Howard Epstein

HOWARD EPSTEIN: The Woman Of Straw And Straws In The Wind

HOWARD EPSTEIN: The Woman Of Straw And Straws In The Wind

Those who read my piece last week about the Bleak House that is the UK will not have seen even a chink of light emerge from the keynote speech that was the British PM’s address to the Tory Party Conference. The jury is out on whether she was sponsored by Strepsils but, what was plain by the time May sat down, was that her croaking throat further empowered Jeremy (Jezza) Corbyn’s elbow. As if he needed it. Hamas/Hezbollah running dog, and Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, is positively salivating, for his crew of assembled Trotskyites, malcontents and aspiring revivers of the politics of envy increasingly sense that they are in tune with all but the seniors in British society – and that the governing Conservative party is not. So does the bulk of the British electorate. The Tories are, further, deeply divided over Brexit (and so are the Opposition but they, perforce, are not in the spotlight in the way that government is bound to be) and divided governing parties do not get merely punished at the polls: they are emphatically hammered.

All modern societies are increasingly populated by Generation Rent. It being too much to expect the young to buy property and cars – the bottom just having fallen out of the UK car market to emphasize the point – they are into living not so much for kicks as for gigs. Why aspire to buy a flat when you can rent? (It increases mobility.) Why buy a car when you can share, or use Uber? There is no question about buying CDs or DVDs for their music or movies: the young stream. And they do not buy newspapers. They get what passes for news from Facebook and other social media platforms. They marry into their smartphones long before they think of any other form of marriage; and there they find whatever they want, with minimal commitment and cost.

What, you may ask, has any of this got to do with PM Theresa May and Anglo-Jewish life? The Trots around Corbyn get it, and the Conservatives do not. If Putin could give Trump a Facebook leg-up to the Oval Office (and it does not seem remotely remote that he did), what might he, and others – like Corbyn’s crowd – do for Red Jezza? The news streams that the young get from Facebook are not merely unreliable: they are utterly unreliable, for, as often as not – so far as one can tell – they are disseminating fake news, conjured up in the Kremlin. And it will be those news streams – free at the point of receipt, the business model which Generation Rent imbibed with their mother’s milk – that will drive outcome of elections for the foreseeable future, and beyond.

Watch this space. After all, you can be sure that Hamas and Hezbollah will be doing just that.

So much for the (wo)man of straw. And the straws in the wind? Well, unpalatable though it may be to some, here in Israel we have to thank our lucky stars for the following unlikely bedfellows: Trump, Putin and the House of Saud, all alive now, before the opposite state can overwhelm them, to the Iranian threat.

The 81 year old King Salman has just paid the first visit by a member of the Saudi royal family to the Kremlin. He and Putin agreed massive deals on defence and commercial development (Putin abhorring, and capitalising on, the vacuum that Obama created in the Gulf), whilst the news from the Gulf states generally increasingly refers to closer ties between the various oil-rich mishpachot and Israel. After all, why go out and buy an umbrella when you can squeeze under the existing one that the Israelis have?

Meanwhile, Trump – who has also just agreed a massive defence deal for the supply (at a cost of $15 billion) of the THAAD missile defence system to the Saudis (the Israelis also have second-strike response) – appears ready to jettison the pile of diplomatic junk that was Obama’s JCPOA (read: releasing billions in liquidity to Iran in return for empty promises made about delaying nuclear empowerment for ten years, of which two already expired last July) – by tightening the screws on the Iranians not only economically but also by making life harder for Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah. (After all, if stable-door action is all that is available to DC with regard to the utterly unstable North Korea, experience dictates that you do not gratuitously allow Iran to get to the same place without offering significant resistance.)

Suddenly, Iran, so used to getting everything its own way, has come upon against the phenomenon of Trump. Unsophisticated as he is, he may be an effective foil to the highly-refined Iranian diplomatic machine. And, at last, it seems that the Americans have woken up to the fact that the Lebanese state is the monkey and Hezbollah the organ grinder.

Further, the Iranians’ march to the sea through Syria has been threatened by independence referendum for Iraqi Kurdistan held on 25 September 2017. With approximately 93 percent of votes cast in favour of independence, Kurdistan represents a significant roadblock for Iranian designs on a direct route to the Mediterranean.

Accordingly, it might be thought that one way and another things are looking up for Israel. Perhaps it will not be necessary to go it alone against the Iranian behemoth, although one can never tell.

It is not merely the blogger, picking up on news reports and presenting fresh, concise analyses, who may be blindsided by past and developing events from seeing the seminal ones about to burst unexpectedly onto the world stage. The combined skills of the hugely-funded American CIA, the well-resourced British MI6, the ruthless Russian KGB (and its successor, the FSB) and the much-lauded Israeli Mossad, were all taken by surprise by the retreat of the French from Algeria in 1962, the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin in 1995, the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the horror of 9/11 in 2001, the collapse of the USA and UK fiscal systems in 2008 and the disappearance from the world stage of Mubarak of Egypt, and Ghadaffy of Libya, in 2011.

It is not as though there were no pre-cursors to these events: all had their preliminaries, but few if any analysts were able to perceive where they were leading. Hopefully, in these days of super-computers – and the lessons of recent history hovering over the various western security agencies – better predictions can be made than in the past.

As for the UK and its Jews, sooner rather than later in the context of Aliyah, should be the motivation for young couples to up-roots while they are short. Here in Israel, we should offer tax incentives and easier access to the professions. We should set the agenda and encourage young Jews to come home to Israel before “Jews Go Home” becomes the Labour-inspired graffiti of choice in what used to be Merrie Olde England.

© October 2017 Howard Epstein



The author’s book, Chaim Weizmann: the Indispensable Zionist is available now:-

Paperback Edition – UK

Kindle Edition – UK

Paperback Edition – USA

Kindle Edition – USA

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