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October 24, 2014 / 30 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Bibi’

Don’t Feel Bad! We Didn’t Lose the War!

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Albeit all the angry, bitter, and downright nasty articles and blogs which have been written on how Israel was defeated in its latest skirmish with the Hamas – that isn’t the case at all. We’re really the winner! Let me explain:

Firstly, on the simplest level, thanks to the grace of G-d, our casualties were far less than the Other Side’s. Regarding physical damage as well, the devastation on their side was far greater. So, just in terms of the way the military scorecard is usually figured, we were the victors by far.

In reply to the claim that the Hamas received a great boost in their morale in bringing mighty Israel to a cease fire, giving them added incentive for the next round – maybe. But their celebrations of victory are based on fantasy and lies, and their joy won’t last when we hit them ten times as hard the next time.

As far as the truce being a crushing blow to the morale of our own troops – my son and his friends in the army don’t seem any less gung ho about destroying the Hamas the next chance they get, so I think that claim has also been over-exaggerated. Our son was happy to be home for Shabbat, and we were happy too. Along with 30,000 other soldiers and their families.

Don’t accuse me of being a pacifist. Any reader who has been following my blog during the recent Israeli Air-Force exercise in Gaza knows that I would not have had any qualms at all if we had waited for a day when a stiff wind was blowing toward Cairo and dropped a small A-Bomb on Gaza City. But the time hasn’t yet come. Savlenut, my friends. Patience.

I am reminded of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook’s reaction when the United Nations voted in 1947 to partition the Palestine of the British Mandate which sliced Eretz Yisrael into pieces and awarded a truncated area to the Jews. When the news came over the radio that a Jewish State would be formed, a spontaneous joy swept over the country. People rushed out from their homes to dance in the streets. But Rav Tzvi Yehuda was crushed. The Land of Israel has been divided! Large portions of the country had been placed in foreign hands! Half of Jerusalem, Hevron, Shilo, Yericho, Shechem, and the other side of the Jordan River! Multitudes of Israelis were dancing through the streets, but in his staggering sorrow, Rav Tzvi Yehuda remained in his home. The Land of Israel had been divided! It was impossible for him to feel glad. He felt as if he himself had been cut into pieces.

The following day, Rabbi Yaacov Moshe Harlop, a close student and friend of Rav Tzvi Yehuda’s father, Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook, came to visit him in the old house on Yafo Street in Jerusalem. They sat in the room which Rabbi Kook had used as his study and huddled together, distraught over what had occurred. Then, finding encouragement in each other, and raising themselves up to Rabbi Kook’s famous all-encompassing vision, they quoted the verse of Psalms, “This is the Lord’s doing. It is wondrous in our eyes.” Finally, Rav Tzvi Yehuda mustered the strength to go out to the Nation, realizing, with faith in Hashem, that is was God’s doing, and that with the passing of time, the newborn Nation would overcome the great difficulties and gradually return to all of its Land – to Hevron, to the Temple Mount, to Shechem, to Gaza, and to the other side of the Jordan.

During the recent operation in Gaza, we wrote that the Redemption of Israel was a process which develops gradually over time, little by little, like the emerging of dawn, stage after stage, in the wars which Israel must fight against its enemies who strive to block out its light, in what is known as “the Footsteps of Mashiach.” While we would like to see our salvation and victory occur all at once, Presto, with one wave of Mashiach’s wand, the Master of the World, who is also the Master of War, has decided otherwise. After the trauma of our national disintegration in our exile in foreign lands, Hashem rebuilds our Nation gradually, war after war, development after development, slowly bringing us back to our true selves, the proud lions of Judah, completely devoted to Hashem and His Torah, not only as individuals, but as a proud Torah Nation in Israel.

Humble Pie

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Now, there’s a fine exercise in the diplomatic niceties one must endure when one is prime minister of a small state in the near east, surrounded by enemies, with few friends to spare, and one’s favorite candidate has come up short.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) met on Wednesday with U.S. ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, to congratulate him on his boss’s win the night before. Both men knew the score, both knew that if the other guy had won there would have been a genuine, huge smile on Bibi’s face, but God, as usual, insisted on His mysterious ways, and so, there you go.

If I were Bibi, then after that obligatory meeting I would have locked myself in my office with a good book and a box of Lady Godiva rich Belgian chocolates and sulked for a couple of hours.

Of all the things our side has lost last Tuesday, losing the chance for the inside track to the White House was the most painful. We’re doing OK with the Kremlin, but we desperately need someone who knows someone on Pennsylvania Avenue. Israel can’t afford four years of tense relations with the second term prez.

How’s about renaming Dizengoff Street  “Obama Boulevard”?

Moshe Kahlon Stirring Up the Next Earthquake in Israel’s Elections

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

When Likud Minister of Communications, Welfare & Social Services Moshe Kahlon announced last week that he was staying off the ballot in his party’s upcoming primaries, the common explanation was that he didn’t think he could get himself into a realistic spot on the Likud candidates list, and preferred to quit while he was ahead.

In a government dedicated to making life easier for Business, Kahlon stood out as champion of the economic underdog. He was behind a bill to reduce electricity charges for poor families, and headed an inquiry into the impenetrable maze of Israeli bank fees. But he became an overnight minor messiah last year, when he issued permits to operators of virtual cellular phone services, creating real competition and bringing down rates by as much as 75%.

As Israelis erupted in the summer of 2011 with the “Cottage Cheese Protests,” occupying a section of gentrified South Tel Aviv along Sderot Rothschild, Kahlon, one of seven children of a family of oriental Jews, became Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s poster child for economic equality and bootstrapping innovation. Netanyahu famously told his cabinet ministers: “Be like Kahlon,” in finding inspired solutions to the economic travails of a large segment of Israeli society.

Late last week, while Netanyahu and Yisrael Beitenu leader, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, were celebrating their earth-shattering union into a 42-seat juggernaut (which is expected to pick up between as many as 45 and as few as 35 seats in the next Knesset), rumors started floating (someone, obviously was floating them) that a new poll predicted 20 seats going Kahlon’s way should he head a new, social-reform oriented party.

Netanyahu appeared duly concerned by the news. During the Likud convention last Monday, Bibi grabbed his demure former poster child by the arm practically against his will, like Pepé Le Pew grabbing his beloved pussycat, declaring beamingly: “Moshe Kahlon has reassured me that he’s staying in the Likud.” At a Q&A in Élysée Palace, while French President François Hollande was looking on, Bibi dealt in similar fashion with the question regarding the possibility of a Kahlon exit, repeating his Monday’s statement almost verbatim.

This morning, it appears that Bibi’s worst nightmare is about to be realized, and this one could be a Sea change that would make the Likud Beitenu move seem like a parlor trick. According to Makor Rishon, retiring minister Moshe Kahlon has made a decision to return to political life after a two-week exile, and that he is about to announce very soon, maybe even today, Thursday, the creation of a new party.

Makor Rishon cites sources close to Kahlon who say he has been in contact with MK Rabbi Emil Haim Amsalem, who was expelled from Shas back in 2010 for entertaining some very unconventional views. Amsalem called on those who aren’t good enough scholars to become great Torah sages, and who have families that must be fed, to go to work, and not live on the dole. He also urged Haredim to enroll in National Service.

When Shas expelled the offending rabbi, they wanted their seat back, but he refused to oblige them and soon established the Whole Nation party (Am Shalem, a play on his last name). As a partner with Kahlon this moderate Haredi rabbi could prove to be an explosive vote getter, especially when confronting Shas’s new top man, Aryeh Deri, whose stint behind bars for a corruption conviction follows him wherever he goes.

As things stand this morning, Thursday, no announcements have been made by Kahlon, and the 20 seats the poll has awarded him so generously may have been born more by the frustration of old-time Likud members at the move to unite with Liberman, than a true measure of the popular communications minister’s strength. But speculations are starting to occupy the main headlines of Israel’s press, because Kahlon can truly capture the center with his economic-justice agenda in ways that others have not.

The polls show Kahlon getting his vote mainly from Likud, but also from Yair Lapid, Labor, Shas and even the leftist Meretz. And unlike all of the above, Kahlon enjoys the gravitas of a proven champion of social causes and a right-winger to boot.

Incidentally, the same Smith Institute poll that was ordered by Kahlon, gives his new party 27 seats should former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni join him, in which case Likud would receive only 30 seats.

Meanwhile, a brand new Mina Tzemach “Dahaf” poll shows that Labor with Kahlon in the number two spot ties Likud for first place with 32 seats each. This is the essence of the Sea change: with Kahlon out of the picture, according to Tzemach, Labor receives 23 seats, well behind Likud’s 37, and the right will hold 64 seats, compared to the left’s 56.

But if Kahlon does run, as part of Labor, it’s even Steven, with the right and the left each holding 60 seats.

And that’s when things typically get interesting in Israeli politics.

Rally Gadget Maintenance

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

This picture was taken November 21, 2011, outside the Knesset, during a demonstration against the high cost of living. It started to rain and the protest signs got soaked. So they were hung up to dry on an improvised clothesline. The visible parts of each sign say “Bibi” and “R Finance” (the R is at the end of Sar, Minister).

Also drying in the Jerusalem wind is a makeshift raincoat, made from a garbage bag.

I suppose if you’re careful with your rally gadget maintenance, you should be able to re-use the same signs and the same raincoat for many years to come.

It’s another side benefit of a stable coalition government, I suppose…

Who’s Running, Who’s Winning, Who’s Losing, in the 2013 Knesset Elections?

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

One of the reasons cited for Netanyahu’s opting for a blitz election is that he wanted to deny his opponents the time needed for building a brand new centrist block that could defeat him. Indeed, in the last elections Netanyahu actually came second, after Tzipi Livni’s Kadima that ran with the slogan: “Tzipi or Bibi.” The Israeli voter picked Tzipi over Bibi by one seat – but Bibi turned out to be a more shrewd player, who managed to outmaneuver Tzipi.

This time around, knowing he could be facing Ehud Olmert, Netanyahu created the best possible situation for himself, given that he is still a very popular incumbent. As of today, more than 30% of Israelis see him as their next prime minister, while everyone else is scoring less than 20%.

Netanyahu had to call for new elections for several more reasons, the gravest of them being the new budget. As revenues were down last year, and with the country’s economy being affected by the rest of the world’s economies, the prime minister could not find strong support among his coalition partners for the new budget that probably would feature serious cuts combined with some tax increases.

Rather than risk his political future, Netanyahu opted for the smarter option of getting a fresh mandate from the voter and only then inflicting the necessary cruel and unusual things on the national budget.

The two juggernauts that are expected to get even more juggernauty on the right are Likud, which should push its current 27 seats to somewhere above 30, recapturing some of the votes that will be abandoning the Kadima party (which is currently sailing on a course that should lead it into an iceberg come election day) and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beitenu (Israel our Home), which could go up from its current 15 seats to as many as 18.

Liberman is expected to make a few changes in his party parliamentary list: he will probably drop the spirited MK Anastassia Michaeli, who made world headlines and scored major You Tube views when she poured a glass of water on unsuspecting Israeli-Arab MK Raleb Majadele during a heated committee meeting and then compounded her problems with a comment about gay people and suicide. Liberman may also dump current Tourism, Minister Stas Misezhnikov, who has developed a reputation for taking a personal interest in the wild entertainment Israel offers tourists after hours. On the other hand, Liberman has just acquired and made into his faction’s number two man the late PM Yitzhak Shamir’s son, Yair Shamir, who should be able to draw extra votes from the Likud and other Zionist right-wing parties. While current member Danny Ayalon has proven himself to be a very talented and popular politician and will probably move up on the list.

Liberman is a natural ally of Likud (he used to be chairman of the Likud and then served as Netanyahu’s chief of staff), but it is not difficult to imagine him allying with Ehud Olmert, in whose government he served both as minister and as vice premier.

Israeli politics is a lot more volatile than most, and Netanyahu is facing a serious threat, especially if Ehud Olmert is able to parachute back into the ring. In the end, we owe Bibi a debt of gratitude, regardless of the final results: at least it will be over quickly.

No one is expected to lose as much as the Kadima faction, which is the largest Knesset faction today, with 28 seats. At this point it is not expected to collect even ten seats. However, the political left-of-center coalition that gave life to Kadima under Ariel Sharon is in hot pursuit of a new vehicle these days. Relentless coalition builder and king maker Chaim Ramon is attempting to cobble together a winning ticket comprised of newcomer Yair Lapid, unseated former Kadima chair Tzipi Livni, and former prime minister Ehud Olmert, whose light sentence in a recent corruption trial should enable him to jump back into public life relatively unscathed.

Netanyahu may be the most popular leader in Israel today, but the Likud under his leadership could face a nightmare scenario. The Likud members who are associated with the settlement movement are furious with Netanyahu, and it may lead them to seek out a different party to trust with their votes.

For one thing, the Likud government has yet to adopt the recommendations of the Justice Levi committee, which urged Netanyahu to apply Israeli laws to the settlements in Judea and Samaria. For another, the same government has not actually finalized the status of Ariel University in Samaria. Add to that the shabby way in which Netanyahu has been treating that block’s champion Moshe Feiglin, and you could imagine a situation in which Likud’s wings are clipped just a little bit, despite Netanyahu’s numbers.

Recent polls have been promising Netanyahu’s Likud party a 68 seat majority in the 120-member Knesset, even without the support of Defense Minister Ehud Barak. But given a strong combination of Ramon’s creation with Labor and Meretz, supported by the Arab factions, the Haredi parties along with Shas could be tempted to join, for the right price.

United Torah Judaism is expected to retain its current five seats, and even increase it to six seats. Shas will have to find creative ways of overcoming the power struggle over its political leadership, between its former leader Aryeh Deri, free at last from a stint in prison, and its current boss, Interior Minister Eli Yishai. Rumors suggest that Shas’ spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is planning to assign Deri to go after the post of mayor of Jerusalem, thus calming the water between the two men’s supporters. With this proviso (meaning Deri will not compete independently for a Knesset seat), Shas should be able to hold on to its 11 seats. A left-leaning coalition led by Olmert and supported by the two Ultra Orthodox parties and the Arabs could scramble Bibi’s best laid plans.

The Israel Labor Party, which today is down to single digits—having led every single government until 1977, and several more since—is expected to emerge from its grimmest period, under the leadership of former journalist Shelly Yachimovich. The polls are predicting better than 20 seats for Labor in the 19th Knesset–taking back the votes it lost to Kadima, making it the second largest faction.

Another party that has seen better days is Meretz. Back in 1992, with its 12 seats, Meretz was a senior partner in Yitzchak Rabin’s coalition government that gave us the Oslo Accords. These days, though, Meretz is down to three members, which could still give it a ticket into a left-leaning coalition, with a minor portfolio, assuming it passes the minimal 2% threshold. (Each Knesset seat is worth 0.8% of the vote – but only parties which earned 2% or more can cash their votes).

A left-leaning coalition will likely receive a vote of confidence from Hadash, The Democratic Front for Peace and Equality with its four members (three Arabs, one Jew), which will probably retain all or most of its seats. The Palestinian, Islamist faction Ra’am-Ta’al, with its four members, will also offer its tacit support to a left-of-center coalition government.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s Haatzma’ut (Independence) faction currently has five members. The faction split from the Labor party in early 2011. This faction is expected to be one of the losers in the coming election, and it may not even be able to cross the 2% threshold . Barak is busy these days shopping for a possible new home, after it has been made clear to him that he would not be treated preferentially as a potential Likud member.

Habayit Hayehudi – New National Religious Party, and Ichud Leumi, the National Union, are expected to run together as the newest incarnation of the historic MaFDaL (National Religious Party, NRP). The two factions held seven seats altogether in the outgoing 18th Knesset. National Religious activists are hoping for a better showing in the coming election, pointing to NRP’s hold over between 10 and 12 seats from 1955 to 1977. But as of now, no reliable poll is predicting this kind of yield to the new, unified list.

It’s possible, though, that if the two parties do end up running as one list, they could end up with eight or nine seats rather than their current seven seats. Many voters were turned off by what they felt was an unnatural split between the parties in the last election and delivered their votes elsewhere in protest.

Still, both Religious-Zionist factions suffer from the fact that the National Religious voter does not feel beholden to them and usually prefers to bolster a major right-wing player such as Likud. I suspect that this sad fact of Israeli political life will be even more evident considering the serious security issues which will be facing the next Israeli government.

Though one advantage all the second-tier right-wing parties have over the Likud is that while many right-wing voters want the Likud to lead the coalition, they were very disappointed with the settlement freeze and and other Netanyahu-led actions that were against the wishes of his natural voting block, which might lead them to vote for the other right-wing potential coalition partners in order to keep the Netanyahu lead government in line.

Netanyahu has positioned himself as well as he can to lead the next coalition, but the cat’s not in the bag just yet. With everyone jockeying for positions and examining their options and partners we may see some serious changes in the landscape over the next few weeks.


Migron Headache

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

Last night, The Jewish Press was first up with the warning: the destruction of Migron was hours away. Then, Knesset member, Aryeh Eldad called for people to come to Migron to protest the evacuation scheduled for five in the morning. I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and loaded some protest posters I had made into my car – a picture of Ariel Sharon with the caption, “BIBI, THINK TWICE!” In the wee hours of the morning, Netanyahu still had the ability to stop the tragic and senseless act.

My 20-year-old daughter came with me. She’s friendly with the wife of Dror Weinburg, of blessed memory, a brave army commander who was killed in Hevron a few years ago in a terrorist ambush, may Hashem avenge his murder. Many times, my daughter has gone to Migron to help his widowed wife with her young children.

A bright moon lit the way toward the small hilltop settlement, a short drive north of Jerusalem. The roads were empty. For long stretches, there wasn’t a car in sight. No army jeeps, no bulldozers, no helicopters, no riot police. Just the sound of the wind over Biblical mountains.

The newly built Migron Bet stood on a nearby hillside like a ghost-town, waiting for its displaced residents to arrive. On the ascent up to the outpost, we reached a roadblock – two army jeeps and a few soldiers. They told us that only residents of Migron could continue up the road. One of them was a young Ethiopian. I asked if the eviction was scheduled for the morning. He lowered his head in embarrassment and said that he didn’t know – his orders were to close off the road.

Parking my car by the side of the road, we got out and stood waiting for more protestors to arrive, but it didn’t look like any crowds were hurrying to get there. As usual, Moetzet Yesha (the Council of Judea and Samaria) was impotent in mounting a battle. There were no Knesset members, no activists from the Land of Israel faction of the Likud, none of the Ministers from the special Settlement Committee which Netanyahu had formed to make it seem like he really cared.

It was 4:30 in the morning when a few photographers and reporters showed up. A van stopped a little ways down the road, and a group of teenagers climbed out and skirted up the rocky hillside on foot, making a detour around the blockade. Other than shining their searchlight on them, the soldiers did nothing to stop them. Apparently there were other roadblocks along the way closer to the yishuv. When it became clear that there wasn’t going to be any meaningful protest at all, my daughter and I returned to the car and headed back to Jerusalem.

HOW CAN IT BE that in this clear time of Redemption, when millions of Jews have returned to the Land of Israel from the four corners of the world, in the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, and when the reborn State of Israel has been miraculously transformed, through the blessing of God, into a world superpower in a matter of decades, stunning mankind with its achievements in every field of endeavor, and once again becoming the Torah center of world Jewry – how can crises and setbacks like the evacuation of Migron still occur?

I will try to give an answer, based on the teachings of Rabbi Tzvi Tau, Rosh Yeshiva of the Har HaMor Yeshiva in Jerusalem, and one of the foremost Torah scholars on the teachings of Rabbi Kook.

The Talmud teaches that three precious gifts were given to the Jewish People and they all require suffering to obtain: the Torah, the World to Come, and Eretz Yisrael (Berachot 5A). For example, it invariably happens that a person comes on aliyah and finds himself confronted with difficulties. He or she finds it difficult to learn Hebrew, to adjust to the Israeli culture and way of life, or to find work. While they were “somebody” in their former communities, and knew how to get around, their egos often take a bruising when they come to Israel – they don’t know many people; they have to establish their identities from scratch; status symbols that meant something in the past and former positions of honor are meaningless now.

How Much Is Netanyahu Worth?

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Following the minor storm that erupted on Monday over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request to rearrange his portfolio which is in a blind trust—a request he eventually rescinded—Forbes Israel decided to dig into that portfolio, to find out how rich is Bibi.

The most up-to-date estimate is that the Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu’s combined worth is about 41 million shekels, or $10,197,725. This is roughly 3 million shekel more than last year, suggesting the PM’s blind trustee is on the conservative side – the portfolio is just keeping up with the local inflation.

Neither Bibi nor Sara come from money. Netanyahu accumulated most of his wealth over his short hiatus from politics, between 1999 and 2001.

According to Forbes Israel, during those years Bibi toured the world giving $60 thousand lectures, served as senior consultant to the hi tech company BATM, and pushed business ventures for Epsilor Electric-fuel (today known as Aerotech), orchestrating its merger with Wal-Mart.

Close to half of the Netanyahus wealth is invested in their penthouse in the affluent neighborhood of Rechavia in downtown Jerusalem, and a villa in Caesaria.

For comparison: according to Wealth Wire, President Obama’s assets range between $2.6 million and $9.9 million, while he holds a mortgage of $500,000 to $1 million on his Chicago home. On top of that net worth, the president receives his annual salary of $400,000.

It’s good to be the king…

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/how-much-is-netanyahu-worth/2012/08/28/

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