Howard Epstein



“Qatar”, as my grandmother might have said, “schmatter.” Oh, it’s a very valuable piece of schmatter, I grant you, basking in its fame as the richest country in the world by per capita income. But then, with a registered population of 313,000 and oil revenues so gross they are still working on a computer fast enough to count them, little children in the West are tempted to ask their fathers (the font of all knowledge as we know): “Daddy. Why is it all the most ridiculous places on earth that have the greatest proven oil reserves?” And, guess what? Daddy has no response but: “Dunno, son, but I hope they’ll buy our soccer club.

Now, with most of the glamorous teams already snapped up, for the rich kids of the Gulf, the outlets for the vomitarium of their cash-flow is becoming limited. Qatar, however, hit on a great little wheeze: it could buy up the choicest parts of Central London and British business, whilst seeking to destabilise Europe (which at the time of going to press includes the UK) by funding terror. What jolly fun to see if the investments can ride out the storm. (They will. Belgravia is not crowded enough and is sufficiently devoid of tourists that a frenzied knife attack there would generate headlines for more than 36 hours.) In any event, there are other targets, such as London’s bridges and yuppie markets full of tourists, good for at least a week of media coverage. So the investments will be safe, even if there is blood on the streets on London. Now that’s what some over-bloated, indolent, oil-rich Qatari would regard as perfection.

There is irony here for the Europeans, too subtle even for the touchy-feely, do-gooders of Luxembourg to appreciate: since the opportunities for the cannon fodder of Judea and Samaria to splatter themselves all over Jerusalem streets appears to have been steadily reduced over the years (the dastardly killing of two young Druze Israeli policemen last Friday aside – though worryingly, the perpetrators were from inside Israel), Sunni terror now finds itself increasingly forced to express itself in the Europe that funded it long before Qatar got in on the act.

Qatar. Sunny little Qatar. Sunni little Qatar. Qatar, bless its little gold-spun socks, made one mistake: it recently aligned itself politically with Hamas and the hated Shia overlords in Tehran – hated that is by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, who are predominantly Sunni and live in such daily distress at the prospect of the Iranian nuclear threat facilitated by Obama that they are even making nice to Israel.

In these circumstances, the Sunni Delight, as we might call Qatar’s neighbours and opponents, who have blockaded the too-rich-for-its-own-good emirate, demanded there be no more Qatari financial support of Hamas (increasingly an Iranian proxy) and the closing down of Al-Jazeera, the media outlet that only Putin’s media channels can make look like positively Reithian in its integrity and devotion to honest reporting.

The events of the last weekend were nothing if not amusing. First it was reported that the leader of Qatar, whose full name and title there is here insufficient space to print in full, had praised Hamas and Iran, then – in a moment reminiscent of a Damascene Conversion – the endorsement was not only denied but rather trashed as fake news planted by the UAE to discredit Qatar.

Let’s try and take in the significance of that shall we? The funder of terrorism acted as though the great exponents and exporters of terror, Hamas and Iran, had become toxic brands in the Qatarian shopping mall in the desert. Curious! It’s not as though they have much else in common with Israel, where the names Hamas and Iran stick in the gullet.

Curiouser still, the UAE immediately denied association with the Hyper-Democratic Republic of Hamas and the master hangmen of gays and free spirits in Tehran, condemning the story as – you guessed it – fake news. (And what isn’t? I even heard that two British prime ministers each took the most suicidal decisions since Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa on Russia in 1941, and hollowed out British political life in a year. Now, who is going to believe that one?)

In the meantime, whilst Al-Jazeera has been given some breathing space (and may even be able to remove the ligature from its neck), the pressure from the Saudis and Egypt on the Qatari terror playboys continues unabated. When thieves fall out….

With Israel seeking over-fly rights from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, it may be necessary for El Al to build in a 0.00001 degree course correction to avoid Qatari airspace.

Israel is forever being told that you don’t make peace with your friends so you have to talk with your enemies, but with Qatar showing how toxic Hamas and Iran really are, countering this is one piece of Hasbarah for which we do not need to budget.

Now to more serious stuff. The highly informative IMRA (independent media news analysis) Israeli news disseminator has been dissing the US-built F-35 jet fighter-bomber for close on two years. Week after week, IMRA has been a Churchill-like lone voice, imploring Israeli pols to face up to a simple fact: the plane is an underperforming, over-expensive white elephant, which could have been supplanted by an Israeli home-grown alternative at less cost long ago. Well, who is going to believe a blogger? (Probably not you, so look away now.) Yesterday and today, The Times (of London) has emblazoned across its front-page the full story of a vehicle (the F-35) that is wholly unfit for purpose, with cost overruns that could keep the desperately cash-starved National Health Service in, well, rude health for decades, planes that are too heavy to lift off in the coveted vertical mode, that overheat in horizontal flight and – worst of all – are incapable of proper and necessary communications given they are using Wi-Fi technology on which you and I had to suffer YouTube the best part of a decade ago.

With all that confronting the RAF and the IAF, what’s a handful of superfluous submarines between cousins (Netanyahu and his lawyer, Mickey Shimron, agent for the German ThyssenKrupp shipyard), the odd (actually, very odd) former, unfortunately-ranked Vice-Admiral Moram (reprimanded over some fake news about a Tel Aviv strip club in 2009, but still in charge of the Israeli Navy a year later at the time of the Mamara incident) and sundry others now under house-arrest in Israel. At least the Germans have a get-out in the event of corruption being proved in connection with the contract. Let us hope there is some change from the €1.5 billion.

(A little background on Krupp for you. It’s from Wikipedia so you don’t have to believe it. “In 1942–1943, Krupp built the Berthawerk factory (named for his mother), near the Markstadt forced labour camp, for production of artillery fuses. Jewish women were used as slave labor there, leased from the SS for 4 Marks a head per day.” Is there nowhere else we could buy our necessary and unnecessary submarines?)

Lastly, in this week’s disconnected jottings, the use earlier of the phrase “honest reporting” drives me to the website of that name and the webpage:

where you can read for yourself how “in series of Tweets, Asaf Ronel, world news editor of Haaretz, declared that he is an anti-Zionist. No, he’s not some off-the-wall opinion writer thrown into the newspaper for shock value: he’s the world news editor.”  It gets worse. “Ronel followed up his initial statement … by calling apartheid in Israel “reality,” and clarifying that such “apartheid” began in 1948.”

One almost prays for some fake news to introduce an element of unreality.

© Howard Epstein – July 2017

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