Friday, May 16, 2014
I was just lying in bed when 3 little episodes from my past came into mind so I thought I might write them down. I think they have some entertainment value and two of them I doubt that I have written down before.
In the first I was in an office with some others when one of the guys there, Andrew, started to tell me off about something. As soon as I got a word in, I said "mea culpa, mea maxima culpa". That immediately turned his mood around -- from cross to gay, which amazed all the others around. What was this gibberish spell that I had cast on Andrew? "What did he say? What did he say? -- the others said to one another.
When you know it was Latin that still doesn't help much, does it? You have to know that Andrew was about my age and a Catholic. And what I said was from the Latin Mass, with which he was perfectly familiar. It means "I am to blame, I am maximally to blame".
The second story is when I gave one of my tenants a student discount. A common thing and something to be pleased about one would think. At first the young student was pleased but after I explained why I did it by saying that he was one of the university tribe and I am also of that tribe, it apparently preyed on his mind. He eventually moved out over it.
He was a young idealist who thought that the United Nations was a great thing, for instance. That the United Nations could teach the Sicilian Mafia a thing or two about corruption he apparently did not know. Just the constant U.N. resolutions against Israel should have told him something but he may not have known of that either.
And that brings me to my third story. The Israeli ambassador to the U.N. for a couple of years was American-born Dore Gold (Dore pronounced as "dory" and Gold being one of the most emphatically Ashkenazi names I have come across -- up there with "Finkelstein"). And Dore was a master diplomat. I saw him being given a hostile interview on (where else?) ABC TV. Despite the hostility, Gold was as cool as a cucumber. But the callow interviewer (Dempster?) did all he could to trip Gold up.
But Gold was a master of facts and figures and appeared to know every U.N. resolution about Israel both by heart and by number. So every time the interviewer displayed his ignorance, Gold would reply along the lines: "As U.N. resolution no. 248 said ....". Gold just cruised while the interviewer fumbled. He had clearly heard it all a thousand times before and had a comprehensive answer ready for every point. It was a stellar performance and I have always wanted to shake Gold's hand over it. The interview seemed to be as easy for Gold as if he had been reciting nursery rhymes -- which in a way I suppose he was. He is still an eminent man in Israel.
UPDATE: Readers will no doubt get the accurate impression that I am a great admirer of Dore Gold. Here is another anecdote which summarizes what I see in him: Impeccable preparation.
"Brandeis University invited Gold to debate Justice Richard Goldstone on November 5, 2009. The subject was the U.N. Gaza Report. Jeff Jacoby wrote in an opinion piece in the Boston Globe on November 7: "Dore Gold, Israel's former ambassador to the U.N. brought facts and figures, maps and photographs, audio and video in English, Arabic, and Hebrew. Last night's encounter marked the first time Goldstone publicly debated the report's merits with a leading Israeli figure. It would not surprise me that he is in no hurry for a second."
It is rare for a diplomat to generate admiration but Gold deserves it.