Back in 1978, New York magazine ran a cool contest for the best three lines of dialogue. Character A would say a line, Character B would respond, and Character A had a comeback line to close it out. All the clever Big Apple wags got to duke it out and the results were out of this world. One of the top five winners went as follows.
“Did you hear I am learning to speak German?”
“Excellent. Wie gehts?”
“No, thanks. I don’t like tomato juice.”
This was quintessential New York humor, witty with a hint of cultural snobbery. You only get to enjoy the joke if you know “wie gehts?” means “how is it going?” in German and you know it is pronounced “vee gates.” Then you could make the connection to V-8 tomato juice and appreciate how Character B exposes himself as a linguistic wannabe by failing to recognize the standard German greeting.
If we were to run such a contest today for the political cognoscenti the tomato juice reference might produce another winner.
“Mr. President, can I offer you some tomato juice?”
“Yes, but I only like it mixed with 7-UP.”
“Great. Here, have some V-15…”
Those who only laugh politely and then clear their throats hollowly are probably too embarrassed to confess they have no idea what V-15 represents. Which is fine with President Obama and the shadowy supporters of the shady political activist group that has been aggressively flooding the Israeli media with ads against Benjamin Netanyahu. They prefer to do their dirty work in the dark, without ownership and accountability.
I was in Israel when this group burst unto the scene a few months ago. The mysterious name sounds like a code number, a dossier in an espionage file. Presumably it is a shorthand version of “Victory 2015” but it deliberately planes off the evocative edges and the provocative pledges of the longer phrase. It came out of the desert on a horse with no name and began to run loads of advertising on television and radio.
Money seemed to be no object for the group and when pressed it turned out money was no subject either. They used a novel argument to avoid reporting their donors to the national election commission. Israeli election law requires any entity advertising on behalf of a party or candidate to make a full accounting of its finances and to identify its sources of funding. V-15 used a novel method of deflecting this obligation. It claimed exemption because — get this! — it was not campaigning for any specific party or candidate: it was simply calling for change. When pressed, its managers advanced the claim that they would be satisfied with a vote for any party but Netanyahu’s Likud. Amazingly, this passed muster.
Obviously this premise is ludicrous. First of all, campaigning against a candidate is real electioneering and political advocacy no less than campaigning for a candidate. Secondly, the motivation is clearly to move the governing compass leftward. If Likud were to lose to one of the parties to its right, would that be a big V in ’15 for these goons to celebrate? Surely no one believes that for a moment.
The provenance of V-15 is an organization based in New York City called One Voice. One Voice has received more than a million dollars from the Ford Foundation and about four hundred thousand from Uncle Sam through the Department of State. It has an aggressively pro-Palestinian stance, employs several Palestinian activists, and gives a donation each year to the American Task Force on Palestine. Indeed there is a strong sense in Israel that Obama is pulling the strings in V-15 by giving goodies to One Voice.
This is not the first time an American President has blatantly interfered with the Israeli electoral process. During the Oslo negotiations, President Clinton sent James Carville and other Democrat strategists to Israel to help Ehud Barak defeat Netanyahu. This is déjà vu all over again. Another leftist President is trying to push out Benjamin (Hebrew for “man of the right”) Netanyahu. We will see shortly just how effective this pernicious meddling has been this time around.
Early exit polls indicate Netanyahu will hold on to his job (his main pollster told Sean Hannity he is 90 percent certain). It will be several days before the governing coalition takes shape. Then Netanyahu can celebrate with a Bloody Mary… Actually, as the Designated Driver, he should stick to tomato juice.
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