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December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Meretz’

An Even More Centralized Israel: Cashless and Criminal

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Centralization in Israel is a two-headed coin (or perhaps a two-headed monster).

There’s no doubt, that so many bureaucratic activities go much smoother in Israel than they do in America, because we have ID numbers and our cards are inter-linked to everything. Of course, sometimes that doubles the frustration when obvious things need to be manually duplicated over and over for no reason.

On the other hand, that centralization provides no flexibility or a safety net. Having problems with one government office can easily spill over to an unrelated one, since you’re linked together everywhere on record.

Then there is the basic issue of personal privacy and civil liberties.

And now, the Israeli government is attempting to implement two extreme decisions that threaten civil liberties more than ever.

They’re testing a biometric ID system. God forbid that should ever become mandatory.

Right now, even though your personal bio-data is out there with different organizations, there is still some semblance of privacy and protection because of the separation that naturally exists between your health fund, the army, the government, and so on.

But once that goes away, there goes your privacy. You will have no control over your personal information at all, and you’re reliant on the government, which as we know, is not the most effective of protectors of personal data.

The other move is even scarier.

The Israeli government is actually considering trying to find a way to abolish cash.

There was a unanimous cabinet decision to explore how to do that (Hey Naftali Bennett, I didn’t vote for you to lose my civil liberties – remember that come election time).

They want to get rid of cash, and give everyone rechargeable “cash cards” that will allow the government to track every single transaction you do. EVERY. SINGLE. TRANSACTION.

I can’t even begin to describe the civil liberties and privacy violations that implementing this system will create.

And if they actually believe this will get rid of cash, or the black market, they’re even stupider than I thought.

Bitcoin, gold, barter… you name it. Smart (and dumb) people will find their way around it. Not to do illegal transactions, mind you, but simply to protect their privacy away from the government’s snooping eyes.

And then we’ll all be criminals, because of a dangerous legislation which is an intrusive attempt to suck more tax money out of us and spy on us, and not just spy directly, but with data mining too, to study our purchase and transaction behavior, and find every last penny they can suck out of us and understand what we do with it.

I guarantee one thing. If this legislation passes, if the party I voted for, and the ones I didn’t, don’t stop this in its tracks, I will do everything (legal) to make sure those people do not get elected again, and be replaced with people who do care and understand the importance of civil liberties and fear the tyranny of government.

Yair Lapid Losing Popularity

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

The Yesh Atid party, chaired by Yair Lapid, continues to lose popularity in the latest poll, with Meretz picking up the pieces and Likud, Jewish Home and Labor holding on to their strength.

If elections were held today, Lapid’s party would win only 12 seats, compared with 19 Knesset Members that it won in the elections last February, according to the Smith polls commissioned by Globes business newspaper.

In the previous poll, Yesh Atid won 14 seats, and the reasons for Finance Minister Lapid having fallen into disfavor range from his cuts in welfare support and child allowances to tax hikes and his undiplomatic remarks that his critics are like “nervous schnauzers left out in the rain.”

The left-wing Meretz party picked up another two seats in the latest poll, which now gives it 11 projected seats in the Knesset, almost double its current strength.

The Likud-Beiteinu, Labor and Jewish Home parties are unchanged, and Tzipi Livni managed to pick up one seat after seeing her popularity plummet in the last poll. Her HaTnuah party now would win four seats, two less than it currently has. Shas lost one seat in the poll to the United Torah Judaism Haredi party.

Israeli Democracy Dealt Blow with ‘Governance Act’

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Last night the Knesset voted to raise the threshold vote from 2 to 4 percent. This means that a political party must win 4.8 seats before it can receive its first seat in the Knesset. It was presented by the Likud-Beiteinu faction as a necessary measure to enable Israel’s government to govern without the constant fear of being toppled by a walkout of one of its minor coalition members.

The new threshold would effectively eliminate the small parties in Israel, forcing them to align in large power blocks or disappear. Meanwhile, their votes should be siphoned off to four or five major parties.

There’s an inherent problem in Israel’s parliamentary system, which has made it difficult for coalition governments over the past 65 years: the executive, meaning the prime minister, is also a member of the legislative body. In order to stay in power, he or she must juggle the Knesset membership around to maintain a majority of at least 61 out of 120 members. If they go below 60, their government is likely to lose a vote of no confidence (of which it endures about 10 a week), and the nation must go to new elections.

Under the U.S. constitution, it is perfectly fine for the president to govern while both houses of Congress are in the hands of a party other than his own. He will serve out his term of four years (unless he is impeached), and would simply have to haggle with the opposition party to get his legislation through.

An attempt in the recent past to let the voter pick the prime minister in a separate vote ended up with a disappointment to anyone who thought they would attain executive stability this way – and the separate PM vote was scrapped. It appears that the only real solution would be for Israel to switch to a presidential system, with an executive who governs outside the Knesset.

But such a change would be rejected by the smaller parties, who get their life’s blood—i.e. patronage jobs—from their leaders’ stints as government ministers. A cabinet run by an executive who isn’t himself an MK would be staffed by technocrats rather than by politicians, and the smaller parties would be left out to dry, unable to suckle on the government’s teat.

The new “Governance Act” that was passed last night would presumably have the same effect on the smaller parties: they would become history. This means the elimination of all the parties that currently boast fewer than 5 MKs: Hadash (Arabs) has 4, Ra’am Ta’al-Mada (Arabs) has 4, National Democratic Assembly (Arabs) has 3, and Kadima has 2.

You may have noticed a recurring ethnic group among the Knesset factions which would be eliminated by the Governance Act. Those 11 “Arab” seats would be eliminated, unless, of course, these three factions, with vastly different platforms (one is Communist, the other two not at all). are able to unite around their single common denominator, namely that they’re not Jews.

The political thinker behind this power grab is MK Avigdor Liberman, who’s been dreaming about a Knesset where his faction, Likud-Beiteinu, could win a decisive majority, once and for all. His henchman, MK David Rotem, was the bill’s sponsor. But the law of unintended consequences and double-edged swords is strong in Israel, and the new bill could just as easily be just what the Left needed to stage a resounding comeback.

Labor (15 MKs) and Meretz (6 MKs) are really the old Mapai, Achdut Ha’avoda and Mapam, the three Zionist workers parties. Hadash is really a remnant of Maki and Rakach, the two Communist parties which split off Mapam. If the leftist establishment got it together—as it did in 1992—it could cobble Labor, Meretz, the Arabs, Kadima and Livni to create a juggernaut of more than 35, possibly 40 seats.

This kind of unity could only be forged by a common feeling of a great betrayal by the right-wing government – and, what do you know, judging by last night’s drama over the threshold vote, such a sense of betrayal is permeating the smaller parties.

One after another, opposition MKs came up to the podium and used up their time to keep silent. MK Jamal Zahalka strapped duct tape over his mouth. MK Ahmad Tibi stood with his back to the plenum. Merets chair zehava Gal-on wept, her hands over her face.

Bennett and Jewish Home Soar in Polls, Challenge Likud for Lead

Friday, July 26th, 2013

The Jewish Home party, headed by Trade, Industry and Labor Minister Naftali Bennett, would win only three Knesset seats less than the leading Likud-Beiteinu party If elections were held today according to a new Knesset Channel poll.

Likud would win 22 seats, followed by Jewish Home with 19, Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party 16, Labor 15, Meretz 12 and the other parties less than five each.

The poll’s results are missing some data because the total number of the seats allocated to the parties is 15 less than the 120 in the Knesset. Even if 10 are added for the Arab parties, another five are missing.

One questionable statistic is the four seats allocated to Shas, three less than in the previous poll. Shas perennially wins approximately 10 mandates in the polls and usually comes up with one or two more in the elections. In the current Knesset, Shas has 11 seats.

The popularity of Bennett is unquestioned. He eagerly backed national religious Rabbi David Stav for Chief Rabbi and was dealt a severe loss with the solid victory of Haredi Rabbi David Lau.

Bennett lost the battle, but he picked up lots of Brownie points among the public, most of which is fed up with the Haredi domination of the Rabbinate.

The poll also showed that Lapid is holding his own with 16 seats, three less than his party now holds in the Knesset but one more than in the previous toll. Lapid has won support for his campaign for the universal draft, an issue that apparently is more important to the middle class than higher taxes that Lapid has imposed.

The popularity of Labor, headed by Shelley Yachimovich, dropped sharply from the 22 seats it won in the previous poll. It has 15 Knesset Members, the same number it would retain according to this week’s poll.

Meretz’s growing support , with 12 seats compared with the six it now holds, reflects frustration with Yachimovich, who has been far from spectacular.

If elections were held today, Kadima, headed by Shaul Mofaz, would be erased from the political map, which is no surprise.

Tzipi Livni’s Tnuva party would win only three seats, half of the number she now holds, and that also is not much of a surprise. She has no agenda other than opposing Netanyahu and supporting  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Court Ruling against Business on Shabbat Arouses More Complaints

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Small shop owners in cities outside of Tel Aviv may follow the example of Tel Aviv and campaign for their cities to uphold any laws that prohibit stores from opening on Shabbat.

The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Tel Aviv has been mocking the law by simply imposing fines on stores that are open on the Shabbat instead of forcing them to obey the law and stay closed.

Small shop owners complained that have been turned into “Slaves” be  being forced to open on Shabbat in order not to lose customers to larger stores, or face the option of losing money by honoring both the law and the halacha against doing business on the holy day.

Knesset Member Nitzan Horowitz of Meretz, who is running for mayor for Jerusalem, told Channel 2 television, “I think the Supreme Court put its finger on a very painful war. There is discrimination. There are stores that are prohibited from opening on Shabbat and there are those who make fun of the law while the city ignores it. This is not a law. This is a joke.

Tel Aviv is likely to change the law in the face of pressure from secular neighborhood residents who want to shop on Shabbat and see the Supreme Court ruling as a form of religious coercion.

Polls Show Gains on Left and Right and a Dent in the Middle

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Yair Lapid’s star is beginning to dim, with his Yesh Atid party losing two seats in the Knesset in a Knesset Channel poll released on Monday. The two-seat drop from its current standing in the Knesset is even more serious when taking into consideration that Lapid was sitting on top of the poll three months ago, when Yesh Atid was leading the pack.

The Likud-Beiteinu party  lost five seats in the poll, from 31 to 26, while Tzipi Livni’s party bearing her own name lost one third of its popularity, falling to only four seats if elections were held today.

The Haredi religious parties lost three seats between them.

The departures have flocked to the left and right, with the Jewish Home picking up one seat in projected elections results, and Meretz and Labor on the left picking up eight seats between them.

Jerusalem Residents Protest Plan to Close Cineplex on Shabbat

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Approximately Jerusalem residents, including Meretz party supporters, protested on front of City Hall Saturday night against a plan to close a new movie theater complex on Shabbat and Jewish holidays.

The complex, which includes restaurants and a 15-screen movie theater, is set to open this summer. It will close on weekends in keeping with an agreement between the Finance Ministry, the property developer and the Jerusalem municipality.

Among the groups protesting were Awakening, the Meretz political party and Be Free Israel.

 

 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/jerusalem-residents-protest-plan-to-close-cineplex-on-shabbat/2013/05/05/

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