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September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘lieberman’

Liberman Vetoes Haredim Participation in the Coalition

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman reportedly vetoed the idea of bringing Haredim into the coalition government, according to senior Likud sources, as reported by Makor Rishon.

Now that the fight over the Haredi draft law is over, advisers to PM Netanyahu believe that it is time to bring the Haredim into the coalition, and if that upsets Yair Lapid to the point where he pulls his Yesh Atid party out – so be it.

But resistance came from an unexpected source.

According to Likud sources, Liberman said, “I won’t remain in the coalition, if that were the case,” referring to Haredim joining the government.

Liberman has been a staunch supporter of drafting Haredim.

In another example of the tensions between Liberman and the Haredi community, Liberman and Aryeh Deri (Shas), who were friends in the past, are apparently not friends anymore.

This past week Aryeh Deri said that he could see Yitzchak Herzog (Labor) replacing Netanyahu as Prime Minister.

Netanyahu’s people have begun an anti-Deri campaign as a result of that remark, reminding Shas supporters how Deri dragged their party to the far Left, a position which doesn’t represent the view of the majorty of Shas voters.

The outspoken Haredi MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ), who has called for the destruction of non-Haredi Hesder yeshivas, had angry words to say about PM Netanyahu, the Knesset, the government, Naftali Bennett, Avigdor Liberman, adding that he will “never forgive” Netanyahu or those that were involved in the Haredi draft bill, not even on Yom Kippur, according to a Makor Rishon report.

The funny thing about politics is that one should never say never.

AG will Not Appeal FM Liberman’s Acquittal

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

The Attorney General, Yehuda Weinstein, has decided not to appeal Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s acquittal.

Liberman was unanimously acquitted on November 6, after being hounded for 17 years on various charges.

Unexpectedly, Weinstein had decided to go after Liberman on a weaker charge of breach of public trust, rather than what seemed to be the more significant criminal charges against him. That plan apparently backfired, now leaving Liberman in the free and clear.

As Lieberman Retakes the Helm, Defeated Ayalon Takes YU Job

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Yeshiva University announced Monday that Israeli diplomat and political figure Danny Ayalon has been appointed the Rennert Visiting Professor of Foreign Policy Studies at Yeshiva University for the spring 2014 semester. Ambassador Ayalon will teach on both the Wilf Campus at Yeshiva College and the Israel Henry Beren Campus at Stern College for Women, and will participate in public lectures and events.

As you may recall, Danny Ayalon was the key prosecution witness in the case against former and just reinstated Foreign Minister and Israel Beiteinu strong man Avigdor Lieberman. It went like this: initially, when questioned about Lieberman’s getting personally involved in appointing Israel’s ambassador to Minsk Ze’ev Ben Aryeh, Ayalon had no recollection of such meddling.

Then came that fateful ride to the party gathering, when, in the car, boss Lieberman told underling Ayalon that he was out, off the list, nothing, nada, gone, no Knesset seat for you, mostly because the lanky deputy Foreign Minister was getting too big and famous, in a party where only one man gets to do that.

It was right after that fateful ride, when Ayalon saw his career evaporating like so much pollution from a BMW exhaust pipe, that a miracle of modern science occurred, and the formerly forgetful and uncertain deputy started remembering big time. Lieberman? You mean that Lieberman – oh, sure, he meddled. Meddled, meddled, meddled, the whole day long, especially about the ambassador to Minsk.

But a panel of three Magistrate judges saw right through that—yet another miracle, if you ask me—and found Lieberman not guilty as the driven snow on a Jerusalem frosty morning in February.

And so, absent much to do in the home country, Ayalon got a job teaching at YU, where America’s future diplomats usually don’t come from.

“Ambassador Ayalon will surely bring to his professorial role at Yeshiva the same commitment to the State of Israel, to integrity, to thoughtful discourse and careful analysis of the geopolitical world, that he brought so successfully to his assignments in the foreign service and foreign ministry,” said YU President Richard M. Joel.

Yes, let’s see, did Dean Joel include in the careful analysis thing that time when Ayalon fixed up a low chair for the Turkish ambassador to Israel, so that the latter be humiliated in his office like a school child? It probably wasn’t the only reason the Turks want us dead right now, but it soitenly didn’t help. So, if you’re attending one of the visiting professor’s classes this semester and the question of careful analysis comes up – ask about the chair.

And, naturally, ask about the sudden flash of memory about Minsk – should go nicely with the integrity, what the dean was saying. Because, for the right reason, Professor Ayalon will integrity the daylights out of anyone.

And ask, how can you not, about the little scandal back in 2005, at the Israeli embassy in Washington, when Danny’s wife Ann, a self proclaimed convert from an evangelical family, who’s been accused of still being pretty evangelical, was accused of using embassy money to hire help for their daughter’s bat-mitzvah. And the embassy’s social secretary was used to manage the guest list.

“I am honored to join the distinguished faculty of Yeshiva University, led by President Richard Joel,” Ayalon said to the guy writing the YU press release, probably via email. “This institution is exceptional in its support of the State of Israel and in spreading knowledge and education that have always made it a center of excellence. I look forward to a fruitful, insightful and stimulating dialogue with our students.”

Hey, if I could afford it, I’d be there every lecture with a heap of questions, on integrity and careful analysis. Are you kidding me? The man is a treasure trove.

After Mayoral Loss, the Buzzards Are Flying over Lieberman’s Head

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

The old adage suggesting that victory has a multitude of fathers, while failure, alas, is an orphan, can be applied yet again, this time to describe the grim aftermath in Shas following the heartbreaking loss of the Avigdor Lieberman-Aryeh Deri candidate for mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Lion (the name should be spelled “Leon,” but the campaign opted for this, more feline spelling).

So the bad guy in this story of glory and defeat is Israel Beiteinu strong man MK Avigdor Lieberman, soon to be either the previous and next Foreign Minister, or the next man with a serial number at the Ma’asiahu prison for white collar criminals—court decision on that one expected in two weeks.

But for now, Lieberman appears to be shouldering the shame of the mayoral loss, with attacks on him coming both from sore losers and sore winners. Yes, the winning incumbent, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat now and for the next 5 years, is not doing the gracious. not even pretending.

“Lieberman is a dishonest man, a fixer who wanted to turn me into a marionette and couldn’t,” Barkat told Ma’ariv.

According to the winner, Lieberman made it his life’s mission to destroy him, Barkat, who, apparently, remained pure as the driven Jerusalem snow: “I could have made a deal and appoint Vladimir Sklar CEO of the East Jerusalem Development corporation the way Lieberman insisted, and then I would have gotten wall-to-wall support,” he said. “I refused. I took a chance and paid a heavy price.”

In Israel, it seems, to the winner goes being spoiled.

MK Lieberman for his part has been denying the Sklar appointment story, arguing instead that in his feverish yearning to win, Barkat has sold the city out to the Haredim—specifically, former Haredi mayoral candidate Chayim Epstein has been saying he’s being appointed Barkat’s deputy mayor, with pay.

The nice appointment is considered to be his reward for keeping his name on the ballot even as it was becoming obvious he was going nowhere—and with that helped siphon off some of Lion’s Haredi votes. It’s a good theory.

But the worst thing for Lieberman was not the spectacle of the winner Barkat doing a victory dance in a fashion that would not go well over in the States, where the first thing a loser does is congratulate the winner, to be followed by the winner complimenting the loser. Over in the Jewish State, we win, we fillet the loser, fire up the barbie, have a beer.

The worst thing for Lieberman is how his own campaign has been badmouthing him. Ma’arive quotes Likud-beiteinu campaign workers who said “Lieberman pulled the rug from under all of us… He couldn’t deliver the goods… He didn’t deliver the Likudniks, and he especially didn’t deliver the Russians he promised… All the Israel Beiteinu voters in Jerusalem supported Nir Barkat… Israel Beiteinu used to have 2 seats in the city council – that’s now been erased… Even when combining the Liebrman and Likud votes, they barely make it past the blocking percentage…”

Finally, senior Aryeh Deri operatives put all the blame on Lieberman. The rift between Deri and Lieberman is serious. Last week, Deri told his listeners on Haredi radio station Kol Barama that they had to vote in large numbers, to secure a Shas-Lieberman partnership. Now, after the defeat, Deri told those same listeners that they lived up to his expectations—they awarded 35 thousand votes to Moshe Lion, but on the Likud-Beiteinu side the failure was overwhelming.

Deri’s seniors are angry at Lieberman, but they’re livid at Deri himself for falling prey to Lieberman’s machinations. It was a known thing that Lieberman could round up 10 thousand Russians in Jerusalem – that’s the number that voted for his faction in 2008. So how come all the Russians went for Barkat? Was Deri being naïve when he figured Lieberman for a solid real estate asset, when, in fact, that asset is infested with termites and about to fall on its own foundations?

Lieberman had nothing to tell his followers and the press other than his own version of you win some, you lose some. If he’s taken down by the court two weeks from now, it would mark a sea change in Israeli politics, an earthquake that could empower the right or the left, depending on whom you ask.

The Ministry of Extraneous Affairs

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

I begin with a full disclosure: a few months ago the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent me to an Asian country to advise its government in understanding a difficult matter regarding the Islamic population of that state and how to deal with this matter. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized the event perfectly, in both the professional and logistical aspects, and the Israeli ambassador of that state personally accompanied me in my meetings with the local professionals.

These days, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is preparing a promotional film on Israel, and in the leading role is Bar Rafaeli, whose participation in the film arouses a wave of objection, because she did not serve in the military. Some official sources also objected, especially the IDF itself, because her participation in an official film produced by the state of Israel could be interpreted as sending a message of leniency towards people who have not served in the IDF. These days, when “sharing the burden equally” has become a political mantra on the level of “It is better to die than commit certain sins”, the IDF expects the Ministry of Foreign Affairs not to act in a way that whitewashes the evasion of military service in the IDF. But it seems that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not think it’s a problem.

This case – in my view – is an indication of the way too many people in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs think. The employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are public servants, not appointed by the minister, and most are graduates of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ cadet’s course. This was supposed to provide the state of Israel with a working staff that is professional and relevant, and executes the decisions of the government professionally and faithfully, and without dispute.

IN FACT, the reality is totally different. The social profile of workers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is fairly suitable to the model of the “Akhusalim” – coined by the sociologist Prof. Baruch Kimmerling, who described the state of Israel of the 1970s as being governed by an elite group of people who were Ashkenazim (Jews of European descent), secular, members of the old guard, socialist, and nationalist, forming the Hebrew acronym Akhusal.

In general, one can say that the political, social, diplomatic and cultural agenda of the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs resembles that of the Labor party (and perhaps also Meretz) much more than it resembles that of the Likud, despite the fact that since 1977 there have been more than a few governments led by the Likud. The proportion of religious, ultra-Orthodox, and Arabs who are staff members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is significantly lower than their proportional representation in the population of the state of Israel.

As a result of this, Avigdor Leiberman, a minister from the Right, found it difficult to impose  his political agenda on his subordinates because of the simple reason that he could not appoint staff that suited him. The political echelon (the prime minister and minister of foreign affairs) can appoint no more than eleven people in the ministry, from the level of ambassador to the person who serves tea, and a minister who cannot place his people in key positions will find it difficult to control what is done in the ministry. My sense is that Leiberman was “persona non grata” in the eyes of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff.

THE POLITICAL agenda of the staff in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has created an absurd situation, in which the ministry that is the spokesman for the policies of the prime minister and is responsible for hasbara (dissemination of public relations information), is entrusted with explaining government positions, despite the prime minister being far from being of “one mind” with the officials in the ministry of foreign affairs.

This disparity became obvious in the early 2000s, when the prime minister was Ariel Sharon and the minister of foreign affairs was Shimon Peres. With the passing of years, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has adopted political language that does not reflect the policy of Israel by using expressions such as “the occupied territories” (occupied from whom?), “settlements” (instead of communities), “Palestinian people” (even Azmi Bishara* doesn’t think that there is such a people) and “solution of two states for two peoples.”

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.

Will it Be Good for the Jews?

Monday, March 18th, 2013

Yes, even here in Israel we must always ask the question: “Will it Be Good for The Jews?”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s latest coalition government has many competing factions.

MK Tzipi Livni, Israel’s newest Justice Minister, stressed on Saturday that she would not support the basic law bill “Israel is the national state of the Jewish people,” whose promotion is part of the new coalition agreements with the Jewish Home party.

Maybe “competing” is too gentle a word.

Netanyahu is hoping to be able to control his warring partners, certainly long enough to see himself soaring in the polls and trying for better election results.  Bibi’s Likud and partner Yisrael Beitenu bombed terribly in the recent elections, losing a critical amount of Knesset seats.  His formal announcement to President Peres was the easy part.  Governing with such partners will no doubt be the greatest challenge to Netanyahu’s political career.

Livni’s chance of being Prime Minister is now nil, but by controlling the Justice Ministry she will have a lot of power.  That’s why she demanded it.  And unfortunately, Bibi gave in.

Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett have both been promoting themselves as Centrists, just like Bibi had done earlier in his political career, since neither are shy about admitting that they dream of holding the top position, Prime Minister.  Right now they are working together against Bibi, but when they weaken him sufficiently, no doubt their alliance will crumble, like very fresh matzah.

Do I feel sorry for Bibi?  No!

Benjamin Netanyahu made his bed when he put pragmatic secular politics over Jewish values and Jewish History and Jewish Rights to The Land of Israel.  Our greatest leaders, from Biblical time onward were those who could see that God controls the big picture.

That’s why the only two of the “spies” who had been sent to לתור (latur)stakeout the Land (Numbers Chapter 13 בְּמִדְבַּר), who merited to enter it forty years later were the ones who trusted that God would make it possible for the Jewish People to rule it as Jews.

Remember that our first king, the Benjaminite Saul was deposed by God as punishment for not obeying His orders.  God replaced Saul with David who understood the power of God could overcome all human power and weapons.

Too bad that Benzion Netanyahu didn’t name his second son David…

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