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December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘liberman’

Understanding Israel’s Upcoming Election

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

The Israeli election set for January 22 and the coverage thereof is very strange in several respects. It is a contest in which his opponents seek to beat centrist Prime Minister Benjamin (“Bibi”) Netanyahu, of the Likud party, in a remarkably inept manner and in which international understanding of the issues is at the low level we’ve become used to seeing.

Here’s a simple way to understand the situation. The right-wing parties and the left-wing parties are each likely to get roughly the same number of seats that they received in the 1999 election. The difference is that in 1999 the rightist parties divided their vote among three parties and today have largely united into one. The moderate left in 1999 gave their votes mainly to one party and now are dividing it among four.

In addition, viewing the actual electioneering by the left makes one appreciate just how fraudulent political consultants are. They claim that they are going to help the candidate win but have no idea of how to do so. And in Israel they borrow childishly from the latest fads in American politics without regard to the differences. Here are the themes pushed by the moderate left opposition:

–Bibi is for the rich. This slogan is unlikely to work in a country where lower income generally corresponds with more conservative voting. The idea is obviously stolen from Barack Obama’s campaign. But Obama was going for large African-American, Hispanic, and student blocs plus some middle class sectors that could be stirred up over hatred of the rich. This has no relevance for Israel.

–Bibi will get you killed. This theme is accompanied by a picture of a mushroom cloud. But is the idea that he will get you nuked by attacking Iran or by not attacking Iran? It isn’t clear. And since Netanyahu has the best claim to preserve the country’s security that approach is likely to be counterproductive.

–Bibi doesn’t want your vote. This is the newest poster to appear though it isn’t clear who’s promoting it. That makes no sense at all.

–The choice of photographs. Former Prime Minister Tsipi Livni, the candidate of her own party—and one of the quartet seeking moderate/moderate left voters—has a photograph on her poster that looks as if it were selected by her worst enemy. In it she appears ugly, angry, and confused.

–Livni’s ad has several shots of Obama and one of her standing with new Secretary of State John Kerry. They seem to argue that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas really wants peace but Netanyahu blocked it. Perhaps this ad was designed by left-liberal American Jewish political consultants. It won’t go over well in Israel.

Shaul Mofaz, candidate of Kadima, Livni’s former party that is expected to collapse completely in the election, has a terrible photograph of himself with former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. That relates to Kadima’s founder but is unlikely to win any votes. Rather than projecting leadership, the other left-of-center party leaders seem to be seeking anonymity.

What’s astonishing is the obtuseness of the opposition, especially Labor. Netanyahu is going to win but the way to get the largest vote, becoming the official opposition and possibly his coalition partner, is to run on an energetic program of domestic improvements. The obvious opposition approach should be that it is the time to improve schools, the infrastructure, and reduce housing and food prices.

People are waiting to be told that their living standards can be improved without threatening their security. A winning theme would be to say Netanyahu has neglected these domestic issues. True, the economy has done very well but the price of relatively high employment, rapid growth, and low inflation has been high prices.

For breakfast just now I paid $3 for a croissant and $3 for a coffee in a country where income levels average half those in the United States. Young people can’t afford an apartment in a country where rentals are relatively rare and there is not a strong mortgage system or tax deductions for paying one.

That’s why there were social protests in 2011. While going into big debt and increasing subsidies—the trap into which most Western economies have fallen—would be a mistake there are certainly good shifts to be made. Instead, voters are being treated like idiots who will be won over by some silly slogan convincing them that either the prime minister is evil or will get them incinerated. That won’t win an election.

What to Do when your Partner Is under Indictment and It’s 3 Weeks before Election Day? Lie a Lot…

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

On Tuesday night, former Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman was questioned for 40 minutes at the offices of the Lahav 433 unit in Lod. The unit was inaugurated back in 2008, as part of the police intelligence unit, to investigate major crimes and corruption. Needless to say, it’s a very busy unit.

But they took time off their busy schedule, on the request of the prosecutor’s office, to ask Mr. Liberman some questions—a most unusual move, considering the fact that the case was already being presented to the court, or a minute or so before the submission.

This is because what was expected to be a walk in the park for Liberman may end up being a walk in the same park, but in prison garb and hauling a garden spade and a wheelbarrow. Why? Possibly because you can’t push around all the people all the time. On occasion, they push back.

A while ago, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon was asked by the prosecution whether or not Minister Liberman was involved in promoting the appointment of an ambassador to Belarus (a major no-no – these appointments must be made strictly by an appointments committee staffed by mostly civil servants and chaired by one Danny Ayalon). At the time, Ayalon could not, for the life of him, recall whether or not Liberman was influencing the process, or even if he was present in the room during the committee meetings.

Memory is a funny thing. Sometimes you forget something completely, and then something dramatic happens and, all of a sudden, you remember everything. In Ayalon’s case it had to do with the famous ride he allegedly took with his boss, FM Liberman, to a press conference where Liberman was going to announce the list of top Israel Beiteinu candidates for the Knesset. Allegedly, while in the car together, on the way to the event, Liberman turned to his deputy and informed him that, by the way, he’s not on the list.

There was wide speculation as to why Ayalon was being punished – in the end it was decided he was just too uppity for Liberman’s taste. Why, Ayalon was becoming very popular on his own, what with his facebook page and his You Tube clips, and the incident when he forced the Turkish ambassador to sit in a tiny chair just to humble him a bit. Ayalon was visibly shaken by the snub, but still managed to mumble to the press that he is there only to serve, blah blah blah.

Turns out, shortly thereafter, according to a prosecution leak, Danny Ayalon started remembering stuff. Suddenly—so goes the leak—the appointments committee chair recalled, for instance, that Liberman actually did influence the appointment of our man in Belarus (who is serving time as we speak for alerting Liberman regarding another investigation against him) – in fact, Liberman was in the room during the committee meeting.

Oops…

So now everything is going to change, because the prosecution smelled blood in the water, and so it told the court to wait a while, there’s new stuff coming, and Liberman found himself yet again before a police interrogator – or a few of them.

Liberman came to his police interrogation directly from the National Hall in Jerusalem, where he and his co-leader on the Likud-Beiteinu list, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, launched their the Knesset elections campaign.

A week ago, Liberman resigned from his post as Foreign Minister, so that he could get over the court case, or the plea agreement, quickly, in time for him to return to active campaigning. Now it’s no longer a sure thing. Not with the strong indications from the prosecution leaks that a new body of evidence is being accumulated against him, as, apparently, a few other committee members have started to recall stuff.

When you’re down and out, folks are no longer so deeply afraid of you. Even when you’re potentially down and out, some brave souls would find the courage to kick you a little further in the wrong direction on the slope.

Now Netanyahu is in a huge bind. First, he’s starting to get ready to absorb the ricochets from a potential Liberman conviction that would disable the latter for a while. First, he’s going to have to adjust to a smaller Knesset faction. From 42 seats in the outgoing 18th Knesset, he’s facing anywhere from 36 down to 32. Life with Liberman the liability will be far less comfortable than life with Liberman the asset.

Liberman Done In by Former Deputy

Monday, December 24th, 2012

The person behind the recent frantic efforts of Israel’s police to extend its investigation in order to enhance the indictment against Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, has turned out to be none other than his deputy – Danny Ayalon. And as you may recall, Ayalon has been dumped by his boss from the top spots on the party’s Knesset candidate list. Rumor had it that Liberman only told Ayalon about his demotion in the car on the way to the press conference where said list was presented.

Hell hath no fury like a deputy foreign minister scorned, it turns out.

On Monday night, both the Channel 10 and Channel 2 news editions have reported that new testimonies were collected from members of the Appointments Committee at the Foreign Ministry—which approved the appointment of Zeev Ben Aryeh to the post of Israel’s ambassador to Belarus.

Ben Aryeh was convicted of passing to Liberman information about an investigation which was being conducted against the latter.

The new information appears to be making things a lot worse for the former FM.

Both news channels report that the most significant testimony against Liberman was provided by Ayalon, who was chairman of the Appointments Committee. Ayalon’s testimony appears to implicate Liberman in actively promoting Ben Aryeh’s appointment.

However, that’s not the only new testimony picked up by the police. According to the reports, more testimonies have been taken which support Ayalon’s accusation.

It was further reported that Liberman is expected to be summoned as early as next week to a police interrogation, and that he will be confronted with Ayalon’s testimony.

Channel 2 has also reported that Liberman is expected to argue that Ayalon’s testimony is infected by the latter’s need for revenge following his humiliation at the hands of his boss.

Liberman resigned his post last week, and this new twist might prevent him from campaigning or even being permitted to resume his Knesset membership.

Liberman’s successor at the helm of Israel Beiteinu will likely be the candidate at the number 2 spot, Yair Shamir, son of the departed Prime Minster from Likud, Yitzhak Shamir.

Ayalon will remain as the Deputy Foreign Minister until the elections.

Liberman Steps Down as FM But Indictment Postponed

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Yisrael Beytenu leader – and just-stepped-down Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman – is in legal limbo, with his anticipated indictment delayed at the last minute.

Analysts say the move may have been taken in order for the State Prosecutor’s Office to interview additional witnesses from the Foreign Ministry appointments panel regarding the appointment of former ambassador to Belarus Ze’ev Ben-Aryeh.

The indictment is expected any day, though initial reports stated it would be filed on Tuesday.

Charges will include fraud and breach of public trust.  Liberman has denied any wrongdoing and expressed outrage that the State continues to threaten him with indictments that never materialize.

Other reports indicate that indictments may have been postponed so that a plea bargain could be formulated.  The state has said it would not back down from “moral turpitude” charges, which could force Liberman out of politics for more than seven years.

Liberman has said that his criminal conduct involved not coming forward with the illegal passing of classified information to him from Ben-Aryeh in 2008.

The information was a Justice Ministry document requesting legal assistance from Belarus in investigations against Liberman.  Ben-Aryeh was convicted in May of obstruction of justice.

Liberman’s Attorneys Will Bargain for Plea with AG, But Disgrace Charge May Become FM’s Career Ender

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Attorneys for the former Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, whose resignation will take effect this week, will today meet with the Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, to examine the possibility of reaching a plea bargain in the case of the ambassador to Belarus.

In 2008 the Israel’s ambassador to Belarus Zeev Ben Aryeh received a request from the prosecution to assist in the investigation of Liberman. Ben Aryeh handed Liberman a copy of the request, which the latter claims he scanned, saw that it was inappropriate for him to read it, then tore up and flushed the document.

Ambassador Ben Aryeh has already been sentenced to 4 months in jail—commuted to community service—for interfering with the investigation.

Despite the fact that Liberman on Friday said he would forgo a plea bargain and go directly to trial, he now, apparently, realized that without a plea bargain the trial couldn’t possibly be over before the elections, which could damage the ability of the accused to participate effectively in his own reelection efforts.

One key element in the prosecution’s demands, whether in a plea deal or in the suit, would be the inclusion of a “kalon” or “disgrace” charge, normally used in cases involving political figures and civil servants. The problem with the “kalon” charge is that, once convicted of it, the accused may not seek political office for a prescribed period of time (seven years, in the case of Likud Knesset candidate Moshe Feiglin).

Sources close to the case are convinced that AG Weinstein is not going to give up the disgrace charge easily, having been forced to close the main case against Liberman for lack of substantial evidence.

That main case, the result of a 6-year investigation, attributed to Liberman charges of money laundering, fraud, deceit, breach of trust, and the acceptance of millions of dollars through foreign companies from Austrian entrepreneur Martin Schlaff and Israeli-Uzbeki businessman Michael Cherney, while serving in public positions.

Hell hath no fury as an attorney general scorned…

Speak Softly, Carry a Big Russian?

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

Two weeks ago I wrote this to my mother;

My assessment is that Benjamin Netanyahu is not big enough to do a proper job in Gaza. When I vote in the next elections here in January, I will vote for Avigdor Liberman, currently the Foreign Minister, the man the left wing Israeli press loves to demonize. Provided, of course, he has not been indicted for some crime or other. I know the Attorney General has been investigating him for about a dozen years, without getting anywhere, but they’re always right on ‘the verge’ of indicting him. Basically, he’s a gracious man, an émigré from the FSU, who speaks with a heavy Russian accent and doesn’t bother with the ‘speak softly – carry a big stick’ type of diplomacy we’re so used to in the west. Goes more for the Russian, ‘bellow at the survivors – after you’ve beaten the ringleaders to a bloody pulp with the howitzer,’ kind of thing.

Just goes to show what a useless assessor I am, doesn’t it? It’s clear I know nothing about him at all. All I’ve done is delude myself, once again. Listen to this quote:

“I am proud that we have a leadership that can make decisions even when they are contrary to its electoral interests,” Liberman told Channel 2 News about the decision to call a ceasefire in Gaza rather than choosing to launch a ground assault.

“It is obvious that a majority of the population was in favor of continuing the operation,” Liberman added, “but power is not only about hitting but also about holding back… This was not a strategic operation. We explicitly said that there are three goals: stopping the rocket fire, restoring deterrence and destroying Hamas’s stockpiles of long-range Fajr missiles. We achieved all those goals.” (as reported by Elad Benari for Arutz 7)

Liberman says we achieved all three goals, which makes him a liar carrying a very small gummy-bear, indeed.

a.) We didn’t stop Hamas rocket fire, Hamas stopped it.

b.) We did not restore deterrence. There never was any and there isn’t any now. Any quiet is the result of a Hamas tactical decision, not a situation imposed by the IDF.

c.) Finally, we have no clue as to the numbers or location of the long-range Fajr missiles in Hamas’s arsenal. They were still being fired as the ceasefire took effect.

What Liberman is saying is this: “I know things you don’t. The view looks very different looking out of the window in my office. I can’t explain it without revealing classified info and losing my job, so you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that we, in the government, know what’s best for you.”

Nice. Very nice.

What happened is that by the time Mr. Liberman and his colleagues agreed on the inescapable necessity for a ground invasion, and pumped themselves up into a full blown testosterone party, they were undercut by Ehud Barak telling them that we had run out of Tamir anti-missile missiles with which to restock the Iron-Dome batteries. That, were we to invade Gaza, the exchange would turn very sanguinary for us in Israel, leaving Mr. Liberman with nothing to contribute.

In effect, we were a week late.

A week is a long time in politics, too, Mr. Liberman, as you will discover.

We who were watching the debacle unfold knew soon after the third day of hostilities that the war was lost. You missed the opportunity to invade when it presented itself; when it practically prostrated itself in front of you, begging to be taken.

Because you know things we don’t? Somehow I doubt it.

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

(Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224)

The journalistic piece quoted above ends with the following: Referring to the potential impact the ceasefire may have on the elections, Liberman said: “The public knows exactly what I represent. In this case, the right decision was made, even if it is not popular and against my electoral interests.”

You can say that again, sir, with knobs on.

Likud Approves ‘Biberman’ Deal, Polls Show Zero Gain

Monday, October 29th, 2012

At the Likud meeting on Monday evening, Likud Central Committee members overwhelmingly voted to allow Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu to run together with the Likud as a joint list.

The attempts led by Likud MK Michael Eitan to have the vote done by secret ballot failed to collect enough signatures.

Netanyahu said that the decision to run together won’t change the Likud, but it would allow the Likud to change the State of Israel.

Liberman said the decision was a historic and important one that will strengthen Israel.

Liberman will take the number 2 position on the list, and Netanyahu reportedly offered him the choice of receiving the Finance, Defense or Foreign ministry. Liberman chose to remain as Foreign Minister.

The new joint list will receive 42 seats in the next Knesset elections next January, a Channel 2 News poll found on Sunday. It means that the parties will retain their current power.

The poll found that Shelly Yachimovich’s Labor party will get with 23 seats (up from 8). Shas 13 seats (up from 11) and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party 9 seats. Left-wing Meretz will grow from 3 to 6 seats. The new National Union-New National Religious Party will drop to 5 seats, United Torah Judaism will stay at 5. Ehud Barak’s Independence party will get 3 seats. Kadima will drop from its current 28 seats to 3 seats. The Arab lists will get 10 seats altogether.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/its-official-likud-approves-biberman/2012/10/29/

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