Flat earth

A spin with Bibi

A spin with Bibi

With elections pending here and in the US, we are going to heard a lot more about spin doctors. Journalists hate them, but it was inevitable that a class of image merchants would spring up who could advise their political masters on presentation and distil their policies into a soundbite or two, thereby helping them to get elected.

What struck me last week, though, was that in Israel they elected the spin doctor. With Benjamin Netanyahu, the soundbite is all there is: no policy exists behind the presentation. His whole raison d'etre is to look good on TV.

The man described by his former boss, the head of Israel's largest furniture concern, as "the best marketing manager we ever had" promised Israelis that they could have peace without paying any price, and now his customers are finding their guarantee is worthless. Since his initial disastrous mistake of opening the tunnel under Jerusalem's Old City he has seemed obsessed with how events are perceived, rather than the reality - insisting, for instance, that the tunnel was dug for purely scientific purposes, when the work was financed by the religious affairs ministry.

Nor is this anything new. Here is "Bibi" on a previous Palestinian explosion: "There is no spontaneous mobilisation of people to go against the Israeli presence. In fact it's amazingly placid, compared to what anyone would expect reading the news reports." That was on 9 December 1987 - the day the intifada began.

Safer by far

BY THE sound of things, even Lebanon might be a safer place than Israel at the moment - Beirut, it is claimed, is less dangerous than New York. Before you scoff, the claimer is none other than Terry Anderson, the American journalist who was kidnapped and held hostage in Lebanon for nearly seven years.

Recently he made a return trip to Lebanon for the first time since being released in December 1991. Back in Washington he told a Senate sub-committee that he encountered no danger or security threat, even in areas controlled by Hizbollah, the group believed to shelter the kidnappers.

Anderson and others are urging the US to lift restrictions on travel to Lebanon, but the State Department insists the place is still dangerous. Riad Tabbara, the Lebanese ambassador to Washington, says more than 60,000 visas have been issued for Americans since 1990. "Nothing happened to them," he protested. "They didn't even have a car accident."

Odd couples

PAUL Smith and Debi Easterday were wed recently in Painesville, Ohio. Nothing more normal than that, surely, except that the judge insisted on a doctor's note certifying that Mr Smith was still a man before he would perform the ceremony.

You see, the groom is applying in the very same court to change his name from Paul to Denise, because he plans to have a sex-change operation. His wife is a lesbian, and they want to live together in masculinity-free bliss. Bill Clinton, however, has just signed a bill against same-sex marriages, because the state of Hawaii seems about to allow two gay men to wed, and the Ohio judge did not want to run foul of the law. But how did he know Ms Easterday was not a man in drag?

In North Carolina, meanwhile, a woman who was testifying in court on an unrelated matter said she and a man were living together "as fiancees". The judge immediately charged them under the state's 191-year-old law against sex outside marriage. At least that was not a problem for his colleague in Ohio: assuming Mr Smith retained his equipment and his wife- to-be did not stray from her lesbian proclivities, there was no danger of prenuptial hanky-panky.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power