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October 22, 2016 / 20 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘act’

Knesset Committee Approves Submission to US IRS Tax Compliance Act

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

After weeks of debates, on Monday the Knesset Finance Committee approved a bill to apply the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which the US has already signed with 113 countries. The 2010 federal law enforces the requirement for US citizens living abroad to file yearly reports on their non-US financial accounts to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN). The law also requires all foreign financial institutions (FFIs) to search their records and to report the assets of US citizens living abroad to the US Department of the Treasury.

Finance Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) was able, after lengthy negotiations with the Israeli Finance Ministry, to increase the protection of Israeli citizens whose information will be handed over to the US, and reduce in half (from about $27 thousand to about $13 thousand) the sanctions against financial institutions that fail to comply with new law for technical reasons. Gafni also managed to change the definition of charity organizations in the Haredi community (Gmachim), changing their definition from “financial institutions” to “organizations that benefit the public,” thus removing them from the FATCA zone.

The committee also succeeded in repelling the Israeli tax authority, which wanted initially to be able to use information gathered by Israeli banks for FATCA to their own local tax collection ends. As Gafni put it, “This is a bad law, and to come now and use it for other purposes that have nothing to do with its essence would be unthinkable.”

The issue of forcing foreign financial institutions and foreign governments to collect data on US citizens at their own expense and transmit it to the IRS has been attacked outside Israel as well. Former Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty objected to the law’s “far-reaching and extraterritorial implications” which require Canadian banks to become extensions of the IRS and could jeopardize Canadians’ privacy rights.

There have also been reports of many foreign banks refusing to open accounts for Americans, making it harder for Americans to live and work abroad.


A Despicable Act by a People in Dire Need of Introspection

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

I oppose the current badly formulated and poorly implemented Israeli policy of Jewish settlement building in the West Bank. I oppose it not because Jews should not live there. Jews should be able to live anywhere, so should Muslims, Christians, and atheists. I oppose it because Israel is allowing the settlements to be used as an excuse by corrupt Palestinian leaders to demonize Israel and to reject peace. However, I also strongly reject violence, particularly the type of inexcusable violence that we saw yesterday where a young Israeli girl was stabbed to death in her sleep

According to the Jerusalem Post, the Palestinian Authority’s official Wafa news agency described the killer (who was killed by security guards after he committed his terrorist act) as a “martyr.”

This is not peace making. This is not nation building. This is not even resistance. This is a crime of unspeakable horror that no human being worth their salt can accept. It is despicable. Yet the Palestinians’ highest authority approved of it and glorified it. By giving their approval, they changed the crime from an individual’s crime to a crime by all Palestinians. How can anyone think that a society that is led by such thugs can go anywhere but down the sewer?

Palestinian leaders are worthless crooks, so it is up to the Palestinian people to confront the hate that they have so far embraced like a most precious treasure. If they do not, any dream of a Palestinian state will die and so will the very notion of Palestinians. If they do not, Palestinians will be remembered in the annals of history as a bunch of haters and terrorists who never achieved anything and then melted away like a meaningless entity.

Fred Maroun

MK Glick’s First Act Is Complaint About… You Guessed It

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

MK Yehuda Glick (Likud) on Thursday told his Facebook followers that his first act in the Knesset had been to complain to the Ethics Committee against MK Masud Ganaim (Joint Arab List) for announcing his intent to ascend to the Temple Mount despite the prime minister’s ban on politicians going up to the holy site.

“The ethics committee must deal with this case harshly, because it isn’t a complaint about a violation that has already taken place, but one in which an MK announces in advance his intent to step on the rules by which he must abide as legislator. It is inconceivable that a person would be getting a salary from the state as legislator and at the same time see himself as unbound by its rules?” MK Glick asked the committee.

Back in 2010, Masud Ganaim called for the replacement of Israel with a caliphate and stated, “I support the righteous party. The Iran-Hezbollah-Syria axis represents the line of resistance and intractability, and naturally, I support this axis.”

Speaking to Ynet, Ganaim said, “I believe there is an urgent need to return to the Islamic caliphate. I believe this is the most fitting solution to the state of weakness, deterioration and erosion the Arabs and Muslims are suffering from.” He added that he believes that an Islamic regime should be established in “Palestine or the Arab and Islamic homeland.”

As to the Jewish State, Ganaim said it would be included in the greater Islamic state. “We are not against the Jews, but against the Zionist movement and its racist ideology. We have no objection to the Jews managing their own matters themselves.”

Just not on the Temple Mount.

David Israel

Beginning The Journey

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

A while back, a British newspaper, The Times, interviewed a prominent member of the Jewish community (let’s call him Lord X) on his 92nd birthday. The interviewer said, “Most people, when they reach their 92nd birthday, start thinking about slowing down. You seem to be speeding up. Why is that?”

Lord X replied, “When you get to 92, you start seeing the door begin to close, and I have so much to do before the door closes that the older I get, the harder I have to work.”

Something like that is the impression we get of Abraham in this week’s parshah. Sarah, his constant companion throughout their journeys, has died. He is 137 years old. We see him mourn Sarah’s death, and then he moves into action.

He engages in an elaborate negotiation to buy a plot of land in which to bury her. As the narrative makes clear, this is not a simple task. He confesses to the locals, the Hittites, that he is “an immigrant and a resident among you,” meaning that he knows he has no right to buy land. It will take a special concession on their part for him to do so. The Hittites politely but firmly try to discourage him. He has no need to buy a burial plot. “No one among us will deny you his burial site to bury your dead.” He can bury Sarah in someone else’s graveyard. Equally politely but no less insistently, Abraham makes it clear that he is determined to buy land. In the event, he pays a highly inflated price (400 silver shekels) to do so.

The purchase of the Cave of Machpelah is evidently a highly significant event because it is recorded in great detail and highly legal terminology – not just here but three times subsequently in Genesis, each time with the same formality. For instance, here is Jacob on his deathbed, speaking to his sons:

“Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebecca were buried, and there I buried Leah. The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites” (Genesis 49:29-32).

Something significant is being hinted at here; otherwise why mention, each time, exactly where the field is and from whom Abraham bought it?

Immediately after the story of land purchase, we read, “Abraham was old, well advanced in years, and God had blessed Abraham with everything.” Again this sounds like the end of a life, not a preface to a new course of action, and again our expectation is confounded. Abraham launches into a new initiative, this time to find a suitable wife for his son Isaac, who by now is at least 37 years old. Abraham leaves nothing to chance. He does not speak to Isaac himself but to his most trusted servant, who he instructs to go “to my native land, to my birthplace” to find the appropriate woman. He wants Isaac to have a wife who will share his faith and way of life. Abraham does not specify that she should come from his own family, but this seems to be an assumption hovering in the background.

As with the purchase of the field, so here the course of events is described in more detail than almost anywhere else in the Torah. Every conversational exchange is recorded. The contrast with the story of the binding of Isaac could not be greater. There, almost everything – Abraham’s thoughts, Isaac’s feelings – is left unsaid. Here, everything is said. Again, the literary style calls our attention to the significance of what is happening, without telling us precisely what it is.

The explanation is simple and unexpected. Throughout the story of Abraham and Sarah, God had promised them two things: children and a land. The promise of the land (“Rise, walk in the land throughout its length and breadth, for I will give it to you”) is repeated no less than seven times. The promise of children occurs four times. Abraham’s descendants will be “a great nation,” as many as “the dust of the earth” and “the stars in the sky.” He will be the father not of one nation but of many.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Two Arabs Caught Vandalizing Tomb of the Patriarchs

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Two Palestinians were arrested last night after being caught red handed in the commission of an act of vandalism in the Cave of the Patriarchs. The two were recorded on security cameras as they were ripping a Mezuzah off the wall in the hall of Ya’acov and Leah.

Superintendent Barak Arusi, commander of the police unit guarding the site, stated that the two, aged 20, were charged with attempted theft and with an attempt to offend religious sentiments. During their questioning one of the detainees denied his involvement, but the confessed to the charges and implicated his accomplice as well. They are both held in custody.

This is the fourth reported act of desecration by Muslims against Jewish religious symbols over the month of Ramadan. Tazpit News Agency reported yesterday that Mezuzahs were desecrated for a third time by Muslims frequenting the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Following the incident Sunday, Muslims age 18 – 35 were barred temporarily from entering the Tomb of the patriarchs, but Major General Nitzan Alon, chief of the IDF Central Command, rescinded the directive. A short while later, the two vandals were caught in the act.

Aryeh Savir, Tazpit News Agency

Third Time this Ramadan – Tomb of the Patriarchs Desecrated by Muslims

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

For the third time this month of Ramadan, Muslims visiting the Tomb of Patriarchs in Hebron have desecrated Jewish religious objects at the site, tearing the Mezuzahs off the doorposts and stealing them. They took advantage of the special visiting privileges the Muslims receive from the IDF during the month of Ramadan, during which, on Fridays and a few special days, the Tomb of Patriarchs is open only to Muslims.

Local police announced they have arrested two Palestinians in connection with the vandalism, but are still searching for the thieves. The act was recorded by surveillance cameras. A member of the Waqf was nearby during the act of vandalism.

In response to the repeated attacks, the site management has decided to limit the access of Palestinians. Muslims aged 18 – 35 will not be permitted in on the special days allocated to Muslims only. Further actions are being considered to prevent these attacks in the future.

Following the previous attack, Member of Knesset Orit Struk, a resident of Hebron, told Tazpit News Agency: “The Arabs used the opportunity they had on Friday to desecrate the Mezuzot. We cannot be silent about this incident. During the 700 years of Muslim occupation, the Tomb of the Patriarchs was completely closed to Jews. Today, when the State of Israel is considerate of Muslim holidays and permits them full use of the site – they exploit it to harm Jewish symbols. I expect the Muslim leaders in Hebron and Israel to apologize to the Jewish People and condemn this heinous episode.”

Aryeh Savir, Tazpit News Agency

Israeli Democracy Dealt Blow with ‘Governance Act’

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Last night the Knesset voted to raise the threshold vote from 2 to 4 percent. This means that a political party must win 4.8 seats before it can receive its first seat in the Knesset. It was presented by the Likud-Beiteinu faction as a necessary measure to enable Israel’s government to govern without the constant fear of being toppled by a walkout of one of its minor coalition members.

The new threshold would effectively eliminate the small parties in Israel, forcing them to align in large power blocks or disappear. Meanwhile, their votes should be siphoned off to four or five major parties.

There’s an inherent problem in Israel’s parliamentary system, which has made it difficult for coalition governments over the past 65 years: the executive, meaning the prime minister, is also a member of the legislative body. In order to stay in power, he or she must juggle the Knesset membership around to maintain a majority of at least 61 out of 120 members. If they go below 60, their government is likely to lose a vote of no confidence (of which it endures about 10 a week), and the nation must go to new elections.

Under the U.S. constitution, it is perfectly fine for the president to govern while both houses of Congress are in the hands of a party other than his own. He will serve out his term of four years (unless he is impeached), and would simply have to haggle with the opposition party to get his legislation through.

An attempt in the recent past to let the voter pick the prime minister in a separate vote ended up with a disappointment to anyone who thought they would attain executive stability this way – and the separate PM vote was scrapped. It appears that the only real solution would be for Israel to switch to a presidential system, with an executive who governs outside the Knesset.

But such a change would be rejected by the smaller parties, who get their life’s blood—i.e. patronage jobs—from their leaders’ stints as government ministers. A cabinet run by an executive who isn’t himself an MK would be staffed by technocrats rather than by politicians, and the smaller parties would be left out to dry, unable to suckle on the government’s teat.

The new “Governance Act” that was passed last night would presumably have the same effect on the smaller parties: they would become history. This means the elimination of all the parties that currently boast fewer than 5 MKs: Hadash (Arabs) has 4, Ra’am Ta’al-Mada (Arabs) has 4, National Democratic Assembly (Arabs) has 3, and Kadima has 2.

You may have noticed a recurring ethnic group among the Knesset factions which would be eliminated by the Governance Act. Those 11 “Arab” seats would be eliminated, unless, of course, these three factions, with vastly different platforms (one is Communist, the other two not at all). are able to unite around their single common denominator, namely that they’re not Jews.

The political thinker behind this power grab is MK Avigdor Liberman, who’s been dreaming about a Knesset where his faction, Likud-Beiteinu, could win a decisive majority, once and for all. His henchman, MK David Rotem, was the bill’s sponsor. But the law of unintended consequences and double-edged swords is strong in Israel, and the new bill could just as easily be just what the Left needed to stage a resounding comeback.

Labor (15 MKs) and Meretz (6 MKs) are really the old Mapai, Achdut Ha’avoda and Mapam, the three Zionist workers parties. Hadash is really a remnant of Maki and Rakach, the two Communist parties which split off Mapam. If the leftist establishment got it together—as it did in 1992—it could cobble Labor, Meretz, the Arabs, Kadima and Livni to create a juggernaut of more than 35, possibly 40 seats.

This kind of unity could only be forged by a common feeling of a great betrayal by the right-wing government – and, what do you know, judging by last night’s drama over the threshold vote, such a sense of betrayal is permeating the smaller parties.

One after another, opposition MKs came up to the podium and used up their time to keep silent. MK Jamal Zahalka strapped duct tape over his mouth. MK Ahmad Tibi stood with his back to the plenum. Merets chair zehava Gal-on wept, her hands over her face.

Yori Yanover

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israeli-democracy-dealt-debilitating-blow-with-governance-act/2013/08/01/

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