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November 26, 2014 / 4 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Coalition’

A Coalition of Wannabes

Monday, March 11th, 2013

If we can believe the media on this, Israel’s sitting Likud Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will beat the clock and has managed to negotiate coalition deals with enough political party leaders to form a government.

In a rare case of disagreement with Dry Bones (whose latest cartoon said that “Bibi’s coalition is made up of politicians who support him but don’t really trust him”), I don’t quite see this motley crew as not trusting Netanyahu. I see two different things:(1) The party leaders who have signed with, or have promised to sign with Bibi all want to replace him as Prime Minister; (2) It’s not that they don’t trust Bibi, but that he doesn’t really trust them.

Tzipi Livni, Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett and Shaul Mofaz are the party leaders who’ve signed up (according to media leaks) with Bibi along with Avigdor Lieberman.  They all consider themselves national leaders  and potential Prime Ministers. This is going to be a make it or break it experience for political rookie Yair Lapid.  The high school drop-out will be following quite a few academic heavy-weights as Finance Minister.  Among his predecessors are Netanyahu,  masters degree in Business Administration from M.I.T, and Yuval Steinitz, who holds a doctorate in Philosophy from Tel Aviv University.  I wonder who’s going to be running Lapid’s crash course in economics.

Mofaz and Livni have been rapidly losing support, while Lapid and Bennett have captured the imagination of the public.  No doubt that Netanyahu will have a very challenging time trying to keep them all in line and functioning as a government.

Good luck Israel!

Visit Shiloh Musings.

Strange Bedfellows

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

If there was ever a question about whether all Orthodox Jews support settlers this should end it. Haredi media personalities last week called for a boycott of Judea and Samaria products. That’s right. They have joined the BDS movement. At least the “B” part of it.

For those unfamiliar with the term – BDS stands for Boycott, Divest, and Sanction. This is a campaign started in 2005 by Palestinians and their sympathizers who claim that Israel is an oppressive occupier of innocent Palestinians. They have called for a boycott of all products and divestment of any businesses who have dealings with Judea and Samaria. They have also called for sanctions against the State of Israel itself until they give in to all the Palestinian demands including but not limited to “returning” the territory to its “rightful owners” the Palestinian people.

Most of us thought that anyone who supports sanctions like these are either anti-Semites or seriously misguided if well intentioned people. Many of whom are Jews. Misguided because they fail to see the broader picture; do not factor in historical facts or security issues. Well intended because at least in some cases they see what appears to be injustices and want them to be corrected.

The Haredi world apparently feels the same way. They could not care less if Israel retains Judea and Samaria – as long as their Mosdos (religious institutions) get funded. That is the reason for the boycott. From JTA – here is the way some Haredi media personalities put it:

“We need to think twice about supporting those who hate us. It’s about time we stop being suckers,” commentator Avi Bloom said, according to the Times of Israel. “When Bennett cries about mothers not being able to sleep at night, you can come and ask him by what right does he not allow Tel Aviv mothers, and now ultra-Orthodox mothers as well, to sleep at night because of the need to protect some random outpost.”

Kol Baramah commentator Yaakov Rivlin echoed the sentiment. “It’s time to end all these relations with the real estate dealers in the West Bank territories,” he said.

A senior columnist for the Hamodia newspaper, Yisrael Hershkowitz, wrote, “The settlements will pay the price for the costly arrogance” of Bennett.

Hershkowitz said companies located in Jewish settlements in the West Bank or companies owned by settlers could go out of business if boycotted by haredim.

Now I am no supporter of settlements. Certainly not those “random outposts” that are there for Religious Zionist reasons about settling all of Eretz Yisroel. Although I do believe in that religious principle I do not believe now is the time for that. In fact believe that Israel should do whatever it can to avoid conflict with Palestinians or exacerbate their enmity. Israel should bend over backwards to avoid oppressive measures to the extent that it is able to do so without compromising the safety of its citizens. I believe that Israel tries to do that to the best of their ability despite accusations to the contrary by the BDS people.

I believe that Haredim are on the same page with me on the issue of West Bank settlements. But where I part company with them is when they start boycotting people – not because they think Israel is being excessively harsh on the Palestinian people. But because they think it will pressure the government into continuing its financial support at previous levels. And also because of their opposition to the political right wing (that champions the cause West Bank settlements and includes Religious Zionists) that insist Haredim have to subject themselves to the draft equally with all citizens. Haredim want them to ‘pay a price’! for all of that, it seems.

So there you have it – BDS and Haredim uniting to boycott the Jewish State – even if not in common cause. Never in a million years would I have ever predicted this unholy coalition. And yet… there it is.

There is something not quite right when religious Jews unite with enemies of the Jewish people to undermine the Jewish State. Even if one does not support the settlements, to boycott them along with our enemies because of financial considerations or as a means to punish political opponents does not become people who claim to be the most religious and God fearing among us.

Although it is off-putting to see all of this happening, one can understand why they do it. The Haredi world in Israel exists financially to a great extent because of government largess. That is why the Haredi parties always join in coalition with the governing party regardless of whether it is a right wing or left wing one. It is their way of getting the most financial support by promising to vote with them on political matters.

Haredim are not political right wingers or left wingers. They are interested only in continuity. They know that much of their community depends on those government stipends just to survive at poverty level. As do their institutions. They believe that dedication to full time Torah study and nothing less is the true Derech HaShem. They therefore see all of this as Hishtadlus – putting forth maximum effort to see that their lifestyle continues unabated.

Desperate men do desperate things. If that means destroying the livelihoods of Judea and Samaria residents via a boycott of their products – so be it.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Coalition Burn Out

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Last night, a bit before I turned off the computer, I posted the following on facebook:

Maybe I’m crazy, or it’s a bit of political “burnout,” but I must admit that I really don’t care which parties are in Bibi’s government coalition. He’s just going to do what he wants, and God will stir as He wills it. I did my bit to vote for the party with the candidates I wanted to see in the Knesset, but they didn’t get in. My blog posts didn’t help, certainly not enough. As much as I enjoy a good political campaign, pre-election period, this long, leak-filled, innuendo flooded, media sabotaged coalition ultra-marathon has become worse than a bore.  When the “negotiations” are double-guessed by the media, we’ve passed the point of absurdity.  It’s hard to distinguish between fact, fiction, guess-work and wishful thinking. Arlene Kushner, as usual, has a much more intelligent way of explaining what’s going on and why we should be worried:

Nothing concrete to report yet on the coalition, as, again, there are mostly rumors. Based on what I’m reading, however, I confess to a great unease that Lapid sees himself as a reformer upon whom formation of the coalition depends — and who thus can, with his demands for entry into that coalition, instantaneously restructure much of Israeli society. Whether he’s right or wrong on specific issues, I fear a heavy-handed audacity that is only going to tear the society apart. Bibi’s “roast beef” has been cooking much too long.  Even if he had been making chulent, it would be overcooked already. And too much of what should be the coalition negotiations are being ki’ilu, sort of conducted “in public” by the media.  We keep hearing politicians, possible cabinet members being  interviewed interrogated, and asked which ministerial posts they demand or which would they refuse.  Instead of politely and firmly brushing off these questions with a “that’s between me, my party leader and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu,” they actually answer the questions and with much too much detail.  Obviously they’ve never taken my media when you’re being interviewed course.  One of the first rules is not to answer theoretical questions.  I’d put the “which ministry do you want question” in that category.  Too much public talking will only make things worse for everyone.

Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid keeps his facebook followers updated.  No, I’m not one of his friends.

Lapid is reportedly demanding the Foreign Ministry, but Netanyahu has reserved the post for faction Number 2 Avigdor Liberman, who stepped down from the post late last year to fight fraud and breach of trust charges. On Wednesday, the attorney general said it was legal for Netanyahu to hold the ministry for an indicted M.K.

Earlier Likud sources told Army Radio that Lapid was “obsessing” about becoming foreign minister, “which isn’t going to happen”…

Lapid, who is also demanding a smaller Cabinet and that the ultra-Orthodox be drafted into national service, said on Facebook that the talk about ministerial posts was beside the point. (Times of Israel). Most people I speak to have great faith that somehow Bibi will do his usual hat trick and pull a nice fluffy rabbit out of his hat before United States President Barack Hussein Obama arrives to “inspect” him and the State of Israel. Besides the fact that the suspense is over, like a balloon which no longer has air, I really don’t think it makes all that much of a difference which parties are in a coalition and who holds which ministerial portfolios.  Too many times we’ve elected Right wing, pro-Land of Israel governments which ended up being davka the ones that gave our Arab enemies portions of the Land of Israel, most notably Ariel Sharon.

It doesn’t really matter who’s elected and who is Minister of whatever.  Sorry for the cynicism, but that’s what is going through my mind right now.

Visit Shiloh Musings.

Deal to Keep Foreign Minister Post for Lieberman Upheld as Legal

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Attorney General Yehudah Weinstein has upheld a deal whereby Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu agreed to keep the Foreign Ministry post open for Avigdor Lieberman if he is found not guilty of charges of breach of trust.

Weinstein said the agreement is kosher, only 24 hours after he ordered his assistant to investigate charges by the Ometz government watchdog organization that the deal is illegal. Ometz claimed that the Netanyahu-Lieberman agreement was in fact a coalition deal that needs approval by the Knesset.

Lieberman resigned as his Foreign Minister  last December after being indicted on a charge of promoting a former ambassador to Belarus who informed his boss of information concerning a criminal investigation against him.

Ometz argued that besides illegal, the agreement would place Foreign Ministry workers in an awkward position if they have to testify against Lieberman while knowing he may be their boss if he is acquitted. The assistant attorney general answered that government works often have to testify against superiors.

Weinstein’s decision knocks off the table the demand by Future (Yesh Atid) party chairman Yair Lapid to become Foreign Minister. If Lieberman is found guilty, the position will be up for grabs, but that presumably will not happen until after a collation government is finally agreed upon.

Netanyahu has been trying to persuade Lapid to accept the Finance Ministry portfolio, which has proven to be a can of worms for every Finance Minister since Netanyahu himself held the post in the Sharon government and helped turn the economy around.

Get Serious

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

We have reached the red line for Jonathan Pollard. If President Obama doesn’t bring our brother, Jonathan, who has been captive in his country for 28 years, with him to Israel, he is liable to die in prison, God forbid. With this heavy ethical weight on our necks, this horrible betrayal of an agent that we sent to risk his life for us, we may all be thrown into a reality that begins with a “small” destruction at Ma’aleh Rehavam – with seemingly no end in sight.

There is a connection between the two. When you are not loyal to your brother, when you do not practice basic solidarity, when there is no moral glue that ties you to your brother rotting in jail – everything falls apart. If we have disengaged from Pollard, then get ready for the next Disengagement – in the name of security, of course. And get ready for a solution regarding the Iranian problem – brought to you by Uncle Sam.

In the end, we will find ourselves without Pollard, without Judea and Samaria, without the Americans, and with a nuclear Iran. Just like in the Lodz ghetto, where they gave up a few poor children to save all the rest. Nothing has changed since then. The Jews are the same Jews, and the mindset is also the same.

Last week I called upon my fellow Knesset members to boycott Obama’s Knesset speech if he does not bring our brother, Jonathan, with him. Meanwhile, in the face of the approaching political tsunami, we are all busy bickering over the proverbial tempests in the teapot.

When it comes to the haredi draft issue, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. After all, the last thing that Yair Lapid wants is for the IDF to suddenly grow a long beard and put on a black suit. And the IDF does not want or need the extra manpower, as it already drafts many more recruits than it really needs. On the other side of the coin, there are many young haredi men who want to serve in the Army and work – namely, lead normal lives. Here’s the problem: the IDF does not offer them enough frameworks that are appropriate to their levels of observance. Nobody actually expects them to exercise with women instructors. So what is the debate really all about? It’s about political capital.

The second tempest in the teapot is jumpstarting the “peace process.” What are they talking about? In all of history, there has never been a collection of people for whom the entire world, including those who should surrender their sovereignty, has rallied full force to recognize a state – and the state has not even been born. A Palestinian state will never be born because Golda Meir was right. There is no Palestinian nation and this non-nation harbors a primal fear of a state. Just look at how Arab MK Ahmad Tibi and company reacted when then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman made his generous offer to move the border west of their towns, effectively removing them from Israel proper.

The goal of Palestinian self-definition is not sovereignty in the land of Israel, but rather the negation of Jewish sovereignty in the land. That is why a Palestinian state has never been established in Judea and Samaria and why there was never such a demand when Jordan or any other Muslim entity ruled here. Their focus has always been on the very last centimeter of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel. As then-British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin defined the issue at the League of Nations when the British returned their mandate over the land of Israel to the world body: “The goal of the Jews in the land of Israel is to establish a state for the Jews in the land. The goal of the Arabs in the land of Israel is to ensure that the Jews do not establish a state in the land of Israel.”

The tsunami is approaching, and the Jews in the land of Israel are fighting over total non-issues. If it weren’t so sad, it would be comical.

It’s time to get serious.

This column was translated from the Hebrew version, which appeared in Makor Rishon.

Jew Against Jew, I Don’t Like This

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Chazal, our sages say that the Holy Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred, Jew against Jew.  All the recent political infighting, especially  since the recent Israeli Knesset Elections, just make me fear God’s wrath.  What punishment does God have in store for us, God forbid?

Even Jews who claim to be Torah observers, following God’s commandments are dividing rather than uniting us.

Shas: It’s Over, We’re Headed for Opposition: Sephardic hareidi party vows to fight from the Opposition, keep funds from going to “hilltop youth.” And the NRP, a.k.a., Bayit Yehudi’s new leader, Naftali Bennett, has not learned the most important skill needed to be an effective politician, getting along and reaching agreements.  His pact with Leftist leader, who’s also a rookie MK, Yair Lapid, is not good for the country.  People voted for Bennett’s NRP so that he would influence from within the government, and he’s just pushing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu further Left.

One of Lapid’s demands is that he won’t sit in the government with Haredim, so when you add all this together, you have a big problem.

And in the meantime, the modern Amaleks in Iran are making progress on their nuclear weapons.  And is the “free world” (sic) ready for this?  No way.  The United States President Barack Hussein Obama is fiddling on his roof talking the negotiations talk, and Israel is still threatening. But after years of these threats, nobody takes them seriously, especially not the Iranians.

The more Israelis fight among themselves the more we’re inviting Amalek to attack.

Bad news, and I don’t see a good solution to theis.

I also recommend reading Arlene Kushner’s  “Deplorable,” which expresses my feelings, too.

Now I’m referring not to the state of the world, but to the state of Israeli politics. I am so often proud of who we are. But now? I would gladly grab hold of certain political shoulders and shake until the heads that sit on those respective shoulders rattled. Where? I want to ask. Where is your devotion to the state and the greater good during these difficult times?
Visit Shiloh Musings.

When Politicians Take Emotional Positions

Monday, March 4th, 2013

I don’t see how any coalition that forms at this point could possibly survive.

During the election campaign, Likud and Shas acted horribly towards HaBayit HaYehudi and Naftali Bennett, and things didn’t improve afterwards either. And besides the Bennett and Lapid pact, no one trusts one another at all.

And if you listen to the politicians, you can really feel that palpable hatred and mistrust, especially coming from certain Haredi politicians.

There are Haredi politicians who are going so far as openly threatening to help destroy settlements just to get even (which in their anger and hatred, they forget includes ten of thousands of Haredim also living in settlements).

What’s even more absurd is that much of the Haredi street no longer agrees with their political leaders.

Yes, there is that hard-core that would definitely sit in jail for years, rather than go to the army, get a job, and support their families, but much of the Haredi world is opening up to the idea that there is no shame in working for a living while still learning Torah.

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak with a Haredi soldier currently in the Shachar (Air Force) program.

He told me the program wasn’t exactly like they described in brochure (so to speak). There were and are a lot of problems that needed fixing in order for the environment be more kosher for Haredim and he’s not happy with the job he got stuck with. But on the other hand, in another year or so he’s free to do what he wants, whether it will be to get a job, or sit in yeshiva and learn forever.

What was interesting, is that nearly all the other Hareidim in the room had also done army service to one degree or another, and all were working, and all had Havrusahs. In fact, there was a siyum masechet going on at the time for one them, and this week, another will be doing his siyum.

So despite serving in the army, and despite working for a living, these Haredim were still voluntarily learning and living a completely Haredi lifestyle.

Are there problems with the army programs for Haredim? You bet there are. But the biggest problem is that there aren’t enough Haredim in the army to make a difference and fix it.

How can you really expect a non-religious soldier to create a totally kosher environment when he hasn’t the faintest clue what that even means? If there were more Haredim in the army, they would be able to ensure that the environment met their needs, because they actually understand what those needs are.

You can’t force a society to change overnight. You can’t throw an entire sector in jail (they tried that during the Disengagement, and it doesn’t work).

But the reality is that most Haredim want to join Israeli society and share in the national burden, but Israeli society must also be prepared for the changes that will be demanded of it too for that to happen, and for that to work. And I don’t think Israeli society is ready for that either.

But those changes will be good for everyone. But they need to be introduced at the right pace.

But going back to the politicians, if we take them all at their word, I don’t see how this coalition will not evolve into everyone doing their best to hurt one another until the collapse, and that eventually includes even Lapid and Bennett.

Israeli society may be healing and working to repair the rifts, but the politicians? At this point I’m having trouble seeing that happen.

Israel might need to roll the proverbial dice again and go for new elections, because this atmosphere is simply too poisoned.

Visit The Muqata.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/muqata/when-politicians-take-emotional-positions/2013/03/04/

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