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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘disengagement’

Expelling Jews is a Red Line

Monday, January 7th, 2013

I was surprised to read in JewishPress.com, Yair Shamir’s article, where he states that he opposes a Palestinian state.

I was surprised, because over Shabbat, I read in Makor Rishon an interview with his party’s leader, Avigdor Liberman, where Liberman explicitly stated that he would support the uprooting of settlements that aren’t inside settlement blocs, in exchange for peace, including his own home in Nokdim, Gush Etzion.

Liberman continued on to say that peace isn’t possible under the current conditions, only because Abbas isn’t a partner,.

But that last line is more than a bit disingenuous, because on Sunday, I read that Liberman said that seeking a two-state solution will be an important element of the next government.

Like Shamir, Liberman also said that he is also opposed to a Palestinian state.

But as I understand him, Liberman says he supports the creation of autonomous, demilitarized Palestinian areas, or alternatively two states with population transfers. I’m not sure what the differences between any of these plans are at this point. If it walks like a Palestinian duck…

I’ve also heard rumors that Liberman is angry at Shamir for something he recently said. Perhaps it was about opposing the Palestinian state, without adding on the autonomous area bit? Or perhaps it was for attacking Netanyahu for supporting the two-state solution.

I don’t know.

The bottom line is that Liberman has explicitly stated that he accepts the dismantling of settlements, and he will be actively pushing for a resolution based on a two-state solution in his next term, and he openly accepts that uprooting Jews will or at least may be part of that solution.

And to top it off, now there are reports that Netanyahu has delayed E1, by “hesitating” to approve the projects there, and not filing them. That’s a worrisome development.

I don’t know much about Shamir’s actual positions, and whether or not he stands 100% behind Liberman, but since its Liberman and Netanyahu who are setting policy, and not Shamir, I am honestly concerned that a vote for Likud-Beytenu is a vote to expel Jews from their homes.

It’s unfortunate, because there are so many important issues on the Yisrael Beytenu agenda that they want to deal with, such as reforming the electoral system, Hareidi integration, and so on. But instead, Liberman chose to insert a red line like this into his party’s position.

Yesterday, Naftali Bennett, was attacked for his position on not uprooting Jews. He wisely responded that all the Jewish parties should sign an affidavit that they won’t expel Jews. He received cheers and applause for saying that. And his party is only going up because of it.

Today, Rav Ovadiah’s son said the same thing.

The bottom line is this.

The Israeli people do not want any more Jews uprooted, and the Israeli people do not believe that pulling back to any variation of the ’67 lines will bring peace with the Arabs.

It’s unfortunately quite clear that Netanyahu and Liberman do not see eye to eye anymore with what most of the population wants or believes is good for us, and it’s only because the Likud list is a pretty good list, that Likud-Beytenu hasn’t dropped even further or faster.

Expelling Jews is a red line, and no matter what other benefits Likud-Beytenu may bring, it’s a red line that they’ve told us they may very well cross.

Netanyahu and Liberman need to come out and explicitly state that under no circumstances will Jews be expelled during their term in power.

That’s my red line.

So You Say You Want a US Style Constitution in Israel…

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

After you make aliyah from the United States, it’s hard not compare everything to what you’ve come to expect from your prior life.  Whether it’s people’s attitudes, prices, the government bureaucracy, and so many other things. As a lawyer who has studied American and Israeli law and someone who has been politically active in both the US and Israel, I compare Israeli and American constitutional law.

The first thing, of course, that jumps out is not that there is no constitution in Israel. That doesn’t in and of itself bother me. What bothers me is that the Supreme Court believes there is one and therefore acts as if it has the power of judicial review.

But after that, there is the fact that when Israeli legal authorities talk about a constitution they didn’t really mean a whole constitution, they mean only a bill of rights. That’s why it was so easy for Aharon Barak and the Supreme Court he led to rationalize giving themselves the power of judicial review. Israel, they thought, has basic laws on everything except a bill of rights. Now the Knesset has approved a basic law on “human dignity and liberty” so therefore the constitutional process has been competed and what are termed “basic laws” will automatically be considered superior law to regular laws.

That was how they glossed over the fact that only some basic laws have “entrenchment clauses,” which say make the law superior to later laws unless the later law is approved by a certain sized majority, and that when Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty was approved legislators were told by the Chairman of the Knesset committee on the Constitution, Law and Justice that it would not give the Supreme Court the power of judicial review.

But a constitution is much more than a bill of rights. It’s about the structure of government and how that impacts decision-making and in and of itself protects the rights of the people.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear much thought was put into the system of government in Israel – not the serious kind of political philosophy that when into the U.S. Constitution. Israel’s governmental structure is very simplistic. There are no districts, so elections are just one big free for all, with whoever can form a majority-coalition in the legislature forming the government. And then off to the side there is the Knesset. Of course, that doesn’t make politics simple. In fact it makes it unduly complicated, but in all the wrong ways.

While studying the evolution of judicial review in Israel, I read Emmanuel Rackman’s account of early Israeli constitutional decision-making – both in the provisional government and then in the Constituent Assembly, the body elected to adopted a constitution and which became Israel’s first Knesset. The main constitutional issues which were discussed and debated were the concept of the a written constitution and a bill of rights. No one could agree on those so it was agreed to disagree and make laws about the basics parts of government in “basic laws” which would later be used as the basis for a constitution.

In my op-ed in last Thursday’s Jerusalem Post, I wrote that the Disengagement – which involved a forcible mass transfer of thousands of a certain class (Jews) – was a result of the inability of the Israeli governmental system to protect citizens’ rights and ensure the adoption of sound policy, due to the fact that it lacks the checks and balances as they exist in the US constitutional system (as well as many others).

My conclusion was that,

Those who recognized the disengagement as the act of despotism it was ought to consider how our form of government affects the policies which are adopted and how it should be changed to ensure that a plan that pits soldiers against thousands of their countrymen is never approved again.

But against all my arguments and comparisons between the Israeli and American systems, first person to comment on the article argued that, “The grass really isn’t greener elsewhere. Here in the US, our one-time system of checks and balances has been largely destroyed, and we are on the fast track to financial ruin.”

That wasn’t the first time I’ve gotten such a response to a US-Israel constitution comparison. Once, while making the point about Israel’s judicial selection procedure (judges are chosen by a committee of nine, three are from the Supreme Court, two from the Knesset (one is an opposition member), two from the government and three from the bar association who side with the judges) and how it was inferior to the American judicial selection procedure, in which judges are more tied to the people since they are chosen by the political branches, a distinguished ivy-league educated law professor remarked about how judicial committee hearings in the Senate can be a joke, so perhaps it should not be so emulated.

That all may be true. The US system has its dirty moments. It’s the nature of democracy and politics in any system that politicians will play to the cameras and their base for popularity and in so doing make a mockery of themselves and potentially lead to bad decisions.

Nevertheless, the US system is quite remarkable and renowned around the world. It has also served the US quite well. When it was first adopted it was not even agreed that the US was to comprise a nation, but in the framer’s vision that’s what the country became.  And it stayed that way despite deep-seeded differences between the North and the South, which only turned to civil war once (which was perhaps inevitable) – and the Union – i.e. the United States as bound by the Constitution won out.

Senators who might make a show for the public over a judicial nomination dispute are doing just that – making a show. The rhetoric is just the public face for whatever  actual reasons they are voting for or against the judge, reasons which may differ from time to time, but it’s still a story as old time.

And the US may be facing a recession, maybe one day another depression, I don’t know. But something tells me – that the US will come out alright in the end. I believe it will remain the world’s foremost superpower for decades to come, if not much longer.  (One of those things that informs my opinion on this is an excellent essay, “The World America Made,” by Robert Kagan).

As for Israel – thank God, Israel has survived and done pretty well since it’s birth. But I wouldn’t thank it’s current system. Let’s face it, people here don’t vote for representatives. Party bosses and power players do. The judges choose themselves. The government controls the legislature. It’s just a no good, very bad, terrible system.

For Israel’s survival and lack of devolution into civil war or national destruction at the hands of our enemies, I would thank those who had the foresight not to let things get out of hand – such as Menachem Begin, when he did not allow the Irgun to retaliate for the Saison or the Altalena, who ensured that Israel would have a democracy instead of a one-party dominated system, and whose victory stopped the two-state solution from being implemented (Labor had by that point endorsed withdrawal from all disputed territories).

More generally the culprit of our prosperity is the ingenuity and persistence of the Jewish people, that, and by God’s grace do we go on. Those things will keep Israel around despite whatever terrible decisions are wrought by it’s current governing system. Not that anyone should rely on that – bad things do happen when the citizenry is apathetic, regardless of divine preference (recall the joke about the Rabbi praying for God to save him, but every time someone comes a long to rescue him he says he would rather wait for God to do it) or our national qualities.

Making these comparisons is not to simply to complain and let out frustration, or to put the US on a pedestal (though denying American strength, success and generosity is just being intellectually dishonest) or conjure up fear that if we don’t change things the state will be destroyed some time soon (the direction that many Israel-related political arguments take).

When it comes to our national prosperity, we should never shy from imagining the ideal and advocating for its realization.  And while we’ve done relatively amazing compared to the odds stacked against us, life in Israel and Israeli policy making is still far from ideal. If we can prosper even with this system and in our geopolitical situation, imagine how much better we could do with a system of government that could properly reflect and channel our exceptional national ingenuity and will.

There’s Nobody Here But Us Bennetts

Friday, December 28th, 2012

The ultimate hypocrisy: MKs who voted in favor of the crime of the Gush Katif Disengagement condemn a man whose Jewish values prohibit the transfer of civilians.

The Likud said nothing new in its wild attack this week against Naftali Bennett. As early as 1,936 years ago, King Yanai warned his wife, Salome, against the hypocrites: “Fear not the Pharisees nor the Sadducees, but the hypocrites, who commit the act of Zimri and demand the wages of Pinehas.”

The hypocrisy in our story belongs to the Likud—the very same Likud which did not bat an eyelash when it engaged, with noticeable glee, in the incomparable crime of deporting the Gush Katif settlers—is now attacking Bennett, who simply stated that there are situations in which Jewish and universal values supercede any other value, and that in the case of expulsion, an individual soldier is obligated to request that his commanding officer release him from that despicable assignment. The Likud, which led the ethnic cleansing of Jews—simply because of their being Jewish—in Yamit (1987), Gush Katif (2005), Amona (2006), and Migron, Yair Farm and Ulpana Hill (2011-12) is the one bitterly decrying Bennett’s moral stance. It’s the peak of hypocrisy, it’s a case of the robbed Cossack.

It’s hard to tell what exactly bothers Netanyahu the most when he looks at Bennett. Maybe because of Bennett’s statement: “Right now they’re viewing us as the state’s chaplain. We don’t matter to Netanyahu. Not regarding Supreme Court cases, not regarding the settlement freeze, not regarding the appointment of Barak as Defense Minister. This has to change.” Maybe that’s scaring Netanyahu.

In his eagerness to block Bennett, Netanyahu behaved like the Hollywood gangster who commits robbery in broad daylight, discovers to his alarm that a group of citizens are chasing him, yelling “Stop, thief!” and so he points his finger at an innocent bystander and yells: “Stop, thief!”

The gangster in this fable is, forgive my insolence, Benjamin Netanyahu. This major partner in the crime of deportation of Jews, who avoided emphatically any attempt on his part of halting that unforgivable moral- security- and national disaster, now joins the chase after Bennett, yelling “Refusnik! Refusnik!” This leader who could have bought his place in Heaven if only he had refused, back in 2005, to partake in Ariel Sharon’s immoral gimmickry, is pillorying the one human being who speaks for Jewish values. It’s the ultimate absurdity.

HYPOCRISY FARE

Hypocrisy has been celebrated in earnest recently over at Likud. Because, had Netanyahu been a man of truth, promising that he would not admit into his government anyone who called on soldiers to refuse orders (although, in fact, Bennett did no such thing, he merely expressed a personal opinion) he would have had to fire Minister Uzi Landau who read into the Knesset transcript in May, 1995, during a debate over coming down from the Golan Heights: “A law that does not pass the values test does not exist in the eyes of people with values… A government order to evacuate a Jewish settlement does not pass the values test… Whoever dares to send our security forces to evacuate a settlement would be committing a clearly illegal act over which flies a black flag.”

The same Netanyahu must also remove Likud MK Tzipi Hotoveli, who said in April, 2010: “There’s such a thing as proper refusal… When a soldier is willing to give his life to defend this country, for this nation. If the soldier is willing to die in Gaza to defend Sderot and Ashkelon, and he experiences a real problem of conscience – that would be his litmus test. If he is truly ready to give his life, it means he is not a politician, he’s not waving signs. He is a man with a high sense of conscience and morality.”

Except that only Uzi Landau and Tzipi Hotoveli are the true Likudniks in this story. Like Menachem Begin, who said clearly at the Knesset, back in 1955: “The free man is entitled, and sometimes even obligated, regarding issues of irrevocable rights, to transgress formal directives, should said directives threaten those rights, provided that he is then willing to accept responsibility for his action.” And even Ariel Sharon said, during the struggle over Oslo (in the summer of 1995): “If a soldier feels that the command he was given contradicts his conscience, he must approach personally… appear before his commanding officer, and explain it to him, and be prepared to accept the consequences.”

Did Anybody Say ‘The Children of Gaza?’

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

A runaway hit twit right now is this one:

“Hamas Bumper Stickers: Baby Suicide bomber on board.”

And a joke that’s getting old already goes: Two Palestinian mothers watch their children playing and one of them sighs and says, “They blow up so fast.”

The image I picked this morning is of Arab children visiting what looks like a makeshift amusement park in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern part of the Gaza Strip last summer, during the Eid el-Fitr holiday (marking the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan).

I can understand kids playing with toy guns (although in Gaza they’re not always the toy kind). If a child is surrounded with nothing but war talk and shaheed (martyr)n talk all day long, he’s not going to be playing with a toy microscope.

What I can’t understand is how someone sees these children playing and figures, this is a good time to shoot rockets at Israeli civilians across the border, so that one thing would lead to another and in the end, a few weeks down the road, these very children’s images would be plastered across the world media, carried by their mourning fathers, torn up and bleeding.

I think all of us here, in the tiny space between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea need urgent psychiatric care, but if I were the psychiatric nurse doing triage for the worst cases, I would definitely send all my psychiatrists to Gaza first.

It makes no sense. It doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world. A population under serious confinement, left to its own devices, with issues of poverty and housing and unemployment – and with money pouring in to help (just two weeks ago the Emir of Qatar came by to deliver half a billion dollars in aid), and all they end up doing is dragging Israel into yet another massive attack to stop the rocket fire.

Compulsory therapy, that’s what I’m for. A couch on every block, from Erez to Rafah. You have to attend one individual and one group session a week, or a cop will stop you, check your therapy papers and send you to therapy prison.

Or just re-occupy the place and re-integrate it into civilized society, taking out in the process the 10 thousand or so seriously mentally ill Hamas and Jihad and Salafi zealots. It don’t look like the “disengagement” that ruined the lives of thousands of Jewish ex-settlers has done anyone in Gaza much good, either.

Think of the children.

Former Chief Scientist of Education Ministry: Cut off Gaza’s Power, Kill the Hamas Leadership

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Rocket Scientist Dr. Gabi Avital, formerly the chief scientist of the Education Ministry, Doctor of Aeronautical Engineering, who is running for a spot on the Likud list for the Knesset, spoke on Saturday night to a local Israeli radio station regarding the new barrage of rockets shot into Israel from Gaza, with four IDF soldiers hit while riding a jeep along the border. The interviewer, Shaul Cohen, asked if, with an angry public a million Israelis spending the night in bomb shelter, is the Netanyahu government isn’t performing now even worse than the Ehud Olmenrt government had done, facing a heating confrontation in Gaza.

Avital did not take the bait, saying earlier incidents, in Olmert’s day, were far more severe. Nevertheless, he stressed that it made no sense for a civilian population to remain under fire as hostages, in the name of the hope for some future negotiations for a compromise.

“The State of Israel must decide – no more terror. It’s true that this is an on-going war, but if a million people are held hostage, and the other side is allowed to shoot whenever they wish, with only minor retaliation, not the kind that would bring a resolution, this deems an examination.”

Dr. Avital said the Likud government, with, hopefully a different defense minister (the current minister, Ehud Barak, is loathed by the vast majority of Likud rank and file), must make good on commitments which were made in the past.”

Asked how he would deal with rocket barrages from the State of Gaza, Avital said, “We first must make the disengagement final. So far the disengagement has been one-sided. Israel continues to supply Gaza with energy: electricity, gasoline and consumer goods are still being trucked over. We must block all that permanently. If we are disengaged, then let’s be disengaged in both directions. And then we have to pick whatever targets must be exploded and destroyed in order that the citizens of Israel can live in security.”

The next phase in Dr. Avital’s plan is to “take out the heads of Hamas. Either kill them or take out Gaza as a whole, something totally dramatic.”

Asked to be specific, Avital said, “[We must tell them], if you keep the peace, you’ll get peace. Otherwise, your blood is on your own head, you, Hamas.”

But what should Israel do right now, after four IDF soldiers have been hit?

“I repeat, the reaction must be the annihilation of the heads of Hamas. Not the pawns, but [prime minister Ismail] Haniyeh and his people – the king and queen must go. This is why I insist that we must have a complete disengagement. The way we tried in the past to take out Arafat.”

Avital reminded the listeners of the last minute decision not to kill the late PLO chairman Yassir Arafat during the first Lebanon war, when he was already in the IDF’s crosshairs. “If we had killed him things would have looked much different,” Avital argued. “We would have prevented many deaths among Jews and Arabs alike.”

The interviewer asked if the killing of four Arabs, with 30 injured, last night was a sufficient response.

“I fail to understand the term ‘enough,’” Avital responded. “In my opinion it is forbidden to permit even one Israeli soldier or civilian to fall – and likewise on the other side. But right now we are not employing sufficient deterrence. What’s the meaning of ‘deterrence?’ the kind that would cause the other side to think a thousand times before they dare shoot. Right now they’re not thinking a thousand times – they just shoot. So they lost four men. What kind of game is this?”

How many Hamas heads must be killed tonight in retaliation for the shooting at out jeep? the interviewer wanted to know.

“Before we do that, we must complete the disengagement. First of all, we disconnect their electricity. No more electricity from Israel. No more Israeli goods. And we must pursue a similar attack to the one we launched against the Hizbollah in 2006, which was so harsh, they’re still keeping their heads down in fear. That would mean real deterrence. Today we don’t have real deterrence.”

Dr. Avital surmised that in the current government, Prime Minister Netanyahu has been unable to direct his Defense Minister Barak and the Chief of Staff Benny Ganz to launch a sufficiently massive attack on Gaza, suggesting the next government, with a different defense leadership, would do a better job.

Dr. Avital was fired from his post as Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Education following several statements that were met with severe criticism in the media. He objected to teaching the theory of Evolution without presenting students with the body of study objecting to the theory. He also objected to the notion that global warming was man made, and he also objected to recycling plastic bottles.

Dr. Avital is chairman of the organization of Professors for a Strong Israel.

What Seven Years Have Wrought

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Seven years ago, on September 12, 2005, the government of Israel withdrew its defense forces from each of the 23 hitherto-vibrant Israeli communities in the cluster known as Gush Katif. All public buildings including schools, libraries, community centres, office buildings, industrial buildings, factories and greenhouses which could not be taken apart were left intact [source].

The hyper-productive Israeli agricultural and horticultural greenhouses that had generated sales, profits and jobs are gone – promptly destroyed by the new masters of Gush Katif and of Gaza. Terrorist training facilities have sprouted on the ruins of the abandoned Israeli towns. The vision of a self-sustaining, forward-looking, peace-seeking Gaza has vanished. Some ten thousand Israelis left Gush Katif to make their homes elsewhere.

During these past seven years, we have been witness to the conversion of Gush Katif into an armed camp, an arsenal from which some 9,400 rockets and missiles [source] have been fired at the Israeli civilians and communities on the other side of the fence.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Facebook page today says: “Seven years ago today we disengaged from the Gaza Strip”. A photo of two Gaza terrorists preparing a missile to fire at Israel’s appears below it [see at right], along with a message suggesting the photo be shared in order to “show the world Israel’s true neighbors. Share this, because mainstream media won’t.”

The mainstream media generally avoid showing scenes like those below, as well. They are September 2012 images from Rafah in the Gaza Strip, where the Hamas overlords use Soviet-style wall posters to hammer home the message that the men firing the rockets and carrying the sub-machine guns are the people’s heroes.

Visit This Ongoing War.

Why Gush Katif Still Matters

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

The expulsion of 10,000 Jews from their homes five years ago was not a localized event in the Gaza Strip. It was a national implosion, a national disgrace. It caused enormous physical, psychological, social, cultural, military and strategic damage to the entire nation – and it still does. Like an ecological disaster, its foulness still seeps through our foundations, and continues to poison us.

Undermined by enforcing a political agenda, the entire political system, the media and judicial institutions refused to act responsibly. Basic civil and human rights of Jews were abandoned. Those responsible for welfare and proper compensation misled and lied; led by SELA, the Disengagement Authority, Israel was in denial.

Israel’s political – and many of its spiritual – leaders, those for whom we voted and in whom we trusted, failed to organize and prevent this catastrophe. Ministers who disagreed were fired; public debate was suppressed.

Knesset members were impotent and negligent; they did not insist on proper procedures, to which all citizens are entitled; and no one was held accountable.

The IDF, which virtually all Israelis closely identify with and believe in, was brainwashed. Israeli soldiers were turned into zombies; those who refused to participate in the Gaza expulsions were heavily punished – a misuse of the IDF that was both illegal and immoral.

The media protected Ariel Sharon and those who planned, organized and carried out their pernicious plans because they agreed with his agenda. The perpetrators were even honored and promoted. Military and strategic advisers who disagreed with Sharon remained silent in order to keep their positions.

We believed those we elected, as well as the very institutions of government, were fair and honest. We were wrong.

The destruction of 25 Jewish communities was – and remains – a symbol of national betrayal. The same toxic thinking led to the removal of Jewish communities from the Sinai and to the Oslo accords, which brought PLO terrorists to power and caused the slaughter and wounding of thousands of Jews. The product of corruption, deception, greed and arrogance, the Gaza disengagement is an example of cruel indifference and the abuse of power.

The disengagement left a deep wound that will not heal – not only because lives and homes were destroyed but because it was immoral, unjust and irrational. The knife of perfidy is still in our spiritual guts; it is an ongoing trauma – and not just to the people who suffered physically and mentally. The disengagement, as Hamas and Hizbullah remind us, symbolizes not pride and victory but our shame and defeat.

The tragedy of the policy of retreat, i.e., unilateral withdrawal – still advocated by people like Defense Minister Ehud Barak – is that it accomplished nothing.

Billions of dollars were wasted that could have been spent to improve roads (which would have saved hundreds of lives every year), improve our educational and health systems, construct a fence along the Egyptian border to prevent smuggling and illegal immigration, provide public housing, and build an efficient rapid transit system.

Imagine the billions that would have been saved and more billions earned every year by implementing such projects.

Obsessed by the task of destroying Jewish communities and propagandizing the public, Ariel Sharon’s government neglected Israel’s security, endangering us all.

The government failed to respond to Iran’s nuclear threat, which in 2005 consisted of only one facility; it failed to prepare the IDF for the threat from Hizbullah, which led to Israel’s failures in 2006; it failed to protect Israelis near the Gaza Strip from bombardment, failed to stem the rise of Hamas in Gaza; and it failed to stop the proliferation of smuggling tunnels, thereby setting the stage for the incursion into Gaza in 2009.

Those who planned and executed the disengagement, those who supported it, those who volunteered to help carry it out, and those who remained silent are responsible for this trauma. While talking incessantly about peace with Arabs, they ignore the need to make peace with their fellow Jews. But there has been no inquiry and no investigation; no one was blamed or punished – or even took responsibility – for this failure.

An official commission was convened because nine Muslim militants who tried to murder IDF soldiers were killed aboard a Gaza-bound ship; yet no commission was assigned to investigate the national tragedy of Gush Katif.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/why-gush-katif-still-matters/2012/08/25/

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