web analytics
June 30, 2016 / 24 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Isaac Herzog’

Analysis: Herzog Mocks Netanyahu, Israel’s SpongeBob SquarePants

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

In a witty speech, riddled with poisoned arrows, the leader of both the Zionist Camp and the Knesset opposition MK Isaac Herzog used his keynote address on the third and final day of the 16th annual Herzliya Conference to paint a grotesque image of the failures of the Netanyahu government, coupled with promises for a better future under his own party’s rule. Despite his repetition of ideas that have already proven themselves to be dangerously delusional, Herzog’s heartfelt bitterness was almost delightful:

“Finally we have a Right wing government,” he began. “Finally we have a right-wing prime minister, right-wing defense minister, right-wing Minister of Education, right-wing justice minister, right-wing Minister of Agriculture and even right-wing Minister of Transport… Now there is no one on the left to litter the agenda!”

And yet, he persisted, even without a shred of leftwing involvement, “look at what is happening around us: the waves of violence are stronger. An Intifada of stones has turned into terrorism of Kalashnikovs and Carl Gustavs and the citizens are scared to walk around Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Gush Etzion.”

“What’s the greatest mistake of the right wing government?” he continued to joke, answering his own trick question: “That there is no real left wing to blame. It really is a tragedy: even I thought we were getting a bunch of heroes with super powers – but it turns out we got SpongeBob leaders.”

SpongeBob SquarePants is the hero of an animated television series created by marine biologist and animator Stephen Hillenburg for Nickelodeon, chronicling the adventures and endeavors of SpongeBob and his friends in the underwater city of Bikini Bottom. The series has been involved in several public controversies, including one centered on speculation over SpongeBob’s sexual orientation.

Herzog, who is often self deprecating regarding his own effeminate public persona in Israel’s macho political jungle, obviously picked the SpongeBob imagery to suggest his seemingly macho political enemies were, in fact, the effeminate ones. Not a sure-win choice on the week of the Orlando gay club massacre.

Herzog reminded his audience that “for years the Right preached that we had to remain in Lebanon, and had to sacrifice hundreds of soldiers every year to secure the northern border. Then came Ehud Barak and he took us out of Lebanon and created a political situation that is not ideal but the number of our fatalities decreased dramatically, and Northern agricultural workers and tourism are thriving…. For years the Right has preached that talking with the other side would be the end of the state, the end of the Zionist enterprise, the destruction of the Third Temple. Then came Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin z”l who talked with Arafat, the head of a dangerous and deadly terrorist organization, and they reached understandings that turned the other side and its leadership from one of hijackings and murdering civilians indiscriminately to a diplomatic organization that worked with us on political and diplomatic issues.”

Delivered outside the context of the several thousand murdered Israelis who have been the casualties of the Rabin-Peres-Arafat peace deal, Herzog’s ideas sounded outright reasonable. He did fail to mention the rivers of blood that ensued each time Israeli leaders on both sides of the aisle have attempted to ply Arafat et al with territorial concessions.

Herzog continued to list his perceived highlights of the various governments and leaders of Israel, again without the benefit of knowing what followed those brave men’s best plans: “Begin, Rabin, Peres and Sharon were not afraid to put their personal fate on the altar for the good of the country and won spots in the Hall of Fame of Israeli leadership.”

He did say that “in the context of the current wave of terror in which dozens of Israelis were killed and hundreds injured, I identified a new path… an opportunity for peace… I worked toward this solution with international and regional leaders directly and indirectly.” Presumably, his planned territorial concessions would not end in more bloodshed, possibly because the polls at this point predict a drop in Herzog’s party’s Knesset mandate from 24 to the low teens.

Herzog insisted, however, that although the idea of cooperation between Israel and the moderate Arab states was not new, the time was ripe for such collaboration, “it’s a unique and rare opportunity.” He continued, “Unlike the previous generation of Arab leaders, nowadays many Sunni leaders have less of what I call an ‘Israel complex,’ which their predecessors suffered from. They are bolder, younger, more independent and willing to work with Israel, as long as it serves their national interests. These leaders are willing to engage on issues important to both sides.”

Except that those same younger Arabs out there, as was seen from a poll commissioned by the Herzliya Conference in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, no longer care about the fate of Israel’s Arabs on either side of the green line. But Herzog plowed on: “Today there is a golden opportunity. The United States must take the lead and the international community should support it along with the regional leadership of the Middle East. With bold leadership and bold steps, we can realize this opportunity and create a better future for us and for our children. I and my partners in the Zionist Camp see this as a window of opportunity that could ultimately bring about a two-state solution.”

Herzog concluded, “I opened the door for Netanyahu and offered him my hand saying that he was the engine of the Right, I was the engine of the Left and behind us was a wagon” of citizens. “But the Right did not succeed in turning on his engine… Netanyahu preferred to think of his political survival.”

Indeed, Herzog’s own failure to lead his party to political victory, and his failed coalition negotiations with Netanyahu will likely not bode well for his own political survival.

JNi.Media

Israelis Kickstart After IDF Wouldn’t Rehab Wounded Soldier Living in Settlement [video]

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

Decorated special forces soldier Sgt. Yehuda Yitzchak Hayisraeli who fought and was critically injured in the 2014 Gaza War, during the courageous attempt to retrieve the late Lt. Hadar Goldin who had been captured and killed by Hamas. Sgt. Yehuda was in a coma for two years, surrounded by his wife and family, who never gave up on him. His son Erez was born and was circumcised while his hero father was still in a coma, an event that focused national attention on the family one more time.

Then a miracle happened and Yehuda came out of the coma, a few months ago. Since then he has been engaged in a grueling and demanding rehab process, where he is re-learning a large variety of basic skills, on the way to full recovery. Eventually the time came for Yehuda to be discharged from the hospital to continue his rehab at home. Like every injured soldier, the defense ministry pays for adjusting his home environment to his rehab needs. But Yehuda is a resident of the community of Ofra in Judea and Samaria, and since the entire region is under a construction freeze in an attempt to please Israel’s many friends in the world, the funds could not be legally transferred to him, no matter how deserving he may be.

The family was dumbfounded at this degree of bureaucratic autism, but a group of Israeli citizens who last week heard about the case in the media decided to come to their aid. They launched a communal fundraising page on the website headstart.co.il, and asked for the equivalent of $156,000, the amount needed to pay for Yehuda’s accommodations. As of Sunday morning, the page has raised $373,061.61 from 7,778 individuals.

On the fundraising page, the organizers have thanked profusely everyone who contributed (including opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog who gave about $300), and declared that the collection will continue, at least until the official expiration time, which is in 26 days. The money will go to provide for Yehuda’s family in the next year or so.

What a wonderful example of community values in face of government deafness. (Click here for an update on the government’s response).

JNi.Media

Corbyn Never Bothered to Answer Herzog’s Letter on Labour Anti-Semitism

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

Jeremy Corbyn never replied to a concerned letter about revelations of deep-seated anti-Semitism in the UK Labour party, sent a month ago by Israeli sister party chairman Isaac Herzog, The Guardian reported. Herzog sent his letter after MP Ken Livingstone had been suspended from the Labour party at the end of April for making highly controversial remarks about Hitler and Zionism. Appearing on the Vanessa Feltz Show on Radio London last month, Livingstone said: “When Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel.”

Herzog wrote to Corbyn that he was “appalled and outraged by the recent instances of anti-Semitism by senior Labour party officials in the United Kingdom.” Herzog added: “I would like to take this opportunity, in the week leading up to Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel, to invite you to bring a delegation from the British Labour Party to Israel’s national Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem. By doing this, perhaps we can ensure that the anti-Semitism expressed in recent days is not the example to set to British young generation, but rather one of tolerance and acceptance of all people, regardless of faith.”

Herzog also commented: “As someone whose father served in the British army and risked his life fighting against Hitler and the Nazis, the views expressed by Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London and member of Labour’s national executive, in which he claimed that Hitler ‘was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews’ were particularly horrific, and unthinkable for a British politician and the 21st century.”

The Guardian cited an Israeli Labor party official who confirmed rumors in the London Jewish community that they had received no reply from Corbyn.

Wes Streeting, the Labour MP for Ilford North, told The Guardian, “It should be a matter of common courtesy to reply to a letter from the leader of one of our sister parties, particularly on an issue as important as tackling antisemitism. But this is fairly typical of the flat-footed and lackadaisical attitude that we’ve seen from the outset. It is simply unacceptable.”

Ian Austin, MP for Dudley North, said he was shocked that his party leader had not sent Herzog a reply.

Corbyn suspended Livingstone, a personal ally, over his comments, and established an independent investigation. He reassured his MPs last week that he was giving this issue a high priority.

JNi.Media

Netanyahu Tells Knesset He Wants ‘Broader Government,’ Herzog: Stop Zigzagging

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

During Monday’s special plenary session honoring the memory of Theodor Herzl, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) said, “I wonder what Herzl would have said had he seen the massive construction, the building of roads, the economic growth, the absorption of immigration, the scientific innovations and the fact that the state of the Jews discovered gas at sea and will extract it for the benefit of its citizens.”

“I met today with the French Prime Minister and stressed that [the Israeli] government wants peace,” Netanyahu also said, relating, “I told him that I seek to move forward in the diplomatic process on the basis of the outline of a demilitarized Palestinian state which recognizes the Jewish state. [But] the two principles of demilitarization and mutual recognition are not preconditions for the opening of negotiations. The process must be direct, bilateral and devoid of international dictates.”

“I am working with all my power to expand the coalition,” the PM told the Plenum, speaking as he did on the eve of signing a new deal with MK Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu to join his coalition government, expanding it from 61 to 67 members. “I said I would do so when we established the government, and I am continuing with these efforts to form a government that is as broad as possible. The door is open to anyone who wants to [join] for the good of the country. There is much to do and a lot to fix, but there is no justification for the complaining that is rampant in certain circles. Israel is a stable, advanced, innovative and democratic state, and this House is proof of that.”

Following the Prime Minister’s speech, opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog (Zionist Camp – Labor) addressed last week’s political storm in which many have depicted him as being used by Netanyahu for leverage to bring in Lieberman. “During the past couple of weeks I have stood upright against unprecedented attacks, against an incited crowd and against violent exclamations which I have never heard before,” Herzog complained, adding, realisticly, “It is possible that I have jeopardized my political seat, and have shaken it so much that it will be difficult to stabilize. But as opposed to other leaders – I did not join politics to pass the time. In an era where leaders change their minds according to the morning wind blowing on Facebook, I have chosen to stick to my words.”

Herzog’s poison arrow was shot unambiguously at MK Shelly Yachimovich, the former Labor chairwoman Herzog had unseated, whom he nicknamed “Princes of Facebook,” for her frequent—albeit effective and biting—posts.

“In the past couple of months, due to the terror wave and the futile feeling which characterizes the relationship with our neighbors, I have tried to evaluate the situation [based on the statements] of senior leaders from around the world and our region,” Herzog continued to make his case. “Some may seem familiar to you and some less, some are part of the senior leadership of the area and some are younger, whose names cannot be revealed yet. These leaders have a crucial influence over our fate, the fate of our families and children. I wanted with all my might to identify the glimpse of light in the darkness. I have reached the conclusion that we are facing a rare regional opportunity based on a group of Arab leaders who are moderate, young, powerful and lack the Israel complex that their predecessors have had, and who are willing to take action and lead a powerful and stirring process against our neighbors.”

“I have chosen to risk my internal political status and extend a hand to the rival political leader about whom I have said during the elections – ‘it’s either us or him’ – in order to recruit all possible national power and together change the present and the future of our children,” Herzog continued his gallant attempt to explain his abysmal failure in negotiating with his “rival political leader.”

“I know I have let down many of my supporters, my colleagues and friends and a broad public that did not believe Netanyahu in the first place, but I had decided anyhow to not let the opportunity slip away as it stands right in front of our eyes and depends upon Israel having a different, more moderate, government. That is the condition. I chose to give it a try,” Herzog stated.

“Sadly, at the end of the day, while choosing between being a leader that will be remembered in history as going against the flow, and a leader that goes with the flow into the ocean of forgetfulness, Netanyahu has made his choice,” Herzog lamented. “He has slammed the door on the European and American leaders and became a captive of the extremist political group which will lead him and us into a national disaster which we are already a part of, and some of us decide to live in the illusion that everything will be fine.”

In this context, Herzog did not explain how a 55% majority of the House can be considered “extremist” while the remaining 45% are the proverbial moderates. In effect, he described anyone on the right as extremist, while anyone on the left, including the Joint Arab List’s MKs Hanin Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka, and Basel Ghattas, who stood at attention in honor of Arab terrorists killed by Israel, are part of the moderate center.

“I am sorry Mr. Netanyahu that you have chosen to zigzag again,” said Herzog, whose zigzagging during the 2015 campaign included landing MK Tzipi Livni and five colleagues in top spots on his party’s candidates list, and changing the party name from the traditional—and honest—Labor to Zionist Camp, which includes renowned Zionist MK Zouheir Bahloul, who declared earlier this year that Arab attacks on IDF soldiers manning check posts are not acts of terror. “I am sorry that you are the one who slammed the door,” said Herzog, who had fled the negotiations when he finally realized Netanyahu had been double-dealing with Lieberman. “I am sorry that you have chosen to abandon the benefit of the State in favor of your narrow political interest. Your Twitter may remember you favorably, but history won’t.”

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud), who opened the House debate, said, “We have a serious problem with the culture of argument here; with the ability to listen, which has deteriorated [greatly]; with the lack of respect, the blatant contempt and the obscene language. Our ideological and cultural richness is a source of uniqueness and strength, but we all have a lot of work to do in order to narrow the artificial gaps between us which some make certain are nurtured, because, truthfully, we have more things in common than things that separate us.”

“A [government] is also judged by its ability to bridge the gaps between positions and converge in order to better serve the public,” Edelstein said, concluding, “Therefore, there was no other choice but to work towards expanding the coalition. The first step in this direction should be welcomed, and I hope additional Zionist parties will join. We must stand together, better and more united, in front of the great challenges facing us. This is an important message, internally, for the Israeli public, and also externally, for all those who are eagerly waiting to see our internal disintegration – God forbid.”

MK Yair Lapid, chairman of the Yesh Atid faction, said “Herzl envisioned a state with equal rights for women at a time when such a notion was almost avant-garde. He wrote that every citizen will be obligated to give two years for military or civil service and that religious coercion would be forbidden. He spoke of the need for a clean country that would protect the environment. He wrote about a country where education is free for everyone, where there is a clear separation between the military and politics; a state that is technologically advanced. He believed that the Arabs of the land are entitled to equal rights.”

OK, that last part, about Herzl advocating for Palestinian rights is a bit of a stretch. As Ernst Pawel noted (The Labyrinth of Exile: A Life Of Theodor Herzl, Farrar, Straus, Giroux), “His attitude toward the indigenous population was one of benign indifference at best. He never questioned the popular view of colonialism as a mission of mercy that brought the blessings of civilization to stone-age savages… He fully believed that the Palestine Arabs would welcome the Jews with open arms; after all, they only stood to gain from the material and technological progress imported by the Jews.”

Some things never change.

JNi.Media

Netanyahu: Expanded Coalition Will Push for Peace Process

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that an expanded parliamentary coalition will make a renewed push for peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. The comments were made at the weekly cabinet meeting days after striking a deal to bring five Knesset seats of MK Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party into the coalition, with Liberman as the new defense minister.

“I want to clarify that the new government will continue to work toward a political process with the Palestinians, and we will do so with the help of regional actors,” Netanyahu said, seeking to allay concerns that the hardline Liberman will hinder dialogue with the Palestinian Authority.

“From the beginning when we established the coalition, I have said that my intention is to expand the coalition,” stressed Netanyahu. “Sixty-one is better than 59, but the broadest coalition as possible is the most important thing for Israel.”

Israel’s current government has held on to the narrowest possible majority of 61 MKs out of total of 120 MKs. An agreement with the Yisrael Beiteinu party would increase the coalition’s majority to 66 MKs, after one Yisrael Beiteinu lawmaker announced that she would not join with her party.

In a meeting with Likud ministers earlier in the day, Netanyahu expressed his continued openness towards including the opposition Zionist Union faction led by Labor party Chairman Isaac Herzog in the coalition. Netanyahu noted that several ministerial positions remain in his hands, including the Foreign Ministry portfolio, which Herzog said had been offered to him last week in a round of failed discussions.

According to Herzog, Netanyahu offered him the job of foreign minister as well as sweeping verbal commitments about working toward a two-state solution with the Palestinians – but refused Herzog’s request to commit those promises to writing.

Marc Gottlieb

After Failed Maneuver, Deep Fractures Show in Israel’s Labor Party

Friday, May 20th, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – The Israeli Labor party is showing signs of internal fracture on Thursday as several party members called on chairman Isaac Herzog to resign following a failed maneuver to join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government the previous day – a move that ended with the appointment of right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Liberman as incoming defense minister.

Herzog’s public negotiations with Netanyahu drew the ire of many MKs – most notably of previous party leader MK Shelly Yachimovich – in the historically left-wing Labor party, which governed the country from its founding in 1948 until 1977.

“Now that Netanyahu and Liberman are shaking hands, does Herzog realize what he has done to his party and to our values?” wrote Yachimovich on her Facebook account. “Herzog is responsible for this embarrassing farce. With him the whole Zionist Union party has suffered a major blow,” she charged, referring to the joint list created by Labor and MK Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah party.

A faction of Labor MKs galvanized by Yachimovich – including Stav Shaffir, Erel Margelit, and Mickey Rosenthal – called for Herzog to resign.

Herzog fired back in a press conference Wednesday night boasting of sweeping oral commitments he had received from Netanyahu – which Herzog rejected, he said, because Netanyahu refused to commit them to writing – and blasting Yachimovich for sabotaging him.

“She rudely and violently undermined [me], and was ready to sacrifice a bold, groundbreaking political maneuver backed by powerful international forces,” Herzog said, alluding to an international initiative to forge a regional peace as expressed in a Tuesday speech by Egyptian President Abdel Fateh al-Sisi.

Herzog blamed Yachimovich’s “extreme, radical leftist views” for pushing away public support from the party. “She will have signed on the bottom of Liberman’s appointment as defense minister and she is responsible for the consequences of his appointment.”

As the war of words threatens to escalate into a party schism – a popular Israeli satire show featured Yachimovich beheading Herzog ISIS-style on Thursday night – some voices in the Labor party and the Zionist Union attempted to ease the tensions by shifting criticism toward Netanyahu.

“History will not forgive Netanyahu for the damage he is doing to Israel, and our children will not forgive us if we engage now in personal matters and infighting,” wrote Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni in a Facebook post. “This is exactly the time to go into battle together over the identity and future of Israel.”

“Our moral duty now, facing the insanity taking place, is to fight for our positions, not to flinch and not be victims and create for ourselves a strong and determined opposing camp.”

Labor MK Nachman Shai also defended Herzog and directed his criticism at the Israeli prime minister.

“Herzog is not a sucker,” said Shai. “He conducted responsible negotiations that led the prime minister to a series of concessions.”

Nonetheless, Shai also directed some criticism at the party chairman.

“Herzog made a mistake by attacking Shelly Yachimovich last night,” argued Shai. “He should have focused on attacking the bad government that we have here.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Incoming Defense Minister Rattles Israeli Political Establishment

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

by Michael Bachner

The news that MK Avigdor Liberman, chairman of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteynu party, will be Israel’s next defense minister has rocked the political establishment on the right and left.

Liberman, a tough-talking former ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has sought the Defense Ministry portfolio for years – and appears set to receive it after a deal struck with Netanyahu on Wednesday.

Liberman’s rise followed a tumultuous day of negotiations and backroom deals in which both Liberman and MK Isaac Herzog, chairman of the historically left-wing Labor party, vied for the job of defense minister and the chance to enter Netanyahu’s government.

“I regret the prime minister’s decision. I did not imagine that he would make such a paradoxical and dangerous move,” said MK Benny Begin, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, in an interview with Israel’s Army Radio on Thursday morning. “The prime minister has been very proud of what he called ‘a reasonable, balanced and responsible’ defense policy, while Liberman’s statements give an opposite impression.”

Netanyahu received harsh criticism from opposition parties as well, including Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah, who blasted Netanyahu for “bartering the most sensitive and important positions as if nothing mattered” in a Facebook post on Thursday.

Liberman was an ally of Netanyahu – the two ran together in a united party during the 2013 election after which Liberman became foreign minister – until they had a public falling out two years ago. The Yisrael Beiteynu party remained in the opposition after last year’s election, and as recently as March Liberman castigated Netanyahu as a “liar, cheat, and con man.”

Liberman has been a frequent advocate for a harsher military response toward Palestinian Authority terrorism, notably against the Hamas terror group that runs Gaza.

“The elimination of Hamas is the primary mission of the Israeli government and as defense minister I will carry it out,” Liberman said before last year’s elections. “We will not reach agreements and understandings with them. The only agreement that can be reached with Hamas is when they are buried in the ground,” he said, adding that such an Israeli policy cannot be implemented when the government is comprised of “a coalition of nerds.”

Meanwhile, reports have emerged that Tony Blair, the Quartet’s envoy to the Middle East and a former British prime minister, colluded with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to push Herzog into the government – a move reportedly designed to facilitate a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority. According to the report in the Israeli daily Haaretz, Blair even met with Herzog’s political partner, MK Tzipi Livni, in her Tel Aviv home this week, despite the fact that she is sitting shiva – the Jewish mourning ritual – for her brother.

Liberman is set to replace current Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, a senior Likud member who has recently clashed with Netanyahu over a series of issues related to the IDF’s independence from the political establishment.

Ya’alon, apparently alluding to the news of his ouster, said on Thursday that Israel is facing a crisis of leadership. “There is a loss of our moral compass on basic issues,” Ya’alon said. “If I had to give a golden tip, it would be to navigate with a compass rather than a weather vane. Navigation with a compass is tried and true, and it’s also a question of leadership.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/incoming-defense-minister-rattles-israeli-political-establishment/2016/05/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: