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Fighting in the Name of G-d and Engaging a Higher Consciousness

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai and Malkah kick off by discussing a letter received from a listener and how the threat of rocket attacks across Israel is still a real one.  They move on to talk about the threat presented to Israel by Hizbullah in Lebanon and how the world is turning a blind eye to the civil war that is raging in Syria.  They also discuss the mobilization of IDF reserve soldiers and how it should be a goal for the Jewish People to look for a higher consciousness in life by practicing schmita and visiting Jerusalem three times yearly.  They end the segment by presenting an interview with Moshe Feiglin following his  good showing during Likud primaries this week and also discussing the results of the Likud primaries.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
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Life with Tzipi: Likud Gaining in Wednesday’s Poll, Labor Down

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

It appears that the net effect of Tzipi Livni’s announcement that she’s running as the head of a new movement named after her (The Movement Led by Tzipi Livni is the official name, which probably limits the possibility of competition for chairmanship there at this time) has been to drive the Likud-Beiteinu list up a little bit at the expense of both the right and the center. And, as was to be expected, Livni’s votes are siphoned off of Labor’s and Kadima’s. One winner on the left: Meretz, which continues a slow rise from its current 3 seats. Finally: Torah Judaism will definitely increase its power from 5 to 6 seats in the next Knesset, based on sheer demographics alone.

The Meretz rise, according to Haaretz which published the poll, is that leftist voters have given up on Labor’s chances to actually form a coalition government, and so they choose to vote their heart rather than compromise needlessly.

And a similar sentiment is emerging on the right, as voters, secure in a Likud-headed government, seek to bolster its right-wing flank with a vote for Power to Israel (MKs Eldad and Ben-Ari).

So here are the numbers as of this morning, Wednesday, Nov. 28:

Likud-Beiteinu: 39 (was 35, current Knesset mandate 42)

Labor: 18 (was 23, current Knesset mandate 13)

Shas: 11 (was 14, current Knesset mandate 11)

Yair Lapid: 8 (was 13, current Knesset mandate 0)

Jewish Home (NRP): 8 (was 9, current Knesset mandate 7)

Tzipi Livni: 7 (was 0, current Knesset mandate 0)

Torah Judaism: 6 (was 6, current Knesset mandate 5)

Meretz: 5 (was 4, current Knesset mandate 3)

Rabbi Amsalem: (was 3, current Knesset mandate 1)

Kadima: 2 (was 5, current Knesset mandate 28)

Eldad & Ben-Ari: 2 (was 0, current Knesset mandate 2)

Good Morning, We’re Having a Palestinian State and Israel Kind of Approves

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

In yesterday’s State Department press conference, Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland confirmed that the U.S. will be voting “no” on the effort by Mahmoud Abbas to raise the United Nations status of the Palestinian Authority so that “Palestine” will move from being merely an “observer” to what is known as a non-member observer state.

At this time, the only official U.N. non-member observer state is the Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, which is the representative of the Vatican.

Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas landed in New York last night.  The Resolution endorsing the change is expected to be voted upon in the U.N. General Assembly this Thursday, Nov 29.

The government of Israel is adamantly opposed to the change in status for the Arab Palestinians, and is hoping that other countries will support its position.

But, in a surprise announcement, a top diplomatic Israeli official in Jerusalem told reporters at a briefing on Tuesday that Israel no longer intends to dismantle the Oslo Accords if Abbas goes through with his UN gambit.  Technically, such a move negates the Oslo process, and Israel has long threatened to consider the Oslo Accords fully abrogated if the Arab Palestinians attempt to achieve results outside of negotiations.

It was not readily apparent what response, if any, the government of Israel will have to a change in status for “Palestine” at the U.N. But the announcement made Tuesday was in conflict with statements made over the past few weeks by Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman in which he threatened that the Oslo process would be cancelled if Abbas went forward with his effort at the U.N.

Thus far only the U.S. has officially declared its intention to vote against the Palestinian statehood resolution.  Nuland explained the U.S. position to reporters yesterday, Nov 27:

We’re focused on a policy objective on the ground for the Palestinian people, for the people of Israel, which is to end up with two states that can live peacefully next to each other. Nothing in this action at the UN is going to take the Palestinians any closer to that. So yes, we’re going to oppose it because we think it is the wrong move. We think it makes other steps that might improve the lives of Palestinians and Israelis harder. Other countries will make their own decision. This is not a new issue. We’ve been talking about it for more than a year, and so we’re just going to have to see what happens later on in the week.

It is anticipated that Canada will vote against the Resolution, and Germany may abstain, but already both France and Britain have publicly stated they are committed to voting in favor of the resolution.  Switzerland and Portugal are also expected to support the measure.  No doubt the 57 member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation will all vote in favor of the measure.

Unlike a Resolution in the Security Council, in the General Assembly there is no such thing as a veto.  A simple majority vote is all that is necessary for the measure to pass. Full member status can only be obtained through a vote at the Security Council. Last year Abbas went to the Security Council to seek full member status for “Palestine.” The United States, however, made clear its intention to veto the measure, and the effort was withdrawn.

After some badgering by reporters over whether the change in status would have any impact on the peace process, Ms. Nuland said, categorically, “We oppose any move in the General Assembly. We think it’s going to make the situation harder.”

And Abbas is going to the UN with the support from an unexpected source – longtime political rival leadership of Hamas is now supporting the U.N. bid.  No clear explanations have been offered for this about-face.  However, there are those who suspect Hamas anticipates victory over Abbas’s Fatah as the sole representative of the Arab Palestinian people.  If so, then they will be the representative party at the United Nations.

It is widely expected that the U.N. Resolution will pass, but even if it does “Palestine” will not be a full member of the UN.

A draft copy of the Resolution, dated 26 Nov 2012,  was obtained by The Jewish Press.  The Resolution reiterates all of the demands the Arab Palestinians have made, with no concessionary language whatsoever, and includes demands for the release of prisoners, the “right of return,” the cessation of all Israeli “settlement” activities, including in “East Jerusalem,” that the capital of “Palestine” will be “East Jerusalem,” and,

the attainment of a peaceful settlement in the Middle East that ends the occupation that began in 1967 and fulfills the vision of two States, an independent, sovereign, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security with Israel, on the basis of the pr-1967 borders.

The Resolution also calls on the Security Council to favorably consider the application submitted last year to the United Nations for full membership for “Palestine.”

UPDATED: Likud Primaries Extended to Monday

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

Due to computer glitches that have prevented many Likud members from voting, Likud primary elections which were originally extended until midnight on Sunday, have now been extended to 9 PM on Monday.

Only 16% of Likud members were able to vote by 4 PM on Sunday and only 40% succeeded by 9 PM. Some Likud MKs have demanded this primary election be called off and rescheduled.

Likud Primaries a Mess as Members Wait Hours to Vote

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

“They don’t know how to run a war, they don’t know how to run an election, what DOES the Likud know how to do?” muttered one cold Likud member, 45 minutes into her wait to reach the Likud primaries ballot boxes Sunday morning.

Voting got off to a sluggish start when technical difficulties – which some are attributing to hacking – brought almost all the computerized voting stations across Israel to a grinding halt Sunday, forcing many voters to wait upwards of 2 and a half hours to cast their ballots. At Jerusalem’s Binyanei HaUma convention center, patient and apologetic staff members told crowds they did not know when the voting booths would be open, bringing out a few chairs for elderly voters who found standing in the cold difficult.

Ethiopian candidate Avraham Negusie

Ethiopian candidate Avraham Negusie

Meanwhile, enthusiastic representatives of the 60 candidates vying for the 12 highest spots on the Likud party list handed out pamphlets, cards and stickers explaining the policies and opinions of the voters.  Candidates Avraham Negusie (hopeful representative for the Ethiopian sector) and Daniel Tauber (head of Likud Anglos), were on hand in person to meet and talk to voters.

As voters waited, they discussed current events, politics, and the cold weather.  One voter from Samaria, Yechiel, expressed his disapproval of the Prime Minister – and current Likud party chairman – Benjamin Netanyahu.  “I am disappointed in the ceasefire.  I think it will just end up being something that buys time for Hamas to refuel, maybe at best a pause in fighting,”  Yechiel said.  “I wish I could vote Netanyahu out today.  I don’t think I’ll even vote for Likud in the real national elections.”

Others expressed their support of Netanyahu, who stands to be re-elected as head of the party.  “I think the same as before the war,” Mordechai from East Jerusalem said.  “I think Bibi should be re-elected.  He is the best option by far, proven over time.  I hope he will continue to prove it over the next four years.”

When groups of voters finally started to be admitted, they were treated to a simple explanation of the procedure of voting at several mock voting booths set up on and staffed along the sides of the entrance.

At noon, voters who had arrived around 10am were brought to a new indoor line, where they were told that only 3 of the  80 voting computers were working, causing the line to inch forward slowly.  More chairs were brought to accommodate the elderly, as well as teary-eyed children who had been dragged along for an Israeli democratic experience.  Another staff member came by to apologize again, saying rumors were circulating that the booths would be held open until 2am to accommodate all the voters who had arrived to vote and been discouraged by the long wait times (in the end, the elections committee decided to extend voting for two hours until midnight).

JewishPress.com reporter Malkah Fleisher voting.

JewishPress.com reporter Malkah Fleisher voting.

At 12:50 PM, the author of this article was called into a voting booth, and got to the end of her turn to vote when she realized she had been assigned to the wrong geographic voting area.  Asking for assistance from the polite and attentive clerks in front of her booth, an election day attorney was called.

Without asking the permission of the voter (me) or the elections staff, the attorney proceeded to push touch-screen buttons, erasing the voter’s choices in an attempt to restart the process (even as the voter protested that it was very clear to her how to vote, and that she had done everything correctly).  “Let’s see what this does”, the attorney said, as she wiped out my votes.

The screen promptly froze.  The clerks expressed their disapproval for the unilateral action on the part of the attorney, and called for a technician to come and fix the problem.  A technician, who was on his cell phone, looked at the screen, and told the clerks to attempt an action they said they could not do, due to the freezing of the screen and subsequently their own computers, and rushed off.

The Jewish Vote: Same Old, Same Old

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

In the wake of the presidential election, American Jews must once again ask a fundamental question that seems to defy both societal trends and a clear resolution: why do Jews overwhelmingly support the Democratic candidate, year after year, election after election?

That is not to say that the Torah conflates with the Republican platform, but rather that the lack of balance in the Jewish world is striking.

This is not something new, but has been the pattern for more than eighty years. (Late-nineteenth century Jews voted primarily for Republicans, being especially fond of Abraham Lincoln.) It was the late sociologist Milton Himmelfarb who several decades ago noted that “Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans,” i.e., they are part of the richest demographic but vote like the (then) poorest.

What continually fascinates is that, like the lure of Pennsylvania to Republican presidential candidates – it seems like it should vote for the Republican but never does – the Jewish vote tantalizes Republicans but never seems to materialize. Based on our race, status, education, employment, etc., Jews should be voting for Republicans but rarely do in significant numbers.

The Jewish vote remains the chimera of the political conservative. For more than eight decades the Jewish vote has averaged 75 percent for the Democrat, rarely deviating more than 5 percent above or below that figure. But until Herbert Hoover’s election in 1928, the Jewish vote fluctuated and was relatively balanced.

It needs to be emphasized that the focus is not on those Jews who are capable of choosing a candidate in either party (as I have done on occasion), but on the significant number of Jews who can never vote for a Republican and will always vote for the Democrat. Their polling booth needs only one lever. It just cannot be that the Democrat is always the superior candidate to the Republican.

In the 2012 election, nearly 70 percent of Jews voted for President Obama, slightly down from the last election (78 percent) but very much in line with other immigrant communities like Hispanics (71 percent) or Asians (73 percent).

But Jews are no longer a predominantly immigrant community, so why do the voting patterns of newcomers, or outsiders to the political system, persist among the Jews, who are in the mainstream of the establishment? And why are Orthodox Jewish voting patterns almost the mirror opposite of the non-Orthodox, with more Orthodox Jews voting for Mitt Romney and, give or take a particular race, for Republicans generally?

* * * * *

First, Democrats are widely perceived as the party of the poor, the downtrodden and the outcast, and Jews – persecuted for most of our existence – have a natural sympathy for the underdog. As charity is a great virtue (and a fundamental commandment) in Jewish life, Jews especially are drawn to a system that appears charitable on the surface – the redistribution of income from the wealthy to the poor – and government is seen as the vehicle of that charitable distribution.

The weakness in that argument, of course, is that Jews do believe in charity, but primarily as a private endeavor. The tithing obligation, or the dispensing of gifts to the poor in biblical times, were all private ventures, and not publicly coerced.

Notwithstanding that at different times in history the Jewish community itself intervened and assessed wealthy members a sum of money to care for society’s poor, that was always considered a last resort and not particularly efficient. The king never levied taxes to care for the poor, though the religious establishment might. Charity as a private act lends moral perfection to the donor; the same cannot be said for a coercive taxation system that distributes only a small sum of the monies collected to the poor.

(Those who view taxation as a form of charity are certainly welcome to pay the higher tax rate proposed by the administration, which is indeed permissible under federal law and would entirely eliminate the current controversy in Washington about the best means of avoiding the fiscal cliff.)

Of course, it would be unacceptable in a Jewish context to have a permanent impoverished class – multi-generational families of welfare recipients – as it should be in an American context. The trillions of dollars spent since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society initiated the War on Poverty has in fact exacerbated poverty, not alleviated it, with more poor in both real and proportionate terms today than when the programs started.

Do Expatriates Still Have the Right to Vote? (Podcast)

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Did you know that you still have the right to vote, even if you live overseas? If you weren’t aware of this fact and you missed the recent presidential elections, don’t worry! Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, president and cofounder of the Overseas Vote Foundation, explains why voting is still important, even if you live abroad, and how you are able to do it. So get prepared for the next elections and listen to this great interview on the Goldstein on Gelt show!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/goldstein-on-gelt/do-expatriates-still-have-the-right-to-vote-podcast/2012/11/19/

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