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Obama on his birthday, in the White House meeting with advisers. Photo by Pete Souza of White House

Obama on his birthday, in the White House meeting with advisers. Photo by Pete Souza of White House

Both these stories have been around for days, and most of you know about them, but I wanted to make a record of them, and stick them together: Israel reportedly eavesdropped on John Kerry telephone calls during the late-lamented peace process negotiations. Nearly half of Israelis in an online poll wanted to give Obama the Ebola virus for his birthday Aug. 4.

Ebola. Haggai Matar at +972:

Readers of the prominent Israeli news site Mako have overwhelmingly voted in favor of sending President Barack Obama an envelope containing the Ebola virus for his birthday.
The site, which belongs to the Channel 2 company “Keshet” (the most widely watch broadcasting network in Israel) began the survey at noon on Sunday, asking readers what they would like to give the president for his 53rd birthday. The options were as follows (scores in brackets, screenshot below):
A) Peace in the Middle East (22%)
B) Golf clubs (11%)
C) A box set of Israeli television series Prisoners of War (9%)
D) A remix by Noi Alush (local video artist) of Netanyahu’s now-famous “Don’t ever second guess me again” line (10%)
E) An envelope with the Ebola virus (48%)

Bugging. From Spiegel online, August 3:

SPIEGEL has learned from reliable sources that Israeli intelligence eavesdropped on US Secretary of State John Kerry during Middle East peace negotiations. In addition to the Israelis, at least one other intelligence service also listened in as Kerry mediated last year between Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab states, several intelligence service sources told SPIEGEL. Revelations of the eavesdropping could further damage already tense relations between the US government and Israel.

Here’s what Jen Psaki said at the State Department on Monday:

Well, I’m not going to comment on intelligence reports…. a German magazine report on an intelligence report. Just so you are all aware, and I think many of you are, but the Secretary and his senior staff and everyone in the U.S. Government is aware of the threat posed by potential intercepts of publicly available and unencrypted communications. We have at our disposal tools such as secure phones and computers for highly classified communications, but there are also times we communicate less sensitive information via open lines to world leaders and others. We’re fully aware of the possible risks. We will continue to utilize open communications channels when appropriate and secure communications channels when necessary.

The Ebola story is a reminder of the fact that Leon Wieseltier now finds himself queasy about Israeli society and that Max Blumenthal documented fascistic trends in that society. The NYT lately wrote the extremist trend off as just a few bad apples, and Wolf Blitzer on CNN then assured viewers from a conversation with Shimon Peres that Israel “is dealing” with the extremism problem. I don’t think we should believe the Times or Blitzer here.(Neither does Billmon: “If Dr. Baruch Goldstein were still alive, he’d be deputy speaker of the Knesset by now–at least.”)

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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39 Responses

  1. Donald on August 8, 2014, 1:34 pm

    “Nearly half of Israelis wanted to give Obama the Ebola virus for his birthday Aug. 4.”

    That’s not actually a fair conclusion, unless they did a scientific poll. If it’s just a voluntary online thing, then you are likely to attract a disproportionate number of idiots and of course it also doesn’t mean they would all really do it. It does show that 48 percent of the respondents are idiots.

    Though it wouldn’t surprise me if a random sample of the Israeli population with this range of options would give similar results. But it shows what we already knew,that the vast majority of Israelis supported the Gaza war and resented Kerry for even suggesting that maybe the blockade should be lifted. The overwhelming support for the Gaza War, the election of rightwing fascists, and stupid comments like those of “peace advocate” Amos Oz are the disturbing thing to me.

    • philweiss on August 8, 2014, 1:35 pm

      good point. Will amend, Donald

      • Donald on August 8, 2014, 1:42 pm

        I gotta amend my number. I said 52 percent–must have subconsciously subtracted 48 from 52. Weird.

      • wes on August 8, 2014, 7:50 pm

        No you said 48 percent,why would you think you said 52 percent.
        puzzle ing thing

      • Donald on August 8, 2014, 8:43 pm

        I went back and edited it while the option was still available. Didn’t think of that until after I posted the thing you responded to.

    • piotr on August 8, 2014, 3:19 pm

      The most telling aspect of that story is that a TV channel put such an option in the poll at all. It says that this is regarded as a good joke in top circles of Israeli establishment.

      In some countries there is a concept that some jokes are so distasteful that you should fire jokers from prominent positions in mass media. In Poland, after the national team lost to Ukraine, a guy in comedic radio show pretended to be a rabid fan and fulminated “If I had a Ukrainian maid [not rare in Poland] I would fire her right now, and kick her out without giving any back wages. And if she was even a little bit pretty, I would rape her”. There was a little pandemonium, and the consensus was that yes, it was a joke, but waaaay to offensive, insensitive, etc. and both jokers (talker and listener) were fired.

      So what jokes are made, by whom, and how are they received are important sociological indicators.

      • can of worms on August 9, 2014, 1:10 am

        piotr: It’s a speech act. The framing question, and the final proffered “choice”, is not only a “sociological indicator”, but also a message to Washington.

        Secondly, and unrelatedly, I know I’m being such a nudnik, but… since the Zios themselves brought this up by association, let us indeed recall the anthrax letters and their text, because they were silly and desperate attempts of PR to frame Muslims, gone terribly wrong [**for hophmi’s benefit: the anthrax letters exemplify ‘Orientalism’] . For those who don’t have energy for a basic research on the web, Graeme MacQueen speaks eloquently about this in “The Fictional Basis of the War on Terror”.

    • amirflesher on August 9, 2014, 2:38 pm

      What was wrong with Oz’s comments? All he said basically is that firing rockets, and digging tunnels into Israel from civilian centers is bad. He was also pointing out that it is difficult for Israel to deal with these threats, while at the same time, voicing his opposition to the ground invasion, and his continued belief in, and optimism about a peaceful resolution. None of these are particularly controversial or onerous points of view. It is self-evidently true that firing rockets into Israel, and digging tunnels into Israeli territory are bad. While you may have honest disagreements with Oz about the desirability of two states along the lines of Geneva, I’m not getting why you are disturbed by his comments. His solution, if enacted would end the siege of Gaza–so in what important moral way do your goals differ?

      • Mooser on August 10, 2014, 10:26 am

        Spoken like a true Bhuddist, “amirflesher”!
        Don’t forget about your Bhuddism, amirflesher. I know I won’t.

  2. hophmi on August 8, 2014, 1:41 pm

    “The Ebola story is a reminder of the fact that Leon Wieseltier now finds himself queasy about Israeli society and that Max Blumenthal documented fascistic trends in that society. ”

    And this post is a reminder of the orientalism you engage in when you analyze Israeli discourse.

    • traintosiberia on August 8, 2014, 1:58 pm

      what is Orientalism here?

      • Mooser on August 8, 2014, 2:18 pm

        “what is Orientalism here?”

        This has got to be one of the funniest examples of desperation hasbara (or you could call it “flop-sweat hasbara”) to come along yet!!
        Orientalism was the term used by Prof. Edward Said to describe the way Westerners have come to view the “Arabs”. And now Hophmi is using it, trying desperately, to gain a tenuous victimhood. Absolutely hilarious!

      • Mooser on August 8, 2014, 2:25 pm

        “And this post is a reminder of the orientalism you engage in when you analyze Israeli discourse.”

        But of course, Hophmi, I do endorse your view that the situation in Israel is so screwy, so messed up that most people won’t be able to view it except through a curtain of misconceptions and prejudices. I mean, isn’t that what you want, when it works in Zionism’s favor?

      • gamal on August 8, 2014, 2:44 pm

        “desperation hasbara” yes we is the nigga’s not they, says the “unique evil” guy.

    • a blah chick on August 8, 2014, 2:00 pm


    • Justpassingby on August 8, 2014, 2:18 pm


      Sure its friday but you’re already drinking?

      • Mooser on August 8, 2014, 2:51 pm

        “Sure its friday but you’re already drinking?”

        As I have said, numerous times, the deleterious effects of the Ziocaine Syndrome express themselves upon the character and intelligence in a way that resembles those linked with the chronic abuse of alcohol and cocaine. In fact, early observers (me, mostly) thought it was indeed some kind of chemical intoxication, hence the name. But it turns out to be entirely behavioral in origin, although it may correspond almost exactly to the progress of a disease or addiction. Certainly the “disease model” can be used, I would think. And individual episodes seem to evince a kind of intoxication, followed by amnesia.
        Treatment? Bah, zolst helfen vi a toyten bankes.

      • Citizen on August 8, 2014, 3:14 pm

        It helps like (blood) cupping helps a dead person. It’s futile.
        And individual episodes seem to evince a kind of intoxication, followed by amnesia. Maybe it’s sorta like being bipolar? This combines chemical intoxication (and depression) with (learned?) behavioral treatment, or self-treatment? Some groups are said to be more likely by DNA prone to alcohol addiction. But how much is that cultural? Getting confusing.

      • Mooser on August 8, 2014, 6:51 pm

        The existence of Ziocaine Syndrome-by-Proxy rules out the genetic component.

      • Citizen on August 8, 2014, 7:04 pm

        Ziocaine Syndrome-by-Proxy?

        Must be those Left Behind books. Nobody wants to be left behind.

      • gamal on August 8, 2014, 2:55 pm

        Oreintalism? says the “Unique evil of the Arabs” guy, I mean I take drugs and drink immoderately but can at least keep track of my own bullshit.

        yes its friday, ten to eight here, and I am already langers, its the IS way, the very first Islamic ruler of Iraq was sacked for puking up all over the minbar, due to being fluthered, during his Khutbah, and everyone is laughing at the Peshmerga, they are office boys not hardened warriors, you want to check the Barzani’s they always hard, I mean always.

        my surname, Kangalkarabash is no more than a convoluted Kurdish joke, all hail the Caliph Abu Bakr Khan, he posted me a foreskin only last week, they have a site Sufi’s can go to, to uncircumcise, prior to decapitation, I’ll post a link for those who may feel they need the service. My member has never felt so endorsed, or civilized.

      • piotr on August 8, 2014, 3:36 pm

        Isn’t Kangalkarabash a perfectly non-funny Turkish name, “curly black head”?

      • lysias on August 8, 2014, 3:39 pm

        Having been kangalkarabash, I have become with age kangalbeyazkarabash.

        Although shouldn’t “curly” in these words be “kıvır”, thus “kıvırkarabash” and “kıvırbeyazkarabash”?

      • lysias on August 8, 2014, 4:02 pm

        Oops, that should have been “kangalbeyazbash” and “kıvırbeyazbash”.

      • gamal on August 8, 2014, 4:47 pm

        you dont find that funny, well excuse me, ask a Kurd, if they dont find it funny, denounce them, they retreated in the face of Islam, who cares what they think, also (its about dogs). also everyone is more erudite and learned than I, I should have said a joke to idiots like myself, its low brow stuff.

    • Mooser on August 8, 2014, 2:21 pm

      “And this post is a reminder of the orientalism you engage in when you analyze Israeli discourse.”

      You should also accuse them of practicing numerology, too! Orientalist numerology!

    • justicewillprevail on August 8, 2014, 3:06 pm

      He he, if you are going to use words and concepts like ‘orientalism’ in the way Edward Said intended, then it would be at least an idea to have a passing acquaintance with the meaning of the word. As opposed to the usual hasbaritic tactic of desperately hijacking concepts from the opposition to zionism and trying to use them, clumsily and meaninglessly. Not only are Palestinians robbed of their land and homes, they must also be robbed of the suffering and the prejudice against them, which can be handily redeployed and appropriated by the eternal victim. Me, me, me! Wah!

      • bilal a on August 8, 2014, 5:24 pm

        speaking of robbery, Sharansky says, euro multiculturalism was a kind of ethnic cleansing [we were part of developing that] which backfired on Jews

        “”But on top of that, Jews had historically and naturally felt very much at home in the liberal, progressive parts of European society, they were part of developing that,” he added. “Now, the ideology of liberalism has become bound-up with multiculturalism, against religion, against nationalism.

        “These two forces [anti-Zionist campaigners on the Left, and Muslim radicals] are not allies, but they inevitably are co-operating and work in one direction. One side hates Jews as a race, the other blames Israel for being racist. Unless this changes, Jews will not continue to live in Europe.

      • Another Steve on August 9, 2014, 11:52 am

        Sharansky ought to tell these people:

        Here’s a 2011 article from Haaretz with the headline “Why are Israelis moving to Germany?” This phenomenon is documented in many other articles.

        Thousands of Israelis, among them many artists, have chosen to live in Berlin because of its relaxed atmosphere and relatively low cost of living, even if it means living in a country with a fraught history.

        . . .

        Nati Ornan, 36, an actor, writer and performer who moved here in November 2010, says, “Now there are more Israeli artists in Berlin than in Israel. I think this is like the proverbial destruction of the Third Temple – the destruction of the Jewish spirit, which was gradually decaying until the current [social and economic] revolution, which has begun to lift it.

  3. traintosiberia on August 8, 2014, 1:58 pm

    The most importnat take home message is this that the site ( “Readers of the prominent Israeli news site Mako “) chose to inlcude an option of this nature .
    Waht does it say about the elite or those who shape opinion in Isreal ?

    • can of worms on August 8, 2014, 3:43 pm

      traintosiberia. Obviously in imagining ebola envelopes to Obama, the israeli elites were harking back to the weaponized-anthrax envelopes sent to Democratic senators Daschle and Leahy. Ironically or not, those bio-weapon envelopes were supposedly the reason to invade Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. But that lie was busted when later it turned out that the anthrax came from a top security US military lab.

      Weird: “An official of the U.S. administration said in March 2010 that President Barack Obama probably would veto legislation authorizing the next budget for U.S. intelligence agencies, if it called for a new investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks” –wiki

  4. traintosiberia on August 8, 2014, 2:00 pm

    Think of this data coming out of West Bank or Gaza about say Bush 2 after 911?
    Every Americnas will have this information and each host on FOX will quote this .

  5. Keith on August 8, 2014, 4:33 pm

    “Revelations of the eavesdropping could further damage already tense relations between the US government and Israel.”

    This is pure PR. First the “green light” for the Gaza massacre, then the unanimous Senate endorsement of the Gaza massacre, then the additional aid to facilitate the Gaza massacre. “Already tense relations?” You have got to be kidding me. The US and Israel are thick as thieves, political theater notwithstanding. One empire, right or wrong!

    • libra on August 8, 2014, 6:15 pm


      Keith, perhaps an indication of Israel’s paranoia that its grip on the Empire’s tiller may one day slip? After all, look what happened last time Jerusalem didn’t control Rome.

  6. wondering jew on August 8, 2014, 4:34 pm

    Who is billmon and why ruin your article with his over the top tweet?

    • annie on August 8, 2014, 4:53 pm

      who is billmon? google is your friend. there’s only one billmon.

    • Mooser on August 8, 2014, 6:59 pm

      “Who is billmon”

      Yonah, you don’t want to know, you’ll only get upset. You don’t want to go near Billmon. He’s one of them Orientalists, I think.

    • Donald on August 8, 2014, 11:35 pm

      Billmon was kind of a legendary blogger back in the early or mid 00’s. My favorite while he was around. Tweets often tend to be over the top, but didn’t a deputy speaker say something genocidal recently?

  7. Kay24 on August 8, 2014, 6:00 pm

    In the rare event Obama the zionists, I have seen ugly, ugly, racist comments about him, and hateful statements about his heritage. There are some videos of some real no class Israelis on the street using the F word and insulting Obama, which may reflect that part of the nation that is racist and that wants to send him an envelope with the Ebola virus. I know they are an ungrateful lot, and despite Obama showing them unwavering support, increasing the aid, and giving them more weapons, it never is enough for these parasites.

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