Beyond the Cusp

May 8, 2019

The Score is not Over as of Yet

Filed under: Israel — qwertster @ 1:57 AM
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Bibi Netanyahu proudly announced that a ceasefire has been attained from the leadership of Hamas through the efforts of Egypt. What number ceasefire is this, ten, fifty, a thousand, is anybody counting or does anybody really care? We will be celebrating those who have fallen in the terror war which this year will include four additional souls who were sacrificed for peace. This was the phrase which Israelis heard constantly during the Oslo Accords as the Labor government labeled those killed by Palestinian Arab terrorism as those sacrificed for peace. They were the casualties of the peace process. This last round Hamas fired over six-hundred rockets into Israel and Israel responded with the usual, the Israeli Air Force carefully bombed the same series of empty buildings, yes, empty buildings. Hamas, or Islamic Jihad or both, fired a series of heavy bombardment on Ashdod testing the efficiency of the Israeli Iron Dome Systems and they learned that these systems have limits, even the vaunted Iron Dome, and a percentage of rockets pierced the Iron Dome shield. The terrorist army of Gaza (Hamas and Islamic Jihad plus whoever else is backing them as there could even be some IRGC forces from Iran behind some of these attacks) now knows that they can overload their attack and get a small percentage of rockets past two or three Iron Dome batteries. This tells them just a small amount as to how three or four systems would protect say Tel Aviv, as some have allowed their lips to part and their tongues to utter the reality we all knew, that rockets on Tel Aviv is a red line which if crossed will bring the full weight of the IDF into action. But such makes the people of Sderot, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Be’er Sheva and all of southern Israel feel as if they are not worthy of protection as those in the wealthiest of cities in Israel. They question whether it is because Tel Aviv is where many of the “heavy-hitters” and the “movers and shakers” all reside within the Tel Aviv metropolitan areas, so is this what is required to be worth actually acting against rockets being fired twenty-four hours a day throughout the weekend but if they do not target Tel Aviv then the terrorists are mostly safe? The people of Israel, outside of Tel Aviv (and a fair number within Tel Aviv as they know they will reap the knowledge of how to beat Iron Dome when their time comes) are reaching a point which can only be described as ugly. The people living under these constant barrages are well beyond scorching angry. The kind of anger and feeling of hopelessness as the government appears to be failing them is best represented by one phrase from the movie Network, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” Even if you never saw the move, never heard of the movie, this scene has taken on a life of its own and when people approach this state, then governments know they can no longer ignore the people, ignore the problems, ignore the situation which is causing the rising discontent and they start to consider actually doing something more forceful and directly targeting a solution.

 

 

But Israel just had an election and chose to continue with Bibi Netanyahu as our Prime Minister despite having other options. We are not talking about the Blue-White Party with its list of Generals from the IDF or the fact that they had three former Chiefs of Staff on their list. These three former Chiefs of Staff are partly responsible for the situation we face as they were instrumental in the decision-making process. These were the same Generals who tout that if Israel would just give the Palestinian Arabs their state, then everything would be rosy and it would shower lemon drops with the sunshine. They were not the solution needed but the political situation in Israel is a sticky problem. As long as the threats remain as they are, and as long as there does not arise a leader who generates the confidence and resolve to address these problems and end the suffering of the Palestinian Arabs as well as the Israelis under rocket fire, then Bibi Netanyahu knows that he is all but guaranteed to remain as Prime Minister for as long as he desires to lead the Likud Party. But there will come a day, hopefully not too far distant, where such a person will rise and challenge Bibi from the right rather than trying to best him from the left. The person we believe who could fill this bill is a man who is soft spoken but firm and strong. One who can excite people through his sincerity and the fact that he means exactly what he says and says what he means. A man of his word with a pedigree which would make for a challenger to Bibi who may arise sooner rather than later.

 

One person many have thought could be that man is a woman, Ayelet Shaked. She had an understanding, or at least this was what people believed, that she would not upstage Naftali Bennett. Now that Bibi targeted their New Right Party a couple of days before the election when he announced his intent to extend Israeli civil law to the settlements in the Shomron, the main point which Bennett and Shaked had been running their campaign around; they fell below threshold while Bibi gained as much as five additional mandates as he also took from the Combined Right led by our party, Jewish Home, though we still passed threshold. Bibi and Bennett have a history which may have fueled Bibi targeting Bennett’s Party which he formed when he all but destroyed Jewish Home the day after elections were called and he left the party taking the number two and number four people from what was our present Knesset list along with his position as chairman of the party. Jewish Home was leaderless and the New Right took half of our Knesset list as they ran out the door leaving destruction in their wake, but we rose in a stronger position in our belief. We weathered the storm and, in the end, may have found just what Israel needs and a potential answer to who could possibly replace Bibi and instill the faith of the people of Israel to trust a new leader with a new direction and new answers to the most vexing of the problems Israel faces.

 

Think of a man who spent their early years in the IDF as a combat helicopter pilot. Helicopters are not the easiest of vehicles to master, ask any pilot, fixed wing or rotary wing. He retired as a Brigadier General and was the Chief Rabbi for the IDF. That right there should answer any questions as to whether you can trust what this man says. On the other side, he understands combat and the risks and would not risk the precious lives of our IDF soldiers in any empty actions for political gain. He has a soft demeanor but commands respect and when he speaks, it is with a quiet strength which makes his words heavy with the force of truth behind them. The Israelis may get their first glimpse as the coalition is cobbled together. This person has already faced a form of challenge to his leadership within our ticket which was a group of parties with one led by a man with great drive and energy who thought he could force his way to unseat the chosen leader. This likely got him a nice quiet, calm, patient and even understanding reading of the riot act and he then settled down knowing he was not to try such again. There were no theatrics, no shouting, nothing that even the news reporters could discern which might have made for a tasty morsel in their articles. Things simply were straightened out and the rules cemented. Now comes the bigger game, the coalition and what price for the support of our group. This will be interesting as this person we have been describing has made it perfectly clear, annexation of Area C of the Shomron will be required to be largely annexed such that all the towns, cities, neighborhoods and industrial zones will be annexed and be placed under civil law and removed from military rule. This and the other lesser points will make for an interesting measure of who is the more forceful and stronger man between Bibi Netanyahu and Rafi Peretz.

 

Rafi Peretz had to be convinced to take the helm of the party as he had little if any desire for entering politics. That might make one believe that this would make him less likely to be anything other than the man filling in for the time being. General Peretz is not the kind of person who would take such a position with such an attitude. No, he was convinced that the Jewish Home Party required a person of his stature and caliber in order to make the Party credible again. A political party does not lose its leader and the next in line along with yet another critical member and just shake it off and continue on. When you are not one of the main parties in the polls, early ones had Jewish Home with zero mandates and we ended up with four or five depending one how one places the division between the three parties which made up the Combined Right group. Rafi Peretz was quoted speaking with Arutz Sheva soon after the Monday ceasefire took effect stating, “This battle needs to result in one thing: a clear sense of deterrence – but we didn’t not achieve that. We need to continue work to prevent attacks, continue to hit critical targets which we have the opportunity to strike at. We can’t stop this [campaign].” His words appear measured and not the words of a man satisfied with the current results. The one good thing about this ceasefire is that it was reached pretty much all on Bibi Netanyahu’s head as there is no real government seated currently. In the current Security Cabinet, you have people who will not even be in the next Knesset and missing some of the people who will be heads of departments and included in the Security Cabinet such as Rafi Peretz. We suspect that should there be another string of attacks from Gaza which result in as unsatisfactory an end as occurred this time, the coalition will be the cost as it is highly probable that Rabbi Rafi Peretz would pull our group from the coalition which will probably be sufficient to bring new elections. That is unless Bibi has something entirely different in mind.

 

Jewish Home Leader Rafi Peretz

Jewish Home Leader Rafi Peretz

 

We have covered the possibility for Bibi Netanyahu to find a peace through the recognizing of Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority as the core for forming Palestine in our article “Expectations of Next Netanyahu Government.” This scenario would still exist but would also spell the termination of Bibi Netanyahu politically and clear the way for new leadership in the Likud and a shaking up of the right with unknowable results. The Likud would be divided by such a move as described there which would make it possible for one of the other right-wing parties to take in numerous disgruntled and angry former Likud members. But even without Bibi having a complete meltdown, there will come a period which will forever be known as the post-Bibi era. When that era arrives, we would be proud and pleased for the next Prime Minister after Bibi to be Rafi Peretz, but the smart money is split between Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked. Nobody has counted them as out, simply as down but the count has not reached ten. It will be interesting to see what they do, whether they stay together or split and exactly what Bennett will do to resurrect his party the New Right. We can guarantee one thing; Bennett will not pin his campaign on any single item but will have at least three points upon which he will base his hoped-for return. Fortunately, for the foreseeable future, Jewish Home and the Combined Right will be led by Rafi Peretz and this will be interesting to watch. Bibi may be the consummate political operative, Rafi Peretz was of command rank, well educated, capable as a helicopter pilot, the Chief Rabbi of the IDF and best of all, was not overly interested in entering politics and did so for the good of Israel, and it may be for that good which will end up propelling him into becoming Prime Minister. In the meantime, Rafi Peretz will pressure Bibi from the right and perhaps cause him to be more proactive in responding to provocations by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and whatever other terror group attacks Israeli citizens in any manner.

 

And that brings us back to the current imbroglio with Hamas. The way this ceasefire was reached remains murky and the reason behind making such a hasty arrangement could have everything to do with the Eurovision Song Contest which is being held in Tel Aviv. They should have insisted on holding it in Jerusalem as Hamas has not proven they can reach Jerusalem while we know they can reach Tel Aviv. Bibi was probably under quite a great deal of pressure to get things settled and settled immediately no matter the cost. This is not the way to be able to negotiate when your opposites know that you are desperate for the quiet which they control. What is the main problem is that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are not exactly known for keeping their word or observing ceasefires. This recent weekend of rockets, over six-hundred at last count we saw, occurred during a ceasefire but somebody thought it might be fun to set off a barrage of rockets and once it started, well, it got out of hand. Hamas and Islamic Jihad are both aware that the reprisals from Israel largely strike the same targets over and over of which one is the Hamas training field which resembles a soccer pitch which bombing does little to destroy such a facility. Furthermore, much of Hamas’s and Islamic Jihad’s machine shops which make the rocket motors and bodies, chemical explosive production and other assets are buried deep underground and likely beneath hospitals, schools, mosques and other buildings which Israel is reluctant in striking as they would prove to be propaganda and news nightmares. Imagine the news wire streaming reports from Gaza that Israel bombed a Mosque, school, nursery or any other such sensitive target. No matter how much proof Israel could produce subsequent to such news that there existed a chemical shop making rocket warheads and fuels or a machine shop underneath making the rocket components or other military type targets placed underneath the sensitive structure, the European Union, United Nations, numerous United Nations Agencies, dozens if not hundreds of NGO’s would be screaming and headlines would persist for weeks and it would be a black eye for Israel as the world does not care about Israel’s right to defend itself, the majority of the world simply desires Israel to be erased and will do everything possible to assist in her demise. There is only one question which the world need worry over, will the Eurovision Song Contest continue through to its conclusion without a hitch or will it prove too wonderful a target for Islamic terrorist entities to resist. The whole idea of a singing contest is, to these supposed purists, completely anti-Islamic and sacrilegious. It would almost be a holy imperative for them to strike at the Eurovision Song Contest. This ceasefire which was so hastily cobbled together almost out of the blue may dissolve just as quickly and prove to have been a ruse to try and give Israel the idea that a respite was coming where there would be no rockets for quite some time. It seems we are always reaching ceasefires we hope are going to give us a respite and before we turn around, we hear the sirens, or reports of sirens depending on location, and people are sleeping with their children nestled around them in bomb-shelters. This is something which we are fairly sure that Rafi Peretz will insist that more definitive actions be taken should such occur while he is in the coalition.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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April 15, 2019

Not Bibi Again!

 

This has been the whine heard from almost everyone from the center and leftwards as well as from a fair number on the right. What is interesting is the further you get from the center, right or left, the louder the complaints become. The one nice thing about these people and their complaining is that at least we know they did not vote for Likud guaranteeing more Bibi. Of course, from the media we are about to be fed a steady stream of whining over Bibi returning as Prime Minister mixed with a dash of hope that the Attorney General will find something which sticks to Bibi long enough to charge him and then it might be bye, bye Bibi. For those in the United States, things are not much different than in Israel as the left hangs on the hope that they can use the legal system to get something on Bibi, in your case, Trump, and then be rid of them forever. Those of us with at least one foot firmly on the grounds of reality, we realize that these attempts to incriminate Trump or Bibi with some legal misdeeds is nothing more than a witch hunt which will come up empty, but that will not stop those determined to be rid of them from continuing to try again and again. But the reality of Bibi goes so much deeper.

 

We are regularly bombarded with praises heaped upon Bibi lauding him as the consummate political maneuverer and a master of the game. We are not quite so kind. If you want to get a line on why Bibi has been so successful and will soon become the longest serving Prime Minister in Israeli history, ask those whom he has all but destroyed. Currently at the top of that is Naftali Bennett whose New Right Party just missed clearing threshold. Naftali Bennett left the Likud Party taking Ayelet Shaked with him and went to Jewish Home where Bennett believed he had found his horse to ride straight to the Prime Minister’s House. Both Bennett and Shaked had worked directly for Bibi in his offices. Needless to say, Bibi took their leaving a bit personally. Two elections after Bennett and Shaked had moved to Jewish Home, a sort of miracle was in the making and Bennett actually was polling as almost even with Bibi and Likud with Jewish Home Party, formerly just a minor Religious-Zionist Party not terribly right of center. It was looking really close, until Bibi promised to treat Bennett and Shaked really nicely. What was the problem was that a center-left party was polling ahead of Likud and Jewish Home but well behind their combined totals. Bibi demanded that Bennett fall on his sword such that Bibi would defeat this upstart from the left threatening that if Bennett refused that there may very well be a left-wing government. Bennett made the fateful speech claiming not to be ready to be Prime Minister quite yet. The next morning, presto-chango, Likud was polling comfortably in the lead and Jewish Home was polling in single digits well below the day before. Bennett and Shaked got their Ministerial position, and Shaked as Justice Minister performed near miracles and will be missed from that position as her work was far from completed.

 

This was the first revenge Bibi took out on Bennett, and possibly Shaked as well, as when the next election cycle came around, Jewish Home was struggling to reach double digits, and this would not serve Bennett reaching Prime Minister. In private with only a select group of faithful who were to follow Bennett, Neftali planned to leave Jewish Home and form a new party. He would have been wished well had he done this differently, but his plan was also to rid himself from any competition from his former party. For reasons untold, every attempt to have the Central Committee meet, something important as a new Central Committee had been elected (I was somehow amongst the chosen for my town) and new leadership needed to be selected. This was not to be as it would have left some semblance of organization when Bennett and Shaked split as soon as elections were announced. The New Right, as Bennett’s party was named, shot up into double digits in the polls while Jewish Home, after losing its top two candidates, having no new leader, having a central committee now decimated as people streamed off with Bennett, all power structures pretty much destroyed with some key positions which remained held by people left behind to make sure the chaos destroyed Jewish Home (though this will be denied to the end of time), Jewish Home polled at best around ‘one.’ I personally begged two of those leaving to remain and warned they would regret leaving, but off went even friends.

 

 

Slowly, with the election growing closer, a committee of self-appointed leaders claimed they would reconstitute the party by fiat. The remains of the Central Committee protested and threatened to use their powers under the Party Constitution and this caused a surprised group who expected only slavish thanks to step back and listen. A system was worked out that nobody would be assigned any leadership without Central Committee approval, and slowly the Party was rebuilt only getting finalized with but a few days left to place a Knesset list for the elections. Jewish Home submitted their list with Rafi Peretz as their new leader, and what an improvement he will be if we can keep him long enough. Polls came and polls went and for quite a while Bennett appeared to have made a wise choice but inevitably the New Right started slipping, Jewish Home gained and with the election done Jewish Home, a party destroyed just mere months ago came in with five mandates and Bennet with his New Right failed to reach threshold and will not be in the government.

 

Moshe Feiglin, founder of the Zehut Party, is another person whose history crossed paths with Bibi Netanyahu. Feiglin made a critical mistake, as have others before him, as he began to become popular both in the Liked and in the public eye. His popularity grew for quite a while until it began to appear as should this continue; he would be able to challenge Bibi. That was his breaking of the cardinal rule, Bibi is king and it is good to be the king. Suddenly, through things and rules which are still very hazy, the next election found Feiglin buried to a position in the mid-to-high thirties, well beyond any hope of being in the Knesset. Well, that began the slide of Feiglin in Likud and he soon realized that Bibi had buried him just as he has anyone who showed even a glimmer of being a threat to the Bibi. People need to understand something about Bibi, he does not compete with people for the top spot, he eviscerates those who approach his level of popularity at the crucial point where they would become a threat soon but before the point where they become difficult to stop. Feiglin probably came the closest but Bibi learned from his predecessor and mentor, Ariel Sharon.

 

Ariel Sharon once ruled the roost in Likud. There was this younger, more energetic upstart who was climbing towards being able to challenge Sharon for the top spot. Sharon decided to give this upstart a challenge, a challenge which had proven the death of all who previously had this position foist upon them. Bibi was made finance secretary, once upon a time a dead end Ministership which ate up Ministers and spat them out finished politically. Well, perhaps Sharon should have checked Bibi’s resume where he would have noted that MBA along with degrees in economics. Bibi took on that challenge and all but rebuilt the economic picture in Israel and Israel is still running along with all those changes paying off with dividends. The old Socialist clogging of the economic spigot have been cleared and a Capitalist system put in its place which rewards entrepreneurs, investors and those who take the risks and does not overly penalize corporations for becoming bigger and controlling certain sectors as in Israel that is simply a challenge put down for others to unseat the giant. That is part of why we are the start-up nation. Ariel Sharon eventually fell to the demands of an American President, George W. Bush, and committed the Gaza disengagement. This Gaza Disengagement is what General Gantz (please do not confuse him with General Peretz who leads Jewish Home) of the Blue White coalition with Yair Lapid, claimed he had learned valuable lessons and believed it could be wisely used elsewhere to lead to peace, namely in the Shomron. He had a plan to simply give Mahmoud Abbas most of the Shomron and tell him this would make peace between us. This would have worked just as well as it did in Gaza and that is the peace, we would have received with one difference, instead of Sderot being the target in easy range, it would have been Tel Aviv within range. Anyway, Bibi rose after Sharon was felled by a stroke and has ruled Likud ever since felling one challenger after another almost as if it were nothing.

 

The picture for the future is simple and may result in costing Israel dearly. For as long as the Likud Party remains entrenched as the preeminent party on the right, Bibi will remain Prime Minister. General Gantz probably posed as hard a challenge as anybody has since Lapid threatened and Bibi had Bennett self-destruct so he could beat Lapid. This sacrifice of Bennett was not sufficient. A couple of days before the vote this past election, Bibi announced in a very public setting, that he intends to extend civil law to all, every last one regardless of size, the Jewish settlements in the Shomron. He made the announcement repeatedly in interviews, in a photo op with the leaders of most of the Shomron communities and pretty much everywhere else including probably at breakfast to prepare for the words of the day. This was the entire pitch which Bennett was running upon and Bibi’s announcement simply cut his legs from beneath him. Bennett had siphoned off a fair amount of support extensively from the Likud, he had already taken the top two slots and another of the Jewish Home top ten along with half of the financing received by parties for the campaign while leaving the entire debt he had run up behind hampering Jewish Home, and with this one announcement Bibi had retrieved those votes right back to Likud as now there was no difference between Bibi position on the Shomron and Bennett and Bibi was more likely to be Prime Minister and Bennett was cooked. This was Bibi’s burying of Bennett and getting his revenge for Bennett taking Shaked and deserting Likud for Jewish Home. Bibi also recognized that Bennett wants to be Prime Minister and will stop at nothing to get there. Well, Bibi is Prime Minister and will stop at next to nothing to remain there, and in politics the person on top has all the advantages.

 

Bibi remains Prime Minister because he recognizes any and everyone who has that desire, that gleam in their eye, that spring in their step that says I’m on my way up, and Bibi knows how to bury them politically so deep that they no longer know which way is up. There have been those rare few who such tactics would have proven ineffective as they were already too established for premature political burial. Reuven Rivlin is one perfect example. He had ridden high in the Likud list for a fair while. Burying him would be difficult and would cost Bibi too much to even try. So, how to put him aside where he can cool down until he is no longer a threat. There is a position in the Israeli government where one basically makes speeches and represents Israel at funerals and other state functions which the Prime Minister may not choose to attend though both can be at the same event from time to time. This position is called President. Currently, Reuven Rivlin is serving as President of Israel. He is about to perform the one very political role the President is assigned, deciding which party leader to choose to attempt to form a coalition and become Prime Minister. We hear you, here comes his opportunity to get even. Absolutely not. Reuven Rivlin had two competing dreams, Prime Minister and President. This was the perfect opportunity for Bibi to cut down on the competition and also give a person he calls friend (not a position we would envy) the chance to live his dream. But not every challenger would go away as easily.

 

There are a couple of such individuals off in the wings who, should they decide to give it their all, could step into a position leading one of the existing Religious-Zionist Parties and challenge Bibi. They are probably aware that such a move would be a one-off and if their challenge falls short, then that is it for them politically. Another was Danny Danon. The main claim against him was that his English was not perfect. Not perfect is being generous, but in Israel he only needs to speak Hebrew and if he were ever Prime Minister, he could have Bibi be his translator, that would be sweet to see. As Danny Danon rose slowly through the Likud ranks and in the settlement communities as a potential champion, they need as many as can be found, his political star appeared about ready to burst to light as a star does upon reaching that critical point. This was the point where Bibi suggested he become the United Nations Ambassador from Israel. Well, that prize was just too shiny to turn down, and Danny Danon was not seen as one whose desire in life was to be Prime Minister or to become the Bibi slayer; his dream was, is and will remain to serve Israel in whatever capacity to which he is called and to fight for Israel and her people, all of her people, in whatever way is needed. So, the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations is Danny Danon. Who will be the next victim from taking the Bibi challenge? Well, none of us for a simple reason, our Hebrew is not anywhere near good enough and will never likely pass such a challenge. On the other hand, one of us has experience as a candidate with no real chance making the ballot as a third-party candidate for the United States House of Representatives. No, we will simply continue with making commentary and if called upon to serve, then we would probably serve with a proviso that we were given a trusted translator. As far as the next to step forward to take on the Bibi, there probably will not be such as Bibi has intimated that this will be his final time around, his victory lap, so to speak.

 

Still, he may be facing a new challenge from President Reuven Rivlin if the rumors are true that his first tender will be to Bibi Netanyahu as well as Gantz and Lapid of the Blue White Party, which was a very close second place vote getter being edged out thirty-six to thirty-five, and proposing that they bury their differences and join together to make a National Unity coalition in order to find a path to peace. The words “path to peace” have become a loaded phrase which Israelis equate with losing land and gaining terrorism. The last great “path to peace” was the Gaza disengagement, and we all have come to realize how well that turned out, Gaza became terror central. Should President Rivlin call to meet with both Likud and the Blue White leaders, then many Israelis will become very nervous. Such a meeting implies that the soon to be announced President Trump Deal of the Century is a known plan by Bibi, Rivlin and who knows who else, and this plan will result with another Palestinian Arab entity potentially with borders which could pose an even greater threat than Gaza has proven to pose. Such a government would only be brought into existence in order to form a government which could survive any resulting caving to allow for the Deal of the Century to come into fruition. This would not necessarily be the case with any other coalition as the potential for the Likud Party to split threatening any weaker coalition would be a definitive possibility.

 

This is what happened when Ariel Sharon committed to the Gaza Disengagement when he then formed a new party (Kadima) with the remnants from Likud and a number of representatives pealed off from Labor and other smaller parties allowing Sharon to remain as Prime Minister and the rest, as they say, is history. Another such disengagement, exactly what Gantz originally stated was his intention should he become Prime Minister early on, is something the majority of Israelis are dead set against, including us. Israel’s saving grace might just be the absolute refusal by Gantz and Lapid before the election to forming such a government as they really desired to replace Bibi outright. With things now settled and being the lesser party, this may no longer be such a terrible idea for them to adopt. It is remarkable how malleable formerly stated absolutes come when the alternative is sitting in the opposition, the same opposition they claimed they were ready to ride to the next election when they just know they will win outright. The other part which makes this all the more possible is the once stated admiration Bibi held for Ariel Sharon whom Bibi claimed at that time was his mentor. This looms larger now that such things are presenting themselves, even if they are but rumors as rumors sometimes have a bad habit of becoming part of reality. The most likely path forward will be for President Rivlin to collect from each party leader the person they would choose to support as Prime Minister, Bibi or Gantz. As things sit currently, Gantz would receive at most fifty-five while Bibi is expected to receive sixty with Avigdor Lieberman waiting to have Bibi agree to his demands before making him Prime Minister. So, how do things sit now? The government will be even more shaky than the former government. Last time, when Lieberman pulled from the coalition, that left Bibi with a ruling coalition of sixty-one, the minimum for a sitting government. This time Lieberman sits between Bibi and a mere sixty which would probably result in the calling for new elections soon thereafter. Somewhere, Bibi lost one critical ministerial mandate and has an even weaker position. The editorials which claimed that we may have a new election within the year are looking to have a decent chance of being correct. Things are back to being as shaky as, as.. as.. as a Fiddler on the Roof.

 

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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