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

Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Attorney General to Close ‘Bibi Tours’ Case

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Another “Let’s get Bibi” case has bit the dust.

Attorney General Yehudah Weinstein has accepted the recommendations of the police and state prosecutors and will close the “Bibi Tours” case that raised suspicions that Netanyahu illegally pocketed money for trips when he a Knesset Member,

The case arose after a Channel 10 reporter claimed that an organization and a businessman each paid Netanyahu for the same trip made by him and his wife Sara, amounting to “double-billing” and with some of the money going into Netanyahu’s pocket.

He and wife also allegedly flew to London in 2006 on a trip that was paid for twice, once by the Knesset and once by Israel Bonds.

The exposé sparked a lengthy and costly investigation by the Comptroller, who acts as Israel’s ombudsman, of hundreds of requests for travel by Cabinet ministers and their deputies.

Netanyahu denied there was any double-billing and accused the media, most of which simply hate the man no matter what, of trying to harm him and his wife.

The investigators received satisfactory answers from Netanyahu concerning one of the trips, Globes reported.” They also concluded that if there were any questions of improper conduct in the second case, they did not justify opening a criminal probe.

Nothing Legitimate about Antisemitic Slur

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Former British foreign secretary Jack Straw is pleading innocent. Called out for comments made during a Round Table Global Diplomatic Forum held at the House of Commons last week, Straw insists that there’s nothing anti-Semitic about raising points that he says are merely matters of genuine concern.

As the Times of Israel reported, former Labor Party Knesset member Einat Wilf, who took part in the debate, described Straw’s presentation in the following manner:

Wilf participated in the debate and posted some of what she said were Straw’s comments on her Facebook page, saying she nearly fell off her chair when she heard them: “Listing the greatest obstacles to peace, he said ‘unlimited’ funds available to Jewish organizations and AIPAC in the US are used to control and divert American policy in the region and that Germany’s ‘obsession’ with defending Israel were the problem. I guess he neglected to mention Jewish control of the media….”

The British politician is right when he says criticizing Israel’s policies is not anti-Semitic. But, like many others who want to bash Israel without being branded as Jew-haters, he crossed a very important line when he injected traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jewish money and insidious attempts to control the policy discussion into the question of how best to advance the cause of peace.

That’s why someone like Wilf, who opposes the Netanyahu government, was so outraged. In doing so, he not only demonstrated ignorance of how American politics works as well as insensitivity to Israel’s position, but also showed the way disagreements with the Jewish state quickly morph into conspiracy theories that are thinly veiled new versions of traditional myths about Jews.

While Straw is neither the first nor the last member of Parliament or prominent Briton to play this game, the fact that someone who was a former foreign minister would not only feel free to vent this nasty stuff, but also think there’s nothing wrong with it, tells you all you need to know about the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe.

As for Straw’s charges, they are easily dismissed. Contrary to the Walt-Mearsheimer “Israel Lobby” conspiracy theory thesis, the vast, wall-to-wall bipartisan coalition that supports the Jewish state is a function of American public opinion, not Jewish money.

As frustrating as it may be for Israel’s critics, support for Zionism is baked into the DNA of American politics and is primarily the function of religious attitudes as well as the shared values of democracy that unite the U.S. and Israel.

Other lobbies (oil interests, pharmaceuticals, et al) have far more money. Hard as it is for some people to accept, the reason why American politicians back Israel’s democratically elected government is because opposing them is bad politics as well as bad policy.

Making such accusations is offensive rather than just wrong because, as Straw knows very well, talking about Jewish money buying government policy is straight out of the anti-Semitic playbook of the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The purpose of such claims is not to argue that Israel’s supporters are misguided so much as that they are illegitimate.

That Straw is similarly frustrated with German refusals to try and hammer the Israelis is equally appalling. Germany’s government has, contrary to Straw’s comment, often been highly critical of Israel, but if officials in Berlin have some sensitivity to Israel’s position as a small, besieged nation it is because they understand that the underlying factor that drives hostility to Zionism is the same anti-Semitism that drove the Holocaust.

But the main point to be gleaned from this story is the way Straw has illustrated just how mainstream anti-Semitic attitudes have become in contemporary Britain. It is entirely possible that Straw thinks himself free from prejudice. But that is only possible because in the intellectual and political circles in which he and other members of the European elite move, these ideas have gone mainstream rather than being kept on the margins as they are in the United States.

The ease with which Western European politicians invoke these tired clichés about Jewish power and money is a reflection of the way attitudes have changed in the last generation as the memory of the Holocaust fades and people feel empowered to revive old hate. Chalk it up to the prejudices of intellectuals, especially on the left, as well as to the growing influence of Muslim immigrants who have brought the Jew-hatred of their home countries with them.

Straw may not be alone in not liking the Netanyahu government, but he can’t get out off the hook for the anti-Semitic rationale for his views that he put forward. The pity is, he’s speaking for all too many Europeans when he speaks in this manner.

Pragmatism Or Ideology?

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

During the week that the EU announced its planned sanctions against Israel, one of the dedicated Land of Israel lobbyists requested that I add my signature to a petition from MKs to the prime minister requesting the renewal of construction in Jerusalem. Thirty-two highly respectable signatures of loyal MKs from the center and right of Israeli politics already adorned the petition. But after a cursory glance at the following petition, I clearly could not sign:

To: MK Binyamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister

Re: Renewal of Construction in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria – Now

We turn to you regarding the above issue as follows:

1. In these days, we are witness to another attempt by the European Union to terrorize the State of Israel and to damage its vital interests. This attempt may thwart any chance for a political breakthrough and foil the efforts of Secretary of State Kerry to renew the diplomatic negotiations.

2. On the backdrop of this attempt and its results, there is no place to wait any longer and it is imperative to immediately renew construction in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.

3. We request that you give the appropriate instructions for renewal of construction.

Respectfully,

“I can’t sign,” I gently said to the lobbyist. “I have a problem with the wording.”

“What’s the problem?”

“This document implies that we must renew construction in Jerusalem so that Kerry can succeed in the diplomatic process. But I think that we must build in Jerusalem for entirely different reasons, and I am absolutely opposed to the diplomatic process.”

The lobbyist tried to convince me that this is pragmatic politics, that this is the argument around which we can now achieve a consensus. “I also don’t like it,” he explained, “but that’s politics.”

The reputable number of MKs that signed the letter proved, on the surface, that he was right. One week later, Kerry succeeded in renewing negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Thirty-two MKs, those most loyal to the land of Israel – from Likud, Jewish Home, Yisrael Beiteinu and even Shas – are now signed onto a document that implies that there is no longer a reason to renew construction in Jerusalem. Our common goal – renewal of “peace” talks – has already been achieved.

Would a leftist MK ever dream of adding his name to this type of convoluted document that fundamentally contradicts his entire worldview – all in the name of political pragmatism?

Which politics ultimately determines Israel’s agenda? The “pragmatic” politics of the Right or the ideology of the Left?

It is time for the Right to connect its politics to its ideology.

Livni Using ‘Peace Talks’ to Get Rid of Bennett

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Tzipi Livni, Israel’s senior negotiator in talks with the Palestinian Authority and head of her own tiny six-Knesset Member “Tnuah” party, is sniping at the coalition partner Jewish Home party for being an obstacle to a peace agreement.

She told Israel Radio’s flagship Reshet Bet station Tuesday morning that the peace talks would have greater support if the Jewish Home, headed by Naftali Bennett, were to leave the government and make way for Labor, which is much closer to Livni’s position.

Shelly Yachimovich, head of Labor, has said several times she would join the coalition if Jewish Home were to drop out of the coalition to thwart an unwanted agreement. That would suit Livni just fine because polls show that if elections were to be held today, her party would win only three seats in the Knesset.

If she can take the credit for getting rid of Bennett, Livni, once upon a time a hawkish nationalist Likud MK and minister, would win more support from Labor voters or could team up with Yachimovich to stay alive politically.

Radical, Democratic Changes to Egypt’s Constitution, MBs Out

Monday, August 19th, 2013

The technical committee has been assigned the task of “amending” Egypt’s 2012 Muslim-Brothers inspired constitution is almost finished, Al Ahram reported. The committee is headed by Interim President Adly Mansour’s legal advisor, Ali Awad.

In a press conference Sunday, Awad told the press that the committee will finish its work Monday, and the new draft constitution will be announced Wednesday. Al Ahram quotes the basic instruction given the authors of the new document: “Fundamental changes must be introduced to 2012 Islamist-backed constitution.”

By fundamental, they mean no Muslim Brothers in politics, ever again.

“The 2012 constitution was drafted under the former regime of the Muslim Brotherhood to grant Islamists an upper hand and a final say in Egypt’s political future, and this must be changed now,” Ahram quotes a committee source. “When the people revolted 30 June, their main goals were not confined to removing Mohamed Morsi from power, but also changing the fundamental pillars of the religious tyranny the Muslim Brotherhood regime tried its best to impose on Egypt.”

The source revealed that the new constitution must impose a ban on political parties based on religious foundations.

The source explained that “the anticipated ban gained momentum after the committee received requests and proposals from more than 400 political, economic and social institutions, pressing hard for the necessity of safeguarding Egypt against Islamist factions trying to change the civil nature of the country into a religious oligarchy.”

Except that – surprise, surprise, despite the anti-Brotherhood sentiment common to the new masters of Egypt, the source says the new constitution “will keep Article 2 of 2012′s Islamist-backed constitution — which states that Islamic Sharia is the main source of legislation — in place.”

This, according to committee chairman Ali Awad, is done “in order to stress the Islamic identity of Egypt.”

According to the source, most political institutions have recommended that “if it is necessary to keep the Islamic Sharia article in place as a nod to Islamists like El-Nour, it is by no means necessary to maintain the 2012 constitution’s separate article (Article 219) that delivers an interpretation of Islamic Sharia.”

Article 219 of the 2012 constitution states: “The principles of Islamic Sharia include its generally-accepted interpretations, its fundamental and jurisprudential rules, and its widely considered sources as stated by the schools of Sunna and Gamaa.”

Not any more. They’re also going to scrap the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament, that was created in 1980 by late President Anwar El-Sadat to befriend his Islamist foes. They shot him anyway. The MB exploited its majority in the council in 2012 to “Brotherhoodise national press institutions and the state-owned Radio and Television Union (known as Maspero) and gain legislative powers to Islamise society.”

Sources are saying there will be radical changes of articles aimed at regulating the performance of the High Constitutional Court and media institutions. “We aim to reinforce the independence of these institutions and not to face any more intimidation by ruling regimes,” the source said. He also indicated that, “The electoral system is also expected to see a complete overhaul in order not to cause any discrimination against independents or come in favor of party-based candidates.”

And another noteworthy change: Article 232 of the 2012 constitution, imposing a ban on leading officials of Mubarak’s defunct ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), will be annulled.

So, it appears the Egyptians are quite capable of taking care of their legal affairs without nasty interventions from their patron wannabes in Washington. Perhaps it would be best for the U.S. to shut up for a couple of weeks and not meddle?

Half of NY Wants Sheldon Silver Gone – Except his Voters

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Half of New York voters think that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver should quit because of his actions in the Vito Lopez sex harassment scandal, and 52 percent disapproved of his overall performance, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

Which is a meaningless figure, since Silver continues to be very popular in his district which encompasses the Lower East Side and Lower Manhattan.

The state ethics commission last month issued a report charging that Lopez harassed at least eight female staffers, most of them after Silver approved a secret settlement in return for two of the victims’ promising not to reveal the incidents, The New York Post reported.

Naturally, the Post has been a sworn enemy of Silver, whom they’re yet to associate directly with any wrongdoing.

Lopez finally resigned last month after he faced possible expulsion.

“The Vito Lopez sex scandal persuades a bare majority of New Yorkers that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver should step aside,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “A lot of voters say get rid of the pack of them; there should be a legislative house-cleaning.”

But in a democracy it doesn’t matter what the NY Post thinks (or what Israel Today does, for that matter). Democracy is decided by the voters. And Lower East Siders, especially the local Jewish voters, are sticking with Shelly…

Christie Declares Special August Primaries for Lautenberg’s Seat

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

New Jersey’s Republican Gov. Chris Christie announced Tuesday a special primary election will be held August 13, followed by general elections Oct. 16, to fill the seat left vacant by the death on Monday of Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg. By law, he could have appointed a temporary replacement.

“I want to have an elected senator as soon as possible,” Christie told reporters at a news conference. “I firmly believe that the decisions that need to be made in Washington are too great to be determined by an appointee for a period of 18 months.”

The new senator who will be elected will serve only a year because Sen. Lautenberg’s term of office expires in 2014, when the seat again will be up for grabs.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/christie-declares-special-august-primaries-for-lautenbergs-seat/2013/06/04/

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