Beyond the Cusp

July 18, 2012

Requiem for Kadima

Late yesterday afternoon Shaul Mofaz, the leader of Kadima, announced that due to unbridgeable differences between Kadima’s views and the views held by Prime Minister Netanyahu and the ruling coalition in the Israeli Knesset towards drafting new legislation to replace the expiring Tal Law, Kadima has found it necessary to withdraw from the coalition they had joined only nine weeks ago. An entirely new law was necessitated by the unconstitutional ruling striking down the existing Tal Law by former Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch in the final weeks of her term of service. It is likely that the mainstream Israeli media will play up the split from the coalition by Kadima a mere two months after joining the coalition as a failure in the leadership of the coalition by Netanyahu. The reality is very likely to prove otherwise, but do not hold your breath waiting for the media to reach such a conclusion as they are heavily invested in casting Prime Minister Netanyahu as incompetent and ruining the coalition of the people by his support of the extreme Orthodox and Haredi communities and the illegal settlements in Judea and Samaria. They will use the ill-fated end to retaining Kadima in the coalition as further proof of Netanyahu, Likud, and the settler fanatic extremist parties in the coalition, especially should the Knesset vote to accept and enact as Israeli policy the recent results of the Levy Commission. This was a report on the legality of the existing settlements and any further Jewish settlement activities in Judea and Samaria under International Law, the Geneva Conventions, and numerous treaties which were signed and ratified by numerous European governments, the United States and the United Nations in its founding documents pertaining to respecting and implementing all agreements from the League of Nations, all of which defined the lands between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea as belonging to the Jewish State once it had been formed and allowed, encouraged and insisted even, Jewish settlement in order to facilitate such formation.

The real question is whether allowing Kadima to join the coalition and revealing their anti-religious fanaticism and anti-settlement dispositions served the coalition or not. The near future will prove that by allowing Kadima to join the coalition and tasking them to lead in crafting a new law establishing a universal draft, which they had demanded they be allowed in order to join the coalition, and then refusing to moderate their poisonous demands victimizing the religious communities as the Plesner Committee recommendations held. Members of the coalition accused Plesner of attempting to wage war on the religious communities while ignoring any service commitment by Arab Israelis and other minorities by pressing for severe sanction on solely religious Jews who refused service. Kadima leadership stood fast demanding near total drafting of all Hareidim with drastic penalties to be imposed on any refusing to comply without addressing the fact that a sizeable portion of the secular community also tend to go to extremes to avoid service. The end result of allowing Kadima to force this confrontation will likely be a split in the Kadima membership with the larger part leaving the coalition while a possibly sizeable remainder declining to leave with the rest and remaining in the coalition. This will result in making Likud the majority party and will reduce the size and following of Kadima. How anybody can call strengthening the coalition by making the best of an unpleasant confrontation forced by Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz who overplayed his hand in an attempt to destroy the coalition thus leaving him and Kadima weaker and Likud and Netanyahu strengthened a failure escapes me. Most rational people would look at how this will eventually turn out and congratulate Prime Minister Netanyahu with pulling a virtual coup against Shaul Mofaz and the strongest of the opposition parties by allowing them to push their hand too stridently and dashing themselves against the rocks of public opinion and political realities.

The main fallout from this overstated coalition crisis is the remaining need for crafting a replacement draft law for the soon expired Tal Law. The advantage now is that the entire controversy over how to craft the new law and whether service should be strictly applied solely upon the Haredi and Orthodox communities and enforced in a vicious manner or whether the solution should be applied humanely and with reasoned and crafted steps allowing for a gradual adoption of the new standards will be discussed and implemented in an adult manner instead as by the spiteful insult of childlike adults throwing a fit. The public was treated to a full disclosure of the original intent of former Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch to subvert the universal Torah Study by the Hareidim by pressing them into mandatory military or community service in place of Yeshiva studies. The debate being made public will allow a more reasoned approach which will retain the best of the Yeshiva studies of Torah, a vital and important pursuit in the service of Israeli society, while still making arrangements to allow and eventually require a larger percentage of Hareidim and Orthodox to perform IDF or community service bringing these communities into closer alignment with the service rates of the rest of Israeli society. It has also opened up the discussion on whether the Arab Israeli society should also be called to do at a minimum some form of community service if they prefer to refuse IDF enlistment. Despite the media claims which are sure to come decrying the death of Israeli democracy with the exit by Kadima from the coalition, the Israeli people will have been given a greater voice and a closer inspection of the machinations of the debate on this vital and definitive issue. If that is not real democracy and a healthy attitude of governance, then I don’t know what is. We must tip our hat and credit Prime Minister Netanyahu with having played a smarter game of politics than his opponents while also including the will of the majority of people in deciding the path for the government on of the the most vital and momentous legislations before the Knesset.

Beyond the Cusp

July 16, 2012

Kadima’s True Colors Exposed Over Hareidim Enlistment Demands

Kadima leader and Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz with the able assistance from Tal Law Committee and Knesset Minister Yohanan Plesner have disclosed their true intent for joining Prime Minister Netanyahu and the governing coalition, namely to break up the previous coalition in order to gain the ability to force elections and use such a threat to enact their views and hijack the government. The Kadima Ministers in the Knesset have individually and collectively threatened to break away from the coalition they recently joined this May if their demands for stringent enforcement with harsh penalties for all Hareidim into IDF service. This move was designed to force Prime Minister Netanyahu to acquiesce to this demand which would cause a number of other parties from the original and much narrower coalition to quit the coalition. The parties this was aimed to tear away from the coalition included Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu, Yaakov Litzman’s United Torah Judaism, Eli Yishai’s Shas, and Daniel Hershkowitz’s Jewish Home; which would leave a coalition consisting of Likud, Ehud Barak’s Independence Party and Kadima which would give Kadima the leverage to control the agenda. The only miscalculation was their believing that Prime Minister Netanyahu was so concerned about retaining the support of Kadima as a measure of moderation against the media had criticism that the original coalition as too right wing. As it turns out, Prime Minister Netanyahu appears to have little problem in having Kadima exit the coalition if they do not get their leftist extremist IDF Hareidim draft legislation worded exactly the way they proposed it.

So, what is the hang-up over between a large number of original coalition members and the Kadima proposals? Oddly enough, it all comes down to something that the left is supposed to favor, diversity. The Kadima proposal for legislation for a new draft law to replace the old and ruled unconstitutional Tal Law was to include strict enforcement with strident calls for severe punishments for any Hareidim who refused to serve when called to enlist in the IDF or participate in some form of national service. When it came to Arab Israelis and other Israeli minorities, who currently are not forced to serve similarly to the Hareidim, they had vague and undefined language which would allow these deferments to remain unaltered. Most of the rest of the coalition members were demanding that if the Hareidim were to be forced into some version of national service with few if any allowed to be deferred for fulltime Torah study as was previously allowed, they also wanted the same exacting requirements for the nearly one and a half million Arab population in the name of fairness rather than diversity. Kadima refused to allow equal treatment for Arab Israelis and Haredi Israelis, they wished only to subject the most orthodox and religious Jews to face minimally eighty percent enlistment, an even higher rate than secular and moderately religious Jews currently serve, while allowing Arab Israelis a complete pass on any form of national service. This was the wedge which Kadima had nefariously planned to divide the coalition then hijack control over the coalition and the national agenda. Now Kadima is making one last stand on their demands and it appears that Prime Minister Netanyahu will be perfectly content for them to fall on their swords and leave the coalition they had joined with such fanfare all the way back in May. So soon, you really have to go? Aww, we will really miss you, well, not so much.

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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