Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Keep It Simple Stupid

Proof that Israelis are just like anyone else came with the bizarre announcement that a grandfather was suspected of killing his granddaughter, who was also his step-daughter, the child of his wife, who was also his son’s ex-wife. A story with twists and turns like the LeMans speedway.

Like the stories of lost and murdered children in America and England and around the world, Israel is now buzzing with the tragic story of 4-year-old Rose Pizem, whom her grandfather Ronny Ron claims he accidentally killed and then dumped the body, packed in a suitcase, in the Yarkon river that runs from Tel Aviv nearly to Netanya. Today the press reported that Ronny Ron seems to be lying about the whereabouts of his granddaughter’s body. He failed a lie-detector test concerning the girl’s remains.

The police and the press speculate that Ron is hesitant to admit the location of the body since a CSI type examination might reveal the child was killed with premeditation not spontaneously and accidentally as Ron claims.

The story of Rose Pizaem is familiar to anyone who reads the Israeli press. Rose’s mother, Marie-Charlotte Renault, a French Jew, married an Israeli, Benjamin Pizem, in France. Benjamin was estranged from his father Ronny Ron. When Rose was a year old Benjamin brought her to Israel with his wife Marie-Charlotte to meet the family for the first time.

For Marie-Charlotte it was apparently love at first sight. She fell for her father-in-law Ronny Ron, and allowed Benjamin to return to Paris with Rose after three-months. But Benjamin was not able to raise Rose on his own. She was under the guidance of the French Welfare authorities shortly after Benjamin returned to France.

Benjamin could never get his act together, and Rose wound up hospitalized in France, suffering from either neglect or abuse. The French police weren’t sure. When Marie found out, she sued for custody of the child and after a yearlong battle, won her fight.

What Marie didn’t know was that the little girl was suffering from severe emotional problems, reportedly due to the abuse and neglect she’d suffered at the hands of her father.

Marie brought Rose back to Israel where Ronny and Marie, still unmarried, had two daughters of their own, one 10-months old, the other two years old. Rose was difficult to handle, didn’t speak Hebrew, and was alienated from her half-sisters, and other children her age. Reportedly both her mother and Ronny Ron were strangers to her.

The couple sought to find an institution that would take the little girl, but no one would accept her. Ronny and Marie weren’t interested in keeping Rose and ultimately turned her over to Ronny’s mother, Vivien Yaacov, in Netanya.

Vivien took the job hesitantly, and ultimately demanded Ronny take the child back. He showed up in a rage and took Rose away, and that was the last anyone saw her. Vivien contacted the authorities after a few months, and the police found their way to Ronny Ron’s door. Investigators were shocked to see that Rose had no toys or personal items except a shirt and pants.

Since the story broke the press has been in a frenzy, and created unwanted results. Yesterday a second woman was arrested for the murder of her four-year-old son. As he was laying on his bed, she called Magen Dovid Adom claiming she’d smothered him. More copycat killings are feared by the police.

Bizarre behavior isn’t limited to humans. Just look at New Orleans and Hurricane Gustav. Thankfully the storm blew past New Orleans, without causing Katrina-like havoc. According to one meteorologist speaking on Israel radio, the whole issue of the storm was blown out of proportion because of battles for ratings between the various news organizations.

The same is probably true of the horrible story of Rose Pizem.

Then of course there’s the other natural disaster that struck the Republican Party. VP nominee Sarah Palin’s 17-year old pregnant daughter. The media reported the girl was going to marry her boyfriend. But the shock of a Pat Buchanan supporter, a born-again Christian tainted by her daughter’s sexual foibles were, according to some analysts, the mix that sent the McCain Pizem Presidential ticket slipping in the polls, giving Democratic Presidential hopeful Barak Obama a poll result that reached over 50 per cent the first time since he began running for President.

Israeli newspapers today ran the story of Sarah Palin talking to the AIPAC gathering, promising her firm support for Israel. But most analysts question the wisdom of McCain’s choice, wondering if the 72-year-old thought hard about the 44-year-old Governor of Alaska taking over the helm of the United States should anything happen to him. Pollsters indicate the choice wasn’t popular around the country. Even former New York Mayor Rudi Guiliani, a Republican, said he didn’t think Sarah Palin would do well as President if another 9/11 transpired during her watch.

Then there’s Manny Mazuz, Israel’s State’s Attorney, who warned that Israel’s PM Ehud Olmert might not have the legal power to sign any peace agreements, or other binding legislation, since in effect this is a caretaker government. This government is now so low on the news radar that hardly anything it does is taken seriously.

Olmert has been meeting with various diplomats in efforts to seal a deal with the Palestinians and the Syrians before he leaves office. Some analysts claim that Olmert, U.S.Sec of State Rice, and U.S. President George W. Bush are all making a last-minute push to seal some sort of agreement between both the Palestinians and the Syrians before their terms of office end.

Olmert is scheduled to finish his term officially later this month when his Kadima party holds elections. Then he truly will be a caretaker until either a member of his party takes over the reigns, or new elections are held.

The situation is similar to that in the US. As in the past, the choice of a leader isn’t so much who is better, but who isn’t worse. Often political commentators bemoan the fact that the best and the brightest no longer go into politics, but rather seek their fortunes and their fame in other venues. One name mentioned as a qualified manager of the U.S. government is Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York. But Bloomberg himself makes light of the suggestion: “Who want’s a little old Jew running America?” he reportedly said.

Israel has even fewer choices for qualified leaders. Tzipi Livni is making a strong showing, but she has been unexceptional when put to the test both as a Kadima party leader who backed down after a mild run at Olmert, and as Foreign Minister. Her chief rival in Kadima, Shaul Mofaz, ex-Defense Minister, ex-Chief of Staff, isn’t well liked or well-respected by the public. Like Barak Obama, he seems too measured in each move he makes, and step he takes.

Labor Party’s Ehud Barak has slipped in the polls so low there’s talk of replacing him as Labor’s candidate should new elections be held. His autocratic patronizing style has made him more enemies than friends. This leaves the strangely silent Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu to make his bid for the Prime Minister’s job, again. Rather than shooting from the hip, and running from the lip, as he usually does, Bibi has been as silent as Ariel Sharon, the forgotten but not gone former Prime Minister. The difference is that Bibi will be able to speak again without a miracle, once he decides the time is right.

The conclusion one draws is that from the tragic story of Rose Pizem, a neglected, battered, damaged child, through a weak winded hurricane, to the national conventions or primaries choosing a nations leaders, all seem just like more of the same. Another tragedy, perhaps the cause of too much violence on TV, or simply meanness and evil; a race for lasting fame in making a lasting diplomatic breakthrough; or the race for leadership of a country, any country, all seem to be a rehash of something that appeared time and time again.

The big test is can the nations survive, the citizens make the right choices, the leaders steer the right course? Some pundits suggest to ‘Keep It Simple Stupid,’ not try to figure out how the string theory intersects with quantum physics to produce the black holes in which one passes through to a parallel universe. Rather just try to enforce the rules of the road as they are. No white (or African American) knights are going to appear on proud steeds. No Messiah is striding purposefully towards Jerusalem. It would be nice, though, wouldn’t it?