Bieber, Bibi, Barack and Bill


By Jennifer Lipman
April 15, 2011
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Remember when Bill Clinton hosted Charlotte Church at the White House? Did you know Mariah Carey recently entertained the Obamas for Christmas? Or that before he became Prime Minister David Cameron dined with Simon Cowell?

What about the Alternative Vote campaign (both yes and no) at the moment – both sides of which are a veritable who's who of showbiz supporters?

What have they got to do with a teenage pop star from Canada with floppy hair?

Earlier this week, Justin Bieber arrived in Israel for a much-heralded Tel Aviv concert. His plan (closely guarded by the international media) was to spend a few days touring Israel's Christian treasures and relaxing on the beach, but there was also talk of a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The meeting was called off at the last minute – with both sides pointing fingers. The Bibi camp said Bieber had cancelled because a group of Israeli children from the southern communities blighted by rocket fire from Hamas folk in Gaza was also on the guestlist. The Bieber camp said the meeting was never officially given the go ahead.

The spat (such as it was) prompted the inevitable peace summit jokes – "Justin Bieber, paparazzi target, fails to find peace in the Middle East" and "Justin Bieber's troubled diplomacy in Israel" - with some on Twitter sniggering that Bibi was boycotting Bieber. Hilarity ensued.

The truth, as with all these things, was probably somewhere in between. No matter, though, because the Economist's anonymous American Politics blogger decided that by even attempting to meet the star Netanyahu had set a record for "petty, grasping cheesiness". It was apparently a social faux pas to bring some kids from Sderot along.

"Trying to turn a photo op with a teen idol into a propaganda stunt for the war on Gaza. Nice."

Besides the fact that the Israel-Canada drama really had little to do with American politics, what an unnecessarily contemptuous jab at Israel.

As reader "chernyshevsky" most eloquently commented:

"If students from the Brazilian school where the recent mass shooting occurred were invited to a celebrity concert, would people condemn it as a political gesture? If efforts were made to bring some joy to children affected by conflicts in Libya or Ivory Coast, would people cheer in like manner when these fall short?

"What have the children of Sderot done to deserve such scornful indifference? Does the fact that they're Jewish somehow make their trauma insignificant, unworthy of sympathy, the stuff of dirty politics?"

Yes, of course Netanyahu comes across as opportunistic and a bit of an embarrassment for acting like a desperate teenage fan.

It's absolutely cringe-making when greying politicians like Bibi try to appear down with kids, when they act like the nerd grasping for the attention of the coolest kid in class. But last I heard, it's not exactly unique.

Every politician in the world tries to bask in the reflected light of celebrities. It may be silly and show them to lack substance; we may well wish our leaders spent more time on policy and less time on performers. But whether we like it or not, in today's world politics and showbusiness go hand in hand.

It's not just Netanyahu and it's not just Israel.

COMMENTS

Lukas

Mon, 04/18/2011 - 14:13

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'It's not just Netanyahu and it's not just Israel'.

What other country in the world is besieging a community of 1.5 million people and collectively punishing them?

What other country in the world fires missiles and tank shells at a trapped, urban population?

What other country in the world uses remote controlled gun towers, drones and missiles to kill civilians?

What other country in the world builds a wall hundreds of KM long that divides communities and families and denies people access to their land?

What other country in the world detains hundreds of people without trial or charge?

What other country in the world build illegal settlements on occupied land that can only be used by one group of people and are serviced by Apartheid like roads and infrastructure?

What other country in the world applies civilian law on one group of people but military law on another?

What other country in the world regularly demolishes homes of one group of people only?

What other country in the world kills protestors in international waters during the night?


Leah

Mon, 04/18/2011 - 14:58

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"What other country in the world is besieging a community of 1.5 million people and collectively punishing them?"

China. Which unlike Israel, is not threatened by genocidal cavemen (you know, your Hamas buddies).

"What other country in the world build illegal settlements on occupied land"

Provide proof that they are 'illegal', or eff off.

"What other country in the world kills protestors in international waters during the night?"

They were not 'protestors' but terrorists, and 'international waters during the night' is just irrelevant and stupid bile.


Leah

Mon, 04/18/2011 - 15:00

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"Does the fact that they're Jewish somehow make their trauma insignificant, unworthy of sympathy, the stuff of dirty politics?"

In the eyes of scum like the Economist's hacks, yes.


Joe Millis

Mon, 04/18/2011 - 15:06

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The more he/she posts, the more we know who Leah is.


StevenKalka

Wed, 04/27/2011 - 19:54

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International law draws a distinction between wars of conquest and wars of defense. In the latter case, the law awards greater title to land acquired by the defending nation. In Israel's case, it fought defensive wars.

Every notice how Israel's detractors just love to throw around the term apartheid, as if it's a magic phrase that settles the argument by linking it with the former South Africa? We need to distinguish the reasons for the segregation. Yes, segregation stemming from racial superiority is immoral, such as formerly practiced in South Africa or in the southern US under the Jim Crow laws decades ago. If a wall is built to segregate another people from to avoid attacks by missiles, it's in a different class and justifiable. Since when is self-defense wrong?

International law was set up to deal with the aftermath of conventional warfare. The winners and losers sat down and signed a peace treaty, and stipulations were made for the victorious armies to leave the defeated nations at some point. This situation does not exist between Israel and the Palestinians.

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