Showing posts with label Syria. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Syria. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Blowing Winds in Israel - of Different Kinds

There are lots of different kinds of winds blowing these days in Israel and the rest of the Middle East.

At the most literal level, Israel is currently enjoying wind gusts of between 40 and 60 km per hour. Blowing winds in Ra'anana just a few moments ago were measured in the range of 50 km an hour. Coupled with on and off rain, it's quite the outdoor experience. Snow is expected to arrive today or tomorrow in Israel's northern-most regions.

Friendlier winds blew in from California just a couple of days ago. At the Academy Award ceremonies on Sunday night, the Israeli director and two of the stars of the film "Footnote," which had been nominated for an Oscar, met with the Iranian delegation, which was there on behalf of the Oscar winning film, "The Separation." Unfortunately, it is not that often these days that Iranian and Israeli delegations have the chance to meet anywhere under cordial conditions. For example, on July 25, 2011, an Iranian swimmer backed out of a swim meet rather than swim in a 100 metre breast stroke race in which an Israeli swimmer was competing. There are many other examples. Perhaps filmmakers see themselves as more independent than professional athletes. In any case, as reported in Haaretz, the Israeli filmmakers were quite happy to have had the opportunity to chat with their Iranian counterparts and the feeling seems to have been mutual.

Different types of winds are headed towards Washington next week as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu sets off to meet with President Obama to discuss Iran and its nuclear threats against Israel. On this issue, information of every kind is swirling around, ranging from rumours of an imminent Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities to alleged reports from Wikileaks that Israel was already involved in extensive covert operations to destroy Iranian facilities on the ground. These winds could soon develop into a much bigger storm though that remains to be seen.

There were some very foul smelling winds in Hebron over the weekend. Apparently a riot broke out while a funeral was taking place. Clashes occurred between Palestinians and Israelis, which resulted in the IDF using "the skunk" to disperse the crowd. "The skunk" is a non-lethal, foul smelling substance that Israeli forces have been using for a couple of years now to disperse demonstrators in certain situations. Given the variety of legal proceedings that some acting and former Israeli politicians have faced, the weapon may well have been developed accidentally by capturing the essence of some inappropriate Ministerial activity...but let's not go there.

Finally, the lethal and very hot winds of Syria have, fortunately, not reached Israel despite the close proximity between the two countries. While Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad continues to use deadly force against rebel forces (primarily Sunni Muslims, according to a recent article in the New York Times) and anyone else who might be in the way, the world continues to sit quietly, even in the face of the apparent killing of large numbers of civilians. While the U.S. has raised some concerns and that very credible world body, the UN Human Rights Council, has also thrown its voice into the mix, the world response to Assad to this point appears to be nothing but a puff of smoke. This too could turn into a much larger fire that could spread to Iraq and other neighbouring countries given the sectarian nature of much of the fighting. For now, Israel's public engagement in this matter has been very limited.

Overall, while there is usually quite a bit of hot air blowing around in the Middle East, it is not always accompanied by such of variety of winds. But I suppose that is what keeps life interesting.