Many think it. Lapid says it.

From the Times of Israel:

Lapid calls on PM not to appoint Shas leader as interior minister

Yesh Atid head says Aryeh Deri not fit to handle public coffers given criminal record; Netanyahu gears up for tough coalition talks

In a post on Facebook on Saturday, Lapid wrote: “Are you comfortable with the idea of giving a senior ministry (I understand it’s the interior ministry) — which oversees billions of shekels in budget funds — to a man in whose conviction the judges wrote? This is not an isolated failure on the part of a young politician who was recently exposed to power, but a person who consistently led a life based on corruption.”

“Do not abandon the public coffers to [such] a man, Mr. Prime Minister, this money belongs to all of us,” Lapid wrote.

On Thursday, a petition posted to the Internet called on Netanyahu to refrain from accepting Deri into his government and to prevent him from reassuming a ministerial position, owing to his criminal record.

Deri was the head of Shas until he was convicted in 1999 of accepting $155,000 in bribes while running the Interior Ministry, and served 22 months in prison. He returned to the party in 2012 and challenged then-party head Eli Yishai for the faction’s top spot.

A power-sharing agreement that created a leadership troika of Deri, Yishai and Ariel Atias was short-lived, and Deri returned to lead the party in 2013.

Yishai quit the party in the lead-up to the 2015 elections, but his rival party Yachad failed to achieve the minimal number of votes in Tuesday’s elections to enter the Knesset.

Shas, meanwhile, garnered 7 seats and Netanyahu seems set on forming a six-party right-wing/ultra-Orthodox coalition, comprising Likud (30 seats), Kulanu (10 seats), Jewish Home (8 seats), Shas, Yisrael Beytenu (6 seats) and United Torah Judaism (6 seats), giving him 67 seats in the 120-member Knesset.

As Netanyahu gears up for negotiations to build a ruling coalition, speculations abound on who will get what ministry or chairmanship.

It’s been suggested that Deri would be offered the interior ministry.

I don’t like that Deri is allowed to be involved in politics, far less be the leader of a party, even worse as a potential minister. To give him, a man labelled as leading a life based on corruption, access to public funds, that is more than a mistake. It’s also criminal.

Read the whole thing, here.

Five for Friday

We had an election this week; you might have heard.  It took over the week, or seemed to, with the pre-election buzz, the election buzz, and now the post election wait while Bibi tries to put his coalition together. But the weekend has arrived just as usual, and it is time to pause before starting another round of this thing called life. Meaning, it is also time for me to offer a selection of links for you. Here they are:


After reading Gene‘s short Bibi zig-zag watch post at Harry’s Place, I knew it had to feature in Five for Friday. But it’s best, probably, highlighted as a bonus. So, do read it all, here.

Shabbat Shalom!

The battle for Stalingrad is over


I’ve now completed scenario one three times (plus a couple more false starts when I completely screwed things up) and have yet to attain a victory for the attacking Germans. This is not entirely a surprise, as online comments suggest that the eight VP target is unattainable, with 6 a more realistic goal. Well, I got to 5 once…

First off, the balance does not concern me. The first scenario is skewed to playing in a certain way that will not work in the campaign. Instead, my goal was to enjoy the play while learning the rules and some of the tricks and traps.

However, having done that, I find myself with no enthusiasm for the longer campaign scenario. Strange. My best guess is that this is one of the games that, while I can play solitaire, it’s not worthwhile doing so for an extended period. In other words, the one turn scenario is perfect for solitaire play, but the longer campaign is not. Indeed, as I ponder this, I can see the attraction of playing it with a face to face opponent.

There’s a lot to like about this game: the situation, the different operational methods for each side, the clean (and deadly) combat system, and the chaos. I don’t like the (apparent) lack of command and control and formation systems.

The whole design for effect philosophy of the designer, John Hill, is on show. For example, given the time scale, the movement allowances are minute. But that is what works in the context of the game. As another example, the wholesale slaughter of units is not realistic, but the effect balances out because of the recovery of units from the dead pile.

You either get the design for effect, or it passes you by. I think it works well in this game, but am not as impressed with the way it fits together as I was when it first came out. It would be interesting to see how one of today’s active designers went about recreating this situation.

Before moving on, a word about the Excalibre Games reprint. Generally, the package was OK, but it’s fair to say that Excalibre did not maximize the opportunities from the reprint. For example, the combat results table appears once, on the back of the rules booklet. At the very least, there should have been a separate play card with this (and the terrain effects chart).

Also, while I can forgive the minor errors – like missing labels for different combat strengths – I am less impressed by them printing the map and rules with known errata. Both errata are helpfully provided – but why not fix the map and the rules? Also, I believe it would have been better to have the rules in a column format, as the single wide lines are way too long for the best reading and comprehension experience.

I think Don Johnson gets the credit for putting together the rules supplement booklet which has detailed setup and game sequence, as well as the already mentioned errata, plus strategy (‘operational’) articles and analysis. This part is well worth having and certainly adds much of value.

In summary, it’s been fun. But it’s time to move on.

A capital offence

From the Herald‘s report about the robbery of almost £600,000 worth of jewelery and watches from Hamilton & Inches in George Street, Edinburgh, last year, comes this dreadful allegation:

number plates

I mean, whatever is the world coming to?

I mean, if you are going to drive a stolen car, be man enough to do it without number plates!

I mean, if he had done it in Glasgow, at least it wouldn’t have been a capital offence…

Why Bibi?

This is inevitably directed to non Israelis. Those of us living in Israel know why Bibi won. The following selection may help understand what happened.

First, a key quote from a fine, if somewhat sharp edged, piece by Haviv Rettig Gur at the Times of Israel, pointing out why the turnout for Bibi was so high:

“Why did turnout rise so dramatically? Simple: the majority of the Israeli electorate continues to distrust the left’s judgment. It is a trust deficit rooted in a more general distrust of Palestinian intentions, of the Obama White House and other touchstones of left-wing policy. In hindsight, it may be one of the bitter ironies of this campaign that Labor’s own slogan, “It’s us or him,” may have done as much to guarantee Netanyahu victory as anything Netanyahu may have done.”

Read it all, here.

Blogger Treppenwitz‘s analysis includes this:

“Israelis don’t like to be told what to do (and what not to do). From traffic laws to the laws of physics, Israelis delight in finding creative work arounds… largely (IMHO) so they can say say, “You’re not the boss of me!”.

So, predictably, the carefully orchestrated smear campaign from the left-leaning Israeli media… the well planned snub campaign by the Obama adminstration… the relentless blamestorming on the part of nearly every Israeli politician who would stand to gain by Netanyahu’s defeat… all had the opposite of the desired effect.

In fact, it is my firm conviction that many of the people who voted for the Likud (and by extension, Netanyahu), might not have done so had they not been incessantly scolded for the ‘sin’ of having tolerated this monster for so long. And many others, who in a less charged atmosphere might not have even voted; having opted to go shopping or hiking on the election day holiday, took a sudden interest in what they were reading in the press, and decided to find out for themselves.”

Read it all, here.

Jonathan S Tobin‘s contribution at Commentary, concludes as follows:

“Even some of Israel’s friends in the United States may be asking themselves how is it possible for the Jewish state’s voters to give a majority to parties that are unlikely to agree to a two-state solution with the Palestinians. The answer is that unlike most Americans, Israel’s voters have been paying attention to the history of the conflict over the past 20 years and know that Herzog was no more likely to create a Palestinian state than Netanyahu. Nor is it fair to brand Netanyahu, who did not denigrate the right of Arabs to vote, a racist. There is no comparison between the efforts of minorities to vote in Western democracies or the United States and the desire of the Arab parties to destroy Israel. That’s because the Palestinian leadership, split between Hamas and Fatah, has consistently refused peace offers that would have given them independence. Most Israelis would like a two-state solution to happen but they know that under the current circumstances any withdrawal from the West Bank might duplicate the disastrous retreat from Gaza in 2005. Though Western journalists mocked Netanyahu’s comments about wanting to prevent a “Hamasistan” in the West Bank, the voters in Israel largely agreed.

That doesn’t make them racist or extreme. It means they are, like most Americans, realists. They may not like Netanyahu but today’s results demonstrates that there is little support for a government that would make the sort of concessions to the Palestinians that President Obama would like. They rightly believe that even if Israel did make more concessions it would only lead to more violence, not peace. Israel’s foreign critics and friends need to understand that in the end, it was those convictions have, for all intents and purposes, re-elected Netanyahu.”

Read it all, here.

Finally, my own perspective.

I’ve already said I did not want Bibi to win. I don’t think he has handled the situation with the Palestinians (or the Americans) well. He has not done enough to confront the socio-economic issues that the less well off face, daily. I don’t think he is corrupt, but he doesn’t do enough to clean up politics. And, I fear he is going to undo the sharing of the burden and give the cowardly, parasitical haredim a free ride.

However, much of the bile and venom directed towards him, whether toned down in sneering editorials or opinion pieces at the Guardian, the Economist, or the New York Times, or given full vent elsewhere, is flat out wrong. Much of it is an ancient hate, redecorated; there are many out there who hate Bibi precisely because he has been so good at protecting the people of Israel and fighting for them. Bibi does not play the game the way others want him to. (Bibi sometimes overdoes it, for sure.)

And it appears to me that many Israelis do not see an alternative to fight their corner. (I might see Bennett or Lapid as being well able, but I am definitely in the minority!) So, if your country is constantly under attack, who are you going to want to be your representative? A unity government doesn’t do it in such circumstances.

Here’s a hint for Obama. As much as Bibi sometimes get it wrong, you have got it wrong much worse, and much more often. While Bibi is partly to Blame, you Obama have been the one spreading fuel on the flames. Instead, you should have reined in Kerry and Indyk, and worked to get Bibi onside. It could have been done, but you blew it. Your compromise is seen as weakness. In this part of the world, that’s fatal.

[As an aside, I regret that I have difficulty in seeing much of what Obama does and says towards and about Bibi and Israel as other than immature, petty, and irresponsible. But maybe that’s just me. I wonder if Bibi will be invited to Obama’s retiral party…]

So, Bibi won because there was no credible alternative.

If the Left are to win next time around, or have any prospect of getting Bibi out, they have to promote a meaningful alternative. Probably someone younger, slicker, and sharper.

Alternatively, they have to hope that Israel is not still seen as fighting a hostile outside world.

Hmmm. If I was on the left, I’d be looking for that young alternative!

On the warpath

No, not the political warpath…


A break from politics, with the latest arrival: Strategy and Tactics magazine number 291, with the game Warpath about the Indian Territory in the USA Civil War. The system (Hands of Destiny, apparently) is by Joseph Miranda, and this particular title is by Chris Perello.

Component wise, the game is a standard one map in size, with 228 5/8″ OK counters, and a 16 page rulebook. Units represent battalions of infantry or cavalry, or artillery batteries, turns are 6 months of real time, with a chit draw impulse system providing the game engine and chaos, on a box to box map of the area involved in the conflict.

I know next to nothing about the topic, so the magazine article on this is a very necessary and welcome primer; it gave good background and context, though I would prefer to do more reading on some aspects of the conflict.

The magazine looks the part, though many quibble about the quality of the writing. My take on it is different because I am not looking at the material as the first and last word on any of the covered topics. I see them as tasters, in the main, possibly sparking me on to do more reading of my own – even if it is only to reread or remind me about material I have previously consumed and partly (ahem) forgotten. For example, one of the articles was about Rudolf Witzig, a prime mover in the capture of Eben Emael in 1940. It included parts of an interview with Witzig, and that part was a good supplement to my existing knowledge. Even better, I had done no reading on the ‘Age of Dragons’ in China’s history, and got a lot out of Terence Co‘s article on that topic.

In the blue corner…

“President Obama? It’s me, Bibi. I thought you’d appreciate a personal call to let you know what happened in the election…”

It was said this was a test of Bibi’s popularity. He won that contest.

It was said the choice was between Left and Right. The Right won that contest.

It was said there was nobody better than Bibi to stand up for Israel in the international arena. That appears to be a widely held opinion.

I didn’t want Bibi to be forming the next government, but the voters have spoken and that is our democracy in action. It remains to be seen, however, what kind of coalition Bibi can assemble. And, it also remains to be sees how long a new coalition can stay in power without appearing like total sell-outs.

The story has just begin a new chapter. It is not yet over.

Last throw of the dice

For me, it’s the last blog post about the 2015 election – after this, posts will be about the election result. (Scary, man.)

However, there’s just time to follow up the Ynet post (here) with a look at the opposing press faction, the resolutely pro-Bibi Israel HaYom.

Frankly, I’m underwhelmed by today’s front cover. Maybe there will be a real attempt to motivate voters tomorrow. But this is almost neutral, and quite pedestrian:


The translation of the main headline is:

Right – or left

Not exactly stirring stuff.

And while I am here, note Israel HaYom‘s electoral coverage banner, and how it relates to the Ynet version (seen in this post):


You can click the picture to see a larger version.

Interesting approach.

Slap bang in the center

Here’s a graphic from the Ynet site (the Hebrew language version) relevant to their election coverage:


Look who is slap-bang in the middle of the picture, looking directly at you. Ynet haven’t been shy about their promotion of Herzog, Labor, the Zionist Union, and above all – anyone but Bibi! – but it remains interesting to notice these small, subtle, psychologically sound, reminders.

Incidentally, as of now, the English language version of the Ynet site has this form of the graphic:


There are differences, though it’s not immediately clear to me why there should be.

Why change Bibi‘s picture? Must he snarl for Hebrew speakers, and look doubtful for English speakers?

It looks like Lapid has had the reverse treatment: he smiles for Hebrew speakers, and goes somber for the English speakers.

Where did Eli Yishai (Ha’am Itanu) disappear to in the English version?

Hebrew speakers get Ayman Odeh (Hadash and head of the Joint Arab List), and English speakers get Ahmad Tibi (Ra’ama Ta’al, one of the Joint Arab List parties).


But Ynet‘s favorite remains right there in the center.



Best music news in years

From the official Sparks website:

Presenting: F F S

FFS: Franz Ferdinand and Sparks Team Up !

10 years after the initial seed was planted by these two iconic bands to join forces in a bold, new creative endeavour, the fruits of this seemingly unlikely musical idea have finally been born. FFS. Franz Ferdinand and Sparks.

The mutual admiration society between Alex Kapranos, Nick McCarthy, Bob Hardy, Paul Thomson, Ron Mael and Russell Mael has manifested itself in a striking new album. And without further ado, FFS is upping the ante with the announcement that they will be performing live. FFS: Franz Ferdinand and Sparks together in concert. It’s true.

Check out the teaser trailer here: FFS – The Domino Effect

Ironically, the world tour kicks off in Glasgow. I’ll miss that, but I won’t miss out on the album, for sure.