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July 27, 2016 / 21 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘kind’

Political Nesting Dolls: Tzipi Livni the Politician Launches Tzipi Livni the Movement

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Politicians are by nature narcissistic creatures, but it is possible that former Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni will come down in history as the narcissist’s narcissist. This afternoon she announced the launching of her new party, to be named: The Movement under the Leadership of Tzipi Livini. And if you figured that it only sounds this bad in English, trust me, it sounds just as bizarre in Hebrew.

Tzipi Livni, chairwoman of the movement led by Tzipi Livni, with her dark blonde Prince Valiant, obviously after a good, pre-run diet to trim that zaftig post-defeat figure, told a room packed with her supporters (a huge no-no in Israeli politics, you don’t bring your fans to a press conference – as one Israeli reporter made sure to protest loudly during the live broadcast) that she had spotted a vacuum at the center of Israel’s political map, a vacuum created largely by the colossal failure of her own party – and that she was determined to go after those low hanging fruits of Israel’s mythical, undecided centrists.

The press conference and the announcement against a backdrop of campaign posters that bore her name, marked a kind of last stand for a leader whose career was always hers to lose. Like Dan Meridor and Benny Begin, Livni is member of the Likud royalty, a princess among princes, daughter of Eitan Livni, the chief of staff of the Irgun, Livni picked up her engraved invitation when she was appointed by Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996 to manage the privatization of government-owned companies. In 1999 she made it, after one failed attempt, into the Knesset, and shortly thereafter was picked up by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to serve in his government. She followed Sharon out of the Likud and into Kadima, all the time serving in a variety of ministerial positions, including a stint as Foreign Minister for Sharon’s successor Ehud Olmert.

Then, in 2009, after Olmert was forced to resign following corruption charges, Livni led theKadima party to victory in the polls. She beat Netanyahu’s Likud party by one vote, 28 to 27. But Tzipi Livni who had made a superb second and third in command for three masters, was unable to apply the lessons she had learned and ended up being outmaneuvered by the wilier and more experienced Netanyahu, earning the dubious record of being the only party leader who won the numeric vote and didn’t get to form the coalition government.

This afternoon, a reporter hammered that point in with the kind of cruelty one expects of the Israeli press: With all due respect, she asked the candidate, the voter has already given you a mandate four years ago, and you dropped the ball. Why should anyone choose you again?

Livni, who had clearly been practicing for just this kind of an in-your-face dig, was nevertheless shaken by it. She answered that she had lost her first chance because she stuck by her values, and preferred to sit out the term on the opposition benches rather than lower her standards.

Ah, well, that’s encouraging.

With the date for submitting the final party lists approaching (next week), Livni received a generous prediction in one of this morning’s polls – 9 seats. But does she even have nine potential seat-worthy candidates, or is she going to follow the example another narcissist, Yair Lapid, and appoint her hairdresser, gardener and trainer?

It was a disheartening press conference of a political hack well past her prime who believes she has any credit left with the voters. From what we’ve seen this week at the Likud primaries, the Israeli voter has no problem dropping his leaders when they’ve disappointed him – and Tzipi Livni is one big, self inflated disappointment.

Yori Yanover

Safe Hallways

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Israeli citizens are instructed to take shelter in the hallways and stairways of their apartment buildings after warning sirens sound, signaling an incoming rocket. We in the Tel Aviv area have not experienced this kind of thing since 1990. Our animals are particularly perplexed: it looks like we’re out on a walkie, but then no walkie, we just stop at the stairs? What the heck kind of outing is this?

They say animals can tell by a sixth sense when something’s about to happen, but the fact is, once something actually happens they have no clue what’s going on.

Our cats are not the least bit disturbed by the tension around them. With brains the size of a walnut, they don’t store tension – they let go of it, to make room for new things – moth!

The fact is our hallways cannot protect us from a direct hit, God forbid, but they’re pretty solid against shrapnel. Plus you get to meet and talk to neighbors you didn’t even know you had. Did you know she had a dog? I didn’t know she had a dog. Like that…

Yori Yanover

Who Shot First?

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Hamas has said that the IDF’s killing of one of their top terrorists was a declaration of war.

But who declared war first? The official Hamas Charter, written in August 1988, says:

  1. “Israel exists and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it has obliterated others before it”
  2. “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals, and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.”

 

Hamas’ charter is itself an official declaration of war, and all who join Hamas are automatically the sworn enemies of Israel. The fact that Israel chooses not to attack Hamas for long periods of time does not in any way absolve Hamas of its guilt of being in a permanent state of war against Israel for the past 24 years. So when its spokesmen try to influence public opinion by accusing Israel of starting a war against it, they are being the worst kind of hypocrites.

Let no one be deceived that the current conflagration was started by this or that attack in 2012; those who founded Hamas declared war on Israel in 1988, and no amount of media hype can change that fact.

Robert Klein

Troops in the Streets

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

Every now and then an email comes my way warning about the day when the government unleashes the military against its own citizens. This day isn’t likely to come because for one thing the current regime is not particularly fond of the military.

The Obama Administration isn’t inflicting massive cuts on the military, cutting their health care and pushing veteran officers out the door because it likes the military as an institution. It doesn’t. And it won’t until it remakes it into a fully politically correct institution dedicated to promoting tolerance and fighting global warming. Progress has been made on that front, the Navy is cutting ships and spending money on Green Energy. The Marines are celebrating gay marriage. Any day now the Air Force will be announcing its first wheelchair pilot. But it’s still a poor fit with the culture of the left.

If Obama has to have any kind of military, he prefers the kind where young men with college degrees sit in a room, push buttons and kill people thousands of miles away from remotely controlled aircraft. That kind of military is a closer cultural fit with a campaign that is in love with technocratic solutions and always looking for shortcuts to avoid the dangerous and dirty hard work that has to be done. It’s also much less dangerous.

Unleashing the military on a civilian population carries a price. Once you call out the troops to protect your regime, one of two things happen. Either the troops don’t do it and your government is done. Or they do it and your regime now lives or dies by the support of the military. Within the last few years the use of the military in Egypt and Iran turned generals into the arbiters of political succession. To the left, the idea of the people they despise deciding who should run the country and how is their biggest nightmare. It is one reason that we still have a democracy.

The more that a country depends on its military, the more likely it is to be run by the military. After the United States kept the Union together through a civil war, the first elected President after Lincoln was General Ulysses S Grant, the man credited by many with winning the war. His successor, Rutherford B. Hayes was a another general and a Civil War hero. As was Hayes’ successor, James A. Garfield and his successor, Chester A. Arthur. Democratic draft dodger Grover Cleveland briefly broke the pattern, but then the Republicans were back with Benjamin Harrison. From 1869 to 1893, America was ruled by the Republican victors of the war who had at one time been able to put the title of general in front of their name. And that’s in a democracy.

Popular wars have led to generals becoming presidents. The Revolutionary War gave us Washington. The War of 1812 gave us Andrew Jackson and Zachary Taylor. The Spanish-American War gave us Teddy Roosevelt, though he was only a Colonel. WW2 gave us Eisenhower. The Gulf War nearly gave us Colin Powell. The current war may yet give us Petraeus. But the Civil War gave us the largest amount of generals in the White House because it was an internal conflict.

Israel, another democracy which is heavily dependent on the military, has seated three generals in the Prime Minister’s chair since the 1990’s and far more who are involved in politics. The leader of the opposition is a general and there are five generals in Netanyahu’s cabinet. This is a direct result of the elevation of the importance of the military as an institution. The more important the military is to the welfare of the country, the likelier it is to become a career track to prominent positions in the business world and in politics. And that’s in a democracy. Imagine the situation in a dictatorship that depends on the military to stay in power.

The left might flirt with the idea of a people’s military, but armies are their own institutions and their function forms their character. Communist attempts to create armies of the people still put guns in the hands of peasants who didn’t have much in common with their rulers. After nearly a century of repression when the last dying gasp of the Soviet elite called on the military to protect them from the people, the military for the most part did nothing. It wasn’t exactly the first hint that the Red Army might be unreliable. Not when 130,000 soldiers defected to the Vlasovites during WWII.

The Soviet Union did not depend on the Red Army, it did depend on the secret police. And the KGB took over. The KGB nearly seized power after Stalin’s death and had to be suppressed by the Red Army. In 1982, power fell to an actual KGB Chairman. Today Russia is run by former KGB officers, including a fellow by the name of Vladimir Putin.

Daniel Greenfield

The West’s Deaf Ears for the Real Moderate Arabs

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Visit Rubin Reports.

One of my most fun professional memories was when I walked endlessly, circling round and round and round that hall in Algeria in November 1988 with a burly, no-nonsense, and brilliant newspaper correspondent named Youssef Ibrahim, who was then working for the New York Times.

Friendly, funny, sarcastic, and with absolutely no illusions or romanticism about the absurdities of Arab politics and the idiocies of Arab political ideology, Ibrahim’s only shortcoming is that there are not one thousand more exactly like him. If he was the kind of person leading Arab countries and people they would be far more prosperous, peaceful, happier and democratic.

But, alas, the Ibrahims are the rarity, men given too little honor in their own old societies and far too little in the West. The genuine moderates accept no excuses but comprehend precisely why the West has succeeded and the Middle East has not. Often seen as sell-outs, they are the most noble and courageous of people, far more concerned about their own people’s welfare than are the dictators, demagogues, and bloodthirsty academics.

These thoughts are prompted by an article he once wrote, presented below. I include the text because I want you to read every word. It is all completely sensible. Many will find it encouraging. It makes me want to cry.

Why?

First, because it all could have been written 10 or 20 or 30 years ago, indeed it is pretty much what he told me as we circled endlessly around the convention center way out on an isolated Algerian beach (there’s Arafat, surrounded by his coterie; there’s that moronic American Jewish Peace Now guy who is explaining to the PLO gunmen thugs why they really really want to make peace with Israel but just don’t know it; here come the sycophantic journalists…)

And it was published in 2006 and in six years and a half years there has been no advance on one single word of its text. Of course, the spread of revolutionary Islamism has revived the unwillingness to listen to Ibrahim, though the fate of Syria–the one Arab country he said still took the conflict seriously–should give pause to radical regimes who think this gambit solves all of their problems.

Second, because nobody in the Arab world listens to Ibrahim or to brilliant scholars like Fouad Ajami, which is their tragedy for preferring the demagogues.

Third, because it was published—of course—not in an Arabic publication (who would dare?) but in an American Jewish one, a group that includes all too many who think the fault is on their own side and don’t get what Youssef is saying.

Fourth, because if I were to have written these truths I would have been denounced with a hundred different insults.

Fifth, because if anything things are worse today than back then. (Can you imagine this essay of his being presented and discussed in a university course on the Middle East?)

And sixth because it’s now 2012 and we still have to be saying things like this! No, it’s worse: in 2012 the Middle East is starting a whole new round of the old madness. The Islamists tell the masses that the only reason their predecessors didn’t win total victory is that they failed to hit their head against the stone wall long and hard enough!

Here’s his open letter:

To my Arab brothers: The War with Israel Is Over — and they won. Now let’s finally move forward.

By Youssef M. Ibrahim

Jewish World Review, July 12, 2006

Dear Palestinian Arab brethren:

The war with Israel is over.

You have lost. Surrender and negotiate to secure a future for your children.

We, your Arab brothers, may say until we are blue in the face that we stand by you, but the wise among you and most of us know that we are moving on, away from the tired old idea of the Palestinian Arab cause and the “eternal struggle” with Israel.

Dear friends, you and your leaders have wasted three generations trying to fight for Palestine, but the truth is the Palestine you could have had in 1948 is much bigger than the one you could have had in 1967, which in turn is much bigger than what you may have to settle for now or in another 10 years. Struggle means less land and more misery and utter loneliness.

At the moment, brothers, you would be lucky to secure a semblance of a state in that Gaza Strip into which you have all crowded, and a small part of the West Bank of the Jordan. It isn’t going to get better. Time is running out even for this much land, so here are some facts, figures, and sound advice, friends.

You hold keys, which you drag out for television interviews, to houses that do not exist or are inhabited by Israelis who have no intention of leaving Jaffa, Haifa, Tel Aviv, or West Jerusalem.

You shoot old guns at modern Israeli tanks and American-made fighter jets, doing virtually no harm to Israel while bringing the wrath of its mighty army down upon you.

You fire ridiculously inept Kassam rockets that cause little destruction and delude yourselves into thinking this is a war of liberation. Your government, your social institutions, your schools, and your economy are all in ruins.

Your young people are growing up illiterate, ill, and bent on rites of death and suicide, while you, in effect, are living on the kindness of foreigners, including America and the United Nations.

Every day your officials must beg for your daily bread, dependent on relief trucks that carry food and medicine into the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, while your criminal Muslim fundamentalist Hamas government continues to fan the flames of a war it can neither fight nor hope to win.

In other words, brothers, you are down, out, and alone in a burnt-out landscape that is shrinking by the day.

What kind of struggle is this? Is it worth waging at all? More important, what kind of miserable future does it portend for your children, the fourth or fifth generation of the Arab world’s have-nots?

We, your Arab brothers, have moved on.

Those of us who have oil money are busy accumulating wealth and building housing, luxury developments, state-of-the-art universities and schools, and new highways and byways. Those of us who share borders with Israel, such as Egypt and Jordan, have signed a peace treaty with it and are not going to war for you any time soon.

Those of us who are far away, in places like North Africa and Iraq, frankly could not care less about what happens to you.

Only Syria continues to feed your fantasies that someday it will join you in liberating Palestine , even though a huge chunk of its territory, the entire Golan Heights, was taken by Israel in 1967 and annexed. The Syrians, my friends, will gladly fight down to the last Palestinian Arab.

Before you got stuck with this Hamas crowd, another cheating, conniving, leader of yours, Yasser Arafat, sold you a rotten bill of goods — more pain, greater corruption, and millions stolen by his relatives — while your children played in the sewers of Gaza .

The war is over. Why not let a new future begin?

Visit Rubin Reports.

Barry Rubin

Carter and Obama: ‘He Who Is Merciful to the Cruel Ends Up Cruel to the Merciful’

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

When the Iranian student revolutionaries took American hostages in 1979, U.S. President Jimmy Carter chose a path consistent with his character, but inconsistent with the American character.  He tried desperately, again and again, to prove to the Islamist revolutionaries and their ruling Mullahs that the big bad United States would not be a bully or resort to violence to enforce its views or to protect its assets, even when those assets are American citizens.  His strategy failed.

That strategy is still a failure. And, by all accounts, our current president is hell-bent on employing it whenever he can.

In a book that shows clearly the parallels between the dilemma posed to America by Iran during Carter’s regime and the one Iran presents to our current president, To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the “Arab Spring,” Ruthie Blum brings the not-so-distant-history alive.

Blum’s book is a must read for those who lived through and remember that first Iranian assault on American leadership. But it’s also for those too young to remember that episode – and really, it’s for everyone now living through the current Iranians’ attack on America’s role as leader of the free world and bulwark against the unfree world.  In both cases the Iranians have played America for a fool, and in both cases they had a U.S. leader who willingly, maybe even eagerly, took on that role.

For those old enough to remember, in 1979, when Jimmy Carter was president, he was furiously engaged in an effort to persuade the Islamists in Iran that the United States harbored only “genuine good will” towards them.  What he most sought from them was “dialogue,” not disagreements.  His timidity encouraged rather than discouraged those who sought to overthrow America’s long-time ally, the Shah of Iran.  Instead of reaching out to meet U.S. overtures, Ayatollah Khomeini and his followers refused to meet, let alone negotiate, with Carter’s emissaries.

Sound familiar?

Blum’s clear writing, coupled with her ability to convey the real drama of the historical events she describes, allow the reader to place the complicated series of diplomatic falters, Iranian acts of aggression and the parading of blind-folded Americans for more than a year, in a comprehensible context.

Blum then juxtaposes America-Under-Carter’s response, to that of the Obama administration’s fawning over the Arab Spring and reluctance to meddle in the efforts of today’s revolutionaries across the Arab Middle East – other than to hand millions of dollars to Islamists organizing these nationwide riots that our President seems to think are events of national liberation.  Blum’s book is essential reading for those who want to understand why, this time around, we should have known better.

Blum’s book shows that what look to some uninformed Westerners, including the president of the United States, like progressive, democratic impulses, have turned out instead to be determined flights backwards to the Middle Ages.

Tunisian pushcart merchant Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-incineration as the spark for the greatest upheaval in the Middle East in modern times is laid out in Blum’s book.  She illuminates the path from Tunisia to Libya, to Yemen and Bahrain and, where it remains hovering, over Syria and, possibly, hopefully, back toIran.

After reviewing Carter’s misguided and disastrous Middle East strategy, it is painful to then read how closely our current administration’s strategy tracks the Carter debacle in its mindset and its failures.

Blum reveals the perfect consistency between Carter’s craven posture before Ayatollah Khomeini and Obama’s whiplash-like series of always-off-kilter responses to the Arab Spring: his cutting ties with former ally Tunisian president Ben Ali, his refusal to do more than mouth platitudes to support the outraged Iranian citizenry when their election was stolen by the tyrannical Ahmadinejad, his delivering a swift kick out the door to our former close ally Egyptian President Hosnai Mubarak. And so on.

The admonition from Kohelet Rabbah 7:16: “Those who are kind to the cruel end up being cruel to the kind” is perfectly illustrated by the misguided efforts of two recent American leaders who thought they could convince truly evil adversaries to refrain from doing evil if only the powerful America would treat them more nicely.

Although To Hell in a Handbasket is very consciously launched during this election season, it would be a shame for it to be relegated to merely a momentary flash in the literary pan.  At fewer than 200 pages and written from hard historical sources that might otherwise seem dry to an average reader, Blum’s book moves like a novel.  It will be an invaluable addition to any college or sophisticated high school student’s library as a tool for understanding America’s place in the geo-political moment.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Upside-Down Coffee

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

This is a normal cup of Israeli coffee, the kind you can order practically anywhere. This particular shop, in fact, is usually associated with gas stations. It’s called Kafe Hafuch or Upside-down coffee, the local equivalent of the French café au lait. It goes for between 8 and 14 shekel, or $2 to $3.5.

Here’s the HUGE difference, though, between the average Israeli coffee and its American counterpart: the average, lowly, gas station coffee in Israel beats by far the most expensive coffee shop coffee in New York. I don’t even want to mention a certain Seattle-based coffee shop chain where they burn the coffee so bad you can hear the cries coming up from below the floor boards. I’m talking about every doughnut shop or coffee shop in the city (depending on your kashrut standards, obviously) – in all those places the coffee has usually stood up on the heating pad for half a day, it’s sour and bitter, and you drink it basically for the kick you need so desperately before going into an important meeting.

But in Israel (depending on your kashrut standards, obviously), with very few disappointing exceptions, the coffee is delicious. It has just the right amount of kick, it’s made fresh at the espresso machine, and if you’re lucky the counter person knows how to make those lovely illustrations in the foamy milk that break your heart when you end up drinking their art.

Nancy says it’s all about the milk, meaning that Israeli coffee is, basically half milk, steamed, so no matter how lousy the coffee underneath is, the milk covers it up. Maybe she’s right. Maybe it also explains why I shell out 11 shekel per cup (just under $3), but I’ll tell you, I’m happy to pay knowing my coffee will be good every time.

Except for the guy at the lobby of the Maccabi HMO offices in Netanya, whose coffee is bitter. So stay away from coffee shops in HMO buildings, otherwise, trust me, Israeli coffee is the best.

Yori Yanover

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/photos/upside-down-coffee/2012/10/22/

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