web analytics
April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘yariv levin’

‘Jewish Taliban’ Ordered to Return to Quebec

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

There is a small, tight-knit and strict community of Jews currently in Canada who call themselves “Lev Tahor,” which means “pure heart.” The group is also known by the nickname “the Jewish Taliban.”

This sect is considered an extremist group even by haredi standards.  Probably a short hand way to explain that is the women members wear clothing that resemble burkas. The group has about 200 members.  It is anti-Zionist and has been residing in Quebec, near Montreal, for the past ten years.

However, there have been difficulties between the Canadian authorities and the Lev Tahor sect, primarily over the issues of educating their youth.  In addition, there are ongoing child welfare investigations prompted by outsiders or relatives of the sect members who allege the children don’t have proper hygiene, are neglected and suffer from psychological abuse.  There are also rumors of forced marriages.

The primary issue, according to Nachman Helbrans, the sect leader’s oldest son, is education.  The Lev Tahor’s belief system rejects evolution and the Quebec school requires that all children within the province, even those who are home-schooled, must have curricula that is equivalent to the public schools. Failure to comply with that requirement could mean that the children of group members could be removed from their families and placed in protective services.  That is not something Lev Tahor could tolerate.

The group left Quebec for Ontario last week.  They all left at once, in the middle of the night, in rented buses.

Critics said the group fled a child welfare investigation, while Helbrans said it had been a planned departure because there was no way the group could accede to the Quebec education requirements, and Ontario’s standards are more relaxed.  Leaving in the middle of the night ensured that most of the children would sleep through the trip.

Monday, Nov. 25, a Quebec judge ordered two of the Lev Tahor families who are now in Ontario to return to Quebec for a hearing with child protection officials.  That hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 27.

Nachman Helbrans told The Star that the families would attend the hearing.

“Legally, they don’t have to go back to court, but they decided to go back just to honour the court.”

Canada is not the only country doing battle with the Lev Tahor.

Actually, the sect has its roots in Israel. The senior Helbrans was born in Kiryas Yoel.  He moved to the United States where he and his followers formed Lev Tahor.  In 1992, Shlomo Helbrans was convicted of kidnapping a 12 year old boy from the Yeshiva where Helbrans taught. His defense was that the boy wanted to be part of Lev Tahor. Helbrans served two years in prison. Following his release, Helbrans was deported to Israel in 2000.

However, by 2003, Shlomo Helbrans and his family moved to Canada.  They entered that country after receiving refugee status. Helbrans claimed he was being persecuted in Israel. The Lev Tahor believe there should not be a Jewish state until the coming of the Messiah, and until that time Jews should not have power in Israel.

A son of the group’s leader fled the group and moved back to Israel.  According to Nachman Helbrans, this brother was in a bitter custody battle with his ex-wife, left for Israel, and then claimed his children were being neglected.  Several children from that family were removed and sent to live in Israel with the father.

This month a Knesset committee scheduled hearings on the Lev Tahor sect. Knesset member Yariv Levin called the group before the Child Welfare Committee.  Among the charges raised against the group are: placing people in solitary confinement, forcing little girls into marriages with old men, forcing loving couples to divorce, and hitting children with tire irons.

Following Lapid-Bennett Deal, Likud Facing Civil War

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

At 12:55 PM Wednesday, the prime minister’s office leaked a message so subversive and so clever, it insisted the editor of the 1 PM news edition at Kol Israel attribute it to anonymous “Likud circles.” That’s one notch below “senior Likud officials” and well below “circles close to the prime minister,” which is, basically, the prime minister. I heard it in my car, driving up to Jerusalem, but didn’t pay attention to the special wording. Maariv’s Shalom Yerushalmi paid attention, and realized the PM people were using the Atomic option.

The Likud circles, according to the leak, threatened that if there won’t be a breakthrough in the coalition negotiations within hours, the Likud would initiate an accelerated negotiations with the Haredi parties for a right-leaning new government without Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party.

In addition, a higher level source inside the PM’s circles, told Haaretz that Netanyahu believes the reason Lapid has upped the ante of his demands was his buyer’s remorse. Somehow he ended up agreeing to the Finance portfolio, and now, seeing the mess he would have to deal with, he wants to back out, so he’s making it impossible to come to an agreement.

That’s not such an outlandish surmise. Lapid, ever the glitzy charmer, had had his heart set on the Foreign Minister’s job. And he would have made a great FM, kissing hands and raising champagne glasses and all the other fun stuff FMs get to do in Paris, London, Rome, DC, and, of course, Moscow.

Except Avigdor Liberman, Netanyahu’s faction partner, already had dibs on the Foreign Ministry. Liberman couldn’t serve in the government for now, not until the silly corruption suit against him is resolved in court. But Bibi had promised Ivet to hold on to the seat for him, and breaking that promise would have been a deal killer all around.

So Lapid backed off and agreed to take another of the top three portfolios—Finance.

Customarily, the Foreign, Defense and Finance ministries belong to the party of the Prime Minister. It is a rare occurrence, usually driven by a national crisis (such as when Moshe Dayan was invited, from the opposition benches, to become Defense Minister in 1967). So, giving Lapid this high honor was a big thing.

But the job of Finance Minister is not going to make Lapid many friends this time around. No hand kissing and champagne here for the teen idol. The Netanyahu government has accrued a 40 billion shekel (just under $11 billion) deficit which has to be cut from the next budget. Unlike the U.S. government, which can run deficits in the trillion, Israeli governments are prohibited by law from running a deficit that’s higher than 3 percent of the budget. The new deficit constitutes 5.10 percent, and so some cutting has to take place.

And lover boy Yair Lapid will have the dubious honor of deciding what gets cut:

Should it be the new raises to hospital nurses? Low-cost education? Environmental improvements? Social Security benefit increases for the elderly? Highway construction? Train service?

There’s no two ways about it – in the end, someone is going to hate Yair Lapid for whatever cut he’ll make. And since he’s an avowed free market and anti-tax type, he won’t be able to fix things by taking more money from business (although Teva, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical conglomerate, received close to a billion dollars in tax break from the outgoing Finance Minister – that should pay for a few hot lunches).

The leak was a lie, of course, Lapid seems just as eager as before to embrace the, arguably, second most important job in government. But the first anonymous threat, about a coalition with Shas, UTJ and Bennett – especially when, reportedly, backed by Bennett himself, who assured Lapid he intended to stay in government, with or without him – that convinced Lapid it was time to call the game and put the cards on the table.

There’s an old Jewish joke about a shadchan who tries to convince a yeshiva bocher to marry Princess Margaret. He answers every one of the poor man’s questions – she would make a great wife, she has money, she will convert for the right man – until the yeshiva bocher breaks down and agrees to the deal. At which point the shadchan sighs deeply and says: Now starts the hard part.

Will the Likud Remain Democratic?

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

One piece of political news that probably went unnoticed to most, especially among all the coalition-negotiation rumors, was that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering cancelling the Likud’s primaries.

An article about this was first published on Jan. 28th,  just after the Knesset election on Israel’s Walla news site. Then, over the last few days it sprung up again in Ma’ariv/NRG and Yediot. Another Feb. 10 article in Ma’ariv claims that the Prime Minister intends to have the primaries cancelled before ministers are sworn into the government – that is, potentially in a matter of weeks.

To most people this is just internal party politics, but it’s really not. It directly affects the democratic nature of the State of Israel. In Israel, voters do not choose individual candidates, they choose slates. In effect, there are 120 legislators, but not a single representative. The candidates themselves are chosen via internal party processes – sometimes by a committee – a larger “central committee” or a smaller secretariat or selection committee – sometimes by the chairman, sometimes by the membership in an open primary. Those primaries are the only opportunity a citizen has to vote for an actual legislator, the only time a legislator directly faces a citizen and is held accountable for his record.

Unfortunately, only a few parties hold primaries. Likud and Labor do. This past election cycle, the Jewish Home held primaries, but only half of its list was chosen in the primaries, the rest by the central committee of T’kuma/the National Union. Kadima held primaries for its chairman, but cancelled its primaries for its list because it was expected to only get a maximum of 3 seats (in the end it got two). In total, about 42-3 Members of Knesset were chosen in primaries, meaning about  1/3rd of Knesset Members were chosen by actual people and not by party bosses. Even more unfortunate, is the fact that only a small percentage, something like three percent, of the public is eligible to vote in a party primary, and even less actually do vote.

But still it’s a start. If Israel won’t change over to a district-based electoral system (one representative per district), the only hope for the Members of Knesset being chosen by the people is through the primaries.

The alleged reason for cancelling primaries is, reportedly, that there are those who believe that the Likud’s list was too right-wing and that cost it votes and at the same time, not all party members voted for the party. Or in other words, the “settlers” registered to the party to push candidates like Tzipi Hotovely, Danny Danon, Ze’ev Elkin, Yariv Levin and Moshe Feiglin. The problem with that allegation is that there are many factions within the party who behave this way (like unions and members registered by vote contractors); there probably was a higher voting rate among settlers who were registered for the Likud then those who weren’t;  and of the 11 seats the Likud-Beytenu list lost from its prior standing the Knesset, seven mandates worth of votes went to the right. Any internal party player, especially the Prime Minister knows all this.

It is true though that the primaries are intensely manipulated – by the various factions/MKs/branch chairmen/vote contractors (vote contracting, as I have explained elsewhere refers to the practice of registering people to the party and then kind of bargaining with their votes for personal gain). This is a huge problem. But this manipulation can only take place because so few people are registered to the party. Many of them are registered by internal players, who can trade on their votes.

If, on the other hand, a million or 500,000 people  instead of 120,000 were registered to the Likud, and those people were registered by the party itself and not for any specific internal party player, it would be too hard for any vote contractor or even group, such as a union, to register and control the numbers necessary to manipulate the system. Vote contracting in its current powerful form, would be a thing of the past.

That would require an immense registration effort by the party over several years. That is very possible. In Israel, however, long term solutions, are not the preferred solutions. It’s easier and more seductive to maneuver one’s way to power, which in this case may mean canceling the primaries and concentrate power in the hands of an even smaller group of people.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/hadar/will-the-likud-remain-democratic/2013/02/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: