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September 17, 2014 / 22 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Lapid’

Is Hatred for Haredim Due to Media Bias?

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

I am a huge fan of Rabbi Emanuel Feldman. I rarely disagree with him. The former editor of Tradition Magazine and vice president of the RCA who led a shul in Atlanta, Georgia, is a gifted speaker and is one of the most talented and fair-minded writers on the Orthodox scene I have ever read. His educational history speaks to his broadminded approach to issues of the day. He attended Yeshivas Haim Belrin and Ner Israel where he received smicha (certification as a rabbi) and then went on to get his bachelors and masters degrees from Johns Hopkins and a doctorate in religion from Emory University.

One of his greatest achievements was taking a pulpit in a shul where only two out of 40 families were Shomer Shabbos and which had no mechitza (barrier between men and women for prayer). A couple of years after he became the rabbi there, he managed to install one. His courage in putting his job on the line after the mechitza was removed – insisting that he would not continue as their Rabbi if it were not re-installed has made him a hero of mine…  It should have served as an example to many traditional rabbis who took non-mechitza shuls. While I cannot judge them as a whole, I think more than a few simply did not have the courage to do what Rabbi Feldman did. I have to believe that at least in some cases they could have done so without losing their jobs. But I digress.

Rabbi Feldman (who is the brother of R’ Aharon Feldman, Rosh Hayeshiva of Ner Israel) has written a critical article in last week’s Mishpacha Magazine about media bias against Haredim in Israel. His focus was on their reportage of Haredim ignoring the solemnity of Yom HaShoah – Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day.

There is hardly a family in Israel that has not lost a relative in the Holocaust. It is a solemn day in Israel. There are no picnics or barbecues on that day. There are instead many events that deal with the pain of loss. One of the things they do on that day is turn on a siren. Most of entire country stops at that moment. People driving their cars stop many get out and stand in silences while the siren sounds as a sign of respect for the dead.

While there is some criticism from the right about the “Jewishness” of this custom, there ought not be nay question about what to do during that time. Nor should there be any question about whether to join in the day’s solemnity by not holding any ‘fun’ parties or picnics.

Rabbi Feldman is very clear in his condemnation of the Haredim who ignore this day in spite! – having picnics and barbecues in the park while the rest of the country mourns. Whatever their complaints about the government or when and how such days are observed, the fact that some Haredim are so callous that they treat it like the fourth of July is like spitting at the survivors and their families.

Rabbi Feldman’s problem is that the same media that rightly objects to the way some Haredim behave on this day, does little to report on the reverse when it happens:

[D]o the ever-vigilant secular watchdogs get into similar high dudgeon when non-religious Israelis display their own brand of insensitivity toward sacred religious days? On Tisha B’Av, the historic day of national Jewish mourning for the sacking o Jerusalem and the Holy Temples, do the media scour the countryside in search of Israelis who carry on normally: shopping, going on outings, attending pork-serving restaurants and pubs? …And on Rosh Hashanah, when millions of Jews are in synagogue returning to God and praying for a good year for everyone, is there editorial indignation at those secular Israelis who spend the day at the beach, or fly off to the garden spots of Europe?

I do not see this as the same thing at all. As a matter of fact, Rabbi Feldman answers his own question?

Granted, such people are a tiny minority who don’t know any better, and the vast majority of Israelis do honor the High Holidays.

But then he hedges:

But then again, the [H]areidi disrespecters of Yom HaShoah were also a tiny minority — which did not prevent bitter condemnation of all [H]areidim.

Who Needs ‘Open Skies’?

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

My husband is one of those whose trip abroad this week may not happen.  Israel’s new Finance Minister Yair Lapid campaigned to help those he calls “middle class,” those making, like his “Riki Cohen family,” almost five times minimum wage and just over double average wage for a couple.

Riki Cohen, a widow from Hadera, earns NIS 4,500 ($1,234) a month. She can only dream of earning NIS 20,000 ($5,485) a month, like the fictitious family of “Mrs. Riki Cohen,” mentioned by Finance Minister Yair Lapid in his controversial Facebook post.

In his post, Lapid also said the ‘Cohen family’ travels abroad once every two years. “Is he serious? I’ve never been abroad,” the real Riki Cohen told Ynet Tuesday. (YNET)

Yair Lapid’s concept of a “middle-class salary” is upper class, according to the real financial statistics here in Israel, especially considering that Riki Cohen’s family can afford to travel abroad every two years.  Lapid doesn’t consider that frequent enough and in one of this new government’s first big moves is to open Israeli skies to the very competitive airfares.

In response, the Israeli airlines, including El Al are striking.  My husband, not being among the privileged, sophisticated frequent travelers didn’t realize that he should have cancelled his El Al ticket and quickly bought one from a different airline. Reports are that the airport will start shutting down tomorrow.  This is not good for Israel.

Considering that another of Lapid’s, and no doubt we should remember that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu must certainly approve these moves,  budget changes is cutting child allowances which seriously affects the lower and true middle class families.

Those spending cuts include NIS 4b.-5b. from the civil service, NIS 3b.-4b. from defense, with an equal amount from child allotments and NIS 2b.-4b. from infrastructure spending.

Yet a representative for Lapid would disclose only that the budgetary framework includes new taxes on affluent goods such as luxury apartments and cars.

So, I guess we can conclude from those budget changes that Lapid puts children in the same unnecessary or optional category as luxury cars.  Does he expect Israelis to somehow down-size their families by “deleting” some of their children?

It seems pretty obvious that this is a Marie Antoinette  government whose theme is: “Let them eat cake.”

Visit Shiloh Musings.

Biannual Budget Cancelled

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Finance Minister Yair Lapid announced he has canceled the controversial biannual budget concept, and the change will be implemented once this current biannual budget gets passed in the coming month.

The idea of working with a two-year budget was introduced in the previous government as a way of providing coalition stability.

In previous governments, negotiating and passing the annual budget would strain the coalition at its seams, as differing interests would often nearly rip the coalition apart. In order to avoid the risk of dissolution of the coalition, Netanyahu’s government decided to reduce the number of times the budget would need to be renegotiated.

Lapid claims that the government’s overdraft is a result of the discrepancies that resulted from the government’s expectations not meeting up to fiscal reality, and the inability to fix those errors within the fiscal year because of the 2 year plan.

The country will go back to the annual budget starting in 2015.

If I Were Prime Minister: the Gov’t of an Anarcho-Capitalist

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Note: This is satire, but does accurately reflect my feelings towards the Israeli government.

While I do not believe in the legitimacy of any government to exist at all, if I were forced to be Israel’s prime minister at gunpoint (it could happen any day now) and I had to name ministers, what would my government look like, and who would be in it?

I started thinking about this for more than a fraction of a second when I saw who got what in the divvying up of ministerial positions. So-and-so is minister of “strategic affairs.” Some other guy is minister of “agriculture.” Another idiot is in charge of “water,” because after all, if some politician who knows nothing about water supplies is not in charge of all of our water, we’ll all thirst to death and the Kinneret will turn into sewage overnight. This has already happened twice back before politicians were in charge of water.

And agriculture. Thank goodness a politician who knows absolutely nothing about how to grow food is in charge of the entire agriculture sector so he can tell us what we can import, export, buy, sell, when and where and how. Otherwise no one would be able to grow any food and we’d all starve.

But, OK, let’s assume I had to build a government and name ministers. Who would they be? First of all, I’d build a coalition of 120 MK’s and include everyone in my government by promising everyone a ministerial position. First, I would name Yair Lapid Minister of Male Grooming. He will be responsible for training all men in the state who can’t groom themselves and look like shlubs, how to look decent, improve their smiles, and generally look kempt. I will pay him $500 a month and give him a budget of $20 all out of my own pocket, and if he goes over that amount, I will fire him and give his job to Ahmed Tibi.

Instead of only one agriculture minister, there will be 5 ministers of one lima bean plant. These 5 people will be Liberman, Silvan Shalom, Tzipi Livni, and two of the smartest apes I can find in the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. They will all fight over how to regulate the lima bean plant and can pass whatever ministerial orders they want on how to restrict, tax, and at what age to draft the lima bean plant into the army, but nothing else. If they start fighting, they’re all fired, except for the apes, who can continue regulating at will.

There will be an Interior Minister, but he will only be in charge of regulating the interior of his Knesset office. In fact, everyone in my government can be an Interior Minister. They can all decorate them with lima beans they get from the Lima Bean Plant ministers on the off chance that the 5 lima bean plant ministers haven’t regulated and taxed the lima bean plant to death. I’ll give them each a shekel to buy some gum for their offices from my own pocket.

There will also be a Culture and Sport minister. (Yes, in Israel, there actually is a politician in charge of “culture and sport”. Because without politicians, we’d forget how to play soccer and be cultural.) The culture and sport minister will be Gidon Sa’ar, who word has it likes to go to night clubs. His job will be going to night clubs once a week and writing a report about the number of flies on the ceiling of the night club. If he doesn’t write the report every single week and submit it to my desk (This Week: Eight Flies), he will be fired and his position will not be filled.

The foreign minister will be nobody, as I’m not interested in talking to other state leaders.

The education minister will be nobody, as I’m not interested in telling parents how to educate their kids.

The housing minister will be nobody, as I’m not interested in telling people where they can and can’t build and live.

The communications minister will be nobody, as I am not interested in telling people how they can communicate and what cell phones they can buy for how much.

What Disturbs Me Most about the New Coalition

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

I don’t know if anyone’s happy with the new government, at least not in the Likud and Yisrael Beitenu parties.  There weren’t too many ministerial pickings left over after Bibi handed out the goodies to Livni, Lapid and Bennett.

There’s something that really bothers me about this coalition.  I felt it in my kishkes, and I had trouble saying what it really is…

There’s something inherently undemocratic in a government coalition which aims to change the lives of a large and growing sector of the country/society while refusing them the rights to join the coalition and help draft the laws to make the changes just and possible.

Yes, I’m referring to the forcing of Haredim to be drafted into the IDF.

Now please get me right.  I am not in favor of their (Haredi) universal policy idealizing a life a just learning Torah.  I don’t see it as Jewish.  It’s not.  It’s more like the Christian monasteries and nunneries with the crucial difference that the Haredim marry and are encourage to have lots of children.  It’s also a Christian, not Jewish, belief that “men of the cloth” shouldn’t bear arms, serve in armies etc.

But I don’t think its just nor moral for some sectors of society to try to legislate major changes in the lives of others.  It unfortunately smacks of the early days of the State of Israel when religious immigrant children were sent to secular Aliyat Hanoar schools and worse.

The making of changes must be done gradually and with the cooperation of the affected sector of society.  That means the the only fair, just and democratic way to increase the draft of Haredim must be done with their cooperation.  In recent years more Hareidim have joined the army, and more Hareidim are studying key secular subjects and professions and working.  This will take time.

Blocking Hareidim from the government coalition means that the government will seem like (or actually be) a dictatorship, rather than a democracy.

Netanyahu, Lapid, Bennett and Livni are making a big immoral and undemocratic mistake.

Visit Shiloh Musings.

Israel’s New Government: Not What You Think

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

On the issues about which the world is obsessed, Israel’s new government is basically a continuation of the old one. That is the key point to keep in mind regarding the new coalition which has a comfortable 68-seat majority, well over the 61 minimum parliamentarians required.

Basically, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in a strong position as these things go. It is notable that there is not a single other person seriously considered to be a serious candidate for prime minister. Of course, he will have the usual headaches of managing a disparate coalition in which parties will quarrel, threaten to walk out and make special demands.

The coalition consists of Netanyahu’s Likud (merged with Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party); Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, which might be called traditionally liberal in American terms; Naftali Bennett’s right-wing and dati religious (Modern Orthodox, in American terms) party, Habayit Hayahudi; and Tzipi Livni’s rather shapeless and personalistic Hatnuah party. A key element of this coalition is the alliance of Bennett and Lapid in opposition to the Haredi (mistakenly called “ultra-Orthodox” in the West) religious parties.

While this is certainly a conservative-dominated government, I have yet to see anyone in the mass media point out that it includes two of the three largest left of center parties!

Of the three key ministries, Netanyahu will be foreign minister, holding that post “in trust” for indicted former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, whose party ran on a joint list with the Likud. In practice, this means Netanyahu will have close control over implementing his policies internationally. The defense minister is the very able Moshe Yaalon, a Likud member and former head of military intelligence.

Lapid will run the Finance Ministry, dealing with issues on which he has no experience at all. This is not so unusual in parliamentary systems, where senior civil servants actually run the ministries. But Lapid holds this post because his signature issues are to urge reforms in the economy. His party will also get education, social services, health, and science and technology.

Here is something of a paradox. Israel has been one of the most successful countries in the developed world because it has refused to join the high-spending, high-debt, subsidy-oriented policies of Europe and now the United States. Unemployment and inflation have been low; growth has been relatively high. The problem, though, is that prices are also relatively high compared to incomes, causing problems especially for young people and consumers generally.

Lapid is expected to revise the management of the golden eggs without doing harm to the goose that laid them. Arguably, the number-one issue for this government is whether Lapid can perform well. His father, a popular journalist, followed the precise same course as the son a few years ago and failed completely. The junior Lapid has no actual political experience and does have characteristics of Tel Aviv beautiful people society. If he falters, his party will disintegrate in the next election.

As for Bennett, the amusing spin on much coverage is that his party has succeeded, that settlers even dominate the government, because he will have a couple of minor ministries which don’t have much power. Actually, he got less than I would have expected. While the settlements might benefit a little economically from these positions–and from the party’s holding the chairmanship over the Knesset finance committee–they will not have much authority and control little money directly.

If there is a big winner in the new government it is Lapid’s reformist liberals (in the old American sense, not the redefinition imposed on that word by the American far left). They are going to have a chance to show if they can improve social services, a fairer distribution of resources (the issue isn’t so much between rich and poor but across different sectors), and an economy that retains its growth while managing the problem of high prices, among other things.

Meanwhile, although the world is obsessed with non-existent issues regarding the long-dead “peace process” or fantasy options for Israel to make friends with neighboring Islamist regimes by giving even more concessions, Israel strategically is focused on defense.

Four of the six bordering entities—Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, and soon Syria—are ruled by radical Islamist groups that openly declare their goal of wiping Israel off the map. And that list doesn’t even include extremely hostile Iran (whose drive toward nuclear weapons cannot be forgotten for a moment) and the virulently anti-Israel regime in Turkey.

Lapid Holds Up Coalition, But Rumors Fly that an Alternative Coalition Might Be Forming

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

“So close, and yet so far,” could effectively describe the status of coalition talks according to leaks, rumors and reports.

At the moment, coalition talks are reportedly circling primarily around the Education Ministry that Likud-Beytenu wants to keep, and which Yair Lapid is demanding at all costs.

Some within Likud-Beytenu believe that Lapid is not interested in forming a coalition at all, and wants to drag out the process until the upcoming deadline forces new elections, as polls indicate his position might strengthen even further if elections were held again.

Likud-Beytenu is also saying that they will once again approach the Hareidim if Lapid doesn’t start to back down from all his demands.

Another rumor is that HaBayit HaYehudi (Jewish Home) is getting frustrated and angry at Lapid, and feel he is taking advantage of the strength they’ve given him with their alliance.

The rumors are saying that Likud-Beytenu will leave Lapid out of the coalition, and are specifically not mentioning HaBayit HaYehudi in that threat.

On Tuesday night, a senior member of Shas was supposedly called in to meet the Prime Minister. The rumors say it was either Aryeh Deri or Eli Yishai.

Netanyahu might have called the senior Shas member in to pressure Lapid, or alternatively, Netanyahu might actually be trying to form a coalition without Lapid, if he believes that Lapid is trying to drag the country to new elections.

Another rumor, which would be very significant if true, is that Labor leader Sheli Yachimovitch secretly met with Shas spiritual leader, Rav Ovadia Yosef, Tuesday evening.

With just days left, anything could be happening at this point.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/lapid-holds-up-coalition-but-rumors-fly-that-an-alternative-coalition-might-be-forming/2013/03/13/

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