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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘IMF’

Yair Lapid Tells US Jews They Are Safer than in Israel

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Israel’s Finance Minister Yair Lapid, fresh from having scolded ex-pats for living in Berlin, told New York Jews Monday afternoon that they are safer living in the Big Apple than they would be in Israel.

Lapid certainly did not intend to encourage Jews to stay in America, but that one little sentence packed enough ammunition to undo weeks or months of hard work by anyone encouraging aliyah.

Even worse, Lapid made his remarks at the 92nd St. Y in Manhattan, which The Jewish Press’ Lori Lowenthal Marcus has exposed time and time again for hosting outright anti-Zionists, as reported here, here and here.

Lapid was speaking at the annual meeting of the international Monetary Fund in New York and was interviewed by Charlie Rose, who asked him why Israel does not divide Jerusalem for a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

“It isn’t always possible to assume that everything is rational. Israel was founded as a refuge for the Jewish people, but today it isn’t a safe place. It is safer to be Jew in New York,” Lapid said.

To be fair, he continued, “I want to live in a country that is not just a place, but also an idea, and Jerusalem is the heart of the idea. There may be practical considerations, but a country cannot exist without an ethos, and Jerusalem is an ethos.

“I like Tel Aviv; I live in Tel Aviv, but our right of return is Jerusalem. We did not return after 2,000 years for Tel Aviv, but for Jerusalem. Jerusalem will not be divided. It will continue to be Israel’s capital.”

Two points for Zionism.

When Lapid said that Israel is not as safe as New York, it is difficult to know what he was referring to. Subways? Murder rate?

No doubt, he was thinking of terror. And how many people have been killed by terrorists in Jerusalem this year?

Zero.

And last year? Off hand, zero.

Have there been terrorist attacks? Yes, dozens if not hundreds. Rock throwing and firebombing are attacks carried out with the intent to murder. Lapid would be correct to say that more Jews in Israel are injured by rocks every year than they are in New York or ever the entire United States.

Let’s say they were attempted murders. And how many actual homicides were there in New York last year? If you answered 414, you were right, and that is 20 percent less than in 2011.

Israel recorded 159 murders in 2012, with a total population that is approximately 15 percent less than that of New York City.

Lapid, as usual, did not define what he meant by “safer.” He likes platitudes and slogans without content. That is how got elected.

But besides the question of whether he has his facts wrong, how could he make such a statement – that New York is safer then Israel – after berating Israelis in Berlin for leaving the homeland?

Lipid, visiting in Budapest, wrote on his Facebook page last week, “I am in Budapest. I came here to speak before parliament about anti-Semitism and to remind them how they tried to murder my father here just because Jews did not have a country of their own.

“So forgive me if I am a bit intolerant of people who are prepared to throw away the only country that the Jews have because Berlin is more comfortable.”

Lapid says Berlin is more comfortable than Israel. New York is safer.

By the way, Lapid emigrated to Los Angeles in 1997 to manage a TV production company

Here is a personal note to the Nefesh B’Nefesh organization that promotes aliyah to Israel: Don’t invite Yair Lapid.

Egypt’s Crisis Could Be Heading Towards Us

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

Therefore, my Harry, Be it thy course to busy giddy minds With foreign quarrels; that action, hence borne out, May waste the memory of the former days.” –William Shakespeare, “King Henry IV, Part Two.”

THERE’S NO doubt about the growing crisis in Egypt, a country that is crashing economically and whose highest government official running the religious establishment just called for genocide against Jews.

Here are four dispatches from a 24-hour period:

The Associated Press reports:

A ferocious fight between members of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and their opponents near the group’s Cairo headquarters…could mark a dangerous turning point… raising worries that the confrontation between Islamists, who dominate power in the country, and their opponents is moving out of anyone’s control.

The Christian Science Monitor speaks of “Bread riots or bankruptcy: Egypt faces stark economic choices.”

Then there’s the International Herald Tribune’s, “Fall in Egyptian Pound Weighs Heavily on the Ill,” which speaks of “a shortage of an estimated 400 different drugs, some of which are considered lifesaving….”

The Atlantic, formerly one of the most reliably apologetic publications on the Brotherhood regime, speaks of vigilante groups lynching alleged criminals.

And that doesn’t even include massive power cuts; the food poisoning of around 500 students at al-Azhar University due to negligence; the institution of blasphemy cases for alleged insults toward Islam (by an actress) and to the country’s president (by a television comedian). Even the April 6 Youth Movement, which functioned as an ally and something of a front for the Brotherhood during the early days of revolution, has turned against it.

The Brotherhood-controlled state institutions have threatened to lift the licenses of two television stations (here and here) that have been critical. In the turbulent northern Sinai, armed militant groups openly paraded with weapons.

So even with an almost $5 billion IMF loan supposedly on the way—none of which will ever be paid back, meaning taking away from Western economies to prop up an Islamist anti-American regime—the prospects aren’t good.

It also won’t change the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood which is not, like Communism during the Soviet Union in its last days, a movement that doesn’t take its ideas seriously. This is a vigorous movement that feels the future belongs to itself and which will soon be governing four places (Egypt, Gaza Strip, Syria, and Tunisia).

The official Muslim Brotherhood site just tweeted the claim, earlier made by President Morsi, that Jews control the American media. Of course, that same media has been incredibly friendly to the Brotherhood and apologetic for its behavior.

Egypt’s powerful minister of religious affairs, the person who gets to decide who gets hired as preachers in mosques, as religious instructors in schools, who approves those textbooks and controls vast funds, spoke as follows recently:

We hope the words of the Prophet Muhammad will be fulfilled: “Judgment Day will not come before” the Muslims wipe out the Jews and added that Israel will cease to exist.

The fact that such statements don’t even register in the Western media input shows how conditioned such countries have become from ignoring such things, though anti-Jewish statements from Morsi got a bit of coverage–in the context of being regrettable but not anything meaningful–when that became unavoidable.

Consider, then the simple facts: A country of 85 million people, heavily armed (with U.S. help) is burning with anarchy and violence, teetering on the edge of an economic abyss, and threatening genocide against a neighbor with less than one-tenth of that population.

Might this be a matter of concern? Well, the crisis is being covered but there doesn’t seem to be much worry about this in Washington. And even the media coverage lacks two vital elements.

First of all, none of the many articles pointing to the disaster in Egypt have pointed out that this was all totally predictable and yet no one in the establishment—the “herd-news,” to coin a phrase—predicted it. There is no reflection on how mistaken enthusiasm for an Egyptian revolution helped transform a mildly repressive pro-Western regime that managed Egypt’s economy as well as possible into an Islamist-dominated half-dictatorship, half-anarchy disaster.

Does Russia Have its Eye on Strategic Cyprus?

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Cyprus’s banks are on the brink of collapse. As a result of a crisis that began in Greece, and as one of the 17 European countries that use the euro as their currency, Cyprus, is a victim of the euro’s domino effect, and is being dragged down by the eurocrisis, along with the entire southern rim of the eurozone.

Since last spring, Cyprus, a small country with barely one million inhabitants, has been negotiating with the other members of the eurozone about a financial bailout. When Greece was given 85 percent relief on its debts, the Cypriot banks suffered heavy losses on top of the huge losses already incurred as a result of a domestic real estate bubble. To stay afloat, Cyprus’s banks currently need some €17 bn ($23 bn) — an immense sum for a country with a 2011 GDP of only €19 bn ($25 bn) and a contracting economy.

Cyprus’s fortune, however, is its location. It is the easternmost island in the Mediterranean and of considerable strategic importance. Cyprus is like a huge aircraft carrier situated in front of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. In addition, huge offshore fields of gas and perhaps oil have recently been discovered in Cypriot territorial waters.

Cyprus is also the place where the Arab Spring meets the Eurocrisis. The Syrian port of Tartus hosts Russia’s only naval base in the Mediterranean. The impending fall of the Assad regime in Syria is forcing Russian President Vladimir Putin to look for an alternative to Tartus — leaving him with only one option: Cyprus.

Politically and economically, Russia and Cyprus are already closely tied. Cyprus’s President, Demetris Christofias, is the leader of the Cypriot Communist Party. He met his wife during his studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow in the 1960s. When Russia became “capitalist,” the ties between the two countries became even closer. Thousands of wealthy Russians have put their “black money” in Cypriot banks. Although Cyprus joined the eurozone in 2008, its banks have almost no clients from other EU countries. With the exception of Greece, with which the Greek-speaking Cypriots share close cultural and historic ties, Cypriot banks cater almost exclusively to Russian oligarchs; as a consequence, tiny Cyprus is Russia’s largest foreign investor.

In November 2011, Cyprus was bailed out by a €2.5 bn loan from Russia. The eurocrisis has since deepened and more money is now urgently needed. Last June, Cyprus turned to the European Union, the eurozone’s European Central Bank (ECB) and the IMF, asking for emergency aid of at least €10 bn. In return, however, the E.U., ECB and IMF – the so-called Troika – have asked Cyprus to reform its economy. Negotiations over these “structural reforms,” such as privatization of state-owned enterprises and reduction of wages, have dragged on for almost eight months.

No agreement could be reached between the ruling Cypriot Communists, who refused to implement the reforms demanded by the Troika, and Germany, the euro’s major paymaster. Next fall, general elections will be held in Germany. With an electorate that is tired of bailing out banks and governments in Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain in order to save the euro – a currency which many Germans feel was forced upon them – making Chancellor Angela Merkel reluctant to come to Cyprus’s aid.

Last November, a leaked intelligence report of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the German equivalent of the CIA, made matters even more difficult for Merkel. The report asserted that a bailout of Cyprus would boil down to using German taxpayers’ money to save the funds of rich Russians, who deposited up to €26 bn in “black money” in Cypriot banks, which are now on the brink of bankruptcy. The BND accuses Cyprus of creating a fertile ground for Russian money laundering, a charge further exacerbated by the ease with which Russian oligarchs can obtain Cypriot nationality and thus gain automatic access to all the E.U. member states. The BND said 80 oligarchs have managed to gain access this way to the entire E.U.

As the financial blog Testosterone Pit explained: “Taxpayers in other countries, including those in the U.S. – via the U.S. contribution to the IMF – will be asked to [bail out] tiny Cyprus.” However, given that Chancellor Merkel has already decided that the euro must be saved at all costs, she has no other option but to bail out Cyprus, including the investments of Russian oligarchs.

Egypt’s Finance Minister: IMF Deal by this Weekend

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

The Egyptian government will most likely sign a memorandum of understanding with the International Monetary Fund for a $4.5 billion loan before the weekend, Egypt’s Finance Minister Momtaz El-Said told reporters.

Al Ahram reports that Egypt’s government is planning to eliminate subsidies on gasoline, in line with IMF recommendations, in order to convince the IMF that it is serious about economic reform and to close the deal.

The Egyptian government needs the $4.5 billion loan to reduce its budget deficit, which stands at 11% of GDP, as well as manage a balance-of-payments deficit that has so far cost more than $20 billion in foreign reserves, since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak last year.

Government officials have proposed austerity measures, including cutting fuel subsidies, raising sales taxes on goods and services, taxing stock exchange IPOs, higher taxes on phone calls, cars, cigarettes, liquor, carbonated drinks, coffee beans and water-resistant cement.

Weatherman calling for food riots with a chance of mayhem.

Elections Bring Egypt to the Edge of Abyss

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

About a year after the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime, the crisis in Egypt has brought the country to the edge of abyss.

The political crisis escalated shortly after the Muslim Brotherhood decided to appoint its own candidate for presidency. This decision came after the Brotherhood, together with the Salafists, obtained an overwhelming majority in the Egyptian parliament.

Shortly after this decision it became clear that the Brotherhood and the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has governed Egypt since Mubarak’s fall, are not on the same page any more. Their differences involve key issues such as the drafting of a new constitution and the power of the Egyptian parliament.

In addition, negotiations regarding a much needed IMF loan ended without a deal because of lack of political support for acceptance of the IMF conditions.

Another complicating factor is the lack of progress in drafting the new constitution.

Tensions further increased after several presidential candidates, including Khairat al-Shater, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, and Salafist leader Abu Ishmail, were disqualified as presidential candidates.

The disqualified candidates appealed against the decision of the supervisory body of Egypt’s election committee, but their appeals were dismissed. The Muslim Brotherhood then simply appointed a new candidate: Mohammed Mursi, the leader of the Freedom and Justice Party.

Last Wednesday unknown assailants shot dead 11 Salafist protesters in Cairo’s Abbaseya neighborhood. The Salafist protesters demonstrated against the disqualification of Abu Ishmail.

On Friday new clashes broke out in the same neighborhood prompting the army to impose a curfew. Most Egyptian media accused the SCAF of being behind the bloodbath in Abbaseya.

Several political parties, among them the Muslim Brotherhood Freedom and Justice Party, announced new demonstrations in Tahrir Square and decided to boycott meetings with the SCAF.

Constitution

As a result of the increasing violence it seems all but sure that the presidential election, which starts May 24-25, will take place as scheduled.

To complicate matters, Islamists and liberals are demanding that there should first be an agreement on the new constitution before the presidential elections can take place.

The Islamists, who have a large majority in parliament, want to use the new constitution to minimize the power of the new president, and to increase of the power of the Egyptian parliament.

The SCAF recently decided to dissolve the parliamentary committee that was in charge of drafting a new constitution. This decision was made after a disagreement over the composition of the council, which consisted mainly of Islamists, whereas liberals, Copts and women were under-represented.

The SCAF in turn had its own reasons for dissolving the Constitutional Council. In this way it is trying to influence the drafting of the new constitution and the scope of presidential power.

Transfer of power

Both liberals and Islamists fear that the Army will not really transfer all its power to the democratically elected parliament and president.

This distrust is also evident from the recent demonstrations that call for the resignation of the SCAF. During these demonstrations the protesters also demanded that Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi resigns and even called for his execution.

On April 13 for example, Islamists held a mass demonstration in Tahrir Square against members of the Mubarak era, meaning SCAF officials and the now disqualified presidential hopeful Omar Suleiman.

The protesters shouted that the people “will force the Field Marshal (Tantawi) to resign” and that “the remnants of the old regime should be removed.”

Suleiman

Omar Suleiman is the former vice president and director of Egypt’s intelligence service (Muchabarat), who recently signed up as a candidate for the presidency.

Suleiman is considered to be a henchman of Mubarak, and was accused of being an ‘Israeli agent’. He and Mubarak were pictured on placards together with a Star of David.

In turn, in an interview with the Egyptian newspaper Al-Youm Al-Saba’a Suleiman accused Israel of trying to look for reasons to reconquer the Sinai desert.

Disqualification

The April 14th decision by the Election Committee of the Supreme Court to disqualify a large number of presidential candidates has significantly aggravated tensions.

Omar Suleiman was disqualified because he did not have enough signatures from supporters (according to Egyptian law, a presidential candidate must have at least 30,000 signatures).

The Salafist Abu Ismail (al-Nour party) was rejected because his mother was a U.S. citizen (according to Egyptian law, the presidential candidate, his parents and his spouse should all hold Egyptian nationality).

The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Al-Shater, was disqualified because he supposedly had a criminal past.

The disqualifications came at a time when Egypt was already struggling with severe tensions between the various political and religious groups.

The Salafist leader Abu Ishmail even predicted an Islamic revolution if the decision to disqualify him was not reversed.

Economy

Besides the political crisis, there is Egypt’s economic mayhem which has brought the country to the brink of disaster.

Egypt to Seek IMF Loan After All

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Egypt will seek the $3 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that it rejected last year, in an effort to stem its economic decline and restore its foreign-currency reserves.

Egypt will return to negotiations with the IMF next week, and will likely have to accede to IMF demands for economic reforms to receive the loan.

Egypt’s military-led government originally rejected the IMF’s offer in June 2011 because of populist sentiment opposing any inhibition on Egyptian sovereignty.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/egypt-to-seek-imf-loan-after-all/2012/01/12/

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