Quote of the week

“Beyond the opinion that each one may have in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the cancellation of this party [game] is a victory for hatred, fear and terrorism. The World Cup has not started yet, but the Argentine national team has already lost its first points.”

Argentinian journalist Gabriel Chocron, as quoted by the Elder of Ziyon, here.

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Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)

This collection of front pages, from Media Guido, is worth sharing:

Margaret Thatcher Headlines

You can read a decent obituary from the BBC here.

One of the reasons Thatcher was hated was misogyny; men hated her for being a woman – a powerful woman at that – who was telling them they were wrong. (They also hated her because she was right, in more ways than one.) Sure, there were political opponents who opposed her on ideological grounds, for reasons of policy, or approach. But in among the sometimes carefully reasoned, often passionate arguments made against her point of view, there was a thick, stubborn, inflexible, old fashioned hatred just because she was a woman*.

What made it worse, is that she was a force for change; changing the economy, the power of the unions, the role of government, and the socialist legacy of council housing. Many people are not comfortable with change in their personal lives, never mind the type of sweeping changes she brought to the UK. So, some of the resistance was resistance to change.

And her legacy? I don’t expect any of the mainstream media to mention it, but her legacy includes – ironically – a bloody great big barrier to any woman worthy of the job wanting to rise to the office of Prime Minister in the UK. It appears to me that the old fashioned male values in politics were so shot through by Mrs T, that any woman politician who comes close to power will be looked upon with even more skepticism and, frankly, fear. And that is likely to be especially the case if the woman in question is strong willed, independent, principled, and right.

That’s how I will remember her: as a politician who stuck to her values.

May she rest in peace.

[*I have this mental image of the Tory old boys rubbing their hands with glee as they stabbed her in the back at her last cabinet meeting. Payback time!]

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Foreign policy

Very foreign. We’re talking about Obama, here, and following up my earlier post (here) about his strange policy position on the Falklands.

It appears that more people are beginning to think the same way: what the hell is Obama up to?

The question has been highlighted by Harry Cole calling Obama a hypocrite and a coward, and receiving warm applause from a BBC audience for so doing. (See the Telegraph report from Niles Gardiner, which includes a video.)

While you should read all of Gardner’s report, I cannot stop myself from quoting this part:

“When even a BBC audience turns against the insulting policies of the White House, the Obama administration should understand that it has a real problem on its hands when it comes to relations with America’s closest ally.”

Ouch!

Obama: what are you up to?

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People in glass houses…

The anger by the haredi parties at being left out of the government, has not abated much.

From the Times of Israel:

On Wednesday afternoon, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu read out the details of his new government, prior to a lengthy debate and the eventual swearing in of its ministers, the members of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party demonstrated just how bitterly they resent being left out of the coalition: They got up and walked out of the plenum.

Parliament or play area? Come on guys, get your act together and behave like adults. There are times when a walkout is appropriate, but they are few and far between. This occasion was not one of those times that it was remotely justified. Continue reading

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We have a government!

From the Times of Israel:

toi150313

You can read the details available here.

Note this:

On Thursday, representatives of Jewish Home failed to arrive for a scheduled noon meeting with Likud chief negotiator David Shimron, amid reports that the prime minister’s wife had delayed the final completion of coalition talks by demanding that Bennett — with whom she reportedly fell out when he served as her husband’s chief of staff from 2006-2008 — not be given the title of deputy prime minister. The same title was also therefore to be denied to fellow putative coalition partner Lapid, who worked closely with Bennett during the negotiations.

Shimron said it was an “ugly spin” to claim that Sara Netanyahu was responsible for the “ridiculous” argument over the deputy prime minister designations, and was sure “Mrs. Netanyahu has nothing to do with this.”

Suspicious? You bet I am. For example, it is also said the title of deputy prime minister has no significance. If so, why was it withheld? Doesn’t that suggest a spiteful action? Doesn’t that suggest Mrs Netanyahu may have had some involvement?

It could be spin, or misdirection, or both, or something else. But what it is, beyond any doubt, is a reminder that in Israeli politics – when dealing with Likud or Bibi or the old political parties – nothing is binding unless it is in writing. And then…

Meantime, let’s concentrate on the positive aspects: we have a government. Now they can make some progress, because there sure as hell is a lot to do.

A good time for a hearty Shabbat Shalom!

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Is this leading by example? [Update]

From the Jerusalem Post:

Shas boycotts final cabinet meeting of outgoing government

All of Shas’ ministers stayed away from Sunday’s cabinet meeting, likely the current government’s last, apparently in protest at not being included in the next coalition.

Previously we had Shas behaving like a baby, throwing a rattle out of the pram. This latest episode conjures up pictures of a naughty boy having a temper tantrum, stamping his feet, and screaming: “It’s not fair! It’s not fair!

Does this behavior strike you as being mature, responsible, and a good example of how to conduct yourself in public life?

Shas, as a party, keeps shooting itself in the foot. To continue the metaphor, it will soon be limping into the political background. There, if there’s any justice, it will wither and die. It could engage in some serious, critical introspection, correction, and rebirth, but I am not optimistic.

If Shas are not in power, it will be case of goodbye to bad rubbish.

[Update: a later Jerusalem report piece has Shas denying any boycott. See here. The explanation is not convincing to me: “Party sources say ministers did not attend meeting due to personal engagements, and not in protest of being excluded from next coalition.

Cabinet meeting or personal engagement? Which should I go to?

Earth to Planet Shas – you are supposed to be representing the voters, not attending personal events!

A fine example they have set, one way or the other.]

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Not in my name, said the Rambam

In a lengthy, informative, and refreshingly honest interview at the Times of Israel (read it all here), Dov Lipman provides, among other things, a stunning expose of the hypocrisy and bare faced cheek of some of the political haredi establishment.

dovlipman

INTERVIEWER: How did we get into this situation of mass full-time Torah study, and vast numbers of Haredi males not working? This is anti-rabbinical, this is not authentic Orthodox Judaism.

LIPMAN: Right. I’ll give you one line that happened during the campaign and then I’ll answer your question. I was on Haredi radio and I quoted the Rambam [medieval Jewish scholar Maimonides]. This is the same Maimonides that we’re sitting there [in yeshiva] and analyzing every little nuance of what he says about marriage. The Rambam says: “A person who decides to study Torah and not work and force other people to support him, that person disgraces Torah, disgraces God’s name and has no portion in the world to come.” This is coming full circle to Rav Ovadia and the elections. That’s what Maimonides says. If somebody is rich and wants to sit and learn Torah, fine. So what does the guy [interviewing me] say to me? He says to me: “You want to tell me that you’re relying on the Rambam?” That’s a quote. He says, “That was hundreds of years ago.”

INTERVIEWER: Unbelievable.

LIPMAN: I said: “That says it all.” If you have an answer for me, okay. But you have no answer, and your answer is, how can you rely on the Rambam from hundreds of years ago? I told my wife later: we are not a hundred percent right. We are a thousand percent right. That was the moment where it just all came together for me.

How did we get here? The rest of Israel is to blame. Because both right-wing and left-wing governments throughout have given the ultra-Orthodox parties whatever they wanted because they needed to form a coalition to advance their own [interests] — that’s how we got here.

In other words, some of the same people who want to reserve the right to study Torah texts and commentaries, don’t accept criticism of their selfish approach based on the sayings of the Rambam (a giant among the commentators). Now why might that be?

The bottom line is that the burden of state service should be shared, and those who use the Torah to escape their obligations are cheating the rest of us.

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Quote of the day

From this piece at the Times of Israel:

times_180213

Here’s the setup line:

Lapid went on to joke about what has become the major stumbling block for Likud-Beytenu in closing a coalition deal — that Yesh Atid and Jewish Home insist on sticking to their pre-election platforms.

And the quote of the day follows:

“I understand that they say about us now — that we have no experience and we don’t understand politics,” Lapid said. “I just want to say that it is quite true: We don’t have any experience and we don’t understand politics and that’s the reason that we have no choice but to stick to our values and principles.”

The more I hear, the more I like Mr Lapid.

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The start of something special?

The following video is the inaugural Knesset speech by Ruth Calderon. I had never heard of this lady before I received the video. Now? I think I’ll be following her progress very keenly.

It appears that Yair Lapid has some stunning people in his party, and we truly could be on the verge of something special. (Yes, I know; I’m an optimist.)

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No need to compromise

This is from the Times of Israel:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should form the widest coalition possible, Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi said Saturday, stressing that potential coalition partners such as Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid and Jewish Home head Naftali Bennett would have to “compromise.”

Speaking to Israel Radio, Hanegbi said Lapid and Bennett, who lack political experience, had yet to “experience the necessity of making compromises.”

He added that the members of the new coalition would have to understand that not all their demands would be met.

Hanegbi also commented on US President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to Israel, saying Netanyahu and Obama would have to coordinate their positions and cooperate closely on the Iranian and Syrian issues.

He opined that at his meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Obama would convey Washington’s opposition to unilateral moves such as Abbas’s bid for UN recognition of the Palestinian state. The US supports direct talks, said Hanegbi.

Hanegbi is wrong. Neither Lapid nor Bennett need to compromise. Hanegbi is assuming that both want to be in the government. However, it seems to me that both received the support of the voters for specific policy positions. If they compromise, such compromise might be seen as disloyalty to their voters. However, if they stick to their principals, and do not compromise, what is the worst that can happen? They will not be in the government, but in the opposition. And what kind of coalition will there be without both of these parties? Answer: not one that will last. What kind of coalition will there be with just one of these two parties? Answer: one that might last, but it will be touch and go.

This is not me suggesting there will never be compromises, but I suspect Hamegbi is misjudging the position. He sees the newcomers inexperience as a disadvantage. I see it as a fresh, open approach.

Some possibilities to consider:

  • When people mentioned a Bennett-Lapid deal (which has been denied), perhaps these reports were based on a misniterpretation of both simpky stating they were going to stand by their political platform.
  • Netanytahu could have both Bennett and Lapid’s support for a holistic peace talks approach which says: (a) Let’s talk, and you – dear Palestinians – convince us Israelis that you mean to live in peace; (b) Let’s set a limit of one year; (b) In a year’s time, if there is no deal, we will implement the Bennett annexation plan.
  • Lapid certainly believes he is a threat to Netanyahu as a future Prime Minister. The old school in Israeli politics believe that Lapid’s power will vanish if he is not in the government. I disagree. Bibi’s only way of outdoing Lapid is delivering on Lapid’s policies! Mr Netanyahu is in a tight spot.
  • Ironically, the one person who could get Bibi out of the spot, is Obama. If there were semi decent relations between the two, Bibi could take a gamble on imposing a settlement freeze for a limited time, and setting the clock ticking against the Palestinian refusal to negotiate. With USA backing – in advance – and proper preparation, Bibi could turn the situation around. Regardless of the reality, israel is seen as the obstacle to peace. We are not, and Bibi has to fix that perception, good and proper. Obama is his best bet. Time to eat humble pie, Bibi.
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