Brash

In the early 1990s I had the good fortune to accompany an Atlanta-based group called the Friendship Force, founded by Presbyterian minister Wayne Smith and then (that is, at the time of its founding) Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter, on a trip to Jerusalem.

The Friendship Force organized home stays, pairing, say, people in Atlanta, Georgia with people in Tbilisi, Georgia, to promote cross-cultural familiarity and understanding.

The idea behind that particular trip was for American Jews, Palestinians and others (like me), to stay in one another’s homes, with the aim of extending cultural understanding across religions just a little bit, day by day, step by step.

With much less background out in the world at that younger age, I sat astonished with, I think, everybody else in our well-meaning little peacenik assembly, when a young Likud parliamentarian, fluent in English from his high school in Pennsylvania and later MIT, bounded up to the podium to caution us on trusting those damned Palestinians, whose Green Line was within nine miles of the Mediterranean Sea at the closest point, and who had designs on it all!

Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks were perhaps not the most appropriate welcome to our particular group.

The Prime Minister has been a public figure since that day, more than twenty-five years now, much of an adult life. And now we read today (New York Times):

“The Israeli police recommended on Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, casting a pall over the future of a tenacious leader who has become almost synonymous with his country. The announcement instantly raised doubts about his ability to stay in office.”

This thing and others like it have been dogging the Prime Minister and his family for years:

“The Netanyahus have long occupied pride of place in this crowded field of wealth-seekers. In 1994, a Jerusalem paper wrote about the family’s penchant for dining and dashing. Their appetites grew after Netanyahu became prime minister for a second time in 2009: a $2,500 contract for gourmet ice cream at their official residence, and a $127,000 bed installed on a government plane so they could nap on the five-hour flight to London. Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, has been investigated for stealing patio furniture, and his son, Yair, for accepting free Mariah Carey tickets. None of this seemed to put a dent in the Netanyahu family’s political fortunes. But it all made for good headlines.”

I wonder if all this time ought to be enough for any one person to be in proximity to power, particularly in a small and tightly-knit land like Israel, but maybe, anywhere at all.

Paint a Pinkie, Pay a Fine. Proof It’s Time for a Vacation.

"The public expects us to act firmly and swiftly if we see any social
misbehavior by women, and men, who defy our Islamic values… In some
areas of north Tehran we can see many suntanned women and young girls
who look like walking mannequins."

So says Tehran’s police chief Hossein Sajedinia, quoted in NiacINsight, which is a blog by the National Iranian American Council. It goes on to point out these offenses and the fines associated with them:


Glasses over the hair: 18,000 Toman
Short manteau: 25,000 Toman
Bright manteau (green or red color): 25,000 Toman
Nail polish per finger: 5,000 Toman
Tan: 25,000 Toman
Light hair (depending on the color):  From 50,000 to 150,000 Toman

Being blond can cost you in fun lovin' North Tehran. And at these prices, if you're on a budget, you might want to just polish that one pinkie. Probably not Lindsey Lohan-style, though.

This all goes hand in hand with the new Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance-approved hairstyles photo that made the rounds a week or so back (here from the web site MehrNews.com):

552715_orig

These hairstyles are to be promoted at a sure-to-be super fun event called the Modesty and Veil Festival later this month. It says here that "The proposed styles are inspired by Iranians’ complexion, culture and religion, and Islamic law,” according to Jaleh Khodayar, who is in charge of the Modesty and Veil Festival.

See? There it is again, the age old connection between Iranian complexion and Islamic law.

Just about as oddly, in today's Jerusalem Post, Caroline Glick argues the whole hair thing is pretty much proof that Israel now has Iran just where it wants 'em.


"The
regime’s fear of its opposition has caused it to crack down on domestic
liberties. Last week the regime issued hairstyle guidelines for men.
Spiked hair and ponytails are officially banned as decadent,"
writes she. This and a barrage of other stuff are proof the Iranian regime is insecure. "And this frees Netanyahu
to fight the coming war on Israel’s terms."

All this heat's bringing on silly season. Time for us all to go on vacation.

(Speaking of which, an update on this post tomorrow.)