Israel’s Antics: An S&M Ambassdor and Citrus Trees in Cuba

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ball gag harness.jpg
I think that Israel Prime Minister Olmert’s resistance to talk to the new Palestinian unity government ‘may’ be a charade disguising quite a bit of informal, off the books negotiations as everyone I speak to from the Middle East sees a deal on Palestine in the works — in about 18 months. We should all be skeptical, but Olmert is not being completely truthful in suggesting that he and Israel will not meet any part of the Palestinian government. Whether it is direct, or through proxies, all sides are beginning to deal with each other.
That said, Olmert and his foreign service have some other distractions, including the revelation that the Israeli Ambassador to El Salvador has been recalled after being “found drunk and naked.”
According to this BBC report, Ambassador Refael was found in the Israeli compound — “bound, gagged and naked apart from sado-masochistic sex accessories.” Apparently, he was only able to identify himself to police “after a rubber ball had been removed from his mouth.”
Stuff happens. But if the Palestinians want to speak with Israeli diplomats — even after revelations like this one — then I think that Olmert’s public high-handedness seems out of place.
On another front, Israel doesn’t seem to have much of a problem violating the Helms-Burton law forbidding American and other firms doing business in the U.S. from doing business with Cuba. Just to be clear, I oppose Helms-Burton and think that the embargo we have imposed harms American interests.
But still, one of America’s closest allies — Israel — has major Cuban citrus farms under management.
One wonders if Israel can do business with Cuba, which I support generally, why it can’t find creative ways to deal in public (rather than in secret) with the democratically-empowered political realities in Palestine.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

34 comments on “Israel’s Antics: An S&M Ambassdor and Citrus Trees in Cuba

  1. Carroll says:

    yahaddasayit at March 20, 2007 12:34 PM
    >>>>>>>>>
    Sometimes yahaddasayit, a picture is just a picture. As a female I wasn’t particulary offended by it (but let me say now in case I ever run for office some day I am definitely against B&B or D&B or whatever it is) …I don’t see some big message or symbolism in it.

    Reply

  2. yahaddasayit says:

    Not that I refuse to ride the U.S.-Israel merry-go-round. To me, it’s all about money even if I forget the characters’ names. The playwright’s message isn’t that difficult to comprehend. What all comes down to is our ability to recognize that which seems to be.
    However, once again I’d like to focus on the picture posted on the top of this thread. Steve said his choice of photos worked for him and what he was trying to do, but I had already questioned what he was doing and he didn’t answer my inquiry. PO’s response was cute but but I don’t see Cheney with a submissive side so that probably wouldn’t work. Then rich said the portrayal of Power was the intent so “many a photo will do”. And dirk found himself ignorant of bondage accessories other than the ordinary. Good for him. You either spend your time with more worthwhile pursuits or you need to get out more.
    You all either know not what you do or won’t admit to it. Anyone who has even a scrap of B&D knowledge beyond the cursory knows that the reality of a submissive(as pictured) involves levels of humiliation often to the extreme. Are you all comfortable with that? Why use a woman’s image even if you are? How about a black man with a noose? Why not a concentration camp prisoner with a towel and a bar of soap? I sent Steve what I thought was a more telling example of what he was attempting to represent but until he is willing to accurately communicate what that would be, we’ll have to be a party to continued subjugation. Start small and work your way up to Commandant. We applyin’ for Abu Ghraib or Gitmo? Grand Kleagle? Gimme a week I’ll have Himmler down.

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  3. MP says:

    POA lies (what’s new?): Pauline, we are seeing more and more articles like the one you cite, and the writers are getting more and more mainstream. Even the proponents of AIPAC, such as MP, have switched their rhetoric, and are seeking to paint AIPAC in a misrepresentative light.”
    Sorry, but I don’t.

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  4. pauline says:

    To poa:
    The Soros article says alot, and quite straigtforwardly, as he brings out your point about the current crop of Dems when he writes,
    “I am not sufficiently engaged in Jewish affairs to be involved in the reform of AIPAC; but I must speak out in favor of the critical process that is at the heart of our open society. I believe that a much-needed self-examination of American policy in the Middle East has started in this country; but it can’t make much headway as long as AIPAC retains powerful influence in both the Democratic and Republican parties. Some leaders of the Democratic Party have promised to bring about a change of direction but they cannot deliver on that promise until they are able to resist the dictates of AIPAC. Palestine is a place of critical importance where positive change is still possible. Iraq is largely beyond our control; but if we succeeded in settling the Palestinian problem we would be in a much better position to engage in negotiations with Iran and extricate ourselves from Iraq. The need for a peace settlement in Palestine is greater than ever. Both for the sake of Israel and the United States, it is highly desirable that the Saudi peace initiative should succeed; but AIPAC stands in the way. It continues to oppose dealing with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas.
    Whether the Democratic Party can liberate itself from AIPAC’s influence is highly doubtful. Any politician who dares to expose AIPAC’s influence would incur its wrath; so very few can be expected to do so. It is up to the American Jewish community itself to rein in the organization that claims to represent it. But this is not possible without first disposing of the most insidious argument put forward by the defenders of the current policies: that the critics of Israel’s policies of occupation, control, and repression on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem and Gaza engender anti-Semitism.”

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  5. Pissed Off American says:

    Pauline, we are seeing more and more articles like the one you cite, and the writers are getting more and more mainstream. Even the proponents of AIPAC, such as MP, have switched their rhetoric, and are seeking to paint AIPAC in a misrepresentative light. In short, AIPAC is blowing it. The rousing reception they gave to Cheney at the conference, the cheers that greeted Bush’s picture being placed onscreen, the booing of Pelosi when she voiced pessimism about the mess in Iraq….well…ALL these reactions are completely polar to the feelings and opinions of the majority of the American people. Bush’s poll numbers are at thirty, and falling. I haven’t seen the numbers for Cheney, but they have consistently ran below Bush’s. Yet here we have the AIPAC crowd, cheering the very personages and policies that Americans are increasingly becoming disgusted with.
    The Catch 22 is that our current crop of Democratic leaders are as detached from reality as AIPAC seems to be. These so called “oversight” efforts are laudable, because God knows these bastards in the Bush Administration should be, and need to be, held accountable. But in the end, even if the Bush Administration heads recieve their just reward, we are STILL stuck with leadership that has their heads firmly implanted in Israel’s and Aipac’s rectum. If we end up in war with Iran, and escalating hostilities with China and Russia because of our leadership’s subservience to the Israeli agenda, then this Gonzales thing, and many other pressing issues of accountability, will become completely irrelevent.

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  6. pauline says:

    “On Israel, America and AIPAC”
    by George Soros
    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/20030

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  7. Dirk says:

    As amusing as this story was when I read about several days ago, it didn’t seem relevant to anything. I did wonder about the statement that “nude except for bondage wear” and wondered what else that included beside the gag and cuffs.
    Regarding the Israel Cuba relationship, I wondered what you thought of the Israel China relationship where Feith demanded the firing of a IDF defense ministry director back in 2004.
    See “War and Piece”: http://tinyurl.com/27l5fz

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  8. rich says:

    yahaddasayit at 01:15 PM:
    “I assure you said Ambassador’s condition wouldn’t begin to replicate your specimen. It couldn’t be that difficult to find a more appropriate image. In fact, the dominant could have been male-leaving the relationship devoid of the feminine. Then where would you be?”
    Umm, up an embassy compound, without a paddle?
    You’re not gonna find photos of true grit on blogs or in the paper. Accuracy wasn’t the intent.
    But–you still want Steve to find “an appropriate image”? Yer hard to please, but as the ambassador knows, it’s about the Power, so many a photo will do.

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  9. Pissed Off American says:

    http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=10697
    An excerpt…….
    Speaker Pelosi, who was a Democratic fundraiser long before she was promoted to Congress, knows this all too well, as her actions on the Iran matter dramatically confirm. After all, George W. Bush will veto the appropriations bill if it comes with what he considers extraneous and unacceptable riders, such as restrictions on funding that impede the surge – so why not submit it to the floor with the Iran provision intact just to make a point?
    The Democrats backed down, and fast, so our future is all mapped out for us. It took only four years for this administration to get the Middle East escalator going and gin up another war on the heels of the last one. An even greater regional cataclysm – this time, in Iran – seems all but inevitable.
    I wish I saw a way out of this, but I don’t. Short of firing Congress, as well as impeaching the president and vice president, we will be at war with Iran just as surely as we are now stuck in the Iraqi quicksand – and that war will be brought to you by the same crew that started the previous one. It’s like we’re caught in a recurring nightmare, in which the same ghouls rise up and taunt us with their banshee screams, singing a chorus of war-cries, drowning out all sense until our eardrums nearly burst. As I put it in a column published in 2004:
    “This war has benefited only two actors in the Middle East drama: bin Laden and Ariel Sharon. The extremists are empowered, instead of isolated, and the future is war, war, and more war, as far as the eye can see….”
    Events have, unfortunately, only confirmed my prognosis, but there is reason for optimism in the long run, even if short-term pessimism is our lot. The American people don’t like foreigners interfering in their politics, and Olmert may have gone too far. Aside from that, the trial of longtime AIPAC honcho Steve Rosen, and the group’s Iran expert, Keith Weissman, on charges of giving Israel top-secret information gleaned from former Pentagon official Larry Franklin, is scheduled to finally begin this summer. The Lobby is increasingly buffeted by blowback stemming from its own arrogance, and the day of reckoning approaches. Whether that day comes before or after we go to war with Iran is, largely, a matter of chance…

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  10. Pissed Off American says:

    Hey Steve, how about I have my roommate photo-shop one of Cheney ball-gagged? I realize it ain’t the ambassador, but what the hell, we can dream can’t we?

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  11. Steve Clemons says:

    yahaddasayit — I looked for the pic of Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction and failed to find one. I looked on line for a variety of pics and found just this one — so if you have others, submit them and I’ll consider replacing. As it is, I think the pic I selected worked for what i was trying to do — thanks, steve

    Reply

  12. gq says:

    Um, that picture in the post is not necessarily work friendly.

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  13. Carroll says:

    Here are the provisions of Helms-Burton:
    International Sanctions against the Castro Government.
    *Economic embargo, any non-US company that deals economically with Cuba can be subjected to legal action and that company’s leadership can be barred from entry into the United States.
    * Sanctions may be applied to non-U.S. companies trading with Cuba. This means that internationally operating companies have to choose between Cuba and the US, which is a much larger market.
    *United States opposition against Cuban membership in International Financial Institutions.
    *Television broadcasting from the United States to Cuba.
    *Authorization of United States support for democratic and human rights groups and international observers.
    *Declares United States policy towards a transition government and a democratically elected government in Cuba.
    *Protection of property rights of certain United States nationals.
    *Exclusion of certain aliens from the United States, primarily senior officials or major stock holders, and their families, of companies that do business in Cuba on property expropriated from American citizens.
    *Provides power to the Legislative Branch to override a Executive Branch cancellation of the embargo.
    *Prohibits recognition of a transitional government in Cuba that includes Fidel or Raúl Castro
    *Prohibits recognition of a Cuban government that has not provided compensation for U.S. certified claims against confiscated property, defined as non-residential property with an excess of $50,000 value in 1959.
    Here is the Cuban exile lobby:
    http://www.canf.org/

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  14. downtown says:

    shorter Barry: “And Israel has every right…And Israel has every right ….And Israel has every right….”
    Israel is not in the least bit interested in a viable partner for negotiations. Sadly, we Americans are their enablers.

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  15. Carroll says:

    And Steve….if you are to use such phrases as “the democratically-empowered political realities in Palestine” with a straight face, at least you could acknowledge that this “Democratically-empowered political reality” comes after years, no…decades of murders of more moderate Arab leaders who might have long since been in a position to lead the palestinians to peace. Also that democratic elections where the wrong vote could get you killed, isn’t due quite the deference that we usually think of what considering democratically elected governents. ANd that negotiating with people who public proclaim that would prefer to murder you isn’t quite preferable way to do things.
    Posted by Barry at March 19, 2007 11:46 AM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Er….I think your education has some blanks. Go back sixty years and come forward. Some of the main actors on the ground during Israel’s formation were certified terrorist. Some of them morphed into politicans…some even changed their names. Hamas can do the same.
    I think Israel’s real objection to Hamas is they are actually going to push for forming a recongized Palestine state and would be much tougher in bargining for final settlement terms then any prior Palestine gov. Israel has stalled off the formation of a Palestine state for years. But it’s obvious now that some in Europe and the ME aren’t going to let that continue and that is good for everyone. Faster please.

    Reply

  16. Matthew says:

    I really take issue with Barry’s attempt to de-legitimize Palestinian elections just because he doesn’t like the outcome. Memo to Barry: Quisling’s like Chalabi are Iraqi, not Palestinians. You are never going to find a legitimate Palestinian who is going to validate Zionist Ethnic Cleansing.

    Reply

  17. yahaddasayit says:

    The pic that accompanies your post provides excellent camouflage for the grit of reality. I can imagine a few of the females on this board and some male protectors being highly offended by your illustration and I think you should ask yourself why you chose such a clean cut female example to portray the incident you cite. I assure you said Ambassador’s condition wouldn’t begin to replicate your specimen. It couldn’t be that difficult to find a more appropriate image. In fact, the dominant could have been male-leaving the relationship devoid of the feminine. Then where would you be?

    Reply

  18. Barry says:

    Criticism of israel certainly does not equate with antisemitism, although often, and sometimes in anonymous comments it is difficult to tell the difference. I have no idea what ambassadorial titallation or management of cuban citrus farms have to do with whether olmert should negotiate with the palestiaians in public or in private. Sometimes public negotiations are a problem, particularly when it is not yet clear exactly how serious the negotiating partner is. And Israel has every right to be skeptical of a Hamas and Fatach, as they have acted in the past, and as they are acting today.
    And Steve….if you are to use such phrases as “the democratically-empowered political realities in Palestine” with a straight face, at least you could acknowledge that this “Democratically-empowered political reality” comes after years, no…decades of murders of more moderate Arab leaders who might have long since been in a position to lead the palestinians to peace. Also that democratic elections where the wrong vote could get you killed, isn’t due quite the deference that we usually think of what considering democratically elected governents. ANd that negotiating with people who public proclaim that would prefer to murder you isn’t quite preferable way to do things.

    Reply

  19. MP says:

    I hope you’re right, Steve, about the “informal” talks. The stories that EO is refusing to talk with the unity government…were depressing and disheartening. At least on the surface, they are going in exactly the wrong direction…for THEM.
    The only fly in the water that I can see is that Abbas and Ohlmert are both very weak politically, down in the single digits, which may mean they don’t have much wiggle room.
    The irony is, of course, is that if they were to make a breakthrough a la Begin and Sadat, they’d be president prime minister for life.

    Reply

  20. MP says:

    I hope you’re right, Steve, about the “informal” talks. The stories that EO is refusing to talk with the unity government…were depressing and disheartening. At least on the surface, they are going in exactly the wrong direction…for THEM.

    Reply

  21. Pissed Off American says:

    “Thanks a lot for the bit on farming in Cuba. Really interesting. Now tell us what you really think of AIPAC.”
    Posted by adam
    You’re dreaming. Steve is mum on AIPAC. Apparently, he doesn’t like the sound of slamming doors.

    Reply

  22. Bucky says:

    I love the photo at the head of this post. No, wait, I hate the photo at the head of this post. I also got a kick out of that ambassador’s little mishap, but this is the last blog I’d expect to see it in.
    Welcome back, Steve. I’m looking forward to your comments about your trip to Cuba.

    Reply

  23. rich says:

    Your note on the Palestinian issue jibes with the multiple reports in the MSM that Israel’s in talks, if only informally, to resolve the situation. Reassuring.
    On a different note:
    NO one has ever just up and “disappeared” in El Salvador before, so …
    ..when describing Tzuriel Refael’s ‘voluntary’ personal hobbies “We’re talking about behaviour that is unbecoming of a diplomat.”
    Right.
    Curious just which right-winger is squeezing Israel for what purpose.

    Reply

  24. adam says:

    Welcome back Steve,
    I have been following your blog for a long time, and I really like it but I really find it amazing how you manage to skirt directly talking about AIPAC and the pro-Israel nuts so much, while continuing to allude to them. If someone like you who is not (yet) in a position of power can not talk about this, we are in deep trouble.
    Please remember, you are an American, you work for the interest of the American people; it is time you really said what you beleive about this.
    Thanks a lot for the bit on farming in Cuba. Really interesting. Now tell us what you really think of AIPAC.

    Reply

  25. Carroll says:

    Posted by … at March 19, 2007 02:36 AM
    Yep, George Soros, good..Bill Kristol,bad.
    If only we had known in 1984 that they were really serious…or could actually do it.
    The Lobby’s ethnic and religious alliances for political purposes.
    Irving Kristol, “The Political Dilemma of American Jews,” Commentary, Vol. 78, No.1, July 1984.
    Kristol argues as follows, looking ahead to the November 1984 election and beyond:
    1.Jewish money and votes backed the Civil Rights movement and many African-American candidates.
    2.But Jesse Jackson and other African-American leaders are now anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian. “The upshot is that the long alliance between Jewish and black organizations is coming apart,” Kristol says.
    3. Therefore American Jews need to find other political allies, another bloc. The rise of the Moral Majority and Christian Fundamentalist Right offers such an opportunity. Because such Christian Zionist groups are “vigorously pro-Israel” it makes sense to form a political alliance with them despite what Jews may think of their theology generally.
    4. The United Nations is “above all, an organization bent on deligitimizing, even eventually destroying, the state of Israel,” Kristol says.
    5. Jews, Kristol laments (page 28), “cannot even bring themselves openly to support the indispensible precondition of the exercise of American influence “on behalf of Jewish interests in the world”: a large and powerful military establishment that can, if necessary, fight and win dirty, little (or not so little) wars in faraway places.”
    Evidently AIPAC finally brought themselves to “exercise of American influence “on behalf of Jewish interests in the world”..or at least their version of Jewish interest.

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  26. ... says:

    carroll, thanks for the link to the soros article..
    here is an excerpt that i enjoyed reading.
    >>Whether the Democratic Party can liberate itself from AIPAC’s influence is highly doubtful. Any politician who dares to expose AIPAC’s influence would incur its wrath; so very few can be expected to do so. It is up to the American Jewish community itself to rein in the organization that claims to represent it. But this is not possible without first disposing of the most insidious argument put forward by the defenders of the current policies: that the critics of Israel’s policies of occupation, control, and repression on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem and Gaza engender anti-Semitism.
    The opposite is the case. One of the myths propagated by the enemies of Israel is that there is an all-powerful Zionist conspiracy. That is a false accusation. Nevertheless, that AIPAC has been so successful in suppressing criticism has lent some credence to such false beliefs. Demolishing the wall of silence that has protected AIPAC would help lay them to rest. A debate within the Jewish community, instead of fomenting anti-Semitism, would only help diminish it.
    Anticipating attacks, I should like to emphasize that I do not subscribe to the myths propagated by enemies of Israel and I am not blaming Jews for anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism predates the birth of Israel. Neither Israel’s policies nor the critics of those policies should be held responsible for anti-Semitism. At the same time, I do believe that attitudes toward Israel are influenced by Israel’s policies, and attitudes toward the Jewish community are influenced by the pro-Israel lobby’s success in suppressing divergent views.
    —March 15, 2007<<

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  27. Alex says:

    Welcome back, Steve; sounds like a harrowing trip in Cuba and on the East Coast. Sleet just shuts down everything.
    Nothing much happened back here while you were away, unless you count the continued unraveling of the Bush Administration.
    Quack, quack…
    Bet the pooches were happy to see you!

    Reply

  28. Carroll says:

    http://209.85.165.104/search?
    also over at TMP if this link does not work
    Soros takes on Israel (and AIPAC and congress)in an op-ed. Also comments on Hamas, which I totally agree with him on.
    Although I am puzzled why Soros says he is loath to subject himself to more slander or criticism. With more money than God he has nothing to fear personally unless he feels it will hamper his efforts on other areas.
    Actually though..when is someone going to tell the real truth? Israel’s goverment doesn’t want peace.
    I said two years time was not on Israel’s side but I have no doubt they will try to run the clock out anyway.

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  29. Carroll says:

    http://209.85.165.104/search?q=cache:ORwtWwmJXCAJ:www.nybooks.com/articles/20030+soros+AND+AIPAC+AND+new+york+review+of+books&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us
    Soros takes on Israel (and AIPAC and congress)in an op-ed. Also comments on Hamas, which I totally agree with him on.
    Although I am puzzled why Soros says he is loath to subject himself to more slander or criticism. With more money than God he has nothing to fear personally unless he feels it will hamper his efforts on other areas.
    Actually though..when is someone going to tell the real truth? Israel’s goverment doesn’t want peace.
    I said two years time was time was not on Israel’s side but I have no doubt they will try to run the clock out anyway.

    Reply

  30. JonU says:

    “Stuff happens.”
    Indeed.
    I would think if those in power in Israel at the moment are serious about coming to terms with the Palestinian government, they would want to run under the radar for as long as possible.
    The less public the negotiations are, the better. The longer it is kept out of the public eye and the closer to realisation it gets, the less chance there is for it to be sabotaged through violent acts. 18 months is along time. They would want to get through as much of that as possible before inflaming the extremist elements.
    Give the extremists as small a window as possible to wreak havoc.

    Reply

  31. Carroll says:

    How interesting, I didn’t know Israel had farms in Cuba. Very odd when you consider the trouble the US goes to to make it hard for Americans to do business there.

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  32. Mullah Cimoc says:

    Mullah cimoc say please for remember not all the israeli the sexual perversion, prnography, ecstacvy pill and making the crime. only about 77 percent.

    Reply

  33. Pissed Off American says:

    Well, you can bet the Israeli ambassador’s sexual adventure will get more press than has been given Israel’s continued theft of Palestinian land, or AIPAC’s role in determining the wording and the scope of the Democrat’s Iraq resolutions.

    Reply

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