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November 27, 2014 / 5 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘solidarity’

Labor Federation to Expand Postal Strike

Monday, October 6th, 2014

The Histadrut Labor Federation is expanding its postal strike to other agencies in solidarity with 1,500 full-time postal workers across the country whose fates still hang in the balance.

The government is intending to lay off the workers and replace them with contract workers instead, who will receive no benefits attached to their salaries. At issue is the question of how to make the Israel Postal Company profitable – which at present, it is not.

The nation’s labor union says it will extend its job action on Tuesday, Oct. 7, to include workers at the National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi) as well as the ports and the Justice Ministry.

Workers at the state-owned port in Haifa were already out on strike by Monday, shutting down a major gateway of trade — but the closure was not due to the postal strike. Rather, the walkout came in response to a government plan to build competing, private ports.

Foreign mail will continue to be blocked from entering the country as part of the general postal strike, however..

NYS Gov Andrew Cuomo, State Leaders on Israel Solidarity Visit

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and a bi-partisan delegation of state government and community leaders have spent the past three days packed back-to-back with briefings, meetings and tours of Israel.

Mostly, they have been expressing their solidarity with residents of the Jewish State. It comes in stark contrast to this week’s White House hold on a routine delivery of Hellfire missiles to its “closest friend and ally, the only democracy in the Middle East” — at a time when that ally is threatened by a foe receiving arms from Iran and Syria.

Cuomo and his fellow New Yorkers have done endless ‘meet and greets,’ especially in Jerusalem, where they stopped for the requisite snack at ‘Big Apple Pizza’ on the Ben Yehuda tourist walkway at the heart of the capital, and in the Old City of Jerusalem where the governor said a prayer at the Western Wall and was hugged by the leader of probably every represented faith, plus others.

Now Cuomo, Senate Majority co-leaders Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver are reaching the end of their three day solidarity visit. They’ve seen the people most affected by the current conflict: the millions of Israelis targeted by Hamas and allied terrorists in Gaza with their missiles and kidnapping plots and tunneling projects.

The state leaders arrived on August 12 to reaffirm “the State of New York’s support in light of the continued threat of attacks by Hamas and other terrorist organizations,” according to the media statement sent out by the governor’s office. Cuomo and his delegation met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, New York students living and learning in Israel and Israeli residents directly affected by the Gaza attacks.

“We are grateful for the Governor’s support and words of encouragement, and proud of the strong relationship we share with the people of New York, which is based on our shared values,” Consul General of Israel in New York, Ido Aharoni said.

“Friends stand together in times of crisis, and I am proud to lead this bipartisan delegation to Israel to reaffirm our friendship and support,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York has always had a special relationship with Israel. As Hamas and other terrorist organizations continue to threaten Israel, now is the time to deliver that message of solidarity in person.”

Senate Co-Leader Dean G. Skelos said, “During this important moment in history, it is incumbent upon New York to reaffirm its strong and unconditional support for Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas-led attacks and to take whatever action they deem necessary to protect their people from the brutal tactics of homicide bombers. I am pleased to join the Governor, Senate Co-Leader Klein, and Speaker Silver as part of the official New York State delegation visiting Israel this week, and look forward to bringing the good wishes of the people of my district and the state of New York to our nation’s most trusted and reliable ally.” Senate Co-Leader Jeffrey D. Klein said, “As the grandson of Holocaust survivors the State of Israel is not only personally sacred to me but a beacon for the values and rights inherent in a Democracy which I hold dear. I am pleased to join Governor Cuomo, Senate Co-Leader Skelos, and Speaker Silver as part of the official New York delegation, as a show of support that we will always stand in solidarity with Israel.” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, “Having visited many times, I am delighted to join Governor Cuomo and Senators Skelos and Klein in our mission to Israel to show New York’s solidarity with the people of the Jewish State. As a lifetime supporter of Israel, I cannot overstate the importance of this trip. I am proud that many New York businesses were started there and I believe it is essential that the Empire State’s leaders express our solidarity with Israel and its people, especially during these difficult times. I am certain our visit will reinforce the already strong ties that bind New York and the State of Israel.”

BGU Students to Protest Incitement

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Students at Be’er Sheva’s Ben Gurion University of the Negev are planning to “light a candle to illuminate the darkness” and fight incitement against local Arab students.

In an announcement posted on Facebook, the students cited threatening letters sent to fellow Arab students and graffiti declaring “Death to Arabs” that prompted them to schedule the demonstration of solidarity, set for 9:00 pm at the entrance to the university’s dormitories.

The move comes in the aftermath of the murder of a 16 year old Arab teen last week, and in response to the ongoing Arab violence that is spreading rapidly around the country — and sparking a growing anger by Jewish youth who are rapidly becoming sick of being victimized by Arab terror attacks.

Three Israeli teens who were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists on June 12 have yet to be caught by Palestinian Authority forces, although the alleged murderers of 16 year old Muhammad Abu Khdeir were taken into custody by Israel within days.

“All are invited, regardless of affiliation,” the announcement said. “Let’s show the public that students at Ben Gurion University have a clear stand against violence and incitement.

“Such actions undermine the most basic foundations of democracy and we must condemn them wherever they occur – especially when they occur at home, under our very noses.”

This is particularly relevant at BGU, inasmuch as the university has been extremely proactive in programs to integrate Bedouin students with Jews and others. BGU has been at the forefront of the educational system to help advance the education of Bedouin children and promote higher education in the Bedouin world. The university has the highest Bedouin-Jewish student ratio in the country.

Moreover, Jewish communities in the Negev – most of which are small are located quite far apart from each other – likewise live with the approximately 250,000 Israeli Bedouin who currently populate the Negev.

Druze Community Shows Solidarity with Kidnap Teens’ Families

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

The spiritual leader of Israel’s Druze community has expressed solidarity and support for the families of the teenagers kidnapped by Arab terrorists last Thursday evening.

“The thoughts of all the Druze in Israel have been directed to the fate of your sons,” wrote Sheikh Muafeq Tarif, in a letter sent to the Frenkel, Yifrach and Sha’ar families on Tuesday.

Naftali Frenkel, age 16, Gilad Sha’ar, age 16 and Eyal Yifrach, age 19 were abducted by terrorists in Gush Etzion while hitchhiking home for the Sabbath after their week’s learning at the renowned Mekor Chaim Yeshiva in Kfar Etzion.

“Your destiny is our destiny, and the hope for a quick release brings you and us together. I cannot imagine where your thoughts have gone since this terrible experience began last week, but rest assured that with your strength, and tremendous faith, you will soon hug your children,” the sheikh wrote.

“As the leader of the Druze community, I want to give you strength in the face of this violent criminal act of terrorism, as there is no other way to define this,” he added.

“I know that the best combat soldiers and commanders of the Druze community have made every effort to locate the children and capture the kidnappers. This is our opportunity as a Druze minority in Israel to express solidarity with you and with security forces and the country.

“The entire Druze community prays for the release of the children and stands by you for any request or need.”

God Bless You, Mr. Harper, Send More Canadians

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

There’s no doubt that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made a lot of fans during his official state visit to Israel, Monday. Israeli Canadians went absolutely gaga over him, lining up the streets (well, one street) to welcome his procession.

It’s so rare that someone out there should be on our side these days, that we go nuts (especially, like I said, the Canadians among us).

One woman was not celebrating: Zehava Gal-On, chair of the leftist Meretz party reacted to Harper’s loving speech in the Knesset by saying: “He sounds like a spokesman for the Foreign Office.”

She meant the Israeli Foreign office. She meant it was inconceivable that a high official outside Israel would say nice things about us. It really made her angry.

And, of course, the Arab MKs left the assembly in anger.

So, not entirely a bad day…

Photo credit: Meital Cohen/Flash 90

Photo credit: Meital Cohen/Flash 90

Israeli Democracy Dealt Blow with ‘Governance Act’

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Last night the Knesset voted to raise the threshold vote from 2 to 4 percent. This means that a political party must win 4.8 seats before it can receive its first seat in the Knesset. It was presented by the Likud-Beiteinu faction as a necessary measure to enable Israel’s government to govern without the constant fear of being toppled by a walkout of one of its minor coalition members.

The new threshold would effectively eliminate the small parties in Israel, forcing them to align in large power blocks or disappear. Meanwhile, their votes should be siphoned off to four or five major parties.

There’s an inherent problem in Israel’s parliamentary system, which has made it difficult for coalition governments over the past 65 years: the executive, meaning the prime minister, is also a member of the legislative body. In order to stay in power, he or she must juggle the Knesset membership around to maintain a majority of at least 61 out of 120 members. If they go below 60, their government is likely to lose a vote of no confidence (of which it endures about 10 a week), and the nation must go to new elections.

Under the U.S. constitution, it is perfectly fine for the president to govern while both houses of Congress are in the hands of a party other than his own. He will serve out his term of four years (unless he is impeached), and would simply have to haggle with the opposition party to get his legislation through.

An attempt in the recent past to let the voter pick the prime minister in a separate vote ended up with a disappointment to anyone who thought they would attain executive stability this way – and the separate PM vote was scrapped. It appears that the only real solution would be for Israel to switch to a presidential system, with an executive who governs outside the Knesset.

But such a change would be rejected by the smaller parties, who get their life’s blood—i.e. patronage jobs—from their leaders’ stints as government ministers. A cabinet run by an executive who isn’t himself an MK would be staffed by technocrats rather than by politicians, and the smaller parties would be left out to dry, unable to suckle on the government’s teat.

The new “Governance Act” that was passed last night would presumably have the same effect on the smaller parties: they would become history. This means the elimination of all the parties that currently boast fewer than 5 MKs: Hadash (Arabs) has 4, Ra’am Ta’al-Mada (Arabs) has 4, National Democratic Assembly (Arabs) has 3, and Kadima has 2.

You may have noticed a recurring ethnic group among the Knesset factions which would be eliminated by the Governance Act. Those 11 “Arab” seats would be eliminated, unless, of course, these three factions, with vastly different platforms (one is Communist, the other two not at all). are able to unite around their single common denominator, namely that they’re not Jews.

The political thinker behind this power grab is MK Avigdor Liberman, who’s been dreaming about a Knesset where his faction, Likud-Beiteinu, could win a decisive majority, once and for all. His henchman, MK David Rotem, was the bill’s sponsor. But the law of unintended consequences and double-edged swords is strong in Israel, and the new bill could just as easily be just what the Left needed to stage a resounding comeback.

Labor (15 MKs) and Meretz (6 MKs) are really the old Mapai, Achdut Ha’avoda and Mapam, the three Zionist workers parties. Hadash is really a remnant of Maki and Rakach, the two Communist parties which split off Mapam. If the leftist establishment got it together—as it did in 1992—it could cobble Labor, Meretz, the Arabs, Kadima and Livni to create a juggernaut of more than 35, possibly 40 seats.

This kind of unity could only be forged by a common feeling of a great betrayal by the right-wing government – and, what do you know, judging by last night’s drama over the threshold vote, such a sense of betrayal is permeating the smaller parties.

One after another, opposition MKs came up to the podium and used up their time to keep silent. MK Jamal Zahalka strapped duct tape over his mouth. MK Ahmad Tibi stood with his back to the plenum. Merets chair zehava Gal-on wept, her hands over her face.

Pesach and Solidarity

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

In Festival of Freedom, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik observes about our liberation from Egypt:

A group cannot be called am [nation] if there is no solidarity. Am is indicative of a readiness to share, a sense of compassion. The Jews were taken out of Egypt and were freed not because of their spiritual grandeur, but simply because they were charitable to one another; there was a feeling of solidarity among them.

Rabbi Soloveitchik goes on to state about solidarity in relation to the Holocaust:

If in the 1940s we had responded to the call for help that came across the ocean from the ghettos in Poland, Lithuania, and the Baltic lands, we might have saved hundreds of thousands of Jews. We did not respond to that call. I thought at the time that the Jewish community was falling apart, that there was no sense of solidarity, of being together, of suffering together. It was a terrible crime on our part…and we have not purged ourselves from the great crime we committed, tolerating the destruction of six million Jews.

As Pesach nears, these words should set our consciences aflame. Today, some of the world’s most inspirational Jews suffer continual persecution and brutality. Masked troops destroy their communities under cover of darkness and jail their children without due process, traumatizing families and empowering the enemies of Am Yisrael.

These crimes occur not under the flag of nations like Egypt or Russia, but under the flag of Israel.

We should know the name Akiva Hacohen. After this patriot warned Jews in Yehuda and Shomron about planned demolitions of homes, in August 2011 the state expelled him from his home in Yitzhar. Akiva was then jailed for espionage in January 2012.

Subsequently “released” to a house arrest with 24-hour monitoring that in effect also put his family under house arrest, the state further prohibited Akiva from using communication such as a cellular phone and the internet. “All we wanted to do was to guard the Land of Israel,” his wife Ayelet stated. “Unfortunately, this is an anti-Zionist state which abuses Jews who love the Land of Israel.”

Ayelet’s reference to “an anti-Zionist state” is a key point. Zionism means defending Jews and building Eretz Yisrael. People who hurt Jews and surrender Israel to Islamist neo-Nazis are not Zionists, no matter how fluent their Hebrew is.

We should know the names of the bulldozed Torah communities Akiva and Ayelet tried to defend—names like Mitzpe Avichai and Ma’oz Esther and Oz Zion and Ramat Migron.

Where is our solidarity for these oppressed brothers and sisters? Where are the manifestations of collective outrage?

It takes little if any moral courage to say that dead fascists and perpetrators of rocket attacks from Gaza are evil. It is another matter to confront brutality against Jews that is perpetrated by Jews. Denouncing Hitler and Hamas while ignoring Jewish enemies is outrage on the cheap.

In fact, all too often the attitude of Jews in the dati leumi (national religious) camp toward these matters is one of coarseness and evasion. “Now that it’s done, it’s done,” a dati leumi commentator said about the Shalit deal soon after it took place. Another commentator likewise reduced Gush Katif’s destruction to having been “a bad policy.” (I suppose then that England’s expulsion of Jews in 1290 was merely a bad policy.) These statements bring to mind what Rabbi Meir Kahane wrote regarding Mishlei 17:15 and 24:24-25:

[T]hose who fail to rebuke, aid and encourage the wicked to continue, and through their silence or their very timid, tepid and ‘mild’ criticism that fails to stamp the deeds as evil and as wrong, they are in effect labeling them as decent and as acceptable, thus erasing the line between good and evil.

This Pesach, let us take to heart Rabbi Soloveitchik’s words about what solidarity means for Am Yisrael and act accordingly.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/guest-blog/pesach-and-solidarity/2013/03/21/

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