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December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘cabinet’

Cabinet Passes ‘Austerity Budget’

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

The Cabinet Monday evening passed a two-year budget, nearly five months late, with tax hikes and across-the-board cuts in spending, Only one minister voted against the  budget, the second and last time it will cover two years instead of one.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who is chairman of the Yesh Atid party, said after the vote that the budget is “first stage in changing peoples’ lives in Israel.”

The Value Added Tax on most goods, except food, will rise from 17 percent to 18 percent. Income taxes will rise for upper income families, and ministries will have to get by with last outlays, meaning cuts in services.

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer announced a surprise quarter-point cut in the interest ate Monday night, two weeks ahead of the end-of-the month decision n whether to change the rate for the following month. He also praised the new budget, which could lead the country out of a huge deficit that has mounted in the past three years following several years of a surplus.

Mr. President, What Are You Thinking?

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

This isn’t just about finding someone who has a more balanced view of Middle Eastern politics. This is about the most insidious type of anti-Semitism. The kind that is so subtle that there are actually Jewish organizations that defend him. Like J-Street recently did.

Chuck Hagel was a senator from Nebraska from 1996 to 2008. He is also a Vietnam War veteran who earned several medals during his service there. I used to admire him before I found out how he thinks. How can you not admire someone who puts his life on the line and serves his country with valor? His more or less conservative political views also had some appeal to me as a right leaning political moderate.

But then he started making comments like “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here.” That makes Professors John Mearshiemer and Stephan Walt look like members of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). For those who don’t recall, those two academicians wrote a book about how much the Zionist lobby has too much influence on US foreign policy.

As Brett Stevens points out in his excellent Wall Street Journal analysis, Mearsheimer and Walt understand that the Israeli lobby is not a solely a Jewish lobby. A lot of support for the policies of say AIPAC comes from Christian Zionists. If AIPAC only represented Jews it would have no influence at all. We are less than 2% of the population and an insignificant factor politically. And many do not even subscribe to the policies of AIPAC. Ask J-Street.

When I started hearing statements like this from Mr. Hagel, I knew that his antipathy was not reserved for those who support the state of Israel. It was reserved for us. The Jews. This is how anti-Semitism in Europe flourished. Nazism didn’t start in one day. It built up over time as we gained more wealth and influence there. By the time Germany was in enough dire straits to elect a Hitler, the Jewish people were ripe for becoming the scapegoat of choice. All that subtle prejudice turned into an eventual Holocaust aided and abetted by a willing populations in countries like Poland, Lithuania and the Ukraine.

How many times do we have to hear statements like “The Jews have too much Power” before we realize that the people saying it are anti- Semites?!

Of course Chuck Hagel will, I’m sure, deny that he is a anti-Semite. I’ll bet that he can even point to things that will “prove” it. I’m sure that he will say something like “Some of my best friends are Jewish”! Don’t believe it. I don’t buy that kind of “friendship” for a minute.

I for one was glad that he retired from the Senate. One less anti-Semite to worry about. A dangerous one who was a war hero. His political views with respect to Israel are not at all unlike those of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Recall that Wright too served the military with distinction. He was chosen as part of a medical team charged with the care of then President Lyndon Johnson. And was thanked for that in a personal letter by an Admiral on behalf of the President.

The only difference between Hegel and Wright is the level of subtlety. Wright does not mince words. Hegel tires to come off as a courageous public servant who refuses to be influenced by powerful lobbies. Like the Jewish one.

I bring all of this up because Hagel’s name has surfaced as President Obama’s possible choice to replace Leon Panetta as Secretary of Defense – probably the second most powerful cabinet position. One one that has a direct impact on Israel. The most powerful cabinet position is Secretary of State. The leading contender for that is John Kerry. Not too thrilled about that choice either. I would have preferred Susan Rice. But Kerry is gold compared to Hagel. I cannot imagine too many people who would be a worse choice for such a powerful position. Maybe Jeremiah Wright.

I somehow can’t believe that the President doesn’t know about Mr. Hagel’s antipathy towards Israel. It is surprising that he is being considered at all, let alone that he is apparently the front runner.

I know the President is not an anti- Semite. I also know that he supports the State of Israel (despite the insistence by many who say he doesn’t). He has proven to me that he does. That he has differences with them over some polices does not make him anti Israel. Nor do I feel that way even though I disagree with him on some of those policies.

In describing the “ripe” odor of Hagel’s prejudice based on the word “intimdates” in the quote above – here is a particularly trenchant excerpt from Steven’s WSJ article:

Ripe, finally, because Mr. Hagel’s Jewish lobby remark was well in keeping with the broader pattern of his thinking. “I’m a United States Senator, not an Israeli Senator,” Mr. Hagel told retired US diplomat Aaron David Miller in 2006. “I’m a United States Senator. I support Israel. But my first interest is I take an oath of office to the Constitution of the United States. Not to a president. Not a party. Not to Israel. If I go run for Senate in Israel, I’ll do that.”

Read these staccato utterances again to better appreciate their insipid and insinuating qualities, all combining to cast the usual slur on Jewish-Americans: Dual loyalty. Nobody questions Mr. Hagel’s loyalty. He is only making those assertions to question the loyalty of others.

Still, Mr. Hagel managed to say “I support Israel.” This is the sort of thing one often hears from people who treat Israel as the Mideast equivalent of a neighborhood drunk who, for his own good, needs to be put in the clink to sober him up.

All this points to why the possible choice of Chuck Hegel for Secretary of Defense is so troubling. Can you imagine what this guy would do if Israel’s security depended on some additional US help – whether military or financial?

He would very likely lobby hard against it to the President – arguing that Israel should not be America’s concern; that we have already helped them too much; and have already spent too much of the American tax-payer’s money on them in. Especially in the financially strapped economy we are in!

I hope and pray that this does not come to fruition. It could mean disaster for Israel – and ultimately for world peace.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

You Don’t Have to be Jewish to Oppose Hagel for Defense

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

The rightosphere has come out swinging against retired Senator Chuck Hagel’s potential nomination for secretary of defense.  If you didn’t know better, you’d think Hagel was a Democrat.  (He represented Nebraska as a Republican from 1997 to 2009.)  But the leftosphere is in the game too – and if you didn’t know better, you’d think opposing Hagel for the post was a “Jewish” thing.

Hagel’s record on US policy towards Israel is indeed a poor one.  Hagel publicly urged President Bush in 2006 to get Israel to simply cease her counterattack on Hezbollah – unilaterally, and with no assurances or even security goals obtained – when the terrorist group had attacked Israeli civilians and abducted two of her soldiers.  Hagel also declined that year to endorse designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.  He later opposed designating the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, in spite of its Qods Force’s involvement in terrorist attacks in the Middle East, and its support of and close relationship with Hezbollah and Hamas.

It’s one thing to recognize the truth about the terrorists and yet disagree with a particular administration’s policy.  It’s another thing, however, to pretend that the terrorists aren’t terrorists.  This latter thing is a disqualifier for the post of secretary of defense.

Chuck Hagel writes his own narrative, in which threats aren’t really threats and policies that actually work are just horrible, and that is the basic reason why he would make a very bad secretary of defense.  He doesn’t just disagree with sensible people on what our policy should be; he disagrees on what’s going on.  He characterizes the situation unrealistically.

His unrealism is captured well in an interview he did for the Financial Times in August 2011.  Hagel is comically vague in the first part of the interview, never answering the interviewer’s question (about Assad and Syria in the wake of the Arab Spring).  His comments are a masterpiece of bromide-filled evasion.

As the exchange unfolds, Hagel praises the assassination of Osama bin Ladin:

…a masterful job, a spectacular job, and a job that all Americans can be proud of, on how it was carried out, and the process and every aspect, step along the way.  Professionalism.

He has very different words for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, characterizing it as follows:

It was a terrible mistake that’s cost us in terrible ways.  The consequences are going to flow out of that mistake for many years.

Considered together, these are really idiotic comments from a potential secretary of defense.  Regrettably, there is no other way to put it.  Hagel’s evaluations are emotional, and bear no relation to the actual value of the national-security operations in the two cases.

The US military did a fantastic job, and bin Ladin is finally dead. But Al Qaeda isn’t – nor, more importantly, is Salafism, or radical Islamism in any form.  Except for the sense of justice for Americans, the death of bin Ladin was meaningless.  It had no national-security import at all.  Al Qaeda is operating robustly today in Syria and Libya.  When we drive it out of the Horn of Africa and Yemen, it goes elsewhere, as it did when we drove it out of central Iraq in the surge in 2007.

Far from a defeated entity, Al Qaeda is gaining purpose and momentum with the Arab Spring, especially in Syria and Libya.  Its purpose has shifted somewhat, away from attacking the US and toward guerrilla operations in the Middle East.  This is part of a larger, more fundamental trend unleashed by the Arab Spring: a pitched battle for the character of the Arab world.  And, in fact, state-Islamism is a far more important emerging trend than Salafi terrorism, because leaders of nations have all the resources of a nation at their disposal, including armed forces.

Iran has been the chief example of state-Islamism for thirty years, and the pattern is alarming.  Arab nations will do things somewhat differently because of their different culture, but Mohammed Morsi has already made his radicalism clear in Egypt, and we can be sure that state-Islamism in Arab nations will be no more pacific than it is in Iran.  The outcomes in Syria and Libya are still uncertain, but in Syria, at least, the prospects for the future are increasingly grim.

Netanyahu to Cabinet: World Leaders Understand Us

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

The following was recorded and released by the Government Press Office from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s weekly cabinet meeting:

“By now the IDF has attacked over 1,000 terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip and it is continuing its operations as we speak. It is achieving significant hits on weapons aimed at Israeli citizens, as well as on those who use these weapons and those who dispatch them. We are exacting a heavy price from Hamas and the [other] terrorist organizations, and the IDF is prepared for a significant expansion of its operations.

Today as well, I will continue to speak with world leaders. I appreciate the understanding that they are showing for Israel’s right to defend itself. In my talks with the leaders, I emphasize the effort Israel is making to avoid hitting civilians, and this at a time when Hamas and the [other] terrorist organizations are making every effort to hit civilian targets in Israel. We are a responsible government that is obligated, above all, to the security of its citizens, and we are acting in accordance with this obligation.

Over the weekend, I spoke again with US President Barack Obama. I thanked him for his support of Israel’s right to defend itself and for his contribution, and that of the American people, in developing Iron Dome. I repeat and praise the restraint, determination and resilience of Israel’s citizens on the home front, and I repeat my request to all of you to follow the instructions from IDF Home Front Command because it saves lives.

The operation in the Gaza Strip is continuing and we are prepared to expand it. I appreciate the rapid and impressive mobilization of the reservists who have come from all over the country and turned out for the mission at hand. Reservist and conscript soldiers are ready for any order they might receive.”

PM, Israeli Officials Respond to Gaza Attacks

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

At the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said terrorists would be “hit hard” in response to attacks on Israeli soldiers on civilians over the weekend.  “The world needs to understand that Israel won’t just sit by… we’re ready to heighten our response,” Netanyahu said.  “The IDF is acting, and will act, with force in Gaza.”

In an interview with Army Radio on Sunday, Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya’alon said “There’s no doubt that in the past two weeks we’ve been witnessing an intensification, which Hamas is responsible for,” Ya’alon said. “We are not going to let this stand… if need be, the IDF will know, with the instruction of the government, of course, what to do to keep exacting such a price that these provocations won’t pay off for them.”

Ya’alon recalled that targeted killings of terror leaders had been known to secure periods of quiet at the border.

When asked about entering Gaza in the style of the successful mission Operation Cast Lead, Ya’alon replied that  “everything is being weighed and will be weighed.”

On Sunday morning, Palestinian terrorists at least nine rockets into southern Israel, a total of over 40 since Saturday.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak also promised to respond to Hamas’s latest wave of aggression. “We will not let these incidents at the border go unanswered,” said Barak.

Government Approves Ariel University Upgrading, Despite Fierce Objection from the Left and from Barak

Monday, September 10th, 2012

With government approval of its status change, the university in Ariel passed another stage on its way to becoming a fully-accredited university. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the upgrade is an academic necessity, not a political one. “The population growth has created the need for another academic university institution.” At the same time, in private meetings, Ehud Barak has said that “it is not clear why Ariel – yes and Tel Hai – no.”

The battle over Ariel university is over. The government approved the status upgrade of the university center to a full-fledged university. During the debate over the issue, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that it is important for there to be another university in Israel. “I don’t think that seven universities are enough in the State of Israel, that after 40 years, there shouldn’t be another university,” he said.

According to the Prime Minister, “Ariel is an inseparable part of the State of Israel and it will remain an inseparable part of the country in any possible future arrangement, just like all other population blocs. The approval of the Ariel university is part of a series of steps being taken to advance higher education in Israel. This decision is an expression of our confidence in the academic level of the Ariel university.”

At the same time that the Prime Minister was asking cabinet members to approve the status change of the university, Defense Minister Ehud Barak was privately saying that, “it’s not clear why Ariel – yes and Tel Hai – no,” referring to Tel- Hai College, on Israel’s northern border.

At the beginning of the cabinet meeting, Netanyahu stated that the approval of Ariel fills an academic necessity, rather than a political one. “I don’t think that seven universities are sufficient for the State of Israel. There is a need for another one.” Netanyahu said, “After decades during which our population has doubled and tripled, our young people want to acquire university education and I am opposed to the protectiveness of the academic guild.”

Education Minister Gideon Saar has been attempting, for quite some time, to gain the necessary majority in the cabinet to upgrade Ariel to a fully accredited university. “The university met all the necessary criteria and academic standards. I truly believe that the establishment of an eighth university in Israel will strengthen the system of higher education, and I hope the cabinet will make this decision,” he said.

Cabinet Appoints Scourge of Settlers as Deputy Attorney General

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

JERUSALEM, Israel, Sept. 9th–Israel’s cabinet approved today the appointment of Shai Nitzan to the position of Deputy Attorney General for Special Assignments.

Nationalist activists and politicians say that as Deputy State Prosecutor for eight years Nitzan had a left-wing, anti-settlement, anti-nationalist agenda.

Speaking with reporters after the decision, Minister of Science Hershkowitz (Jewish Home) criticized the appointment, saying that trust has to be restored to the legal system and “this appointment does not restore trust.”

Minister of Culture and Sport Limor Livnat (Likud), however said that Minister of Justice Ya’akov Ne’eman told the cabinet that Nitzan would not deal with settlement-related matters.

Such issues, which were under the jurisdiction of Mike Blass who is retiring, would now fall under the jurisdiction of Dina Zilber, whose appointment as Blass’s replacement was approved in the same meeting.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/politics/cabinet-appoints-scourge-of-settlers-as-deputy-attorney-general/2012/09/09/

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