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Posts Tagged ‘Sara Netanyahu’

Israelis Are Picking the 19th Knesset (Video)

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Good morning and welcome to our obligatory election day morning piece, which could have been written last September for all the news you’ll find in it. But it must be written, because you just can’t start Election Day without a bunch of trite cliches about democracy, the voter, decisions, etc. – it’s the law.

The vote for the 19th Knesset began at 7:00 AM, as more than 5.6 million Israelis who are entitled to vote are expected to exercise their right, in 10,100 ballots around the country.

By the way, did you know that in Australia they get as many as 97% of the eligible voters to actually vote? You know why? Because it’s the law over there, and you get punished if you don’t. I suppose they have vast jails for the 3 percent that don’t vote. Every day they take those prisoners out to a big ballot box at the center of the prison yard and they’re made to fulfill their civil duty – and then they’re made to push the ballot box up a hill only to watch it roll downhill. But I’m digressing.

In Israel they have a cute commercial where a cop revokes your whining license for 4 years if you fail to vote. Take a look, it’s in Hebrew, but totally self explanatory:


OK, back to the obligatory stuff: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife, Supervising Prime Minister Sara Netanyahu, and their two sons showed up early at their local poll in the affluent neighborhood of Rehavia, Jerusalem.

My friend M. who lives right next door to the Netanyahus, passes by their house a lot, and whenever the security gorillas order her to stop to let the PM’s limo pull in or out of the driveway, she tells them: I am a citizen, he is my servant, I go first.

The Netanyahus’ sons, Yair and Avner, voted today for the first time. What I wouldn’t give to see who they voted for. My bet is on uncle Naftali (Bennett).

In the small communities, the polls will close at 8 PM. In larger enclaves the polls will close at 10 PM. Then we here at the Jewish Press will be playing our magic fingers furiously but with grace and insight, to let you know in real time what they’re saying on television. We’ll make you feel right at home, it’s what we do.

More than 20,000 police officers, Border Police and volunteers have been deployed throughout the country to keep order.

It’s a national holiday here, folks. In shul this morning we even had a short argument over whether or not to say Tachnun (supplications), because it’s a state holiday and we’re radical religious Zionists. We ended up saying it. I’ll bet you it would have been different if election day fell on a Monday or a Thursday (longer supplication text).

Transportation services will operate normally, as will other essential services. At Ben Gurion Airport they’re expecting 21 000 passengers. MDA is on high alert. Don’t ask me why, I’m not writing this stuff, I’m just translating official press releases.

The counting of votes will begin immediately after the polls close. Poll committees, made up of representatives of all the lists, will count the votes and then deliver the sealed ballot boxes and all voting materials to regional committees, which in turn will transmit reports to the Central Election Committee in Jerusalem.

Committee Executive Director Orly Aades, estimates that we’ll start seeing the true results by about midnight. This is because the committee is using new technology which is “expected to catalyze the counting of the double envelopes” (those are Israel’s absentee ballots). Final results of the elections are expected towards Thursday morning.

Did you know in Israel prisoners are allowed to vote? I’m surprised there isn’t a party catering specifically to the gripes of prisoners – some 10,800 of them will be voting today, in 57 polls, 31 of which are mobile (are you thinking what I’m thinking – the great election day prison break caper?).

That’s it. Now the Yanovers are setting out to go and vote at the local middle school. It’s our first election since we got here and we’re terribly excited.

Naftali Bennett: Stop US Aid, Slash Israel’s Military Budget

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Naftali Bennett’s parents, Jim and Myrna, made Aliyah from America in 1967, and settled in the port city of Haifa. Naftali, one of three brothers, was born on March 25, 1972. He served in the elite IDF units of Sayeret Matkal and Maglan as a company commander and still serves in the reserves, at the rank of Major.

I asked Bennett if he would have to give up his American citizenship, should he become Israel’s prime minister.

“I’m not becoming prime minister quite yet,” Bennett said, laughing out loud, “but, obviously, I’ll follow the law, if I’ll need to forfeit it, like Netanyahu has done. I’m not even sure who needs to do it – a minister, a prime minister – I’ll do whatever is needed.”

(For the record, current US policy requires that a dual citizen renounce their American citizenship if they are serving in a “policy level position” in a foreign government. The same holds true on the Israeli side. Law professor Daphne Barak Erez, born to Israeli parents in the U.S., was named Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel in 2012, which required that she give up her foreign citizenship.)

In 1999, Bennett co-founded and was the CEO of “Cyota,” a hi-tech company making anti-fraud software which he sold in 2005 to RSA Security for $145 million. He is likely the richest politician in Israel – well ahead of Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development Silvan Shalom, who is worth about $40 million.

Perhaps because of his own experience with vigorous American Capitalism, Naftali Benett is in favor of cutting the 40-year-old umbilical cord that still connects Israel to the American Treasury.

“Today, U.S. military aid is roughly 1 percent of Israel’s economy,” Bennett says. “I think, generally, we need to free ourselves from it. We have to do it responsibly, since I’m not aware of all the aspects of the budget, I don’t want to say ‘let’s just give it up,’ but our situation today is very different from what it was 20 and 30 years ago. Israel is much stronger, much wealthier, and we need to be independent.”

When I asked him for his opinion about the nominations of Senator John Kerry for Secretary of State and former Senator Chuck Hagel for Defense, his response was consistent with the former statement:

“I think it’s none of our business in Israel to intervene in American domestic decisions. President Obama gave us his word most vehemently that he would prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon – he said it several times over the past year. He said he has Israel’s back. So I hope and trust that President Obama will follow through on these very powerful commitments.”

In 2006, a wealthy man, Naftali Bennett decided to start giving back. He began serving as Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff, when the Likud was still in the opposition. He ran Netanyahu’s primary campaign in 2007 and continued to serve him through 2008.

Rumor has it that Bennett and Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, are not on good terms, to the point where Mrs. Netanyahu—who is as influential in her husband’s decision making as a political wife can be—will put her foot down when it comes to taking the former chief of staff on as coalition partner.

Gilat Bennett, Naftali’s wife, told Channel 2 News earlier this year that she could understand Sara Netanyahu, and empathized with her need to have a voice in the prime minister’s career, and with her desire to show that he “belonged to [her], too.”

In 2010, Bennett, in his role as Director General of the Yesha Council (the coalition of all the Jewish settlements east of the “green line”), was in an all out war against Netanyahu over the government imposed settlement construction freeze. The two are not on friendly terms, although Bennett insists on being cordial and even compliments his old boss now and then. Bibi’s comments about Bennett are outright icy.

I cited TV host Nissim Mishal, on whose show Bennett was ambushed quite crudely into stating that he would refuse an order to evict a Jew from his home—which turned into the media brouhaha of the week, earning Bennett ample condemnations from his enemies, and a 2-3 seat bump in the polls. On the same show, Mishal also suggested (“barked” would better describe his tone of questioning) that Netanyahu hated Bennett so much, there was no chance he would include him in is government.

Shmuel Ben-Artzi passes away at age 97

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Shmuel Ben-Artzi, the father-in-law of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, passed away at age 97 on Wednesday. Ben-Artzi immigrated to Israel in 1933.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/shmuel-ben-artzi-passes-away-at-age-97/2011/11/12/

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