In the latest news from the Georgian capital
Atlanta T’bilisi, the Georgian government has appointed Lil’ Jon and tha Eastside Boyz Andre 3000 Lasha Zhvania as the new ambassador to Israel. But Lasha isn’t any normal ambassador from a former Confederate State Soviet republic. Lasha is Jewish.
Lasha Zhvania, the new Georgian ambassador who delighted President Moshe Katsav last month by presenting his credentials in Hebrew and singing Hatikva, is urging Israeli tourists to visit his country â€“ with his own life story constituting the best evidence of the potential affinity between the two nations.
Zhvania, who perfected his Hebrew during a 1999-2001 stint here as his country’s consul, has been reported to be “of Jewish descent.” In fact, he said simply in an interview this week, “I am Jewish. My mother is Jewish. I know the halacha!”
A former deputy foreign minister, the ambassador first visited Israel â€“ along with his mother â€“ in 1988. He learned Hebrew initially in a Jewish Agency school at home, and improved it on his earlier posting here.
Lasha’s job is to encourage Israeli tourism to Georgia, which like most former Soviet republics is struggling to build a capitalist economy after decades of misbegotten socialism (sound like any Jewish states you know?). To that end, Georgia has waived visa requirements for Israeli tourists. So to further stimulate Israeli tourism and to help out Lasha and our other brothers in Georgia (all 8000 of them), I’ve decided to compile some tourist-friendly facts about this most captivating of lands.
For hundreds of years, Georgia was punted around between the Ottoman and Persian empires before being absorbed into Russia in the 19th century. A brief attempt at independence following the 1917 Russian revolution was nixed by the expansionist Reds until the combined force of Reagan, Thatcher, Pope John Paul II, Jesus and Pepsi-Cola toppled the Soviet Union in 1991. Long-time president Eduard “Impronounceable Name” Shevardnadze was ousted during protests over a fixed election in 2003, to be replaced by new president Mikheil “And You Thought ‘Shevardnadze’ Was Hard?” Saakashvili. Georgia, located on the Black Sea, has a mild Mediterranean climate and, thanks to the Caucausus Mountains, what is presumably some great skiing, although watch out for nasty Al-Qaeda types skulking around in gorges towards the Russian border. Spend your laris in swinging T’bilisi, where if you don’t speak Georgian, Russian will probably get you by. Hear indigenous Georgian music such as
crunk orovela, and if you’re feeling adventurous, stop by the bar for a few shots of vodka and join in the traditional drinking song “Real Nigga Roll Call” “Chakrulo.” Then visit the coastal fruit groves, chill awhile on the beach and catch an Airzena Georgian Airlines flight back to ha-aretz. And if you bump into Lasha in Jerusalem, tell him Jewlicious says “gamarjoba,” which either means “hello” or “your mother’s pastries taste of Lenin.”