Hand Jive

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Santo Subito! At the funeral of JP2, Israeli President Moshe Katsav was seated near Syrian President Bashar Assad, and according to Katsav, they shook hands! In fact, Katsav says they shook hands twice, with Assad instigating the second shake!

What was Syria's reaction to this claim? According to The Jerusalem Post, Syrian officials denied that any such thing had ever taken place, and that "the Israelis were operating on the principle of 'the more you lie, the more people believe you.'" After they said that, Assad himself admitted that he and Katsav had shaken hands twice, before and after the funeral ceremony.

But wait! Katsav also claimed to have encountered Iranian President Muhammad Khatami, whose country is dedicated to the annihilation of Israel, and that they too shook hands! Israel's president is a native of Iran, and in fact was born in the same town—Yazd—where Iran's president was born. Katsav claimed that while the two shook hands pleasantly, they chatted idly about Yazd, in Farsi!

What was the Iranian reaction to this story when it appeared in the Israeli media? Wrote the JPost, "Khatami strenuously denied any kind of interchange with Katsav," adding that according to the Iranian press, Khatami said that "This claim is like other baseless claims made by the Zionist media." Then, footage appeared of the two presidents shaking hands and chatting idly.

What's all this mean? Katsav says the handshakes had no significance. The denials, however, have sent Beirut's Daily Star into geopolitical despair.

NEXT: The Samsonite Conspiracy

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  1. Yes, well can you really blame them? I guess being seen shaking hands and chatting idly with those you are actively seeking to cultivate hatred towards could be a cause for a little cognitive dissonance among your own people. But their bending over backwards to deny even such a banal gesture (embarrassingly futile as the attempt was) is telling and ought to cause a little reflection in those still clinging to the “moral equivalence” view of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

  2. What else has President Katsav been up to lately? Oh, some very interesting things, but don’t expect Freund to tell you about this one:

    http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/559008.html

  3. I read a report in which Katsav admitted to shaking hands and engaging in idle chatter after which he dismissed the significance by saying something to the effect of:

    “We are cultured individuals who know how to behave in public.”

    Would that it were that simple.

  4. The real missed opportunity was that, in true old-school fashion, they ended the post-consecration “Handshake Of Peace” after about two minutes. I’ve been in black RCC churches where the HOP goes on for 15 minutes, with only a hundred or so people. Here they had a zillion people, every foreign dignitary in the world, and a three-hour mass, and they rushed right through it. (These guys have always viewed the HOP as a needless and vaguely hippyish innovation.) I was hoping to see Bush giving the glad hand all over the place, but I don’t think he had time even to get past his inner circle.

  5. Not really on topic, but what got me while I was watching the funeral was that the people there to mourn (or whatever) were actually into it, crying, praying, etc but the Cardinals and other dignitaries seemed to be totally bored.

  6. But their bending over backwards to deny even such a banal gesture (embarrassingly futile as the attempt was) is telling and ought to cause a little reflection in those still clinging to the “moral equivalence” view of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

    Yeah, a little more evidence indicating which side can be believed.

    Or, maybe the video was faked, yet another Jewish conspiracy like 9/11. Yep, that there’s the ticket.

  7. Terri who?

  8. “It’s perhaps worth remembering the opposite of symbol in Greek is also the basis for the word devil.”

    This is off topic, but a point of interest, for me anyway.

    It’s my understanding that our word “devil” descended from the term daevas, a group of gods from Indo-European times. The dark and evil connotation came by way of Zoroastrism; indeed, Zoroaster declared this whole class of gods to be the minions of evil. They were part of the pantheon prior to Zoroaster, however.

    …In fact, their leader was Indra, the God of the Vedas.

    Anyway, I believe the origin of the word “devil” is daevas, and, thus, will be forever lost in the mists of Indo-European pre-history. However, like much else we know of ancient Persian culture, the term probably came to us by way of the Greeks.

    P.S. Once you know something of the history and practice of Zoroastrism, “Oedipus Rex” and “Antigone” read like war propaganda.

  9. Syrian officials denied that any such thing had ever taken place, and that “the Israelis were operating on the principle of ‘the more you lie, the more people believe you.'”

    Transferance anyone? Thanks for Freudian slip there buddy.
    Amazing if the Israelis said something as idiotic and ignorant as that they’d be blasted on the BBC, AP, Reuters, AFP, AlJazeera, AlArabiya instantly…. But its ok for Arabs to lie and lie big and frequently…. I mean this lie, is just a small one…. but give me something juicy like Israeli murdering Al Durra, or Jenin, or 3 kids playing “soccer”…… YUM………

    “Khatami strenuously denied any kind of interchange with Katsav,” adding that according to the Iranian press, Khatami said that “This claim is like other baseless claims made by the Zionist media.” Then, footage appeared of the two presidents shaking hands and chatting idly.

    You wonder if these guys could be that pathetic like Baghdad Bob? Do they realize what pathetic comical liars they are?

  10. Mike:

    They don’t care about your opinion.

  11. Do they realize what pathetic comical liars they are?

    The rulers of the Middle East really have no choice other than to keep lying. Their subjects are so used to their bullshit that the actual unvarnished truth would probably be spun wildly out of proportion, and/or seen as a sign of weakness. It’s an advanced version of what you see here in the United States, where an actual admission of error by a politician is always assumed to be hiding an even more significant error. In a world where the average citizen knows that “it is a lie that I shook hands with an Israeli Jew” probably means “I shook his hand as part of normal diplomacy”, how do you think “yes, I shook his hand” would be interpreted?

  12. It’s just that we Jews can’t resist giving Gentiles our cooties.

    Damn, we’ve been conspiring for over 5700 years and we still haven’t taken over the world.

  13. I did not have manual relations with that Jew, Mr. Katsav.

  14. I did not have manual relations with that Jew, Mr. Katsav.

    rofl… good one thoreau 😉

  15. Ken:

    Yeah, OT, but here goes:

    Devil = Persian “Daevas” as you said, but remember that it shares the same root as “divo”, meaning god (the word for goddess is “diva”). Furthermore, remember that in many Central Asian languages, such as Hindi (another Indo-Euro language) there is no “V” sound but is pronounced as a “W”; therefore “Divo” was pronounced “Diwo”, which became Greek “Theo” (hard t sound), and Latin “Deo” and “Deus”. To show the antiquity of this, the pre-Zoro Aryan sky god was called Dyaus.

    So remember, folks: one man’s devil may be someone else’s angel.

    [sound of boos and pelted fruit]

  16. The striking bit for me in this piece is I had to think twice before I recognized the President Katzav’s name. I wonder how many of us (using “us” in the wide, generic sense) have trouble understanding a parliamentary system with a strong Prime Minister and a weak-as-old-dishwater ceremonial President. This would have been a story if it had been the Israeli PM rather than the punk-ass President.

  17. “Amazing if the Israelis said something as idiotic and ignorant as that they’d be blasted on the BBC, AP, Reuters, AFP, AlJazeera, AlArabiya instantly….”

    Yes, of course the media is incredibly biased in favor of Arabs and Muslims, as reflected by the vast number of television shows and movies with Arab and/or Muslim protagonists that have been made in the United States over the last 50 years….

  18. “but don’t expect Freund to tell you about this one”

    You are nuts if you expect Charles to say a word about Israel’s honoring its terrorist roots. That doesn’t fit the neocons agenda.

    You know what else Charles will not mention? The recent anti-occupation demonstration in Baghdad.

  19. Hey didja hear the Prime Minister of Gabon raised his left eyebrow? Possibly in the direction of the Sultan of Togo? Meanwhile the President of Eritrea bit his thumb at the Grand Poobah of Yemen!!! Everybody denied everything… but Paris Hilton caught some of it on her sidekick!! And now Al Jazeera’s spinning the hell out of it!!!

    This could be the beginning of yet another Historic Peace Accord ™.

    Or the beginning of Armageddon!!

    Either way, what entertainment, eh kids?

    Boil some coffee! Order some Chinese! Looks like we’re gonna hafta roll up our sleeves and stay glued to the idiot box for the next 24 hours of CNN’s “HandShake05”!!!!!

  20. Are mere handshakes all that serious anymore? Certainly not as serious as the old handshake/soul-shake/grab-fingers-then-point-at-each-other move that is a true indicator of friendship and/or national reconciliation.

  21. Since Jimmy Carter got a Nobel Peace Prize for getting Israel and Egypt to shake hands, does JP2 get one posthumously?

  22. I wonder how many of us (using “us” in the wide, generic sense) have trouble understanding a parliamentary system with a strong Prime Minister and a weak-as-old-dishwater ceremonial President.

    Not that it will ever happen here, but I kind of like the idea of dividing the job in half. Maybe not the way that most parliamentary systems do it, but still.

    The closest we have in the US is New Hampshire, which has an “Executive Council” to keep an eye on the governor.

    Like I said, not gonna happen here, but I like the idea FWIW.

  23. “So remember, folks: one man’s devil may be someone else’s angel.”

    Indeed, I suspect that daevas is also the ultimate root of the word “divine”.

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