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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘democracy’

Coalition Runs Away from Elections and Delays Vote on Jewish State Bill

Saturday, November 29th, 2014

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has decided to postpone a scheduled vote this week on the “Jewish State Bill,” during which time he will try to come up with a version that is acceptable to coalition partners, who does not want to see the government fall and then have to risk serious losses in new elections.

As The Jewish Press reported here and here, the media mania over early elections – two years before the government’s term ends – makes great headlines but is mostly wishful thinking by Netanyahu’s enemies, which include the establishment print and electronic media and his coalition “partners.”

The largest party in the government after the Likud is Yesh Atid, headed by Yair Lapid. He has said he could back a milder version of the Jewish State idea, which has been resented in three versions.

The bill has given Israel a huge black eye around the world, mainly because most people don’t have a clue what they are talking about or simply decide that calling Israel a “Jewish” state means it will be less of a “democratic” state.

If “democracy” means a form of government, the bill changes nothing, but “democracy” has become one of those holy terms, like ”human rights” and “freedom [to kill, incite, be a traitor or simply blow up the world]” that people toss around to support their agenda.

The arguments over the bill have become a joke, mainly because the coalition leaders are using it to make themselves popular among their supporters while knowing that if they go to the polls, the entire country will be angry at everyone for a useless exercise that, barring a change in the rotation of the Earth, will leave Netanyahu in power and Lapid and Tzipi Livni with less seats in the Knesset.

The Jewish Home party, headed by Naftali Bennett, likely would gain seats, making the coalition even more right wing than it is now.

The strongest version of the Jewish State bill, which might not pass the test of Israel’s left-leaning Supreme Court, would leave Hebrew as the only official language and would downgrade Arabic to having a special status.”

It also would define the country as aiming to “settle Jews’ in Israel, without any mention of Arabs. Of course, that is exactly what Israel does anyway, put putting it writing is somehow “undemocratic.”

It also is meaningless. It is like stating that the country should “try to encourage everyone to be vegetarian.”

A milder version of the bill ignores the issue of language and settling Jews, and it does not refer to vegetarians or those who are carnivorous.

 

Netanyahu Wants to Discriminate against Terrorists

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is backing a bill to be submitted by outgoing Communications Minister Gilad Erdan to cancel social security and other benefits for terrorists and “those who identify” with terrorism.

The Prime Minister already is getting flak from the United States for the “Jewish State bill,” which the U.S. State Dept. did not directly oppose but about which he noted to reporters on Monday, “We expect Israel to stick to its democratic principles.”

Indirectly reacting to the remark, Prime Minister Netanyahu said on Tuesday there is no contradiction between defining Israel as a Jewish state and a democratic state.

Israel is faced with Fifth Column terrorism, and the government recently re-instituted the policy of destroying terrorists’ homes, assuming the Supreme Court dos not get in the way by deciding that doing so would deprive terrorists of their basic rights”

The United States last week condemned the practice in Israel, but said it is perfectly okay for Egypt to destroy hundreds of homes of Arabs in Sinai to create buffer zone between Gaza and Egypt.

That is a matter of “self-defense,” said U.S. State Dept. spokeswoman Jen Psaki, as reported here.

Destroying a home of a terrorist in eastern Jerusalem is different, she explained, because it involves borders that the United States does not agree with.

We are waiting to see if the State Dept. wants to stick its nose deeper into Israel’s domestic polices, but it is worth nothing that a Democratic party Congresswoman from New York last month said he will introduce a bill to stop Social Security payments to former Nazis.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney said, “It’s deeply disturbing and I’m deeply disturbed that these individuals continue to receive Social Security benefits even after the Justice Department identified them as Nazi war criminals,” speaking with Business Insider.

“If you’re a Nazi war criminal, you’re a Nazi war criminal. You should not be receiving Social Security benefits. Period,” she added.

 

And what about terrorists?

“’ll look at cutting off benefits to terrorists that are deported,” she added.

Feiglin Bans Arab MK from Podium for Calling Him ‘Fascist’

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Knesset guards forcibly removed an Arab Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka from the podium Monday evening on orders from Acting Speaker Moshe Feiglin for calling him a “fascist.”

For good measure, Zahalka added that considering he was talking about Feiglin, the word fascist was a “compliment.”

The guards removed him from the chamber, but Feiglin, remaining the parliamentarian, told them he only ordered that Zahalka be taken away from the podium. As he returned to the chamber, pandemonium broke out in the circus, and everyone had a good time shouting at each other.

Other Arab MKs and Labor MK Shelley Yechomovich rushed towards the podium to protest Feiglin’s action, which he said he carried out according to the Knesset code.

Prior to Zahalka’s “fascist” comments, Feiglin had evicted Hadash party Arab MK Mohammed Barakeh from the Knesset for telling Feiglin he should “be choked.”

The mayhem revolved around the  daily circus’ event of the day, a no-confidence motion over the “Jewish State Bill” that would define Israel as a Jewish state.

Zahalka managed to get in a few words against the idea, quoting Jewish philosopher Hanna Arendt, who fled the Nazis and lived in the United States and railed against the idea or re-establishing the State of Israel because it would make Arabs second-class citizens.

Zahalka said Arendt used the term “Palestinians,” prompting Feiglin to interrupt and ask him if that was the actual word she used.

Zahalka replied that she indeed said “Palestinians” and then began to lecture Feiglin that he should read the source and perhaps “learn something.” He said Arendt was anti-fascist, but he turned to Feiglin and called him a fascist.

The acting speaker, in his usual calm manner, said that Zahalka could not continue speaking, but he ignored or didn’t even hear Feiglin. Within seconds, the guards came to remove him, and he went into a rage, grabbing the podium to resist his ouster.

Can a Knesset Member called another MK a “fascist”? Can he call him a “Nazi”?

Or how about “dirty Jew?”

Or “dirty Arab?”

Opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog sharply criticized Feiglin for removing Zahalka from the podium, accusing him of violating “freedom of thought and democracy.”

What would he had said if Feiglin had called an Arab MK a “terrorist?

The video of the Knesset show is in Hebrew but that shouldn’t keep anyone from understanding what happened.

The action starts at two minutes in the video.

Feilgin on the Jewish National Law

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Deputy Knesset Speaker Moshe Feiglin spoke about Israeli democracy and the upcoming Jewish National La, in a discussion between himself and a Professor Mordechai Kremnister from the left-leaning “Israel Democracy Institute”, with an introduction by reporter Zev Kam discussing the upcoming Jewish National Law (in whatever form it will take).

The entire discussion is fascinating (but in Hebrew).

Here are some translated excerpts from Feiglin’s statements, as well as from some comments that Feiglin wrote down after the video was posted.

I don’t think Israel is democratic enough. If it was, I don’t think Israel would have been able to send the army to expel 10,000 people from their homes in Gush Katif, to name one example. An act that Professor Kremnister supported and encouraged.

If Israel was more democratic, we wouldn’t see a law like the “Yisrael HaYom Law” where the parliament nullified a newspaper, and the Israel Democracy Center didn’t say a word against it.

Their goal here is not democracy. It is to transform Israel into a “state of all its citizens” instead of a Jewish state.

The word ‘democracy’, does not appear in the [Israel] Declaration of Independence. The reason is that democracy is not an end, democracy is a system.

“Democracy is a very poor method” – Churchill once explained – “But I do not know do any better.” I do not know a good method for implementing liberty.

So I’m a democrat – more than all those fighting against the National Law.

All the dreamers and pioneers, immigrants and warriors, builders and planters – who returned to our holy land after 2,000 years of exile, did not do so in order to establish a democratic country. If that was the goal they could have gone to America and Australia. Most of them actually did so.

Those who came here wanted a Jewish state. The vast majority Jewish state seeks to implement the democratic system, but to place on the same level – the identity [of the country] with the system [of government] with which to implement it – is left-wing demagoguery, which comes to confuse the public and take away the Jewish state.

The National Law is not in any way detrimental to democracy, on the contrary, it preserves the values of the majority and doesn’t allow a small minority to act against its will.

The National Law blocks this frantic quest to obliterate the Jewish identity of the state.

That, and only for that – is what is igniting the opponents of National Law.

Bipartisan Letter to Obama Urging Action on Erdogan

Friday, February 21st, 2014

More than 80 dignitaries from across the political spectrum on Thursday wrote President Obama asking him to get involved in what they describe as the anti-democratic actions of Turkish Prime Minister Racep Tayyip Erdogan.

The letter opens:

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is increasingly undermining a central pillar of the decades-long, strategic U.S.-Turkish partnership: Turkey’s growing democracy. We are writing because of our deep dismay at this development and to urge you to make clear to the Turkish public America’s concern about Turkey’s current path. Silence will only encourage Prime Minister Erdoğan to diminish the rule of law in the country even further.

Next, the letter writers warn:

The response of Prime Minister Erdoğan to potential challenges to his rule—first large public protests beginning in May 2013, more recently allegations of massive corruption that reach the highest levels of his government—threaten to take Turkey from an imperfect democracy to an autocracy.

They conclude:

We fear that Prime Minister Erdoğan an d the Turkish public have taken American silence to mean that the Prime Minister retains U.S. support and can proceed as he wishes. In the meanwhile, the damage to Turkey’s democracy keeps worsening. We believe it is important now to make it clear, privately and publicly, that Prime Minister Erdoğan’s autocratic actions and demagoguery are subverting Turkey’s political institutions and values and endangering the U.S.-Turkey relationship.

Among the signatories you’ll find Morton Abramowitz, former US ambassador to Turkey, Elliott Abrams, deputy national security adviser in the George W. Bush administration, David J. Kramer, executive director of the U.S.-based Freedom House, and L. Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in post-war Iraq. John Podhoretz, Ambassador Dennis Ross, GEN Charles F. Wald, USAF (Ret.), and Mortimer Zuckerman are also on the list.

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.

Bills in the Works for Homosexual Marriages and Buses on Shabbat

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Yesh Atid Knesset Members are drafting bills that would carry out the party platform’s election promises to give legal blessings to homosexual marriages and public bus transportation on the Sabbath, both actions forbidden under Jewish law but with two important differences.

Homosexuality is explicitly prohibited by the Torah, no matter how one does somersaults to conclude otherwise.

“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is abomination’ (Lev. 18:22) is open to interpretation only to the point of defining the word “lie.”

Riding on a public bus on the Sabbath, if the driver is not Jewish, is a prohibition based on Torah law but not explicitly forbidden by the Torah.

The second difference is that homosexuality, unlike riding on the Sabbath, is more of an emotional issue because of its contradiction of the family unit, a foundation of a long-lasting democratic state that does not dissolve into social anarchy, and of the Torah commandment to be “fruitful and multiply.”

However, a law providing public transportation on the Sabbath would dramatically affect a change that would make Israel more secular with less recognition of Shabbat as a holy day.

This is of no interest to those in Israel, such as Yesh Atid and a large number of other political parties, who take the liberty to define a “Jewish” state based on their own views. After all, that is the modern Western thing to do these days. Everyone can be a rabbi.

Anyone who disagrees with them is not “liberal,” “progressive” or “democratic” and therefore not fit for this world.

Yesh Atid, headed by Yair Lapid, has begun discussions on the bills with the initiative of MKs Aliza Lavie and Ruth Calderon. They reportedly are trying to soften the language to gain support of the entire party.

Four unnamed Yesh Atid MKs reportedly have said they will object.

American-born Rabbi/MK Dov Lipman, told The Jewish Press Tuesday, “We are currently working on the precise details of these laws but I can say that they are being crafted with the utmost respect to the religious population and to Halacha,” he said.

Asked if he will support or oppose the bills, MK Lipman replied by e-mail, “We are formulating laws that we all agree to.  That is the beauty of working together instead of fighting against one another.”

He also stated in response to other questions, “Yesh Atid is a party which was founded with the guiding principle that the time has come for religious and Jews to respect one another and work together instead of continuing to combat each other.

“Israel is both a Jewish and democratic country and we are working as a team to navigate through challenging issues. There is no desire for anyone religious to be less religious and we actually believe that removing some of the religious coercion will actually attract people to re-engage with their Judaism.”

The probable language of homosexual “unions” and not “marriages” is semantic trickery. The difference between the two is mainly in the field of rights, but the Supreme Court in Israel already has ruled must be granted to same-sex couples.

If public opinion were to decide the issues, homosexual marriages and bus transportation on the Sabbath probably would pass, according to most opinion polls.

Lapid, whose popularity has been sinking, enthusiastically backed both upcoming bills last week, saying, “A law in favor of homosexual unions will allow every couple in the country to declare the love for each other and be recognized.”

As for public transportation on the Day of Rest, he said he is not trying to irritate the religious community. He said the bill would provide that buses not travel through religious neighborhoods but will allow “poor grandfathers to visit their grandchildren in the hospital on Shabbat” instead of having to take an expensive taxi.”

The fallacy in his thinking is that it presumes Israel is divided into “religious” and “secular” camps. That is not true. There is a large, perhaps plurality, which is “traditional” and would prefer the Sabbath to remain a public Day of rest to remain as such, even if they personally violate it.

Once the Knesset puts its official stamp to recognize homosexuality marriages – excuse me, unions – and transportation on the Sabbath, it is encouraging the practice. It would not be “coercion” because no one would be required to ride on the Sabbath, but it would increase social pressure on those who might violate it at home but not in public as a matter of respect.

Lapid is crouching to pounce on his secular prey and boost his sinking popularity, and the slogans of “a Jewish democratic state” are about to be heard ad nauseum.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/bills-in-the-works-for-homosexual-unions-and-buses-on-shabbat/2013/10/22/

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