web analytics
April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘immigration’

Indian Tribe Aliyah Approved

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Israel’s government approved the immigration of the Bnei Menashe, an Indian tribe that claims Jewish ancestry.

The approval comes after a five-year gap since the last group of Bnei Menashe arrived in Israel.

Members of the group, who claim descent from the lost tribe of Menashe, must undergo a conversion process even though it is accepted as fact that they have Jewish roots.

The Cabinet on Oct. 25 voted to restart the tribe’s aliyah. A flight of more than 270 Bnei Menashe reportedly will arrive in the coming weeks, according to Army Radio.

The new immigration reportedly will be funded and facilitated by Shavei Israel, a non-governmental organization that helps locate and reconnect to Judaism and Israel the descendants of Jews.

Some 1,700 Bnei Menashe are living in Israel, and as many as 9,000 remain in India and Burma, according to the Times of Israel.

Romney by Points, Obama Still Underpresent, Candy Crowley Not the Greatest Hall Monitor

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

I made the mistake of letting the CNN feed linger beyond the hour and a half of the second presidential debate tonight, and so I realized, as I often do in these cases, that the folks around the discussion table and I come from alternate universes—very close, many of the same details on both my and their planet Earth, but still different universes.

They said something about the president being forceful and challenging Romney at every turn, reversing the trend, stopping the bleeding.

I saw President Obama still finding it difficult to sound cool and calculated without his trusted teleprompter. Romney is also not the captain of the debating team, but compared with his opponent he came across coherent, strong, self assured.

This has nothing to do with my opinion of which one of these two men is better suited to be president, only with their performances tonight. And I’m beginning to think a freestyle conversation, just like a structured debate, is not something President Obama is good at.

I took copious notes, so I’m ready to do the play by play to make my point, but first a note about tonight’s moderator, CNN’s Candy Crowley: decidedly not Martha Raddatz. Where Raddatz was authoritative while allowing Joe Biden and Paul Ryan some moving room to make their points – Crowley was all about making sure the next Hofstra student got a chance to ask his or her question. Instead of helping the candidates, she tripped them, consistently denying both of them the chance to respond to one another’s charges.

I wanted to hear those responses, and definitely cared more about what either candidate had to say about the other’s allegations than I did about whether or not every kid on Crowley’s list got to show America how bright they were (they weren’t—you got the feeling each question was an obvious softball for one of the candidates, Romney even thanked one of them for a question that served his campaign needs, letting him massage away the 47% freeloaders thing).

Crowley was less informed, less agile, less introspective, and in the end far less effective than Raddatz. To her credit, though, she was equally annoying to both candidates, cutting them off about the same number of times when they were in the middle of saying something interesting, or just going to.

So, now, the play by play.

The first question was: How can you reassure me that I will have a job when I graduate. It brought on a minor clash between the two men over the Detroit bankruptcy. Romney said that what he meant by his “let it go bankrupt” remark was that GM and the rest of the big car makers needed to undergo a court monitored Chapter 11 procedure, and emerge prosperous in the end. He lied, of course. He meant let them drop dead–check out You Tube. Obama managed to capitalize on the opportunity and called Romney on it, developing the point into an attack on Romney’s record in business and as governor.

But even that early in the game it became obvious that no matter how good a strike Obama will get tonight, he couldn’t hit it out of the park. He ended up making the necessary argument, but his delivery was choppy, he paused to think way too frequently in mid-sentence, in a manner that almost made me lose interest in his final answer.

He reminded me of those endless debates he had with Hillary, back in 2008, when Obama just couldn’t deliver the knockout punch. It’s not his strong suit. He’s not eager enough. Maybe he’s not that kind of a fighter. He is better at jabbing for points and avoiding being knocked down. But that makes for boring television.

Both candidates were stiff and reserved on the question “Do you agree that it’s not the job of the Energy Dept. to lower gas prices.” It was a strangely phrased question, too, not dealing with the issue of whether or not gas prices were too high, but with government’s role in tweaking them.

Of course, Romney took it to the arena of gas prices being too high (up from $1.80 under Bush to $4 today – although I thought it was more like $2.50 under Bush), saying Obama cut drilling licenses on federal land. Obama explained there were too many license holders who didn’t use them, and those were eliminated. He sounded presidential for a brief moment, showing deeper knowledge than his opponent of the working of government. But he didn’t relate specifically to the actual price shifts at the pump, letting Romney win the round on points.

On tax deductions and tax credits, Romney set the record straight on his own tax policy. He will not reduce taxes on the rich and will not increase taxes on the middle class. Addressing one of the main items Democrats present as his plan, Romney was forceful in saying it ain’t so.

Obama said he cut taxes 18 times and reduced taxes by $2,500. He added that it’s Republicans in Congress who are holding the middle class hostage, until they’re allowed to to cut taxes for the top 2%.

Romney challenged him quite comfortably, avoiding any reference to the stonewalling Republican House, naturally. He promised he would bring tax rates down, emphasized that he’s not interested in cutting taxes for the rich—they will continue to pay 60% in income taxes.

No, they won’t, of course, because their teams of attorneys would make sure of that. But Romney sounded extremely confident in stating, for the record, that he didn’t have a soft spot in his heart for billionaires.

Obama said Romany’s math doesn’t add up. He challenged Romney to show specifics. How would he cut taxes and increase spending on the military, for instance, without adding deficits?

This is one of Romney’s weakest points, and so he attacked Obama’s deficits, and didn’t offer specifics on his own plan. And Obama let him get away with it. This time it wasn’t the moderator’s fault. Obama remained seated and let the opportunity go by without hitting Romney hard on his “voodoo” economics .

In what ways do you plan to rectify inequalities in the workplace for women’s pay?

This was a softball for Obama. Romney, who answered first, proceeded to talk about his record as governor, with Massachusetts hiring more women than any other state. He promised flexible hours, so mothers can keep their jobs and take care of their families (when do these women sleep?). He attacked Obama on women’s unemployment under his stewardship. Well, sure, if you have 20 million unemployed Americans, 10 million are liable to be women. But Romney scored better than his opponent on women in the workplace, and for a Republican this is found money.

Obama attacked Romney on Planned Parenthood, which Romney had said he would eliminate. Once again, the president missed out on one of his biggest advantages over Romney. Even women who plan to vote Republican are afraid of what that would do to Roe V. Wade. Planned Parenthood survived a congressional attack this year and is thriving because women across party lines support it. Republicans this election year have made countless blunders on a woman’s right to abortion and contraceptives – and Obama was unable to deliver a good blow with that one?

Romney did very well on the question of what’s the biggest difference between Romney and Bush, which was tailor-made for him. He said he agrees with Obama on the failure of the Bush administration on deficits, and said Obama is making them worse. It was almost fun to watch Romney hit that one skillfully.

Obama attacked Romney, saying his policies promote the same tax cuts that brought us from surpluses to deficits under Bush. He attacked Romney on his outsourcing to China and on investing in companies that sell surveillance equipment to China. And he said Romney is worse than Bush on social issues, because Bush wasn’t against Planned Parenthood.

Really? This is when you finally turn on the Planned Parenthood attack? Phrase “too little too late” mean anything to you?

There’s no doubt about the difference between the two candidates tonight: Romney was smoother, more fluent. Obama was choppy. It’s a matter of personal style. Obama’s attempts to interrupt Romney were halfhearted. Romney didn’t do it as many times—or so it appeared—but when he did, he was robust, his heart was definitely in it.

A Black gentleman said he voted for Obama in 2008, and asked what the president has done since to earn his vote in 2012.

Obama reviewed the highlights of his record, and it was becoming more and more obvious that he was off his mark tonight. His speech just didn’t flow, he didn’t seem confident. He came up with the facts and figures, but he continued to sound hollow, continued to fail to be excited about his own record.

Romney delivered a simple attack on Obama’s record, and it worked. He listed Obama’s failures with conviction. I didn’t think he was a lot better than his opponent, but enough to sound like the more energetic of the two.

On immigration policy, Romney said that he’s for immigration, but will not grant amnesty to illegal aliens. He attacked Obama on not enacting the laws he promised four years ago, to reform immigration policy.

Obama was hesitating on what should have been his softball to hit into the parking lot. He was good on the facts but, again, not exciting. He was good on the Romney record supporting “self immigration” and the Arizona “papers please” law, but failed to make even the most elementary Democratic plea about compassion and the lives of countless individuals who are already contributing to American society.

In this clash between two styles of speech, Romney’s continued to work better tonight.

Romney hits Obama on immigration policy. It was amazing to see him hitting the president hard on not living up to his promises on an issue that Obama should own.

Obama’s counter attack was reluctant.

Then Romney hijacked the discussion to discuss his investments—an Obama charge from half an hour earlier—saying Obama’s pension fund also invests in China. He tried to engage Obama in revealing, basically, how much money he had, to which the president answered what we all know: a lot less than Romney. Score half a point to Obama.

Obama started sounding better when he noted that Romney’s adviser on immigration is the guy who designed the “papers please” law in Arizona. But he didn’t do much more than that with this gold nugget of a talking point. It was hard to watch – like sitting in the stands watching your kid’s team losing because he or she missed a free throw…

The question “Who denied enhanced security for the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya and why?” had only one great Democratic answer, which Joe Biden delivered last week: Paul Ryan did, when he slashed $200 million for embassy security from the budget.

Obama was really bad on the Benghazi question. He tried to sound commander-in-chief like but came across underpresent. He accused Romney of being irresponsible, sending out a press release while the action was still going on. Good point, but he couldn’t in his wildest dreams connect Romney to the abysmal intelligence failure that led to the consulate quadruple murders. Hillary said earlier that half the buck stopped with her – she accepted responsibility for Benghazi but it was someone else’s fault. Obama should have said: It was Congressman Ryan’s fault. End of discussion. Because otherwise that whole affair made the Administration look awful.

Romney sympathized with the losses, ignored the press release thing altogether, and accused Obama of going to fund raisers while the action on the ground was still going on and an ambassador had just been killed. He was strong and forceful – but still no knockout.

Obama defended his record on Benghazi, and sounded injured, telling Romney it’s offensive to say he doesn’t care. These people work for him, of course he cares.

The CNN experts later said this was among those big all-time presidential debates moments. I didn’t fall off my seat. But what do I know, they could be right.

Then Obama scored a point on fact checking, when Romney challenged his statement that he called the Benghazi attack an act of terror on the first day. Candy Crowley confirms. That was a win for the president.

But when Obama told Crowley to repeat out loud that, in fact, he called it an act of terror on day one, he sounded actually angry. He suddenly appeared very much aware of the tough night he was having, and that things were not going his way.

I believe Obama only had about four really good minutes, near the end. It started with a softball question to both candidates: What do you believe is the biggest misperception that Americans have about you as a man and a candidate.

Romney lapped it up and came across great, talking about how he’s really embracing 100% (not 47%) of Americans. And added some stuff about believing in God.

Obama said he does not believe in government-created jobs, as his opponents claim he does. But he believes everybody should have a shot, and everybody should have a fare share. He then delivered the first good attack of the night, saying Romney’s behind-closed-doors 47% comment betrayed his real scorn for the elderly, the veterans, the unemploed etc.Alas, too ,little too Late. Match goes to Romney, but I don’t expect this debate to have a dramatic influence on the polls. According to a CNN/ORC International nationwide poll conducted right after Tuesday night’s debate, 46% of voters who watched said the president won, 39% said Republican nominee Mitt Romney did.

Nobody calls me from these polls…

 

The Emperor Obama?

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

There certainly is wide enough room for thoughtful and well-meaning people to disagree about the appropriate approach to the presence in the United States of millions of people who have come here illegally. But those same thoughtful Americans should be very concerned with President Obama’s unilateral amendment of federal law in this regard. It is yet another indication that the president believes no federal asset is unavailable to him in his reelection bid and that he has a presumptive monopoly on knowing what is right for America.

Despite federal laws providing for the deportation of illegal immigrants, the president last week issued an executive order that generally will allow illegal immigrants who came to the United States before they were 16 and are younger than 30 to remain here without fear of deportation. Yet Congress has repeatedly refused to amend the law to adopt such a policy. And last year Mr. Obama himself rejected the importuning of immigration activists in this regard, saying the matter was beyond his authority:

With respect to the notion that I could suspend deportations though executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed and…the executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws and then the judiciary has to interpret the law. There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply, through executive order, ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president.

Not a few commentators have pointed out that while the president has the authority under certain circumstances to refuse to enforce what he believes to be an unconstitutional law and to prioritize prosecutions because of limited resources, nobody is arguing that the immigration laws are unconstitutional, nor can he unilaterally carve out an exemption from the coverage of a law for an arbitrarily configured category of people.

Particularly disturbing are the blatantly political motivations of the president and his obvious attitude that everything goes. Even The New York Times, usually supportive of Mr. Obama to a fault, noted the politics of the executive order: “In many ways, President Obama’s unilateral shift in immigration policy was a bluntly political move, a play for a key voting bloc in the states that will decide whether he gets another term.”

Most chilling, though, is the president’s rationale that his actions “were the right thing for the American people,” as if that is a one-dimensional proposition to be determined by him alone. Indeed, here is what a White House official said:

We work to achieve our policy goals in the most effective and appropriate way possible. Often times, Congress has blocked efforts and we look to pursue other appropriate means of achieving our policy goals. Sometimes this makes for less-than-ideal policy situations – such as the action we took on immigration – but the president isn’t going to be stonewalled by politics, he will pursue whatever means available to do business on behalf of the American people.

This all bears careful consideration as we approach the November election.

Finland’s War on Free Speech

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Finland’s Supreme Court has found a prominent politician guilty of defaming Islam for “Islamophobic” comments he made on his personal blog.

The ruling represents a major setback for free speech in a Europe that is becoming increasingly stifled by politically correct restrictions on free speech, particularly on issues related to Islam and Muslim immigration.

The Helsinki-based Supreme Court ruled on June 8 that Finns Party MP Jussi Kristian Halla-aho was guilty of “inciting hatred against an ethnic group” for blog posts he made in 2008 which compared Islam to paedophilia, and for sarcastic comments which insinuated that immigrants from Somalia are predisposed to stealing and living off welfare.

In its ruling, the court said that hate speech does not fall under the protections afforded by the freedom of speech, even though Halla-aho said his comments were a protest against public policy and not against Islam and Mohammed per se.

Halla-aho, who has become well known in Finland and elsewhere for his well-argued essays criticizing multiculturalism and runaway immigration, was ordered to pay a hefty fine and delete the comments from his blog.

Halla-aho maintains a blog called Scripta, which deals with issues such as “immigration, multiculturalism, tolerance, racism, freedom of speech and political correctness.” His blog attracts thousands of readers every day, and the Tampere-based newspaper Aamulehti has described him the best-known political blogger in Finland. Halla-aho’s notoriety has placed the guardians of Finnish multiculturalism on maximum alert.

In a blog post in June 2008, Halla-aho wrote that the Islamic prophet Mohammed was a paedophile, and that Islam is a religion of paedophilia because Mohammed had sexual intercourse with his wife, Aisha, when she was only nine years old.

According to Halla-aho: “This sentence is related to a discussion where I criticize the idea of the subjective offensiveness of some sentence as being sufficient criteria for its judicial offensiveness. In other words, if some group is offended by sentence X, sentence X is illegal irrespective of whether it is true or not. In my opinion, stating of facts cannot and must not be criminal, even if they offend someone. This is also a problem of equality. For example, a Muslim is offended by criticism of his religion far more easily than an average Christian. If subjective offensiveness suffices as the elements of a crime, the law protects a Muslim with greater force than it protects a Christian.”

He continued: “My sentences about Mohammed and Islam were not opinions, but inescapably logical conclusions based on known facts. I did not use the word ‘paedophile’ as psychopathological concept, but in its popular meaning of a person having sex with children. The traditional Muslim knowledge, the Hadith literature, tells us that Mohammed had sex with his wife Aisha when she was nine years old. A nine-year-old is seen as a child today, and physically she was a child in 7th century, no matter what her judicial status was. Therefore, if Mohammed had sex with Aisha and Aisha was a child, Mohammed had sex with a child. That Mohammed is a holy figure to Muslims cannot make him immune to criticism in West, especially if criticism is based on undisputed facts.”

In another post, Halla-aho responded to a Finnish columnist who wrote that drinking excessively and fighting when drunk were cultural and possibly genetic characteristics of Finns. In order to show the double standards of such arguments, Halla-aho asked sarcastically if it could be stated that robbing passersby and living at the expense of taxpayers are cultural and possibly genetic characteristics of Somalis.

According to Halla-aho, “I turned the newspaper Kaleva‘s sentence into parody where ‘Finns’ were replaced by ‘Somalis.’ My hypothesis was that Somalis are under the special protection of the media and government officials, and my argument is that what is permissible to present about Finns becomes impermissible when it is about Somalis. My own version was as follows: ‘Robbing passers-by and living as parasites on tax money is the national, maybe even genetic characteristic of Somalis.’”

He also wrote: “In order to poke fun at The Council for Mass Media in Finland, I mentioned in the text that I present this argument as supposition, not as a fact. In addition, I proved that by using crime statistics, the argument about Somalis can be proved just as effectively as Kaleva’s argument about Finns.”

2012 Sees Lowest Number of IDF Recruits

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

The IDF website reports a decline in the number of army recruits this year, pinning the lowest recruitment rate in eight years on slower immigration and a low birth rates in 1994, when the 2012 generation was born.

This year manpower shortage in the IDF will reach a peak, after a steady decline of 7.5 percent in recruiting both men and women since 2004.

However, the next decade will see a gradual increase in rates of recruitment. The IDF Manpower Management Section’s Planning Division and Personnel Management (HATUMHA) is working on various projects designed to address the issue, such as  special tracks for religious women, a multi-year recruitment plan for technicians, expanding the scope of Ultra Orthodox recruitment and the recruitment of special populations.

“It is a time of draught, when resources are fewer, but it will change the future,” noted Head of Combat  Resources Planning Maj. Kobi Levi, who pointed out that “precisely at this time the army is undergoing significant intensification and its need for growth is expanding.”

Marine Le Pen Says Sarkozy Forces Halal Meat on Parisians

Monday, February 20th, 2012

The Guardian reports that French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen switched her campaign back to immigration on Sunday, by claiming all meat in Paris was halal, as she tried to head off President Nicolas Sarkozy’s attempts to lure her supporters.

At a congress of her National Front party in Lille, Le Pen said she had proof that all meat in Paris was halal and that she would lodge legal complaints against distributors for misleading consumers.

“This situation is a real deception and the government has been fully aware of it for months,” she told reporters at the conference. “All the abattoirs in the Paris region sell halal meat without exception.”

The main meat industry association, Interbev, denied the allegation and said most meat in Paris was not slaughtered under halal or kosher practices.

Knesset Passes New Bill to Prevent Infiltration

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

New legislation targeting illegal immigration passed its second and third readings in the Knesset on Tuesday. Among the measures included in the bill are the power to detain illegal migrants for up to three years without charge, prison terms of up to 15 years for anyone convicted of aiding migrants involved in smuggling humans, weapons or drugs into Israel, faster construction of the border fence with Egypt, and a new detention facility.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahi, who had called the issue “a national calamity” and made the legislation a cornerstone of his plan to tackle illegal immigration, cast a vote in favor of the legislation.

Detractors claim the bill is undemocratic and runs counter to Israel’s obligations to human rights. But Likud MK Zeev Elkin stressed that there were similar laws on the books in many other countries, and that the legislation was required to stem the growth of illegal immigration. According to figures, there were 52,487 illegal immigrants in Israel at the end of last year, most of whom arrived from Africa.

The Prime Ministers: I Liked The Book So Much, I Had To Speak With The Author

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

I had just finished reading The Prime Ministers (Toby Press) and enjoyed every one of its 700-plus pages.  Yahuda Avner’s “fly on the wall” account spans the governments of Levi Eshkol (Six-Day War), Golda Meir  (Yom Kippur War), Yitzhak Rabin (Entebbe, Oslo), and Menachem Begin (peace treaty with Sadat, attack on Iraqi nuclear reactor, Lebanon invasion), describing sensitive, frightening and sometimes hilarious events, mostly of the kind you will never read in a newspaper.

Avner had served in various capacities – adviser, speechwriter, ambassador, consular diplomat – to all of the above-named prime ministers and as such was present at meetings and privy to conversations between Israeli officials and their counterparts around the world.

I thought it would be instructive to speak with Avner; though aware that The Jewish Press had published a lengthy interview with him shortly after the book was published a little more than a year ago, I was curious as to how the book had been received since its publication.

He agreed to set aside some time to meet with me while on a visit to New York. The ambassador is a genteel man. His demeanor is that of an elegant European diplomat, equally comfortable at an official state function and at a humble beis medrash.

Avner disclosed that he was able to remain as the senior Foreign Service officer on “loan” to the Prime Minister’s Office through four administrations because he had become the “institutional memory” of that office. He was always apolitical, walking out whenever the discussion turned to parochial politics. He recorded every conversation using his own shorthand, and after every meeting dictated the minutes of the proceedings for posterity.

When I asked him about the reaction his book had garnered, he told me he was besieged by demands on his time for speaking engagements all over the world, to the extent that he had to hire a publicist who handles his speaking engagements and schedule.

I wondered whether there had been complaints from any of the individuals mentioned and/or quoted in the book.

“To the contrary,” he replied. “I made it a policy that before I published any incident or quoted any person, I would send a draft manuscript to the protagonist for his or her comments, but only as it related to the accuracy of a particular incident or quote.”

Thus, every story and quotation was “vetted” by those involved, and the reaction has been very favorable.

Avner has heard from readers from every part of the globe who have praised him for his candor and his remarkable ability to quote, verbatim, occurrences of a half a century ago.

I asked Avner how he could quote persons on the other side of a phone call while he was present in the room on the Israeli side. He told me a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, who happens to be a good friend, shared with him notes he had sent to the State Department based on conversations on the other side of these phone calls which had became known to him through his own channels.

We discussed the challenge of Avner’s being strictly shomer Shabbos in an environment that, at least until Menachem Begin became prime minister, was not particularly sensitive to “Shabbos” issues.  Avner noted with a laugh that he found that most political and governmental crises occurred Erev Shabbos. He cited as an example the time Henry Kissinger and Yitzhak Rabin engaged in a rather stormy meeting in Jerusalem late one Friday afternoon.

Kissinger stormed out, slammed the door to the Prime Minister’s Office, and prepared to complain to the world press about Israel’s obstinacy. Rabin immediately ordered Avner to prepare and distribute a press release relating Israel’s version of the collapsed talks. On the grounds that “a press release was not a vital Israeli security matter but only hasbara” – public relations – Avner said he would not desecrate Shabbos by writing one.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-prime-ministers-i-liked-the-book-so-much-i-had-to-speak-with-the-author/2011/11/16/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: