Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Apprentice may not represent the business world, but it's good television

Now that the third series of the Apprentice is over, millions will be wondering how to spend their Wednesday nights.

Thousands of entrepreneurs have been inspired by the programme, funny when you consider that it isn't very entrepreneurial choosing to work for someone else. It's also strange, when you consider that Alan's business empire is a shadow of what is was 20 years ago. Looking at Amstrad's website, all they seem to offer these days are an e-mail phone, a satellite TV receiver, and a couple of beauty products. The fact that Sir Alan is worth over £800 million has more to do with his property portfolio than his business.

There is an interesting article in the Times about the fact that Alan Sugar's business techniques bear bear little resemblance to the modern business world. But that none of that really matters, as he has succeeded in making the world of business sexy and exciting, banishing forever the "men in grey suits" stereotype. He has also succeeded in creating reality TV that is reasonably intelligent, and even educational. Yes, we may enjoy watching the candidates stab each other in the back, but we also learn valuable business lessons, like how to manage people, and why it's not a good idea to sell English cheese to the French (especially if it's from Macro). Other networks are jumping on the business bandwagon, keen to emulate the Apprentice's success, ITV starts screening Tycoon this week.

Name and shame the boycotters

The Jewish Chronicle this week took the unusual step of naming and shaming those Jews who are behind the current boycott of Israel, people such as Steven and Hilary Rose. Their exposure is long overdue.

For too long, Jewish anti-Zionists have been allowed to get away with their: "I'm-Jewish-and-I'm-ashamed-of-what-Israel-is-doing...." rhetoric. They have little or no contact with the Jewish community and no association with Judaism except for when they're denouncing Israel. They are easily able to convince an unsuspecting audience that you can be both Jewish and anti-Zionist.

In the increasingly hostile atmosphere towards Israel, Anglo-Jewry feels under seige. The Jewish boycotters may regard themselves as Jews, but in the eyes of Anglo-Jewry, they are regarded as self-hating Jews, and are held in about as much regard as Jews for Jesus.

Everyone is to blame for Hamastan (except Hamas)

After several days of fierce fighting, and over 100 deaths, the Gaza strip finally fell to Hamas last week. Anyone who wanted to know what life was like in the Middle East's newest Islamic State soon got a taste. Fatah members were dragged out of their hiding places and shot, with some being thrown off buildings, all filmed for Hamas primetime television.

There were howls of outrage from most the British press....much of it aimed at everyone other than Hamas. The BBC's Middle East Editor, Jeremy Bowen blamed it on the Israelis:

....The institutions, and the hopes behind them, have already taken a severe battering from Israel’s military actions over the last seven years and, more recently, by the punishing financial sanctions imposed by Israel and other countries after Hamas won a free election at the beginning of last year...

The Independent blamed the outside world:

...While the conflict rages in this overcrowded territory, the blame is spread more widely. The outside world, too, bears a good deal of responsibility. The financial boycott imposed on the Palestinian Authority by the United States and the European Union has reduced the people of Gaza to desperation. Unemployment is through the roof and more than one-third of the population rely on United Nations food aid to survive. Israel's border closures and punitive travel restrictions have compounded this atmosphere of hopelessness...
So it seems that Europe, America and Israel were all to blame because their sanctions.

Yes, the Palestinians have every right to vote for Hamas if they want to, but they shouldn't be surprised if the outside world want nothing to do with their chosen government. Let me ask Jeremy Bowen and the comment editors of the Independent how they would feel if a far-right party took power in Europe. It's happened before.

Back in 2000, an extreme right wing populist named Jorg Haider, joined a coalition government in Austria, causing widespread outrage throughout the European Union. The heads of government of the other fourteen EU members decided to cease cooperation with the Austrian government, and for several months, other national leaders refused to shake hands and socialize with members of the Schüssel government. The EU leaders soon felt that their measures were counterproductive and relations returned to normal during the summer of 2000, even though the coalition remained unchanged. Despite this, many Liberals argued that "sanctions" later helped to decrease the popularity of Jorg Haider and also to prevent such coalitions in other EU countries.

Haider is a nasty piece of work, but when you view his track record, he's a cuddly teddy bear next to Hamas. On every measure, Hamas are an extreme right wing fascist party. They believe in wiping Israel off the map (together with its Jewish inhabitants). They are racists, imperialists, and mysoginists. Once they've finished throwing Fatah members off buildings, they'll be coming for homosexuals, infidels and just about anyone else they regard as undesirable. If Hamas were a white Christian party and took power in Europe, they would be beyond the pale, but because of their religion and skin colour they can only be seen as the voice of the "oppressed". And they have played the "oppression" card for all it's worth, knowing full well that more sanctions mean even more hardship for the Palestinians, and more hardship means even more sympathy from do-gooders across the Western world. Their policy seems to be bearing fruit.

As Hamas step up their attacks on Israel as they have vowed to do, it is inevitable that Israel will be forced to return to Gaza to flush Hamas out. You can be sure that when this happens, there will only be one culprit in the eyes of Jeremy Bowen and much of the Western media....Israel.

Kurt Waldheim, a horrible man

Reading his obituary, it beggars belief that someone with such a shady past could have become President of Austria. Notwithstanding his unforthcoming account of what happened during the war, he didn't exactly endear himself to the sceptics in the decades following it.

When the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia in August 1968, Waldheim (then Austria's Foreign Minister) ordered his ambassador in Prague to refuse asylum to fleeing supporters of Dubcek's regime. When he visited Yad Vashem as UN Secretary General in 1973, he refused to wear a kippa. During his time at the UN, he condemned Israel's actions at Entebbe, yet remained strangely silent when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. (Did the Soviets have information on his wartime past that they could blackmail him with? It still isn't clear).

Unlike Germany, Austria has still not come to terms with its wartime past. Now that Kurt Waltheim has died, Austria might take the opportunity for a little more introspection.