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August 2, 2015 / 17 Av, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Ayelet Shaked’

Government Committee to Address Legality of ‘West Bank Lands’

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

A new government committee has been formed to “address the legal status of West Bank lands,” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) has announced.

The formation of the committee comes in fulfillment of part of the coalition agreement between Bayit Yehudi and the Likud.

The agreement stipulates such a committee is to be formed and make “fast-track” recommendations within 60 days on the legal status of outposts in Judea and Samaria.

The deal was designed to prevent the typical red tape snarl that usually results in committee paralysis of any issue that proves too painful to handle without a public political temper tantrum from one quarter or the other.

Members of the committee – to be led by Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mandelblit – include Agriculture Ministry director-general Shlomo Ben-Eliyahu, Defense Ministry Legal Adviser Ahaz Ben-Ari and Attorney Hagai Vinitzki.

As expected, the public temper tantrums have already started — even before the work.

Routine NGO litigant “Yesh Din” (Volunteers for Human Rights), which essentially opposes human rights for Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria and opposes their communities, is already slamming the establishment of the committee itself.

“Even 100 committees will not succeed in fixing the contradiction of an after-the-fact legalization of outposts and neighborhoods which were established amidst continuing violations” of the rule of law, Yesh Din said in a statement.

The NGO claimed that Justice Minister Shaked is “trying to implement the Levy Report via the back door…. without the government officially adopting [it] and “even though senior jurists in Israel and globally, as well as decisions of the Supreme Court reject [the report’s] legal interpretations and conclusions.”

The brouhaha by Yesh Din references the 2012 Levy Report that was authored by the late Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, who rendered a decision stating the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria were legal under international law. Justice Levy recommended the government legalize unrecognized outposts that were built on Israeli state land, at least through some form of unofficial government support.

The question has remained over whether land in Judea and Samaria holds the legal status of state land or private land, and where those areas exist.

More than half a million Israeli citizens now populate those communities and live their lives from one day to the next never knowing whether tomorrow will bring an eviction notice from the State of Israel due to some political expediency that could destroy decades of investment and change their lives forever – as it did for nearly 10,000 others in the Jewish towns of Gush Katif and northern Samaria.

Insider’s Guide to the Middle East: ‘Catch the Jew’

Friday, July 17th, 2015

This book will blow your mind.

But do not read “Catch the Jew” if you are confident you know all about Israel and its Arab neighbors and citizens and refuse to change your mind. Those entrenched either on the “right” or on the “left” must be prepared to shake loose the moorings of long-held, often ossified, views. And who is in the middle if you care about the Middle East?

If you are open to having your views altered and expanded, though, you must read this book. You’ll see what I mean about it being mind-blowing if you do. It will also tickle your funny bone, if you have one.

Tuvia Tenenbom, the merry prankster journalist who is fluent in Hebrew, Arabic, English and German, was born and spent his early years in a haredi family in B’nei Brak. He then fled to the United States for intellectual and ideological freedom, including freedom from religion. He was educated in the west, and is now a journalist, dramatist and author who lives at least half the year in Germany.

This book is a chronicle of Tenenbom’s journeys through Israel’s Jewish and Arab towns and the Arab and Jewish hubs in the territories.

I had heard that Tenenbom was prickly and iconoclastic. So, of course, I invited him for Shabbat dinner when I learned he would be in nearby Philadelphia.

He was an entertaining dinner guest – attacking me and my husband for claiming to love Israel so much but living in the luxurious suburbs of a large American city. Fair enough.

I then traveled with Tuvia for a day as he began his exploration of the United States for his upcoming book. I was able to watch his process firsthand, and it confirmed for me what I say about his process, below.

In truth, I did not fully understand what was the point of the book when I began reading it. What was everyone so excited about? The book is a huge bestseller in Israel and in Germany. But it seemed to meander, without a particular direction. Patience, please.

Tenenbom did not have a point in mind when he started, that is itself the point, or at least it reveals why the book is so valuable. He did not start with a thesis, something he was trying to prove.

The book is an exploration and he proceeds with no plan other than to make sure to meet up with as many different kinds of people, representing as many different viewpoints, as possible. If there was a goal, it was simply to find out what Israel is like and who inhabits it.

Tenenbom tags along with tour groups, wanders through the halls of the Knesset, journeys with Jews and Arabs for “peace conferences,” sits in on shiurim in Meah Shearim, and blunders about on the Temple Mount, all in search of people who will speak about the place in which they live.

As a German journalist (well, sort of, remember his brief biography, above), he is readily granted access to people such as Rabbi Arik Ascherman of Rabbis for Human Rights, and Jibril Rajoub, the notorious Palestinian Arab terrorist leader and now sports minister.

The list of people who speak freely with Tenenbom  – albeit most don’t realize he understands their language when they shoots asides to aides – is fairly comprehensive. And what those people say to someone they think is a German (a blond, no less!) journalist allows readers to get about as close to the truth as most people will ever get.

This book provides invaluable insights through visits with well-known PLO legislator and activist Hanan Ashrawi, Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy, Israeli novelist Amos Oz, Shimon Peres and Ayelet Shaked, as well as non-famous Druze, Arab Israelis, Jewish leftists, Syrian victims (in Israeli hospitals) and the foreign media. And that’s not even half of his subjects.

Bennett Looks for Attention with Appeal to World to Recognize Golan

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) chairman Naftali Bennett called on the world to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights in speech to the annual Herzliya Conference on Sunday.

Israel annexed the strategic and water-rich Golan in 1981, but many foreign media articles are preceded with the dateline “Golan Heights, Occupied Territories.”

Bennett’s initiative might be the first small step towards what is going to be an eventual reality. As Syria falls apart, the idea of handing over the Golan to Bashar Al-Assad doesn’t even enter the imagination of Secretary of State John Kerry.

However, Bennett’s call for recognition was welcomed with a resounding thud by foreign media, such as AFP, whose first words in its report were “Far-right Israeli minister.” The description is outlandish, if not libelous, unless the same news agency were to call Labor party chairman Yitzchak Herzog “far-left.”

Bennett said yesterday:

I call on the international community… to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan…. I understand that there is a disagreement on Judaea and Samaria, what the world calls the West Bank. I understand that on this we shall agree to disagree.

But the Golan, to ban agricultural exports from the Golan? Where is the logic, where is your morality? Who would you like us to give the Golan Heights to? To Assad? To Al-Nusra Front? To the Islamic State group? To Hezbollah?

There is a consensus among Israelis that the Golan Heights should remain in Israel. The 20,000 Jews in the Golan Heights make up 50 percent of the population, the other half being Druze, approximately half of whom live in the city of Majdal Shams.

Prime Minister Netanyahu took the air out of Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi party, which in the early stages of the election was polled to win 16 seats in the Knesset. By Election Day, the number was down to 12, the same it had in the previous government.

The day after the election, Netanyahu’s frantic call for Jews to vote had reduced the party’s strength to eight.

Bennett is not making the mistake of previous nationals religious parties to become a party of “Yesha,” the acronym for the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria.

He is trying to shed the party of the stigma that nationalists must be religious. Secular Knesset Member Ayelet Shaked was at the top of the heap in the elections and won the prize of Justice Minister.

Now Bennett needs even broader support in Israel to strengthen his position in the government, and his call on the world to recognize the Golan was more for local consumption than any expectation that the United Nations or even the Obama administration will admit to the truth.

Best Friends Forever?

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked met with Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein at a special Cabinet meeting held in the Israel Museum on May 19, 2015.

The position of Attorney General is one of those that Shaked hopes to reform.

Ayelet Shaked: Seeking to Save Israeli Democracy from the Israeli Supreme Court

Monday, May 18th, 2015

On Monday, May 18, newly-appointed Israeli Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) gave an address to the Israeli Bar Association at the southern seaside city of Eilat.

Depending on whom you ask, Shaked either continued her pledge to honor the role of justice by pushing to de-politicize the activities of the Supreme Court, or, as the Haaretz crowd asserts, continued her mission of inserting politics into the Supreme Court.

The Israeli Supreme Court is highly activist, and has derailed significant legislation passed by the Knesset. For those who believe in the right of the popularly elected branches, the two branches of government which must answer to the people, the notion of the non-elected branch having broad power to overrule the will of the majority is unnerving.

It is even more unnerving when membership in that branch is conferred, as it is in Israel, by a nine-member committee, most of whom are not accountable to the electorate. Two of those votes are cast by completely private parties, chosen by the Bar Association itself — whose members routinely appear before the very judges they put on the Court.

The 39-year-old Shaked said: “only a genuine separation of powers will ensure the survival of democracy, the balance of which is subtle. The meaning of the word ‘democracy’ is the rule of the people. The people are sovereign and choose their representatives.”

“I would like to reinforce the authority of the executive branch, while maintaining the independence and status of the judicial branch,” Shaked continued.

“In recent years it seems a large part of the public has been under the impression that this outlook (of judicial restraint) has diminished. It seems decision making – governance – is no longer under the control of the people – their elected officials in the Knesset – but is held by the judiciary. The issue is at the heart of a contentious public debate,” Shaked stressed.

It is expected that Shaked will work to re-assert the separation of powers during her tenure as Justice Minister. During the coalition negotiations she submitted several bills the purpose of which would be to limit the Supreme Court’s interventionism. One example of such a legislative effort is to enable the Knesset to ratify laws struck down by the Supreme Court.

 

Israeli Cabinet Sworn in after Being Sworn At

Friday, May 15th, 2015

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began his fourth term as Prime Minister of Israel late Thursday night, presiding over a cabinet of 20, after a raucous Knesset session culminated in the ministers’ swearing-in.  Lest there be any uncertainty about whether Israel really is both a Jewish and a democratic country, the Israeli Parliament session featured empassioned addresses by Arab legislators.

The session also featured a disgusted speech by Labour Party leader Isaac Herzog, who denounced the country’s newly-elected leader and refused to join the government, calling it a “circus” because its platform rejects the Socialist Worker views of the party that controlled Israel from 1948 until Menachem Begin became Prime Minister in 1977.

Herzog’s address was a frontal and personal attack on both Netanyahu and the entire concept of cross-party cooperation in the national interest:

“This is not the government the people wanted,” Herzog said. Facing Netanyahu directly, he went on: “Your partners swindled you. What you created was a circus. Your mentors Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin would have been embarrassed of you. Your way is not my way. My way is the way of the Labor movement that founded this country. Give the Foreign Ministry to one of your MKs. No decent leader would join your circus,” as reported by Gil Hoffman in the Jerusalem Post.

No doubt Bibi has very thick skin, but it would be hard for any human being, even a politician, to forget that personal insult, delivered in front of the entire government and, via the press, the rest of the world.

The  “swindling” that Herzog denounced was in fact a long negotiation with each person who wound up as a Cabinet official – and with several others who did not wind up as such – over who would hold which office.

After oaths had been administered, Netanyahu explained to the Knesset that this lengthy game of musical chairs was necessitated by Israeli’s system of parliamentary elections, which fractures power in the hands of numerous small parties, each of which then has the right to extort as high a price as possible for its support of a coalition.

Netanyahu called for change of this system Thursday night. Though both his own Likud party and Herzog’s “Zionist Union” – the two largest parties – would benefit from such reform, it’s hard to see how sufficient support for it could be found across all these criss-crossing party lines.

Still, there is some hope for progress on some fronts.  Ayelet Shaked will take over as Justice Minister, and she takes office with an ambitious plan to reform the Israeli Supreme Court – long seen by many as a profoundly anti-democratic institution that rejects Knesset-passed laws whenever a majority of its 15 justices disagrees with them.

Likud plans to introduce a bill in the Knesset that will, among other things, require a modest super-majority of the Supreme Court’s justices, rather than a bare majority, before a law could be struck down.

It will be interesting to see whether, if the Knesset adopts such legislation, the Supreme Court strikes that down.

The Washington Post Sinks to Mondoweiss level (updated)

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

{Originally posted to author’s website, Abu Yehuda}

The usual suspects have been pulling out all of the stops to attack Israel’s new Justice Minister, MK Ayelet Shaked. Shaked has been called a racist, accused of inciting genocide, even compared to Hitler. Until recently, this kind of verbal excrement has been confined to marginal outlets like that running sewer of Jew-hatred, the Mondoweiss blog (you can google it if you wish; I don’t provide links to running sewers). But now, amidst the overall degradation of discourse about Israel and Jews, it even appears in the Washington Post.

The sewage is recycled by Post writer Ishaan Tharoor, who does link to Mondoweiss and regurgitates the slander that he finds there:

In July [2014], in a controversial post on Facebook, the then-member of the Knesset posted the text of an article by the late Israeli writer Uri Elitzur that referred to Palestinian children as “little snakes” and appeared to justify the mass punishment of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation….

Even if these aren’t Shaked’s own words, the sentiment is noteworthy, and it reflects what critics say is the Israeli nationalist right’s widespread intolerance of the Arabs in their midst, who make up one-fifth of the Israeli population.

Shaked’s Facebook post was selectively quoted at the time by a writer named Gideon Resnick, and pushed to go viral in the left-wing blogosphere by Ali Abunimah of “Electronic Intifada.” Shaked responded,

Let’s start with my July 1 Facebook post. It was written some 12 years ago, but never published, by a dear man, the recently departed journalist Uri Elitzur. The gist of his article was that once one side in a war attacks the other side’s civilians, they can no longer morally claim a special status for their own civilians.

Go ahead, ask a Hebrew speaking friend to translate it for you, they’ll confirm this is what my Facebook post [here, in Hebrew, see update below for English] was about. But you’ll find not a trace of that in Resnick’s account. Perhaps it’s his own ignorance of the Hebrew language. After all, he got the text from Electronic Intifada, a website dedicated to daily and hourly vilification of my country.

All Resnick had to do to make Elitzur’s sober, legally minded discussion sound like a speech made by Hitler himself, was to cherry pick words out of context. A call for the indiscriminate killing of children is a terrible thing. But what if the statement was that any time you attack our children, you’re exposing your own people to the same fate? Still unsettling, but rational when you consider their civilian population is actively supporting and participating in their war and terror efforts. It’s not a call for indiscriminate murder.

That’s it. She didn’t write the text in question, and it doesn’t call for genocide. Even in Mondoweiss’ translation, it’s clear that the “little snakes” referred to are terrorists, not Arab children. Now that she is about to take an important post, the story is making the rounds again.

This isn’t so much about Ayelet Shaked, who can and will defend herself. It is more about the Washington Post, supposedly a serious newspaper, which paid a hack journalist to write a hit piece based entirely on material taken from what another Post contributor, David Bernstein, persuasively argues is a “hate site.”

Ishaan Tharoor’s technique of expressing his political prejudices is to link to anti-Israel articles with phrases like “some would call [her views] extremist,” or “some have likened [Naftali Bennett’s plan for Palestinian autonomy] to the bantustans of apartheid-era South Africa.” This enables him to write a massively biased piece without taking ownership of his bias.

There is no sign in the Post article that he made any attempt to contact Shaked, or indeed anyone connected with her. In fact, just about everything in his piece can be found in the Mondoweiss article he references. This is barely blogging, much less journalism.

Tharoor, a Yale graduate and the son of prominent Indian politician and writer Shashi Tharoor and NYU Humanities professor Tilottama Mukherji, seems to have led a charmed life as a journalist, with writing positions at Time and the Washington Post. Many actual journalists would kill for such jobs.

But here’s the best part, from an Indian publication:

However, [Tharoor] is frustrated about the sloppy writing and poor ethical standards in the English-language media in India. He also fears the mainstream private media in the country is picking up the same sensationalist, somewhat vacuous tricks of their counterparts in the US. [my emphasis]

I suppose it takes one to know one.

***

Update [10-May-0922 IDT]: I originally called the Mondoweiss translation ‘tendentious’. I have removed the word; I carefully read the original Hebrew text and can compliment the translator on her accuracy. I translated the last two paragraphs that did not appear in the Mondoweiss version myself. Here is the whole thing, with the part about the “snakes” emphasized. Read it and draw your own conclusions:

The Palestinian people has declared war on us, and we must respond with war. Not an operation, not a slow-moving one, not low-intensity, not controlled escalation, no destruction of terror infrastructure, no targeted killings. Enough with the oblique references. This is a war. Words have meanings. This is a war. It is not a war against terror, and not a war against extremists, and not even a war against the Palestinian Authority. These too are forms of avoiding reality. This is a war between two people. Who is the enemy? The Palestinian people. Why? Ask them, they started.

I don’t know why it’s so hard for us to define reality with the simple words that language puts at our disposal. Why do we have to make up a new name for the war every other week, just to avoid calling it by its name. What’s so horrifying about understanding that the entire Palestinian people is the enemy? Every war is between two peoples, and in every war the people who started the war, that whole people, is the enemy. A declaration of war is not a war crime. Responding with war certainly is not. Nor is the use of the word “war”, nor a clear definition who the enemy is. Au contraire: the morality of war (yes, there is such a thing) is founded on the assumption that there are wars in this world, and that war is not the normal state of things, and that in wars the enemy is usually an entire people, including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.

And the morality of war knows that it is not possible to refrain from hurting enemy civilians. It does not condemn the British air force, which bombed and totally destroyed the German city of Dresden, or the US planes that destroyed the cities of Poland and wrecked half of Budapest, places whose wretched residents had never done a thing to America, but which had to be destroyed in order to win the war against evil. The morals of war do not require that Russia be brought to trial, though it bombs and destroys towns and neighborhoods in Chechnya. It does not denounce the UN Peacekeeping Forces for killing hundreds of civilians in Angola, nor the NATO forces who bombed Milosevic’s Belgrade, a city with a million civilians, elderly, babies, women, and children. The morals of war accept as correct in principle, not only politically, what America has done in Afghanistan, including the massive bombing of populated places, including the creation of a refugee stream of hundreds of thousands of people who escaped the horrors of war, for thousands of whom there is no home to return to.

And in our war this is sevenfold more correct, because the enemy soldiers hide out among the population, and it is only through its support that they can fight. Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. Actors in the war are those who incite in mosques, who write the murderous curricula for schools, who give shelter, who provide vehicles, and all those who honor and give them their moral support. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.

This week there are celebrations of mourning and honor in two homes of two suicide murderers. I suppose that they set up mourning tents, and all the notables of the city are coming to honor the mother and father that raised the devil. Those two homes should be bombed from the air, to destroy and to kill. And it should be announced that from now on we will do the same to every house of every martyr. Nothing is more just than this, and it appears that nothing is more efficient than this. Every suicide [bomber] should know that he also takes with him his parents, his house, and some of his neighbors. Every Umm Jihad [the nickname of a woman that raised several suicide bombers; literally “mother of jihad”] heroine that sends her son to hell should know that she goes with him. Together with the house and everything in it.

Killings can’t be targeted. That’s how it is in war. What is targeted doesn’t kill and what kills isn’t targeted
[מה שממוקד לא מסכל ומה שמסכל לא ממוקד]. We didn’t start this hateful war and we can’t end it. The keys to a ceasefire are in the hands of the Palestinian people. We can only scorch their fingers until they want to use them.

The meaning ought to be clear to anyone who can read either English or Hebrew. This is not a call for genocide, it is a realistic assessment of the ugly nature of war. In particular, the “snakes” he refers to are suicide bombers. He does not call for the murder of children; rather he proposes to deter the parents from making their children into murderers.

Update [1049 IDT]: The Jewish Press reports that

Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) has been assigned a full-time security detail and armed guards, by the Knesset security department, after incitement and threats by Israeli leftists were posted on social media, according to Galei Tzahal.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-washington-post-sinks-to-mondoweiss-level-updated/2015/05/13/

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