Derisory advisory…writes Michael Kuttner

January 9, 2015 by Michael Kuttner
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I am writing this as a major winter storm sweeps into Israel bringing with it gale force winds, driving rain, hail and snow and blizzard conditions in the north as well as Jerusalem and the Judean & Samarian mountain areas.

Michael Kuttner

Michael Kuttner

Schools have been cancelled and many roads closed by flooding or snow drifts. Predictions are for heavy snowfalls which will disrupt normal activity for several days and bring many parts of the country to a standstill. Power outages have already been reported and more are anticipated.

In anticipation of this event, supermarkets have been inundated with people stocking up on food and other essentials. The media have managed to induce a state of near hysteria but while some look with dread on the impending whiteouts, others, particular school children welcome the enforced vacation from school. They are eagerly waiting the opportunity to go tobogganing and build snowmen/women!! Parents of course anticipate forced confinement with some foreboding but on the whole this annual climatic chaos will be faced with the usual Israeli fortitude and improvisation. If all else fails and the power is off for a time there is always the alternative of wrapping up warm and snuggling in bed under a thick layer of blankets and duvets. Based on past experience this could very well give a boost to the population nine months down the track so there is a bright side to the gloomy weather.

Coming from New Zealand where snow storms in the South Island and Wellington where the wind howls on a regular basis, this meteorological winter storm is nothing to get too excited about. In the Judean mountains where we now live the snow is seriously disruptive so we have to take precautions in the icy and dangerous conditions. One of our neighbours comes from Boston which faces much more extreme snow storms and another neighbour hails from Montreal where minus 20 and arctic conditions are the norm during the winter. Therefore our winter excitement is for them a minor nuisance. Mind you those places are more geared up for this type of weather whereas Israel’s ability to deal with downed power lines, trees and blocked highways is stretched to the limit.

Michael Kuttner clears away the snow

Michael Kuttner clears away the snow

Tourists to Israel are usually overwhelmed by the fact that a country touted as desert like and usually hot can actually experience snow and blizzards. This brings me to the title of this op-ed. The US State Department in its obsessive fetish with anything to do with Israel issued a travel advisory a week or so before the arrival of this weather system. It warned US citizens against traveling here and told them to take precautions in certain parts of the country such as the Golan and Jerusalem. Usually they are at great pains to describe the Golan and Jerusalem as occupied territory but this time in their frenzy to once again deliver negative news about this country they somehow forgot and included these places as part of Israel.

Leaving aside, however, this Freudian slip, one has to question the rationale behind their travel advisory in the first place. Does it mean that US citizens, compared to other nationalities, are so helpless that they are unable to take the most elementary precautions when bad weather strikes? Do Americans need the State Department like some fussing nanny to warn them of the dangers inherent in icy conditions? Moreover, how many similar travel advisories have they issued for other countries? I do not recall such advisories forthcoming when blizzards in the South Island of New Zealand cut off travel to parts of the country or when earthquakes occur. Likewise I have not seen such warnings when raging bushfires ravage parts of Australia causing death and destruction or when cyclones hit Queensland and Darwin. I have failed to find such advisories when Europe is paralyzed by snow of avalanche proportions or when countries in Asia are threatened by monsoon floods. The UK and particularly Scotland face far more extreme winter conditions than Israel yet no travel advisories are issued by the State Department.

This leads me to conclude that there must be another explanation. It doesn’t take a genius to guess what that might be. The State Department is so used to issuing warnings, admonitions and condemnations about Israel that it apparently comes as second nature to leap into action when the weather forecast predicts storms in the Jewish State. They obviously have become so obsessive that they can no longer differentiate between political and meteorological tempests.

An example of the former is their condemnation of Israel withholding the transfer of taxes collected to the Hamas/Fatah Palestinian Authority after the PA failed in its attempt at the Security Council to bypass peace talks and instead attempt to bully Israel via the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Accusing Israel of breaking the Oslo accords the US conveniently failed to acknowledge that the PA had long ago acted contrary to the discredited Oslo agreement by taking unilateral steps against Israel. Moreover they also “forgot” to mention that the PA owes the Israel Electric Corporation over one billion shekels for the supply of electricity. Given the fact that the IEC is never likely to see its money and that we continue like fools to keep supplying electricity it seems to me at least that Israel’s action in withholding funds is entirely justified.

To conclude, let me issue my own advisory. From the 1st January the UN Security has new non permanent members. New Zealand replaces Australia. In addition Spain, Angola, Malaysia and Venezuela join. Having failed in his previous attempt, Abbas is now aiming to resubmit his anti Israel resolution because according to him there are now more favourable conditions for success. My advisory is to be on the lookout for which way New Zealand votes. Will they have the moral courage to stand up to Arab bully tactics or will they cave in to the immoral majority?

My advisory is to look out for stormy outbreaks ahead. Watch this space for further developments.

Michael Kuttner is a Jewish New Zealander who for many years was actively involved with various communal organisations connected to Judaism and Israel. He now lives in Israel and is J-Wire’s correspondent in the region.


2 Responses to “Derisory advisory…writes Michael Kuttner”
  1. Robert Kohn says:

    Schools and Shops closed, Govt depts closed, Buses halted. Israel is better geared up for warfare than for snowfare.

  2. david singer says:


    Great article. Spot on.

    Climate change has come to the Middle East with disastrous results in both political and weather terms.

    Seems it is set to deteriorate even further this year.

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