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July 28, 2016 / 22 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘working’

Netanyahu Circle Working Overtime to Pushback Claim of German Rift

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

The headline of Sunday morning’s Israel Hayom, the pro-Netanyahu daily freebee bankrolled by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, was: “Jerusalem Sources: ‘Relations with Germany Tight.'” The optimistic message came in response to an embarrassing probe by Der Spiegel this weekend pointing a finger at Israel Hayom as the source of a grossly misleading story in February, which attempted to assign to German Chancellor Angela Merkel a position she never knew she held.

Whenever Merkel meets with Netanyahu, according to Spiegel, you can count on Israel Hayom to publish the confidential content of their discussion shortly thereafter. But this time, they went ahead and wrote this headline: “Merkel: This Isn’t the Time for Two States.”

Now, there’s nothing wrong with this headline, and many rightwing Israelis were delighted to see a leading Western leader coming to her senses in these trying times; the only problem was, of course, that Merkel never said nor even hinted anything of the kind. Merkel and her advisors were furious, naturally, because Netanyahu, the obvious source for the “leak,” had twisted the chancellor’s warnings against his policy in Judea and Samaria into an endorsement.

“Merkel had repeatedly made it clear to Netanyahu that she believes the effects of Israeli settlement construction in the occupied territories are disastrous,” Spiegel reported. “The settlement policy, she believes, makes it unlikely that a viable Palestinian state can be established in accordance with plans aimed at a two-state solution. Any other approach, Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier are convinced, would ultimately transform Israel into an apartheid regime. Netanyahu, however, has not shown himself to be the least bit impressed by such arguments.”

What emerges from the Spiegel story is a growing German concern that Netanyahu has been taking advantage of Germany’s support, cooperation and friendship and is using Berlin as a bulwark against policies Berlin supports. “The perception has been growing in the German government that Netanyahu is instrumentalizing our friendship,” Rolf Mützenich, deputy floor leader for the Social Democrats (SPD) in parliament, told Spiegel. The SPD is Merkel’s junior coalition partner. Foreign Minister Steinmeier is an SPD leader.

According to Spiegel, what Netanyahu has been doing these past few months, is turn warnings from Merkel and other senior German officials, such as Foreign Minister Steinmeier, that Israel’s settlement policy is making it impossible for a future two-state solution to ever work — into seemingly throwing in the towel and accepting this reality as inevitable. And nothing could be further from the truth. According to Spiegel, Germany, like the rest of the EU, is hell bent on establishing two states in Israel, because they are convinced that, with the Arab demographics being what they are, the only way open to Israel to remain a Jewish state otherwise is by a system of apartheid.

We can argue against this concept until we’re blue in the face, we can point to declining demographics on the Arab side, we can show a growing wave of Arab immigration from the PA and Gaza to Canada and the US, we can point to Israel’s history of an unwavering democratic approach to its minorities — the Europeans, at this point, aren’t prepared to buy any of it. And spreading headlines that they do when they don’t doesn’t change their minds, unfortunately.

The Israel Hayom Sunday article is an attempt to blame the Germans for the February faux pas. They cite “sources in Jerusalem” who say the Spiegel story is “an internal-German attempt to attack Merkel over her good relations with Prime Minister Netanyahu.” That statement could only be made by someone who didn’t read the Spiegel story, in which named sources in Merkel’s circle are accusing Netanyahu of misusing his friendship with Germany.

Then the Israeli paper claimed that this is what they heard in the Hebrew simultaneous translation, which is their version of the dog ate my homework. And finally, they pin the whole thing on Netanyahu, who pointed the entire Israeli press in that direction following the Chancellor’s remarks, saying she had finally come to her senses regarding the current slim chances of negotiations based on the two-state solution. For his part, Netanyahu pinned the blame for why the 2-state is dead for now on the “situation in the Middle East and the Palestinian Authority.”

The real problem is that the Netanyahu approach no longer works, at least according to Spiegel. The Chancellery has indeed lost hope that the peace process can be revived — “so long as Netanyahu remains in office,” the magazine insists, describing the visit of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to Berlin two weeks ago, when Merkel was “demonstrative in her support,” when she said, “I understand why President Abbas continually seeks out the Security Council.”

Ouch.

Finally, according to Spiegel, accusations from Netanyahu that the EU labeling of products made by Jews in Judea and Samaria are essentially an anti-Jewish boycott “are no longer taken seriously in the Chancellery. Merkel’s foreign policy advisor Christoph Heusgen is supportive of the EU approach.”

JNi.Media

Israel Corners Itself

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

I’ve been reading Harvard University literature professor Ruth Wisse’s new book, No Joke: Making Jewish Humor. In her chapter on Israeli humor, Professor Wisse discusses the comedy trio HaGashash HaChiver (The Pale Trackers) and writes about a 1981 post-election skit of theirs:

“The three then launch into a musical number that interprets avodah, the national ethic of labor, as ovdim aleynu, ‘They’re Working Us Over,’ in which each stanza spoofs the promises made by politicians when running for office…The song’s refrain [was], ‘They’re working us over…and we never learn…”

That refrain remains valid in both claims.

In response to a recent blog about the 104 terrorist releases, a Bayit Yehudi voter from Efrat comments, “It helps show the world the corner they’ve painted us into with this prisoner release. It shows the world their shame.”

This is not the language of vigorous, sovereign citizenship—what Israel’s national anthem calls an am chofshi b’artzenu (free people in our land). This is the language of evasion, feebleness, and dependency, confirming those who describe Israel as an American protectorate.

Addressing similar claims by Bayit Yehudi MK Ayelet Shaked, an excellent blogger from Jerusalem remarks:

“The last time I checked, [U.S. Secretary of State] Kerry does not work for Israel and does not represent us. Shaked’s party leader, Naftali Bennett, her Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and Shaked herself do represent us. If Israel is making admittedly stupid moves like releasing terrorist murderers—especially when we get nothing in return—maybe we need to be looking at our own leadership and not at the Americans.”

Compare these essentially “America made us do it” claims with the recent observance of Tisha B’Av and associated lamentations about European Jews during the First Crusade in the 11th century. Those ancestors had neither an army nor a state as they faced demonic hordes seeking to destroy Judaism.

Yet despite such physically superior aggressors, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt”l noted about the many Jews who chose death rather than apostasy, regarding the lamentation Hacharishu Mimeni Va’adabera (“Be quiet, allow me to speak…”): “The enemies had a simple demand: all the Jew had to do was kiss the cross. The Jews could have saved their lives, but they would not agree to become apostates.”

Now consider the State of Israel in 2013, which has one of the strongest militaries in world history and a Yom Ha’atzmaut. How perverse is the claim that this superpower releases murderers of its citizens due to being “painted into a corner”?

The painted into a corner mentality always means rationalizing and mitigating injustice, the terrorist releases being the latest catastrophic example. Before that, it was blame Obama and the EU when the government froze construction in Yehuda and Shomron.

Or blame John Kerry and Catherine Ashton when Hamas attacks cities like Sderot with what amounts to impunity.

Or blame their predecessors when Israeli soldiers expelled 8,600 Jews from Gush Katif.

Do anything except reflect upon one’s own society and the regime it has produced. As Rabbi Yehuda Balsam commented this month in a related context, “If you’re not so happy with your leadership, perhaps it’s worthwhile to take a look in the mirror.” (See 5:00 here.)

The awful truth is that Israel corners itself and shames itself. The awful truth is that Israel invites foreign contempt because it shows contempt for itself.

“When you have no self-respect, you cannot expect anybody else will respect you,” Rabbi David Bar-Hayim of Machon Shilo has noted. Specific to the religious Zionist sector—of which Bayit Yehudi is the latest political incarnation—Rabbi Bar-Hayim observes:

“One of their characteristics is a tremendous naiveté regarding the authorities, the powers that be. They’re always trying to read into their actions more positive motivations than truly exist. They’re always willing to overlook evils done by these people.” (See 34:50 here.)

To paraphrase the The Pale Trackers in 1981: Some people get worked over, and they never learn.

Menachem Ben-Mordechai

Overspending

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Often one spouse accuses the other of being an over-spender. But what exactly is “overspending”? This definition changes from family to family; for one, going out to eat on a weekly basis may be within their means, while even a periodic coffee may be stretching the resources of another couple. So how does a family determine whether they can afford to eat out?

One cannot “overspend” if there isn’t a budget that defines spending limits. A budget can help reduce friction between spouses who have different spending patterns. If both partners agree to create and abide by a budget, then the one spouse is no longer the “bad cop” that regulates his or her partner’s spending habits.

Spending as an emotional issue

People spend money for a variety of reasons. Some expenses, like groceries and utilities, are a necessity, while others are discretionary. However, even within fixed expenses there is usually room to cut back. Does Shabbat dinner need to be an expensive cut of meat accompanied by costly wine, or will chicken and grape juice suffice?

Examine your fiscal habits. Do you have an idea of how much your monthly expenses are? Where do you spend money? Do you charge or pay in cash? Do you have financial goals that are important to you, and if so, are you actively working to achieve them? How would you feel if your spending habits changed? How would that change affect your spouse/family?

Consider the doctor who tells an overweight patient that unless he lost a considerable amount of weight, he would face serious illness. Chances are, the patient would diet and exercise. So why is there a discrepancy when a financial adviser recommends a fiscal diet and an exercise program of spending within a budget?

Very often, financial issues mask other problems within a relationship. Therefore, creating a budget is not only a good tool to monitor spending, but it can also help improve family harmony.

Doug Goldstein, CFP®

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/goldstein-on-gelt/overspending/2013/08/01/

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