Volume 76, Number 12 | August 9 - 15, 2006

Talking Point

A quick Mideast news quiz, by the rockets’ red glare

By Daniel Meltzer

Now let’s get all this straight. If we can.

What should we call the latest? Is it the retaliatory bombardment for yesterday’s rocket attack? Or is it the rocket attack payback for yesterday’s retaliation, the one that was launched to exact payment for the score-settling raid of the day before yesterday that was meant to avenge the previous day’s cross-border incursion?

Or is it the counterattack to settle the score after the cross-border missile firing of the day before that? Or is it just a matter or sending a message? And if so, then with cell phones, instant messaging, text messaging, the Internet, pagers, BlackBerries (not to mention that it happens to be the native blueberry season on the East Coast), with FedEx, U.P.S. and the U.S. Postal Service in a highly competitive state, does sending a message really have to make so much noise?

Did they sneak across the border to kidnap soldiers, or did they capture them? Were they taken to be used as bargaining chips? Corn? Potato? Potahto?) to get THEIR prisoners back? Were those prisoners locked up in the first place as warnings to anyone seeking to cross a border? Not to mention to anyone hoping to get a job cleaning up a Starbuck’s shop after hours? Stock shelves at a Wal-Mart?

Are the longer-range rockets revenge for the aerial bombardments? Or is it the other way around?

Will Bechtel or Halliburton get the contract to rebuild all the bombed-out towns and cities and highways and hospitals?

Who was it who cast the first stone? David? Goliath? Or was it you-know-who, when he said “catch” and tossed those hefty stone tablets at you-also-know-whom?

Did the Zionists steal Arab territory? Or did the Arabs grab the Jews’ land after the Romans sent the Hebrews packing east, south and north to Asia, Africa and Europe, where they grew potatoes, started businesses, raised families, collected fine porcelain and silverware and then got slaughtered, while the Romans themselves overextended and got creamed by the barbarians?

Whose desert is it anyway, and where do T. E. Lawrence, David Lean, Peter O’Toole and Anthony Quinn fit into this picture? Not to mention Omar Sharif. And didn’t he show up later as a Jewish gangster who falls in love with Barbra Streisand?

Who was there (you know, THERE) first? Was it Moses or Mohammed, Microsoft or Netscape? Macy’s or Gimbels? Huntley or Brinkley? The Jews or the Muslims? The chicken or the egg? Or the chicken? Or the egg? Or the chicken? And why did it cross the road in the first place? Did it have a visa? A work permit? How many day laborers can fit in a container truck? Dance on the head of a pin? How many Koran scholars? How many Kaballah mavens? Enough for a softball game? And if so, who gets to be the home team, and will the ballpark serve sauerkraut with its hot dogs?

Will they be kosher? All beef? Tofu? Who’s on first?

Quick, right now: What country is Condi Rice in? How many designer suits does she own?

Ain’t Democracy the greatest? Ask any Iraqi.

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