NETANYAHU SOFTENS CONTROVERSIAL “JEWISH STATE” LAW AMID COALITION CRISIS—AND TALK OF AN EARLY ELECTION

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Should They Stay or Should They Go?: Joshua Davidovich, Times of Israel, Dec. 1, 2014— With the coalition imploding like a condemned ramshackle building, Israeli newspapers are mostly busy Monday morning previewing a fateful meeting between the two men who can salvage the government and keep it from becoming so much dust and rubble.

Trying to Keep it Together: Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom, Dec. 1, 2014— Sunday's main news programs ran reports that "the prime minister will meet with the finance minister Monday." No other nation in the world would see something like that as newsworthy.

The Storm Over the Teacup.: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 26, 2014 — Following last Tuesday’s jihadist massacre of four rabbis and a police officer at the Bnei Torah Kehillat Yaakov synagogue in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered law enforcement bodies to act immediately to destroy the homes of the two terrorist murderers who carried out that attack.

Why We Need the Jewish State Law: Yoram Hazony, Times of Israel, Nov. 23, 2014— As civil war rages in Syria-Iraq, Libya and Yemen, and tensions between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem reach levels not seen in more than a decade, the Israeli government has approved a ‘Jewish State Law’ that will confirm Israel’s constitutional standing as “the nation-state of the Jewish people.”

 

On Topic Links

 

Easing Coalition Crisis, PM Cancels Wednesday Vote on ‘Jewish State’ Bill: Times of Israel, Nov. 29, 2014

Israel Edges Closer to Early Election: Washington Post, Nov. 30, 2014

Popularity Crashing, but Netanyahu Still Leading Political Pack — Poll: Stuart Wilner, Times of Israel, Nov. 30, 2014

Israel's Defiant Economy: Yoram Ettinger, Israel Hayom, Nov. 28, 2014

                                                  

 

                            

SHOULD THEY STAY OR SHOULD THEY GO?                                                   

Joshua Davidovich                                                                                                        

Times of Israel, Dec. 1, 2014

 

With the coalition imploding like a condemned ramshackle building, Israeli newspapers are mostly busy Monday morning previewing a fateful meeting between the two men who can salvage the government and keep it from becoming so much dust and rubble. With Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set to go man to man, it’s no surprise that the papers bear a striking resemblance to a boxing match card, though hopefully nobody will be taking off shirts or biting off an ear in this fight.

 

“Last effort,” heralds the top headline of free tabloid Israel Hayom, flanked by Netanyahu and Lapid looking their growliest. Yedioth Ahronoth, which plays the story amid a dog’s breakfast of other front page pieces ranging from war preparations to IDF brass infighting, also has a similar Netanyahu vs. Lapid package, with the headline “compromise or explosion.” And over in Haaretz’s corner, a picture of a conspiratorial-looking Lapid…at the cabinet meeting is accompanied by a headline that widens the affair, cluing readers in that Netanyahu will also be in talks with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Economy Minsiter Naftali Bennett in an indication of how deep the crisis has run. Yedioth reports that the whole round of meetings, reminiscent of ones nearly two years ago as Netanyahu tried to form his nascent coalition, came at the behest of Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who has been more than happy to play the adult amid the squabbling. The paper gathers intel from all the different quarters, with a source close to Netanyahu saying that the prime minister is sick and tired of ministers not toeing the line and “attacking the government like members of the opposition.” Lapid’s associates tell the paper that the treasurer has no intention of letting Likud hold up the budget and keep billions from social affairs ministries, “making the middle class into hostages.” Livni is expected to tell the prime minister that he’ll have to boot the “extremists” to keep her in the fold, and a final source sums it all up with a pithy “Netanyahu does not know what to do with the current situation.”

 

One man who thinks he has some idea what the prime minister should do is Israel Hayom’s Motti Tuchfeld, who admits the honeymoon between Netanyahu and Lapid has come to a dead end of mixed metaphors, but notes that the alternative to kissing and making up may be worse than continuing to share the same Procrustean bed. “Elections are dangerous for Netanyahu in light of the polls, and even though he and Likud are leading, the next coalition would be worse than the current one. … Lapid’s political situation also isn’t exactly strewn with roses. In the next Knesset he could come back with only half his strength. This is true as well for Livni, who barely scraped over the entrance threshold.” Haaretz reports that the even if the fateful meeting is successful, it won’t mean the end of bad blood in the cabinet. Rather, a source tells the paper, the meeting is just to see if they even have enough shared interests to continue to try to work together, and Likud operatives aren’t placing bets on that happening. “We’re closer than ever to elections,” a source close to the prime minister tells the paper…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

                                                                       

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TRYING TO KEEP IT TOGETHER                                                               

Dan Margalit                                             

Israel Hayom, Dec. 1, 2014

 

Sunday's main news programs ran reports that "the prime minister will meet with the finance minister Monday." No other nation in the world would see something like that as newsworthy. But the meeting shows that the two sides are making one last effort to pick up the pieces. Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid have admitted that "this cannot go on," and that is true. If they really intend to fix things, they should postpone government subjects to the second hour of the conversation, and devote the first hour to discussing whether they are actually about to trust one another.

 

Current facts show otherwise: The haredim, party leaders Aryeh Deri (Shas) and Yakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism), confirmed that they had been contacted to see if they would take part in forming an alternative coalition without Netanyahu. They say that Netanyahu also spoke with them regarding the possibility of forming a government without Lapid. The finance minister said the alternative coalition talks were "nonsense," but even Shas member Eli Yishai said he heard word of it throughout the Knesset halls. If Netanyahu and Lapid want to hold on to the current government and not have an end-all standoff and be sucked into early elections, then they will have to accept a series of concessions. With a bit of good will, the problems are solvable.

 

The Jewish state bill, pushed by Zeev Elkin, Yair Levin, Ayelet Shaked and Robert Ilatov spells trouble for Israel and the world. But Netanyahu's version is seen as reasonable by all parties. So there is a way for that to work. Lapid's zero percent value-added tax law was approved by the government. The Likud voted in favor it, and it cannot escape its responsibility to it now. But Lapid has to be more forthcoming. It will not be the end of the world if zero percent, which will not solve the housing problem for young couples anyway, becomes four or maybe five percent; that way everyone can say they got something.

 

The health system reform should be postponed by a year so that the Yesh Atid party can prove to the Likud that their partnership is real. The finance minister will have to put a stop to his crusade against the defense budget. The Israel Defense Forces needs to move to the Negev desert, and the Finance Ministry is currently not fulfilling its obligations on the matter, and even more so is childishly leaking information to be used against the defense budget. The Finance Ministry is playing with fire; it has forgotten that the IDF is fighting on our side. Obviously there are reasonable solutions here. But what is not clear is whether there is much desire to prevent early elections.

                                                                                               

                                                                       

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THE STORM OVER THE TEACUP                                                      

Caroline Glick                                                                                                    

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 27, 2014

                            

Following last Tuesday’s jihadist massacre of four rabbis and a police officer at the Bnei Torah Kehillat Yaakov synagogue in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered law enforcement bodies to act immediately to destroy the homes of the two terrorist murderers who carried out that attack. He also directed them to destroy the homes of the terrorists who carried out the three other recent attacks in Jerusalem. The following day, police destroyed the home of one terrorist murderer. Two more homes were supposed to be destroyed in short order. But then the EU-funded radical leftist NGO Hamoked – Center for the Defense of the Individual petitioned the Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, opposing the orders. Wednesday the court issued an injunction prohibiting state authorities from carrying out the house demolition orders.

 

In directing law enforcement officials to carry out the home demolitions, Netanyahu argued that the move serves as a deterrent to future would-be terrorists. Whether or not he is correct is a matter of debate. But certainly the Supreme Court can’t determine the effectiveness of the move better than the IDF can. And the IDF’s official position is that destroying the homes of terrorists deters potential terrorists from attacking. And yet, rather than recognize the limitations of their own wisdom, Supreme Court justices acted on the behalf of an EU-funded radical organization that represents no significant constituency in Israel, and overruled the democratically elected government, curtailing its power to take the measures it deems necessary to protect the public.

 

This of course was just the latest move by the court to arrogate to itself the powers duly conferred on the public’s elected representatives in the government and the Knesset. In September, the court ruled on another petition brought before it by radical left-wing NGOs funded by the EU and other foreign actors. In its jaw dropping decision to strike down the “Infiltrators Law” amendment to the 1954 Prevention of Infiltration Law, and order the closure of the state’s holding facilities for illegal aliens from Africa, the court effectively denied the people’s elected representatives the power to determine Israel’s immigration policies. In so doing, the court hollowed out the public’s right to self-determination. It also diminished Israel’s democratic system of government. A body politic barred from determining who may dwell within its boundaries is not a free, democratic society.

 

The court also weakened Israel’s long-term viability as the Jewish state. A Jewish state unable to prevent the dilution of its Jewish majority through the illegal mass immigration of predominantly Muslim Africans is a Jewish state with a dubious future. This of course brings us to the current hullabaloo about the draft legislation of the Nation-State Law. Supporters of the draft legislation that seeks to give a constitutional anchor to Israel’s identity as the nation-state of the Jewish people argue that the law will weaken the court’s power to undermine Israel’s Jewish identity. Extolling the bill, Economy Minister and head of the Bayit Yehudi party Naftali Bennett said Sunday, “The Nation-State Law… will save residents of south Tel Aviv from the infiltrators [from Africa, who have become a dominant force in the area]. When the law to block infiltrators is brought before the Supreme Court next time, the court will have to consider the fact that Israel is the national home of the Jewish people… This is an important development for residents of south Tel Aviv and for the State of Israel as a whole.”

 

MK Yariv Levin, one of the drafters of the legislation, said, “Today we took an historic step in restoring Israel to its Zionist roots, after years of constant erosion of Zionist norms on which the state was founded by the legal system.” The problem with assessments like these, which inform the political Right’s dedication to the bill, is that they have no basis in reality. The proposed law changes nothing about the legal status of Israel or its Jewish character. All of the substantive determinations made in the bill are already anchored in existing laws, including in some cases, laws with constitutional standing. In its judgments over the past 20 years, the court’s justices have had no qualms whatsoever about ignoring laws, including laws with constitutional standing, in order to advance their post-Zionist political agenda. For instance, as Sefi Keller explained this week in Mida online magazine, both justices Aharon Barak and Mishael Cheshin disregarded the plain language of Basic Law: Knesset in their rulings. That law prohibits anti-Zionist parties from running for Knesset. Both justices ruled in separate instances that the openly anti-Zionist Balad party could run.

 

There is no reason to assume that a new basic law insisting that the justices respect Israel’s Jewish character will have any impact on them. Indeed, their partners at the State Prosecution have already told the media that if the law is passed, the Supreme Court will overturn it (when asked to do so by EU-funded NGOs). Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein announced his opposition to the bill ahead of the government’s vote Sunday. Weinstein has a track record of refusing to defend the government to the court when he doesn’t like the government’s position. The unavoidable fact is that the only way to curb the power of the court is to take direct action against the sources of its arrogated powers. The Knesset must amend Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, the basis for the Supreme Court’s post-Zionist actions.

 

It must change the selection process for justices. It must end the anomalous and anti-democratic situation in which the state prosecutors and attorney- general are above elected leaders. It must end the devastating trend in which every senior government appointment, and many Knesset decisions, must receive prior approval from a judge or from a committee led by judges. For many on the Right the Nation State bill was supposed to be the first step on this road. The bill itself was first presented as a consensus measure whose purpose was to fight the international movement to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist. Four years ago, the bill was drafted jointly by Likud MK Ze’ev Elkin and Kadima MK Avi Dichter. Dichter was acting with authority from then-opposition leader and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni. More than a dozen other members of her party co-sponsored it. The coalition agreement for the current government, which both Livni, as the head of Hatnua party, and Yair Lapid, as head of Yesh Atid party, agreed to, stipulates that the government would pass the bill. Passing the bill was not considered controversial. And yet, once the bill was scheduled to be debated last week by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation which Livni chairs as justice minister, she turned rejecting the bill she had previously sponsored and agreed to pass into the be-all and end-all of her tenure in office. In multiple statements, Livni called the bill she committed her party to supporting just last year, “anti-Zionist,” “anti-Jewish” and “anti-democratic.” Livni’s partner in the grandstanding, Lapid, has similarly attacked the legislation….

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

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WHY WE NEED THE JEWISH STATE LAW                                                       

Yoram Hazony

Times of Israel, Nov. 23, 2014

 

As civil war rages in Syria-Iraq, Libya and Yemen, and tensions between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem reach levels not seen in more than a decade, the Israeli government has approved a ‘Jewish State Law’ that will confirm Israel’s constitutional standing as “the nation-state of the Jewish people.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been devoting a great deal of time and attention to this piece of legislation, which outsiders might find incongruous: Some on the Israeli left, backed by prominent voices in the American media, have urged that the law is an unneeded provocation, if not simply racist. In fact, however, the Jewish State law is much needed at this time — not only to assure Israel’s long-term viability, but also as the harbinger of a future solution to the broader crisis of legitimacy that has crippled the entire state system in the Middle East.

 

On the face of it, Israel should not need a Jewish State Law. Until recently, Israel’s status as the state of the Jewish people had never been seriously been questioned. The idea of Israel as a “Jewish State” has a continuous history going back to Theodor Herzl, father of modern Zionism, who had given this title to his 1896 tract calling for Jewish national independence. In proposals subsequently submitted to the British government, Herzl asked the empire’s assistance in establishing a territory “which shall be Jewish in character,” “founded under laws and regulations adopted for the well-being of the Jewish people,” with a Jewish name and a Jewish flag. This concept was later incorporated into British and UN proposals for the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine, culminating in the partition plan adopted by the UN in 1947. Among Jews, support for such a state became virtually universal during the Holocaust — as it became clear that neither the United States nor Britain would act to save the Jews of Europe. (In fact, Britain used force to prevent Jews from escaping to Palestine throughout the war.) In 1948, Israel’s Declaration of Independence, drafted under David Ben-Gurion, used the term “Jewish State” repeatedly. Much Israeli legislation, including the Law of Return offering automatic citizenship to Jews of all lands, was based on Herzl’s view of Israel’s purpose, which was embraced alongside a firm commitment to equal civil rights for non-Jewish citizens.

 

The idea of a nation-state devoted to the well-being of a particular people was not, of course, unique to Israel. Movements for national self-determination had been known in Europe at least since Dutch independence in 1581, and had gradually led to the independence of additional conquered peoples, from Greece and Italy to Poland and Ireland. Giving eloquent voice to this movement, John Stuart Mill’s “On Representative Government” (1861) urged national self-determination as the most prudent organizing principle for the international order, arguing that only states with a high degree of linguistic and cultural homogeneity share sufficient common interests to become democracies: Multi-ethnic states would necessarily be tyrannies, he wrote, because only oppression can keep the radically conflicting interests of the different peoples of the state at bay. Woodrow Wilson placed this principle at the center of his proposals for reconstruction after World War I. At the time, Herzl’s proposal of establishing a Jewish State fit in perfectly. But history has not been kind to the idea of national self-determination. Beginning in the 1960s, Western elites turned sharply against national particularism of any kind (at least as far as first-world nations are concerned), citing Nazi Germany as proof that drawing national and religious distinctions is the root of virtually all political evil. In Europe, the result has been the attempt to dismantle the system of independent nation-states and replace it with a European Union. In the US as well, an aversion to drawing national or religious distinctions for any purpose is now felt across a variety of issues, from immigration to national security.

 

This new disdain for the principle of national self-determination has proved devastating for Israel. Both in America and Europe, the movement to brand Zionism a form of racism continues to gather steam. In Israel, too, “post-Zionism” became the buzzword of fashionable opinion in the 1990s. In this context, Israel’s Chief Justice declared the country’s Jewish character to be “in tension” with democracy, and the Court embarked on a series of decisions aimed at gradually eroding Israel’s legal status as a Jewish State. This process reached a climax in the 2000 Ka’adan decision, which declared policies by the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency to be illegal if not in conformity with the principle of equality. Of course, equality has always been a crucial value in Israel. But the disappearance of Jewish national self-determination from the Court’s list of the legitimate aims of Israeli policy called into question many of the most basic aims for which the state had been founded. Would it soon be illegal to send Israel’s security services to protect Jewish communities in other countries? To maintain a Law of Return offering automatic citizenship to Jews from other lands? To teach Judaism in the public schools? These and similar concerns are what stand behind Netanyahu’s present “Jewish State Law” — whose purpose is to re-establish the previous status quo on issues of Jewish national self-determination.

 

But there are deeper reasons for adopting the proposed Jewish State Law. The Herzlian political model has been a dramatic success. As the Jewish State, Israel has absorbed millions of destitute Jewish refugees from Arab lands and the former Soviet Union, offering them freedom from persecution, economic opportunity, and public schools where their children can learn Hebrew, Jewish History, and Bible (something available in the US only to Jews who can afford private school tuition). Far from creating a xenophobic and racist regime, the Jewish State has blossomed into a raucous liberal democracy — the only country in the Middle East in which Christians, Druze and other minorities enjoy free worship and need not fear for their lives. This success has not been in spite of Israel’s character as the state of the Jewish people, but because of it. To see this, just compare Israel’s trajectory to that of other states established in the region at around the same time, but based on a “multi-national” model: Syria (independent 1946) was assembled by the French by forcing together Alawite, Druze, Kurd, Assyrian Christian and Sunni Arab peoples — willfully ignoring national and religious boundaries, as well as the vocal demands by some of these peoples to be granted independent states of their own. Iraq (independent 1932) was a similar British construct, imposing a single state on radically disparate Kurdish, Assyrian, Sunni Arab, and Shia Arab peoples, among others. Most states in the Middle East — “Pan-Arab” in name only — were built by the Western powers in just this way.

 

The results have been just as Mill predicted: Israel, built around a cohesive and overwhelming Jewish majority, was able to establish internal stability without repression, and quickly developed into a fully functioning democracy. Whereas the other states of the region have been able to retain their integrity only through brutality and state terror. The destruction of the Sunni city of Hama by Syria’s Alawite regime in 1982, and the gassing of Kurds in Halabja by Iraq’s Sunni regime in 1988, are only the best-known examples of what has been a chronic dilemma for these regimes: Either greater repression, or collapse. We can hold off on reaching this conclusion as long as we please: But there will not be peace in Syria-Iraq until the borders are redrawn along ethnic and religious lines. In the end, Kurds, Alawites, Christians, Druze, Sunni Arabs and Shiite Arabs must each have their own nation-state, each devoted to the well-being and interests of one people. And each must have its own “Law of Return,” offering a place of refuge and automatic citizenship to the scattered and persecuted members of this one people.

 

In a sense, this is a distinctly Israeli vision, emerging from the Jews’ experience of suffering and redemption in the last century. But it is also a humane and universal vision — the only one that can offer genuine hope to the devastated peoples of our region. The proposed Jewish State Law reaffirms Israel’s commitment to the political principle of national self-determination, which made the existence of a free Jewish nation a reality in our time. And it holds up this concept as a model and a beacon for persecuted peoples across the Middle East, who yearn to achieve for their own children what our grandparents achieved for us in bringing Israel into being.

 

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On Topic

 

Easing Coalition Crisis, PM Cancels Wednesday Vote on ‘Jewish State’ Bill: Times of Israel, Nov. 29, 2014—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won’t let the coalition collapse over a controversial bill to legislate Israel’s Jewish character, Channel 2 reported Saturday night.

Israel Edges Closer to Early Election: Washington Post, Nov. 30, 2014—Israel’s fractious coalition government seems headed for a breakup that could spark new elections against a backdrop of security turmoil inside the country, disputes over nationalist legislation and a deep freeze in peace efforts with the Palestinians.

Popularity Crashing, but Netanyahu Still Leading Political Pack — Poll: Stuart Wilner, Times of Israel, Nov. 30, 2014—Voters are half as enamored with Benjamin Netanyahu as they were just a few months ago, but the prime minister would easily cruise to an fourth term at the helm of the country were elections held today, a survey published Sunday showed, as talk of new elections continued to swirl.

Israel's Defiant Economy: Yoram Ettinger, Israel Hayom, Nov. 28, 2014 —The assumption that Israel's economic growth depends on peace accords, and that Israel's economy cannot withstand BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) pressure, are inconsistent with reality.

 

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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