02 July 2006

Converting the unspeakable or the circus comes to town

Rarely does the fate conjure events of such supreme irony: the chief Russian anti-Semite crying at the grave of his Jewish father.

It looks like an everyday scene in a cemetery. A man who is no longer young stands, mute and weeping, at his father's grave. This particular scene, however, was fraught with historic irony. The son is Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the deputy speaker of the Russian State Duma (the lower house of the Russian parliament) and the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, the third largest in the country. Zhirinovsky, an anti-Semitic nationalist, who has expressed esteem for Hitler, proposed that Russia offer asylum to Yasser Arafat and supported Saddam Hussein, found his father's grave in the Holon cemetery, outside Tel Aviv. Zhirinovskys quest for his roots- in the past he had denied that he had Jewish origins- ended, of all places in the world, in Israel.

Anyone who knows even a little about the career of this politician, showman and the Russian Duma main clown, will know a few moments of quiet happiness. The unspeakable is trying to reconcile with reality that pursued it relentlessly over the years of denial.

His eyes are wet with tears, and not for the last time. Is he genuinely moved? It's hard to know. He is a superb actor. "The best entertainer among the politicians," the daily Pravda called him a few years ago. But as far as one can tell from his expression and his body language, this time he is truly moved.

Genuinely moved? Zhirinovsky? You must be kidding, fella. This character has never in his life said or done anything consistent, being consistent only in one aspect: that of advancing his political career by any means, no matter how revolting or loathsome. He forgot the meaning of the word "truth" many years ago, and any answer his mouth utters is suspect.

Now he is actually admitting for the first time that he has known for his whole life that his father was a Jew, while at the same time continuing to insist that he never tried to hide this. Zigzags and contradictions are characteristic of the behavior of the most colorful politician in Russia and one of the most controversial in the world. One who is capable of saying one thing and a few minutes later saying the opposite.

That true. And when a clown like this one compliments you, start watching your back.

You claim that you are not anti-Semitic, but that's how you are viewed in Israel.

"That is also not true. I am Pro-Israel."

"Inform the Jewish people that if I am elected president or if I am in the government, you in Israel will have no problems, not with Iran's nuclear program and not with the Hamas terrorists. I will know how to deal with them. After all, my father is buried here, in your soil."

Right. We better start watching our backs right now.

Cross-posted on Yourish.com