Wednesday, February 26, 2003

I'm in the US once again. At a luncheon yesterday I neglected my "business networking" to have an extended conversation with 2 officials from the local Israeli consulate. I told them about weblogs (hello to you guys if you are reading this), and that there seems to be wide consensus that the Israeli PR effort is pathetic (particularly in Europe).

To begin working with the Israeli foreign service, you typically get a degree in International Relations or Economics. Then you enroll in a "cadet's course" where you learn a smattering of different practical topics. It sounds like how to hold a wine glass or go to the Opera gets about the same amount of treatment as how to address a large audience or speak on camera.

The consulate fellows who I spoke to are nice and dedicated, but I have to say that the heavily-accented marketing fellow who was pitching his company to some potential American partners had an infinitely better perception of how his audience was receiving his message.

I appreciate the email from American bloggers and hope that on a future trip I'll have a chance to get together with some of you.

Sunday, February 23, 2003

Zeev Schiff writes that the US is going to seek another Security Council resolution to authorize war on Iraq, and will advance severe economic measures to bully France not to veto. Powell shared secret intelligence info with France and Germany, but France refuses to be impressed. Schiff also says that there is implicit US-Iran cooperation against Iraq, and notes that Jordan is supporting the US this time around.
Jpost print edition continues the Belgium backlash: a long article describes King Leopold II's exploitation of the Congo around the (previous) turn of the century - including the massive use of slave labor, cruelties like amputations and a "human zoo" of Congolese at the 1897 World Exhibition in Brussels. In 1961 Belgians kidnapped Congo Prime Minister Patrice Lumemba and two others, killed them, and dissolved their remains with acid.

Belgians were largely unaware of their colonial record, according to the article by Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, until the publication of a book by American Adam Hochschild in 1997. But ...
While Hochschild's book, and the Lumumba parliamentary commission, undoubtedly led to an unprecedented amount of soul-searching, there are no signs of self-flagellation. The strongest language Gryseels will use is this: "There is absolutely no question that, seen with the moral standards of today, the period of the Congo Free state saw practices that are completely unacceptable."

Belgian journalist Colette Braeckman is quoted from Le Monde Diplomatique as saying that the "ethical impetus" of the Belgian court trial against Ariel Sharon "undoubtedly has its source in the heavy colonial past which confronts Belgium". It's more likely an extension of the domineering colonial impulse.