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December 26, 2014 / 4 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Lapid’

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.

A Coalition of Wannabes

Monday, March 11th, 2013

If we can believe the media on this, Israel’s sitting Likud Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will beat the clock and has managed to negotiate coalition deals with enough political party leaders to form a government.

In a rare case of disagreement with Dry Bones (whose latest cartoon said that “Bibi’s coalition is made up of politicians who support him but don’t really trust him”), I don’t quite see this motley crew as not trusting Netanyahu. I see two different things:(1) The party leaders who have signed with, or have promised to sign with Bibi all want to replace him as Prime Minister; (2) It’s not that they don’t trust Bibi, but that he doesn’t really trust them.

Tzipi Livni, Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett and Shaul Mofaz are the party leaders who’ve signed up (according to media leaks) with Bibi along with Avigdor Lieberman.  They all consider themselves national leaders  and potential Prime Ministers. This is going to be a make it or break it experience for political rookie Yair Lapid.  The high school drop-out will be following quite a few academic heavy-weights as Finance Minister.  Among his predecessors are Netanyahu,  masters degree in Business Administration from M.I.T, and Yuval Steinitz, who holds a doctorate in Philosophy from Tel Aviv University.  I wonder who’s going to be running Lapid’s crash course in economics.

Mofaz and Livni have been rapidly losing support, while Lapid and Bennett have captured the imagination of the public.  No doubt that Netanyahu will have a very challenging time trying to keep them all in line and functioning as a government.

Good luck Israel!

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Do We Finally Have a Coalition?

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Headlines are “hinting” that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has finally gotten some sort of agreement with the Bobbsey Twins, a.k.a., Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett.  Those two rookie Members of Knesset have been holding a very nice dowry of over thirty Knesset Members which Netanyahu desperately needs if he’s going to be able to have a workable coalition.

70-strong Israeli coalition nearing completion (Times of Israel)
Lapid to be finance minister, Bennett to be minister of trade, foreign portfolio to be held for Liberman; ultra-Orthodox parties going into opposition

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid is warming up to the idea of becoming Finance Minister, party sources said on Saturday, a week before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s deadline to form a government. Nothing is for sure yet, but the press has been saying that Lapid is willing to take the Finance Ministry.

Lapid and Netanyahu met on Friday, for talks their spokeswomen called “positive, with much progress made,” and on Saturday, in a meeting that was still ongoing (Jerusalem Post).

I can’t imagine a tougher challenge for him.  It’s so much easier to complain from the outside.  He campaigned on a social/financial platform.  It takes money to give the people what he claimed to want to give them/us.  Let’s see if it’s really possible, once he sees the real numbers.

“It all looks different from inside the government” is what many right-wing politicians have insisted when answering complaints about the contrast of their campaign promises and government policies.  I’m curious to see how Lapid will handle the “hot potato.”

If Lapid and Bennett have really come to an agreement with Bibi, I guess they’ll tie up the loose ends by the time Peres returns and United States President Barack Hussein Obama comes for his visit.

But in the meantime, we’ll just wait for the details…

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Anger at Haredim: Who Is to Blame?

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

When one hears the term ‘Hate Crime’ it usually conjures up images of white supremacists beating up innocent black youth or some neo Nazis doing the same to an innocent Jewish youth. But hate is not unique only to cross racial or religious cultures. One can hate one’s own. A Chasidic girl’s school (Bobov) was recently torched in Israel.

This – says MK (member of the Kenesset) Yisrael Eichler of the Haredi Yahadut Hatorah (UTJ) party – is but one example of hate crimes perpetrated against Haredim that is completely ignored by the media. From 5TJT:

“Every day people spit at and curse hareidi Jews, particularly recently, and nobody is horrified by this.” Says Eichler. And yet if a girl gets spit upon bya Chardi Jew an entire party is created that receives enough votes to get 19 seats in the Kenesset!

The arson attack was the tip of the iceberg, Eichler said. “Every day people spit at and curse hareidi Jews, particularly recently, and nobody is horrified by this.”

“But when somebody in Beit Shemesh spits on one girl, a party was built on that spit that got nineteen mandates, and another twelve religious mandates joined them to boycott hareidi Jews and starve their children,” he said, referring to the Yesh Atid party and its pact with the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party.

I don’t know how true it is that crimes against Haredim are ignored by the media. If true his indignation is understandable.

But I think he fails to understand why it is happening (if indeed it is). Did all these secular Jews wake up one day to become haters of Haredim – for no reason at all? To many of us who live outside of his world the answer is obvious. They were not born this way or suddenly cast into an anti Haredi spell by demons from outer space.

It is because of the Haredi sense of being in service to God to the exclusion of all others. They truly believe B’Emunah Shelaima (with complete faith) that they have the only true path to God. Their understanding of Torah supersedes the understanding of all others. And that nothing colors that understanding.

As such they view any opposition to themselves as either ignorant (at best) or outright hostility to God. The latter being the more common attitude.

Does he really think that Yesh Atid got their 19 seats because of bad press? …or from one incident in Bet Shemesh? Is it possible he may just be missing the real reason?

I think it is far more likely that the issue of the day – sharing the burden by serving in the army – is what drove this election. That may not be the only issue that drove Israelis to the polls for, but it was certainly one of the more important ones.

Their attitude about the draft is but one area that they badly stumble over. It isn’t so much the issue itself that polarizes the secular and Dati parties from Haredim. It is the way that Haredim characterize and react to it… that does. Their righteous indignation translates to condescension which is palpable – often turning into outright hostility!

Take for example Rav Shmuel Auerbach recent comments as reported in the Jewish Press. Referring to the requirement to resist the draft he said:

“[S]tand guard without any changes, because this is one of the fundamentals of the faith, in the category of ‘ye’hareg v’bal ya’avor’ (a commandment one must obey even at the cost of their own life). …The issue at hand (the draft) is nothing short of eradicating our religion… (emphasis mine)”

One must die rather than serve one’s country. That is how he refers to military service in Israel. Can either MK Eichler or Rav Auerbach or the many other Haredi rabbinic leaders not imagine how the typical Israeli mother whose son is subject to be put in harm’s way might react to that kind of statement?!

The answer must be that they are incapable of imagining it. The belief in the righteousness of their cause blinds them to the perspectives of others. Anyone who does not see it their way must be an enemy of Judaism to be resisted at the cost of their own lives if necessary. Yehoreg V’Al Ya’avor. Virtually all Haredi rabbinic leaders seem to feel this way to one extent or another.

Coalition Burn Out

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Last night, a bit before I turned off the computer, I posted the following on facebook:

Maybe I’m crazy, or it’s a bit of political “burnout,” but I must admit that I really don’t care which parties are in Bibi’s government coalition. He’s just going to do what he wants, and God will stir as He wills it. I did my bit to vote for the party with the candidates I wanted to see in the Knesset, but they didn’t get in. My blog posts didn’t help, certainly not enough. As much as I enjoy a good political campaign, pre-election period, this long, leak-filled, innuendo flooded, media sabotaged coalition ultra-marathon has become worse than a bore.  When the “negotiations” are double-guessed by the media, we’ve passed the point of absurdity.  It’s hard to distinguish between fact, fiction, guess-work and wishful thinking. Arlene Kushner, as usual, has a much more intelligent way of explaining what’s going on and why we should be worried:

Nothing concrete to report yet on the coalition, as, again, there are mostly rumors. Based on what I’m reading, however, I confess to a great unease that Lapid sees himself as a reformer upon whom formation of the coalition depends — and who thus can, with his demands for entry into that coalition, instantaneously restructure much of Israeli society. Whether he’s right or wrong on specific issues, I fear a heavy-handed audacity that is only going to tear the society apart. Bibi’s “roast beef” has been cooking much too long.  Even if he had been making chulent, it would be overcooked already. And too much of what should be the coalition negotiations are being ki’ilu, sort of conducted “in public” by the media.  We keep hearing politicians, possible cabinet members being  interviewed interrogated, and asked which ministerial posts they demand or which would they refuse.  Instead of politely and firmly brushing off these questions with a “that’s between me, my party leader and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu,” they actually answer the questions and with much too much detail.  Obviously they’ve never taken my media when you’re being interviewed course.  One of the first rules is not to answer theoretical questions.  I’d put the “which ministry do you want question” in that category.  Too much public talking will only make things worse for everyone.

Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid keeps his facebook followers updated.  No, I’m not one of his friends.

Lapid is reportedly demanding the Foreign Ministry, but Netanyahu has reserved the post for faction Number 2 Avigdor Liberman, who stepped down from the post late last year to fight fraud and breach of trust charges. On Wednesday, the attorney general said it was legal for Netanyahu to hold the ministry for an indicted M.K.

Earlier Likud sources told Army Radio that Lapid was “obsessing” about becoming foreign minister, “which isn’t going to happen”…

Lapid, who is also demanding a smaller Cabinet and that the ultra-Orthodox be drafted into national service, said on Facebook that the talk about ministerial posts was beside the point. (Times of Israel). Most people I speak to have great faith that somehow Bibi will do his usual hat trick and pull a nice fluffy rabbit out of his hat before United States President Barack Hussein Obama arrives to “inspect” him and the State of Israel. Besides the fact that the suspense is over, like a balloon which no longer has air, I really don’t think it makes all that much of a difference which parties are in a coalition and who holds which ministerial portfolios.  Too many times we’ve elected Right wing, pro-Land of Israel governments which ended up being davka the ones that gave our Arab enemies portions of the Land of Israel, most notably Ariel Sharon.

It doesn’t really matter who’s elected and who is Minister of whatever.  Sorry for the cynicism, but that’s what is going through my mind right now.

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Jew Against Jew, I Don’t Like This

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Chazal, our sages say that the Holy Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred, Jew against Jew.  All the recent political infighting, especially  since the recent Israeli Knesset Elections, just make me fear God’s wrath.  What punishment does God have in store for us, God forbid?

Even Jews who claim to be Torah observers, following God’s commandments are dividing rather than uniting us.

Shas: It’s Over, We’re Headed for Opposition: Sephardic hareidi party vows to fight from the Opposition, keep funds from going to “hilltop youth.” And the NRP, a.k.a., Bayit Yehudi’s new leader, Naftali Bennett, has not learned the most important skill needed to be an effective politician, getting along and reaching agreements.  His pact with Leftist leader, who’s also a rookie MK, Yair Lapid, is not good for the country.  People voted for Bennett’s NRP so that he would influence from within the government, and he’s just pushing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu further Left.

One of Lapid’s demands is that he won’t sit in the government with Haredim, so when you add all this together, you have a big problem.

And in the meantime, the modern Amaleks in Iran are making progress on their nuclear weapons.  And is the “free world” (sic) ready for this?  No way.  The United States President Barack Hussein Obama is fiddling on his roof talking the negotiations talk, and Israel is still threatening. But after years of these threats, nobody takes them seriously, especially not the Iranians.

The more Israelis fight among themselves the more we’re inviting Amalek to attack.

Bad news, and I don’t see a good solution to theis.

I also recommend reading Arlene Kushner’s  “Deplorable,” which expresses my feelings, too.

Now I’m referring not to the state of the world, but to the state of Israeli politics. I am so often proud of who we are. But now? I would gladly grab hold of certain political shoulders and shake until the heads that sit on those respective shoulders rattled. Where? I want to ask. Where is your devotion to the state and the greater good during these difficult times?
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