a different side of Israel

Tag: Politics (page 4 of 6)

Labor Party Primaries Hardly Noticed In Israel

No One Worth Voting For - Labour 2007With Israel Labor Party primaries only hours away, and on top of current security issues such as the beleaguered town of Sderot and military actions into Gaza, tomorrow’s inter-party primary elections for a new Labor Party leader seem to be so boring that even the most mediocre TV program will probably receive better ratings.

The three front-runners, including present party leader and Defense Minister Amir Peretz, also include former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and a newer ‘kid on the block’ former Naval Chief Ami Ayalon; who appears to be the front runner, and the only new face among a group of hopefuls whose aspirations are not generating any excitement within a political party which is only a shadow of it’s former self.

Peretz, running a distant third behind ‘Rear-Admiral’ Ayalon and Barak ‘The Watchmaker’ (Barak’s favorite hobby is disassembling and reassembling watches and clocks) still thinks he can pull off an upset and retain his present position, made increasingly unstable in the aftermath of the sensational Winograd Report. Amir appears to have delusions of grandeur, however, as pre-primary polls show him able to garner less than 20% of the party vote, compared to Barak’s 31% and Ayalon’s 35%.

Barak also appears to be suffering from a few delusions himself, as his short term as Prime Minister resulted in Israel’s hasty pull-out from Lebanon in May, 2000, followed by the disappointing Camp David Summit later that summer and the Second Intifada in the fall. Even Barak himself seems to have some doubts as he was quoted recently as saying: “if there will be a run-off, I’ll lose it (the election)”.

Ayalon appears to be the only possible man who might possibly be able to bring some new life into the party which was virtually unopposed in Israeli politics for nearly thirty years. But in light of present realities, even he may have an uphill struggle due to infighting within Labor, together with Ayalon’s personal connections with Palestinian Professor Sari Nusseibeh concerning a two state solution for Israelis and Palestinians; a not too popular conception nowadays with Kassam rockets still raining down on Israel’s southern regions. The aftermath of last summer’s war, coupled with the present Hamas led hostilities in the south, has increased right winged feelings and given strength to more hawkish political parties, particularly opposition Likud party leader Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Natanyahu.

In the fall-out from events which may occur during the coming days (especially if the conflict with the Palestinians grows more intense) it may even set the stage for such people as Arkadi Gaidamak to become even more popular at the expense of current politicians, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who appears to holding onto power by the skin of his teeth. If Gaidamak continues to win friends and influence people, as he has with his assistance to Sderot residents and others in distress, even he might be a possible political leader in the not so distant future. After all, with all the millions that Arkady has, he doesn’t need to be corrupt – he has enough money already.

Labor’s chances of being in the next Israeli government are not too good at this point. But Israeli politics often results in strange bedfellows; and when push comes to shove, this party could very well be right in there again, alongside an even more right-winged government. After all, a deal is a deal, even if the ‘menu’ is not too palatable.

Azmi Bashara – Bad Boy or True Arab Patriot?

Azmi Bashara
Picture Haaretz.

The furor over Balad Party leader Azmi Bashara’s political future makes many Israelis wonder if he may be the beginning of other Arab Israeli Knesset parliamentarians going over to “the other side”. And that ‘other side’ may be Israel’s enemies, including radical Islamic countries like
Syria and Iran.

Mr. Bashara’s radical political views in respect to being a member of the Israeli Knesset have often gotten him into trouble with the Israeli government, particularly among the more right wing political spectrum, including the Likud and other parties who take a dim view of such actions. Bashara’s frequent trips to neighboring Arab countries, resulting in his hob-knobbing with such people as exiled Hamas leader Khalid Mashal and Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad, has resulted in many Israelis calling for his ouster from his parliamentary seat as well as indictment for seditious anti-government activities. Other Arab Knesset political leaders, including Taal Party leader Dr. Ahmad Tibi seem moderate in comparison to Bashara, who has been advocating the disillusion of the Jewish character of the state in favor of a secular one.

Presently “languishing” in a posh Amman Jordan hotel suite, Bashara is now pondering both his political as well as personal future. Carefully weighing his options, he is considering returning to Israel and coming into the line of fire by an unfriendly, Jewish parliamentary majority; who seem bent on kicking him and possibly his political party of Israel for good. Or, to voluntarily give up his Knesset seat and show his true personal and political “spots” by officially emigrating to either Syria, Lebanon, or Jordan.

Syria, and possibly other countries unfriendly to Israel may want to use Bashara as a propaganda tool against the Jewish State by having him send a clear message to other Arabs holding Israeli nationality that the time has come for them to decide as with whom their loyalty really lies. For Bashara himself, it’s becoming more and more evident regarding where he wants to be; and that place is not within a Jewish dominated and governed republic. One might wonder if Bashara would consider becoming involved in Palestinian politics; but most likely, even he is not that stupid, judging from the current state of anarchy which is tearing the Palestinian Authority apart and which almost led to civil war.

Most Israelis would like to see Bashara exit Israeli politics and the country as well. His continued presence in both has been damaging to all, to say the very least. Other Israeli Arab politicians, many of whom live very comfortable lives in the Jewish Republic, must now decide who really butters their bread; for life in most neighboring Arab countries, including Egypt and Jordan, may not be nearly as pleasant as life within the ‘confines’ of the State of Israel.

At the end of the day, many Israeli politicians may decide that they have never had it so good, Bashara included.

John Edwards Blogsphere Woes

John Edwards hired Amanda Marcotte as blogmaster for his campaign and got more then he bargained for Here and Here.
The shit really hit the fan and there is continued speculation that Amanda will be sacked. Religion is a still a very touchy subject and it looks like the move wasn’t the smartest for Edwards. This is the recent announcement on her blog.

I was hired by the Edwards campaign for the skills and talents I bring to the table, and my willingness to work hard for what’s right. Unfortunately, Bill Donohue and his calvacade of right wing shills don’t respect that a mere woman like me could be hired for my skills, and pretended that John Edwards had to be held accountable for some of my personal, non-mainstream views on religious influence on politics (I’m anti-theocracy, for those who were keeping track). Bill Donohue—anti-Semite, right wing lackey whose entire job is to create non-controversies in order to derail liberal politics—has been running a scorched earth campaign to get me fired for my personal beliefs and my writings on this blog.

So the blogsphere is shaping out to be an influential part of these coming elections. It looks like the blogs are going to be used as the back channels in this election, where things can be said and stones can be cast. Should make things interesting.

Ramon’s Little Kiss Goodbye

Ramon & HThe testosterone rich life of Israeli politics waddles on with today’s conviction of Haim Ramon.
Haaretz had this:

Both sides agreed that H., who was finishing her army service, asked to be photographed hugging Ramon. According to the indictment, she then tried to leave, but “the defendant continued to embrace her body with one hand and drew her near. With the other hand, he grasped her cheeks, turned her face toward him and pressed his lips to her lips, while inserting his tongue into her mouth, all without her consent.”

Ramon after the verdictThe former Minister of Jutice can receive up to three years in prison. This was an upset.
However, given recent events and the way sexual misconduct has been traditionally ignored for the most part by authorities, I guess better late then never. The unanimous decision by the 3 panel judge sends a clear message to the “light” sexual offenders, those that think that a small innocent forceful kiss is “nothing”….

Happy Corrupt 2007

Jacky MatzaWell, we’re off to a great start… Tonight the top people at the Tax Authority were arrested and brought in for questioning. It seems like there has been some creative networking going on in the offices of the Tax Autority, with several business men also brought in by Police. So far tonight the top guy (Tax Authority Director) Jacky Matza, has been remanded into custody for 6 more days. This new corruption stink also involves Shula Zaken, Prime Minister Olmert’s Office Chief. She is suspected of involvement in corruption and special tax breaks for buddies. She was remanded to 10 days house arrest tonight. She will not be allowed to fulfill her job in that period. Zaken is prohibited from contacting the prime minister’s office during another 14 days after the house arrest period, and has been required to provide an NIS 50,000 bank guarantee.

Haaretz reported:

According to the suspicions, senior members of the Tax Authority were also bribed to promote associates of the businessmen and political figures to senior positions at the Tax Authority. Matza is charged with taking bribes, fraud, breach of duty, and abetting improper appointments. He is suspected of colluding with outsiders in specific tax cases.

ZelichaThis is the one story we are looking at on the news tonight. The other one, just as flavourfull, is that great meeting we saw today on the news between the Finance Ministry’s Accountant General, Yaron Zelicha and General Manager of the Prime Minister’s Office, Raanan Deenor. Zleica today received the support of the Knesset and slammed his opponents, warning of corruption and threats made against him. He refused to elaborate, claiming that an investigation was ongoing by Police (more arrests maybe…) .

For the past several months Zelicha has been on the shit list of the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister. He is insisting on his right to assign accountants to monitor the Prime Minister’s office for one thing. Abraham Hirchson has been trying to clip his wings but things are just getting worse. Zelicha is in the news at least twice a week in his ongoing campaign against corruption, some say is fueled by politics. You can read about other accusations he made last week here.

Ted Kollek Passes Away At 95

Ted Kollek Mayor of JerusalemTed Kollek, the legendary mayor of Jerusalem passed away today at the age of 95. In an interview with his son, one thing stuck in my mind. He said that Teddy Kollek belonged to a class of political leaders and personalities that are at a different level from the people we see today in politics. He said he hoped we have some more in the making because he can’t see any of this caliber in the current leadership. I tend to agree.

Teddy Kollek lost his election in 1993 to Ehud Olmert. This is about that election:

“It was a dirty campaign in which Kollek’s age – then 80 – was used by Olmert and his aides as a deterrent in electing him, with the slogan, “Because everyone knows it’s about time”. The age campaign did its job. “I felt great and I could have continued,” Kollek said. “If they didn’t keep mentioning my age all the time, I would have won.” Following the loss, Kollek retired from political activity.”

During his term as mayor he was the first at the office at 5:30 AM every day and personally made sure the garbage trucks went out daily. He raised over a Billion dollars for the city in donations and was an outstanding spokesperson for the city he loved so much. Several of the larger contributors insisted on naming their “donations” after him and that includes the Teddy Kollek Football Stadium and an Elephant from Thailand at the Jerusalem Zoo, just to name a couple. His biggest regret he said in an interview, was that he never learned Arabic. He said it was important for the sake of the city and the people in it and that he should have.

Rest In Peace Teddy.

Live Prison Break in Tel Aviv

This is the real thing. A live prison break is going on right now in Tel Aviv. Benny Sela a serial rapist convicted on 14 counts of rape managed to escape Police while being taken to a hearing in a court that wasn’t even open today. The news channels are a buzz with the latest blunder by the Police department and it feels like you’re watching a bad chapter of Prison Break.

Benny Sela Serial Rapist Prison BreakThe prisoner was taken out this morning from a Prison facility with another inmate. Funnily (or maybe not) 2 cops came to pick up these 2 prisoners. Keep in mind that Benny Sela was a prisoner that had a High Flight Risk Classification and was expected to attempt a break. Of course the 2 cops that came to pick him up completely disregarded that fact and went ahead and picked him up. They also only used handcuffs and never used the leg irons which also made life a little easier (dumb and dumber ring a bell ??).

The prisoner waited for the first stop and while the first prisoner was taken in to the court he managed to climb a fence and disappear into the hustle and bustle of Tel Aviv.

An eye witness later reported seeing a man get undressed and run off in a nearby side street. Police then found the Brown prison issue pants and it looks like the convict was prepared with a pair of Jeans under his clothing.
So far it looks like Sela faked the whole thing and really thought things out. The hearing document was fake. It also turns out that a strike in government offices prevented the Police from confirming the request for the hearing. So I guess when in doubt the Police would rather let the Prisoner go then hold them and wait for a confirmation. Interesting procedures..

The Police Commissioner (embarrassed as he should be) immediately announced an official inquiry into this screw up only to be completely overturned by the Minister of Internal Security who soon after announced an inquiry to supersede the chief’s inquiry. Even in times of mayhem and a major FUBAR event you can be sure that politics are alive and well. You see the Police Commissioner and Minister of Internal Security are not real friendly. I am sure this will be the ideal case to get them going again.

In any case the prisoner Sela was a notorious serial rapist and Police in large numbers are looking for him. People are asked to keep aware.
Stay tuned…

Much Ado About Arkadi

Eilat Vacation provided by Arkadi
Arkadi Gaydamak has once again opened his ‘purse strings’ to help alleviate the suffering of people affected by war and terrorism. His funding of vacations in Eilat for residents of the southern Israel town of Sderot is met by praise by some and anger by others. What is very interesting is that many of the angry reactions seem to be coming from the Israeli government, and not from the people he has offered to help. This kind gesture on the part of Gaydamak is reminiscent of the tent city he erected during the Lebanon II war to shelter Israelis who fled the country’s northern sections bombarded by more than 6,000 Hezbollah launched katusha rockets This act also resulted in government criticism, for the simple reason that Prime Minister Olmert seemed incapable of providing this kind of assistance during the war’s first two weeks of occurrence.

Why is the criticism being levied against this man, especially since he is paying for this gesture himself and appears more than willing to assist his fellow Israelis with whose lot he has decided to join? Other philanthropists will more likely get on the bandwagon as well and offer assistance that the Israeli government appears unable or unwilling to provide. Those who criticize Sderot residents for taking up Gaydamak’s kind offer are most likely people who do not live in either Sderot or surrounding areas, as well as in Israel’s north, which is still recovering from last summer’s war. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that those not in favor of Mr. G’s largess, including government officials like Defense Minister Amir Peretz, himself a former resident of Sderot, is that they are jealous and even envious of the Russian Billionaire who’s presence here seems to become more pronounced as time goes by.

Other wealthy people, including former Knesset member Sammy Flatto-Sharon, have been accused in the past of trying to “buy” their way into Israeli politics as well as perhaps ‘whitewashing’ their pasts; which may have included acquiring much of their wealth by not so acceptable means. So is this feeling with Arkadi Gaydamak as well, with many thinking in that old ‘Shtettel’ mentality: ” Nu, vhat does this ‘boychik ‘ vhant to do?”. If he really does want to enter Israeli politics, he’s off to a good start, as many will remember his kind gestures.

At least Gaydamak has the resources to help people as compared to those like former peace activist Abie Nathan who ruined his health and went virtually bankrupt with various projects to help humanity, both in Israel and in other places world-wide. It is certain that many applaud Gaydamak for his kindness. And if Israeli politicians do have a ‘beef’ concerning Gaydamak’s activities, and think they have a better idea to give assistance to people in need, especially those living in traumatized places like Sderot, then let them come forth and put their money where their mouth is.

The Noose Tightens

Israeli political and military leaders seem to the playing a continuing game of brinksmanship amid increasing calls for their resignation or dismissal. The most publicized ones, including President Moshe Katsav, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert,
Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and Army Chief of Staff Dan Halutz continue to be bombarded by public criticism, despite their attempts to appear to be conducting “business as usual”.

President Katsav, for example, tries to keep himself before the public eye, including appearances and events such as the recent ceremony memorializing the 11th anniversary of slain P.M. Yitzhak Rabin, despite many calls for him not to do so. One of his accusers in his sexual misconduct and rape allegations, known to the public as “A”, is still photographed regularly with her lawyer on the streets of Tel Aviv. He refuses to consider stepping down, at least for another six months.

Both Defense Minister Peretz, and Army Chief of Staff Halutz (see photo), are both on the receiving end on increasing flak following the deteriorating situation in Gaza, as well as due to the recent resignation of one of Israel’s top Northern Command officers, Brig. General Gal Hirsch. Hirsch specifically resigned his commission as a result of both Halutz’s handling of the war with Hezbollah, as well as his attempts to ‘white-wash’ the entire affair afterwards. Peretz, due to his lack of military competence and his inability to accept this fact, seems to be bombarded from all sides. This ‘bombardment’ is even becoming more intense due to the continuing launching of Kassam rockets by the Palestinians which caused the death and serious injury today of two Sderot residents. Sderot, being Amir Peretz’ home town, has become his “albatross”, even as much or more so as the recent war in Lebanon. Few, if any Sderot residents want to have anything to do with him.

As for the “guy at the top”, P.M. Olmert, with whom the ‘buck’ is supposed to stop, as U.S President Harry Truman used to say, he continues to try to perform the most brinksmanship acts of all. His current trip to the U.S.A., for example, which was not only very badly timed, but which doesn’t appear to be accomplishing anything, only adds insult to injury to his already shaky position; and makes him in line to be part of the increasing ‘domino effect’ which will accelerate rapidly should Chief of Staff Halutz be the next one to step down.

Olmert didn’t waste any time leaving Washington following his short stay there, including his meeting with President Bush; himself in an uncomfortable position following the Democratic Party sweep of both Houses of Congress. A former aspiring U.S. Presidential candidate, billionaire IBM magnate H. Ross Perot used to say that if elected President he would “take a shovel and a broom and clean up Congress”. While this feat may have partially been accomplished in the recent U.S. midterm elections, it hasn’t been done yet in Israeli politics. And with all the recent goings on in Israel’s current government, especially those mentioned above, one wonders when some of this ‘shoveling and broom sweeping’ will take place in Israel as well.

With all that’s currently transpiring, it’s sorely needed.

Photo: The Jerusalem Post

Divide and Rule: Olmert’s new Presidential Office plans

Following the observance of the fifth anniversary since the assassination of the former Moledet party leader Rahavin (Ghandi) Zeevi, and the possibility of his “successor”, Yisrael Beitanu leader Avigdor Lieberman joining Ehud Olmert’s government coalition, some interesting new political plans have been in the offing in order to accommodate Lieberman’s ultra right wing political views. Olmert, possibly in a last ditch effort to save his waning political fortunes, is seriously considering drafting changes in the country’s governmental decision making to enable a new presidential position to be created in which the holder of that office will have wide ranging powers, including those involving national defense. And Lieberman, due to his very frank views on these matters, may be just the man to assist the Prime Minister in this undertaking.

Lieberman’s views, not unlike his predecessor, Zeevi, call for harsh dealings with the Palestinians, including “inviting” most of them to leave their present domiciles in Gaza and the West Bank for residences elsewhere. He also has very ‘direct’ ideas on how to deal with both Lebanon and Iran, Israel’s most dangerous security problems.

Olmert’s idea is the create a directly elected Presidency similar to that in countries like the U.S.A. who will have much more power that Israel’s present presidency, whose position is largely ceremonial, and who is elected by a secret ballot of Knesset parliamentarians, without any participation by the national electorate. The Prime Minister also wants to combine Lieberman’s party into a ‘unity’ government, with a ‘presidential regime’ possibly headed by none other than either Olmert or Lieberman – or both, without the myriad of small political parties which have always been the rule in Israeli politics. Their ‘plan’ is to consolidate political parties into two major ones similar to the Republican and Democratic party system which has been to norm in America for the past 150 years. One can only wonder, in this ‘new order’ framework, is who will head each side?

Israeli politics has never had political parties who garnished enough governing mandates to have a direct power majority in the country’s 120 member parliament. This reality has always resulted in need to form coalition governments involving several small parties, representing various interest groups, such as the religious population, ethnic minorities (Arabs, etc.) and now, even the golden-agers (the new Pensioners Party). Knesset parliamentarians are not elected by the people, as American Congressmen are, but as members of party slate lists, whose colorful party conventions and ‘primaries’ result in often violent internal power jockeying by hopeful party members, with all the ‘backroom’ activities thereof.

With Olmert and Lieberman’s idea of a separately elected executive (their prototype, of course), the present coalition dealings can avoided and this all powerful leader can then be free to make important decisions concerning the country’s national welfare.

The main concern many of us have is: who will be calling the shots?

Shalom Family – The Dog Adopted Us

Judy Nir MosesSilvan Shalom
Have Former Israel Foreign Minister Silvan (Steve) Shalom and His wife Judy Nir-Mozes Shalom ‘gone to the dogs’, or have the “dogs” gone to them? This is the argument by this often publicized couple’s legal counsel after being sued by the parents of 14 year girl, after an alleged attack on the girl by a dog which is said to belong to Silvan and his wife.

The incident, which is said to have occurred when the girl, then aged 8, was coming home from school six years ago; and was mentioned recently on one of Israel’s popular radio stations, Galei Tzahal. Though the attack occurred years back, it’s only now being brought before a Magistrates Court, and once again projects Silvan and Judy into a limelight recently ‘stolen’ by such notables as former Justice Ministers Haim Ramon and Tzachi Hanegbi, as well as President Moshe Katzav.

The girl, Ariel Popper, who wound up being treated in hospital after the attack, explained that the real problem had been not that she had been attacked by the dog, who had been seen in the yard of the Shalom family, located across the street from the school; but who the actual owner of the dog really was. “We often have dogs and cats come into our yard, and in this incident, the dog that bit the girl didn’t really belong to us. In fact, we didn’t ‘adopt’ the dog – the dog ‘adopted’ us! “, Judy tried to explain.

That explanation wasn’t satisfactory enough to Ariel’s parents though, and they in turn filed a lawsuit again the Shaloms, for N.S. 32,000. “We admitted that the dog belonged to us because we didn’t have any proof that it wasn’t” Silvan noted. He also went on to say that due to the length of time since the incident occurred, this also complicates matters. ” We think that everything was blown out of proportion, including the amount of the lawsuit, which should have been NS. 25,000 and not the larger sum” Shalom continued, saying that the sum became larger when the claim was referred to the legal department of their insurance company.

The Shaloms are also angry that their photos have been displayed by the tabloid paper Maariv, which causes even further embarrassment. “They (Maariv) have nerve to display our photos on their front page; causing an infringement on our privacy!” Silvan continued. They also feel that the claim, occurring so long after the incident, is really an extortion attempt on the part of Ariel’s parents.

Judy, who’s family owns the controlling interest in another large newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, is angry that this incident is being publicized so much by Maariv. Could this incident result in a feud between the country’s two largest newspapers? In any event, it’s already “gone to the dogs”.

Little Big Man’s Sad Departure

Natan Sheransky

The announced departure from politics by Natan (Anatoly) Sharansky is more than just the end of a political era for the State of Israel. It also means the loss (in an official capacity) of what may have been one of U.S. President’s Bush’s most trusted advisors on both Israeli and Russian affairs. Sharansky’s name became well known during the 1970’s when he was a member of the ‘refusenicks’ in the former Soviet Union. He was a staunch spokesman in favor of Russian Jewish immigration to Israel and more freedom to practice Judaism in his native country. These activities resulted in his being imprisoned for several years before international outcry, led by his wife, Avital, resulted in Natan being allowed to leave Russia for Israel.

Though small in stature, Sharansky soon proved he was ‘big’ in his ability to give extremely competent advice; and in his ability to make many friends in both the private and political arena of his new country. He quickly entered Israel politics and was successful in creating the first political party composed of former immigrants, Yisrael b’Aliyah, and was later a member of the Likud Party. Sharanasky has held several ministerial portfolios, including Interior Minister, Housing and Absorption Minister, and Industry and Trade Minister. In addition to his political ventures, he has also written several books, including one called In Defense of Democracy, in which he contrasted Western and Eastern Block political systems.

Sharansky has served as an unofficial advisor to several U.S. Presidents, but his relationship with George W. Bush, pictured alongside Sharansky, has been more close, with the U.S. President seeking often seeking Natan’s advice on a number of sensitive issues, both inside and outside of Israel. Sharansky has also been a strong advocator of Israel remaining in the territories it conquered in the 1967 Six Day War. He was against the 2005 disengagement from Gaza, which many say cost him his political future with both former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and present P.M. Ehud Olmert.

Sharansky, who says he wants to devote more time to writing, teaching, and other similar pursuits is still a relatively young man, and may very well return to politics one day. Other politicians from the former Soviet Union, particularly Yisrael Beitanu party head Avigdor Lieberman, may carry on many of Sharansky’s ideas and policies; especially in lieu of Lieberman’s consideration to join Olmert’s government coalition.

Though sad indeed, the political departure of the ‘little big man’ may not be long, and we have not seen the last of his warmth and candor in Israeli public and political life.

Duhhh, What me Worry?

Tzachi HanegbiAlfred E. NeumanIsraeli politics, and the political satire thereof, often fluctuates from the sublime to the ridiculous. Such is the case regarding the allegations against Mr. Tzachi Hanegbi, a former “rising star” within both the Likud political party, and the son of another colorful political figure, Geula Cohen, whose ultra-right wing political activities were common-place during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

Hanegbi, who has held several ministerial positions, including Justice Minister, and Environmental Minister, is being accused of political favoritism in hiring Likud approved individuals to important positions within his Ministries; most particularly the Environmental one. What this boils down to, as Hanegbi’s accusers have ‘kindly’ pointed out, is nothing more than the old ‘spoils system’ which has been in existence ever since the term was coined during the U.S. Presidential administration of Andrew Jackson (1836-1840). Jackson, a colorful soldier and backwoodsman who gained notoriety during the historical Battle of New Orleans in January, 1815, brought all his backwoods cronies into his cabinet, most of whom were nothing more than hunters, soldiers and pioneers, and without even a basic education. Political favoritism is something that has often been mimicked and satirized in such famous satirical ‘vehicles’ as The National Lampoon, Mad Magazine, Saturday Night Live, and (in Israel) Ha Harzofim (Political Puppetry) and Eretz Nehederet (Wonderful Land).

Hanegbi’s innocent remarks, such as “Why not? Everyone’s doing it” regarding his use of political favoritism reminds me that classic character, of Mad Magazine, that zany satirical magazine created by cartoonist and satirist Harvey Kurtzman in 1952, around the time when the McCarthy witch-hunt trials were going full blast in America against those suspected of belonging to organizations like the Communist Party. Throughout MAD’s 54 year history, virtually all notable political personalities have been satirized in the pages of the still popular magazine now even available on-line.

Now facing indictment by Israel’s aggressive Attorney General, Menachem Mazuz, Hanegbi’s political ‘favoritism’ appears to have known no bounds. Even the current national Police Commissioner, Moshe Karadi, himself under investigation for mixing politics with his position, was appointed by Hanegbi when he served as Internal Security Minister under Ariel Sharon’s government. Says Hanegbi: “people are still being appointed (to various positions) without any equality, and on the basis of ‘connections’. That’s been the norm since the State’s establishment.”

Hanegbi’s political ‘star’ has definitely fallen a bit; but he appears to be a “survivor” in this bizarre game of political maneuvering that most aptly characterizes Israeli politics. He will probably ‘pop up’ again sometime in another Likud-led political administration, which may very well become reality in the aftermath of last summer’s military conflicts.

(Photographs courtesy of Wikipedia)

The Republic

During my stroll down town I have stumbled upon a friend, Glaucon the son of Ariston. We chatted a bit about the weather (“yeah, it’s pretty damn hot”) and then, out of nowhere, says he: “So, whaddya think of those Arabs, eh?”

Correct? Incorrect? Who cares? We all want to discuss politics. And controversial issues too. But mainly politics. It makes sense, doesn’t it? We don’t have much time for entertainment and gossip, when there’s war going on around us, or when there are “just threats” to attack our lovely country. It’s even a bit funny to see the newspapers dealing with the local American Idol contestants or some other non-political issues, “Like hello, we’re in the middle-east here!” So, yes, this is the Israeli situation. And, boy, do we love to discuss it!

The sons of Abraham must have somehow inherited Plato’s legacy. In every social event, be it a family Shabbat dinner or stam hanging out with friends, one of the following issues is bound to come up:

– The on-going (never-ending?) Israeli-Arab conflict;
– Israeli politicians (highly praised, or not very much so);
– Religion and religious belief;
– Minorities (immigrants, foreign workers, homosexuals, what not)

Such non-PC discussions never end until every single participant has presented all their arguments, usually with much effort to overcome the others’ speech volume, frequently ending without much agreement. Yet, though they can become somewhat rough, these conversations almost always end in a friendly way. The agreement to disagree, with which most Western discussions begin, does not appeal to the all-knowing Israeli, and, you know what? I tend to think it’s not such a bad thing after all. Why hold stuff inside and smile and nod, when there is obviously a way of expressing your beliefs and ideas in a polite and intelligent manner? Now tell me you don’t have anything clever to say about that…!

The Sexy Life of Israeli Politics

No sooner has Israel’s second Lebanese War come to a temporary end; a number of major political and military personalities are being pursued like schools of mackerel by hungry sharks. While one of these personalities, Justice Minister Haim Ramon, has already submitted his resignation for alleged sexual misconduct, others are so embroiled in the middle of either allegations or bitter accusations, that even if they do mange to escape the gaping jaws of both the public and the media, their character and professional reputations may be damaged beyond repair.

The most prominent of this group, Israeli President Moshe Katzav and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, have different sets of problems but serious ones all the same. Katsav, on whom an article was posted on this site prior to the outbreak of the war, now appears to be in even deeper hot water with new allegations by alleged victims of reported sexual misconduct of a nature far more serious that Mr. Ramon’s. Katzav is now under full investigation by the Police and even his personal belongings at the Presidential residence are being searched for clues. With increased calls for Katsav to resign his mostly ceremonial post, or at least take a forced leave until he is either proven guilty or innocent, a number of candidates are being mentioned as his replacement, including former Knesset Speaker Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin, Former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Lau, and Vice Premier Shimon Peres, who was beaten by Katsav for the post a few years back. Olmert’s predicament is not of a criminal nature but of the manner in which he has presided over the government during one of Israel’s worst crises since the Yom Kippur War , which caused then P.M. Golda Meir to resign her post.

Olmer’s choice of Yitzhak Peretz for the Defense Minister post has also raised a lot of criticism, as Peretz’s demonstrated incompetence was evident to everyone except those who only like to watch Bevis & Butthead cartoons on T.V.

This brings us to the military personality who has also been mentioned in this site. Even Chief of Staff Dan Halutz now admits that a number of ‘mistakes’ were made during the conflict, especially in regards to the use of Israel’s most import military manpower resource, i.e., her reserve soldiers. The tales they are now divulging, and their obvious anger at how they were literally thrown into battle with not only adequate staff orientation and equipment, but without even basic food rations and water, is nothing short of scandalous. Gen. Halutz has a lot to atone for in this regard, and his personality is also under review as well. The incident regarding the share transaction is not even relevant here as that divulgence is only a ‘storm in a teacup’ compared to the outright tempest that has been created in respect to the entire handling of the conflict by the IDF’s military staff, including Olmert, whose start-stop indecisiveness was reflected on the officers in the field as well.

Yes, the sharks are definitely closing in; and when this entire affair is over, a number of politicians, and military brass as well, will find that they have been (politically) devoured.

Older posts Newer posts

© 2023

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑