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May 2, 2016 / 24 Nisan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Avigdor Liberman’

Knesset Pays Tribute to former Speaker of the Norwegian Parliament Jo Benkow

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

(Monday, February 15, 2016) – Today at the Knesset in a moving ceremony, Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende, Speaker of the Knesset MK Yuli Edelstein and Yisrael Beytenu Chairman MK Avigdor Liberman paid tribute to Jo Benkow, former Speaker of the Norwegian parliament, author and Holocaust survivor.

The event was initiated by MK Liberman where two books by Benkow were presented that were translated into Hebrew and Russian by the Genesis Philanthropy Group in conjunction with World Yisarel Beytenu. The books, both bestsellers in Norway, are an autobiography called ”From Synagogue to Parliament” and “Olav – Man and Monarch”, which is a product of several conversations Benkow held with his friend Norway’s King Olav V.

Director General of World Yisarel Beytenu Alex Selsky presented Benkow’s life story, including his family background as both his parents were refugees from Russia, and while the men in the family fled Norway to the UK to join the Royal Norwegian Air Force, all of the female family members, including his mother, sister and aunt were murdered in Auschwitz. Selsky spoke Benkow’s work on behalf of human rights issues, including becoming one of the most active fighters for the emigration and Aliyah of Soviet Jewry. “Benkow openly supported Israel and fought against Anti-Semitism and strongly criticized Norwegian leaders who expressed biased views toward Israel,” Selsky said.

MK Liberman who led the event said that Benkow is a great example for Jews all around the world. “He was at the same time a true Norwegian patriot, a proud Jew and a passionate Zionist,” MK Liberman said Speaker of the Knesset Edelstein then spoke about Benkow’s unique life story. “Benkow’s Jewish roots informed his activities and he stood up for Israel even when it was unpopular to do so,” Speaker Edelstein said.

The Deputy CEO of the Genesis Philanthropy Group, Sana Britavsky, explained why these translations were so important for Israelis and Jews. “Many Jews in the Diaspora are struggling with the question of their identity, but Benkow’s life and story shows that nothing can prevent a Jewish citizen from being loyal to their home nation,” Britavsky explained.

Foreign Minister Brende, who began in politics as an advisor and a speech writer to Benkow expressed how emotional and important the event was for him personally and how he and MK Liberman would often recount stories about Benkow when they would meet.

“Benkow had profound feelings for Israel and this gave a sense of pride among Jews in Norway,” Foreign Minister Brende said. “He said that when Israel was founded he could be both fully Norwegian and fully Jewish because he understood it was difficult to be a minority without security.”

Jewish Press News Briefs

MK Avigdor Liberman: ‘It’s Israel’s Turn to Help Support Diaspora Jewry’

Saturday, January 9th, 2016

In a small sparsely-furnished office, containing a cherry wood desk, a matching credenza, an Israeli flag, some small personal photos and a large framed print of the father of Zionism, Vladimir Jabotinsky, is seated a man larger than life, the head of Yisrael Beiteinu and former Foreign Minister of Israel: Avigdor Liberman.

When the JewishPress.com met with Liberman late one morning this past week, he was told that most non-Israeli Jews really don’t have a good sense of who he is. So he was asked to explain himself.

ALIYAH, JEWISH CONTINUITY, ABSORPTION

Liberman began this way:

“First of all, my highest priorities are Aliyah, Jewish Continuity and Absorption. My positions are clear right wing without compromise, but very pragmatic.”

One of his pet projects combines all three priorities: he envisions schools of Jewish education everywhere in the Diaspora, along the lines of American schools abroad. Those schools would focus on both Judaism and Zionism.

Liberman explained the need for this educational initiative: “At the Saban meeting, people like [American Jewish journallist] Jeffrey Goldberg talked about the problem of the younger Jewish generation not being so supportive of Israel.”

“He said that the decline in support was due to Israeli government policies. But that’s not the problem,” Liberman said.

The problem is that the “younger generations of Jews don’t really know much about and so don’t care much about Israel.”

This dovetails with Liberman’s preoccupation with Jewish assimilation. He cites statistics and surveys which predict the near total extinction of Jews in only a few more generations.

“Fewer than 10 percent of American Jews have a Jewish, Zionist education. In places like France, Russia, even Canada, there is a 70 percent assimilation rate,” Liberman explains, with horror.

Naturally, the first question is who would fund such a project? Knowing that even many American Jewish Federations have turned away from significant contributions to Jewish day schools, the prospect seems bleak.

But Liberman isn’t looking to the Diaspora as the primary funding source. He explains: “during the 1940’s and ’50’s, Israel was a small, poor country and needed tremendous financial and political support – which it received – from the Jewish Diaspora.

“Now, with Israel’s vibrant economy, it’s our turn to give back and our turn to help support the Jewish people. We are a strong country with a huge budget,” explains Liberman.

Liberman believes that Israel must contribute something on the order of $365 million – which should be met with matching funds – to this vitally important enterprise.

The suavely-dressed, slimmed-down, blue-eyed politician sees this contribution by Israel not just as providing moral support to the waning Diaspora Jewry, but as a crucial investment, “it is for our future as well.”

The idea was first pitched by Liberman nearly a year ago in a speech in the United States. The concept was immediately overshadowed by the subsequent Israeli elections and, increasingly, by the nation’s focus on the then-looming and seemingly catastrophic Nuclear Iran Deal which the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (the U.S., the U.K., France, China and Russia), plus Germany (the P5+1) was negotiating, and then concluded, with Iran.

Liberman believes his concept is critical if there is to remain a global Jewry outside of Israel. Not surprisingly, one of the reasons Diaspora Jewry with a strong Jewish and Zionist identity matters so much is as a steady source for Aliyah.

But the current governing coalition “does not care about the Diaspora,” Liberman said.

This discussion led naturally to the question of why Yisrael Beiteinu walked away from being in the ruling coalition. It’s of course harder to promote enormous new projects from the outside.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

MK Hanin Zoabi Denounces Lieberman’s Campaign Against Her as “Fascism”

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

By Alexander J. Apfel/TPS

Hanin Zoabi, a member of the Arab Joint List party, the third largest faction in the Israeli Knesset, issued a statement today, stating her determination to fight a political campaign announced by Avigdor Lieberman.

The Soviet-born leader of the right-of-center Yisrael Beitenu party recently announced his campaign to “remove Hanin Zoabi from the Knesset – for good!” He also uploaded a photo of himself bearing this slogan on his Facebook page.

Lieberman also posted on his Facebook page on Wednesday that Zoabi had “supported terror against Israel and incited against our country.”

Zoabi has indeed made comments in the past, seemingly sympathetic to serious acts of terrorism. In mid 2014, when three Israeli youths were kidnapped by Hamas terrorists, Zoabi said that “I can’t call this act terrorism, even if I don’t agree with it. This incident is a result of Israeli war crimes. [The terrorists] have to use these means until Israel will wake up a little, until citizens of Israel and Israeli society will wake up and feel the suffering of others.”

Zoabi was also quoted on a Hamas website encouraging Palestinians to take place in “popular resistance” and called upon Palestinians to “put Israel under siege instead of negotiating.”

“That is why I initiated legislation that will not allow the Israeli Supreme Court or any other body to overturn the decision of the Israeli Central Elections Committee to disqualify Zoabi from standing during elections,” he continued.

Zoabi, who has thrust herself into the public limelight several times in recent years released a statement this afternoon in which she described Lieberman as a “dangerous political figure” and a “fascist.”

“He is trying to gain cheap and inappropriate popularity by attacking and inciting against me and against the public that I represent,” Zoabi wrote.

The response went on to portray Zoabi and Liberman as the respective proponents of democracy and fascism: “This is a classic conflict between democracy and fascism. I represent justice, democracy and human rights, and Liberman represents fascism and hateful politics. Obviously my democratic principles irritate an opponent of democracy like Liberman.”

She expressed her determination to remain steadfast and to continue fighting for her cause. “This campaign and its name will not deter me or move me from my struggle for the values in which I believe: justice, equality, freedom and democracy. I will continue to struggle for my people and their just struggle.”

Zoabi fell out of favor with much of the Israeli public after a series of provocative actions that included participating in the Mavi Marmara Flotilla in May 2010, which sought to breach Israel’s security blockade. The flotilla contained weapon caches and armed activists. Moreover, the incident severely damaged Israeli-Turkish relations.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Brazil May be Boycotting Settler as an Ambassador

Sunday, December 6th, 2015

Fears are growing in the Netanyahu administration that Brazil may torpedo the appointment of Dani Dayan, a leader in Judea and Samaria, as ambassador.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu nominated Dayan, a native of Argentine, to the post two months ago and a formal request was sent to Brazil to accept the appointment.

Brazil has taken no action, and the Foreign Ministry now is concerned that the delay will be permanent.

Brazil’s problem with Dayan is that he once was the chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria and that he lives in Maaleh Shomron, part of the Karnei-Ginot Shomron complex in western Samaria.

Other countries, including the United States, have accepted Israeli ambassadors who lived in Judea and Samaria, even high-profile politicians such as Avigdor Lieberman. The difference between him and Dayan is that the latter was an activist for the settler movement. He often was considered the “Foreign Minister of Judea and Samaria.”

A government source told The JewishPress.com Sunday morning that he is optimistic that Brazil eventually will accept Dayan as ambassador, but so far, it is no go.

Netanyahu’s nomination of Dayan ran into a brick wall with the pro-Palestinian Authority Brazilian government from day one, which was in September.

Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff immediately and quietly conveyed messages to the Foreign Ministry that it is was not happy about accepting Dayan. Several Brazilian legislators joined more than 40 groups to petition Rousseff to reject Dayan.

If Brazil continues to freeze the appointment simply by not acting on it, it will put Prime Minister Netanyahu in a bind. If he makes it a public issue, relations would be hampered. The cost is high because Israel wants to improve trade with Brazil.

If he concedes, he will run into to trouble with Likud hawks and the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party, headed by Naftali Bennett.

The only diplomatic way for Netanyahu not to hang his head in shame and to accept Brazil’s opposition, if it continues, is to name Dayan ambassador to another country. but Brazil would have set a precedent that would shrink the number of countries that would accept a “settler” as ambassador.

The offices of the Foreign Minister and Prime Minister refused to comment Sunday to Army Radio, which first published Brazil’s continuing delay in approving Dayan as ambassador.

Dayan said:

I suggest you contact the Foreign Ministry. I do not know about that.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Bibi Seals Nationalist Policy with Dore Gold Heading Foreign Ministry

Monday, May 25th, 2015

Dore Gold, former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations and director of a right-wing think tank in Jerusalem, was appointed as director of the Foreign Ministry Monday by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Monday afternoon.

He replaces Nissim Ben-Sheetrit, who was named to the post two years ago by then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman.

Gold was born in the United States, grew up in Connecticut and earned undergraduate and doctorate degrees at Colombia University. He was an adviser to Netanyahu in his first term as Prime Minister in 1996.

The appointment of Gold follows the naming of another strong nationalist, Tzipi Hotovely, as Deputy Foreign Minister but who in effect is subordinate only to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who retains the title of Foreign Minister.

With Gold heading the ministry, Netanyahu retains more control.

Both Gold and Hotovely are religious, which rounds out the Foreign Ministry as solid national-religious domain, one which will be a lot more uncomfortable for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

A powerhouse like Gold takes some of the limelight away from Hotovely, but it also will take some of the heat off her.

No less important is the fact the Gold, a native American and former U.N. ambassador, knows how to talk to the Americans in their language

When asked by CNN earlier this month how he can explain Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statements that “there will not be a Palestinian stage on my watch” and that he still supports a “sustainable two-state solution,” Gold passed the test remarkably.

He said that there will no Palestinian Authority state for the time being because Mahmoud Abbas refuse conditions for Israel to remain secure. He pointed out that Abbas last year rejected the framework agreement worked out with Israel, to leave Israel in a defensible position

He explained that peace must be preceded with the adjectives “safe and secure.”

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Liberman is Persona Non Grata, and Bennett Can Forget About Judicial Revolutions

Friday, May 8th, 2015

PM Netanyahu has no one to blame for the results of his coalition negotiations but himself, though that’s not stopping him from blaming his partners (and former partners) he mistreated.

Netanyahu’s natural partners, Bayit Yehudi and Yisrael Beytenu, were prepared to sign with the Likud immediately and with relatively reasonable demands, but Netanyahu saved them to last, played hardball with them, and basically abused them, until they decided they had enough.

An angry Avigdor Liberman quit as foreign minister and made it clear that he won’t be part of Netanyahu’s coalition. A fed-up Naftali Bennett decided to instead go for the gold, since his trust in Netanyahu was approaching zero, and he believed he had nothing left to lose.

According to a Makor Rishon report, Netanyahu told Likud MKs that not only will Liberman not be a member of his coalition now, Liberman will not be a member of his coalition, ever. Even if Liberman changes his mind, “there’s no coming back.”

Sources in the Likud said there will be revenge on Bennett for playing hardball during the last days of negotiations, and Netanyahu is plotting to kick Bennett out of the coalition as soon as possible and bring in Yitzchak Herzog and the Zionist Camp instead.

Within Bayit Yehudi, they believe that has been Netanyahu’s plan all along, even before Bennett began playing hardball back.

According to the Makor Rishon report, Netanyahu also said Bayit Yehudi can forget about introducing any judicial revolutions, whether they be reforms in how judges are selected or any other decisions that negatively impact the judiciary, as he will personally block it.

Netanyahu plans to rely on one of the conditions in the coalition agreement which prevents proposing “explosive” legislation in the legislation committee. This condition was introduced in the previous coalition to thwart then Justice Minister Tzipi Livni from going overboard, but it still didn’t stop Livni from proposing them all the time in the committee.

Likud sources say that Netanyahu is personally holding on to the Foreign Ministry portfolio so he can offer it to any party that might join the coalition later.

Since Lapid and Liberman won’t be allowed back in, that only leaves Yitzchak Herzog and his Zionist Camp (Labor).

For his part, Herzog says that he won’t be joining Netanyahu’s coalition, but when asked to confirm that position with a party vote, Herzog refused, leaving the feeling among his party members that he is leaving that door wide open.

Even within the Likud, a minor rebellion is brewing, with MKs jockeying for the limited number of ministerial positions, and each one feeling they deserve it more than their friends and associates, and that Netanyahu owes it to them.

Netanyahu’s coalition is off to a rough start, with a lot of anger and an atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust.

In the previous coalition, Netanyahu tried to keep Bennett out of the government, but Bennett forced his way in and proved to be Netanyahu’s most trusted and reliable ally. Liberman has also been Netanyahu’s trusted and reliable ally for decades.

Maybe these relationships are now broken, but the thing about politics, and Israeli politics in particular, is that there is no such thing as forever –unless you’re Shimon Peres.

Shalom Bear

Tonight at Midnight: Netanyahu’s Moment of Truth

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

By midnight, Wednesday, Benjamin Netanyahu is obligated under Israeli law to go up to the Reuven Rivlin’s presidential palace and declare whether or not he has been successful in cobbling together a coalition government.

Bibi has run out of time, and there will be no more time extensions. It’s his moment of truth.

Unfortunately, as of Wednesday morning, he is far from having a the minimum 61-member coalition that could receive the Knesset’s vote of confidence.

Netanyahu’s troubles have come from the two parties he thought he had in his pocket and thus took for granted and abused: Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu—6 seats, and Naftali Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi-8 seats.

So far, Netanyahu has secured only 53 seats, his talks with Liberman have been severed by the resigning Foreign Minister, and they appear to be on the rocks with Bennett.

Here’s an interesting point: Liberman, who is considered by many Israelis—and most of the country’s media—to be a cynical vote broker, exemplifying that with his left-right-left-right zig-zagging before the elections, quit the negotiations in a huff solely over ideological issues.

A source connected to the Yisrael Beytenu party told JewishPress.com that Netanyahu offered Liberman to continue as the Foreign Minister, and also offered him all the ministries he asked for.

Netanyahu’s previous (third) government, made serious changes in its social agreement with the Chareidi population – some good, some bad, and some good but done in a bad way.

In a collaboration between Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Economy Minister Bennett, and the entire coalition, Netanyahu’s previous government significantly reduced child welfare payments (which hurt the Chareidi population the most), and legislated draft laws that were, at least on paper, more draconian than previous ones–though in implementation, they actually reduced Chareidi enlistment instead of increasing it. The same government also used the budget to encourage Chareidi men and women to hit the job market, including a push to get them into universities.

In addition, the same government empowered the religious-Zionist agenda in areas of rabbinic officiating, such as marriages for non-religious Israeli Jews, or conversions for non-Jewish Israelis.

But in his haste to forge a government with UTJ and Shas parties, Netanyahu handed the Chareidi parties the offices empowered to roll back many of those reforms and achievements.

Speaking on Israel Radio Wednesday morning, Liberman said: “In recent days has been shown that the Likud sold out all its principles budgets to the Chareidim, and all that remains is a debate over ministerial portfolios. The debate of the past few hours is exclusively about increasing the number of ministers and deputy ministers, and there is no substantive discussion.”

Liberman is apparently fed up with Netanyahu, his ally for more than twenty years. Liberman supported him loyally, even in decisions he despised (twice he gave his cabinet vote to a decision not to conclude heavy Gaza skirmishes with the elimination of Hamas–he explicitly demanded the destruction of Hamas in these coalition negotiations).

He’s done it while being pursued for years by the judiciary civil service over seemingly unending corruption cases, none of which have ever actually found him guilty. His deputies have been investigated several times over, but police has been unable to connect their alleged crimes to Liberman.

Naftali Bennett is yet another long-time ally who feels taken for granted and used.

For one thing, Netanyahu’s amazing vote sweep in the last few days of the March election campaign came directly from Bayit Yehudi voters. Bennett and company happily obliged this sucker-punch move, setting up a right-wing rally in Kikar Rabin where they practically called on upwards of 100 thousand of their voters to switch to Bibi.

The Likud’s rise came directly from that rally at Bennett’s expense.

And while Naftali Bennett was the first politician Netanyahu called after the elections, Bayit Yehudi was almost the last party Bibi called on for serious negotiations after he had already signed away the Ministry of Religious Affairs to Shas, so the Aryeh Deri could highlight all of Bennett’s achievements in the area of religion services reform in Israel, and then press DELETE.

Now, taking advantage of Liberman’s angry departure, Bennett upped the ante—demanding major offices in return for joining, most important among them the Ministry of Justice, which he wants to hand over to his partner, Ayelet Shaked.

This is probably the most fun thing a National-Religious leader has had the pleasure of doing, ever.

The Left has been using Israel’s Justice department as their bulwark against the Right: appointments of a long line of anti-settlement Attorney Generals? It’s Justice department. Promotions of insider, radical leftwing judges who haven’t met a deceptive “Palestinian” land seller? Justice department again. Legislation that subverts the will of the voter in favor of the will of a tiny, self-appointing judicial minority? Justice department. Blatantly undemocratic, politically motivated investigations against popular, right wing leaders (including Netanyahu)? What do you know, it’s that Justice department again.

It’s no wonder Peace Now has called the notion of appointing Ayelet Shaked Minister of Justice “Tzelem Ba’heichal” – like placing a idol of Zeus in the Holy Temple’s inner sanctuary. For them it really is nothing less.

Yesterday Bennett handed the Likud his list of demands and disappeared from sight. No interviews, Not answering the Likud’s calls. A game of chicken—with little to lose.

Especially when Bennett suspects that the reason he was offered third-tier ministries was because Netanyahu planns to fire him following negotiatiations with Yitzchak Herzog (Zionist Camp) when no longer under deadline pressures.

The Likud spread rumors that Bayit Yehudi also demanded Defense, or the Foreign Ministry for Bennett, alongside the Judiciary.

One Likud MK joked that he’s surprised Bennett didn’t go so far as demand a rotation agreement for Prime Minister.

It’s a sellers market, and Bennett, who had at least one successful business exit, is going for broke.

Netanyahu has more to lose from a new election, assuming Zionist Camp’s Yitzhak Herzog fails to cobble a government together should President Rivlin assign him the task after midnight tonight.

In a new election, Liberman’s and Bennett’s voters, who bought the Likud’s argument that only a strong Netanyahu could represent the right—all those angry voters will come back home, giving Liberman back his 12 mandates, Bennett his 12 to 16, and Bibi — will be much reduced, with 20 or so seats.

It’s going to be an interesting day.

Shalom Bear

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/tonight-at-midnight-netanyahus-moment-of-truth/2015/05/06/

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