Thursday, July 22, 2004


Huge things are going on in little old NZ. You know this is the case when you turn on CNN and there is Helen Clark (our Helen!) drawling in nuu zeelund to all the world. A quick switch of the remote and there she is doing the same thing on BBC world. In fact she is all over my brand new SKY Digital platform. Which disturbed me really, because when our flat first decided to get SKY this most certainly was not the kind of female over-exposure we had envisaged.

But what was going on? She was, as far as I could tell, giving Israel a telling off.
That’s right, Israel. The guys with an estimated 200 nuclear weapons. The guys who on three occasions have beaten off a handful of armies from more populous countries and taken their territory. The same Israel that has a nasty habit of sending helicopter gun-ships to clear up arguments. Something was up.

Turns out Israel’s secret service had been trying to procure New Zealand passports. And not just any passport, the passport of a wheelchair bound cerebral palsy sufferer. Not cricket in any jurisdiction. At least that is what our Government reckoned. I’m staying out of pointing the finger on this one – Mossad have a track record of pursuing enemies to the end of the earth, or South America depending on whatever is closer, and making their displeasure known. Down Mossad. Nice Mossad. Anyway they wanted these passports because we are known to be such an unthreatening nation that carriers of such get an easy reception around the world. To read into this we are known as being so impotent that dangerous people, wolves if you will, want to dress up in our sheeps clothing. Which makes it even odder for Helen to be ticking off Israel. What are we meant to do about it?

Well in the time honoured tradition of scorned people everywhere we are not going to invite Israelis over to our place anymore. Honestly, the lynchpin in our sanctions on this rogue nation was to un-extend the possibility of an invitation to their head of state to visit us when he visits Australia later in the year.
To which, and you may think I’m making this up, but I promise I’m not, the head of state has responded with something along the lines of: “well I didn’t even want to, or plan to, come to NZ anyway”.
Way to go New Zealand: cancel a trip that wasn’t happening - you can’t snub someone who is already snubbing you. But it isn’t like we can do anything else.

Which is the thing really. We have a bad track record of ‘showing them’. Once the French came along and blew up a boat in one of our harbours killing a man in the process. A rugby field up north was also dug up to hide the dynamite beforehand and that garnered similar outrage. To show the world how angry we are about this terrorist action we call it the Rainbow Warrior Incident. That’ll scare them. Maybe we can call this passport case the Moonbeam Vegetable Incident or perhaps the Sunshine Cripple Case.

Further to our shame when we caught those French murderers we caved in to French government demand after French government demand until, and you’re excused if you stop believing me here, we toyed with the idea of extraditing the killers to a Club Med Resort Island. And then we went ahead and did so.

On the back of all this it is no surprise that the Israelis thought us a soft option. The best thing to come out of it all would have to be the lengths to which one of the passport fraudsters – Urie Kelman - went to in order to keep his appearance secret. He wore ski masks, balaclavas, beanies, hats, glasses, in fact everything up to a Groucho Marx mask. In court he had his hand over his face for the entire 125 minutes. Israel, however, will still not confirm that they were their spies that got caught. If they aren’t spies then maybe they should stop acting like they fell out of a cheap cold war thriller.

Which is, last of all, the craziest thing in the whole process – we caught their spies. Little old NZ. Big Bad Mossad. And NZ, like a little David killed their Goliath. Alhough we can’t take that metaphor too far – David was the Jew in the original.

Go Helen though. Seeing there is very little else we could do except bluster at Israel you really let them have it. And, might I add, at some danger to yourself, considering Israel’s propensity to deal to dissenters by gunship or bulldozer. Come to think of it you weren’t speeding to get to the rugby at all where you? …………………


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