Wednesday, May 27

The Bickering Right Wing Coalition of Self-Interest

The Likud won the most seats in the Knesset after the March 2015 Elections and, superficially, it seemed that Netanyahu would have no problem forming a right to extreme right-wing coalition. Everything seemed to go in his favor especially the moment the results were known.
34th Cabinet of Israel

This was not to be. He was surrounded by a macabre mix of small right wing parties, such as Naphtali Bennett's  Bayit Hayehudi, Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu, the ultra-Orthodox Shas under Arye Mahluf Deri and Torah Judaism Parties. Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu decided not to be part of the coalition. A right wing coalition of 61 members was cobbled together with much bickering, political blackmail for cabinet posts and intra-fraternal strife. Even the opposition of 59 members is fragmented. This will give the coalition more power than it deserves.

We all saw the result. Netanyahu won and lost. While forming a coalition, he paid a very high price by giving out key cabinet posts to the small, political blackmailing, sectoral parties so that he could present his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin. We witnessed an amazing circus of squabbling, mediocre party hacks scrambling for cabinet posts, leaving the Likud dry with relatively minor portfolios that were divided into almost indecipherable cabinet posts that hopefully would make a united coalition. This was meant to satisfy the hungry potential cabinet ministers, whose grudges against each other were so blatant. The latest edition to the cabinet is Gilad Erdan, who was sworn in at the last minute possibly at the expense of veteran, Benny Begin. Begin may have a cabinet post created for him at the last minute. Gilad Erdan is loyal to Netanyahu and defended Netanyahu and his wife's follies through thick and thin. Initially he was left out of the cabinet. However with a "kvetch" here and there he was brought into the cabinet.

The majority of the Israeli Electorate is right wing and even that vote is split among right wing small parties. Most of the leaders of these parties have super-inflated egos and wield tremendous power to blackmail Netanyahu into giving in to their demands for cabinet posts. In order to satisfy them a law increasing the number of cabinet ministers from eighteen members to twenty members was cobbled together at a lightning pace.

The ultra-Orthodox partners never had it so good for many years. The conscription of Haredi youth into the IDF will not occur. There will be increased funding for their yeshivot at the tax-payers' expense. They will get increased funding from the National Insurance for maintenance of their children. Secular education will be denied them so that they will remain eternal Talmud scholars, unable to develop skills to earn a decent livelihood on the free market. More state money will be going into settlements in the occupied West Bank, thanks to Bayit HaYehudi (The Jewish Home Party) in the coalition. It will be a coalition to promote narrow sectarian interests.

In apartheid South Africa under white minority rule, the government maintained power by shouting "swart gevaar" (black danger) which was basically a call to the blood by using racist scare tactics. This worked for many years until sanctions were declared against South Africa and the economy collapsed as a result. This heralded the demise of apartheid and a democratically elected ANC government.

In Israel, on Election Day, Netanyahu went into a panic and used the sane "call to the blood" tactic. He stated that the Arabs were coming out in droves to vote and this could be a threat to Israel. The ruse worked but Netanyahu lost to the small right wing parties and the ultra-Orthodox parties. The "wheeling and dealing" to form a coalition, which has always been part of Israel's political leadership, had reached a new low. All the members of the coalition dislike and do not trust each other. This coalition will probably not last until the next scheduled election in 4 years.

The Zionist Camp candidate, Isaac Herzog, lost the elections and perhaps it is a blessing in disguise for him. We are all witnessing "how the mighty Netanyahu has fallen". Netanyahu had it made for him after the elections, but had made painful compromises rather than brave decisions as the small parties blackmailed him politically and left him without any choices. He went back on his cabinet post promises for his political party cartel, leaving his party colleagues disgruntled.

This coalition will be impotent and there will be no reforms that will improve the lot of the economically weak sectors. The Finance Minister, Moshe Kahlon, who promised to introduce reforms in lowering prices of natural gas has turned around and has washed his hands fromhis rhetoric before the elections as it goes against a tycoon friend of his that has large financial interests in one of the gas companies called Tamar.

Most of Israel's Likud cabinet ministers have received chopped up pieces of portfolios to satisfy their voracious appetites for cabinet posts. It is rather pathetic and wasteful. Thank goodness that Israel has many tax-payers who will fulfill their civil duties to pay for coalition follies.

Peace with the Palestinians and the two-state solution will not happen on this Netanyahu watch. He has made that clear. There will be no freezing of settlements in the West Bank. On the Palestinian side there is no viable partner for peace any less than on the Israeli side. President Mahmoud Abbas, will be unable to sign any agreement with Israel on that score even if conditions were amenable. The extremists in the Palestinian camp from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and those even more radical will assassinate Mahmoud Abbas, whose power base is very weak if he even signs a peace agreement with Israel. He is better off threatening to take Israel to the International Court of Justice in The Hague for war crimes where he can somehow maintain his status quo which suits him and his PA. After all, Dr Saeb Barekat, the eternal negotiator, will be unemployed in the remote event of a peace treaty being signed.

The blame for this situation lies with many Israeli voters who are ignorant of the importance and responsibility of voting. There will be no breakthroughs for peace or any progressive new laws. It will be the same stereotype declarations of recognizing Israel as the nation state of the Jewish People and with that much undertones of racism towards Israel's non-Jewish minorities. Sectarian interest, especially serving the right wing, will take priority in this pathetic coalition of mediocre, small party political hacks.The government will have its strength in making laws that have a right wing and religious orthodox Jewish consensus rather than what is good for all Israel's citizens. Israel will be in for a rough ride internationally. 

Israeli Police Violence against Demonstrators

It is unfortunate that police violence crosses all boundaries, It is directed against demonstrators who are weak, including Israeli Ethiopians, ultra-Orthodox, Arab Israelis and various groups who have legitimate gripes against government policies.

Friday, May 15

Palestinians' Anti-Peace Campaign

Palestinians' Anti-Peace Campaign Prior to attending this meeting I wrote an article about the unfortunate demise of the Two-State Solution. What happened at this meeting is gaining support among Palestinians and is aiding the right wing Netanyahu Coalition, by strengthening Netanyahu's claim that there will be no Palestinian State. If this is what occurs at Peace Meetings sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, we are going to have a disaster as Hamas gives support to these activities. It will also strengthen the hawkish Netanyahu Government, which was sworn in with the majority of one vote (61 for and 59 against).

Tuesday, May 5

Palestinian State - Figment of Imagination?

Map showing the West Bank and Gaza Strip in re...
Map showing the West Bank and Gaza Strip in relation to central Israel (situation of 2007) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The idea of a two-state solution has been doing the rounds for many years to achieve a peace settlement between Israelis and Palestinians. Most countries in the world including the US, EU have expressed support for a two-state solution. A solution to the Israeli Occupation since the Six Day War of June 1967 has been discussed in international forums for many years, including negotiations with the Palestinians. There has been no progress towards a two-state solution.
While we all want a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, there is no sign that this is going to happen any time soon. The reasons are numerous and complicated. It is not because PM Netanyahu said that under his watch, there will be no establishment of Palestinian State. There is no situation on the ground that is conducive to negotiations.
In order to even arrive at negotiations, there must be a desire on both sides to reach a settlement. The Palestinian Authority under
Mahmoud Abbas and his chief professional negotiator for peace, Dr. Saeb Erakat represent nobody but themselves. According to the latest polls, Hamas support in the West Bank is on the increase and support for the PLO- oriented PA (Palestinian Authority) is on the wane. Even if a peace agreement between Israel and the PA is reached, Abbas will never sign because Hamas will never accept it. Hamas will only accept a "Peace Treaty" that delegitimizes Israel's right to exist. Israel’s establishment of settlements in the occupied West Bank is not an issue. As far as Hamas is concerned, Israel is occupied territory since 1948 and this is their mantra that is well outlined in the Hamas Charter which has not changed. The PA has had no general elections since 2006. It has no democratic institutions and no accountability to its people. Transparency in government is non-existent. They know that Hamas is breathing down their necks waiting to take over the West Bank if elections would take place. The result for Israel would be disastrous!  The PA and Hamas have signed an agreement even though it is shaky.
There is total instability in the Middle East with warring factions ranging from ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, the genocide of the Yazidis and Christians. Hezbollah, who are allies of Hamas, Salifis and many other Islamist terror groups are engaged in partisan terrorist activity. With all due respects, how on earth can one see a fertile ground for a two-state solution? One must also bear in mind that all these groups have an insatiable, pathological hate for Israel. These terrorist nationalist groups are hell bent on Israel's destruction. The UN is impotent and many of its members spend time on bashing Israel on "human rights abuse" concerning the Palestinians. The chaos in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon is hardly an issue. Iran and Turkey are also involved. The former is supporting Hezbollah and Syria’s butcher, Bashar el Assad, while the latter sits on the fence. The occupation and building settlements are opposed by many of us, however, we realize that the alternative is worse. If Israel relinquishes the occupied territories, it will be filled by Hamas and the West Bank will deteriorate into a second Gaza and Hamas terror, tunnel digging for the infiltration of Hamas terrorists into Israel will increase. This will be the alternative to the occupation. It is a reality and not an ideology. Ideology against the occupation and the reality of a barbaric scenario without the occupation is obvious. This is the choice we really have. Sorry for this pessimism! If only this was not the case. The biggest enemy of the Palestinian Leadership (Hamas and the PA) is the strong belief in their fantasy world of glory.  They create a reality based on their fantasies. In this attempt, they have much in common with ISIS and their terrorist ilk, despite their constant denials.
The earthquake disaster in Nepal has overshadowed most news items in Israel. Israel has bent over backwards to send IDF rescue teams to save as many Nepalese victims as possible. Field hospitals have been established and many lives have been saved. Rescue teams have arrived from all over the world, each doing what they can to alleviate the suffering and working round the clock.
There are groups of journalists in Israel of the likes of Gideon Levy who feel that Israel should be rehabilitating Gaza and not be putting in such effort to save lives in Nepal. He is wrong for many reasons (some of which will be outlined later in this article) and there are many double-standard, self-styled human rights activists who feel the same way.
The Gaza War - Operation Protective Edge - broke out in July 2014 and lasted 50 days. Of course, the Palestinians in Gaza underwent traumatic suffering no matter how one views it. Large densely populated areas in Gaza were destroyed, leaving many people homeless. This was not the result of a natural disaster but Israel's military reaction to Hamas aggression, which Gideon Levy and his colleagues of like mind, ignore. The attempts at firing missiles into Israel by Hamas terrorist militants as well as digging tunnels to carry out murderous acts of terror created a situation whereby the IDF was forced to act in order to defend Israel's citizens. Hamas was warned but they took no heed. The result for the Palestinian population was tragic. It was grist for the mill of human rights activists sympathetic to the Hamas-oriented Palestinian cause and all that it entails.
The Hamas use of innocent Palestinians as human shields is well documented with Hamas rockets being fired from UNRWA property and from civilian areas added to the tragic death rate of many innocent Palestinians. One must also note that the Hamas leadership was hidden in shelters underground and not a squeak was heard from them while Palestinian human shields surrounded their “hidey holes” and took a battering. The "brave-fearless-in-rhetoric" Khaled Mashaal sitting on the gold pots in Qatar, Ismail Haniyeh as well as many other Hamas leaders in an underground shelter were conspicuous by their absence. They came out of their holes when a cease-fire was declared to sprout their rhetoric of bravado and fantasy victory.
Nepal is not Gaza and the latter's leadership is hostile to Israel. They would not have allowed the IDF to go on a lifesaving mission to help those Palestinians caught up in the tragedy. This would be against their interests of portraying Palestinian suffering at the hands of the “cruel occupier - Israel”! There were cases where Palestinians did arrive in Israeli hospitals for medical treatment. How can one expect Israel to rehabilitate Gaza when Hamas was responsible for the tragedy as well as declaring war on Israel and not a natural disaster? Hamas was the cause of Palestinian suffering and destruction! The "peace loving" NGOs and their journalistic ilk avoided publishing the truth. Truth in Hamas eyes is based on fantasy in most cases as well as dishonest reporting.
After Operation Protective Shield, a ceasefire was declared and the destruction to Gaza was horrendous and the toll in death and destruction in Gaza was high. The blame for this must be laid at the doorstep of Hamas, who acted irresponsibility, crippled by their fantasies of victory, glory and irreconcilable hate for Israel that goaded them on to create a disaster for the Palestinians.
Today acts of terror against Israel still occur. Individual Palestinians go on the rampage periodically ramming their vehicles into innocent bystanders or stabbing people in the streets. These terrorists are imbued with an irreconcilable hatred for Jews and carry out individual terrorist acts.

The reality as portrayed in this article is not conducive to a Two State solution. It is a sad truth. It will remain a figment of the imagination to those, who are naive and ignorant to the reality on the ground in a sea of enemies surrounding Israel and the chaos in the Middle East of today.

Thursday, April 23

Independence Day - 67 Years - Yom Ha'atzmaut

Flag of Israel. Shows a Magen David (“Sh...
Flag of Israel. Shows a Magen David (“Shield of David”) between two stripes. The Shield of David is a traditional Jewish symbol. The stripes symbolize a Jewish prayer shawl (tallit). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Israel is celebrating its 67th year of independence. Lots of pageantry, TV shows speeches, firework displays and traditional barbecues. The public parks are packed to capacity with picnickers who litter the parks without any consideration for the environment. Litter bugs leave garbage in the parks in every bit of square space available. My desire on Independence Day is rain to dampen the spirits of barbecuing litterers to keep them at home in order to give a breathing space for the environment.

The litter bugging picnickers bring their accessories such as loudspeakers, blaring at a decibel rate that almost bursts the eardrums. Civic consciousness and consideration for others is on the bottom rung of their frolicking agenda. The scene in the public parks and nature spots is macabre if not bizarre.

 Another characteristic of Independence Day is that approximately 20% of Israel's citizens do not feel any identification with Israel's independence. This is sad. We have not done enough to bring many of Israel's minority non-Jewish citizens closer to a common civil identification with Israel as their country no less than it is for Jewish Israelis. The narrative of both  peoples should be taught in schools  in an objective manner. This would help to heal the historical rift between the two peoples The Independence Day celebrations are viewed by the Arab community as "the Naqba (Catastrophe(

In the diaspora, Jews, who are citizens of the countries of their birth, share a common civil identity with the majority non-Jewish citizens. There is no conflict of interests. Many Jewish citizens living in the diaspora are supportive of Israel, but have no desire to immigrate to Israel. They enjoy their standard of living and quality of life. Many who traditional or observant have a very satisfying Jewish communal life affiliated with the synagogue, where they are members.

 While most Arab citizens are loyal to Israel, they do not share the Jewish majority's identity with Israel and its symbols. This is very noticeable on Independence Day. There is no Israeli pageantry displayed on the street light poles or hanging from the homes of Arab citizens. There is even a certain fear entering the Arab villages and displaying Israeli flags on one's vehicles, which could be viewed as a provocation by the Arab villagers. It is as if Israel is divided into two entities - Jewish and Arab, with a schism between the two communities which is disadvantageous to both.

How can we unite the various communities in Israel so that a common patriotism is forged between all irrespective of race, color and creed? Perhaps a start can be made in education by establishing integrated schools from the age of 6 years until matriculation. All Israel's citizens should be taught the same common secular subjects including the Hebrew, Arabic and English languages as compulsory subjects. When it comes to religious studies, each religious group should have its own religious leader teaching a few hours a week the precepts of the various faiths to each religious group. This is similar to the state schools in the diaspora, where the rabbi, priest or imam gives lessons to the various religious groups in each class.

The national anthem of Israel should remain unchanged, but an additional stanza or two could be added to represent the non-Jewish minorities. If this is done with discretion by a composer the result could also help initiate a common patriotism. It will also improve relationships between all Israel's citizens without compromising on each group's heritage. Additional symbols like olives and the olive tree could also be incorporated into a common Israeli heritage inclusive of all groups.

 When South Africa became a democracy in 1995 under late President Nelson Mandela, the national anthem became all-embracing of a multiracial society and united all South Africans. The South African National Anthem was re-arranged by Jeanne Zaidel Rudolph and is a great success. This example could be taken by Israel. The ingenuity of a composer that can arrange Hatikvah with a tune that can keep the old as well as adding the new in an all-embracing musical arrangement can go a long way in uniting a very fragmented society into a common loyalty.

We all need to pledge ourselves in creating a just and fair society in a very tough part of the planet - The Middle East! 

Friday, April 17

Holocaust Context Today

It has become rather trendy to equate the Israeli occupation with all sort  of stereotypes and mantras. The occupation is a problem caused by the inability of the Arab states to recognize Israel's right to exist. Mainstream Palestinian thought today is according to the Hamas Charter. The PA is weak and has very little support in Palestinian street. Most Palestinians want peace but the PA leadership claiming to represent them, fear Hamas.
We are all aware of the wars that Israel fought to defend its citizens against Arab aggression prior to the June 1967 Six Day War. Israel was forced to carry out a preemptive strike after President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, had closed off the Tiran Straits, choking Israel's shipping just after he (Nasser) ordered the UN observers to leave the area. Israel won the war and occupied the West Bank, Golan Heights, Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula and East Jerusalem. Prior to 1967, Israel never had occupied Palestinian lands and yet the desire to destroy Israel from the day of its establishment remained in the mindset of the Arab countries. As far as Hamas is concerned, the whole of Israel, established since 1948 is occupied territory and not just the areas occupied after the Six Day War.
What is happening today? Various Palestinian terrorist groups or "Freedom Fighters" infiltrate Israel carrying out terrorist attacks against innocent Israelis. Many act on their own as individuals, ramming civilians in Jerusalem with vehicles at their disposal, stabbings or suicide attacks. “Peacemaking” NGOs, who have adopted the Palestinian cause against the Israeli occupation, arrived as volunteers to get involved in so-called coexistence projects. Superficially it seems noble but in practice, these organizations are indulged in spreading lies and hate against Israel as well as exaggerating the plight of the Palestinians and IDF abuse of them. Their silence on Palestinian terror gives a clear sign as to whom they support.
These NGOs are funded by many European countries and the whole plan is to delegitimize Israel by creating falsehoods about Israel's treatment of Palestinians. The BDS movement is a ramification of these NGO activities to wear Israel down in the hope of capitulation to Palestinian "freedom movements” such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other splinter terrorist groups whose aim is Israel's total destruction.
Many of us were deceived by these European funded NGOs into believing in the nobility of their cause for peace. These "peacemakers" glorify the Palestinians. They do not know the history of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict or Middle Eastern history, let alone Palestinians.
They equate Israel's treatment of the Palestinians with apartheid South Africa and Nazi Germany. They even talk about Israel's acts of genocide against Palestinians. These self-righteous, ignorant, double standard, hypocrites come to Israel to spread their ignorant lies. Why do they not go to Syria, Iraq and Yemen, where there is bloodshed, killings of a dimension that boggles the mind? In these countries Arabs kill each other and no condemnation of worth is uttered in the UN. What about the persecution of Christians in these countries who are being killed like vermin as well as Muslims who do not follow Jabhat el Nusra and ISIS? This proves that underneath all the NGO "peace motives" is a more sinister all encompassing, race hatred - anti-Semitism! They deny this of course, by saying that they hold the Jewish People and Israel to a "higher standard" and feel they must speak out against the "cruel oppression of the Palestinians" that Israel commits, calling it "war crimes" against Palestinians.  There are some Israelis in the employ of these NGOs, who invent stories about torture of Palestinians and create a new truth by uttering lies and distortions that are publicized in the media sympathetic to the Palestinian cause whatever that represents. Tell a lie often enough and it becomes the truth. This was evident in Operation Naked Edge in July/August 2014 in Gaza.
The aftermath of this last war in Gaza witnessed a rise in anti-Semitism the likes of which has never been experienced since the end of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. The sympathy for the Palestinian fight against the occupation has taken root in Europe. Attacks against Jews, destruction of synagogues and this is all the result of a resurgence of classic anti-Semitism that has reached a zenith in France with an attack on a kosher Supermarket in Paris as well as anti-Semitic attacks gaining momentum in Sweden, Denmark, Belgium and many other European countries. It is a weird mix of classic anti-Semitism and Islamist extremism that has overtaken Europe. IS has its roots in many mosques in Europe, brainwashing European youth to their cause for establishing a caliphate in their home countries with fiery Imams delivering the most rabid anti-Semitic sermons that has become anti-Christian as well.
The Western world stands in silence while the US kowtows to the wily President Hassan Rouhani of Iran - the charming sugar-coated bitter pill of the cruel, despotic ayatollah regime of Khamenei and its hate of the US and Israel. Pathetic! Is President Obama the modern Neville Chamberlain appeasing Iran? Time will tell and that time is on Iran's side, not on the side of the civilized world. The Holocaust denials - part of Iran's stock and trade, as well as of many NGOs active in the Palestinian quest for freedom from Israeli occupation.
These self-righteous, hypocritical, double standard NGOs should be sent to Syria, Iraq and Iran to monitor human rights and torture, where they can promote peace. Israel is easy meat for them. In the above mentioned countries, they will be beheaded in no time while their allies in the UN will remain apathetic to their plight.
The attempt at creating conditions for committing genocide against the Jews has never been as rife as it is today since the end of World War 2. The anti-Semitism has even spread to places as far as South Africa, Australia and even New Zealand firing the imagination of many Muslims in these countries Thank you, European NGOs, for fomenting anti-Semitism and xenophobia internationally in countries where it was never an issue.

Thursday, April 2

Passover - Has it Become Irrelevant?

A page from a 14th century German Haggadah
A page from a 14th century German Haggadah (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Pesach (Passover) is here and apart from gorging ourselves to the hilt and reciting the Haggadah to celebrate the liberation from slavery of the Israelites from Pharoanic Egypt over 5 000 years ago, much has happened to the descendants of the Israelites over the centuries.

Suffice it to say, Jews were a persecuted minority for centuries in Christian Europe. This had changed in the 19th Century when awareness of human rights for all was in the process of becoming part of the constitution of much of the Western World as we know it.

During the years of persecution, Jews all over the world celebrated Pesach with a feeling of joy and hope including the centuries-old desire to return to Jerusalem, which was never forgotten, and is recited at the end of the Haggada-reading ritual, an integral part of the Passover Seder. Today the words “Next year in rebuilt Jerusalem” are recited at the end of the reading.

While we in Israel celebrate Pesach, the festival of our liberation from the Pharaohs of Egypt, there is a feeling among many of us that Pesach has lost its significance. Many observant families go to great lengths to ensure that the food eaten during the Pesach week is Kosher for Pesach including, of course, refraining from eating leavened bread. The meaning of Pesach is freedom and liberation from oppression and slavery.

If we are so concerned about freedom and liberation of our people, we should also be concerned with other people in Israel, who are not free. Thoughts of failure in our treatment of refugees (non-Jewish) in our midst as well as migrant or foreign workers should be uppermost. We have a new government in Israel that is right wing and is insensitive to those who happen to arrive here because of  the danger to their lives in their mother countries under despotic rule. Many refugees arrive here fleeing from the "pharaohs" of their countries. The Sudanese from Darfur and Eritreans are examples. Some refugees arrive after months of wandering in deserts, escaping marauding tribes of Bedouins, who were out to threaten them unless they paid them ransom money to survive. Egypt had blocked them. In their survival quest, they landed up in southern Israel. It is a moral dilemma for Israel but if they receive refugee status according to international law of which Israel is a signatory, Israel becomes responsible for their welfare.

How does Israel treat these refugees? Detention in various inhuman camps such as Saharonim and Holot in the south is prevalent. Conditions in these camps are shocking and the overcrowding is beyond words. Refugees are encouraged to leave but have nowhere to go. If they return to their countries of origin, they face death.

The migrant and foreign workers, many of them coming from the Philippines, India and Thailand are contract laborers. The caregivers of our aged are on duty 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. While these people get free board and lodging by their employers. Time off is a gesture and not compulsory as there is no law to protect them from exploitation. Many caregivers do other chores in the home and do housework which is not part of their contract. They also do Pesach cleaning for the family. I guess this is how we celebrate our freedom from oppression according to the teachings of the revered Late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who said that the "goyim (strangers or non-Jews) were created by God to serve the Jews".  This "sage" has made many hurtful, racist statements in the past. This explains many paradoxes in our treatment of "the goyim". Sources in Judaism seem to back this up. If a contracted foreign worker's work permit expires, come hell and high water, he /she cannot renew the work permit under any circumstances.What about the lot of asylum-seekers whose future is perpetual exile? It is a matter of time before the Israeli Immigration Police sniffs them out and deports them to a detention center awaiting expulsion from Israel under demeaning conditions. They live in fear as this could happen at the whim of an unscrupulous employer or informer (shtinker).

Our treatment of our own fellow non-Jewish citizens in Israel can be improved. We were warned by our Prime Minister on Election Day that the Arabs and leftists are coming out "in droves" to vote and could be a danger to our survival. The apathetic right came out to vote in panic to neutralize "Arab danger" in order to ensure "our freedom".

It is sad that our country, Israel, prides itself in its democracy is lacking in sensitivity towards those, who are the weaker sectors of society and this includes the minorities. Freedom from oppression and exploitation should be applicable to all sectors of our society and this should be the message of Pesach. If we become slaves to Pesach rituals and not respect the right of freedom from exploitation of others then Pesach ceases its relevancy. Children of asylum-seekers have the worst deal and officially are non-existent. 

Happy Pesach to all and spare a thought for the weaker members of our society and not only be partisan towards our own people.

Saturday, March 21

Aftermath of the Israeli General Elections 2015

In my previous articles on the Israeli Elections, despite the polls giving a slight edge to the left of center Zionist Camp, I had written that the majority of the Israeli electorate is right of center to extreme right wing. This would influence coalition negotiations with Benjamin Netanyahu being re-elected as prime minister. However, I did predict that it would be a close result. The day after the elections, Netanyahu's Likud Party received the most seats (30 seats) while the Zionist Camp trailed behind by 6 seats (24 seats). Even if the result would be a draw, there is no way that the Zionist Party would be able to form a coalition. As in all elections, no party has ever had an absolute majority or even approached that. Reliance on coalition deals with small parties has always been the major factor in coalition negotiations to form a new government.
 Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech next to his wife Sara as he reacts to exit poll figures in Israel's parliamentary elections late on March 17, 2015.

The small parties are center-right to extreme-right. They are the natural partners in coalition bargaining with the Likud. For many of us, the results are disappointing though hardly surprising, considering that most Israelis are center to extreme right. There was no serious discourse on solving the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. This is viewed as taboo at election time. The issues were cost of living and the increasing cost of housing. 

There are only two small parties that are left wing, Meretz and the Joint List (which has mostly Arab members). The Joint List is the third largest party. They will be in the opposition no matter which party forms a coalition. They are not even considered as potential partners even in a left coalition. The Joint List is anti-Zionist. They were not even prepared to sign a surplus vote agreement with Meretz as the latter is a Zionist party, despite claims to the contrary by the right wing.

The polls prior to the elections had predicted a narrow victory for the Zionist Camp. The polls were proved wrong and misleading. 

Netanyahu was in a panic on Election Day. He was convinced that the Likud would lose the elections and he would not be re-elected as prime minister. Later that afternoon on Election Day, voting was not as brisk as expected. Only about 55% of registered voters had cast their votes. For Netanyahu, this could spell disaster for his Likud Party. When Netanyahu panics, he sweats and he is unable to hide his stress. In this situation, being the wily, resilient politician that he is, he managed to pull a racist rabbit out of his hat. He declared that the Arabs are turning up "in droves"to vote and this spells danger to Israel and its security if the Likud loses. The ruse worked and the apathetic voters, sharing Netanyahu's concern at the possibility of losing, came out of their "rabbit holes”, made a bee-line to the polling stations, and voted Likud. The low poll was pushed up to 72% within a few hours until closing time. Netanyahu, almost single-handedly, became the master of his own destiny to re-election as Prime Minister of the 20th Knesset. The exploitation of fear of Arab citizen votes for the Joint List en masse reeks of racism on the part of Netanyahu It is deplorable to denigrate Arab citizens of Israel for cheap political gains as Netanyahu has done!

Since the results of these elections, so many commentaries have been made in the press and on TV as to why the Zionist Camp lost the elections. They were unable to convince the Israeli voter to support them. They never really became organized throughout their campaign by offering a viable and realistic alternative. The fault lies with the two leaders of the Zionist Camp. Isaac Herzog, leader of the Zionist Camp, has an illustrious pedigree, being the son of the Late Chaim Herzog, who was president of Israel and had a very successful political and military career. Yitzchak Herzog does not have charisma or voice that inspires the average citizen to vote for him. He side-stepped issues, such as the future of peace negotiations with the Palestinians as he felt that is not an issue for elections. He was scared to appear as somebody who will sell out Israel to Hamas, which of course is ridiculous. Netanyahu took advantage of this and demonized the Zionist Camp stating repeatedly ad nauseam that the left will divide Jerusalem and bow down to Palestinian demands.  Knowing the Israeli electorate as he does, the use of fear of an Arab take-over of Israel if the Likud loses brought him the desired results. The Israeli left is considered traitors by many right-wing voters and the Likud. This tendency to to demonize the left will increase. The small right wing parties took advantage of this demonization tactic. 

Tzippi Livni, Herzog's running mate, also has very little credibility. She had changed parties four times (she was a staunch member of Likud as well as being in the Likud cabinet, then leader of the now defunct Kadima Party, followed by Tnuah which she started and finally joined up with the Zionist Camp). Apart from that, Netanyahu is viewed as the only person capable of leading Israel. Many people have said to me "Can you imagine Herzog, who is wimpish, leading the country?"  The devil one knows is preferable to the devil unknown. As tired as the electorate is of Netanyahu he is still considered the best of poor alternatives. 

The use of various epithets describing Netanyahu and going for his wife Sara Netanyahu and their lavish life-style boomeranged as a "sympathy vote" for the Likud can also be viewed as a result.  

The future ramifications for Israel because of Netanyahu’s re-election as Prime Minister are not good. Israel's image in the world and the relationship with President Obama is not good either. A good relationship with the US is important for Israel. We must remember that without US military aid and financial support, Israel would be in a very poor situation. After all, the Iron Dome anti-ballistic system that was successful in saving the lives of many Israelis during Operation Protective Edge in July 2014 received the green light from President Obama. We must never forget that and must cease "Obama-bashing" over the Iran nuclear negotiation issue. None of us knows what is happening behind the lines and relies on spin, half-truths and hype. No US agreement with Iran on these issues has been reached. Israel has the right to express concern using accepted channels not a vote-gaining strategy by Netanyahu by addressing the American Congress on 3rd March 2015 prior to the Israeli General Elections.

The neo-fascist Yahad Party of the ex-Shasnik, Eli Yishai was eliminated and has no representation in the Knesset, is the only positive achievement of these elections. Israel is in for a bumpy ride in coalition building and also in its relations with the world as peace with the Palestinians and a two-state solution recedes even further from the realm of remote possibility.