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Land Grab

Claim:   One party to a territorial dispute tricks the other into a damning admission.

LEGEND

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, August 2008]

Israeli Sense of Humour:
(This actually happened!!)

An ingenious example of speech and politics occurred recently in the United Nations Assembly and made the world community smile.

A representative from Israel began: "Before beginning my talk I want to tell you something about Moses. When he struck the rock and it brought forth water, he thought, 'What a good opportunity to have a bath!'

"He removed his clothes, put them aside on the rock and entered the water.

"When he got out and wanted to dress, his clothes had vanished. A Palestinian had stolen them."

The Palestinian representative jumped up furiously and shouted, "What are you talking about? The Palestinians weren't there then."

The Israeli representative smiled and said, "And now that we have made that clear, I will begin my speech."
 

Origins:   One common form of "put-down" humor is the motif of one party's employing verbal trickery to cleverly lead his foe into a logical labyrinth from which the latter cannot escape without making an admission damaging to his interests. A well known (if
somewhat distasteful) example of this type is one politician's demanding that his opponent respond to the challenge, "Have you stopped beating your wife?" — a question which if answered in the affirmative is an admission of abhorrent behavior in the past, and if answered in the negative is an even more damning admission of ongoing abhorrent behavior.

That same concept is employed in the example cited above, in which an Israeli representative to the United Nations supposedly attributes a long-ago pilfering of Moses' clothes to a Palestinian thief, thereby leading the Palestinian representative into acknowledging that his people were latecomers to the land which now comprises the country of Israel. This is but one of three examples of the same basic tale we began encountering in August 2008 (to the point that it's difficult to ascertain which version came first), all of them involving long-standing territorial disputes. Like the old joke about the horse-stealing ancestor of a modern politician, new names are plugged into the existing story to change the target, with virtually everything else left verbatim. For example, another version features the same Middle Eastern land dispute between Israelis and Palestinians, simply switching the roles found in the previous version:
An ingenious example of speech and politics occurred recently in the United Nations Assembly and made the world community smile.

The Palestinian Representative's Speech at the UN

"Before beginning my talk I want to tell you something about Moses. When he struck the rock and it brought forth water, he thought, 'What a good opportunity to have a bath!'

"He removed his clothes, put them aside on the rock and entered the water. When he got out and wanted to dress, his clothes had vanished. An Israeli had stolen them."

The Israeli representative jumped up furiously and shouted, "What are you talking about? The Israelis weren't there then."

The Palestinian representative smiled and said: "And now that we have made that clear, I will begin my speech."
Yet another version alters the setting to reflect the conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, the northwesternmost region of the Indian subcontinent:
An ingenious example of speech and politics occurred recently in the United Nations Assembly that made the world community smile.

A representative from India began: "Before beginning my talk I want to tell you something about Rishi Kashyap of Kashmir, after whom Kashmir is named. When he struck a rock and it brought forth water, he thought, 'What a good opportunity to have a bath.'

"He removed his clothes, put them aside on the rock and entered the water. When he got out and wanted to dress, his clothes had vanished. A Pakistani had stolen them."

The Pakistani representative jumped up furiously and shouted, "What are you talking about? The Pakistanis weren't there then."

The Indian representative smiled and said, "And now that we have made that clear, I will begin my speech: And they say Kashmir belongs to them ...

This is one mail I recommend to be shared with 'ALL INDIANS'....... including the world at large.
And for good measure, a later (anachronistic) variant referenced 19th century treaty negotiations between the U.S. government and Native Americans:
An long-ago ingenious example of speech and politics that occurred in 1868 should be a lesson for today.

When the U.S. government was negotiating a treaty with the Sioux at Fort Laramie over possession of the Black Hills of Dakota, a Sioux representative who had been educated in a missionary school stood up to speak.

"Before we begin I want to tell you something about what the white man calls the 'Black Hills.' This site is sacred to my people. Many generations of my ancestors are buried there. And for four hundred years, the sons of your Great White Father have been coming there to kill our buffalo and steal our horses."

The U.S. government representative interrupted furiously and shouted, "What are you talking about? White men weren't even on this continent back then!"

The Sioux representative smiled and said, "So who are you to tell us this land is ours to use?"
Last updated:   15 March 2009

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