Beyond the Cusp

October 24, 2019

Abbas Making Threats and Promises

Filed under: Israel — qwertster @ 1:53 AM
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Mahmoud Abbas is doing what he does best, threatening Israel and promising imminent elections. These are nothing new to those who spend even the slightest bit of attention to the ongoing war between the Arab Palestinians and Israel. We have lost count on the number of times that elections for the Palestinian Authority (PA) legislative parliament followed by elections for President. We do know how many elections have been held under the authority of the PA since 2005, none. That 2005 PA election was won predominantly by Hamas, just as Mahmoud Abbas, PA representatives and Israel had warned the American administration. It was Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President George W. Bush who insisted that the election be open for Hamas candidates claiming that such a terrorist entity as Hamas would never receive any number of votes from the Arab Palestinians as they desire peace with Israel, not the destruction of Israel. Well, apparently the Arab Palestinians supported Hamas in far greater numbers than the American experts predicted. There was to be a Presidential election after the parliamentary elections which was cancelled by Mahmoud Abbas as he understood he would lose the election and very possibly his life under a Hamas government. These were the same American officials who pushed the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in order to allow the Arab Palestinians to prove their ability for self-rule. This led directly to Hamas taking over Gaza in a bloody coup after which the same American administrators warned Israel against retaking Gaza, which is odd as retaking Gaza was their solution to all Israeli protestations against the policy moves being pressed by George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice. There have been previous declarations of intent for elections made by Mahmoud Abbas with every one hitting what are often called obstructions and thus never come to fruition.

 

Abbas made another threat while addressing the United Nations where he warned that the PA will withdraw from all the agreements made with Israel. We can advise that this threat be ignored as it is impossible to break agreements which Abbas and the PA never observed in the first place. The promise to remove the destruction of Israel from the PA Charter is simply another lie reported by the New York Times as that clause remains. As is the usual response to Israeli actions which are well within international law, the Oslo Accords and the rules of conflict, the PA and Mahmoud Abbas immediately threaten Israel and demand the world jump onto their bandwagon against Israel and the Jews. We fully expect most of Europe and the European Union to back Abbas completely as usual. Much of Europe are marching in lockstep with the attempts to destroy the Jewish State. The closest that the PA came to altering and amending their charter was they voted once while President Clinton had observers monitoring their actions so they agreed to appoint a committee at their next meeting in order to rewrite the charter and bring it into compliance with the Oslo Accords. The committee was never formed nor was there ever any real intent to do so. They did enact changes to the charter making it even more difficult to make any changes in the future just in case a moment of weakness mixed with honesty ever took a grip on their leaders. There is one thing that Mahmoud Abbas and the PA can count upon, the New York Times will carry their water for them and report whatever they are told by the PA leadership and refute anything resembling reality which favors Israel.

 

Mahmoud Abbas to President Trump, “May your house be destroyed”

Mahmoud Abbas to President Trump, “May your house be destroyed”

 

There are a couple of things we can count upon in the upcoming future. First, there will be no elections for President and unlikely to be any for their parliament either. What will be the reason this time is anybody’s guess. Second, there will be no change in the animosity and terrorist attacks resulting from their “Pay to Slay” policy enacted by Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas has made crystal clear that if necessary, he would use every cent of funding to pay the terrorists even at the cost of not paying the government employees. That is just one of the items which too many governments, politicians and media elites ignore and refuse to report to the people instead laying all the blame for the problems in the Middle East on Israel. Further, the leaders in the world, both political and in the media, refuse to take the time to translate the speeches made by the PA leadership into English, French, German or any other language they understand. They act as if Arabic is some coded language beyond the ability to be comprehended. This is despite the many various NGO’s which translate much if not all the publications, speeches by PA officials and various news reports and videos. These include but are not limited to Palestinian Media Watch, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America and Middle East Media Research Institute. These and the other NGOs which translate much of the news reporting and political speeches from the entirety of the Middle East and stretching to Northern Africa and provide those who actually wish to know reality the actual truth of where and why the Middle East is as it is. But far too many western politicians and leaders, specifically those on the extreme right and left and a growing number of the left-wing are taking stances opposed to Israel. These are the same individuals who will be turning against the Christians and others who believe in a moral code and specifically who believe in our Creator, Hashem.

 

Many are perplexed by these leftists and their stand against religion and the belief in a Creator. The reason is simple, they desire the world returning to a less civil time with idolatry, abortion, and a two-tiered society with them at the top and the majority all but enslaved as were the serfs in Europe. They want to be rid of the narrow morality of the Bible, both Jewish and Christian, and want to replace the Bible with their ecocentrism and belief that the world would be a perfect place if only there were far fewer humans infecting the planet. Because of their desire to be free of the morality which spawned from Judaism and was the basis for Christianity, they will and have embraced everything which wishes to destroy the Judeo-Christian world. This is the basis for the left and Islam allying and why so many Islamists are being accepted as the new leaders of the left political spectrum. Their first hope is the elimination of Israel replacing it with another Islamist Arab state run by the terror masters of the PA, Hamas or Islamic Jihad. But, for now, let it be stated that they will never desire to know the truth, as the truth would not comport with their desires.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

October 7, 2019

Israel Government Election Potentials

 

Israel held their second elections in order to attempt and allow for some governing coalition to be possible in mid-September. The April elections were inconclusive as the so-called right-wing parties; the religious, nationalist, conservative and/or Zionist parties, reached sixty mandates, one short of the necessary sixty-one mandates. The main reason that no government was able to be formed was due largely to two distinct reasons. The main reason which the media latched onto almost immediately, that Yisrael Beiteinu under the leadership of Avigdor Lieberman made demands which, if adopted, would have cost the support of the Haredi parties and cost the coalition more mandates than Yisrael Beiteinu could add to the attempted coalition. His main efforts demanded that the Haredi lose all or virtually all their deferments from IDF service, requiring all students attend public schools with their Torah and religious schooling being relegated to an after-school activity and other demands for mainstreaming the Haredi communities even against their resistance. The September voting realized the same divide as the April elections and left the sole formation of a government requiring what is called a unity government with Blue-White and Likud sharing the office of the Prime Minister and working together despite their disagreement on virtually every point of governance. Perhaps this is the ideal time to try and explain and define the differences which has the Israeli population so evenly split in halves making forming a government difficult, not impossible, just very difficult.

 

BTC Israeli Election Banner

 

The main points demanded by Avigdor Lieberman is a good starting point as all his policy proposals are largely based on a single premise, forcing the Haredi to meld with the whole of the Israeli society and removing the exceptions they have earned from previous governments. The two main points were education and IDF service. Avigdor Lieberman is making these demands despite strong evidence that the Haredi communities are inexorably moving to meld into the mainstream society even if at a fairly slow rate. He demands that the Haredi be forced to immediately meld into Israeli society losing all deferments for Torah scholars, their religious schools being replaced by the students being placed into the public-school system relegating Torah and religious studies to an after-school exercise. To a neutral observer, one would have to believe that Avigdor Lieberman holds the Haredi and religious communities in contempt and desires to destroy their independence and separation from normative Israeli society. He has attempted to force some of these concepts into law with little if any success and has now decided to demand these concessions up front, taking no chances. As noted above, the Haredi and religious communities have been slowly but surely moving towards melding with the rest of Israeli society without any pressure from the government. They are following the same process as the rest of Israeli society no matter their origins. No matter which groups one would choose to observe, be they the Russians, Haredi, Western European, Eastern European, Ethiopian, North American, South American or some other more exotic of Jews returning to their homelands of Israel, after three, four or at most five generations they are mostly merged with the rest of Israeli society. Their former native tongue is less used even at home except when the grandparents visit as their Hebrew leaves something to be desired.

 

There exist numbers of Haredi entering the IDF completely voluntarily despite being eligible for deferments. Haredi women have already been working with their forming companies themselves such that they can have a comfortable work environment. The Haredi men are lagging behind their better halves, but the number of Haredi men entering the workforce has increased year after year. But this rate, despite showing signs of increasing, apparently is not sufficient for Avigdor Lieberman who would prefer to force it into an established fact already achieved. The Haredi, according to him, have become too large a liability and, if not addressed by the secular community, will soon bankrupt the economy. But, even some in the Haredi community have already realized that their communities are threatened should they continue resisting normalization and are making sure that their children are adequately educated to enter the job market. We expect with time that the male Haredi communities will also form their own start-up companies just as their women are already pursuing. The problem with caving to the demands by Avigdor Lieberman, and similar demands from Yair Lapid of the Blue White Party, is it will very probably cause the slowing of the normalization of the Haredi community as they react to what they perceive as an attack on their way of life. Sometimes, attempting to force change on a community results in the retarding of their changing in the desired direction.

 

The question is why Avigdor Lieberman is pressing to force things on the Haredi communities which they are already starting to do on their own. The reason is almost purely political. His Yisrael Beiteinu Party had been losing support as their membership aged. His very public insistence on forcing the normalization of the Haredi community, including attacking their school systems, is designed to bring additional voters into his party, or at least voting for his party. Lieberman is tapping into some of the far left and far right and other pro-secular (read anti-religion) Israelis in addition to his normal voting support. His tactic has worked to this point, but only time will tell if this choice will prove all that advantageous with time. The surprise was that Yisrael Beiteinu would not be part of any right-wing coalition without some major concessions. This has been the sticking point making the forming of a coalition by Prime Minister Netanyahu as Avigdor Lieberman has all but refused to join such a coalition unless the Haredi Parties and communities allow for his life-changing new laws demanding their complete surrender to a secular life. This would lead to the Haredi not sitting in a coalition where Avigdor Lieberman’s demands were being met. On the other side, Blue White Party cannot form a government even with the mandates coming up just a few votes short. In order to form a governing coalition, Blue White Party would be required to persuade the Arab Parties, or at least a fair number of these parties consisting of Arab, Communist and other parties. The problem with such a coalition is that once again Avigdor Lieberman. Should he ever sit in a coalition with Arab Parties, his support would all but evaporate and it would be the end of his political life. This is the conundrum faced by both the Likud Party and the Blue White Party in forming a ruling coalition.

 

Some have suggested that Blue White might persuade one or both Haredi Parties into forming a coalition with their holding the Prime Minister office. Should Blue White attempt such a coalition, they would run into a large difficulty. Avigdor Lieberman is far from the only politician who desires forcing the immediate normalization of the entirety of the Haredi communities. Another politician who has made much of his name by making these demands is Yair Lapid, the number two (or three depending who you ask) person in the Blue White Party and one who would share the office of Prime Minister should they manage to form a coalition. Blue White would be required to disband their relationship with Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid Party. This would severely cripple any hopes of forming a coalition even should they be able to bring the Haredi onboard. The only other means, according to almost all observers, is for the Likud Party and Blue White Party to ameliorate their differences and find some common ground. Yair Lapid would be required to forgive his demands on the Haredi and Likud would need to back off their promises for annexation of the Jewish communities in the Shomron (West Bank) and both come to terms on several other issues including some concerning economic policies. This eventuality, to us, appears to be next to impossible. Yes, the two parties might manage to reach sufficient agreement to form a unity government, but any such governing coalition would be unstable and unlikely to last more than a few months, maybe a year. Such a government is not a solution and there may not be any viable solution considering all the particulars.

 

That leads to consideration of what might resolve this situation of such an evenly divided nation. The first point which is required to be considered is how seriously the average Israeli has been affected by there not being a coalition or Knesset, Israeli parliament, addressing any problems or difficulties since April and now a second hung election not producing a coalition. If the numerous people we have interacted with are any example, Israel is mostly functioning smoothly without any ruling coalition and a functioning Knesset. The government is still functioning largely fine as the several departments remain staffed and are simply quietly doing their jobs and providing their services. There will not be any new laws or regulations without the Knesset, but many would claim that such is a good thing. There is a better than even chance that there will be no government formed from the September elections and yet another election may be required.

 

The divide in Israeli society is not as extreme as these vote tallies appear to indicate. Much of the divide is a result of the ramifications of the devastating Oslo Accords. On the political right, there is a strong resistance to the “Two-State Solution” because of the allowing for an Arab state in the heart of Israel holding the overlooking mountainous region around the Tel Aviv metropolitan region where over three quarters of Israeli population, production, utilities and almost everything else exists. Their fear is simply rockets threatening the tallest skyscrapers of Tel Aviv using line-of-sight-targeting as well as increasing terrorism as a result. Many who still support granting the Arabs a state in most, if not all, of the Shomron believe what their far left leadership claim that by giving the Arabs these lands, despite all their promises to continue demanding more, will bring peace and security if only those religious zealots on the right would come to their senses. For those who wish to know exactly what any Arab state in the Shomron would become, they need look no further than Gaza where the Arabs were given their own region completely devoided of any Israelis since early September of 2005 as a result of the Gaza withdrawal which resulted from recommendations initiated by United State Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and fully backed by President George W. Bush and pressured by them upon the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who was required to form a new government in order to find sufficient support for enacting their insistent demand. Despite such evidence, much of the world still insists that Israel surrender everything and anything the Arab powers demand. There is another divide within the Israeli Jewish community, namely the religious and the secular. Even the religious have a divide between Haredi and the other factions including Reform Judaism, Traditional Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Conservative and other non-Haredi religious Jews. People need to understand that Judaism is different than other religions as the Jews are also a People. This leads to there being Jews by birth but not practicing Judaism as their religion with some actually having joined a different religion while being born and remaining a Jew biologically.

 

What will happen if Israel is required to hold a third election within one year? Well, Israel will be the butt of additional late-night jokes on television as well as at the water cooler. We are used to such things and will survive, if not thrive. The outcome of such a future election will be largely identical to the average of the two former elections. The possibility that there will result a government coalition is fairly slim. What has been frustrating is that the voting has favored a right-wing coalition approaching sixty-percent of the votes cast. With a couple of right-wing parties not attaining threshold, their voters were not included with those attempting to form a coalition. The left-wing and Arab parties formed partnerships such that all their voters would have party groups which would pass threshold. One reason that some of these right-wing parties failed to reach threshold was due to misleading polling which showed them receiving two to three times as many votes as they actually attained. What was interesting was that the further left the polling data, the higher these parties were polled to receive. There are those who believe that these misleading polling numbers were intentional hoping to prevent these parties from accepting joining other parties and thus wasting right-wing votes. So, we have conspiracy theorists here in Israel, we are not surprised. Whether or not the right-wing smaller parties will have learned anything remains to be seen. We can expect the polling results to be just as slanted attempting to reduce the representation of these supporters of these parties should they remain running alone. The other problem is something unique to the Israeli parliamentary system. Both Likud and Blue White were guilty of this problem as they each spent more time attacking the parties who would be their normal parties than those on the opposite side politically. With the predominant campaigning being used to maximize the two largest parties by attacking the smaller parties with similar or more polarized positions hoping to gain more mandates for themselves at these other parties’ expense. This may be part of what has led to the hung elections as it might be costing their potential coalition mandates as a result. Additionally, there are the misrepresentations which are almost always a part of any political contest. Israelis are fortunate that life remains largely unaffected by the political impasse being faced. Still, President Rivlin is pressing the two large parties to find some means of working together in a unity government. Thus far, we are facing a situation where leaders of Blue White refusing to sit in a government where the Prime Minister is under investigation of misconduct, even if the investigations are found to be purely politically motivated. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Netanyahu is not ready to pass the leadership of Likud. Perhaps the upcoming Likud primary election scheduled in the near future will solve that situation by choosing a new leader. The odds of such are almost nonexistent, but stranger things have been known to happen and we will just need to wait and see what the future will bring.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

September 24, 2019

Reflections on the Latest Israeli Elections

 

Israel went to the polls again on September 17, and voted a near identical result to the April elections leading to a better than average chance that no government will be able to be formed. So many of the reviews we have come across have interpreted this completely wrong. Most are claiming that the Israeli democracy is illogical and defective. Nothing could be further from the truth. Those who got it correct realized that the problem is that the population is relatively evenly divided. We already covered here the real reason why forming a coalition is so difficult, explaining that because of one group of parties which are outliers backing neither major party forces, any government needs to realize well over the fifty percent plus one usually required in any normative election in a parliamentary government. This is not a detractor of the Israeli parliamentary democracy and the vibrancy of our democracy. The elections were simply a realistic representation of a country divided almost evenly in their view of what the future of Israel should steer towards.

 

BTC Israeli Election Banner

 

We agree that part of the problem is fatigue over Bibi Netanyahu leading to some simply supporting anybody who appears to have a better than even chance of replacing him. But the claims that the divide is between right-wing and left-wing is not a completely honest means of defining what is occurring. The first thing which needs to be addressed is what exactly is meant by right-wing and left-wing in Israeli politics. Yes, part of it is over economic outlooks and the separation between preferences for Capitalism against Socialism, but this is actually far from the central dividing issue. The real divides come from two separate but interdependent divides in the Israeli populace. The main divide is between religious and secular with the other main divide being nationalists and Zionists who are opposed by internationalists and those still holding onto the idea of a Palestinian Arab state and the two-state-solution. Then we have the political allies often referred to as the Joint Arab List which also includes Communists, Arab nationalists, secularism, Pan-Arabism, Eco-socialists, Islamists and other traditional left-wing causes. The mandates garnered by this list traditionally have not supported any candidate for Prime Minister or named one of the leaders from the group of parties making up this faction. This, more than anything else, is the exact reason that there has been no definitive result. This is also one of the most obvious reasons that the Israeli democracy is functioning in a representative fashion and is providing the exact result that represents her people, a deeply divided people.

 

There is the possibility that the Blue White Party and Likud could form a unity government completely free of requiring the support of any other party. This is the main reason why Avigdor Lieberman’s claim that he would join a unity government and be commanding one of the principle centers of power. He has claimed that without him there could not be a unity government. Apparently Avigdor Lieberman is incapable of doing simple mathematics such as adding together thirty-three and thirty-one and realizing that is more than sixty-one. Since those are the results for Blue-White and Likud, it should be obvious that those two together could form a government. So, what is the hang up preventing such, is it political, personal or simply ego?

 

Part of the reason is political as should Bibi actually agree to such an arrangement, the Likud Party would bleed voters in significant numbers to vote for parties which are either more religious, nationalist or Zionist than the Likud such as the parties which made up Yamina; Jewish Home, National Union–Tkuma and New Right. Such a change could prove to be seismic should Bibi ally with Gantz. This would represent a similar situation as when Ariel Sharon bolted Likud forming Kadima in order to allow him to agree to President Bush’s and Condoleezza Rice’s plan for the Gaza withdrawal. This caused a split in the Likud Party which Bibi has been able to reverse over the last two elections. Furthermore, Blue White leader, ‎Benny Gantz‎, has already declared that he would only agree to a unity government only if he was made Prime Minister as his party received the most mandates. This would be ignoring that the so-called right-wing parties received more mandates than the left-wing parties. Further, there is no way Bibi will join any coalition which he does not lead. Once more, egos are getting in the way of any feasible solution.

 

President Rivlin, who has the undesirable task of deciding who will be given the first opportunity to form a coalition, has intimated that he would fall just short of knocking heads together to force a government being formed and avoiding yet a third election in under one year. He is facing the problem that the right-wing parties are unable to form a government without Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu Party. The problem is if Bibi were to agree to Lieberman’s demands, he would lose the Haredi Parties and still be unable to form a coalition. Were Gantz given the nod, the only way he could form a coalition would be if the Joint Arab List were to agree to sit in with him. The problem is that Avigdor Lieberman has expressly stated he would not sit in a coalition with the Arab parties which would again prevent a coalition. Were Lieberman to change his mind and agree to sit in a government with the Arab parties, his Yisrael Beiteinu Party would splinter as it has a large number of nationalists who would not take well to joining a government with the Arab parties included. This would lead to either the end of Yisrael Beiteinu or their replacing Avigdor Lieberman as their leader. Either choice would be political suicide for Lieberman who is too crafty a politician to make such a blunder. So, without hammering Bibi and Benny into submission, it appears that there is not much that President Rivlin can do to force a government.

 

So, the vibrant Israeli democracy will very probably be heading for new elections once again. This will again be a reason to claim that the Israeli democracy has failed and could be considered dead. The reality is that the Israeli democracy is working exactly as it should and is representing the fractured Israeli populace quite accurately. Just because a ruling coalition appears to be escaping reality and becoming near an impossibility is no reason to claim that the democracy has failed, perhaps it is just very accurate in representing and displaying the point at which we find Israel today. If anything is broken, it is not our democracy or any of the other claims which you may have read elsewhere. What is actually broken are the complaints that democracy has failed Israel. Perhaps it is simply jealousy over the fact that the Israelis are being served well by their democracy as it represents the splits between the numerous factions which make up the various parties. One last note, nobody we have had conversations with has complained that their lives are being impacted by not having an actual government and are instead being ruled by a Prime Minister, Bibi Netanyahu, and a number of Likud Ministers who are in the cabinet plus Rafi Peretz from Jewish Home as Education Minister and Bezalel Smotrich from National Union–Tkuma as Transportation Minister, who are making any choices and will protect Israel should she be attacked. It may even be this combination making the decisions over any response to an attack upon Israel which will prevent such an eventuality from coming to fruition. Maybe not having a ruling coalition and a normal government by the world’s standards will prove to be the best thing which could happen to Israel in these turbulent times.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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