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May 6, 2016 / 28 Nisan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘vote’

On April 19, You Can Cast the Most Important Vote of Your Life

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

It’s rare for frum communities to be pivotal in elections that have nationaI impact, but on this Tuesday, April 19, how Orthodox Jewish voters cast their votes, particularly in the Five Towns, Long Beach, Oceanside and West Hempstead, will have a very real, very serious impact not only here in New York, but nationally and potentially on Israel as well.

In a special election in 2011 to replace Congressman Anthony Weiner, Orthodox communities in Brooklyn and Queens sent shockwaves throughout Washington and the national political class when they rejected a well known and generally popular longtime local Jewish Democratic legislator, David Weprin, to instead lead the victorious campaign of a politically unknown Catholic Republican businessman, Robert Turner. The issues there were similar: Orthodox communities banded together primarily to send a national message to Obama and the Democrats in Washington of grassroots dissatisfaction with their treatment of Israel.

On April 19, frum voters have the opportunity to send the same message – but this time it is not merely symbolic or a protest, this time the practical stakes are vast and quite specific and directly impact the work both of us and many other Jewish activists are doing to combat the malevolent threat of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (“BDS”) movement. This may seem like a local election, but one of us fights BDS nationally from New York and one of us from California, and we, like our enemies, pay attention to all the states in between.

BDS is not a protest or boycott of Israeli policies and is not aimed at bettering anyone’s life – BDS is an aggressive campaign of lies and libels dedicated to one goal, plain and simple: to destroy the Jewish State.

“The real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel. There should not be any equivocation on the subject.” Those words belong to BDS leader As’ad Abu Khalil, a professor at the University of California. “BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state…BDS is not another step on the way to the final showdown; BDS is the final showdown.” That was written by BDS Leader Ahmed Moor.

Because they are clear, we too must be clear. In the words of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “Those who wear the BDS label should be treated exactly as we treat any anti-Semite or bigot.” While Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog has called BDS “unacceptable and hypocritical in every shape and form” and “an onslaught against Israel all over the world.”

And the impact of BDS is not just ugly libels against the Jewish state or terrorists 6000 miles away who are empowered by the blame John Kerry or the UN place on Israeli

“oppression” – though for those surely, “dayenu.” But BDS is also the basis of a newly emboldened and vicious anti-Semitism around the world including right in New York.

American Jews are being targeted by BDS. This is especially acute for Jewish college students, who are being targeted for harassment by other students and by the faculty and staff of universities. BDS is not academic freedom – it is the opposite. BDS routinely punishes, shouts down and shuts out open discourse in order to incite hatred and violence against Jews. Last week, in San Francisco, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat – a mild-mannered, middle-of-the-road Israeli not known for extremist views – was shouted down by BDS hoodlums and forced to abandon a speech he had been invited to give at the State University. The campus police were called in and neither arrested the protestors, nor ejected them, instead simply standing on the side as the outrageous harassment against Barkat became more and more aggressive.

According to a study published this past year, fueled by the blood libels of BDS, three of the top 10 most anti-Semitic universities in America are in New York – including the top two, Columbia and Cornell. NYU is in the midst of a BDS struggle and, if you have not been following it, we urge you to read about the terrible ongoing battles at SUNY and at CUNY where the New York Senate has heroically voted to slash funding to CUNY because of the egregious anti-Semitism. The message the New York State Senate sent has been heard in legislatures and universities around the country. There are many friends in the Senate who have helped, and we want specially to single out Senator Jack Martins for his dedicated leadership in the fight against BDS and Higher Education Committee Chairman Ken LaValle for making it a priority for his committee.

In state capitols around the US and in Washington, we and our colleagues in many anti-BDS groups have been working with legislators to fight BDS. Collectively these efforts have resulted in dozens of state and federal laws being passed that – like the New York State Senate’s votes against BDS – chip away at our enemies legally and, at least as importantly, that repudiate their libels and lies. The legislations have been cautious, because the issue is so significant that there has been a reluctance to hand even a single victory to the enemies of Israel and the Jews. And yet, to date, BDS is winning in New York, home to the largest concentration of Jews outside the State of Israel.

Republicans in Albany have been dedicatedly pushing anti-BDS legislation and it has passed the Senate for one reason only: that Republicans control the Senate. In the Assembly, however, the Democrats have made abundantly clear that while they remain in control they will not allow anti-BDS legislation. They cynically claim BDS is a matter of “free speech” – even while a major part of BDS itself is the denial and restraint of pro-Israel speech (or even the rights of Israelis and Jews to speak, regardless of the topic or their views). Serious questions have been raised by a number of our fellow anti-BDS activists about Todd Kaminsky’s own approach to BDS which is substantially weaker than the Republicans’. But the sincerity of his intentions are rendered irrelevant by the circumstances of this race. If on April 19 this Senate seat goes to a Democrat – even a sympathetic Democrat – control of the Senate will change hands to the pro-BDS party. The national ripple effect is palpable.

By quirk of fate or hashgacha, this issue is in your hands. You have an opportunity to turn out in force to make it clear to the Democrats in Albany – and all lawmakers nationally – that refusing to fight BDS is to stand for the destruction of Israel. Frum Jews must let them know that fighting the blood libels of BDS does not even really require a lawmaker to be pro-Israel, it simply demands that they be a human being with a conscience and a memory. If the Democrat leadership in Albany will not fight against BDS then they stand with the anti-Semites now libeling Jews and terrorizing our children in college.

There is no justification for this having become a partisan issue. In California, as in many other states, we managed to bring both parties together. We are not happy that the Democrats’ leaders have made this a party fight in Albany and it is in their power to change that – but they will only do so if voters turn out in force and show them there is a price to be paid.

As for the other parallels to the last time our vote really mattered, Rabbi Twersky’s open letter laments the disgraceful smearing of Chris McGrath as an anti-Semite. We have seen an e-mail trying to tie him to Nazis. Rabbi Twersky, like many in our community, know McGrath to be a longtime committed friend to Jews. Politics can be nasty, but that doesn’t mean we should tolerate such tactics, which deserve to be repudiated. (In 2011, identical tactics were used against Turner, with his opponents even executing a robocall campaign to Orthodox homes pretending it was from Jews for Jesus calling to turn out votes for Turner). Enough. Those who would manipulate us need to understand that we are not naïve or gullible, we are not driven by fear and loathing of Christians, and there is a price to pay for adding such insult to the injury of their policies.

One of us is lives in the district and one of us lives 3000 miles away, but on April 19, both of us along with fellow anti-BDS activists around the country have our eyes on this election. There certainly are other valid issues which all voters must examine. As those who spend a significant part of our days fighting BDS however, we know that much of what has been happening has been behind closed doors and we feel it is our responsibility to give you a glimpse into this ongoing struggle in Albany and its very serious ramifications. We implore you to consider the gravity of these issues, research them yourselves, and to please take the fight against BDS into account as you decide whether and how to cast your vote.


Jeff Ballabon and Rabbi Pini Dunner

Supporting Trump Should Be A No-Brainer For Jews

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

In 1980, New York City decided to renovate Central Park’s ice skating rink. The cost of the two-year project was estimated at $9 million. Six years and $13 million later, the renovations were nowhere near complete. Enter Donald Trump. He asked then-Mayor Ed Koch if he could take over the job. Six months later the rink was ready.

Trump is a man who gets things done. He is a man who strives for excellence. He is a man who before 9/11 wanted to build the tallest building in the world. Ivanka Trump recalls that her father used to tell her as a child, “You’re going to be thinking anyway. Might as well think big.” In short, Trump is a man who values greatness and seeks the same for his country.

Trump’s critics pounce on his every mistake over a business career of 50 years. But they’re ignoring the larger picture: Trump is a multi-billionaire with flourishing enterprises all over the world. To conclude that Trump is a terrible businessman because not all his endeavors succeed is like concluding that Benjamin Cardozo was a terrible lawyer because he occasionally lost a case. Both inferences are sheer lunacy.

Trump’s critics also like to attack him for being unhinged. But think for a moment: Can anyone succeed in Manhattan’s real estate market – with all its regulations and zoning laws – by being unhinged? By embracing an attitude of “my way or the highway”?

In fact, those who know Trump best testify that he is a “reflective, gentlemanly, decent” man (in the words of longtime friend Rudy Giuliani). When Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi was asked why she supports Trump for president, she said, “I see a different Donald Trump, I think, than a lot of people see. I see the way he interacts with his kids…. He’s a great dad. His employees adore him. I think they would jump off a cliff for him, and I think that’s speaks a lot about a person.”

Indeed, it does. As do Trump’s numerous quiet acts of kindness over the decades. Just two weeks ago, for example, a former Miss Wisconsin tearfully recounted the moment she received a handwritten note from Trump as she lay in a hospital bed fighting for her life. “He is the kindest man I have ever met,” she told FOX News. “I think he has a heart of gold.”

What about Ted Cruz’s reputation? In a word, it’s terrible. He helped win the White House for George W. Bush in 2001, but virtually everyone on the campaign team – including Bush – “couldn’t stand him,” a prominent Bush aide recalls. “People wouldn’t go to a meeting if they knew he would be there,” he said.

Cruz’s freshman roommate at Princeton University remembers him as “a nightmare of a human being.” Another Princeton acquaintance remembers him as an “arrogant jerk.” Yet another remembers Cruz speaking to her in such a “vicious” supercilious fashion that she literally broke down in tears.

Cruz’s reputation in Congress isn’t much better: “Everybody who knows him in the Senate hates him. And I think hate is not an exaggeration,” political pundit Charles Krauthammer recently said.

Is character everything? No. But when so many colleagues and acquaintances find you – not your ideas – detestable, something is wrong.

How do the candidates rate on policy? Cruz isn’t bad, but Trump approaches problems with a certain clarity and straightforwardness that Cruz simply doesn’t possess. Thus, while Cruz hems and haws about water-boarding terrorists, Trump approvingly repeats the story of General “Black Jack” Pershing allegedly executing 49 Muslim terrorists in the Philippines with bullets dipped in pig’s blood. He also dares suggest that allowing hundreds of thousands of Muslims into this country at a time of worldwide jihad may – just may – not be wise.

This straightforward thinking – unmarred by the obfuscations of politically correctness – will likely benefit Israel too. For the question isn’t whether this or that candidate likes Israel. The real question is: What will the next president say when Saudi Arabia threatens to desolve its friendship with the U.S. if it doesn’t pressure Israel into making concessions? For that is precisely the threat made to George W. Bush, as Elliott Abrams recounts in his book Tested by Zion. As a result, Bush – who was about as instinctively pro-Israel as they come – supported a Palestinian state, condemned Israel’s anti-terror campaign in the West Bank, and pushed for negotiations with the Palestinians. Why should we believe Cruz will act any differently?

Trump, however, might. As a non-politician, he harbors no instinctive reaction to cave to Saudi Arabia. Indeed, he has publicly attacked the oil-rich country. It’s true that two months ago Trump talked of acting neutral while negotiating a Middle East peace deal – a deal Netanyahu has publicly begged for, incidentally – but since then he has stated several times that a peace deal is impossible unless the Palestinians stop teaching their children to kill Jews.

And Trump doesn’t play games. He isn’t a politician. He is a businessman who has made a career out of reading people. If he perceives that the Palestinians are inveterate liars – which they are when it comes to making peace with Israel – he will walk. Will Cruz?

Judaism teaches us not to put faith in any human being. God runs the world, not man. But when I look at Cruz and Trump, I see a politician on one side (have you ever heard Cruz utter a natural-sounding sentence?) and, a smart, clear-thinking, politically-incorrect patriot with an enormously successful business career on the other side. To me, the choice is a no-brainer.

Elliot Resnick

Knesset Coalition Avoids 266 Hr. Budget Debate as Opposition Submits 32,000 Amendments

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

(JNi.media) “Despite the opposition’s amendments, 32,000 altogether—which shows how serious they are—we will pass a budget this week,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said before the start of the budget debate which began Wednesday afternoon.

Rookie Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon opened the budget debate with a call to Knesset Members to vote for his budget, and the Knesset plenum is already engaged in second and third voting on both the state budget and the Economic Arrangements Law for 2015-2016–which incorporates all bills and legislative amendments required for the government to fulfill its economic policy. The agenda calls for 600 votes, give or take, a process that will last many consecutive hours until some time Thursday morning.

This legislative marathon began with a brilliant parliamentary trick on the part of the opposition parties, led by MK Itzhak Herzog (Zionist Camp). The idea was to topple the government through excessive amendments. The math was simple: by law the budget must be approved by Thursday night at the latest, or the government falls and the country goes to new elections. So the opposition parties amassed 32,000 amendments to the budget, expecting that with a vote on each amendment the debate would last well into Shabbat afternoon, and by then the Netanyahu government would have been a faint memory.

But there are crafty parliamentarians on the Coalition side, too, and they decided on a precedent: they bunched related amendments together to create six hundred groups, allotting one vote per group, so that the process would last not more than 15 hours—give or take.

MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Camp) threatened to appeal the anti-ambush ambush call of the House Committee to the High Court, and MK Israel Eichler (UTJ) told him: “Be my guest, submit all the amendments to the Supreme Court and let the justices sit and vote for two weeks running on those 32,000 amendments. They are the real sovereigns anyway, let them legislate a little…”

Netanyahu, whose 61-59 majority government was not supposed to last through the start of the Jewish year appears to be sailing calmly into New Year’s, and is very pleased with his budget, which “maintains a proper, responsible macroeconomic framework for Israel, but also adds billions to education, welfare and health, and is accompanied by very important reforms to lower the cost of living, streamline our bureaucracy and advance the Israeli economy. The economy is very strong, very stable, one of the most prominent among the world’s economies, and our responsibility is to continue this trend.”

“All that’s required of us is 24 hours of discipline,” Netanyahu commented on the marathon budget vote. “We proved that we are good at being disciplined, our small electoral advantage is meaningful, and we will maintain it and pass the Budget.”

Finance Minister Kahlon was especially proud of his defense budget: “We have reached an historic agreement with the security forces and the army,” he boasted to Calcalist. “An agreement which includes a large scale streamlining of the system alongside intensification and a multi-year budget. We’ve done away with the phenomenon of IDF officers having to court the politicians to get a bigger budget, otherwise they’d stop military training — we made that phenomenon disappear and it is no more.”

Kahlon continued: “We raised conscripts’ pay by 50%,” noting, “I think that’s not enough, they deserve more.” Israeli enlisted men and women get laughably small monthly salaries, which widens the gap between soldiers from rich and poor homes. “We want a strong economy, a healthy society and a strong army,” Kahlon said.


India May Pull Rug Out From Under Abbas in UN Vote

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

India is giving serious consideration to changing its supporting vote for the Palestinian Authority proposal to expel the Israel Defense Force from all territory conquered in the 1967 Six Day war by 2017, according to The Hindu newspaper.

If India takes such a step, it will be a major change in the country’s foreign policy, which until now has supported the PA in UN votes.

But India is one of Israel’s most important customers in the market for military hardware, and the two nations have tightened ties in recent years. Nevertheless, India has continued to ignore Israel when the chips are down at the UN, and Jerusalem has started to remind its ally that friends don’t treat friends that way.

The PA resolution was submitted to the United Nations Security Council last Wednesday by Jordan. Although it requires a majority of nine votes to pass, the measure can still be vetoed by any of the five permanent members of the Council.

Speaking at a Hanukkah-lighting ceremony with IDF soldiers at a base near Latrun, Netanyahu made it clear that Israel would not allow international pressure to endanger the lives of its citizens.

“In this struggle that we are in, Israel is being attacked on two fronts simultaneously. It is being attacked by the terrorism of Hamas and the other terrorist organizations. It is also under a diplomatic attack led by the Palestinian Authority and which is designed to deny us our very right to defend ourselves and seeks to deny us the legitimacy of our very existence. We are rebuffing both of these attacks.

“Over the weekend we sent a clear message to Hamas – we are not prepared to countenance the firing of even one rocket and we are responding accordingly and in strength. We also have a clear message to those who are leading the diplomatic assault against us.

“It could be that the Palestinians will, in the very near future, submit to the UN Security Council their proposal to unilaterally force on Israel the establishment of a Palestinian state as well as other conditions that are unacceptable to us.

“We expect the responsible elements in the international community to reject this proposal; in any case, we will vigorously oppose it and will, of course, not act in accordance with any diktat.”

Hana Levi Julian

European Parliament Puts Off ‘Palestine’ Vote – For now

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Seemingly at the ninth hour, the European Parliament decided Tuesday to postpone its vote on whether to recognize the Palestinian Authority as a sovereign nation.

The gathering in Strasbourg decided to reconsider the issue at the European Parliament’s plenary session from December 15-18, rather than this Thursday.

Intensive work by Israeli diplomats in Brussels combined with opposition from Germany and a few other members were partly responsible for the decision.

Disagreement regarding the language of the resolution was also a factor in putting off the vote to a later time.

Similar votes are expected shortly in Portugal, Italy and Slovenia. Israeli officials have accused administration officials in the offices of U.S. President Barack Obama of fanning the flames against Israel across Europe.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Tuesday that such recognition would be a “big mistake” at a joint news conference with visiting Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.

“These twin needs of mutual recognition and solid security arrangements on the ground, which are so essential for peace, these are not addressed by the European countries that unilaterally give recognition to a Palestinian state,” Netanyahu said.

A similar resolution has already won approval in Britain, Spain, Ireland and Sweden.

The issue was to come before French lawmakers on Tuesday as well, but there ‘Palestine’ was expected to face a fight.

Israeli representatives in Paris have been working to mobilize the opposition against passage of any resolution approving recognition of the PA as a bona fide state.

Netanyahu had expressed deep concern on Sunday that France would make a “grave mistake” in helping the PA evade its legal responsibilities as delineated under the internationally-recognized Oslo Accords to negotiate its final status with Israel.

“Do they have nothing better to do at a time of beheading across the Middle East, including that of a French citizen?” he said.
“The State of Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people, the only state that we have, and the Palestinians demanding a state do not want to recognize the right to have a state for the Jewish people,” Netanyahu pointed out.

Hana Levi Julian

Knesset Winter Session Opens, and it’s Not Expected to Be an Easy One

Monday, October 27th, 2014

This afternoon, the 3rd session of the 19th Knesset will open at 4 PM.

It will be kicked off by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, followed with a speech by President Ruby Rivlin.

Near the end, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will talk about the successes the government had last year, and his plans for the upcoming year.

And finally, Opposition Leader Yitzchak Herzog will provide his interpretation of last and next year.

Following the opening ceremony, voting will begin, and the first vote will be a vote of no confidence, fielded by the opposition.

This winter session is not expected to be an easy one for the government. Lapid and Livni’s failures to force their agendas into law has put them in a bad mood and they plan on taking it out on their coalition partners.

While conversely, their low showing in the polls indicate they won’t be in a rush to break apart the coalition and force new elections, which would leave them with few seats, if not entirely out of the next Knesset.

One of the more important bills that may be showing up is Ayelet Shaked’s bill to restore the balance of power between the Knesset and the High Court. Over the years, the High Court grabbed a lot of extra powers by way of their judicial activism and overly creative interpretations of specific laws.

Shaked’s “High Court Bypass” bill will allow the Knesset to vote on laws that the High Court struck down, when the court claimed they violated Israel’s Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.

Jewish Press News Briefs

British Parliament Backs Palestinian State in Vote

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

The British House of Commons passed a symbolic resolution backing creation of a Palestinian state and of a two state partiton solution on Monday.

The exact wording of the resolution was:

“That this House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two state solution.”

While the vote initiated by the parliament’s opposition party won with 274 to 12, only half the members of the British Parliament actually voted.

It is not yet clear if this has any implications other than acknowledging that a “Palestinian state” does not exist, and that the UK is way behind the curve if they still support a “two state solution”.

If the resolution had actually recognized a Palestinian state, as some mistakenly believe, then that would mean a two-state solution has already been implemented.

The British government is not bound to do anything as a result of the vote.

The only question left is this, will UK lawmakers back Islamic State next?

Jewish Press News Briefs

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/british-parliament-backs-palestinian-state-in-vote/2014/10/14/

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