That phantasmagoria for Fressers, the place where the elite meet to overeat, Irving’s Delicatessen, was all atwitter. Moishe, the resident philosopher, sometimes called the Sophocles of Salamis, because his usual seat was in the back of the store under the salamis hanging from the ceiling to age, just next to the sign that read “Send a salami to a boy in the army,” was holding forth on the subject of the present troubles in Israel.
“My business is logic, so let me talk logic.”
Sammy, the retired furrier, who was the group cynic, mumbled, “I didn’t know that ‘logic’ had a Polish accent.”
Ignoring Sammy, the group of old men sitting around the table, whose average age was “deceased,” all leaned forward.
“The Palestinians kill Israeli women and children. Israel has three choices. They can ignore the murders, but that would then be a license to keep killing Jews. They can make a small response, which would make the Palestinians simply think that they pulled off a good bargain. Or they can make a massive retaliation, making it clear that for every Israeli murdered, a dozen Palestinian extremists would go off to their heaven to enjoy the pleasures of forty black-haired virgins.”
Ben, the retired cab driver piped up, “But that is what Israel did, and it didn’t work.”
“Ah, ha,” Moishe jumped on Ben. “That is my point. When it was only a little massive, Bush was supportive of Israel’s actions. When the massiveness became really massive, then President Bush backed away from supporting Israel and said that the Israeli actions were ‘not helpful.'”
Sammy mumbled himself into the conversation. “When the terrorists blew up two buildings in the United States, murdering the people in them, President Bush sent in ten thousand airplanes and American troops with more electronic equipment than they sell at The Wiz and wiped out a whole country. When the terrorists attacked Israel and tried to wipe out the whole country, and Israel didn’t let one terrorist who wears a shmata on his head out of his house, knocked down some shacks and tried to punish the criminals, Bush said it was not helpful.”
Abie, who claimed he was a retired male nurse, but who some claimed, behind his back, had been an abortionist, pointed out that there was a relationship between the World Trade Center bombers and the various terrorist groups that attacked Israel. “They are like different branches of the Mafia.”
Morris, who was retired from being retired, said, “But, things are different now. There is a new peace plan from Saudi Arabia: Israel should withdraw to the pre-1967 boundaries in exchange for the Arabs’ recognition of Israel.”
Irving, at this point, was in the conversation with both feet, and waving a pickle in Morris’s face said to him, “How stupid can you be? You better retire from your last retirement. Some peace plan! It’s like my saying to my brother-in-law,” motioning with a nod of his head to Seymour, his brother-in-law, down at the other end of the store eating a knish, “I’ll make a deal with you. If you stop stealing from the cash register I will acknowledge to the whole world that you are my brother-in-law. The problem is, whether I like it or not, I am stuck with the fact that I’m his brother-in-law, and what I say to the world does not change this fact, and no matter what he now says, he will soon go back to stealing from the cash register.”
The group nodded their heads in agreement, and said together, “He’s right.” Sammy whispered to no one, “What the hell is he talking about?” Moishe began to worry that he might lose his position as resident philosopher. And 6,000 miles away there was laughter in Saudi Arabia.
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