now stands at a hey presto 19%. I know I said this blog wouldn’t deal with Israel, but I don’t even think the formidable Tsahal press machine, which all week has portrayed its crack troops as victim puppies in the clutches of the Gaza flotilla mob, could pull off a pitch quite as beer-goggled as the “magical success” of mass unemployment. Clearly, the land that brought us the parting of the Red Sea, the voice of God in the burning bush, etc, has a knack for tall tales, but for brass neck, Europeans are more than a match.

More Europhrenia at presseurop.eu…

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Europhrenia – Why is Israel judged by different standards?

June 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

So far it seems that nine civilians were killed during the storming by Israeli commandoes of the aid flotilla heading for the Gaza Strip. And, as far as I know, some Israeli soldiers got a proper kicking. Seth Freedman in the Guardian can’t get over “quite how savagely numerous activists greeted the arrival of the troops on to the ship.” In an article helpfully entitled “Israel had no choice”, he fumes that the activists did not conform to the “cute and cuddly image of stereotypical aid workers.” Savage that I am, Seth, if soldiers armed to the teeth absailed onto my boat, ostensibly not for a round of gins and tonics (a hat doff to Sam Jordison), I’d probably like to take a swing of greeting at them as well.

In Europe, rage over the massacre has surged then trickled into the appropriate institutional channels. L’Humanité, the official organ of the dregs of the French Communist Party wants the EU to “immediately suspend its association agreement” with Israel. Flemish daily De Morgen deplores “the EU’s support for Israel’s recent accession to the OECD.” On Facebook, there is now an Irish group calling on “any decent people” to sign up in order to expel Ireland’s Israel ambassador.

EU and OECD member states mandated by the UN continue to slaughter Afghan civilians month in month out, with only a fraction of the screeching that Israeli atrocities produce. “Decent” people apparently believe that these same states and institutions that have overseen sixty two years of destitution for the Palestinians can somehow solve the Middle East conflict, rather than their being the instruments that have sustained conflict in that region for, let’s say it again, sixty two years. This can only mean that British, French and American atrocities, assassinations and spin come with some higher moral authority that makes their ambassadors so much less expulsable, their economies so much more OECD appropriate.

More Europhrenia at presseurop.eu…

Europhrenia – Israel, not altogether pleasant

May 31, 2010 § 1 Comment

So far we know that at least 10 activists have been killed (others reports are saying 19) and scores injured during the Israeli army storming of the Gaza aid flotilla this morning. Understatement of the day must go to Israel’s Minister of Trade and Industry Benjamin Ben-Eliezer. “The images are certainly not pleasant”, he owed, after viewing the clips. A bummer that, to have no pleasant images.

The attack is all the more unusual given that on May 28, Israeli officials admitted that they were in a losing battle with the flotilla focussing attention on the humanitarian fallout of Israel’s three-year blockade on Gaza rather than on Hamas. Said Shlomo Dror, a spokesman for Israel’s Defense Ministry – “It doesn’t matter what we do, if we let them into Gaza, they will speak against Israel. If we stop them it will also be a bad picture.”

Blogs and tweets are all pointing out the “illegality” of the intervention, taking place in international not Israeli waters. Outcries over the “legality” of a massacre strike me as worse than useless but it’s hoped we will soon discover just how the IDF went from resigned about bad pictures to gun-happy in three days, with even commentators sympathetic to the Israeli point of view noting how this isolates Israel politically.

Whatever the case, the smear campaign of the dead has begun. In the IDF video of the event, we are told that activists tried to “kidnap” one of the soldiers. How with helicopter and navy to back him up is one supposed to kidnap a soldier who has boarded your boat? To where? Never fear, the Spectator probably has the answer. The “real purpose of this ‘armada of hate’ was not merely the further delegitimisation of Israel but something far worse.” This being “to incite a violent uprising in the Middle East and across the Islamic world.” “As I write”, the blogger writes in a fever of a posteriori deduction, pun on posterior completely intended, “reports are coming in of Arab rioting in Jerusalem.” In the midst of the spin, keep a cool head, folks.

More Europhrenia at presseurop.eu…

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