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.

Sunday, March 8

Thoughts on the Israeli Elections 2015

English: Israeli Ballot Divider עברית: פרגוד ה...
English: Israeli Ballot Divider עברית: פרגוד ההצבעה (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As the time draws closer to the Israeli Elections on 17th March 2015, the polls are showing some trends towards the nature of the coalition government-to-be. The Israeli Electorate is more center right to right wing and this includes support for the right wing small parties including the religious right-wing Zionist as well as ultra-Orthodox. This gives a definite edge over the center-left to left wing bloc.

Despite all the electoral hype, polls and spin, the claim of the Zionist Camp forming the next coalition is remote. There are trends but it is unrealistic to share the optimistic view of the Zionist Camp forming the next government, despite the fact that the Zionist Camp is leading the Likud by 4 mandates according to the latest polls.

Many Israelis do not like Netanyahu, but they will vote for his Likud list as they feel that there is no alternative to Netanyahu's leadership. They view the Herzog-Livni partnership as a poor choice. Livni is not stable as she has changed loyalties three times before putting her eggs in Herzog's basket. The "blue-blooded" Isaac"Bouji" Herzog seems to lack charisma for being prime minister. His manner and his voice do not inspire many people. He has become more charismatic lately due to voice-training, and coaching. Apart from that, Tzippi Livni, may be an obstacle to the Zionist Camp getting enough mandates to be invited by the President to form a new government coalition after the elections. Increased support for Meretz will increase the Zionist Camp's chances of forming a new government.

The main players that will influence the nature of the coalition will be the small parties. Most of the small parties tend towards the center right to extreme right and are the natural partners for a right wing coalition under Likud leadership even if the Likud list gets 3-4 less mandates than the Zionist Camp. If the Zionist Camp continues their momentum of increasing the par by 8-10 mandates from the Likud then their chances would improve to become the next government.  

The left-wing Meretz Party is on the borderline of being represented in the Knesset. Polls indicate that they may get from 4 to 6 seats. If they only muster 4 seats then they may be eliminated from the parliamentary scene. This will be a sad day for Israel's democracy if it happens. Many Meretz supporters will change allegiance and vote for the Zionist Camp. This will not help the Zionist Camp to win the elections. A strong Meretz will increase the chances of the Zionist Camp to be invited by President Rivlin to form the new government after the elections. Meretz has declared that it will support Herzog in forming the next government.

There is a possibility that the two main parties, Likud and Zionist Camp will form a coalition together. Those who vote for the Zionist Camp at the expense of Meretz may even get the Likud as a coalition partner. One must remember that after the elections, the ball game changes in coalition negotiations and unlikely bedfellows become partners in a new government coalition despite declarations to the contrary. This happens after every election in Israel and there is no indication that this will not happen again. History - political and non-political, has a habit of repeating itself. The Likud and Labor have sat together in a coalition in past governments.  A voter, who is left inclined, will not be happy if this will be the final scenario after 17th March. Many of us who vote against Netanyahu would not like to see a Likud-Zionist Camp coalition. A vote for Meretz is a vote against a coalition with the Likud, right wing settlement-oriented, ultra-Orthodox government, which could include the Zionist Camp.

According to the latest polls, there is a move towards the Zionist Camp, who is 3-4 seats ahead of the Likud. The party coalition bloc will determine the nature of the coalition. In this, the Likud has an advantage despite trailing behind the Zionist Camp in the polls.

Many left wing Jewish voters may even leave Meretz and support the Joint Arab List (Ram-Tal, Balad, Hadash) Within this Joint List is the Islamic Movement that does not represent the secular supporters, Jewish and Arab. This will give this party a rather partisan character. This partisanship is no less negative than the extremist right wing partisan Zionist and ultra-Orthodox Parties. The Joint List will be the third largest party according to the latest polls. This party claims that it will fight racism, strive for equality between all Arab and Jewish citizens in Israel as well as true democracy. The leader of this party, Ayman Odeh, is eloquent, pleasant and lacks the aggressive rhetoric of Haneen Zoabi, the MK of the Balad Party. Zoabi has made statements that are in bad taste, divisive and very partisan. After the elections, the glue that cements the Joint List may melt and if this happens they may not be the chief opposition party. If not, according to Israeli Law, Ayman Odeh will be the leader of the opposition and the future prime minister will have to update him on decisions in the various Knesset committees, including the Security and Defense Committees. I wonder how the future government will adjust to that!

The Joint List has refused to sign an agreement for excess votes with Meretz because Meretz is a Zionist Party. The mantra of anything associated with Zionism to some Joint List members is considered evil. This is really so short-sighted and narrow minded for a party that claims to uphold ideals of democracy and equality that is very close to Meretz ideology. There are Zionists, who do not share the racist right-wing ideologies of the religious Zionist Party, Bayit Hayehudi, and extreme right wing members of the Likud including Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beteinu. Surely this illustrates a hypocritic streak in the Joint List that labels people as evil because they are Zionists.  

I shall be voting for Meretz with pride. A vote for sanity, a vote against Likud-Bayit Hayehudi racism, a vote for human values and decency for all Israel's citizens irrespective of race, colour and faith. It is also a vote for a more humane policy towards foreign or migrant workers and refugees, whose lives are endangered in their home countries. We must also negotiate peace with our Palestinian neighbors and work for an end to the occupation as essential priorities. The Joint List has elements of bigotry that is nationalist oriented on the Arab side in the Islamic Movement not much different to the late Rabbi Kahana racism of Baruch Marzel, an extreme religious right-winger, in the Yahad Party of Eli Yishai. Israel needs to improve its relations with the US which Netanyahu has damaged.

There is no doubt that we must vote for ending the Netanyahu regime that offers no future for Israel. Israel’s world image has taken a severe knock because of the Likud. This must improve with a positive change of government. Unfortunately, there will be no conclusive victory for either bloc and the possibility of the final say will be in the hands of President Reuven Rivlin.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Saturday, February 21

The Israeli Elections 2015 with Foregone Predictions?

All kinds of video clips - especially from the right wing have gone viral. These clips are bordering on the humorous as well as attacking those on the left wing of the political spectrum. The problem is that the right wing, especially the settler leadership in the occupied territories, are using Nazi tactics to dehumanize the left wing, who do not hold right wing, religious, Zionist views that oppose the occupation.

The upcoming general election is the most aggressive, filthiest election campaign in Israel’s history. While all election campaigns in Israel are lively and aggressive electioneering is dominant, new lows have been reached in this campaign. The use of character assassination tactics does not add to fair publicity and the important issues that need to be addressed.

The hedonistic lifestyle of PM Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu and his wife have been well described in the State Comptroller’s Report,  which was published a month before the election date. This has created grist to the mill of those opposing Netanyahu as being re-elected as Prime Minister. Whether it will influence the outcome, remains to be seen. Bibi is surrounded by a group of very loyal Likud Party hacks that seek every opportunity to “whitewash” Bibi on TV, internet and in the press. They are in denial and claim that this Report is part of an organized “smear campaign” against Bibi and the Likud. Naturally they accuse the left of carrying out this smear campaign, whether it is their extravagant living, Sarah Netanyahu pocketing bottle-deposit money as well as exploiting the staff in the Prime Minister’s residence and private homes. Likud will not win an absolute majority but they will win a mandate or two more than the left of center Zionist Camp. The Israeli Electorate are moving towards the right and they will support center to right of center political parties that will be the natural coalition partners with the Likud.

While the Comptroller’s Report is on the way to be the basis of a criminal investigation into the misuse of state funds by the Netanyahu family and is an embarrassment to Netanyahu, it will not affect the right wing outcome of the elections. Islamophobia and racism against Arabs (which unfortunately is on the increase in Israel) is a strong factor in influencing the final election results.

The Bayit Yehudi Party (Jewish Home Party) under Naftali Bennett’s leadership have come out with shocking statements in their election campaign, accusing the left of not having learn’t the lessons of Late PM Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination on November 5th 1995. What Lessons? This is the same as saying that the Zionists are responsible for ISIS! The assassin, Yigal Amir, who shot Yitzhak Rabin on that fateful night (I was present at that Peace Assembly when it occurred) came from the extreme right wing camp. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. According to reports, Yigal Amir and his family are supporters of Bennett and his Bayit Hayehudi Party. So which pot is calling the kettle black? Naftali Bennett has also been accusing the left of being traitors to Israel and inciting his supporters against them. Such hypocrisy!!! The criticism that I can make is the portrayal of Naftali Bennett as a Nazi. This is shocking and to be condemned in the strongest terms no less. It is an example of another low to which this election campaign has reached.

The Zionist Camp, even it wins a mandate or two more than the Likud will have a more difficult time than the Likud in forming a coalition government for the reasons already mentioned. The balance of power remains in the hands of the Joint Arab List that according to the latest polls will be the third largest party. The raising of the electoral threshold of the political parties has forced the Arab parties to unite creating a considerable political force that cannot be ignored when it comes to coalition building, especially by the left of center if the President approaches them to form the next government.

If the Joint Arab List is considered a potential partner in a left of center government coalition, they will have to agree to a common denominator that is acceptable to the Zionist Camp, if not, they will have to share the responsibility of the Likud being entrusted with forming the next coalition that will leave them in the opposition. If the Joint Arab List and Meretz were to form a common list, the chances of a change of government would have been increased. This list would definitely be a very strong political force which would influence a new original coalition deal that would be very interesting as well as challenging old outdated ideologies and be more representative of all Israel's citizens. This could also leave an option open for religious parties to join if they so desire. Unfortunately the chance of this happening is very remote if not impossible with the present mindset in the Israeli Electorate.

Saturday, February 7

Futility of Israel's General Elections

As the various parties gear up to attack each other on populist matters, the polls will show various minor trends. The Netanyahu Likud coalition was unwieldy with an incapability to govern. Yair Lapid, the ex-Finance Minister in this coalition, claims that the reforms that he wished to institute did not even begin as his hands were tied by PM Netanyahu, with whom he had great differences. It is doubtful, with his inexperience in economic and financial matters he would have succeeded anyway.

The election propaganda has reached a new low with the Likud and Zionist Camp accusing each other of getting funds illegally from various US tycoons to finance their electoral campaigns.

The electoral system in Israel is flawed and the results of the elections after 17th March, 2015 will be inconclusive. No political party will get an absolute majority after the elections. The coalition negotiations after the elections will be the usual déjà vu. According to the latest opinionpolls, the right wing Likud has one or two seats more than the center left -The Zionist Camp (Labor – Tnua). We must bear in mind that the majority of the Israeli Electorate is right wing. This means that as Election Day draws closer, many Israelis will vote for many shades of right wing parties This includes the Haredi Ultra-Orthodox) Parties such as Shas and Torah Judaism Party, Naftali Bennet’s Bayit Hayehudi Party, which is even more right wing than the Likud.

The Zionist Camp under Isaac Herzog and Tzippi Livni does not stand a chance of winning the elections. The Israeli Electorate wants a change but when it comes to the push, they will not allow anything that is associated with the mild left of center to replace a Likud Coalition. Better the devil you do know than the devil you do not know! Electoral results have been a disappointment for many years and government coalitions of compromise will become more complex, leaving Israel's citizens very disappointed and frustrated the day after.

If, by some miracle, the two major parties, Likud and Zionist Camp, receive an equal number of mandates, there is a chance that both parties will form a coalition, pulling in other right wing parties such as Bayit Hayehudi, Haredi Parties, Yisrael Beteinu (despite many of its members under police investigation for bribery and corruption), Moshe Kahlon's Kolanu and possibly Yair Lapid’sYesh Atid. After elections, parties that were non-supportive of Netanyahu or even against him will become potential coalition partners. Labor and Likud have formed coalition governments in the past and the possibility of this happening again cannot be ruled out.  

After close-call elections, there is a tendency for the two large opposing parties to reiterate that "the nation has voted for the Zionist Camp and Likud, giving them a total draw, therefore supporting a coalition of both parties". A coalition of these two parties may please many voters. This coalition, if it is formed, will be a lame-duck government! No reforms will occur and the coalition will be hampered by bickering and an inability to make bold decisions in the economic spheres and, no less important, negotiating peace with the Palestinians.

The parties that will not join this coalition will be the Joint Arab List (Balad, Hadash, Ram-Tal) and Meretz. Both parties have stated this clearly. Other small parties leaning towards the right may or may not join this coalition, depending on the coalition agreements that the two major parties – Likud and Zionist Camp will work out. This will also take a few months and will involve a caretaker government ruling until the formation of a new (or pseudo-old) coalition.

Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership is hampered by all kinds of fantasies that prevent them from even embarking on a move towards negotiations with Israel. The Palestinian Authority, under Mahmoud` Abbas, is frustrated because of Hamas breathing down their necks and gaining more support in Palestinian Street. Hamas and the PA are still in a shaky unity government, peppered with unrealistic fantasies that are so much part of their psyche. The dreams of  an IS-Hamas Caliphate, which could take over the Israeli occupied West Bank, presents a very serious problem to the establishment of a future Palestinian state, despite Palestinian denials of this not happening. In the volatile Middle East, including the Palestinian fight for an independent state, any scenario is possible including the worst. The Hamas fantasies of Israel’s total destruction are “grist to the mill” of the right wing. The Israeli left is viewed by the right as being treacherous and anti-Zionist despite their strong defensive denials. The inherent racism of the Israeli right and religious right wing is also a strong catalyst that delegitimizes left wing parties such as Meretz as well as the Joint Arab List.

Despite these uncertain scenarios, Israel must be more amenable to new, imaginative ideas towards negotiating a peace settlement with the Palestinians. At present, the Netanyahu Government has not even presented any form of plan for a future negotiated settlement.

The Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis, as well as Operation Protective Edge, have made the Israeli Electorate more right wing in their voting patterns. PM Netanyahu is viewed by many as being strong on security while the left are seen as weak and soft on terror. The Israeli left wing parties such as Meretz will be forced into the margins of influence in Israeli politics. The Joint Arab List will probably be a political force to be reckoned. The Zionist Camp will not take them into the coalition if they win for fear of upsetting the “Zionist apple cart”. Both the center right and center left will do their utmost to disregard the Joint Arab List, who will probably be the fourth biggest political party in the Knesset after the elections.

The Joint Arab List is composed of differing ideological opinions ranging from Religious Islam to secular. It remains to be seen whether this party will be remain united after the elections or will disintegrate into the various political parties of which it is composed. 

Saturday, January 17

Two States for Two Peoples and Islamist Terror

Countries in which Islamist terrorist attacks ...
Countries in which Islamist terrorist attacks have occurred on or after September 11, 2001. Based on Image:BlankMap-World6, compact.svg with information from Image:WOT map4a.PNG. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This is shocking! The Jihadi terrorist attacks occurring in the world today is on the increase because of the tolerant attitude of many Western European countries towards Islamist extremists, who appear to be observant Muslims and take them at face value. The sensitivities of the EU towards Muslims are now reaping the rewards of their folly as they continue in Israel bashing and ignoring the real danger on their doorstep, which is NOT Israel.

The terror attacks by Jihadis in Paris are another tragic, unjustifiable terrorist act of many against innocent people in many parts of the world! Where is the Muslim clergy? Why are they not condemning these terrorist acts and the claims made by Islamists that they are acting according to the teachings of the Quran? Their deafening silence conveys a message of complicity with Islamist terror. The venomous racist, anti-Semitic sermons coming from Imams in mosques in the major cities of Europe without any protest from mainstream Islam, as well as tolerance of most governments in Europe by its complacency and indifference to this Islamist venom, is fuel to Jihadi extremists in their desire for murder in cold blood with accompanying screams of "Allahu Aqba!" Anjem Chaudary is a radical Muslim with British citizenship. He is an example of Islamist thought that inspires Islamist terrorism.

Most Muslims are law-abiding citizens in their adopted countries and we did see many Muslims joining the march against the tragic murders of 12 cartoonists of the Charles Hebdo magazine in Paris. We must also remember the hero,Lassana Bathily, an immigrant from Mali - a Muslim, who saved Jews in the Kosher Supermarket in Paris, by hiding them in the refrigerator.

Unfortunately various European Governments have been bending over backwards to be "politically correct" in their treatment of the millions of Muslim immigrants in their countries. They were oblivious to the Islamist terror cells that were created by European Islamist citizens returning from training in ISIS camps in Syria and Iraq. Many mosques became places where racist and hateful imams gave sermons against Jews and Christians as well as rabble rousing their flock into joining ISIS for Jihad to establish a caliphate or Islamic State in Europe. The European Governments discreetly closed their eyes to these developments in the hope of "not offending the religious sensitivities" of Muslim immigrants. The religious sensitivities of other faiths were overlooked. Today they are reaping the fruits of their own mistakes. The police have now discovered a number of dormant Islamist terrorist cells in Belgium, Berlin, Paris and it remains to be seen where the next discovery of Islamist terrorist cells will occur. Hopefully, the security police will be able to track down these Muslim extremists and bring them to justice before they become killing machines.

There is only one way to deal with this tirade of Islamist hate and terror that threatens our civilization and that is to arrest them, close down the mosques and madrassas, where the racist imams preach, and deport them from their adopted country to the countries of their origin. Anti-Semitic hate-speech or racist speeches against any religious group, including Muslims, must be given zero tolerance by those bodies responsible for maintaining law and order. Perhaps it would be prudent to expel close family of terrorists (parents, brothers and sisters) to the countries of their origin. The amount of young people going for training via Turkey to Syria and Iraq where they get training for committing terrorist acts has reached a stage where Europe cannot afford to turn a blind eye for the purpose of expediency and tolerance.

On the Israeli-Palestinian track these events must also be borne in mind. While Hamas may not be ISIS and their fight against Israel is localized to Israel, the hateful sermons of the Gaza and West Bank imams are just as venomous and rabble rousing. The terrorist acts they carry out against Israelis is unjustifiable! The ramming of vehicles into innocent Israelis, stabbings at every opportunity as well as butchering innocent people does show signs of similarity to the Islamist terrorists in Paris.

While there are many Israelis and of course the world community, who support a two-state solution to the conflict and an end to the occupation, we must come to terms with the hostile environment in which we Israelis live. The occupation is immoral and a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians must be negotiated in order to end the occupation, which is eroding the morality of Israel's society. Of course this is our desire but is it realistic, especially today?

While many argue that Israel has no leaders that can lead the negotiations to end the occupation. The problem is that the Palestinians also do not have the leadership to negotiate a peace treaty that will end the occupation. President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority do not have the support of the Palestinian People. There have been no Palestinian elections since 2005. Mahmoud Abbas has no power base. According to Palestinian polls, if elections were held today, Hamas will gain power in the West Bank. We, in Israel will be faced with Hamas on our doorstep and they have no desire to come to terms with Israel's existence let alone negotiate a peace treaty. This is no mantra; this is a fact by the utterances of Hamas and backed up by the Hamas Charter itself. If a choice is to be made between a Palestinian State controlled by Hamas on the West Bank, with all the "human rights and democracy" as well as "freedom" that it gives to the Palestinian people as is illustrated in Gaza, and the current occupation of Israel, the conclusion is obvious. Hamas wants to destroy Israel and until it becomes pragmatic, accepting Israel's right to exist within secure borders and ceases to be a terrorist organization, there will never be negotiations for peace let alone a Two-State solution.      

The PA request to join the ICC when it is part of the National Unity Government with Hamas is insipid! This in itself makes them equally responsible for the high death toll of Palestinians during Operation Naked Edge. The use of Palestinians as human shields as well as the use of UNRWA compounds for launching missiles into Israel disqualifies the Hamas-Abbas Unity Government to charge Israel with war crimes - not to mention the Hamas tunnels dug for infiltrating and creating killing fields against Israelis on the Gaza borders. Hamas terror is responsible for Palestinian suffering as Israel has every right to defend itself against Hamas-Islamic Jihad, whose similarities in ideology to IS are very obvious. Hamas has committed war crimes against Palestinians and Israelis. Hamas must be held accountable for the tragic consequences in Gaza. After the war their cowardly, wealthy leadership under the polecats, Khaled Mashaal, Ismail Hanniyeh and Moussa Mohammad abu Marzook, suddenly come out of their rat holes after the cease-fire was declared, claiming a victory against Israel with their usual fantasies accompanied by their hateful rhetoric! The hypocrisy of the PA leadership to take Israel to the ICC in The Hague is just as logical as ISIS and Jabat al Nusra taking France to the ICC for war crimes against terrorists who killed 17 people in France.