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October 26, 2014 / 2 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘vote’

CUNY BDS Vote Shelved After Heated Debate – #BDSFail

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

(JNS.org) A last minute resolution to divest from Israel by a student group at the City University of New York (CUNY) was shelved on Friday night following a strong showing by pro-Israel supporters despite the start of the Jewish Sabbath.

The Doctoral Students’ Council (DSC) of CUNY, which represents over 4,700 members of the graduate school from across the CUNY system, first announced the last minute divestment vote earlier in the week to take place on Friday, September 12th at 6 p.m.

Many pro-Israel students raised concerns over the vote’s start time, coming just before the Jewish Sabbath, as well as the fact that no materials where handed out ahead of time to help students prepare. According to Dominique Nisperos, the DSC’s co-chair for communications, that was done out of “environmental concerns,” the Washington Free Beacon reported.

After a lengthy heated debate on Friday evening, that included additional time for both sides to present the arguments, a motion was eventually passed to table the resolution for a future date.

Despite the vote’s difficult timing for observant Jews, a number of pro-Israel groups also turned out to support CUNY students and faculty who opposed the resolution.

“It is a routine tactic of the BDS movement to hold votes on or around Jewish holidays in order to shut out pro-Israel voices,” Jacob Baime, Executive Director of the Israel on Campus Coalition – who attended the Friday evening vote – told JNS.org. “When the facts are known, BDS fails.”

The proposed resolution, which is titled “The Endorsement of Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions”, called on the CUNY system to endorse a “boycott of Israeli academic institutions and the divestment from Israeli companies” as well as ending academic partnerships with Israeli institutions such as the one between Baruch College and Israel’s College of Management and Academic Studies.

The resolution also expresses support for “Palestinian students and academics in their struggle against the Zionist policies of the Israeli state and its restrictions.”

Baime added that he is proud of the CUNY students and faculty for their strong showing despite having little time to prepare.

“I am proud of the CUNY students and faculty who defeated this anti-peace resolution,” he said. “The campus community can make a meaningful contribution to peace, and BDS does not do that. It is divisive and tears the campus apart.”

El-Sisi Becomes President of Egypt

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Exit polls show that former Field Marshal and Defense Minister Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has swept the polls to become Egypt’s new president.

With nearly all the votes counted, el-Sisi has won 95.3 percent, with leftist opponent Hamdeen Sabahi taking 4.7 percent. The data comes from the Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research and the Egyptian TV channel MBC Masr.

Some 25 million Egyptians managed to make it to the polls by the end of the three-day extended voting period, according to the state-run Al-Ahram Online news service. Both candidates filed complaints against the decision to extend the voting by an extra day.

The Human Rights Watch agency also complained, issuing a statement saying, “The mass arrests of thousands of political dissidents, whether Islamist or secular, has all but shut down the political arena and stripped these elections of real meaning.”

El-Sisi removed his predecessor, the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Mohamed Morsi, last June after he had spent one year in office. That year resulted in an Islamist parliament and a tourism industry torn apart by fears over limits on alcohol, music, dress codes and more.

The economy, already limping after the January 25 Revolution in 2011 toppled the government of former President Hosni Mubarak, crashed. And thousands took to the streets to protest when there was no improvement in any sector month after month from the new regime.

When the figure hit the million mark, el-Sisi stepped in, removing Morsi and installing a provisional governing council with representation from across the political spectrum and an interim president. The Muslim Brotherhood was also invited to send delegates – but refused and instead sent its people into the streets, where clashes escalated to more violence.

Eventually more than 600 were killed in the clashes between police and protesters, and thousands were injured. Ultimately the Muslim Brotherhood was banned as a political organization, as it was in earlier years by the Mubarak government, and its leaders jailed.

El-Sisi also poured police and other security personnel into the Sinai Peninsula to put a stop to the flood of terrorists ‘immigrating’ to the region to establish new bases there. He also ordered the Egyptian army to seal the smuggler tunnels with which Gaza terrorists were ‘importing’ weapons and other contraband under the border from Iran and elsewhere.

The issue now is whether the new administration under Abdel Fattah el-Sisi will have the tools and the legitimacy it needs to restore order and peace to a nation wracked by rage, violence and poverty for so long.

Aryeh Deri Feints Right

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Aryeh Deri, the head of the Shas party, has been trying to paint himself as a right-winger these past few weeks, or at least not a leftwinger, in an attempt to rid himself of the deeply ingrained image that he supported and enabled the Oslo Accords.

While Deri toured sites in Gush Etzion on Wednesday with his family, Deri’s close associates were busy conveying messages of love for the Settlers, according to a report in Makor Rishon.

Everyone who went through the Oslo years remembers Shas and Deri’s support for Oslo as they sat and enabled the Rabin-led government, allowing Oslo to pass. Deri’s associates told Makor Rishon that Deri and Shas never actually voted for Oslo, but rather they abstained from voting for it.

But they never add that Deri and Shas didn’t vote against Oslo either.

In fact, at the time, Shas’s 6 seats were absolutely required to keep the Labor-Meretz coalition alive, and if Shas has pulled out of the government, Oslo could never happened.

For good measure, as part of the rehabilitation of Deri’s image, Deri’s associates added the stain of Oslo on Deri are just lies spread by the extreme right.

Abusing Clout

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

There is an article in the  New York Times that discusses the clout Chasidim in America have achieved. And it does not paint a flattering picture. Some might say that this is just typical New York Times bashing of religious Jews. But I’m not so sure it is. Let us examine the issue.

Chasidim do have clout. There is no question about it. How did they get so much clout? Prior to the Holocaust, Chasidim in America barely existed as an identifiable entity.  But they grew exponentially into huge numbers since the Holocaust. Chasidim tend to get married early (in some cases both bride and groom are in their teens) and have many children. A family of ten or more children is not uncommon. As a result, now over sixty years later they are a force to be reckoned with.

Although I have argued that – despite their rate of growth –  their current numbers do not necessarily predict their future dominance as a culture in Judaism… their numbers are very definitely huge as is their current influence in government. This is mostly seen in the power of their vote. If their rabbinic leadership tells them to vote for a certain candidate, they tend to do so in large numbers without question and without needing to know what that candidate stands for. This gives Chasidim as a group out-sized political power!

This power does not go to waste. This community uses it to their full advantage. When they make a request to a government official, he pays attention. And often sees to it that the request is granted.

I have no problem with using one’s clout to get things done for your community. There is nothing wrong with petitioning your government for your cause. It is no different than any group lobbying for their particular agenda. In that sense Chasidim are no different than – say – the gun lobby. It is the right of every American citizen – no less Chasidic citizens – to petition their government.

The question arises when petitioning for rights becomes pressuring for rights.  Requests then turn into demands with unspoken threats of political defeat in the next election if those demands aren’t met. Although it may be legal to do that – it can easily be interpreted as a form of political extortion to get what they want  – sometimes at the expense of others.That can only result in resentment at best… and at worst create (or expose latent) anti-Semitism.

First let me say that I view it unethical to vote for a candidate without knowing what he stands for just because you were told to do so by a rabbinic leader. I understand why they do this. It is obvious. It gives them an extraordinary amount of power over elected officials.  But one ought to vote for a candidate because of believing what he stands for – not because it will give your group collective power over him.

This is not good citizenship. And it makes religious looking Jews look bad. How does this affect the image of religious Jews in the world? Does this result in a positive image of Chasidim – or a negative one? What about the rest of Orthodox Jewry? Will we all be judged the way?

And how necessary are those demands? Are they Halachic or cultural? Let us look at some examples (described in the Times article) of achievements their clout has brought them.

How important is it for Chasidic women  to demand a female lifeguard at their beaches that are apparently sex segregated? Although I understand their request – it is a not a Halachic requirement to have a female lifeguard.  Is it worth exercising the community’s clout to get one?

I also do not understand why they insist on well water for their Pesach Matzos. They apparently object to chlorination. What does chlorine have to do with Chametz? It is not a leavening agent. It is a poison which if used in small quantities kills bacteria and has no harmful effects on human beings.

Separate – sex segregated public buses are now the norm in their neighborhood. Men in the front and women in the back. That is no doubt illegal. But since they do it voluntarily, no one bothers them. Is that so necessary? I know Chasidim consider separate seating on a bus to be more modest. But is violating the law the right thing to do if it isn’t a Halachic necessity – even if no one bothers them about it?

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.

Promise of Murderers Release Secures Monday ‘Peace Talks’ in DC

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Talks between Palestinians and Israelis will resume on Monday evening, the first such formal deliberations in almost three years.

Meetings between top negotiators will take place Monday night and Tuesday in Washington, the U.S. State Department said in a statement. Secretary of State John Kerry has been pressing the sides for a resumption and has visited the region six times since assuming his post in February.

The Israeli side will be represented by Tsipi Livni, the justice minister, and Yitzhak Molcho, the national security adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Saeb Erekat, the top Palestinian negotiator, and Mohammed Shtayyeh, who directs the Palestinian Economic Council and who has ministerial status, will represent the Palestinian Authority.

The State Department release said that the talks would at first focus on the procedure for the talks, but added that the basis for negotiations is in place.

“As Secretary Kerry announced on July 19 in Amman, Jordan, the Israelis and Palestinians had reached agreement on the basis for resuming direct final status negotiations,” it said. It did not elaborate what the basis is.

“The meetings in Washington will mark the beginning of these talks,” it said. “They will serve as an opportunity to develop a procedural workplan for how the parties can proceed with the negotiations in the coming months.”

“Both leaders have demonstrated a willingness to make difficult decisions that have been instrumental in getting to this point. We are grateful for their leadership,” Kerry added in the statement.

The announcement came after Israel promised to release 104 Palestinian prisoners with Jewish blood on their hands.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet met Sunday to debate the prisoner release and to approve the resumption of talks. The 22-member cabinet approved the release by a vote of 13 in favor, seven against and two abstentions.

Likud MK and Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon urged ministers to vote against the release, branding it “a diplomatic mistake, a moral mistake.”

It is still not clear whether the released prisoners will include 14 Israeli Arabs—which the PA made clear would be a deal breaker. Sources in Jerusalem told Kol Israel there has been no Israeli commitment on that issue.

Among the Israeli Arab prisoners whose release the PA is demanding are the four Arabs who killed three Israeli soldiers with pitchforks on the infamous “Pitchforks Night” in the early ’90s, the terrorist who threw a firebomb into the car belonging to the Moses family, murdering the mother Ofra and her son Tal, and the terrorist who threw a firebomb at a bus, murdering Rachel Weiss, mother of three children, and soldier David Delaroza, in the 1980s.

There were conflicting reports in recent days over whether the sides had achieved a basis for the talks, or whether negotiators would convene only to prepare the basis for talks.

Israeli and Palestinian talks have been suspended since October 2010, when the Palestinians walked out over Israel’s refusal to extend a 10-month settlement construction freeze.
JTA content was used in this report.

Cabinet Approves Referendum Bill

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

The Israeli cabinet approved a bill that would require a referendum on any deal with the Palestinian Authority that would involve relinquishing sovereign Israeli land. The bill does not include Judea or Samaria, which have not yet been annexed, unlike the Golan and parts of Jerusalem after it was liberated.

The bill will now go to the Knesset for a vote.

The vote on releasing Arab terrorists was postponed, after Netanyahu saw that he didn’t have the support to pass it at this point.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/cabinet-approves-referendum-bill/2013/07/28/

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