Beyond the Cusp

April 11, 2019

Finally, the Israeli Elections are Done

 

Well, that is except for the yelling and finagling required to form a coalition. Here is where Israeli elections become confusing for most foreigners and also many Israelis. First, it will likely take until Friday before all the votes including from oversees diplomats, soldiers posted away from polling stations and a small select group who are not required to actually vote in person. Israel does not have early voting, mail in ballots for any but a select group as mentioned above and that about covers the voting. The next step is to take the votes for the parties which cleared the threshold of around 3.25% and figure what percentage of the one-hundred-twenty seats in the Knesset each one received. Then the heads of each party or block select who they would prefer to be the Prime Minister and send this to the President of Israel. He then tabulates which of the top vote getters will be first to attempt and cobble together a coalition. As the President is the only person technically who will view these choices, he could pick whomever he preferred and nobody might be the wiser. From the vote breakdown, it appears that the coalition will be a right of center coalition under Likud and Bibi Netanyahu, again. Yes, again. The estimates are he may end up with the exact same coalition as last time and as of this time, the main difference might be that Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked and their New Right Party may not clear threshold. Their split from the Jewish Home (our party) may be seen as a huge miscalculation or they may be credited with forcing Likud to move slightly further right and promise many of the same changes on which they had campaigned.

 

The way a coalition is put together in Israel also leaves something to be desired. There are far more parties in the Israeli soup than anywhere else than we know. This leads to the next Prime Minister having to meet demands from each party. All too often, two parties will demand the same Ministership such as defense or finance leading to real headaches, for the coalition builder, not us, we get to cover all the in-fighting. Other parties are easier to deal with as their main expectation is monetary support for their schools or their neighborhoods or their specific defining character of their party. The sticking point often comes down to who is permitted and in how many numbers or percentages are permitted to be deferred from Military service. Please do not request that we follow down this path any further, thanks. Eventually, a coalition will be hammered out or maybe the President will be forced to either allow another election high vote party leader to make a go of it or he can call for new elections. There is a time limit on how long each individual is permitted to put a coalition together and this limit is often the deciding factor on whether parties forgive their main demands and settle for half a loaf instead of two loaves, one under each arm. All of this fun and excitement will likely take a few weeks before all is said and done, and as usual, more will be said than done.

 

There will be a second result from the election which Americans will fully understand, the Israeli media will need to explain how so many of their polls and predictions could be so wrong. This will extend also to the American media which also called the Israeli results quite incorrectly. In both cases, this can be credited to a combination of political bias and wishful speculations rather than honest evaluations. That is fine as the Israeli media fell very much in line with their American counterparts in calling the United States Presidential elections wrong for the 2016 election cycle. In many cases, we all wish the media would do more reporting and less pontificating and editorializing. News is to be reported with as little bias and massaging as possible, something we all could benefit from. Us, we do not claim to be reporters, we state clearly that we are editorialists and thus have a flavor to what we write. Some have thanked us for being as straightforward as we do try, but where we fall on most issues is obvious and we seldom vary from our positions. At the least, we try and also provide alternate views and are quite liberal in accepting comments including critical commentary.

 

What probably was the most interesting prediction about this election was that the government would collapse in approximately six months and Israel would be driven into yet another election cycle. It has been quite a while since an elected Israeli government completed their four-year term before new elections were called due to the coalition collapsing or the main party deciding that elections were advantageous at a particular point. As elections are not held immediately after the fall of a coalition, going to elections is always a bit of a risk. There can be a whole sea change in the mood of the people from unpredicted events and other influences. It really is you call elections and you takes your chances. This was evident in the election results this time as when elections were called, within a week it appeared that Bibi would win easily, the New Right Party formed by Bennett and Shaked after leaving Jewish Home looked to be strong and polling comfortably over ten mandates while the Jewish Home appeared in complete free-fall and total disarray barely clearing but a mere one percent. With the initial numbers in, Jewish Home and the small bundle of parties brought together appears to be at five seats plus one they will receive from Likud as promised in the deal-making agreements and the New Right is on the cusp of not even making threshold, actually, without strong support from the votes left to be tallied, they very well may be beyond the cusp in the wrong direction and failing to make it into the Knesset. Some are blaming Bibi for their potential failure as he made a number of announced policies which were directed at the New Right taking their positions which may have brought a fair number of votes back to Likud which they initially stood to lose to the New Right.

 

Bibi Stands and Promises Judea and Samaria Local-Council Leaders

Bibi Stands and Promises Judea and Samaria Local-Council Leaders

 

This brings us to the final and longest lasting stage of Israeli elections, blame placing. There will be no lack of finger-pointing, accusations, recriminations, subversive theories, rapprochements, excuse-making, blame-laying and all-around claims laying all the blame on anyone but those who felt cheated by actions of others. There is no love lost in politics and Israel is no different. The saving grace in Israel is within a month of the new coalition taking power, there will be an entirely new set of reasons to blame them for not delivering on what they promised. Then start the in-fighting and eventually it gets to the point that nobody wants to take the heat and everyone runs from the kitchen resulting in, you guessed it, new elections. Of course, the largest amount of excuse making will come from those who are not included in the coalition and the loudest screaming will come from those who expected to do well and ended up not even making it into the government either in the coalition or in the opposition. You will note we did not say loyal opposition as politics in Israel has become almost as contentious as it has in America and as such those not in the coalition show no love lost on those they blame including or especially Bibi Netanyahu. We will all be told how he used devious maneuvers, outright lies, exclusionary rhetoric and just about every possible accusation of evil doings which anyone can imagine, and Israelis are imaginable if nothing else. So, if your party is included in the coalition, then you have to remain slightly reserved for a while and if your party is in the opposition then whale-away at whoever you believe is most responsible for you not getting your way, after all, they deserve everything you can throw at them, don’t they. In the meantime, we will wait and see how the coalition shakes out, what our party (Jewish Home) receives as an enticement and whether it parallels that we most desire. As for us here, we are waiting to see if Bibi will keep his most contentious promise which he stood before Judea and Samaria local-council leaders promising that immediately after the new coalition is seated, he would move to extend Israeli civil law to all their communities ending the horrors they have faced under military law and the vulnerability that placed them in before the courts, specifically the Supreme Court (see above picture). This is definitely one promise which would be political suicide for him to backtrack as doing so would make him vulnerable to parties to his right leaving the coalition. But some who are always suspicious have claimed this is exactly the situation Bibi seeks such that he will be forced to seek new coalition members from the more left leaning parties or even form a unity coalition with Gantz and seek some form of peace with the Palestinian Authority along the lines which Gantz proposed early in the campaign. His plan included another disengagement while leaving IDF stationed in the areas of Judea and Samaria, something we covered in some depth here in our early run-up coverage of the elections. This includes what we foresaw as the deepest and most serious problems which could result. Anyway, Israeli elections are done and in the can except not quite yet as the song and dance stage is soon to be entered.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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February 10, 2015

The Most Difficult Political Speech is Honest Speech

 

Before getting to today’s subject, please allow us to interject with this little revelation about which little needs to be commented as it explains itself. The New York Times, attached to the bottom of the article titled Netanyahu Is Talking to Leading Democrats to Little Effect So Far, stated,

Correction: January 30, 2015

An earlier version of this article misstated when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel accepted Speaker John A. Boehner’s invitation to address Congress. He accepted after the administration had been informed of the invitation, not before.
Methinks the Administration doth protest too much.

Thank you for your patience and now on with today’s article

 

The Most Difficult Political Speech is Honest Speech

 

Naftali Bennett spoke honestly and is paying a price before the paragons of all that is correct and permitted to speak. Mr. Bennett made a promise, which if made by Tzipi Livni or Yitzhak Hertzog would have been acclaimed as taking a difficult and brave stand against a situation which plagues too many Israelis and is more prevalent in the less wealthy neighborhoods, a promise to address crime which targets south Tel Aviv and many across the Negev and Galilee where gangs, often Arab gangs thus the potential problems mentioning such if one is not of the correct political bend, victimize the more vulnerable amongst us and whom the authorities appear reluctant to address. This is the promise the Jewish Home Party is basing their call for their own Ayelet Shaked to take the Public Security Minister position should they be included in the next ruling coalition. The media immediately jumped on Naftali Bennett claiming he was making racist incitement or accusing all Arabs of committing criminal acts. Nobody apparently thought to grant Bennett with being concerned with a plight which inflicts the lives of people who for reasons not of their own making face increased criminal elements victimizing the areas where they live. Should anybody on the left make such a claim to target crime in high risk neighborhoods they are lauded as taking the brave stand, caring for the downtrodden, leading a needed crusade or simply shows their nature as a risk-taker not afraid to broach the most sensitive of subjects. But Israeli society needs to go further into these areas and by doing so remove some of the barriers between the different areas of our society and make our personal and community lives be as accepting of people spanning the entirety of Israeli populations as has been accomplished in the IDF.

 

That brings us to a couple of horrific acts for which those responsible deserve the strictest application of the law possible. Ghazi Hasisi, a Druze from Daliat al-Karmel, had stepped outside of the Ultra Sound club in Kibbutz Yagur where he was overheard to speak Arabic which led a group of young people to assault him throwing rocks injuring him. Ghazi Hasisi serves in the Golani Brigade. This assault was reminiscent of another assault which took place at the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem where Tommy Hasson, a Druze army veteran, was assaulted quite likely for the same reason. Such acts of violence are horrid and that they would be committed for such an absurd reason as that somebody was speaking a different language makes it abhorrent. Just as the violence perpetrated against Jews for their religion in Europe and elsewhere, it is just as if not more-so when it is committed in Israel against anybody simply because of their religion, ethnicity or anything which used by the judgmental amongst us. These two attacks in some ways are more offensive than many other attacks which occur within the areas under Israeli control as these two assaults were committed by Jews. That makes these two attacks a sin on every Israeli Jew and a reflection that something is wrong with our society that such acts can even come from any Israeli Jew. The one reprieve came from the act by members of grassroots Zionist movement Im Tirtzu visited Ghazi Hasisi in his room at Rambam Hospital in Haifa on Sunday. May their kindness erase the shame committed of the uncouth assault and may our Druze friends accept that the majority of Jews are horrified by the actions of the few and pray that both Ghazi Hasisi and Tommy Hasson can find it in their hearts to allow and accept our apologies. May the miscreants of these two senseless and irresponsible acts be found, charged and sentenced with the harshness they deserve.

 

This takes me to somewhere a little further off the norms than usual. I know some are wondering if that is possible, trust me, after the rest of this article you will agree, well, probably. Israel is presented in Torah as having a unique purpose and as Israeli Jews we are tasked with that special purpose. This is described as being a light unto the nations. We are not tasked to try and convert others and are only supposed to explain the particulars and requirements placed upon the Jews, especially when we are residing in our home of Eretz Yisroel. What we are to do is set such a high standard for ourselves and in our actions such that other peoples desire to follow our examples when it comes to establishing their nations and cultures. We are to live a holy life according to Torah and through our actions show how high and moral human society can be simply by the actions of the individuals collectively and that improving life and society is a personal thing which does not require government to make a society pleasant and caring where people want to live and look to the society as the model for their own society. That is why Jews acting in such a boorish and brutish manner is actually so offensive to other Jews. While fashioning a society around such high standards is difficult, actions such as these racist assaults detract from the whole society and require that the rest of Israel work that much harder to make up for those who acted in such a manner which is so against what is desired. This is why Naftali Bennett’s challenge to reduce crime in every neighborhood and especially where the people already are facing the difficulties of making ends meet on an income which is below average, is actually an effort which will expand and make the lives of all Israelis safer and that much more enjoyable. These neighborhoods are often left on their own and thus become targeted by criminal elements as they are assured that the enforcement of the law is not as strict as in the more affluent neighborhoods where if the police are insufficient to protect the people, then they hire additional security to guard them and only them. That is why it actually makes sense that the Jewish Home Party would place improving all of Israeli society and work towards making all of Israel safe and living up to the standard of being a light unto the nations. As mentioned above, these efforts will lead to making everywhere safe and by doing so make everywhere more friendly and an exemplary place to live and raise a family. That is another aim is to make all of Israel family friendly where everybody is treated with honesty, friendliness, respect and granted honor due every one of G0d’s children.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

January 30, 2014

Fears About Kerry Intimidation of Netanyahu Appear Valid

There are some among us who have expressed fears that Prime Minister Netanyahu might choose to follow the exact same route blazed by the late Ariel Sharon when he formed a new party in order to facilitate the Gaza disengagement. Now we are witnessing a purely manufactured controversy revolving into a confrontation between the Prime Minister and the nationalist hardliners in the coalition. The entire flare-up was started by a planned leak from the Prime Minister’s Office that Netanyahu was about to announce a new plan which would permit any of the Israelis living in the settlements which were going to be turned over to form the Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria could simply remain in their homes and be placed under Palestinian rule. This, unsurprisingly, evoked some rash outbursts and responses from many nationalist Knesset Ministers, all of them from within the ruling coalition and some from the Likud which is the Prime Minister’s own party. The Prime Minister’s Office chose to take umbrage with only one of the dissenting Ministers, Naftali Bennett, the leader of the Jewish Home Party and the Economy and Trade Minister. What makes the choice by Prime Minister Netanyahu of Naftali Bennett curious, as Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin, and Deputy Minister Ofir Akuni, all members of Prime Minister’s Likud Party, all made similar statements of outrage and disbelief about the leaked statement from the Prime Minister’s Office and none were called out for their opposition statements.

 

When one adds the leaked information that Secretary of State Kerry has a draft of a plan which will include demands for Israel to surrender half of Jerusalem in order for the Palestinians to use as their capital city and force the Palestinians to at least state that they recognize Israel as the State for the Jewish People, this entire confrontation takes on an ominous note. It is interesting that the Israelis are going to be required to surrender all of Judea and Samaria with only those land swaps agreed to by the Palestinians while all the Palestinians are going to be required to do is state they recognize Israel as the home for the Jews, a statement they can recant ten seconds later and return to their resistance and terrorist ways, something which should be expected by any thinking person familiar with the history of the entire Arab Israeli conflict which started back in the mid to late 1800s. Perhaps the claims that the leaked plan to allow Israelis living in the settlements to remain in their homes and live under the Palestinian state was exactly as the Prime Minister’s Office claimed, to rope the Palestinians into rejecting the idea outright and demand one more time, as if nobody had heard them the first half million times, that no Jews would be permitted to reside, visit or set foot in the Palestinian controlled lands. This was supposed to make the point to whom? John Kerry? President Obama? Who? Anybody who cared about the Palestinian refusal has heard it sufficient number of times to have memorized the many different ways it has been stated by Abbas, Erekat and numerous other Palestinian spokespersons. But even if we give the Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt and agree that this was a brilliant ploy to reveal the otherwise hidden Palestinian rejectionist attitude to a Jewish presence in their state, why would they target only the leader of one of the member parties of the coalition and basically ignore the others? This leads to only one reason, to make a case for removing the Jewish Home Party from the coalition to make room for another party. It is of some interest that the Labor Party did entertain the idea of joining the coalition should the Jewish Home Party leave the coalition in order to support the continuation of the peace process. The only remaining question is would there be sufficient sized revolt by nationalist Ministers from within Likud that the coalition would still fail.

 

That is where the formation of a new party that would be populated with those Likud Ministers who support accepting whatever the Prime Minister plans to do when Kerry attempts to force a solution sometime between now and middle April and other politicians and members from other parties just as Ariel Sharon had done in order to facilitate the Gaza disengagement. If the Gaza disengagement was nothing short of a disaster, what would a disengagement from Judea and Samaria pose? As Mark Langfan has displayed with cogent maps; Israel would be vulnerable to rockets raining down on Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Netanya, and the heart of Israeli population centers and vast majority of its economic resources as well as easy range to bring down any air traffic in or out of Ben Gurion International Airport. This situation would be inevitable and come to fruition as soon as the IDF was no longer allowed a presence in Judea and Samaria and losses their intelligence network which they currently possess and have in place. Additionally, the probability that Hamas along with Islamic Jihad, al-Qaeda in Gaza, Salafists and whatever other terror groups currently inhabit Gaza would replace Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. What makes this even more important is that any agreement made with the Palestinian Authority will not be honored by any Palestinian once the Palestinian Authority has been removed from power and trust that they will be removed from power within months if not weeks or days or hours after the IDF and Israelis have departed. What follows after the first rocket strikes a building in central Tel Aviv or a plane is downed while on approach to Ben Gurion Airport will be touted throughout the General Assembly as the horrific assault by the Israelis on innocent Palestinians? Whether or not the Europeans will join the rabble that is the majority of those in the General Assembly is a good question. What the reaction by United States President Obama, Secretary of State Kerry and Secretary of Defense Hagel have, or should we inquire how long before they demand Israel stand down and show restraint and understand that it will take time before the Palestinians accept the wonderful peace plan and stop launching rockets and attacking Israel. How many nations will claim that obviously the Israelis, or the Jews, started the violence without any real provocation’ after all, what’s a few small rockets every now and then. We have heard these exact screams from these exactly same places whenever Israel responds to the rockets fired out of Gaza at southern Israeli communities. Why should any Israeli expect any difference when the rockets hit Tel Aviv instead of Sderot? Pray that this situation is never ever allowed to come to pass as the end results are something that should be unthinkable to any sane person.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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