Beyond the Cusp

January 7, 2022

Meanwhile, Here in Israel

Filed under: Israel — qwertster @ 2:08 AM
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We realize that the United States is currently turning inwards towards their own particular challenges. We have watched the news about horrifically high crime rates with numerous cities setting records of homicides and other violent crimes. Smash and grab assaults on retail outlets in places across the country, not just in California, without facing prosecution are reaching unacceptable levels. We understand those expressing fear over calls for national police, with powers beyond those limiting the FBI, will be heeded, much to freedom’s demise. Then there are the confrontations between parents and teacher’s unions closing schools favoring remote learning (a true oxymoron) or over the choice of curriculum. Fears over potential rule changes concerning the Senate filibuster, the Electoral College, nationalizing elections, adding Justices to the Supreme Court, statehood for Washington DC, open borders, overheated Covid scare coverage and other potential political battles cannot be simply dismissed as inconsequential.

Fancy Star of David
Fancy Star of David

Currently, there exists one area causing Israel some degree of concern, Iran and their drive for thermonuclear warheads and the missiles to deliver them. The United States will gain nothing and very likely give Iran lenient terms in a desperate effort to reach any agreement. Israel may as well assume that unless we prevent the unimaginable, Iran with thermonuclear warheads and ballistic missiles with which to deliver them anywhere on Earth, then Iran will present an existential threat to more than just Israel, but the United States, Saudi Arabia and any other Sunni Islamic nation refusing to convert to Shiite Islam and the entire world in general. Such an assumption means should Iran fire any number of ballistic missiles targeting Israel, we will have to assume the weapon is nuclear armed and our response must be in kind. This would present the world with problems none of us wish, especially we Israelis. On a more personal level, inflation in the United States can lead to problems for retirees residing here in Israel and anywhere outside the United States. Furthermore, we expect the midterm elections will fail in being a solution beyond the promise of gridlock with nothing damaging being accomplished. Perhaps we are placing too much faith in the presumed conservatives to hold the line.

Beyond the Cusp

June 21, 2019

Meeting Rafi Peretz

Filed under: Israel — qwertster @ 1:54 AM
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My regular readers know that we really like Rafi Peretz, the current leader of Jewish Home and likely to lead the United Right depending on future negotiations between the various parties with similar interests. We obviously support Rafi Peretz for even to hope that once the people of Israel meet this remarkable man, he will increase the importance of the Zionist movement for both religious and secular as we believe he would not reject anybody who honestly loves Israel as he does. I have also reported that I am a member of the Jewish Home Central Committee. We feel assured that it is not giving away any secrets as the news likely reported on our decision to support the same election agreements both for the party and the coalition should it be reestablished which is likely. The rumors about the move to place Ayelet Shaked at the top of a combined list should the New Right also join the United Right with one place claiming improbably that she was intending to join as an independent candidate leaving the New Right partner Naftali Bennett behind. Where we might see opportunity should Shaked and Bennett split up their long-term apparent agreement, this would also pose some interesting future decisions.


I would like to give my impressions of Rafi Peretz whom I was fortunate to meet running into him, almost literally, on my way into the Central Committee meeting and once more before leaving the event. I was given the good fortune of spending some time in conversations with him. I also met Ben Dahan who was hurrying, so was not able to get a good read of the man and as the interaction was so abbreviated that I feel that any commentary about him would be unfair to our readers and to him. To give a review of the meeting, to put it simply, it was as bland as expected. There were the regular speeches by a few of the officers, a reading of the new business, the vote, Rafi Peretz gave the closing address and then everyone descended from the seats to meet Rafi Peretz. I went to the stage and this was where I met Ben Dahan where I thanked him and told him it was his articles amongst other items which persuaded us to become members of the Jewish Home Party; but that is a tale for, well, never, it would be boring. We can add that the trip down and back was a pair of adventures as initially the trains were not running from Nahariya; so it was necessary to take a bus to get to the train one station south. Coming home I managed to be dropped off at a different station than the one I used on arriving, which claimed that my train would be on track 1 which was closed and there were almost no workers at this station that I could ask. I got home and this is how the story ends. So, first an obligatory picture of myself with Rafi Peretz on our way right before exiting the building.


Chairman Rabbi Rafi Peretz and I

Chairman Rabbi Rafi Peretz and I


Rafi Peretz is a man with a very interesting past. When he took over the Jewish Home Party after Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked decided to leave Jewish Home, we did some research on him reading many of the articles. General (ret), Rabbi Rafi Peretz entered the IDF and flew combat helicopters initially and by the time he retired as a Brigadier General he was serving as the Chief Rabbi of the IDF. If such a life of a man going from attack helicopters on to become the Chief Rabbi is not the basis for a novel which then would become a movie, then perhaps what he has done since leaving the IDF would allow this to qualify. Rabbi Peretz formed a Yeshiva in the Gaza region when, in August 2005, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon executed the Gaza withdrawal removing all Israeli presence down to reinterring the dead and erasing all record of their presence being left behind other than usable buildings and the million-dollar greenhouses. Rabbi Rafi Peretz was undeterred and restarted his Yeshiva in the Shomron. Rabbi Peretz is a man who obviously is not easily deterred and a person who intends to complete anything he agrees to undertake. He has stated that he intends to remain at the top position in the United Right coalition though he will gladly accept others who wish to enter in a reasonable manner. These are personal ideas of BTC and not official Jewish Home positions, a necessary disclaimer.


My meetings with Rabbi Rafi Peretz were unbelievably pleasant and he was a very personable person. He does not come across as most political people we have met, and since we ran a campaign for the United States Congress for the Eighth District in Maryland, we met two up close and personal as we debated a number of times and appeared at numerous of the same locations. Further, growing up in Washington D.C. area, I also have met any number of politicians sometimes as customers of a store I managed or in public casually as well at events. Of all the politicians I have had opportunities to meet, very few felt as real, honest and personally involved and interested in those around them. Chairman Peretz is warm and willing to do all the things which make people feel comfortable and is willing to talk and exchange with others as equals. I am not going to reveal our discussions or any of the points but he was patient and willing to go the extra yard. He willingly waited to meet everyone who waited to talk with him without hurrying away despite the meeting going fairly late. You understand, some of the speakers took full use of the microphone. The fact is that he had no entourage which many politicians use as a means of avoiding having to be approached by too many people on their way out the door. I understand that as a Central Committee member, I do get a special situational advantage for bending the Chairman of the Party’s ear. Still, my impression is that Chairman, Rabbi Peretz would spend the time to listen and give the proper time and respect to the people who wished to approach him with questions or simply to get a measure of the man. My belief is that we need to get him out and before as many Israelis we can emphasizing towards our base. This includes any Zionist, religious Zionists or Secular Zionists and those between. Rafi Peretz could become a future leader of the State of Israel and she would be in caring and strong hands. Any man who has performed with excellence as a combat helicopter pilot, then becoming the IDF Chief Rabbi, founding a Yeshiva and having it pulled from under him by the Gaza withdrawal forcing him to make a difficult decision in which he took his students out of Gaza orderly and without attacking the IDF troops, reforming his Yeshiva and finally answering the call to restore order to the Jewish Home Party in our hour of need; can return respectability and decorum to the leadership of the party. If Prime Minister were a directly elected position where the different party leaders competed in a two round election where the top three from the initial where all the party coalitions were included and, if none received over fifty percent then a final competition between the top two, he would have a very presentable chance of winning. But Israel has the system they desired, or at least what was decided back at the beginning of the nation. Israel could be placed in worse hands than those of Chairman Rabbi Rafi Peretz, retired Brigadier General, Yeshiva Rabbi, IDF Chief Rabbi and beginning as a combat helicopter pilot. I would also like to thank him for his kindness in our interactions.


Beyond the Cusp


June 18, 2019

Election Roller-Coaster Taking Abrupt Turns


There have been a few spins and fast turns of late. Some revealed opportunism while others clarified the politics of others. Some were potentially expected and known while others leave one scratching their head as two leaders of one party appear to be heading for different goals. There are some facing an upwards climb in order to remain at the top while others see them simply dancing on in and taking whatever position they desire making any demand they wish. Some of the above may be hyperbole, but it has been a fun and interesting ride this past week leaving much to ponder. Where it will all fall out is anybody’s guess. Likud still expects to form the next coalition and the United Right plans on retaining what they fought over so desperately to put together. Blue White Party is working on damage control on two fronts. First, they are seeking to tone down the anti-Haredi messages and are requesting that Yair Lapid not be so out front and take a quiet seat allowing the all-knowing generals to lead. This is their, as one writer put it, “Rolling out the Generals.” This was a left-wing tactic which has been used before with the most memorable being Ehud Barak, who as having been a general would know every right move. Well, that one did not pan out as prescribed in the campaign and he was soon voted out of politics, then in, then out again and so on. One person not toning down the we give the Haredi too much so it is time for them to serve in greater number in the IDF is Avigdor Lieberman, who has created his own loop-de-loop, more on this later.


BTC Israeli Election Banner


Let’s start with Likud, the party expecting to put Bibi Netanyahu back in as Prime Minister. The reality is that they are very likely correct in their supposition unless the unexpected should befall us. Please do not take this as supporting Bibi Netanyahu. What must be granted is that Bibi Netanyahu has fulfilled the expectations that he invented himself. He has made the Likud believe that only he as their leader can lead Israel safely. This has allowed the Likud Party to remain as the mainstay of right-wing political expectations and prevented any mass exodus supporting anyone else. Bibi Netanyahu has also seen to the fact that nobody within the party is permitted to challenge his position. Those who do are often politically decimated or given a position which removes them from contention but also is such that one would be insane to refuse the appointment. This has led to Bibi Netanyahu leading his party for an unprecedented amount of time and as his party is the most prominent on the right, he will be the longest serving Prime Minister in Israeli history and will remain as such for the foreseeable future as his accomplishments politically are unprecedented in a democracy. Netanyahu will remain as the Israeli Prime Minister into the future until he, or Sarah Netanyahu, decide that it is time for him to retire and probably seek the position as President, something he is very likely to be given.


Meanwhile, there has been a call for a unity government with Likud Joining the Blue White Party along with the rest of the left-wing parties including Yisroel Beiteinu, where we are to expect their leader, Avigdor Lieberman, to be given the Ministry of Defense. This call was made by Avigdor Lieberman who was responsible partially, if not largely responsible, for the collapse of the last Knesset coalition. Lieberman has been suspected of socialist leanings and only joining right-wing coalitions simply to receive those guarantees of positions and monetary support for the Russian immigrants he represents. He is doing exactly that which party members expect, he is supporting the interests of his members. His problem is that his constituents are slowly decreasing as a percentage of the voting population. Avigdor Lieberman knows that any renowned achievements he might still be able to make have to come sooner rather than later as he might not have a later politically. One thing we know is that he desperately wants to be given the Ministry of Defense as from there he believes he can force Haredi into serving in the IDF. What is not being noticed by the media and others when covering Lieberman and this issue is that the Haredi are entering the IDF and National Service in record numbers without anybody pressing the issue. Reality is that the more the Haredim are pressured, the stiffer and more widespread their resistance becomes. Simply leave things to progress naturally and there will be little difference between the Haredi and the rest of the population when it comes to IDF and National Service entrants. People are very much a liquid of some unknown sort which will naturally flow more easily than being pushed which is immediately pressed back against and resisted. The Haredim entering the rest of society when it comes to working, IDF service and National Service volunteering, will probably be more easily attained the less aggressively it is pressed upon them. Sometimes, simply leaving it all up to Hashem and the problems often cure themselves. If only the entire world would take that very same approach.


Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett

Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett


Now allow us to discuss the variations for the future of the New Right Party. This was the effort by Naftali Bennett for him to establish a secular and accepting of religious Zionist party. His efforts appeared to many to be as if he was forming a party which would be Likud Lite, the slender and more flexible Likud which would annex most of the major settlement communities in the Shomron. They formed this party by taking the top two people and another of the Ministers from the Jewish Home Party leaving their former party lurching as it sought new leadership. The New Right rocketed immediately to twelve to as much as fourteen mandates in polling. We warned people that this was not going to last and their future would be better invested in remaining with Jewish Home. We were almost universally ignored. Well, Jewish Home anchored a three-party coalition and cleared threshold comfortably while the New Right floundered and failed to reach threshold by the slimmest of margins. Now at one extreme we have Ayelet Shaked, or at least people claiming to represent her, making moves to bring the New Right into the United Right providing that they replace Rafi Peretz at the top of the ticket with Ayelet Shaked. This has not sat well with Rafi Peretz who after being wrestled from retirement with little desire if any to enter politics into leading Jewish Home and their rebuilding after Bennett and Shaked bolted to form their own party. Now that he has taken over this responsibility, the retired General, former Chief Rabbi of the IDF and combat helicopter pilot, he is not the type to leave a job half finished. Rafi Peretz has stated that he intends to remain as the head of the United Right. But wait, there’s more.


At the same time there have been reports that Naftali Bennett has been trying to attract Moshe Feiglin to form a coalition of his Zehut Party with the New Right as the almost two mandates which Zehut received would easily put the New Right over the threshold to enter the Knesset. This begs the question as to how one party will be capable of making deals with two separate parties. Perhaps there is some trouble brewing in the New Right leadership. They have apparently forgotten rule one of a partnership, communication. Then there is the other possibility; they may have decided to attempt separate paths taking whichever one proves to show the most promise. In the interests of Zehut, the offer by the New Right would guarantee Moshe Feiglin making his way into the Knesset without having to compromise on any positions as they would go their separate way after the election. This might not work as well for Moshe Feiglin should there be a greater coalition of the United Right including both the New Right and Zehut which might gain the United Right an additional five or possibly as many as seven additional mandates and allow for Likud and the United Right along with the Haredi Parties, potentially they might be able to choose only one of the Haredi Parties forming a coalition without any need for Avigdor Lieberman. This possibility of a right-wing and Haredi coalition without Yisroel Beiteinu being required to clear the sixty-one mandates to form a coalition. This would be the intrigue of the pre-election machinations except for the one known, the real suspense is what ploy will Bibi Netanyahu use in the closing days to agitate and awaken his base and the other question is at whom will Bibi target with his coming emergency, all hands on deck call which we are expecting. Bibi would not let us down, would he?


The Labor Party is also running around with much of a frenzied emergency. One of the most successful parties in Israel history and the sole leaders of Israel politics are now facing with the distinct possibility of not clearing threshold for the first time. They are looking both to the right and the Blue White Party and to the left to Meretz Party to find anybody to throw them a life-preserver and help pull them across threshold and back from oblivion. This is one of the major results of the Israel public moving to the right as well as becoming more Zionist and religious. Labor, a secular left-wing party has been left behind. Add in the Blue White Party and the excitement they cause with their four generals and their claim that as generals they are far more suited to lead the nation than Bibi as he never reached such high rank and thus must not be as prepared to face the security threats facing Israel. We predict that Blue White might not be favorable to any approach from Labor Party as it would not provide sufficient number of votes to make the surrender of two or possibly three seats on their party list. Labor and Meretz merging would be a more natural fit and could potentially lead to a permanent merger forming a somewhat stronger far left party. They would bridge the entirety of the left between the Arab lists and the Communist party to the Blue White Party. A Labor Meretz merger would garner them likely two additional seats in the Knesset and is the only means for Labor to guarantee to get anybody into the next government. This has a potential to change in favor for the Labor Party as they are choosing new leadership and with change there is always the possibility of the unexpected.


Lastly, one last means of solving the apparent confusion between the two leaders of the New Right, Naftali Bennett who is wooing Zehut and Ayelet Shaked who is making approaches to the United Right and still make Rafi Peretz happy as well. First thing is to set the record straight that Rafi Peretz is and will remain at the top of the United Right with Bezalel Smotrich occupying the second position. Then simply dangle having Ayelet Shaked reappointed to the Justice Ministership as part of their criteria for joining the coalition. This would make many within the parties of the United Right somewhat more motivated, Ayelet Shaked would be receiving something she covets far more than a top slot on the ticket and possibly not becoming Justice Minister to finish her work there and Naftali Bennet could continue to take the remainder of the New Right, those who would not follow Ayelet Shaked, and he could join with Zehut. Making any offer to either Ayelet Shaked or Naftali Bennett after their disgraceful bolting from Jewish Home and almost destroying the party has to be seen as generosity seldom found in politics. The only reason we advise that this is a decent idea is due to the work Shaked has already performed at this post and it would be of benefit to Israel for her to complete her vision. Any further tweaks could be made along the road. The only other item is we bet that this election Bibi Netanyahu emergency get out the vote last minute revelation will target Avigdor Lieberman and might be sufficient to prevent his party from clearing threshold, and providing Bibi with what he believes is justifiable revenge.


Beyond the Cusp


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