Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon, The Qnion

The Honey-Tongued Speaker

On most days, Nabih Berri is pretty happy to be Nabih Berri. Sure, his political party is viewed as Hizbullah’s uncouth country cousin, and no, there isn’t really anyone in line to inherit the throne once the Estez adjourns his last parliamentary session. But for the time being, he’s Nabih Berri, and that’s pretty good.

These days, not so much. Many Lebanese politicians have gotten egg on their faces courtesy of Wikileaks, but the cables have made a veritable Quiche Lorraine out of Nabih’s mug. His conversations with US embassy personnel during the 2006 War are full of terribly embarrassing statements about Hizbullah. One day he claims that the resistance will no longer be needed if the Shebaa Farms are liberated; the next day, he promises to lead the Lebanese Army back to the South in lieu of Hizbullah; the following week he says that Israel has the right to defend itself when attacked.

Most scandalous of all was a comment to Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman in which Berri lauded Israel’s bombing campaign as a positive development that would help weaken Hizbullah, describing it as “like honey”:

“I like a little bit of honey, but if you eat the whole jar you get sick!” Berri exclaimed, and then threw his head back in riotous laughter.”

As if things couldn’t get any worse for the Speaker, our tireless cyber-sleuths at the Qnion have managed to get their hands on the transcript of yet another July War meeting between him and Feltman. We’re sure he’ll deny it, and we don’t blame him.


The scene: a formal living room at Nabih Berri’s residence in Ain al-Tineh.

Feltman: Mr. Speaker, thank you for seeing me on such short notice.

Berri: Ahlan wa-sahlan. Ahlan wa-sahlan. You are most welcome. Most welcome!

Feltman: I know that you must be extremely busy.

Berri: For Ambassador Jeffrey, I always have time. I am at your service. You know, there is an old Arabic proverb that says, “Don’t shed an eyelash for an enemy, but for a friend you must slaughter the sheep.”

Feltman: (has heard it a dozen times) How kind.

Berri: Welcome welcome to the American Ambassador. You know I lived in Detroit when I was a young man?

Feltman: (nodding wearily) Yes, I think you’ve mentioned that.

Berri: (reminiscing fondly) Ha hah…those were the days! The Motor City, Joe Louis, the Detroit Tigers…

Feltman: (stifling a yawn)… Pastrami.

Berri: Yes! Pastrami sandwiches! My God I miss those. You know, there is an old Arabic proverb that says: “Slaughter the sheep for a friend, but for your lover, serve a pastrami sandwich.”

Feltman: (puzzled) Really?

Berri: No. I’m just joking. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Feltman: (smiling weakly) Ha ha ha, yes… very droll.

Berri: Hah! I do love pastrami. And bagels! Oh my God, with cream cheese and lox? Divine. Did you know that I have a special shipment of bagels sent to me from Zabar’s in New York every month? Five dozen bagels. Every month.

Feltman: Oh my.

Berri: (suddenly seized by an idea) Would you like a bagel?

Feltman: No thank you.

Berri: Yes! Yes you must have a bagel. I just received a fresh shipment. (He whistles for an assistant) Abu Talal! Jeeb el-bagels 3as-saree3. Yalla t7arrak!

Feltman: Mr. Speaker.

Berri: So, Mr. Ambassador. What can I do for you?

Feltman: I thought we could discuss the latest developments in the conflict. Last time we met, you said that the bombing campaign was like a jar of honey. Is that still your assessment?

Berri: A jar of honey? No. Today I would say it is like a bowl of soup.

Feltman: Soup?

Berri: Yes. A hot soup that is getting hotter by the minute.  And in the middle of this soup is a big delicious matzo ball. It’s a slippery matzo ball, you know? One of those big ones that you can’t cut into with a spoon. You try, but it just spins around and around. And it is too big to swallow whole, so you have to find a way to shrink it. So you turn up the heat, hoping that it will dissolve, but it doesn’t. Do you follow me?

Feltman: No.

Berri: (continuing unawares) Now, Ambassador Jeffrey, I love matzo ball soup, but even I will not eat this soup if it gets much hotter. And what is the point of matzo ball soup if you can’t eat the matzo ball?

Feltman: Hmm.

Berri: You know, there is an old Arabic proverb that says: “If your matzo ball is too slippery to cut with a spoon, try a fork.”

Feltman: (baffled) Try a fork?

Berri: A fork!

Feltman: (suddenly getting it) Ohhh…

Berri: (arching a sly eyebrow) Right?

Feltman: (pleased with himself) But, Mr. Speaker, where might we find a fork big enough to… (looks at Berri knowingly) … skewer such a big, slippery matzo ball?

Berri: (smiling) The Shebaa Farms.

Feltman: Shebaa? Impossible! The Israelis will never go for it. And you’ve said it yourself: Shebaa is just a pretext! Shebaa is an excuse! Shebaa is nothing!

Berri: Ahh, but Mr Ambassador, Shebaa is both nothing and everything.

Feltman: You’ve lost me again.

Berri: Let me explain. (He holds up a bagel.) What is this?

Feltman: Pardon?

Berri: What is this? Is it a roll? Is it a piece of bread?

Feltman: It’s, umm… it’s a bagel?

Berri: Correct. And what makes it a bagel?

Feltman: (completely lost) I have no idea.

Berri: The hole! The hole makes it a bagel.

Feltman: Okay…

Berri: Now, what is the hole? Is it something or nothing?

Feltman: Is it something or nothing? Hmmm, well… I suppose it’s both something and nothing?

Berri: Precisely. The hole is both something and nothing. In fact, the hole is everything and nothing! The hole is the absence of something, but without that absence, the bagel is not a bagel.

Feltman: Fascinating.

Berri: (leaning forward and whispering) Hizbullah is the bagel.

Feltman: (whispers back) I thought Hizbullah was the matzo ball.

Berri: (ignoring him) Hizbullah is the bagel because of the hole that is Shebaa. Without the hole, Hizbullah ceases to be the bagel, and turns into a common piece of bread. Do you follow?

Feltman: (in a hypnotic trance) Hizbullah is the bagel…

Berri: (pleased) Exactly…

Feltman: …and without the hole, Hizbullah is no longer a bagel.

Berri: Precisely…

Feltman: I think I’m beginning to understand.

Berri: Good.

Feltman: (in a daze) Shebaa is the bagel hole… It is everything and nothing… Hizbullah is the matzo ball. The soup is getting hotter. The bagel is Hizbullah. Israel is the spoon. Shebaa is the fork…

Berri: (Taking a big bite of the bagel). Mmmm, delicious.
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35 thoughts on “The Honey-Tongued Speaker

  1. Occidentalism lives.

    Posted by samadamsthedog | September 10, 2011, 3:27 pm
  2. Most wonderful piece of the puzzle I have ever read on this blog 🙂

    Thank you, QN !

    It made my night.

    Posted by R2D2 | September 10, 2011, 3:28 pm
  3. One should be done on Sayed Hassan and the STL :)))

    Posted by R2D2 | September 10, 2011, 3:29 pm
  4. This reminds me when Condoleezza Rice visited Lebanon during the July 2006 offensive and met Nabih who told Condi upon geeting her: “You’re lucky I have time to meet you. I was scheduled for a dentist’s appointment for a bridge, but decided to cancel in fear the Israelis would bomb it!”

    He’s brilliant! 🙂

    Posted by R2D2 | September 10, 2011, 3:38 pm
  5. Lebanon lived on a rocky but, resultantly, a way better and healthier time than it ever has while Rafiq Hariri was alive.

    The assassination of Mr. Lebanon certainly seems to have been a blessing in disguise for Lebanon and the Lebanese. We will have 24/7 electricity and will be able to exploit the world’s “new resource” better… the information highway!

    What’s to say it won’t be interestingly insightful to Syrians without “Mr. Syria”.

    Posted by R2D2 | September 10, 2011, 4:32 pm
  6. “Occidentalism lives.

    So does sarcasm.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | September 10, 2011, 4:39 pm
  7. Maybe QN, an Qnion piece should be done between these two last remaining arrogant regional dictators … Netanyahu and Nasrallah.

    The last remaining hope for the US military complex to stuff their pockets the “honest” industrious way.

    Posted by R2D2 | September 10, 2011, 4:41 pm
  8. Hahaha! Hats off to u Elias 🙂 I loved that

    Posted by Tariq | September 10, 2011, 4:49 pm
  9. Vee vill vin ze vor!


    Sieg Heil!


    **Kwick, kwick .. in Englisch!**

    Posted by R2D2 | September 10, 2011, 5:41 pm
  10. I just “loved” that post !! 😀

    Posted by Ekios | September 10, 2011, 6:17 pm
  11. Cleverly done!
    Well done Qeefs.

    you’re due for some re-wiring.

    Posted by Maverick | September 10, 2011, 6:43 pm
  12. QN,

    Masterful. I knew you were wired in with the mossad. 😛
    R2D2..Keep it up dude. Rewiring indeed.

    Posted by danny | September 10, 2011, 9:56 pm
  13. QN, great to have Jackob Tafnis back in action, we needed the laugh !

    Looks like R2D2 got his hand on HK’s Hash Stash 🙂

    Posted by Vulcan | September 10, 2011, 10:44 pm
  14. Excellent QN. It reminds me of the dialogue in waiting for Godot, for a strange reason:-)

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | September 11, 2011, 12:12 am
  15. Is there any Lebanese politician who hasn’t described Hizballah as a ” tumor” or Cancer of some sort.Adding to Berri, Franjieh et al, See: Mikati’s Wiki leak cable:

    With all its allies dishing it dirt, I wonder how HA reacts to these. Of course they deny such things, but behind closed doors, they must feel a little hurt.

    Posted by Maverick | September 11, 2011, 2:32 am
  16. Here are two nice stories about Berri that I saw in wikileaks: (All by Jeffrey Feltman, I really started to like this guy, he writes very differently from Sison, who almost never jokes.)

    After some back-and-forth needling, Berri accepted the
    Ambassador’s words by offering chocolates wrapped in a
    portrait of the Speaker himself (which can be removed and
    used as a sticker, allowing images of Berri’s smiling face to
    be affixed conveniently to any surface). “And you think I’m
    not sweet?” Berri cracked to the startled Ambassador.
    As the Speaker and the Ambassador left the
    Speaker\’s office, (resigned) Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh
    (who had been kept cooling his heels as the Ambassador\’s
    meeting went half hour beyond schedule) leaped out of Berri\’s
    waiting room. Salloukh warmly greeted the Ambassador,
    complete with the Lebanese triple cheek kiss. Amused by the
    scene, Berri said to Salloukh, \”Fawzi, I thought when you
    were still in the cabinet, it wasn\’t the \’Feltman
    government.\’ But when I look at you, now I think maybe it
    was already!\” Salloukh looked chagrined.

    Posted by Shiwa7ad | September 11, 2011, 6:46 am
  17. ‘a veritable Quiche Lorraine out of Nabih’s mug’ – among the great piece, such vivid, fun writing. This blog is a daily visit for me. Keep up the fantastic work.

    (and thanks again for your visit to Stanford last fall – it was a real treat for us)

    Posted by Brian Johnsrud | September 11, 2011, 9:15 am
  18. Is this for real?

    MP Raad: The Zionist entity has declared its surrender and inability to wage any hostile war on Lebanon at the moment as it’s aware this Resistance will teach it new bitter lessons in defeat and loss and that it will achieve a new victory for Lebanon through the heroism of its jihadist fighters and the wisdom of its leadership.

    Posted by R2D2 | September 11, 2011, 11:07 am
  19. Just saw Maverick’s post, please erase mine.

    Posted by AIG | September 11, 2011, 11:45 am
  20. It’s High Noon between March 14 and Berri …


    Posted by R2D2 | September 11, 2011, 2:13 pm
  21. Vraiment …. vous are tellement boring!

    Posted by R2D2 | September 11, 2011, 3:28 pm
  22. Pretty funny stuff, QN.
    Berri somehow came across in your piece as some kind of Jedi master.
    “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for…”

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | September 11, 2011, 4:15 pm
  23. one of your best qnions!

    Posted by aron | September 11, 2011, 5:06 pm
  24. BV,
    In my book , it is next to impossible for Alostaz not to be on the Dark Side. 🙂 He is utterly unprincipled and I have been saying this for years.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | September 11, 2011, 6:40 pm
  25. Thanks to all. Tomorrow, back to serious business.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | September 11, 2011, 9:20 pm
  26. The Zionist entity has declared its surrender and inability to wage any hostile war on Lebanon at the moment as it’s aware this Resistance will teach it new bitter lessons in defeat and loss and that it will achieve a new victory for Lebanon through the heroism of its jihadist fighters and the wisdom of its leadership. We all owe a debt of thanks to The Resistance for the defeat of Israhell and for protecting Lebanon. It is time for the enemies of The Resistance to lay down their arms and to stop doing the bidding of their Zionist masters in criticizing SHN for his administration of Lebanon’s safety.

    Posted by dontgetit | September 12, 2011, 9:10 am
  27. LOL@Raad.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | September 12, 2011, 12:05 pm
  28. Brilliant…. Simply Brilliant.

    Posted by SYRIAN HAMSTER | September 12, 2011, 6:58 pm
  29. Before I die laughing, I’d like to point to two things that just happened here. 1: Dontgetit just churned out, in the middle of the commotion, this: (SHN’s) “administration of Lebanon’s safety”. And 2: a Hamster got in the room!

    Posted by mj | September 13, 2011, 3:13 am
  30. 🙂

    Posted by dontgetit | September 13, 2011, 8:44 pm
  31. The Zionist entity has declared its surrender and inability to wage any hostile war on Lebanon at the moment…


    If the Zionist Entity surrendered, why are so many Palestinians still living in Lebanon?

    QN – You may have heard that Syria Comment may be closing its doors soon. Do you have any policy about new-comers with a more Syrian focus? Anyway, Lebanon, Syria, what’s the difference? As far as I’m concerned its all Iran…;)

    Posted by Akbar Palace | September 14, 2011, 3:21 pm
  32. What happened to Syria Comment?
    Captain Josh losing his funding with the decline of the Assad regime? 😉

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | September 14, 2011, 8:23 pm
  33. Nabih berri is one of the most disgusting politicians lebanon has. How much blood does he have on his hands i wonder.

    Posted by Elie | November 7, 2011, 11:07 pm

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