Beyond the Cusp

June 24, 2013

I Can’t Believe They Gave a Righteous Ruling

We often hear Americans complaining about the liberal leanings of their judicial system, especially the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals, sometimes referred to as the Ninth Circus. Israel knows the problem of liberal judges and courts, especially the Supreme Court under former Presidents of the Supreme Court Aharon Barak and Dorit Beinisch. But there are those blessed exceptions and we had a ruling providing example of such over the weekend. A Jerusalem Court heard a case against a young man who had been charged with attacking an Arab and for praying on the Temple Mount. You would never guess which was considered the more serious of crimes by the police; it was a Jew having the audacity to pray on the holiest place in all of Israel at the center of the Israeli capital city of Jerusalem. The judge heard the youth’s version of events which included that he simply defended himself by kicking the Arab youth who had kicked him repeatedly and returned to prayer as soon as the other youth retreated. The Judge dismissed the assault charges, reprimanded the police for their handling of the case in such an untimely manner so as to intentionally keep the young man locked up over the Sabbath and then made a ruling which is only the second of its kind and may be the first signs of the application of sanity at least in the Jerusalem Courts. The police had ordered the youth be banned from the Temple Mount for fifteen days and were seeking for the court to further ban him from entering the Old City areas of Jerusalem for sixty days which would have placed even the Kotel and Western Wall as off limits. The court’s ruling stated that although Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount was a thorny political issue that requires deep study, it was certainly not a crime thus preventing Jews from praying there was a restriction of their freedom to worship, guaranteed in Israel’s Declaration of Independence and the Knesset’s Basic Laws, echoing a similar ruling regarding Jewish prayer on the Mount was made several months ago.

 

The Honenu Organization provided the young man with legal counsel as they often will provide for Jews falsely accused of crimes in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria especially in matters concerning the rights of Jews which police and enforcement personnel often use arrest as a means of denying full exercise of these rights by Jews presumably for their protection and to avoid raising the ire of resident Arabs. The court commented as part of their ruling that the police had not made similar arrests of Arab women who had caused a riot on the Temple Mount recently, nor had they sought to have them banned from the Old City for sixty days and that this man was entitled to similar treatment under the law. Itamar Ben-Gvir, the Honenu attorney who represented the youth, was quoted declaring that this was a good decision and “a very important one, and I hope police will study it carefully and internalize it. The right to pray in this country is not just for Women of the Wall, but also for Jews who would like to see the Temple rebuilt. The upshot of this decision is that it is not a crime to pray on the Temple Mount, and police attempts to stop prayers is what is against the law.” May his words become truth in the land.

 

This will probably not be the last we will hear of such cases and it is very likely that there will be more such cases of Jews being intimidated by the police on the Temple Mount in an all-out effort to appease the Waqf and the Muslims who claim the entirety of the Temple Mount is theirs and only their holy site and that Jews should not even be permitted to enter the area they call the courtyard of the Al-Aksa Mosque. It is usually the case that any religious Jews, or even Jews who wear a Kippah, attempt to enter the Temple Mount they are made to pass through an almost humiliating body search and are escorted by Israeli police and a Waqf representative to assure that they do not pray or act in any manner emotionally thus soiling Muslim holy grounds. Yet visitors to the Temple Mount will regularly witness Arabs playing soccer, holding picnics, and performing a variety of irreligious activities on the presumably ever so holy Muslim grounds. The entire litany of claims put forward by the Muslim Waqf is solely intended to restrict to the point of forbidding Jews access to the holiest site in all of Judaism and not simply out of respect for their Mosque. We can expect that at some point, probably immediately after Arab rioting on the Temple Mount in claimed response to Jewish desecrations committed by their presence, and even worse their praying, near the Muslim holy places which they often claim is an attempt by the Israelis to destroy these buildings. This is often used by Mahmoud Abbas as an instant disturbance which detracts from anything else pushing it from being front page news. Abbas’s next rallying cry to have all good Muslims come and protect their precious al-Aqsa Mosque from Jewish criminal acts aimed at its destruction will produce the same rioting replete with rock and Molotov cocktails being hurled at police and sometimes at worshippers below the Temple Mount at the Kotel. This will be used by political allies on the left to complain and demand that order be restored and the evil and nefarious religious Jews be prevented from inflaming Arab sensitivities with their dangerous insistence on visiting the Temple Mount and, G0d forbid, even insisting on praying there. Then politicians looking to calm the uproar will pass some temporary restriction on visitation to the Temple Mount to be placed solely on Jews, the Arabs would not dream of any action which would prevent tourists from visiting the Temple Mount to whom the Arab merchants sell trinkets. In a short time after this action is taken there will be a challenge made to repeal the edict and before it makes its way into the courts, the edict is rescinded and visitations are resumed until the next false protestation is manufactured and reported on as being of a grass-roots and spontaneous origins.

 

Hopefully, once the next generation of leadership takes the reins of power all of this nonsense will be dispensed with. Fortunately the next generation in Israel is not as tepid towards all things religiously Jewish and are willing to stand against the world. They appear to have much of the spark of those who stood against the British and then held on to the precious lands against all odds in the miracle that was the Jewish survival and even victories in 1948-9. This was the same spark that was at the heart of the 1967 Six Day War and the Entebbe Operation freeing the hostages. These too were modern miracles for which we owe the credit to both the men who were the instruments of the miracles and the L0rd for working His miracles through these events. But there appears to be a crisis of faith within the halls of the Israeli government which came about as if there were an infection weakening the resolve of men. Some would call this virus by a name, and that name would be Oslo. That is the same virus which caused the needless deaths of over two thousand innocents. If forced to identify the point where this infection was injected into the Israeli leadership, it would have to be the decision by Moshe Dayan to surrender the control over the Temple Mount to the Muslim Waqf simply in order to placate the Jordanians and the Muslim World rather than declaring, as he very well should have, that the Temple Mount has returned to its proper and original owners, to the rule of those who had built it more than two thousand years ago. This is the sin which infects the leadership in Israel today and what must be eradicated before it does additional harm. It was this idea and viewpoint which was recently celebrated as an intricate part of a gala birthday party. It is this infection which has yet to blemish the next generation, may they come to power before succumbing to this deadly virus.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

February 9, 2013

Stubbornness Contest Between Shas and Yesh Atid

Prime Minister Netanyahu is facing difficulty in forming the large coalition which includes as broad a span of political views as possible such that the result will not be dependent on any single party other than Likud-Beytenu. The problem he has struck is the contest between Shas, the Hasidic Party and Yesh Atid headed by Yair Lapid who refuses to compromise on any of the party platform issues he and his list had campaigned upon. One issue which has become a hot button issue finds the religious parties including Shas in direct conflict with Lapid’s Yesh Atid stand that only the top four-hundred Torah students be allowed a deferment from IDF or National Service a part of the share the burden solution. Shas, needless to point out, wishes for an equal or at least very similar style deferment law as the Tal Law which was ruled to be against the constitution by the Supreme Court in a decision made in the final days under Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch, a strange concept as Israel has no constitution. Neither side wishes to budge on this issue and Lapid, who is entering the Knesset for the first time as are all the people on his list, will likely be introduced to the concept that if you demand everything you will often end up not in the coalition and you get nothing, such is the way of parliamentary governance. My feelings are that Yair Lapid knows full well that at some point he will need to give in order to get but is going to play hard and stiff for as long as it serves to further his ideals and ideas and bend only at the last moment. Shas will not bend and will need to be bludgeoned into accepting any form of compromise but that is their way and is expected.

Yair Lapid might be playing a dangerous game believing that Netanyahu cannot permit him and his nineteen Knesset seats to join Shelly Yachimovich and the Labor Party in the opposition. He had best do the math and realize that Netanyahu can form a sixty-one seat coalition simply by including the two purely religious parties, Shas and Yahadut HaTorah with eleven and seven seats respectively along with HaBayit HaYehudi which has twelve seats. Add in the thirty-one seats of Netanyahu’s Likud-Beytenu Party reaches the sixty-one seats out of the Knesset’s one-hundred-twenty total seats, the minimum necessary for a majority to form a coalition. Netanyahu has even spoken with Tzipi Livni and Shelly Yachimovich and even the leader of Meretz, Zahava Gal-On, even though the likelihood of their parties joining the coalition are minimal, as the Prime Minister had stated he wishes to form as broad a governing coalition as possible, even a unity government, though that is next to impossible. All told, the forming of the coming coalition very well may prove to be more interesting than the usual cut and dry same old expected coalition of traditional allies. With some of the difficulties which may come to a head and have to be faced by the coming government, a large and stable coalition that is not dependent on any one party is something that is definitely desirable. I do not envy the members of this Knesset, especially having a fairly good idea of what challenges are coming down the rails like an out of control train.

Back to the tug-of-war between the Hasidic Parties and Lapid’s fairly secular party over exemptions may be the most evident battle ongoing but is not the only and may prove not to even be the most critical or vitally important debate that forming the coalition will need to address. Another of Lapid Party’s concerns that I feel is likely even more important concerns the economy and the price of living. One of the major segments of the economy which needs the magic touch of Netanyahu’s economic miracle workers is housing prices and rents. During the last Knesset Netanyahu took aim at the cell phone monopolies and he opened up that market to greater competition and the prices dropped like an anchor. Hopefully Netanyahu will be able to work similar miracles with housing and rental prices, then taking aim at food prices, especially dairy and the other areas where the number of vendors is quite limited. What makes this area even more important is that much could be gained in relieving some of the upward pressures on food prices that could be attained through annexing at a minimum Area C of Judea and Samaria, the area already under total Israeli rule and control. The additional farm lands and expanded area would serve as a stimulus to the Israeli economy, an economy that is already one of the most robust of the Industrialized West. Another possible benefit from such a move would be to place some pressure on the Palestinian leadership which might be sufficient a shock to bring Abbas to the negotiation table and remove from United States President Obama’s list of misconceptions about Israel, namely that it is Netanyahu who refuses to negotiate and Abbas the willing partner. In the meantime, let’s just relax and watch the barter and other fun that goes with making a coalition. I wonder if there were a way of making coalition forming the national sport of Israel after all, they do it far, far too often.

Beyond the Cusp

July 9, 2012

Israeli Draft Law After Repeal of Tal Law

Former Supreme Court President Dorit Benish’s term as the highest judicial figure in Israel was a gift that just kept on giving. Even now, months after she retired and was replaced by Justice Asher Dan Grunis, there remains one monumental challenge from one of her final acts, repealing the Tal Law which allowed adult Hareidim Torah Scholars to be excused from IDF and Public Service. Since the repeal of the Tal Law there has been a feeling of impending doom as the different political camps hold tight to their various views, many of which are completely at odds with the rest. The religious parties are insisting that a new law be enacted which would continue to allow the exemption for all Hareidim who are engaged in Torah studies. The national Zionist camp insists that should the Hareidim be included in the mandatory service, either military or public service, then so should the Arab, Muslim, Christian, Druze, and all other peoples even to the smallest minority groups (I believe that would be the members of the Bahá’í Faith). The leftist elites are boisterously protesting for an immediate forced induction into the IDF of all being of military age Hareidim immediately or arrested and sentenced to extreme terms of imprisonment even before a new law has been debated, let alone constructed through the legislative process. And the Hareidim are split with the majority remaining mostly silent and choosing not to enter the fray while a fair number are boisterously adamant that they should retain their preferential status and some even declaring intent to take the consequences for their refusal to enlist or serve if drafted. All of this begs a number of questions in order to clarify what has become a hot potato which many news sources within Israel claim has the potential to fracture Prime Minister Netanyahu’s coalition so completely that it will cause a vote of no confidence, calling for early elections.

What is interesting, even if predictable and expected, are the cross accusations coming out of this debate. The liberal leftists claim that almost every Hareidim has been abusing the Tal Law and were not seriously studying Torah but instead using an appearance of Torah study in order to avoid any form of mandatory service. The Hareidim and the national Zionists have refuted this claim pointing to the significant increase of Hareidim and Orthodox Jews who have voluntarily enlisted in the IDF, many of whom chose to serve in the combat and elite units. The truth in this argument is that there has been a marked increase in Hareidim and Orthodox enlistments in addition to the Hesder Yeshivas which take a middle of the road approach with the students splitting their time between IDF service and Torah study. These Yeshivas do not serve in the IDF for as long as a regular inductee due to the sharing of their time between two mutually exclusive obligations. It is rather difficult to have your head buried in intricate Torah commentaries while also practicing marksmanship at the rifle range, even trying such would result in people getting seriously injured. There has been one additional consequence of the current increase in Hareidim and Orthodox Jews serving in the IDF and the idea of forced service placing a sizable increase in Hareidim and Orthodox Jews serving in the IDF that comes from the liberal feminists. Since the Hareidim units are required to be all male, the feminists have complained that enlisting more Hareidim into the IDF will actually hurt female enlistment and opportunities. Even when it is pointed out that the majority of the Hareidim enlistees choose to serve in combat arms where so few women serve that it should not pose any unsolvable difficulties for women; the feminists present an argument that it would be an impediment if women should suddenly decide en masse to be recruited into combat arms units.

Equally resolute, the national Zionists hold that should the Hareidim be pressed into service, even against their will, that Arabs and others who either are not required to do any volunteer service or groups that have found political protection or an option not to serve at all be equally pressed to serve. The majority from this camp is not demanding that the Arab and other minorities be forced to join the IDF should doing such offend their social, political, moral or religious sensitivities, but for them to, at a minimum, do public service. Some have proposed that such enlistees be assigned to perform their public service in their home communities and by doing such extend the ability of the State of Israel to better serve the entirety of its population. The response to this proposed solution from the extreme left has been near apoplectic rage asserting that removing the privileged status of complete deferment from the Arab community would be not simply unthinkable but cataclysmic in its nature. The retort from the national Zionists has been to continue to promote the ideal of what is good for the goose is good for the gander or something like that. This particular part of the debate will likely prove to be the most difficult to find an agreeable and workable compromise that will be acceptable to both sides. The ultimatum that the new law only applies to Hareidim and Orthodox Jews and allows the Arab Israelis to continue to have no obligation for service may result in Kadima departing the coalition it just recently joined. It is this potential for a split that has so excited Labor Party Leader Shelly Yachimovich that she has started announcing her intent to propose a motion of “no confidence” against the Netanyahu Government and even promise her constituency that early elections are right around the corner. Her exuberance will prove to be overly optimistic as even should the entire twenty-eight seats Kadima holds leave the current coalition; it will simply leave the original coalition’s narrower majority in place and the Netanyahu Government would stand.

How will all of this tumult work itself out? There are likely as many different opinions and possibilities as pebbles in the Negev Desert. It makes no difference which side appears to be the most logical, or the most equitable, or the most feasible; it will most likely be the most cumbersome, unworkable, complicated and illogical collection of seemingly contradictory definitions that will inevitably be produce such that everybody appears to have gotten what they insisted included while effectively not changing much if anything at all. Such is often the result of any legislation pounded and crafted by a parliamentary coalitional government which is comprised of so many varied parties from widely divergent viewpoints and constituencies all vying for their own specific interests. This was evidenced by how quickly the Plesner Committee fell apart with one party after the other dissolving their participation over the intransient positions taken by the leadership. This same stubborn, resolute resolve by the Kadima membership and perfectly embodied in their leader, Shaul Mofaz, has been evident for all to see as Kadima Chairman Mofaz has thrown down the gauntlet threatening to bring down the government should the position held by the membership of Kadima be enacted with no amendment thus allowing for a law which will enforce strict and extreme punishment on Hareidim and Orthodox Jews who refuse IDF service while not only not making a single demand upon Arabs or other minorities, but actually strongly restating their preferential treatment under the law. Just like Labor Party Leader Shelly Yachimovich, Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz also holds the mistaken belief that the coalition cannot stand should Kadima pull their support from the government. This prevailing mistaken hope that Kadima has sufficient seats in the Knesset to bring down the government and force early election is simply another symptom that seems to be common among people who enter into politics that the entire governing bodies would be unable of accomplishing anything without their individual input and approvals. I’m sure there is a word for such thinking, and I believe it is megalomaniac. There is also a phrase for the usual actions produced by a parliamentary government, and I believe that is complicated, nonsensical gibberish.

Beyond the Cusp

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