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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.

Staunch Israel Supporter Rep. Bachmann Calls It Quits

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, a staunch supporter of Israel, announced Wednesday she will not for a fifth term in Congress next year.

Like Alaska’s former Gov, Sarah Palin in 2008, Bachmann was a darling of the Tea Party. After she launched a campaign for the GOP presidential nomination last year, she quickly became a frequent target for media mockery for several statements that were full of historical and factual errors.

Bachmann, who is not Jewish but volunteered on a kibbutz in 1974, delivered speeches as a fundamentalist Christian who has said she “grew up with a love for Israel.” She has asserted that Israel and the United States “share the same exceptional mission – to be a light unto the nations. I was raised in a home full of love for Israel. We learned that our Christian faith is rooted in Judaism.”

She was one of the founders of the Tea Party movement but believed the support from a vocal minority was broader based than it was. After she topped initial polls and then fell to the bottom of the pack in the crowded contest for the nomination, she dropped out of the running.

The campaign is history, but recent federal investigations have targeted her for misusing campaign funds.

She denies any wrongdoing and said the probe has nothing to do with her decision not to run again. In an eight-minute video explaining her decision. Bachmann tried to persuade supporters, if not herself, that she was sure she would win if she were to run again, although Jim Graves, who almost defeated her last year.

How to Use a Midterm Victory

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

There are good reasons to be hopeful about the 2014 midterm election.  The second presidential midterm election has historically been murder.  With the exceptions of Clinton in 1998 and Reagan in 1986, the president in his second midterm has lost massively in the House of Representative: FDR (-71 seats), Ike (-49 seats), Nixon (-49 seats), Bush II (-31 seats.)

Except for Clinton in 1998, each of those midterms produced losses for the president’s party in the Senate (Reagan, in fact, lost the Senate in 1986).  Senate elections are affected by the particular class of senators elected six years before as well as the sentiments of voters in the particular midterm at hand.  That is why Republican Senate losses in 1986 were so bad: Republicans defending their seats in 1986 had last faced voters in the 1980 Reagan landslide.

In 2014, the Senate class strongly favors Republicans both by the number of seats each is defending (21 Democrats to 14 Republicans) and the particular states involved, which are predominately conservative and Republican.  Sensing this, many Senate Democrats from conservative states are retiring.  The chances of Republicans taking the Senate are very good.

Winning in House races and state government elections will depend upon turnout.  Those eager airheads who have now turned out for Obama in two presidential elections will find few reasons to go to the polls in November 2014, when Obama is a lame duck and is not on the ballot.

Voter fatigue, more important than any notional polls of presidential approval or voter intentions, may well hand Republicans the sort of major victory that has been the norm in a president’s second midterm.  The growing sense of unease, even among the otherwise docile establishment media, may combine into a major Republican victory in 2014, giving perhaps fifty-five or more Senate seats and perhaps 260 seats in the House (a gain of 24 seats).  If this happens, what should Republicans do?

First, Senate Republicans should very directly state that only strict constructionist jurists will be confirmed onto the federal bench.  In fact, Senate Republicans should make it clear that no radical leftists will be confirmed for any appointed to federal courts or independent regulatory agencies.  Democrats have done this for decades — just ask Robert Bork — and Republicans must do it, too.

Second, Senate Republicans ought to do what Harry Reid threatened to do:  adopt a rule which ends filibusters and always moves for cloture with fifty-one senate votes.  This would allow Republicans in Congress to actually pass bills which would be placed on Obama’s desk to sign or to veto.  Ideally, these bills should have unanimous Republican support and, perhaps, that of a few conservative Democrats as well.

Obama will never sign ever moderate conservative reforms, so the nation would see the president vetoing one bill after another, accomplishing nothing but obstruction.  Republicans ought to research these bills as they did with the Contract With America:  find out what bills appeal to Americans, and then pass those out of Congress.

Third, Republicans must conduct aggressive investigations of the myriad abuses of power by Obama and his lackeys.  The best way to do this is would be to create a Joint Congressional Special Committee composed of members of both houses of Congress and, of course, both political parties.  Those called to testify before this committee would think twice before lying or acting flippantly.  In fact, if only a few Democrats on this Joint Committee called the Obama administration to the carpet, then the political stakes could rise dramatically for Obama almost overnight.

Unless the president and his flacks behaved much more respectfully and much more seriously than they have so far — and that, of course, would involved miles of backtracking — a Contempt of Congress citation adopted by both houses with some bipartisan support would be a real possibility.

The goal should be to deny Obama: to deny him any real power to influence the judiciary and regulatory agencies, to deny him any legislative victories by compelling Obama to veto reasonable legislation supported by the American people, and to deny Obama the unmerited support of many Americans by showing him before joint congressional committees to be a mendacious and venal politician.  There is no need to try to do too much, but doing these three things is critical to turning our nation around.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/how-to-use-a-midterm-victory/2013/05/29/

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