Saturday, April 10, 2010
That thin-skinned tyrant in the White House has a short temper, we all know that. Heaven forbid that anyone even imply that Dear Leader isn’t universally loved and obeyed.
It’s gotten so bad that fear of offending the finely-honed sensitivities of the Community Organizer almost prevented Bibi from accepting 14,000 symbolic yellow roses from Christian supporters all across the United States.
At least this Middle Eastern version of the War of the Roses appears to have been settled. Today Bibi will accept the roses, allowing the Community Organizer to go eat worms. A host of charities and IDF institutions will enjoy the flowers.
But wow -- what a brouhaha!
It all started with that nasty session in the White House when the Community Organizer ditched Bibi and his advisors in one room, while First Daddy went off to eat dinner with his family. Leaving the Israelis alone and foodless at mealtime, the Community Organizer left the room with an abrupt “Let me know if there is anything new.” Rather than risk White House eavesdropping, the Israeli delegation decided to just leave. “It was awful,” one Congressman who was with the delegation said. “They treated him like he was the President of Equatorial Guinea”.
As I argued before (see my blog of March 28) Bibi was not “humiliated” by the Community Organizer’s consummate display of bad manners, but the US most certainly was. One of the embarrassed Americans, a Florida-based radio talk show host named Janet Porter, decided to take action. She called on her listeners to send yellow roses to Benjamin Netanyahu as a symbol of friendship and support. Each bouquet would cost a symbolic price of $19.48.
The response was nothing short of amazing -- Christian supporters of Israel flocked to Porters Faith2action website and ordered the flowers, each bouquet of which would be accompanied by a card with the words “Be encouraged, Americans stand with you,” and a quote from Psalms: “The Lord builds up Jerusalem.”
What a lovely thought, really. When the chips are down and someone reaches out with a message of support, that’s the kind of thing you never forget. Very nice.
So Porter contacted a Beit Shemesh-based florist named Richard Kovler, who in turn contacted the Prime Minister’s office to see how the flowers could be delivered. Kovler was shocked to hear that “the Prime Minister’s Office could not get involved.” Why? “Because Netanyahu must be very careful to avoid anything that smacked of disrespect for the American president.”
It may have been even worse. On Thursday night, representatives of the Christians complained that delivery to the Prime Minister’s Office had been made conditional on preventing photographers from attending. They said Netanyahu’s advisers insisted on the flowers being delivered “like a thief in the night” with no publicity.
Bibi’s office later released a statement offering a different interpretation of the events: the prime minister received many gifts, they said, and since it was not possible to allow the press to photograph all the deliveries, the policy was not to allow the press to photograph any of them.
But now, with a bit of heat having been applied by someone, somewhere, the Prime Minister’s office has changed its tune – or maybe it’s just that someone with some common sense overruled a low-level bureaucrat’s mistake.
Today Bibi’s office announced that the Prime Minister will be pleased to accept 14,000 yellow roses “in accordance with required security procedures” and will donate them to charity and to the IDF. Photographers will be allowed.
Good grief. I think there’s a bit of Stockholm Syndrome in play here. The Community Organizer kicked Bibi in the teeth, no question about that. The Christians reached out a hand to help him up, but Bibi, fearful of offending the White House bully again, said, “No thanks.”
It’s apparently safer to side with the guy who’s torturing you rather than antagonize him into delivering another vicious kick. Makes me pine, once again, for the days of Menachem Begin.
All that aside, the choice of yellow roses, all by itself, is interesting.
Yellow roses -- specifically – are indigenous to the Middle East. In the 18th century they were discovered growing naturally here, quite different from the roses then in cultivation which were primarily shades of red or pink, with white roses just beginning to be popular.
Unfortunately the yellow roses growing here had an unpleasant characteristic: while red and pink roses had the distinctive aroma we associate with roses, the naturally-growing yellow ones did not. In fact, they stank. It took many years for hybridizers to gradually phase in the more pleasing aroma that rose-lovers liked.
As the stink was replaced with a pleasant scent, the meaning of yellow roses evolved, too. Throughout history, the color yellow has been closely associated with the sun. As the source of light and warmth, the sun is integral to life on earth, and generally holds many positive connotations. In many Eastern cultures, the color yellow represents joy, wisdom and power.
Not so yellow roses in Europe. There, yellow roses -- with their unfortunate aroma – carried a much more negative connotation, that of jealousy and dying love. Gradually, as the scent changed, the symbolism did too. Now the almost universal meaning of yellow roses is that of joy and friendship.
As one florist puts it: “Yellow roses send the perfect message of appreciation and platonic love without the romantic subtext of other colors. They represent feelings of joy and delight and are an ideal way to brighten someone's day who may be feeling down. No other flower can bring out a smile in quite the way that a yellow rose can.”
I agree. So thank you, Christians, you made us smile. The flowers will brighten the day for lots of Israelis, even those of us who won't actually see them. Even more than the flowers themselves, we appreciate and welcome your gesture of friendship and support.
And don’t even think of not voting on November 2.