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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘primaries’

Religious Zionists Seeking Reunification Amid Pressures of Blitz Elections

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

National Union Chairman MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh), during a House speech on Wednesday in which he presented his bill to apply Israeli sovereignty over settlements in Judea and Samaria, said: “Next week, at a press conference shared by the Jewish Home and National Union factions, we will announce, officially and together, that we’ll be running jointly in the next election.”

The Jewish Home faction (Chairman Uri Orbach) with its three MKs represents the old National Religious Party (NRP), which was formed as a merger between Mizrachi and HaPoel HaMizraci, the two religious Zionist movements. NRP, or Mafdal (its acronym in Hebrew) participated in every Israeli coalition government until 1992.

The National Union with its four MKs was formed in 1999 by former members of the right-wing, pro-settlement Moledet, Tkuma and Herut parties. But Chairman Katz’s roots are in the historic NRP.

In a broad brush, today’s National Union represents the more right-wing segment of the traditional Religious Zionist camp, while Jewish Home is further to the left within the same camp.

Wedged between the two Haredi parties, United Torah Judaism (5 MKs) and Shas (11 MKs) and the largely secular, Zionist factions to their left, National Union and Jewish Home hope to attract a larger cut of the vote than they would have running separately.

One group of voters they may be able to draw on are Likud activist Moshe Feiglin’s Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish leadership) followers, who have seen their leader’s persistent attempts to influence their party crashing against a powerful pro-Netanyahu apparatus. In the 2008 primaries, Feiglin collected enough votes to qualify for the 20th spot on the Likud slate, high enough to enter

the Knesset—only to be outmaneuvered by the party leadership and ending up at the 36th spot and outside the legislature.

“There is no dispute today that the national religious public is leading in the fields of education, defense and settlement,” MK Katz said from the Knesset podium Wednesday. “This huge public cries out for a liaison between its representatives of all different shades and colors in the Knesset, who are aspiring to the same goals and in whose hearts is burning a love for the people of Israel, the Torah of Israel and the land of Israel.”

“In the next Knesset,” the National Union Chairman vowed, “we will bring this robust tradition as a double-digit faction into the coalition government.”

The reunion couldn’t come at a more difficult moment for both factions and their particular slice of the voting public. The settlement movement in Judea and Samaria is under an ongoing attack by the left, by elements inside the Likud government, and by the international community. And while decrees against individual outposts are being blocked, the seemingly pro-settlement majority in the Knesset and the government has been unable or unwilling to introduce a radically pro-settlement policy.

The weakness of the religious Zionist camp is reflected in two polls that came out this week, one published by Israel Today and the other by Yedioth Aharonoth, in which the two factions either fared worse than they had done in the last election or just held on to their current numbers. In other words, running together they could only do better than running separately.

In that vein, it was announced Wednesday that Jewish Home Chaiman Uri Orbach is assembling a transitional team, together with the National Union, in preparation for a united list in the September 4 election.

According to Orbach, “It shouldn’t be that the internal machinations within each faction detract from the main goal – increasing the united force of Religious Zionism in the Knesset.”

But it is unclear whether, despite their aspirations and best intentions, both faction will manage to put together an accepted list of candidates, much less agree on a campaign strategy and campaign staff in time for what promises to be a politically charged summer. Benjamin Netanyahu may have had bigger foes in mind—Avigdor Libeman, Shelly Yachimovich, Shaul Mofaz, and Yair Lapid—when he decided to go for an early election at the peak of his popularity, but, inadvertently, he has also managed to make life very difficult for these two smaller foes as well.

The Jewish Home faction is facing a procedural hurdle on the way to the longed-for reunification, in the form of the NRP membership census which was scheduled for this summer. The Jewish Home Knesset faction still represents the historic Mafdal, whose own apparatus is in charge of the party census and primaries. Getting their own bureaucracy to speed up the works so that the primaries can be conducted in time for the early election is turning out to be quite a task for Orbach and his two Knesset partners.

Yesterday, Arutz 7 reported on a particularly terse note from Jewish Home MK Zvulun Orlev to the chairman of the census and primaries committee, Rabbi Danny Tropper, urging him to hurry the proceedings and reminding him of Orlev’s countless warnings earlier this year, that there’s going to be an early election and the party must work fast to meet the challenge.

Santorum Continues to Challenge Romney for Republican Nomination, Wins Two More States

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum won Tuesday night’s primary contests in Alabama and Mississippi, while frontrunner Mitt Romney won in Hawaii and American Samoa.

With almost all of the votes tallied in Alabama, Santorum earned 35% of the votes, while Newt Gingrich edged Mitt Romney for second place by a few hundredths of a percentage point, at approximately 29%.

In Mississippi, Santorum won a tighter race, receiving 33% support, compared to Gingrich at 31%, and Romney at 30%.

“We did it again!” Santorum exclaimed to supporters Tuesday night. “This is a grassroots campaign for president. Who would have ever thought in the age of media that we have in this country today that ordinary folks from across this country can defy the odds day in, day out?”

“Now is the time for conservatives to pull together,” he continued. “The time is now to make sure — to make sure that we have the best chance to win this election, and the best chance to win this election is to nominate a conservative to go up against Barack Obama who can take him on, on every issue.”

Santorum’s victories in the conservative South continue his swing of momentum, and cement the notion that the Republican presidential nomination is down to a two person race. Santorum himself weighed in on the subject, saying, “this adventure’s going to be a two person race, and when it does, the conservative will win.”

Romney issued a terse statement emphasizing his sizeable lead in the accrual of delegates ahead of the GOP convention, saying, “I am pleased that we will be increasing our delegate count in a very substantial way after tonight.”

Romney won the Hawaii caucuses by a comfortable margin (45%, 20 percentage points higher than Santorum in second place) and won the support of all nine delegates in American Samoa.

According to an AP count, Romney has received the votes of 494 Republican delegates to Santorum’s 251, while Gingrich trails far behind with 131. A candidate needs 1,144 delegates to win the Republican nomination.

 

National Religious Factions Split over Primaries

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

In response to National Religious Party Chairman MK Zevulun Orlev’s call for consolidated primaries of the two current factions of what used to be the historic NRP, MK Jacob “Katzale” Katz, who heads the National Union faction, said the primaries are a corrupt system by definition, and would “endanger the idea of Greater Israel.”

Katz argued that the candidates who manage to get more money win primaries. He called for a reunited NRP, and for the list of candidates to be decided by prominent rabbis.

Why I Am Running For Head Of Likud

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

There we, Manhigut Yehudit’s strategy team, sat for our first strategy meeting ahead of the upcoming primaries. “According to Likud law, primaries for the party chairmanship will be held in about a year,” I said, “and we have to prepare now.” We spent hours discussing different ideas and assigning tasks and projects. As people began heading for the door, somebody read aloud a headline that had just come through over the Internet: “Netanyahu Calls for Primaries on Jan. 31.” “Very funny,” someone said, laughing. But it wasn’t a joke. Our entire meeting had just been rendered irrelevant. We had only seven weeks (from when the strategy meeting took place) until the primaries. My phone began to ring, with reporters asking for my reaction to Netanyahu’s bombshell. “I will run for the head of the Likud no matter when primaries will be held,” I declared.

Why run? And why run on such short notice, when Netanyahu obviously has a clear advantage?

The greatest threat hanging over Israel’s head – greater than a nuclear Iran – is the loss of our legitimacy to exist as a Jewish state. From our long and difficult history we know that the delegitimization of our right to exist ultimately leads to annihilation.

We have rightfully “earned” the existential question mark hovering over our heads, after years of evasion and the blurring of Israel’s Jewish identity. Faith-based Jewish leadership that will rally Israeli society around its Jewish identity is nothing less than an existential imperative.

“But you don’t have a chance,” people say to me. My answer to that is that no revolutionary vision has a chance at the start. But when pursued with determination, the vision always turns out to prove itself well connected to reality. This means that as long as I do not give up, I am always winning. The Wright Brothers’ first successful flight turned all the crashes that preceded it into part of the success story. The principle was right and with their perseverance, they ultimately succeeded.

In the previous primaries, I received 25 percent of the votes. In the primaries before those, I gained more votes than all the other candidates (including senior government ministers at the time). That would not have happened if I had not dared to run the first time, when I received only 3 percent of the vote.

Ultimately, the most realistic thing in the world is the fulfillment of God’s will. The Creator has not guarded the Nation of Israel for the past 3,000 years, restoring us to our land after 2,000 years of exile, just to establish another Western, democratic, liberal province on the very piece of land that the “oppressed” Palestinians claim as their own.

Israel has a national destiny and a universal message to bring to the world from Zion. That is the reality. To continue to exist and flourish, the State of Israel needs Jewish leadership. It needs leadership that understands the nation’s destiny and strives to fulfill it. The question is not whether we will win the primaries for the Likud leadership. The question is when we will win and lead our nation. We will win, because we are the only candidates in the national leadership arena that are connected to reality.

McCain: Kerry Revisited?

Wednesday, May 10th, 2006

Arizona Sen. John McCain, the early front-runner for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, had a potential John Connally/Mike Dukakis/John Kerry moment earlier this month, and hardly anyone seems to have noticed.

What McCain did was make some disturbing informal remarks to the Israeli daily Haaretz – informal only in the sense that as a still undeclared candidate, his comments, as Haaretz’s Amir Oren wrote, “reflect the personal opinion of a senior and influential figure in the area of defense policy in the United States Senate, rather than an attempt to formulate policy guidelines for his administration.”

McCain told Haaretz that as president, he would “micromanage” U.S. policy toward Israel and the Palestinians and would dispatch “the smartest guy I know” to the region, presumably to jump-start a new push for a comprehensive accord.

Asked who that “smartest guy” might be, McCain responded: “Brent Scowcroft, or James Baker, though I know that you in Israel don’t like Baker.”

McCain foresaw “concessions and sacrifices by both sides” and indicated that Israel would be expected to “Defend itself and keep evacuating.” Asked whether that meant “movement toward the June 4, 1967 armistice lines, with minor modifications,” McCain, reported Haaretz, “nodded in the affirmative.”

McCain’s statements are jarring not only because they reflect the view, long championed by the State Department and both the moderate and liberal wings of the Democratic party, that the U.S. can somehow “micromanage” a fair and equitable Mideast peace (code for unilateral Israeli concessions, since the Palestinians have nothing concrete to concede), but as well for the almost cavalier dismissal of concerns about an interlocutor on the order of a James Baker.

(McCain’s mention of Scowcroft, whose Mideast views and chilly attitude toward Israel are indistinguishable from those espoused by Baker, is equally instructive and should serve as one more caveat for McCain supporters in the pro-Israel community.)

Judging from the Mideast-related mishaps of previous high-profile presidential wannabes, the reaction to McCain’s comments would have been far less muted had he made them later in the campaign cycle (the first presidential primaries are still some 20 months away and McCain, as noted by Amir Oren, hasn’t officially declared his candidacy). Time will tell whether his remarks in Haaretz were an aberration or a harbinger.

McCain’s reference to James Baker was especially curious given the flurry of criticism that descended on John Kerry during the 2004 presidential campaign when the Massachusetts senator told the Council on Foreign Relations that if elected president he would appoint the “uniquely qualified” Jimmy Carter, James Baker or Bill Clinton as his Middle East peace envoy.

Kerry only made things worse when he claimed afterward – despite evidence to the contrary in the “as prepared for delivery” version of the speech posted on his own website – that the offending passage had been inserted into the speech at the last minute by staffers.

Michael Dukakis was another candidate who stumbled badly when attempting to lay out a Mideast policy. Speaking at a forum sponsored by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in April 1988, the Democratic Massachusetts governor appeared unfamiliar with basic Israeli history and unsure of where he stood on a variety of important issues. Many in the audience of Jewish leaders pronounced themselves decidedly unimpressed, and the next day’s Daily News article on the meeting was headlined “Duke is milk and honey, and waffle.”

Kerry and Dukakis both went on to win their party’s nomination, though both had their White House hopes dashed by men named George Bush. John Connally didn’t even come close. The Democrat-turned-Republican former Texas governor gave a speech in October 1979 to the Washington Press Club in which he demanded that Israel halt what he called its “creeping annexation of the West Bank” and return all territory captured in 1967.

Connally was lambasted by conservatives and liberals alike (times certainly have changed), and his once promising presidential campaign quickly withered. By the time he dropped out of the primaries, he’d spent $11 million and won the support of exactly one Republican convention delegate.

The Hebrew Press’s Jihad Against Sharon

Friday, February 14th, 2003

The hegemony over the Hebrew press in Israel by the far Left has always been a threat to Israeli democracy. The Left utilizes its near-monopoly over the press to promote its extremist and defeatist agenda in a naked manner. The Oslo debacle would never have occurred without Israel’s far Left exercising near-totalitarian control over the Hebrew press and electronic media.

But now there is a clear and present danger that Israel’s leftist-controlled Hebrew press may simply “steal” the election away from Ariel Sharon and grant it to Amram Mitzna.

It was, of course, expected that the press would conscript itself as partisan promoters of Mitzna in this election. But the current jihad against Sharon, coming just weeks before the election, is more than anyone thought possible.

Israel’s Hebrew press has simply declared war on Sharon. It is doing so in the form of endless daily front-page giant headlines about Sharon’s supposed involvement in “corruption.” The media campaign is well organized and rather transparent. The great irony is that Sharon, while not exactly bereft of sleaze, is far less corrupt than Amram Mitzna and the Israeli Labor Party.

The background to all this and to the press’s totalitarian jihad on behalf of Amram Mitzna goes back to 1999. At that time, Sharon was fighting a Likud internal primaries campaign challenging Netanyahu — a campaign, by the way, that he lost.

Sharon financed that campaign the same way all Israeli politicians do, with contributions from donors abroad or from Israelis funneled through overseas dummy corporations. Sharon’s doing so was not exactly clean, but it was peanuts compared with the illegal campaign financing schemes of Ehud Barak, Amram Mitzna, and other Labor Party leaders. (Netanyau’s finances were hardly cleaner either.)

Overseas money routinely corrupts Israeli politics. It is what props up the Far Left and even the Arab fascist political parties running in the Knesset, but it also routinely flows into the coffers of the Labor Party and the Likud.

Not only were Sharon’s 1999 primary campaign finances not exceptional in having benefited from some money from overseas, but they were downright honorable compared with the conventional campaign practices in Israel.

This was the case for several reasons: First, the money was being used for a primaries campaign, where Israel’s campaign finance laws are looser than for a real election. Second, no one claims the money was coming from anyone with special interests or expecting some sort of quid pro quo from Sharon, unlike — notoriously unlike — the Mitzna campaign sleaze.

In any event, two years after Sharon had lost those primaries and Ehud Barak came close to ceding Jerusalem and irreparably harming the rest of Israel as prime minister, the state comptroller issued a report on campaign finance corruption.

Much of the report focused on Ehud Barak and the Labor Party, particularly the unprecedented sleaze and corruption in Barak’s campaign, but it also managed to mention Sharon’s questionable finances in those Likud primaries. The comptroller ordered Sharon to repay 4.7 million shekels in campaign contributions that had been received in 1999 through an overseas dummy corporation.

Sharon’s problem was that he had lost those primaries and so could hardly cover the costs of the reimbursement through raiding the Treasury coffers — which someone in his position might have done. So, to come up with the cash and to obey the comptroller, Sharon tried to mortgage his ranch, worth quite a lot.

(It is not clear exactly where Sharon got the money for the ranch, but the very fact that the press has not tried to make a lurid issue out of that shows that it was probably all legitimate.)

The problem was that because of Israel’s bizarre socialist land nationalization system, the ranch is on land “leased” from the Israel Lands Authority. Even though the ranch is worth oodles, technically Sharon could not borrow against it to get the cash.

Instead, he approached his old chum Cyril Kern. Kern is a native Londoner who had served with Sharon as a volunteer in the Hagana in the Israeli War of Independence, stayed on close terms with Sharon, and owns a moderate empire of textile factories in South Africa. Sharon asked his two sons to take care of the paperwork, and Kern loaned the Sharons $1.5 million to pay the reimbursement ordered by the comptroller. Later, the Sharons took out an ordinary loan in Israel from a bank, all above board, and used it to pay back Kern.

So in essence the whole hullabaloo in the Israeli press has to do with the fact that the Sharons took out a bridge loan from an old chum of Ariel Sharon in order to comply with the state comptroller’s order. Kern has no business interests in Israel and so was clearly not being nice to gain favors or patronage from Sharon — of the sort that Amram Mitzna has rained down on Gad Zeevi and the other business cronies of his.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-hebrew-presss-jihad-against-sharon/2003/02/14/

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