Quoting the ugly, not the good


Dan Halutz, a former Israeli military chief of staff, was in town recently, adding his voice to the burgeoning number of former top security officials skeptical of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the Iran crisis.

Halutz, hosted by J Street, also spoke at the Brookings Institution, and NPR’s Michele Kelemen caught him saying this:

Netanyahu told an Israeli newspaper that he’s not guided by the U.S. election but by the centrifuges in Iran. But his talk about red lines has some Israelis nervous, too, including a former Israeli defense forces chief who likes to quote Clint Eastwood.

"When you have to shoot, shoot," Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz said Wednesday at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., "don’t talk."

He said that the U.S. and Israel should be able to coordinate their positions privately, and he’s frustrated by all this talk about red lines, which he says hasn’t worked for Israel in the past.

Halutz prefaced his quote by saying he was quoting Clint, so the fault is not Kelemen’s — but in fact, Eastwood never pronounced these words. (I was alerted to the error by NPR’s weekly news roundup yesterday.)

The line is from the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Eastwood played the Good, Lee Van Cleef played the bad, and the line is from a memorable bathtub scene with the Ugly, played by Eli Wallach.

We would forgive this in other circumstances, but how does an Israeli confuse Eli Wallach with Clint Eastwood?

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