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July 24, 2016 / 18 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘party’

Haredi Party Spearheading Effort to Protect Israeli Religious Charities from US Tax Authorities

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

The heads of charity organizations in the ultra-Orthodox society, commonly known as Gemachim, received at least a temporary measure of relief from the Knesset Finance Committee, chaired by MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ), ahead of a new amendment of the Income Tax Act that takes effect in September and compels Israeli financial institutions to report through the local tax authorities on the Israeli financial affairs of US citizens. The amendment is the result of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance (FATCA) agreement between Israel and the US, which was a prerequisite for continued cooperation between Israeli and American financial institutions.

It’s not much, but MK Gafni demanded that the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Israel order the banks to give the Gemachim time until the end of June to resolve their status as public institutions, which he hopes would allow them to exclude themselves from the FATCA rules. Gafni envisions a tweaking of the amendment to exclude groups with deposits of less than $50 thousand, or holdings worth less than $50 million.

According to Chairman Gafni, the new regulations could bring the collapse of the Gemachim. “The Israeli government signed an agreement with the US government without considering the disastrous consequences for one of the most important enterprises of the Jewish people that has existed for millennia — the charity and mutual aid societies,” Gafni said, explaining that the Gemachim are “the only means at the disposal of a person under financial duress to receive an interest-free loan to get back on his feet.”

MK Israel Eichler (UTJ), Chairman of the Public Petitions, summoned Dr. Ilan Steiner, Director of the Bank of Israel Currency Department, to his committee hearing, to warn him against another aspect of the US attack on these charity institutions. According to Eichler, banks are being forced under pressure from foreign governments to close the accounts of Gemachim accounts, “in the name of ‘fighting terrorism’ and stopping money laundering, the IRS and the American government have become supervisors of all bank accounts around the world including in Israel. Everyone has to go through their inspection, so the Gemachim have received a letter that they will not be able to keep their bank accounts anymore.”

MK Eichler told Dr. Steiner: “I hope that the Bank of Israel find a way to abide by the agreements with the US while not mixing up the Gemachim with the war on terror. The banks must not become a burden and a restriction on associations and charity organizations who want to help people and do not engage in terrorism. There are limits to the madness of the banking system. We must not allow the charity organizations and Gemachim to be paralyzed by American pressures.”

The issues of compliance regarding money laundering and the war on terror stem from the side benefits of an IRS act that was intended to make sure US citizens who make money abroad share some of it with Uncle Sam. According to the IRS, FATCA targets tax non-compliance by US taxpayers with foreign accounts, focusing on individuals’ reporting about foreign financial accounts and offshore assets, as well as by foreign financial institutions about financial accounts held by US taxpayers or foreign entities in which US taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest.

Using the US’ enormous economic clout, FATCA bullies the world’s financial institutions into reporting on their American clients to Uncle Sam. Under FATCA, to avoid being withheld upon, foreign financial institutions must register with the IRS and agree to report to the IRS about their US accounts, including accounts of foreign entities with a substantial US ownership. Foreign institutions that enter into an agreement with the IRS to report on their account holders may be required to withhold 30% on certain payments to foreign payees if such payees do not comply with FATCA.

Talk about working for the Yankee dollar.

According to The Marker, Gemachim stand to suffer three different ways from the new law: instead of permitting a Gemach to transfer money into their accounts, they could now be questioned regarding the source of the funds and whether or not tax was paid on them in the US; each deposit could be subject to harassment by the bank, in order to verify that it is not part of a money laundering scheme; and the Gemach could be saddled with a new definition as a financial institution, and as such would be compelled to report on its fund sources to the IRS or face criminal sanctions.

JNi.Media

Survey: A Party Led by Ya’alon, Sa’ar, Kahlon, Could Defeat Netanyahu

Friday, May 27th, 2016

An Israel Radio/Rafi Smith survey on Friday revealed that a new center-right party led by former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud), former Education Minister Gidon Sa’ar (Likud), and still serving Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) would have won as many as 25 seats in the next Knesset, if the vote were conducted today.

The new, imaginary party, which for the time being is only based on the fantasies of the folks who conducted the survey and the 500 folks, Jews and Arabs, who answered, will apparently be the big winner of the next elections. Likud would be demoted to 21 seats (from 30); Lapid’s Yesh Atid’s rise would be tamed, only 2 new seats, from 11 to 13; the Zionist Camp (they really should go back to calling themselves simply Labor) would be crushed, from 24 down to 11; the Joint Arab List would retain its 13 seats; Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi would grow from 8 to 10; Yisrael Beiteinu up from 6 to 8; United Torah Judaism up nicley from 6 to 8; Shas would remain stuck with its 6 seats; and Meretz likewise with its 5.

The question is, even considering the above fantasy scenario, whether the Ya’alon-Kahlon-Sa’ar triumvirate, assuming they would be able to overcome their egos to allow one of them to lead, would be able to form a coalition and with whom.

If they go left, they could add Lapid, Labor and Meretz for a 54-seat coalition, which could rule with the tacit, conditional support of the Arabs.

If they go right, they would have to add Netanyahu and Lapid, for a 59-seat coalition, and then, possibly, Labor, giving them a hefty, 70-seat coalition.

But should the imaginary party not be able to forge a coalition, the president would then turn to Netanyahu, yet again, who would combine Likud, Habayit Hayehudi, Yisrael Beiteinu, UTJ and Shas to get 53 seats, and then bring in an additional partner, possibly even the very triumvirate that couldn’t.

The fact is that even in their fantasy, the center parties find it difficult to make do without Bibi.

The same survey also polled the 500 likely voters as to their choice today without a dream team running: Likud goes down to 28 (from 30), making it still the unavoidable leader; Labor is cut down from 24 to 15; Yesh Atid goes up to 19; Kahlon’s Kulanu virtually disappears, down to 6; UTJ 8; Shas 7; Lieberman 8; Meretz 5, Arabs 13.

Which would mean the exact same players in Netanyahu’s current coalition could stay on, but they would have more votes to offer the slightly reduced Likud and without Kahlon. Netanyahu’s next government would then have a 61-seat majority, with Habayit Hayehudi as the second-largest partner. Kahlon could then be invited to come back, but on radically less favorable terms.

David Israel

Netanyahu and Herzog Meet to Discuss ‘Unity’ Coalition Amid Labor Party Backlash

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Opposition leader and Zionist Union faction Chairman Isaac Herzog met on Sunday night to discuss the prospects of establishing a national unity government, according to a report by Israel’s Channel 2.

The meeting took place despite fierce backlash from members of Herzog’s Labor party and his political allies, who consider joining Netanyahu a betrayal, and recent polls showing Herzog’s support plummeting.

“I am not deterred by polls like these, which are about momentary fads,” said Herzog in comments to a closed conference aired on Tuesday by Israel Army Radio. “When checking them thoroughly, we can see that most of the public does not know what they mean, and still gives 30% support to the move, most of whom are from the bloc that I lead rather than the bloc on the right.”

Herzog explained last week that he will join Netanyahu’s coalition if he is given the “mandate” to deal with serious issues facing the country, including “to separate from the Palestinians” and “to make the United States and Europe our allies again.”

MK Shelly Yachimovich, a former Labor party head, is one of several of party members to strenuously object to a national unity government.

“This was an offer that should have been rejected with contempt long ago,” Yachimovich wrote last week in her weekly newsletter.

“It wouldn’t be a unity government,” she added. “It would be a right-wing government in every way, with Labor creeping in without conditions to get portfolios and positions.”

Opposition to a national unity government has also been pushed by members of the Coalition, including Likud MK Yoav Kisch.

“A narrow government that is faithful to settlements is better than a broad government lacking in values,” said Kisch last Thursday, implicitly claiming that a unity government with the Zionist Union would undermine the government’s ability to continue construction in Judea and Samaria.

“The very act of negotiating with Netanyahu is political profiteering and job trading. It’s disgraceful and constitutes a betrayal of the public trust,” Labor party MK Stav Shafir commented on Sunday.

Herzog dismissed such objections during a private meeting with Labor party activists in a recording aired Sunday on Israel’s Channel 10 news.

“If we can speak with Mahmoud Abbas, we can speak with Netanyahu,” Herzog said, referring to the president of the Palestinian Authority.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

German Rightwing Party Calling for Ban on Islam as Leftists Clash with Police

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

The rightwing party Alternative for Germany has declared that “Islam does not belong in Germany” as part of its new party manifesto which was passed on Sunday. “An orthodox Islam that does not respect our constitution or even contradicts it is incompatible with our legal system and culture,” the manifesto declares.

The Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland, or AfD), led by Frauke Petry and Jörg Meuthen, is a rightwing, Eurocentric political party founded in 2013. The party won 4.7% of the national vote in the 2013 federal election, just short of the 5% electoral threshold. In 2014 the party won 7.1% of the votes and 7 out of 96 German seats in the European election, and joined forces the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group. As of March 2016 the AfD had gained representation in eight German state parliaments.

Current opinion polls give AfD as much as 14% of the vote in the 2017 national elections, a figure that could grow depending on immigration-related events over the summer. Even at 14%, the AfD would make the big parties’ job of coalition cobbling next to impossible.

An estimated crowd of 2,000 AfD members came to Stuttgart to discuss and adopt the manifesto during a two-day party congress that opened Saturday, complete with violent protests from leftist demonstrators. Some 2,000 leftwingers clashed with police on Saturday as they tried to break up the AfD conference. An estimated 500 leftists were detained and 10 police officers were injured, a police spokesman said.

The AfD manifesto includes a ban on foreign financing of the construction and operation of mosques, rejection of minarets and muezzin calls as Islamic symbols of power, and a ban on head scarves for girls and women in state schools. The party congress considered and rejected a proposal to ban immigration, “in particular from foreign cultures.” Instead, the new platform says, “We welcome immigrants who are qualified for the labor market and who are willing to integrate into society.”

The platform calls for the deportation of foreigners with a criminal record. It also bans the slaughtering of animals according to Muslim and Jewish laws.

Ah, well, that was to be expected.

JNi.Media

Minnesota Nazi Uniform Party Was Just an ‘Historical Exercise’

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

The owner of a Minneapolis, Minnesota restaurant has defended a private party in which men dressed up in SS uniforms and said it was only an exercise for actors who play historical roles and was not meant to praise Hitler.

No one outside of the restaurant knew about the party, or the “event” as the actors called it, until the local City Pages website posted on line a picture of the men in Nazi uniforms in the restaurant, called Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit.

“By no means do we glorify the edicts of the Third Reich,” said Scott Steben, who characterized himself as a history buff who has landed movie parts as a German soldier. “I understand the sensitivity of the subject matter and everything but it did occur and it is history,” according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Steben doesn’t see any difference between actors dressing up as Star Trek characters and as Nazis. It’s all in a day’s work, but where have we heard that before?

The party was held on – are you ready for this – Martin Luther King Day, in late January. Steben said that the event was actually the group’s annual Christmas party, which was booked on a Monday because it is the only day the restaurant is closed.

Wouldn’t it have been interesting to hear the reaction of the actors if they had dressed up as KKK members, not for any reasons of racism, God forbid, but just to act out a bit of American history.

The party was photographed by one of the restaurant’s workers who showed them to his friends. The restaurant owner promptly fired the worker, and it remains to be seen if that is reasonable grounds for dismissal.

The photos showed four Nazi banners hanging in one dining room, and another picture reveals a staff member receiving a black T-shirt with a swastika – all for the sake of history, of course.

Local Jews were understandably upset. “Glorification and/or celebration of Nazi Germany and its military would appear to be incongruous with the nature of a family restaurant and its surrounding neighborhood,” wrote Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas Executive Director Steve Hunegs in a statement.

Two Jewish organizations said they are offering to help the restaurant find a way to honor Minnesota’s World War II veterans and Holocaust survivors by not associating with German military re-enactors.

The restaurant owner Mario Pierzchalsk, a native of Poland, said he has hosted the party for six years. Following the bad publicity, he will not allow the group to stage a similar party next year but said the people who attended “are very peaceful” and are “just actors.”

He was angry at the negative reaction. “We live in a free country…but from the comments I see, a lot of people they don’t see what freedom is. If I break the law, punish me. But we did this for so many years and everything was fine,” he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

However, he did apologize on Wednesday.” On behalf of everyone who participated in a World War II reenactment dinner last January, I apologize,” read a statement issued by Steben and published in the Star Tribune. “We understand that some of the items we displayed at the dinner have made people feel uncomfortable. That was not our intent.”

Below is the local CBS outlet’s report.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Saudi Religious Police Warns against Celebrating New Year’s Eve

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Saudi Arabia Commission of the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice has warned people not celebrate New Year’s Eve has warned against celebrating New Year’s Eve lest the wrath of Allah fall on them,

The Commission explained that there is a Muslim religious edict banning such levity.

The same force previously has banned the sale of red roses and gifts on Valentine’s Day. Its job is to enforce Saudi Arabia segregation of the sexes in public and to make sure women are covered from head to toe when in public.

Jewish Press News Briefs

GOP: Polls and the Hinge Points of History

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

What does it mean that recent polls show 7 in 10 respondents think Republicans are putting their agenda ahead of what’s good for the country, as opposed to the 5 in 10 respondents who think President Obama is doing the same?

The answer probably lies in an analysis of the ancillary question posed in the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll: do respondents agree or not with the statement that the GOP or the president is “demonstrating strong leadership and standing up for what they [he] believe[s] in”?

For Republicans, only 27% of respondents agreed with that statement.  For Obama, 46% of them agreed.

On the face of it, that’s actually a contradictory assessment about the Republicans.  Only 27% of respondents think Republicans are standing up for what they believe in – and yet more than 70% of respondents (the actual figure was 74%) think Republicans are putting their agenda ahead of what’s good for the country?  How can that be?

Here’s how: a meaningful number of the respondents are conservative Republicans (call them the “Tea Party,” for short) who are disappointed with GOP leaders, because the conservative respondents don’t think GOP leaders are standing up for Republican beliefs.  Those respondents add to the number who are predisposed to blame or dislike Republicans for other reasons.  But the “Tea Party” demographic despises GOP leadership because it thinks the party is doing too little to combat current trends in government, rather than too much.

I don’t think it can be disputed that the opinion-poll numbers are bad for Republicans.  But I do think the narrative that reflexively calls this a linear reaction to The Stupidity of Cruz is all wet.  For one thing, that narrative itself falls apart on examination.  The specialized thought process and the poll-respondent demographic just don’t exist to make it descriptive.

Equally important, however, is the key difference between Democrats and Republicans in October 2013, which is that Republicans are profoundly divided.

As long as the Democrats keep their communications reasonably disciplined, they can be sure of getting a unified set of characterizations across to the public without interference.  But the Republicans, who already find every talking point distorted by the media, have the added burden of genuine disagreement among themselves.  There’s no question that Republicans look, at this juncture, like we can’t get our act together.  This is because we can’t get our act together.  We don’t agree on what it should be.

Poll respondents are quite reasonable in recognizing that there would be no government shutdown if everyone in the GOP agreed with the Democrats on what should be done.  That’s really kind of a forehead-slapping “duh!” revelation, and I suspect it’s what the poll numbers are telling us.  Of course it’s the GOP’s fault that there has been a shutdown.  Of course the shutdown has been forced by political differences.

Does it follow that 74% of poll respondents – or of Americans in general, who may or may not be well represented in this poll – think “the” problem is the Tea Party, and that the way to resolve it is for the GOP to crush the “Tea Party wing” and get on with the business of agreeing with the Democrats?

No, it doesn’t – any more than it follows that the GOP should do the converse: rout the GOP “moderates” in a turkey-shoot from the right.  There is no such quantity out there as a 74% majority making it clear that Republican blame for the shutdown should translate into gigging Ted Cruz like a swamp-bottom frog, or into running John McCain out of town on a rail.

What there is instead is a profound dispute within the GOP about who we are and what our way forward is.

There may no longer be a unifying “center” to hold the GOP together.  If the GOP doesn’t encompass the limited-government views of the Tea Party, there is an essential sense in which the party no longer represents an alternative to the Democratic Party.

But there is still a sizable number of Republicans who see a viable future for a Republican Party that makes its name on what George Will has been calling “splittable differences” with the Democrats in Congress.  I admire Will’s broadly positive and genial take on the current impasse between the parties, and between the factions in the GOP.  But ultimately, I’m not convinced that being the party of “splittable differences” would be a big motivator or vote-getter for Republicans.

J. E. Dyer

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/gop-polls-and-the-hinge-points-of-history/2013/10/17/

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