From Haircuts to Diplomacy

I loved the recent headline in the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch. It reads: “Francois Hollande’s $11,000 could buy Warren Buffett 611 haircuts.”

Until the Nice attacks, France’s press and citizens had been having a field day skewering French President Francois Hollande for spending € 9,895  ($13,500) on haircuts. And a French government spokeswoman  “confirmed the stylist’s salary to Bloomberg,” asserting that “Hollande isn’t ‘just anybody.’ ”

Problem is that this is not the stylist’s annual salary. No sir! This is the stylist’s monthly salary, a salary equal to a French legislator’s parsimonious monthly pittance. Apologists for Monsieur Le Président assert that the poor hairdresser “is committed to secrecy and needs to be available 24/7. … He missed the birth of his children.” (France 24)

The scandal has been termed CoiffeurGate. And there is no shortage of vanity among the powerful, for after all, with power comes not only vanity, but also narcissism, entitlement, egotism, hubris, and self-absorption of the worst kind.

Albeit only a miniscule $200, this CoiffeurGate  brings to mind another 1993 expensive haircut nicknamed the HairGate.

In 1993 American media had a field day with Bill Clinton’s haircut aboard Air Force One. At the time The Washington Post commented that “this was the most famous haircut since Samson’s.” And the Los Angeles Times reported that two tarmacs were closed down for one hour, adversely affecting air traffic, so that his Royal Majesty, King William Jefferson Clinton the First, would spruce up for the media, or, perhaps, for yet another conquest.

Seems that Bill Clinton’s affectation with his importance, especially aboard airplanes (owned by taxpayers and power brokers) at airports, is sustained by the facts. To wit the U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s falling for Slick Willie’s invitation to spend an hour (at a politically delicate juncture) aboard his private jet (whose ownership has not been disclosed) to discuss golf and family values — such as grandchildren.

All Hairgate hoopla was forgotten in September of 1993 when, with the whole world watching, Bill Clinton officiated over a so-called peace signing ceremony on the White House Lawn, a ceremony which strapped the Palestinians into a straightjacket and laid the foundation for the continued colonization and occupation of Palestine, and pronounced the death knell of a Palestinian state. And Hillary’s about to assure that the status quo continues, unabated.

And, as evil has once again raised its ugly face in Nice, France, on the July 14, 2016  Bastille Day, in yet another dastardly and cowardly act of sheer terror, CoiffeurGate will evaporate into nothingness.

In a speech delivered to the French people (as well as the world), President Hollande rightfully stated that “All of France is under threat from Islamist terrorism.  Nothing will make us yield in our will to fight terrorism. We will further strengthen our actions in Iraq and in Syria.”

Ironically, just over 100 years ago French General Picot, in cahoots with his British counterpart, General Sykes, met secretly to draw a new map of the Middle East, a “let’s split the spoils of war” scheme that has laid the foundations for perpetual turmoil in a region prized for its geo-strategic importance and its only rich resource, that cursed three letter word that has helped spawn continued wars. Instead of a blessing, the oil has been a curse. That is a subject for another day. I consider the 1916 secret Sykes Picot Agreement to be the first original sin of the modern New East.

While not as active as the Brits and Americans in the affairs of the Levant post WWII, France’s colonization of Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria and the brutal policies of subduing the indigenous people, especially in Algeria (where 1.5 million Algerians were murdered), is merely the fault line to which many of France’s post WWII colonization of North Africans can be traced. Furthermore, France’s (Sarkozy) joining Hillary, Blair/Cameron/Bush/Obama in the Iraq/Syria/Libya/ Mali/Somalia/Afghanistan  adventures, to name but a very few, has no doubt helped bring the fanatical forces out of the cesspool of the divisive religious fanaticism and medieval tribalism that afflicts the Arab and Muslim worlds from as far as Morocco to the west, and as far as Afghanistan to the east – perhaps even Kashmir, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh, most of whom were former British colonies suffering from years of divide and conquer policies.

The theocratic thugs and tyrants who’ve ruled the Arab and Muslims worlds are equally culpable; they’ve squandered their oil wealth purchasing state of the art weaponry and fighting religious and tribal wars amongst themselves. The West has all too gladly profited from these sales, and has been all too complicit propping up and supporting these dictators. The Iraq/Syria/Libya/Mali/Somalia debacles are the proverbial straws that unleashed years of anger, repression, and authoritarianism against the regional rulers and their bedfellows in the West.

And then there was 1948 and the landmark creation of an alien state in the heart of the Arab world. Anyone who denies that the creation of Israel and the dispossession of its Palestinian population has not been ȧ cause perpétuelle de trouble fête in the very heart of the Arab World is denying a veritable historical mistake.

A tiny nation was dismembered and wiped into extinction by the international community, namely, the West, and in collusion with some of its so-called Arab brethren.

This political gang rape of Palestine, now in its 69th year, is the second original sin. Akin to an incurable cancer, its spores have metastasized in every Arab and Muslim country. Suffice it to say that for 69 years Israel’s leaders, with tacit support from the U.S. and the West (financial, military,  political, and diplomatic), have avoided the inevitable. Whether the Israelis or the West like it or not, Palestinians exist; if Israel wants a safe and secure nation (at best a canard), then a two-state solution is a must.

I don’t foresee a Palestinian state coming into existence at any time in our lifetimes. The madmen who run Israel preach, live, eat, sleep, walk, talk, practice, and pray hatred.

Don’t believe me?

The racist rhetoric during Israel’s three attacks (2008, 2012, 2014) on Gaza sustain the afore-stated. According to Israelis, they were “smoking out rodents,” “killing vermin,” “wiping out roaches,” “fighting evil,” “endorsing and fighting for western values.” One very sinister somewhat abstract graphic of a shapely woman dressed only in traditional Palestinian headdress was accompanied with the following text: “Go all the way.” The Rape message was very clear: Violate/Rape Gaza and its population.


That Feminists Hillary C., Michelle O., Albright M., Gloria S., Elizabeth W., Wasserman Schultz D., et. al. continue to remain silent and support their Darling, Israel,  is a telling comment on the power Israel has on the hearts and minds of Americans.

No surprise there.

Only this week the Netanyahu government appointed  Rabbil Eyal Qarim as the Israel Defense Forces’ Chief Rabbi.  Chief Rabbi Colonel Eyal Qarim is that same racist, misogynist spiritual leader who’s been quoted to have delivered a Jewish fatwa that reads: “It is permissible to rape during war” and, according to his effusive spiritual wisdom,  in times of war Israeli soldiers, the most moral army in the world, are permitted “to have sex with comely gentile women against their will.”  Adding further proof to his demented argument, war, he stated,   “removes some of the prohibition on sexual relations, and even though fraternizing with a gentile woman is a very serious matter, it was permitted during wartime out of understanding for the hardship endured by the warriors. And since the success of the whole at war is our goal, the Torah permitted the individual to satisfy the evil urge; under the conditions mentioned, for the success of the whole.” (Mondoweiss, July 22, 2016).

You’d expect Trump to remain silent. But for Hillary, defender of human rights, especially the one who, as Secretary of State, lectured the world on women’s rights, to remain silent, says much about America’s future foreign policies.

Are we living in Torah times when God, supposedly, ordained “his people” to butcher the enemy by the thousands? Does it get down to “an eye for any eye?”  “Is vengeance mine, thine. his, hers, ours, theirs”  the new maxim by which modern societies must live? And, I suppose, that, by the saintly rabbi’s standard, during times of war uncomely women are more lucky that their attractive counterparts in warding off the menacing violation that, even to this day in Israel, calls for “Going all the way?”

Do you, Sirs, have no sense of decency left?

And anyone who denies that there is a connection between wars of choice waged on dark-skinned populations, bombing them back to the stone age, and supporting the likes of Saudi Arabia and its underling cousins as well as Israel, “the only democracy in the Middle East,” is living in denial.

To his credit, unlike his America, British, German, and other European counterparts (excepting Sweden), President Francois Hollande has attempted to open the door of diplomacy — only to have it repeatedly slammed in his face and stubbing  his (no doubt manicured) toes.

At this juncture when justified fury and rage call for vengeance, waging a diplomatic war is urgently needed, perhaps more so than ever before.

Raouf J. Halaby is a Professor Emeritus of English and Art. He is a writer, photographer, sculptor, an avid gardener, and a peace activist.