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September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘voters’

Lapid Tells Haredim ‘Go Work’ as Child Subsidy Cuts Go into Effect

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

On Tuesday, the severe cuts in government assistance to large families is going into effect, representing a new peak in Finance Minister Yauir Lapid’s war against the Haredim. What began as an election slogan, touting the need for an equal share in the national burden, is now policy, and as so many things political go, this one is hurting the weakest members of society.

Here’s the list of changes in the amounts paid to families—it is divided into children before and after 2003.

Families with children born before 2003 will receive $39 a month—down from $49—for the first child; $39 a month—down from $74—for the second child; $48 a month—down from $82—for the third child; $94 a month—down from $129—for the fourth child; and $99 a month—down from $109—for the fifth child and on.

The effect on a family of 10, which would be almost certainly religious (or Arab) is a 20% drop, from $988.00 to $814.00.

Israel’s social security administration objected to these cuts, arguing that they expect them to send some 35 thousand new children below the poverty line. In fact, they said the new cuts, sold as part of the “equal burden” package, will actually introduce a huge, new gap between rich and poor, as the percentage of poor children will rise from 4 to 40 percent.

In his Facebook message (today’s politician’s alternative to press conferences, where they might ask you embarrassing questions), Lapid said he was fulfilling one of his key promises to his voters. He also offered the following factoid, possibly something he read in a Maggie Thatcher interview:

“For years upon years it’s been proven that child allowances don’t get people out of poverty, they only make poverty permanent. Only one thing allows families exit the cycle of poverty – and that’s working.”

According to a 2011 report on poverty issued by the Israeli social security administration, 39.3% of Israeli families have been freed from the cycle of poverty due to receiving a variety of subsidies, including child allowances and income tax breaks, and the figure includes 15.1% of the children in Israel. The poverty line before government subsidies are paid out stands at $39.3%, and with the old subsidies dropped to 19.9%, which is still the highest poverty level among developed countries, and highest among all the OECD member countries…

For Haredi families, this severe cut in income comes coupled with a severe curtailing of funding for yeshivas and kolelim—by 30 percent this coming year, and by 60 percent the following year.

Four Haredi families are planning to sue the government in the Supreme Court over the cuts, which they say were made haphazardly and in a manner that does not befit proper legislation. A similar appeal was rejected a month ago by Justice Noam Solberg, on the ground that it was issued too early on in the legislative process. He urged the plaintiffs to come back once the bill becomes a law. Well, today it did.

Minister Lapid received a lot of praise when, during a duel with MKs from the Torah Judaism party, he said from the podium, in response to an accusation that his office was starving children:

“We will not allow any child in the State of Israel to go hungry. It’s our duty to make sure no child in Israel will be hungry, and we will honor it. But I want to remind [you], the institution responsible for caring for children is called their parents. When you bring a child into this world, [you] are the primary person responsible for it. Bringing a child into the world is a heavy responsibility, and so you should bring children into the world not based on the assumption that other people would care for them, but rather based on the assumption that it’s your obligation to take care of your own children.”

But that was many months ago. Today it has become clear that Minister Lapid—continuing his late father’s legacy of Haredi and religious hatred—has declared war on religious Jews in Israel. So far it’s been a three-pronged attack, hitting the issues of draft, child rearing in large families, and the education budget. Granted, in every one of these areas the Haredi public could do a lot to improve its relationship with the state and to create more goodwill between religious and secular in Israel. But to hit them with these three massive jabs all at once is not an act of repair but of destruction.


Evidence that Morsi Actually Lost the Egyptian Presidency

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Just days after his apparent victory, Cynthia Farahat and I expressed our skepticism about the validity of these election returns:

SCAF exploits the Muslim Brotherhood and other proxies as its civilian fronts, a role they are happy to play, by permitting Islamists to garner an outsized percentage of the parliamentary vote, then to win the presidency. During the suspicious week-long delay before the presidential votes were announced, SCAF met with the Muslim Brotherhood’s real leader, Khairat El-Shater, and reached a deal whereby Morsi became president but SCAF still governs.

Earlier, we had doubted two earlier rounds of elections (see “Egypt’s Sham Election” and “Don’t Ignore Electoral Fraud in Egypt.”)

Though few analysts have embraced this version, there have been hints of it:

(1) On July 31, 2013, Josh Goodman and James Parks wrote in “Morsi Was Neither Democratically Nor Duly Elected” that

hailing Morsi as the democratically elected representative of the Egyptian people appears to be based on a rather loose understanding of “democracy.” The Brotherhood has been accused of bribing and intimidating voters and rigging ballots during the 2012 elections. The election suffered from abysmally poor voter turnout (43.4% of registered voters), which is especially troubling given the ostensibly historic nature of the race. Out of 23 million voters in the first round of elections, 12 million did not vote for either of the two candidates ultimately placed in the run-off vote. Capping this all off was a blatant power grab from the military, which changed the constitution mid-election to limit the power of the newly elected President.

(2) On Aug. 3, 2013, Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sisi gave an interview in which he both denied having rigged Morsi’s election and (more interestingly) asserted that he could have done so had he wanted to.

Q: So you were giving the president advice on Ethiopia and the Sinai, for example, and he was ignoring you?

A: We were very keen and predetermined on his success. If we wanted to oppose or not allow them to come to rule Egypt, we would have done things with the elections, as elections used to be rigged in the past.

Now comes a testimonial from an un-named Egyptian official via the Israeli politician Yossi Beilin in “Morsi didn’t win the elections” that

Ahmed Shafiq, the former air force commander and former president Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, actually won the race by a narrow margin. But the army generals—wanting to ensure that law and order would be upheld following the elections—feared that if Morsi was defeated, the Muslim Brotherhood would refuse to recognize the results and would end up conducting themselves just as they are now.

The official results, 51.73 percent for Morsi and 48.27% for Shafiq, were almost the exact reversal of what actually happened at the polls. After the results were published, we barely heard any calls for protest or opposition among the secular-liberals, while on the religious side—loyal either to the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafi parties—voters were happy with their achievement.

Beilin goes on to explain that military officers expected the inexperienced Morsi to respect the army but he did not. Gen. Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi came under pressure from fellow generals some months ago but Sisi gave Morsi a chance to make amends.

GOP Choice: Dirty Suit with Full Pockets v. Reliable Republican

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

GOP voters have a tough choice to make of which candidate they’d put up as a against the eventual Democratic nominee for Mayor of New York City. On the one hand, Joe Lhota has the experience and the temperament to serve as mayor on day one, but in a City whose Republican voters are outnumbered by a 6-1 ratio, the Republican needs a chest full of coins to at the very least get out his message to voters.

On the other hand, John Catsimatidis has the money to wage a campaign against the Democratic nominee for mayor and has brilliant ideas on how to keep the city safe and move it forward. There’s one hurdle though, voters don’t seem to take him seriously.

In an interview with the WSJ, Dan Isaacs, chairman of the New York Republican County Committee, admitted that Mr. Catsimatidis is “not your conventional candidate” in terms of his “mannerisms and appearance.”

As an example, the WSJ reporter points out an appearance by Mr. Catsimatidis last Monday, where the candidate wore a dark suit with a large, eye-catching stain.

“Yeah, he’s got a dirty suit and maybe he’s got a stain on his tie or his shirt. But you know what? He’s real,” Mr. Isaacs said. “And I’d rather have a guy like that than someone who’s perfectly coiffed and is full of bull—. And that ain’t John. John calls it like he sees it. He’s honest.”

At his campaign launch on the steps of City Hall, Mr. Catsimatidis pointed to his suit as an example he’s not a Michael Bloomberg billionaire. “I’m not wearing $5,000 suits,” he said. He didn’t even shy away from showing it off, when Hunter Walker from Politicker (now TPM) came close to see what make the suit was.

“I think it was $99 at Joseph A. Banks,” he said. “So, I’m not wearing a $5,000 suit and this is what I wear every day.”

Mr. Catsimatidis is currently trailing Mr. Lhota in the GOP primary by a 6-11 point margin, but has managed to turn the race into a horse race.

Speaking to the WSJ, Mr. Catsimatidis said he’s willing to spend whatever it takes to win City Hall. “Money is not an object. It’s getting the message across to everybody,” he said, estimating he will ultimately spend about $8 million on the primary and, presuming he wins, as much as $19 million in the November general election.

As of early August, he’d spent about $4 million on his campaign, roughly 2.5 times the amount spent by Joe Lhota. Campaign finance records show Mr. Lhota with roughly $1.7 million cash on hand.

Bill Cunningham, a former communications director for billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg who helped steer Mr. Bloomberg to victory in 2001, told the WSJ that Mr. Catsimatidis faces an uphill battle in the primaries since primary voters tend to be more conservative.

“He’s running against a lifelong Republican,” Mr. Cunningham said. “On resume, and temperament and experience, [voters] may look at Catsimatidis and say, ‘He has wonderful experience in the business world but Lhota has much more experience in government and politics.’”

In order to counter that impression, Mr. Catsimatidis has argued on the campaign trail that Mr. Lhota is mean-spirited and has a bad record of raising taxes, by pointing out that as MTA head Mr. Lhota raised toll prices that ultimately hurt New Yorkers who struggle to make ends meet.

In Online-Chat, Weiner Puts Down Media, Says He Really Wants to Win

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

It ain’t looking good from any angle you look at him, but in a wide-ranging interview with BuzzFeed Monday night, Anthony Weiner appeared defiant and hopeful about his chances winning the New York City mayoral race this fall.

“I’m gonna fight, I’m gonna stand up strong,” Weiner said. “I’ve shown that I don’t back down very easily.”

“Remember the job you’re voting for. You’re voting for someone to be your mayor, OK? So what do you want for that job? If you want someone that has a spotless personal record, well, you haven’t had a good mayor in years,” Mr. Weiner said.

Asked by Ben Smith why voters are giving him a harder time than Bill Clinton, Mr. Weiner blamed it on the media’s coverage of his sexting scandal. “Coverage has been fairly brutal,” Mr. Weiner said. “I think that there’s this dialogue that goes on about the things in my private life and then there’s this conversation that voters want to have about issues and they’re always in competition. And to try to get the latter to happen you’ve got to clear out the former and to some degree, this has run a fairly predictable course.”

He accused some members of the media of going out of their way to write negative stories about him. The New York Times, he declared, “doesn’t want me to win.”

“The New York Times doesn’t want me to win… Their heads are exploding over the idea… I don’t have fealty to them. I’m not treating a New York Times endorsement as an end to itself…This is the same people that brought you a third term for Mike Bloomberg. I do not care. And it makes them nuts that I don’t care,” Mr. Weiner told Smith.

How the Palestinians Tried to Scare Israeli Voters

Monday, January 28th, 2013

The Palestinian Authority either does not know what it wants from the Israelis or is too afraid to admit that it does not have a mandate to sign a peace treaty with Israel.

When left-wing parties and candidates were in power, the Palestinian Authority leadership missed several opportunities to reach a peace agreement with Israel.

This happened at least twice during the past 13 years — first, when then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak made a generous offer to Yasser Arafat at the Camp David summit and later when Ehud Olmert offered even more during his term in office.

So, the Palestinian Authority leadership first misses opportunities to reach agreements with left-wing and centrist parties. Then, when the right-wing comes to power, the Palestinian Authority starts complaining that there is no peace partner in Israel and calls on Israelis not to vote for Binyamin Netanyahu.

The Palestinian Authority’s constant refusal to sign a peace treaty with Israel has undermined the left-wing in Israel, driving many Israelis towards right-wing parties such as Likud Beiteinu and Bayit Yehudi.

It does not really matter who is in power in Israel: no Palestinian leader has a mandate to make any concessions to Israel, let alone sign a peace treaty.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas knows this very well and that is why he will keep coming up with excuses to avoid signing a peace treaty with Israel, regardless of who is in control of the Israeli government.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority has felt free all these years to meddle in the internal affairs of Israel.

In the past few weeks, the Palestinian Authority has, both directly and indirectly, urged Israelis not to vote for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and right-wing parties.

The Palestinian Authority’s argument has been along the lines of ‘a vote for Netanyahu is a vote against peace and the two-state solution.’

In a bid to scare the Israeli public, Palestinian officials invited journalists to Ramallah to send a warning message to Israeli voters.

“A vote for Netanyahu is a vote for war and racism,” warned Jibril Rajoub, a top Fatah official and former security commander of the Palestinian Authority.

But while Rajoub and other Palestinian officials and spokesmen were trying to scare Israelis not to vote for right-wing parties, the Palestinian Authority’s spokesmen were issuing statements emphasizing that Palestinians do not meddle in the internal affairs of Israel.

Mahmoud Abbas, who in private meetings has also expressed concern over the re-election of Netanyahu, publicly stated that the Palestinians would “honor” the choice of Israeli voters regardless of who heads the next government.

In yet another sign of Abbas’s effort to impact the outcome of the elections, he held a number of meetings in his office with representatives of various left-wing and Arab parties, including Meretz.

Even Hamas representatives have tried in the past few weeks to impact Israeli voters by talking about the “dangers” of the rise of right-wing parties to power in Israel.

But the Palestinians were not the only ones who had tried to scare Israeli voters.

On the eve of the vote, the Arab league, in an unprecedented move, issued a call to Arab citizens of Israel to “turn out in droves for the elections.”

Employing the same argument used by the Palestinians, the Arab League justified its call by claiming that there were “initial indications” that the right wing in Israel “does not want peace.”

In fact, Palestinian and Arab meddling in the internal affairs of Israel have played into the hands of Netanyahu and his political allies. When Israelis see and hear Palestinian and Arab officials calling on them not to vote for Netanyahu or a specific party, they are most likely inclined to do the exact opposite.

Finally, instead of meddling in the internal affairs of Israel, Mahmoud Abbas should be seeking ways of implementing major reforms in the Palestinian Authority and preparing his people for new elections.

But Abbas is afraid of holding new presidential and parliamentary elections because he knows very well that Hamas would easily win. Abbas has no choice but to return to the negotiating table with Israel, regardless of who heads the new government.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

Weekly Poll Average: Right Leading with 67.5 Seats

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

The right of center parties continue to maintain their lead, albeit by a slightly smaller margin in eight polls released December 9-15 (from Haaretz, Walla, Yisrael Hayom, Reshet Bet, Knesset Channel, Maariv, Yediot Achronot, Jerusalem/Yisrael Post).

Current Knesset seats in [brackets], with the previous week’s average in (brackets):

37.3 (37.7) [42] Likud Beitenu
18.2 (19.7) [08] Labor
11.3 (11.3) [05] Jewish Home-National Union
10.8 (10.5) [10] Shas
9.1 (8.2) [07] Movement (Livni)
8.7 (7.3) [--] Yesh Atid
5.8 (5.7) [05] Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ
4.1 (3.6) [04] Ra’am-Ta’al
4.0 (3.6) [03] Meretz
3.8 (3.5) [04] Hadash
3.1 (3.0) [03] Balad
1.1 (2.2) [01] Am Shalem
1.1 (1.6) [28] Kadima
0.7 (1.6) [02] Strong Israel
— (0.0) [05] Independence (No longer running)
HaYisraelim (2 seats in one poll)

67.5 (69.2) [65] Right
52.4 (50.7) [55] Left

Notable changes over the last two weeks: Ra’am-Ta’al passes Meretz for 8th place. Kadima passes Strong Israel for 13th place.

Largest Gains: Yesh Atid gained 1.4 seats and Movement gained 0.9.
Biggest Losses:
Labor lost 1.5 seats and Am Shalem lost 1.1.

Note: These polls were taken prior to Yisrael Beitenu Chairman Avigdor Leiberman’s indictment and resignation as Foreign Minister.

Visit KnessetJeremy.com.

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