Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Gordon Gekko's 12th Century Source?

I'm reading Hillel Halkin's book on the 12th century Spanish-Hebrew poet Yehuda Halevi, who lived in cities including Córdoba. Halkin remarks on his time there:

In Córdoba he had many old friends and acquaintances. There was Avraham ibn Ezra, a ruefully witty and financially unsuccessful wanderer who once joked in a poem that if he were to go into the candle trade, the sun would never set, and that men would cease to die if he sold shrouds.

This reminded me of the scene in Wall Street where Bud Fox meets Gordon Gekko for the first time, and Gekko says about the CEO of Teldar Paper:

Why the hell is Cromwell giving a lecture tour when he's losing 60 million a quarter? Guess he's giving lectures in how to lose money. If this guy owned a funeral parlor, no one would die!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Israel's Lethal Arrogance

"It's clear that the equipment for crowd dispersal with which they [Israeli commandos] were issued was insufficient," IDF Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi commented after the recent flotilla fiasco. The commander of the soldiers who boarded the flotilla commented, "We did not expect such resistance from the group's activists as we were talking about a humanitarian aid group."

This reminded me of Bar-Ilan University professor Efraim Inbar's observation regarding Israel's performance in the Second Lebanon War:

Israel's highest political and military echelons committed serious strategic errors in preparation for, during execution, and in the aftermath of the 2006 Lebanon campaign. Together, these errors enabled Hezbollah to persevere against the larger, better-equipped Israeli military and emerge as perhaps an even greater threat.

Israeli historian Benny Morris has noted regarding Egypt and Syria's joint attack on Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War:

The Arabs' success in springing this strategic surprise--a feat that has taken its place in military history alongside Hitler's invasion of Russia and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor--owed much to the Israeli perception of the Arab forces as inherently incompetent, weak, and incapable of mounting such a deception. Zvi Zamir, then director of the Mossad, explained: "We simply did not believe that they could do it...We scorned them."

Israel probably has the second or third most sophisticated military in the world; but it has a sickening habit of jeopardizing citizens' lives due to this pattern of arrogance. Or is it as much ineptitude?