Beyond the Cusp

April 14, 2019

Israeli Elections Delivered Some Surprises

 

Yes, we know, Bibi again. This probably should not have surprised anybody, but still in the days leading up to the voting we heard the same mantra we hear from Bibi every time starting three to four days before the actual voting, “Vote for Likud or else we will end-up with a leftist government and they will make a Palestinian State. This gets many Israelis into a panic and they get this glazed look in their eyes and all they can seem to say is, we must elect Bibi or else the world will end. We have tried to explain that they do not have to elect Bibi, they need to elect as many right of center parties above threshold such that there are over seventy mandates between all the right-wing parties. But this is not how many, including Bibi, think. They do not remember that not that long ago the leader chosen to form a government was Ariel Sharon of Likud despite their being the second highest number of Mandates simply because the left-leaning party would not have been able to put together a coalition. Further, the Israelis forget that the step which comes after the elections is for each party list leader to provide a name of who they support for Prime Minister and the person most able to cobble together a coalition will receive the most recommendations and get to form a coalition. Were, in this past election, Likud and Bibi to have only received thirty-three mandates but the New Right received five mandates and Zahut received four mandates with the Combined right receiving six mandates (or just five), these extra seats for the other forms of Zionists would have provided, presuming the specialist and other parties remained the same, then the coalition would have reached the dizzying numbers of seventy-three, give or take a couple of mandates.

 

But this was not what Bibi actually desired. He wanted everything for himself without any strong party to his right forcing his hand. Bibi also wanted to push the New Right out of contention as there is bad blood between Bennett, Shaked with Bibi and he was out for some form of revenge. Bibi also knows that his last-minute hyperventilation that the sky was falling took at least one if not two seats from the combined right and pushed Zehut and its founder, Moshe Feiglin, out of contention as there is some history here as well. The other thing is Bibi desires keeping any number of Ministerial positions in addition to Prime Minister in his own pocket. As the last government was coming to a close, Bibi Netanyahu was the Prime Minister, Defense Minister, Foreign Minister and three or four other lesser ministries all to himself. We honestly believe that if Bibi were able to get away with such, he would take every position, department, assignment and everything else in the Israeli government to himself fully believing that he was best suited and able for every last position. The only thing preventing his also becoming the Ambassador to the United Nations and ten to twelve of the most important nations having relations with Israel is simply because of the technical problems with being in more than one place at the same time. Were he able to clone himself, he would become the entire Likud and hold the top twenty to thirty slots with his various clones. We can picture the Likud list having Bibi-Aleph, Bibi-Bet, Bibi-Gimmel and so on.

 

The one question we received when trying to explain the reasoning is that it only matters that Likud have a respectable showing somewhere around or over thirty with stronger showings for the rest of the right-wing blocks. The question was to name somebody who would be as capable as Bibi Netanyahu as Prime Minister. Previous to these elections the main answer was Naftali Bennett, an answer which many people found lacking. Thanks to Mr. Bennett deciding that the Jewish Home was not going to take him all the way to the Prime Ministership, he split leaving the party in the lurch. Despite the horrific results of losing both the number one and two people from the party list, Jewish Home came up with something which may prove vital in the future, a new leader untainted by political scandals and clean as a whistle, and that is as the man he has become in his life and simply being judged by that and without a care to his politics, which is very strongly Religious-Zionist. This was the man who stepped into the void filling it with what we believe will be a shining light for Israel in the near future. We are referring to the new leader of the Jewish Home, Rafi Peretz. Rafi Peretz has excelled in every position he has challenged, shined as a man of honor and principle and performed every position with competence and dignity. In his early years in the IDF, Peretz was a combat helicopter pilot, a challenge for almost any man. From there he eventually became the Chief Rabbi of the IDF and retired as a Brigadier General. After his IDF service, he founded a Yeshiva in Gaza. When the Gaza disengagement meant that he and his teachers and students would be required to relocate, he took a position of honor over politics and instructed his staff and students that they would leave without causing soldiers any difficulties and leave in an orderly manner with heads high. Rafi Peretz received much grief for not choosing to oppose the disengagement at least with passive resistance, but he was thinking of his students to whom he wished to cause the least amount of trauma.

 

After the disengagement from Gaza, Rafi Peretz reestablished his yeshiva and was still directing this school when tapped to lead Jewish Home through probably one of their greatest challenges. His name was all many people needed to hear which brought many back to Jewish Home and others who were still debating decided to remain as he commands that much respect from those who know him. We cannot claim to have met Rafi Peretz but simply from what people who were not even considering voting for Jewish Home had to say about the man, it was obvious that Rafi Peretz is a man of quality, dignity and straight up honesty. We can only hope that he will remain as the leader of the party, we are members of Jewish Home and never considered joining Bennett and the New Right as it never quite seemed like a good idea to leave the party we chose as it represented our beliefs in virtually every manner. So, for now we have another three and some odd to four years of Bibi Netanyahu and perhaps after one more term he will be ready to retire. Whether Bibi decides that enough has been enough or that he cannot get enough out of being the King, we will be presenting Rafi Peretz as our hope to one day soon take charge as Prime Minister of Israel.

 

It is good to be the King

 

For the moment, Bibi has won, again, and some claim that we will have elections again in six months. We would bet against this, but that is going to depend on many variables. The first variable will be what happens after President Trump finally releases his “Deal of the Century” and the following screaming, shouting, rejections and general animosity. Some are claiming that Bibi will accept whatever deal President Trump presents no matter how much Israel might be required to surrender. We would like to point out that it makes no difference what deal is presented by President Trump and his team of four who were tasked with hammering out something different than the plans which came before. The team consists of United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Kushner’s aide Avi Berkowitz, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, four Jews, which may not have been the brightest idea President Trump ever had. We mean, you are attempting to sell a peace proposal to the Arab world and specifically, the Palestinian Arabs, the ones who have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity, and you choose four Jews to put the plan together? Really? And better yet, at least two of them are known to be strong Zionist Jews. This works only if your plan is going to be something Israel would have trouble swallowing, so then you could point to the four and ask Bibi what more he could have wanted. But, as you have possibly heard, the plan does not demand that Israel give up half of her land, like that peace plan the United Nations attempted to sell to the Arab League on November 29, 1947 where Israel was to be cut in half, half for the Jews with most of that being the Negev Desert, half for the Arab Palestinians. The Arab League turned it down as they already had a plan for settling with the Jews, their invasion for the morning of Israeli independence when they envisioned eradicating all of Israel. They did try but something went wrong, the Jews fought back and managed, despite losing over ten percent of the entire population of Israel, to survive and hold on to most of their lands. They lost Gaza to Egypt and large parts of Judea and Samaria to Jordan who illegally annexed them renaming it West Bank to avoid the all too Jewish sound of Judea, with Samaria not far behind. The Trump Deal of the Century may be the deal which will break Bibi’s hold on the Prime Minister spot. Thus far he has been beyond the reach of mortal men, the Israeli media and legal problems which always appear to crop up when elections are scheduled. Time will tell, as it does with most everything, and eventually Bibi will retire and Israel will be seeking his successor. Obviously, we have just the man for the job, but we will have to wait and see. One thing we can say, it was a shame that Rafi Peretz was not able to receive much coverage with Jewish Home not organized as many of the key organizers left with Bennett believing they were leaving behind a party about to be thrown on the trash heap of history. It is funny how things turn out, Jewish Home is in the government with four, potentially five mandates and Bennett is wishing and hoping on prayers that he will miraculously worm his way over the threshold; otherwise, he made a very poor bet. The rest, as they say, is history.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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March 8, 2019

Benny Gantz’s Israel

Filed under: Israel — qwertster @ 2:56 AM
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 

General Benny Gantz (ret.) would be scheduled to be the Israeli Prime Minister for the initial two-year period before handing the office to Yair Lapid for the next two years. We are willing to bet that unless the Knesset is willing to have Israel commit suicide, there will be no handover to Lapid, things would fall apart long before two years had elapsed. All one need is to take a good hard, or possibly a cursory, look at General Gantz Chief of Staff to witness the disaster he might become as Prime Minister. Gantz was the commander of the region when the Second Intifada broke out, General Gantz was commander of the Regional Command Headquarters. When Joseph’s Tomb (Kever Yosef) was under siege and IDF Sergeant Madhat Yusef was shot by Palestinian Arab terrorists and ended up bleeding out over a period of three and a half hours, while drones were overhead feeding back live data of the situation, when IDF soldiers were holed up in Kever Yosef under constant threat and the Samarian brigade headquarters had assembled a tank battalion with two columns of Merkava tanks in place waiting for the order to enter Nablus to conduct a rescue; General Gantz, possibly after checking with Prime Minister and acting Defense Minister Ehud Barak, was at his headquarters never issuing the crucially necessary orders (source). Many of us have likely wondered time and again exactly how long and how much destruction Israel has to face before our powers that be react and bring the violence to an abrupt halt. We fear that under Gantz the wait would be far longer and potentially indeterminately longer and potentially might never come. While Chief of Staff we watch the hurried, unplanned, sloppy and confused retreat from southern Lebanon leading to the problem we see today on the northern border. He was still chief of staff when the next Gaza War ensued and again we find the IDF woefully unprepared for the tunnels and bunkers throughout Gaza and reaching under the border and fairly deep into Israel. We understand that as a general in an army which must follow civilian commands and may not act purely on its own, that sometimes a general has their hands tied such that they are ordered not to escalate a situation. We have a feeling that if even half a dozen Merkava tanks had rolled into the area around Kever Yosef, the Arab Palestinians would have fled rather than wait for what would at that point be the obvious alternative. Not preparing the IDF ground forces to be prepared for fighting an enemy which has built an extensive network of tunnels with some invading the Israeli home itself, that is simply serious dereliction of duty. Even if the excuse was that he was unaware of the extent to which the tunnels had been developed, then one has to question what orders were given to preform even rudimentary research, inspections and surveillance as a commander is presumed to be responsible for collecting in depth determinations of the enemy’s strength, weaponry, numbers, capabilities, weaknesses, strengths and have numerous scenarios all ready and troops trained to execute the plans. Anything less is incompetence. General Gantz gives off the hue of a political general whose career was designed to enter politics. Such an officer never takes risks, never steps out and takes charge, never does anything without first acquiring cover by having somebody else issue the order to him or a directive from above him and simply goes through the motions collecting schools and other items which look pretty on their record and will simply move up through the ranks without ever actually commanding.

 

Now we are seeing the end result of the career of Benny Gantz, his move to become the Prime Minister of Israel. He will claim to have a sterling military career, having held all the correct posts, not ever having been responsible directly for any blunder or miscalculation and for being the good general who carried out his orders and respected those above him while caring for those below him. Meanwhile, according to somebody who served with General Gantz under his leadership, he claimed in his editorial that as a general, Gantz left a considerable amount to be desired. Meanwhile, one listening to Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid would believe that they are one of the most hawkish, Zionist, right-wing and sensible parties in the mix. Israelis should already know that Yair Lapid is a faux conservative and has supported a two-state solution as the road to Nirvana where peace and security are to be found. What may surprise some, but Benny Gantz is also a two-state solution person who stated that the IDF learned much from the Gaza withdrawal and the withdrawal from southern Lebanon and believes that versions of these disasters could be designed which would bring peace. The main difference, though one would never know by listening to their polished campaign or the ads run by their advisors, is that Yair Lapid is willing to return to the Green Line including dividing Jerusalem while Benny Gantz is willing to retreat to the Separation Barrier (anti-terror barrier) and divide Jerusalem, with both men qualifying it as if it would bring peace. Both men in the past have also claimed that their plan would end the struggle between the Jews and Arabs, a struggle which has ebbed and flowed but never ceased for over a thousand years. Both men claim that the reason that Israel does not have peace is because Prime Minister Netanyahu does not have the courage to step into the unchartered areas of allowing the Palestinian Arabs to have exactly that which they claim will bring peace. What could possibly go wrong if these two men are permitted to take their clown act to the Prime Minister’s house?

 

There have been times in the past when we have stated that the only thing which can save Israel from certain disaster has been Yasser Arafat and, after him, Mahmoud Abbas. When Prime Minister Ehud Barak folded before pressures brought by President Clinton in Paris and gave in to everything which Yasser Arafat had demanded, we swallowed hard and tried to find some way the Arafat could weasel his way out of the deal. We were melancholy and dejected as we saw no way that Israel could be saved from itself. We had been mistaken. Yasser came down the next morning knowing that the media was there, President Clinton was there, the build-up to something momentous had been implied, and all the formal papers and everything Arafat had demanded was sitting right there in the middle of the lobby awaiting Arafat. The drama was intense and one could feel the anticipation as Yasser Arafat was heard heading to the lobby where he made an abrupt right turn and walked straight out the front door, into his waiting limousine and sped to the airport to fly back to Jordan. That was a close one. Yasser Arafat had agreed to terms he knew no Israeli Prime Minister could accept, but he had misread how badly Ehud Barak desired a peace agreement, any peace agreement.

 

It was a few years later and a new American President named George W. Bush who with Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State who had this brilliant idea, if only the Palestinian could be granted an opportunity to prove that they are ready to form a state and make peace, then peace would be more easily attained. But this time Israelis felt safe as the Bulldozer, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Likud were in the driver’s seat. With dreams of a Nobel Peace Prize, the guarantees offered by the United States, the insistence that if it does not work, then the IDF can simply move in and retake the strip and nothing lost and who can know what else was dancing in everybody’s heads. As it turned out, many of the Likud Party balked at this idea including eventually Bibi Netanyahu, but the Bulldozer did not get that moniker by giving up easily. Sharon dissolved his ruling coalition and, without a new election, put together a new coalition with many people from the left filling the vacated spots from those in Likud who refused to go along. Sharon also kept many of the centrist parties in his old coalition and took his patchwork coalition and by early September 2005, the Israelis had pulled even their dead from within Gaza and interred them safely in Israel. We all know how that Gaza Disengagement has worked, four wars later with another one all but guaranteed in the not too distant future. But George W. Bush and company were not finished, though Prime Minister Sharon was.

 

Next to step up to how big a mistake can you make was Ehud Olmert. This was 2008 and the opportunity for George W. Bush and company to collect their Nobel Peace Prizes was winding down. This time they met at Camp David and before it was over were meeting at Taba, Egypt which is just across the border from Eilat, Israel. The entirety of the final months of the Presidency of George W. Bush were spent chasing down Mahmoud Abbas offering a little more and a little more and each time coming up short. Mahmoud Abbas has made no secret of the deal he will accept, Israel completely turned over to the Arabs, the Jews gathered for a ritualistic slaughter and the United States paying a dear price in keeping such an agreement. Needless to point out, Abbas did not get the magic solution he demands. Of course Abbas is crafty and never quite states his demands and simply hints that he demands this, that and well, then we will see. When those steps are complete, then this has to give just a smidge, that is not quite acceptable, and what about this over here. This continued until Abbas ran out the clock but also not before he had gathered a plethora of new concessions. Again, another ability to miss an opportunity by the Palestinian leadership executed with absolutely no finesse. The problem is that the Arabs do not want any form of compromise, they want it all and the Jews with their necks bared ready for the Arab knives and nothing less.

 

Bibi Netanyahu, Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz

Bibi Netanyahu, Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz

 

That begs the question as to what harm could a Prime Minister Gantz do if the Palestinians continue to refuse any and every solution and are adamant that Israel must be destroyed? The devil is in the details and the details are the concessions. Gaza is the prime example of what can possibly go wrong if Israel elects the wrong party to run the country and form a coalition. Now we will take a moment to calm any of our American friends who have been watching the polls and are worried that Gantz may well be the next Prime Minister. Allow us to point out that Simon Peres never lost a single poll when he ran for Prime Minister and further he never won an election as Prime Minister. That is the nature of Israeli polling companies and how they arrange their sampling. To put it as plainly as we can, it is slanted leftward significantly. The main problem the next Prime Minister(s) is that they will very likely be faced with President Trump and his “Deal of the Century.” Since the word from day one has been that, neither side would be completely pleased with anything, and definitely not with everything, the fortunate central thing is that Mahmoud Abbas will never accept any deal which leaves Israel in tact. The big question comes next, how far would President Trump go in order to coax Mahmoud Abbas into coming to the negotiating table, something he has adamantly refused to do as he refuses to deal with President Trump. Israel has watched far too many people come and go all ready to sacrifice Israeli security in order to reach that ever-elusive deal. What is even more frightening is that Jarred Kushner is President Trump’s main advisor on the Israel/Arab confrontation. Jared has no real claim to fame other than having married a Trump, not exactly a stupid move, but also not exactly prime credentials for negotiating in the tempestuous Middle East where knives stuck in one’s back are commonplace. Further, with Jarred being Jewish and the American Ambassador to Israel being Jewish and at least one or two more on the team being Jewish, does anybody honestly believe Mahmoud Abbas will agree to anything which does not leave everything primed for the end of Israel? This is the problem we see in making any deal.

 

Now throw in Gantz, a man who reached the rank of general, so he is not a complete idiot and has enough sense to keep his nose clean, but also a man who takes no risks but is very good at doing what advisors say, his entire campaign has been him reading exactly what advisors have given him to read. His history would leave him vulnerable to complying with the demands of one he might see as somebody he should trust and do so implicitly. He did this while serving under Prime Minister Ehud Barak and has spoken admirably of his former boss. Somebody trusting the judgement of Ehud Barak who was prevented from making a disaster as Yasser Arafat feared being assassinated if he reached an actual agreement. One can only guess exactly how far Gantz or Lapid might go to allow for an agreement. One can only panic thinking what a party run by Gantz and Lapid might turn around and do on their path to glory and great recognition.

 

Perhaps this would be a good time to point out, which many of our readers can attest, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has not fared all that well on our pages. We feel he leaves much to be desired and that since President Trump had been in the White House, we find Bib Netanyahu to have been suffering from an inability of pulling the trigger and doing what needed doing. We believe that President Trump had all but instructed Netanyahu in so many terms to take the bull by the horns and solve your own messes. When President Trump made a sweep through the region speaking to each leader as part of his announcement that the United States was pulling out of Syria, his reputed commentary to Israeli leaders was that the United States is done with the wars and other messes in the Middle East and that as Israel has received billions of dollars, it was time for Israel to step it up and take care of business. That sounds like a free pass to finish the problem and finally enforce the terms of the San Remo Conference and the British Mandate, both of which are supposed to be enforced by the United Nations, do not count on that, and the world courts, there one might have a fair shot from what we have seen and read. Still, Israel has to take care of Israel and simply buying the emigration of the majority of the Palestinian Arabs after removing the main impediment to such a program, their leadership. The majority of the Arab Palestinians residing in Gaza and the Shomron (Judea and Samaria) would take a generous buyout and an enticement to seek a better life elsewhere, sufficient cash that many places around the world would see these Arabs as worthy of taking in as they would be an instant boost to the economy. There are some who claim that Israel cannot afford such a plan, but we ask how much longer Israel can continue to live in a constant state of war preparedness. President Trump has eliminated every obstacle to resolving the Arab problems which Israel faces with one exception, Israeli leadership. The time has come for a definitive new Prime Minister who will end this fiasco and do so with an urgency beyond anything any previous Israeli has attempted. We wish we could tell the Israelis who is such a person, but we can tell you that Gantz and Lapid are not even close to being in the running. Perhaps one will appear magically as the elections near, but with Netanyahu not generating any excitement and Lapid and Gantz simply generating panic, we are in a quandary.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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