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October 28, 2016 / 26 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Barak’

Justice Minister Shaked Issues Manifesto on Jewish Democracy, Based on the Teachings of Chief Justice Barak

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

“The Knesset is attempting to legislate away our lives and the High Court is invading territory to which it is not entitled,” declares Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi), in a lengthy but exciting essay in the inaugural issue of Hashiloach, an Israeli Journal on thought and policy. The essay, titled “Tracks toward Governing” (the Hebrew title is a play on words between Mesilot-tracks and Meshilut-governance), suggests that the behavior of some of Israel’s branches of government is threatening individual freedoms as well as the ability of elected officials to govern. Shaked is urging a return, as soon as possible, to the proper governing on the proper tracks, from within Israel’s definition as a Jewish and democratic state.

“Good governance is not a blind force, certainly not a strong but silent engine,” writes Shaked, stressing that “the ability to carry out goals in the way they have been defined is a prerequisite condition for good governance, but is far from being sufficient in itself: good governance is measured above anything else by the ability of government ministers to establish their own goals.”

“A politician who knows how to bring the train to its destination, but is unable to set the destination, as senior as he may be — is not governing but merely subcontracting; he may have been appointed Minister, and he may get to cut ribbons in the end, but he is nothing more than a contractor,” Shaked argues. “To move down a track laid down by others does not require leaders; any driver could do it just fine. The essence of governance is always setting down directions and posting goals. This requires of elected officials to lay down new tracks only after they had decided for themselves where they would like to take the train.”

Shaked asserts that every time the Knesset votes in favor of any given law, it is also voting against the freedom of individuals to take care of their issues on their own. She calls it a vote of no confidence in the autonomy of communities and individuals. Indeed, as Chair of the Ministerial Legislative Committee, Shaked laments that she has processed more than 1,500 legislative proposals, from amendments to existing laws to fully realized, new bills. Suggesting the Knesset is by far the most prolific parliament in the entire Western world, Shaked describes this abundance of new laws as a hospital that’s being built underneath a broken bridge to care for the people who fall off.

Referring to economist Milton Friedman’s impressions following his visit to Israel in the 1960s, when he predicted that the historic spirit of Jewish freedom would eventually overcome the newly bred spirit of Socialist bureaucracy in Israel, Shaked admits she’s not so sure Friedman was right. “Without our firm push on the brake pedal of this locomotive, week in and week out, those legislative proposals would have created for us an alternative reality, in which government controls the citizens through the regulation of more and more economic sectors, with the individual being left with precious little freedom to manage his own affairs.”

Shaked provides several examples whereby proposed legislation would have, for instance, created a world in which a landlord would be forbidden to raise the rent for several years. Of course, rents would soar on the eve of this new law going into effect, followed by a loss of interest on the part of investors in creating new rental stock, leading to a drop in available apartments and, of course, another rise in rents. It would also be a world in which employers must comply with pensions set by the legislator, until, of course, they go bankrupt. And a world in which police would be bound by a two-strike law that compels them to arrest any individual against whom someone has filed two complaints. Running down some of these “bizarre” proposals, as she calls them, Shaked eventually describes a proposal to compel the state to solve terrorism by distributing bulletproof vests to every citizen against knife attacks, as well as a proposal to eliminate the reference in the law to “Beit Av,” which is the Biblical term for Household, because it has a reference to a father rather than to a mother.

Shaked reports that she requested, for the 2017-18 budget, that the ministerial committee would no longer consider bills that add new criminal offenses to the law books, without a thorough investigation of similar legislation in other countries, of the ramifications of the new criminal law on the books in Israel’s society, and, most important — of existing, non-criminal alternatives.

Alongside the need to restrain the legislator, Shaked sees a dire need to restrain Israel’s expansionist Judiciary. She notes an ongoing war between the Supreme Court and the executive branch, which necessitates the passing of a new constitutional-level legislation (Foundation Laws in Israel’s system) to regulate once and for all this combative relationship. She cites several cases in which government was blocked by the high court in areas that are clearly the executive’s domain, such as the law regulating the treatment of illegal infiltrators from Africa, and the government contract with natural gas companies to exploit Israel’s rich deposits.

Shaked laments the fact that the Supreme Court so often usurps the right to kill an entire legislation, as if it had appointed itself the 121st Knesset Member (or more than that, since it so frequently joins with the opposition parties to defeat a majority coalition). She has no problem with individuals seeking remedy in the lower courts to damages they claim to have suffered from, say, the new gas contract. That’s a legitimate use of the court system. But how can the unelected high court delete an entire legislation passed by elected officials? Who, after all is said and done, is the sovereign, the people or their appointed judges?

As a result, the art of politics in Israel is practiced as follows, according to Shaked: first the different parties vie for the voter’s trust; then, in the Knesset, the coalition negotiates with and fights against the opposition over a proposed bill; finally, after the bill was passed, the opposition parties appeal it before the Supreme Court, which reverses it. That, in a nutshell, was the story of the natural gas bill earlier this year.


Analysis: Bennett Defending Bibi from Barak While Bibi Tells Buji He’ll Dump Bennett if Buji Pulls a Barak

Friday, August 26th, 2016

A week ago, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak took to the podium at a V15-affiliated Darkenu conference and blamed current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of everything that’s gone wrong in Israel since the onset of Zionist settlement circa 1878, and then accused Netanyahu of “another incident” that showed a “worrying mix of an inability to judge deep security interests” regarding “cooperation with the United States,” with “careless operational behavior” that has caused “most worrisome exposure of Israel to a major security challenge.”

Israeli media and political experts spent the past week trying to figure out what in God’s good name Bibi’s former defense minister was talking about. Barak, meanwhile, refused an offer by Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee MK Avi Dichter (Likud)—whom Barak appointed head of Shabbak years ago—and wouldn’t share what ghastly national security failure of Netanyahu’s he had in mind. And so Barak, without a care in the world, went back to his private businesses, of which he has many at home and abroad, satisfied that the world still remembers his name.

Much like MK Dichter, Education Minister and Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett also decided to check up on Barak’s nebulous accusations. And so, Ma’ariv reported Friday, he went and talked to people in the know and reached the conclusion that it was absolutely nothing. “Nada, simply a Barak invention, there’s no security story here,” Bennett told his close circle of friends and advisors.

And to put his political capital where his mouth is, Bennett suggested Barak be summoned to a hearing before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee — a move committee chairman Dichter might still consider.

While all this fiendish dancing in his honor was going on, Netanyahu found time to meet twice with Zionist Camp chairman Isaac “Buji” Herzog, according to a Channel 2 News report, once on Monday and another time on Thursday last week, in Caesarea, in the home across the street from the Netanyahus’ villa, where movie mogul Leon Edery (movie mogul Moshe Edery’s brother) resides. Each meeting lasted two hours, and was devoted to the topic of Buji joining Bibi’s coalition after Bibi fires his Habayit Hayehudi ministers Bennett, Shaked and Ariel.

Herzog denied the news with all his might, but only managed to convince two of his closest party loyalists. Everyone else was stunned to hear their leader was back for more humiliation, after having been treated like a dog (Labour MK Shelly Yachimovich’s choice of metaphor) by Bibi only to leverage Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) into joining the government.

Yachimovich, who lost two leadership bids to Herzog, tweeted bitterly that she lives in the wrong city, she should move to Caesarea where all the goodies seem to be given away. She and many in Labor are seriously worried now that their hapless leader, who has just won himself an extra year at the party’s helm without an election, might be plotting a Barak move, which he would justify in the name of peace and brotherhood and his party members would probably give it its rightful name: treason.

A Barak refers to the betrayal by Labor chairman Ehud Barak, whose party suffered one of its worst defeats back in 2009, dropping from 19 to 13 seats and becoming, for the first time in its history, the fourth largest Knesset faction. Barak declared that the will of the voter was for Labor to remain in the opposition that term, then he went and struck a deal with the new prime minister, Netanyahu, who made him his defense minister. This did not go so well with the rest of the party, and so in early January 2011, Barak and four other Labor MKs left their Knesset faction and created a new party, Atzmaut. Those four MKs, whom no one remembers, paid with their political lives for Barak’s additional time in government. Before the 2013 elections Barak decided he had had enough of politics and closed down his new party.


Israeli Missile May Protect Worldwide Off-Shore Oil Rigs

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

An Israeli-made missile may generate billions of dollars in sales to international companies operating off-shore oil rigs that might be targets for terrorists. Hezbollah is Israel’s closest and most obvious threat to its off-shore energy fields that Lebanon claims.

The Barak 8 missile, designed and made by Israel Aerospace Industries subsidiary Elta Systems, successfully passed a critical test last week that helps clear the way for it to be operational by next year.

The Barak system was installed on an Israeli navy ship and launched at a simulated UAV, which was tracked and destroyed in mid-air.

A successful attack by terrorists or an enemy country on an off-shore oil rig could cause deaths, temporarily knock out oil production or exploration and result in a spike in oil prices that could sink economies into a recession.

IAI official Boaz Levy told Globes:

The recent trial has given the system a substantial boost among countries that are still considering whether to procure it, and we believe that in the coming years, we will increase the number of signed contracts for its procurement. This is the spearhead of the defense systems, and a key growth engine for us.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Snowden Files Reveal: US, UK, Spied on Olmert, Barak

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

Sometime, when you observe Shabbat while being employed by a newspaper, you pay the penalty of being way behind the rest of the gang. But since we assume our readers in Israel and the rest of the world are also Shabbat observers, welcome to this fresh bit of news, on the shelf barely since Friday:

British and American agents targeted the office of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak from 2008 to 2011, according to the latest documents leaked by Edward Snowden and published Friday.

According to the Guardian and the New York Times, the NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ also spied on a senior European Union official, German government buildings, the UN Children’s Fund, French aid organization Médecins du Monde, the French oil and gas company Total, and the French defense company Thales Group.

Former PM Olmert’s office has stated that “if the details in the publication are accurate, we should emphasize that this was a public email address used by the Premier’s office to receive applications. The chance that a security or intelligence damage has been caused from hacking this email address is miniscule.

Of course, Ehud Olmert is the Administration’s go-to Israeli on attacking Netanyahu’s policies, both on Iran and the Palestinians, so it won’t pay for him to get all angry about his benefactors.

But other sources have been equally unperturbed—at least in speaking to reporters—suggesting the hacked emails were not classified and that any information in them could have been acquired through simply listening to the radio or reading the papers.

According to Israel’s Channel 2 News, Israel’s defense apparatus is going to demand clarifications from the U.S., especially to make sure the activity has stopped.

Speaking to Ynet, a Defense source said: “Wherever we are, we assume we’re being listened to and followed, be it in mobile phone conversations, or in hotel rooms abroad.”

Several Israeli news reports suggested sensitive conversations with Netanyahu are often interrupted by a switch to gestures only, nothing in writing, nothing over the email or texts – the PM doesn’t even have a computer on his desk.

That psychotic deaf interpreter from South Africa would thrive in that environment…

How about bringing back semaphore flags? Aldis lamps?

The same source said at least one prime minister has made it his business to plant misinformation in his phone conversations, to manipulate American policy according to his needs, making spying a double edged sword.

Joaquín Almunia, the EU’s competition commissioner, has also been spied on – while he is in charge of sensitive antitrust cases, including one against Google. Brussels reacted furiously to these revelations.

An NSA spokeswoman said the agency did not use espionage to help U.S. businesses.

“We do not use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of – or give intelligence we collect to – U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line,” the spokeswoman said.

That means, without a shred of a doubt, that they absolutely used their intelligence capabilities to warn Google about the stuff the EU has on them.

Old rule on knowing when the chief of police is lying: watch his lips very carefully, and as soon as they start moving – he’s lying. Works just as well for NSA spokeswomen.

In this case, though, I believe the NSA has exceeded the lying part and leaped into the chutzpa region, declaring: “The intelligence community’s efforts to understand economic systems and policies, and monitor anomalous economic activities, are critical to providing policy-makers with the information they need to make informed decisions that are in the best interest of our national security.”

Yori Yanover

Why was the IDF (and Karsenty) Abandoned in the Al Dura Affair?

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Thirteen years after Israel’s enemies unleashed one of the most damaging fake atrocity stories in military history, the Israeli government has come up with an official report [1.8 mb pdf] to refute the September 30, 2000 France 2 news broadcast, narrated by respected correspondent Charles Enderlin, that claimed to show 12-year old Mohammad Dura shot dead by IDF soldiers.

Oh, we already know and knew almost immediately beyond a reasonable doubt that al Dura was not shot by the IDF, and we almost certainly know that he was not shot at all, by anybody. Persuasive evidence (more persuasive than the official report) is here.

In fact, we can say with confidence that the incident was a fake, set up by France 2′s Palestinian cameraman and local Gaza residents.

But what is difficult to understand is the Israeli diffidence in the face of the vicious allegations.

The immediate response of the IDF was to temporize. From the official report:

On that same day, following the France 2 report, the Spokesperson Unit released a statement which made clear that while it was not possible to determine, based on the footage broadcast by the network, the source of the shots apparently fired at Jamal and the boy, ultimate responsibility lay with the Palestinians for cynically launching armed attacks from within the civilian population. …

But then, at a press conference on October 3, it turned disastrous:

[Maj. Gen. Giora] Eiland, in response to a question regarding Al-Durrah, answered that as a result of the gunfire at the junction, Jamal and the boy “took cover next to a wall, several meters from where Palestinians fired at us. The soldiers returned fire and apparently the boy was hit by our fire.”

Eiland later explained,

I had not seen all the evidence made available to the Israeli army only later…Given the long history of Palestinians exposing their children to danger, I assumed that the main issue in this case would be the question: Why would the Palestinians have exposed their own civilians to danger by firing on the Israelis while a boy and his father were in the crossfire? I did not realize that my words would be used to accuse Israel of cold-blooded murder.

The footage was played and replayed around the world. Two weeks later, two IDF reservists were torn to pieces in Ramallah to shouts of “al-Dura! al-Dura!” The alleged cold-blooded murder became the symbol of the Intifada, and an inspiration for suicide bombers. Daniel Pearl’s murderers and even Osama bin Laden, before and after 9/11, invoked it as justification for their acts.

Meanwhile IDF Maj. Gen. Yom Tov Samia, OC Southern Command, reenacted the incident, examined the relative locations of soldiers and Palestinians, and concluded that IDF bullets could not have hit al-Dura. This was announced at a press conference on November 27, which was almost entirely ignored by the media — and by top officers and Israel politicians. Indeed, the IDF Chief of Staff, Shaul Mofaz, told the Knesset that the investigation was a “private initiative of Samia,” not part of an official investigation.

Why didn’t Mofaz and his boss, Ehud Barak, who was serving as both Prime Minister and Minister of Defense at the time, take up the cause of the IDF and demand, with the maximum possible diplomatic force, that all information related to the incident — including all the footage shot by France 2 on that day — be placed at Israel’s disposal to do a proper investigation?

It didn’t happen, not then and not later, despite the revelation of more and more facts casting doubt on the story that the IDF had shot Dura. In 2005, the PM’s spokesperson to the foreign press, Ra’anan Gissin, asked France 2 for the footage and was turned down. In 2007, the IDF spokesperson tried to get the footage, but again Enderlin refused to provide it. More recently, the French Ambassador was asked “to help,” to no avail. Surely the State of Israel could have done more to defend the honor of its armed forces than to deploy low-level officials.

A French media critic, Philippe Karsenty, who has been defending himself against a libel suit filed against him by France 2 correspondent Enderlin for at least 10 years — he called the presentation “a hoax” — spoke bitterly in 2009 about the treatment he received from government officials:

During all those years, I got the cold shoulder from Israeli officials. With the exception of a few mavericks like Danny Seaman (director of the Government Press Office), Raanan Gissin (Spokesman, Prime Minister’s Office), Shlomi Amshalom, former deputy spokesperson for the IDF, or former ambassador Zvi Mazel, the vast majority of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs personnel treated me and others who pursued this case, as embarrassments – conspiracy nuts who they wished would just disappear…

In 2002, when it was still possible to do something immediate, Nissim Zvili was the Israeli ambassador to Paris. He listened courteously but explained to me that he was a friend of Charles Enderlin, the French journalist who narrated the al Dura hoax.

In 2006, Zvili was replaced by Daniel Shek, who refused to shake my hand, and later commented on a Jewish radio that I was defending “conspiracy theories.” When I asked his colleague in charge of communication at the embassy in Paris, Daniel Halevy Goitschel, why he never returned my phone calls, he responded: “the phone doesn’t work at the embassy.” We are not even dealing with a lack of support here. On the contrary, I was being sabotaged.

When I won the case [against another media outlet] in May 2008, Yigal Palmor, the spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said: “Karsenty is a private individual and no one in the Israeli government asked him to take on his battle against France 2. Karsenty had no right to demand that Israel come to his aid. All calls on the Israeli government to come and ‘save’ him are out of place. He was summoned to court because of a complaint of the French television channel. I don’t see where there is room for the Israeli government to get involved.”

Last December, I went over the evidence with Aviv Shir-On, who now claims to have helped me, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). After two hours he repeated the old MFA refrain, “I’m not convinced.” Let’s say, for the sake of generosity, that Shir-On is just one more timid defender of Israel, so afraid of what “others” might say, that even the judgment of an independent (and hardly well-disposed) French court in favor of his own country, does not give him the courage to speak. So even though I won the case, and the new evidence from France 2 sharpens our argument, I could not count on Israeli officials to help move into a counter-attack. Enderlin, humiliated by the court decision, was allowed to bluff his way back to prominence, and recently, in the Gaza war, lead the journalists’ attack on the Israeli government…

On January 2009, I met Tzipi Livni, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and asked her about the al Dura story and the lack of reaction of the Israeli officials. Why didn’t the State of Israel demand that France 2 admit their blood libel following the court decision? I was stunned by her answer: “Well, it happens that we kill kids sometimes. So, it’s not good for Israel to raise the subject again.” (Philippe Karsenty: Israel Losing the Media War: Wonder Why?).

Karsenty was convicted, and the conviction was overturned on appeal — but recently the decision that exonerated him was reversed by France’s highest court.

It’s too late for the Israeli government to help him with his case, but let’s hope it can find the strength at last to support the IDF.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

Vic Rosenthal

Shabbos in Davos

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Shabbos in Davos. Almost rhymes, like the two are meant to be together.

And so it felt this past weekend at the alpine World Economic Forum in Switzerland. Every year, on Friday night, the Forum hosts a Shabbat meal that, longtime attendants say, started with a handful of people, including leading Israeli economists, but now boasts world leaders and Jewish personalities from around the globe.

One of the principal purposes in my attending the Sabbath meal was my intention of introducing President Paul Kagame of Rwanda – whose government announced at a press conference that we organized in October that they will be opening an Embassy in Israel – to more of the Jewish community. But I also marveled at a great celebration of Jewish observance and pride right in the middle of a renowned global gathering.

We sang Shalom Aleichem, the traditional welcoming poem for both angels and humans. We said the Kiddush blessing on the wine. The Rabbis in attendance were asked to jointly say the Hamotzi blessing on the bread for the assembled crowd. They did it without rancor or division (I’m being humorous here just in case you thought I was making fun of Jewish religious politics).

While the meal featured heads of state, Nobel laureates, and people of world renown, it had a homely feeling where no one in particular was made to feel more important than the next person.

But it was also a nice opportunity to say Good Shabbos and catch up with an assembly of Jewish leaders who were now under one roof, all celebrating God’s holy Sabbath together.

I greeted President Peres of Israel whom I had hosted in Oxford and whom I still visit in Israel. Peres will turn ninety in a few months God willing. Where he gets the Herculean strength to jet set around the world is a mystery that can only be explained by having to be President to seven million Presidents. But he looks and sounds amazing.

When I saw Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defense minister, who had made headlines that morning at the Forum with an interview implying that Israel had shelved its plans to attack Iran, I reminded him of a bizarre meeting. He and I were guests on the Dan Shilon TV program in Israel years ago. I was on talking about my book Kosher Sex that had just been published in Hebrew. He was launching his bid to be Prime Minister of Israel. The TV host started skewering Barak and his wife, asking them if they had read the book. Going further, he asked if they had ever joined the mile-high club. It was an interview to remember. It turned out the Defense Minister did not forget. He smiled and patted me on the back, as if I was privy to some state secret.

A big and very pleasant surprise was seeing Eric Cantor, the House Majority leader, at the dinner. Eric is a very committed Jew who keeps a kosher home and is arguably the most stalwart defender of Israel in the United States Congress. A few years ago, when Eric addressed a Birthright group I was leading, at the Kotel in Jerusalem on Friday night, he walked 45 minutes to dinner at his hosts’ home because he did not wish to drive on the Sabbath in the holy city. His security detail may have had their complaints. But it was inspiring to our Birthright young adults to see the highest ranking Jewish elected official in American history showing such deference to the Sabbath.

A couple I truly enjoyed meeting was the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson and his Israeli-born wife, Dorrit Moussaieff. When I visited Iceland in the summer of 2009 with my family, Icelanders were excited, seeing a Jewish family, to tell us about their Jewish-Israeli first lady. Our arrival in Iceland had increased the Jewish population in the country orders of magnitude and it wasn’t every day they got to see people wearing Yarmulkes. Every time I asked for directions, I heard from Icelanders how proud they were to have an Israeli first lady.

In that summer of 2009, tragedy struck. After a few nights in Reykjavik, I heard the terrible news that Michael Jackson died. I did TV interviews via Skype from remote locations in the country, sometimes right by glaciers. It was the most beautiful scenery imaginable, discussing one of the saddest stories. I related to the President and first lady our unforgettable experience in Iceland. Dorrit said, “Why didn’t you come and visit?” I told her I figured she was busy. “No, you should have visited.” I promised her that I would now definitely take her up on her invitation, especially since I was looking for any excuse to visit Iceland, one of the most beautiful places on earth, again. I discovered in the electric, warm, and engaging personality of Iceland’s first lady someone who could make all that ice melt.

But the nicest part of the dinner was connecting with so many unsung heroes who do their extraordinary work without much fanfare. There was Rabbi Mendy Rosenfeld, who has headed Chabad in Switzerland for three decades and who showed me and my wife hospitality when we were in Switzerland for our honeymoon nearly 25 years ago. There was my former Oxford student, Charles Small, who runs an incredible academic program at leading universities, combating anti-Semitism. And there was my friend Eli Beer, who heads United Hatzalah of Israel, rescuing countless Jewish and Arab lives daily.

And, someone to whom all of us who participated in the magical Shabbos dinner should be grateful, there was Eduardo Elsztain, a well-known Jewish philanthropist who showed me hospitality when I visited Argentina and who has quietly paid for the kosher Shabbat dinner at Davos for many years, introducing the peace, serenity, and togetherness of the Jewish Sabbath as a great gift to some of the world’s most influential people.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Chief of India’s Air Force in Israel for Talks

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Indian Chief of Air Staff Norman Anil Kumar Browne is in Israel for talks with the highest ranking Israeli military officials as ties deepen between the two countries’ defense establishments.

The Times of India reported that India and Israel are seeking new ways to cooperate militarily.  The visit began Sunday with a military ceremony at the Kirya in Tel Aviv and with meetings between Browne and Israel Air Force chief Amir Eshel.

Browne is also expected to meet with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.

India and Israel are currently working together to upgrade all of India’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).  India is the world’s largest consumer of Israeli defense products.

Browne was India’s first defense attaché to Israel.

Malkah Fleisher

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/chief-of-indias-air-force-in-israel-for-talks/2013/01/21/

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