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December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Constitution’

Egypt Constitution Wins 98% But only 40% Vote

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

The Egyptian voters have approved their new constitution by a staggering 98.1 percent majority, which the junta government declared a popular endorsement of the army’s overthrow of president Mohamed Mursi.

But the result of the Tuesday-Wednesday vote is less than encouraging for Egypt’s new rulers, coming from fewer than 40 percent of the eligible voters.

According to electoral commission head Nabil Salib, the turnout only “reached 38.6 percent” of the 53 million registered voters, and only 1.9 percent of those voted “no.”

The new charter replaces the Islamist constitution that was adopted in the December 2012 referendum, when Mursi and the Muslim Brothers were still at the helm, and which received about two-thirds of the vote, with a 33 percent turnout.

Maybe Egyptians just don’t like referenda?

The State Dept. issued a press release that I’m sure the Egyptians will just adore. Among other things, the U.S. “urges the interim Egyptian government to fully implement those rights and freedoms that are guaranteed in the new constitution for the benefit of the Egyptian people, and to take steps towards reconciliation.”

But who’s patronizing? Wait, there’s a moralistic caution from the Boston Brahmin which I’m sure the generals over in Cairo will print out and put in a special place:

“Democracy is more than any one referendum or election. It is about equal rights and protections under the law for all Egyptians, regardless of their gender, faith, ethnicity, or political affiliation.”

And, naturally: “The United States again urges all sides to condemn and prevent violence and to move towards an inclusive political process based on the rule of law and respect for the fundamental freedoms of all Egyptians.”

Or what, we’ll send a drone over?

I think it’s time the United States, especially under the current Administration, will do the planet a favor and Shut Up.

Here are the final figures, according to Al Ahram:

Total registered voters: 53,423,485

Turnout: 20,613,677 (38.6 percent)

Invalid votes: 246,947

Yes: 19,985,389 (98.1 percent)

No: 381,341 (1.9 percent)

Egypt Approves Constitution, but Brotherhood Boycotted Vote

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Egyptians gave landslide support for a proposed new constitution after two days of voting, but the Muslim Brotherhood boycotted the balloting, which was accompanied by violence, ballot stuffing and bribes.

An official told the Associated Press that 90 percent of the voters cast a “yes” vote, but BuzzFeed reported that it obtained documents that provided evidence that the voting was a “disaster” for democracy.

The ruling military regime needs lopsided approval for the constitution to help it drive the Muslim Brotherhood into the ground and pave the way for army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to run for president.

Pro-Muslim Brotherhood groups blocked roads so people could get to the polling stations, and they also bribed people not to vote.

One activist told BuzzFeed, “What I saw at the polling stations were not just problems’ they were disasters.” He said army personnel stationed inside the polling station handed out gifts to voters, and he also “saw two women taking extra ballots and putting them in the box.”

One international election observation monitor said there was an atmosphere of intimidation in the polling stations.

Outside the voting locations, Muslim Brotherhood protests clashed with Egyptian police, and eight people were killed in two clashes on Tuesday.

Radical, Democratic Changes to Egypt’s Constitution, MBs Out

Monday, August 19th, 2013

The technical committee has been assigned the task of “amending” Egypt’s 2012 Muslim-Brothers inspired constitution is almost finished, Al Ahram reported. The committee is headed by Interim President Adly Mansour’s legal advisor, Ali Awad.

In a press conference Sunday, Awad told the press that the committee will finish its work Monday, and the new draft constitution will be announced Wednesday. Al Ahram quotes the basic instruction given the authors of the new document: “Fundamental changes must be introduced to 2012 Islamist-backed constitution.”

By fundamental, they mean no Muslim Brothers in politics, ever again.

“The 2012 constitution was drafted under the former regime of the Muslim Brotherhood to grant Islamists an upper hand and a final say in Egypt’s political future, and this must be changed now,” Ahram quotes a committee source. “When the people revolted 30 June, their main goals were not confined to removing Mohamed Morsi from power, but also changing the fundamental pillars of the religious tyranny the Muslim Brotherhood regime tried its best to impose on Egypt.”

The source revealed that the new constitution must impose a ban on political parties based on religious foundations.

The source explained that “the anticipated ban gained momentum after the committee received requests and proposals from more than 400 political, economic and social institutions, pressing hard for the necessity of safeguarding Egypt against Islamist factions trying to change the civil nature of the country into a religious oligarchy.”

Except that – surprise, surprise, despite the anti-Brotherhood sentiment common to the new masters of Egypt, the source says the new constitution “will keep Article 2 of 2012′s Islamist-backed constitution — which states that Islamic Sharia is the main source of legislation — in place.”

This, according to committee chairman Ali Awad, is done “in order to stress the Islamic identity of Egypt.”

According to the source, most political institutions have recommended that “if it is necessary to keep the Islamic Sharia article in place as a nod to Islamists like El-Nour, it is by no means necessary to maintain the 2012 constitution’s separate article (Article 219) that delivers an interpretation of Islamic Sharia.”

Article 219 of the 2012 constitution states: “The principles of Islamic Sharia include its generally-accepted interpretations, its fundamental and jurisprudential rules, and its widely considered sources as stated by the schools of Sunna and Gamaa.”

Not any more. They’re also going to scrap the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament, that was created in 1980 by late President Anwar El-Sadat to befriend his Islamist foes. They shot him anyway. The MB exploited its majority in the council in 2012 to “Brotherhoodise national press institutions and the state-owned Radio and Television Union (known as Maspero) and gain legislative powers to Islamise society.”

Sources are saying there will be radical changes of articles aimed at regulating the performance of the High Constitutional Court and media institutions. “We aim to reinforce the independence of these institutions and not to face any more intimidation by ruling regimes,” the source said. He also indicated that, “The electoral system is also expected to see a complete overhaul in order not to cause any discrimination against independents or come in favor of party-based candidates.”

And another noteworthy change: Article 232 of the 2012 constitution, imposing a ban on leading officials of Mubarak’s defunct ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), will be annulled.

So, it appears the Egyptians are quite capable of taking care of their legal affairs without nasty interventions from their patron wannabes in Washington. Perhaps it would be best for the U.S. to shut up for a couple of weeks and not meddle?

Terrorism and the Methodology of the Left

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

The left has a clearly defined set of responses to a terrorist attack. After all the hopes for a properly right wing terrorist have come to naught, it begins the long slow process of rolling back the laws and emotional attitudes stemming from the attack.

For it, terrorism, like anything else, either fits into its narrative or conflicts with it. The narrative defines the world, past, present and future, in terms of the political agenda of the left. An event that clashes with the agenda must have its meaning changed so that the power of the narrative is restored.

Most violent attacks, from a street mugging to September 11, cause people to seek out security by combating the attackers. The left’s task is to shift the narrative so that people see it in an entirely different way. The perpetrators become the victims by the trick of transforming the real victims into the real perpetrators. The lesson shifts from going on the offense to learning not to give offense.

The process is gradual and the playbook is infinite. Weapons of mass distraction are brought out. New villains are introduced and the emotional resonance of the events is drowned in ridicule. The tones are also many, from urging everyone to let love defeat hate to displays of virulent hate against the people “truly” stirring up trouble, but they all share a common agenda. Only the tactics vary.

Unlike the right, the left is systematic. It studies structures and people and plots its lines of attack accordingly. It pits emotion against emotion and law against law. It waits for the initial shock to fade before launching its first wave of attacks over process.

The left’s honest response, the one that shows up on its Twitter feeds and in posts on its own sites, is that the country is overreacting. Some leftists will even be bold enough to say that we had it coming. But its public response is more discreet. It exploits the grief for its own ends, diverting shocked city residents into interfaith memorials, some of which are progressive enough to include denunciations of American foreign policy and vigils for the dead on both sides.

But even here, the left generally restrains itself. It waits until the weeks or months have passed to begin deadening the emotion surrounding the event with sarcastic remarks and jokes until the sacred becomes fully profane. It waits somewhat less time to begin lecturing the country on how our foreign policy made them hate us, knowing that in a contest between the establishment’s narrative of inexplicable Islamic radicalization for unknown reasons and their narrative of American evil, they have the upper hand because they provide a realistic motive and the establishment does not.

Still this too comes later. The left knows that there is a window on human emotion. There is a time when people need to mourn and a time when they will feel a diminishing outrage and even begin to agree with observations whose thrust is that the United States of America is the real terrorist. And so there are things that the left will say on DailyKos and then on Salon that it will not say on CNN or the editorial page of the New York Times.

The editorials explaining how a lack of American support for Chechen independence led to the marathon massacre are coming. They just haven’t splashed ashore in mainstream liberal newspapers yet. Timing is everything and the difference between the left of the counterculture and the left of the culture is that it knows what people will be willing to listen to and when. And it knows where to begin.

Against the horror of the bombing, the left juxtaposes the horror of police state. It pits the fear of terrorists depriving us of our lives and freedoms against the fear of the government doing the same. And considering the history of government abuses, it does not take long for this line of argument to make a compelling emotional dent in the responses of even many ordinary people to the attacks.

The left begins by raising all sorts of procedural questions about how law enforcement and the military are treating the enemy. It develops a burning conviction that our civil rights are the only thing about the country worth keeping. It hammers away at any law enforcement or military mistake, no matter how minor, and collects these together to amass a narrative of the police state.

‘Moral Authority,’ Jewish Style

Monday, February 11th, 2013

There’s an interesting article in the Jewish Press by Joe Settler which hinges on the concept of “Moral Authority.”

When a drafter of Israel’s Constitution says there is a problem because too many IDF commanders are religious, we need to worry about what kind of Constitution he is drafting.

“I meant, that as long as there is no solution for the source of the authority in the IDF in general, and specifically, including the integration of women [because listening to women sing, is the biggest problem the army faces], the problems will grow and increase. As the number of religious soldiers and commanders grow, since the authority of their Rabbis is what rules for them, the size of the problem will get larger. More and more officers and soldiers will find themselves indecisive when they face this conflict.” Dr. Arye (Arik) Carmon, head of the Israel Democracy Institute For many years, I’ve been troubled by the fact that even Torah observant (aka Orthodox) Rabbis, especially American Yeshiva University educated ones, such as Rabbi Shlomo Riskin and Rabbi Aaron Lichtenstein, have somehow added non-Jewish concepts/ideologies of Liberalism and Democracy to the 613 mitzvot, Torah commandments.

We Jews have a much more veteran and well documented social and political philosophy/ideology in our Torah and Talmud.  It actually contradicts many modern “moral” philosophies/ideologies, because it’s timeless.

I was especially disturbed in the troubling times leading to the Disengagement expulsions when so-called Torah observant rabbis said that a Knesset vote could over-ride the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel and even banish Jews from their homes, communities and businesses.

ישוב הארץ Yishuv Ha’Aretz, the Settling of the Land is a cornerstone of Judaism, and a large portion of the Torah is centered on it.

The Torah is our MORAL AUTHORITY.  Without it, we Jews couldn’t have had survived as a People during the thousands of years of exile from our Holy Land.  Our Land and our Torah are what has kept us a people.

Last night, I was at a shiur by  Inbal Amiton – “Believe and plant: The Redemption of Land as a Reflection of the Redemption of the Nation, According to Yirmiyahu 32”  in Matan.  Amiton said that according to Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah,) first G-d will return us to the Land and then we will do Teshuva, repent.

I see the process of Torah observant Jews growing in the IDF (Israeli Army) as proof that it is happening today.

Israel’s secular and quasi-secular/religious  leaders don’t understand that our true Moral Authority is G-d given.

Visit Shiloh Musings.

Too Many Religious Officers and a Constitution

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

In an interview last week with Makor Rishon, Dr. Arye (Arik) Carmon, head of the Israel Democracy Institute said,

“as the number of religious commanders in the army increases, we’re in for bigger problems.”

Dr. Carmon is not only the president of the Israel Democracy Institute, but he is one of the senior members of a group of people trying to put together a Constitution (“by Concensus”) for the state of Israel. A Constitution that is supposed to represent all of Israeli society and our shared values.

HIS CLARIFICATION

Following the publication of his statement last week, Carmon felt that there was a need to clarify what he really meant.

Carmon said (with my comments added in [italics]):

“As someone who was injured during my army service [yes, because that now gives any statement he makes automatic legitimacy], and whose sons fight shoulder to shoulder with their brother’s [see previous comment], the religious soldiers, the alumni of the National-Religious educational system, I have much respect for them, to the soldiers and commanders in the IDF whose contributions to the security of Israel are priceless [did he mention that some of his best friends are religious too?].It’s important for me to clarify that in the heat of the interview, my words were not understood properly [Actually, I think we did understand them properly].

I meant, that as long as there is no solution for the source of the authority in the IDF in general, and specifically, including the integration of women [because listening to women sing, is the biggest problem the army faces], the problems will grow and increase. As the number of religious soldiers and commanders grow, since the authority of their Rabbis is what rules for them, the size of the problem will get larger. More and more officers and soldiers will find themselves indecisive when they face this conflict.

Any other way to understand my words is mistaken.”

I’m honestly not sure what is worse, the original statement or his clarification.

Carmon is clearly afraid of two things, that the soldiers have a moral authority and value system that he doesn’t share, that supersedes blindly following orders, and that religious soldiers are blocking his coercive goals of secular-democratic supremacy.

His first problem is that religious soldiers listen to a higher moral authority, and he is afraid of the conflict that religious soldiers might have, especially if there are too many of them, and how that will affect their following orders.

Though logically that doesn’t make sense, because if there are more religious soldiers who share a common moral thought process, the conflict is unlikely to trickle down, as obviously immoral and illegal orders will be identified and stopped higher up in hierarchy – as they should be.

But, Carmon is thinking of two specific issues – one he states, which is the integration of women, and the other, which I believe he implies, is not following orders in case of another Expulsion/Disengagement – the classic Israeli argument of moral/religious right vs. the tyranny of the majority- the Jewish-Democratic state conflict.

Carmon has firmly placed himself firmly on one side of that argument, the secular side that immorally kicked out 8000 Jews from their homes and let a terrorist state develop in Gaza, and would do so again in Judea and Samaria if they could.

ONE SIDED CONCERN

Yet Carmon apparently doesn’t have a problem with too many left-wing pilots or reservists, hundreds of whom famously signed onto petitions saying they won’t follow orders to attack our enemies. You would think that he would find an identifiable group who seditiously and openly called for disobeying orders to attack the enemy to be far more worrisome than religious soldiers and officers, with a healthy and respected value system. But as you’ll see later in the article, he doesn’t.

To my knowledge, Carmon has never said that as the number of Left-wing pilots grows, the problems will increase. No, he specifically said the problem is with too many religious commanders.

Obama’s Threats

Monday, January 21st, 2013

In his quest to raise the debt ceiling, President Obama issued a threat in his press conference last week that troops won’t get paid and veterans’ pension payments will be delayed.  He warned of delays in Social Security payments as well.

It’s important to understand that these comments constitute a threat (which may or may not be a hollow one).  Obama is not stating some inescapable reality, to which he along with the rest of us is subject.  If retirees and vets see a delay in their payments, it will be because Obama himself decides to hold the payments up.  Moreover, Obama is not caught in a trap when it comes to paying the troops; he can make sure they get paid, if it’s his priority to do so.

The payments to retirees are going to go out unless Obama stops them.  The debt ceiling doesn’t prevent those payments from being made.  It requires that other types of federal expenditures – current-year operating expenses like federal purchases, welfare outlays, payrolls, etc – be suspended or managed differently.

The two Social Security Trust Funds (one for old-age benefits and one for disability benefits) had nearly $2.7 trillion in assets at the end of fiscal year 2011. The most recent for which a trustees’ report is posted online.  The funds are used every year to ensure obligated pay-outs to beneficiaries, and have been borrowed against many times by Congress, under routine fiscal circumstances.  While repayment of any amount expended during a government shut-down should be part of a debt-ceiling deal, the trusts allow Social Security payments to be made on time during a shut-down – unless Obama decides against that.

Likewise, the Military Retirement Fund had about $428 billion in total assets at the end of fiscal year 2012, three-and-a-half months ago.  The fund’s assets can certainly be used to make on-time pension payments to veterans in early 2013 – again, with a repayment plan as part of the debt-ceiling deal.  In fact, military retired pay is already programmed for electronic distribution throughout FY2013; it takes active intervention to prevent it from being distributed.

Active-duty military pay is a current-year expenditure, and would be directly jeopardized by a government shut-down.  But whether or not the troops get paid is up to Obama’s leadership.  He could agree with Congress to set aside enough to pay the troops while the negotiations continue – a move that could well require cutting or suspending expenditures elsewhere in the federal government, in order to remain under the debt ceiling until a deal was reached.

Obama could also get a read from his attorneys on the precedents for and propriety of borrowing against one of the big trust funds to meet the uniformed payroll during the government crisis.  Paying the troops, especially when the military is forward-deployed and much of it is in combat in Afghanistan, ought to be politically unifying.  It’s hard to imagine Congress trying to impeach or otherwise hobble Obama over the actions he might take to ensure the troops are paid.

What Obama is doing, in effect, is issuing threats about what he will do, if Republicans don’t give him what he wants.  But he’s representing the threats as a consequence for which the GOP lawmakers would be responsible.

This kind of mendacious demagoguery flourishes when the press is biased and/or cowed, and fails to challenge the political leaders.  Every appeal from the leadership gets to be emotional; government is discussed in unaccountable, irrational, and even hysterical terms, as when the president postulated, in his speech on gun restrictions during the same press conference, that the victims of mass shootings had been “denied their rights” by the shooters.  The distinction between committing crimes against individuals, which the citizens can do, and denying the people’s rights – which only government can do – is one of the most important concepts underlying the American system of government.  But Obama elided it out of existence on last week, in his quest to depict the use of firearms as, principally, a means of injuring others.

Parse, parse, parse, my friends.  This president doesn’t speak in the terms of American political philosophy, which holds government and its leaders accountable for meanings both philosophical and practical.  It is not our practice, in American government, to shrug off misleading demagoguery.  That’s not “business as usual” for us.  Our president is supposed to bind himself to constitutional meanings.  He is supposed to depict the actions of government honestly.  It’s a big deal that this one doesn’t.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/obamas-threats/2013/01/21/

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