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  • January 25, 2013

    Into the Fray: Be afraid, be very afraid

    By Martin Sherman. JPOST

    The election results indicate the Israeli electorate has become dangerously detached from real challenges the nation needs to address.
    Netanyahu surveys Syrian border,

    Yair Lapid, Tzipi Livni and Shelly Yacimovich join Netanyahu’s coalition without Bayit Yehudi and the ultra-Orthodox parties, Netanyahu will have no option but to follow the path of Begin, Rabin and Sharon and reach a painful agreement – Eitan Haber, Yediot Aharonot, January 23, 2013

    It is still too early to fully assess the ramifications of this week’s election results, or to accurately identify what caused them.


    However, on the basis of the available evidence, Tuesday’s poll is unlikely to portend anything positive – unless of course you subscribe to some theory of socioeconomic alchemy, which holds that the whole of Israel can be miraculously transformed into a Beverly Hills-like clone but one in which everybody will live happily ever after in an atmosphere of egalitarian social justice.

    Bread & butter vs life & death

    Clearly, the major story of the elections is the extraordinary and unexpected success of Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party which managed to win 19 (just over 15 percent) of the total 120 seats in Israel’s parliament, thus for all intents and purposes becoming a crucial power broker in the formation of any coalition.

    In his campaign, Lapid focused almost exclusively on alleviating the alleged plight of Israel’s middle class, studiously eschewing any reference to security and foreign policy issues, other than an occasional oblique allusion to Israel’s growing isolation in the international community and the need to address it.

    Shelly Yacimovich’s Labor Party, which won 15 seats, also assiduously avoided broaching matters of external policy, and confined its campaign attention to assailing Binyamin Netanyahu’s domestic record – albeit with far more “social-democratic” welfare-oriented emphasis than Lapid.

    We are compelled to the conclusion that in casting its ballots, a decisive portion of the Israeli electorate has given priority to issues of “bread and butter” over those of “life and death.”

    Retreat into denial?

    It was as if the Israeli voter opted for denial, ignoring the massive challenges facing the nation, such as:

    - contending with the repercussions of the “Arab Spring” and the ascent of radicalism in the region;
    - addressing the deteriorating situation in Sinai and a possible breach of the peace treaty with Egypt by its Islamist regime;
    - coping with menacing developments in Syria and the specter of a radicalized al-Qaida-affiliated post-Assad regime;
    - confronting the increasingly evident intransigence of the Palestinians and the fading prospects of a two-state- settlement;
    - and preparing for possible regime change in Jordan, and the ascent of Muslim extremists to power.

    And, oh yes, we almost forgot, there is the small matter of the Iranian nuclear program.

    These are all issues which neither Lapid nor Yacimovich have any competence to deal with – or lay claim to any such competence. Indeed, neither gave them any centrality during their campaigns. Yet they enticed almost a third of the electorate to vote for them.

    Disturbing drop in national adrenaline?

    The fact that such a significant portion of mainstream Israeli voters supported lists that not only deliberately downplayed – but made little pretense of intending to address – matters that impact the very survival of the state, seems to point to a dramatic and disturbing drop in the levels of “national adrenaline.”

    For given the immediacy and the intensity of the threats facing Israel, it seems almost inconceivable that the issue of who was best suited to deal with them played such a negligible role in the election.

    Indeed, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Israel’s electorate has become dangerously detached from the real challenges the nation needs to address.

    Don’t get me wrong. As someone who is light years away from tycoon status, I am keenly aware of the socioeconomic pressures the average Israeli citizen has to contend with. Indeed, I have my own (long) list of gripes regarding the dysfuntionalities of the Israeli establishment.

    Clearly, there is much to address on the domestic, socioeconomic front. Eminently plausible claims can be made for the need to restructure the tax system, make markets more competitive, streamline bureaucracy, raise salaries for specific professions and so on. But Netanyahu’s government was in many respects responsibly addressing these matters.

    Arguably more than any of its predecessors, it has been willing to challenge the monopolists/cartels and confront the “tycoons.” It oversaw the dramatic reduction in the cost of mobile-phones service and even went so far as to adopt the ethically suspect measure of retroactively raising royalties on the profits from the newly discovered marine gas fields – incurring (somewhat understandably) the wrath of the plutocrats.

    Protesting popular plenty?

    Poll after poll, both foreign and local, shows extremely high levels of satisfaction with life in Israel, well above that in most industrial countries. Important socioeconomic indicators are better in Israel than the average in the OECD countries. According to the OECD Better Life Index site: “Israel performs favorably in several measures of well-being, and ranks close to the average or higher in several topics in the Better Life Index… Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Israel, the average person financial wealth is 47,750 USD per year, more than the OECD average of 36,238 USD.”

    Moreover, life expectancy – usually taken as an indicator of the level of a country’s healthcare – is almost 82 years in Israel, two years above the OECD average.

    Israel also scores higher on the prevalence of high-school education with 80% of adults aged 25- 64 having the equivalent of a high-school degree, above the OECD average of 74%.

    A cursory stroll through urban Israel will reveal that restaurants are full, cafes crowded, pubs jam-packed; the recreation industry appears booming, with beaches teeming in summer, the ski slope crammed in winter, rural byways swarming with off-road cyclists over the weekends, decked out with the latest equipment and accessories…. Nor are overseas trips the exclusive privilege of a wafer-thin layer of the “crème-de-la- crème.” Out of a total population of 7.8 million, millions of Israelis travel abroad regularly, spending billions of dollars on overseas trips.

    Against this backdrop of “popular plenty,” the eruption of “middle class” discontent, as reflected in support for Lapid’s principal electoral theme, seems oddly misplaced.

    After all, surely not all these diners, latte drinkers, late-night revelers, surfers, skiers, bikers, vacationers can be parasitic ultra-Orthodox, privileged settlers or plutocratic tycoons?

    Success as reason for failure

    Paradoxically, it was precisely the Netanyahu government’s success that sowed the seeds of failure at the polls.

    On the security front – excluding the week-long Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza – Israel is enjoying the longest period of calm for decades. This has relegated security concerns to the back of the public’s mind and allowed more mundane issues to dominate its agenda – unlike the situation under Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon when Palestinian terror wrought carnage on the streets of the nation’s cities and towns.

    Nor have the Netanyahu government’s achievements been confined to security. Indeed, it has stewarded the economy remarkably well through the dire global crisis that affected much of the industrial world far more seriously.

    Thus, hitherto largely untouched by the world economic crisis and accustomed to increasing consumption levels, Israelis are refusing to tailor their expectations to their means. But as talent (and luck) are not evenly distributed, it is unreasonable to expect an egalitarian reality in which the fortunes of all are similar. Greater prosperity has – inevitably – yielded greater inequality. Accordingly, keeping up with the Joneses is becoming increasingly onerous, with social pressures pushing many to live beyond their means.

    It is this growing resentment, coming not so much from the “have nots” but from the “want mores,” that generated much of the anti- Netanyahu sentiment. A cursory glance at the election results seems to indicate that Lapid fared better than the Likud mainly in well-to-do areas, but not in those that allegedly suffered from Netanyahu’s economic policies, where the Likud outperformed Lapid.

    To a large degree, FrontPage Magazine blogger David Hornik got it right when he wrote: “The Israeli public has not done justice to Binyamin Netanyahu, whose overall record these past four years on the security, diplomatic and economic fronts is solid and commendable; while falling for the somewhat facile appeal of the untested Yair Lapid.”

    Bibi’s blunders

    But Netanyahu is not blameless. This is the second atrocious campaign he has run, displaying a remarkable knack for almost snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

    In 2009, the glaring lack of clarity and focus, of direction and resolve, in the Likud’s message left – almost inconceivably – Kadima, a party riddled with unprecedented charges of corruption and a disastrously failed record of performance, with the most seats in the Knesset.

    It was only the good graces of fortune – and the gross incompetence of his rivals – that prevented Tzipi Livni being given the task of forming the government.

    Precisely the same error was evident in this campaign, in which until very recently, Netanyahu’s – and the national camp’s – undisputed victory was a forgone conclusion.

    Indeed, the fact that the Likud – almost incredibly – decided to campaign without presenting the public with a platform, could not but have left many wondering what they were being asked to vote for! His strategic errors began this summer, when instead of holding elections – as he had already announced – he incomprehensibly entered into an ill-considered and inevitably short-lived alliance with Shaul Mofaz. Had Netanyahu held the vote then, before Lapid had fully organized himself, with Livni still undecided whether to run, and probably unable to, with Obama still gearing for elections in the US, with distinctly favorable public approval ratings, he almost certainly would have fared far better.

    His merger with Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu was – as I pointed out in a previous column – a disaster foretold, creating a united list that, inevitably, could be expected to yield fewer seats than if they had run separately.

    Anyone with an aversion for Netanyahu could no longer vote for Liberman without voting for Netanyahu – and vice versa.

    Thus voters afflicted by an anti- Bibi or anti-Yvette phobia were left with the choice of either abstaining or voting for parties such as Lapid’s or Bennett’s. It is far from implausible to assume that the Likud’s ill-advised attacks on Bennett, a natural ally, convinced at least some of these voters to side with Lapid. Indeed, the fact that according to a poll just published, 34% of Yesh Atid voters decided to vote for the party in the last three days of campaigning, lends credence to this contention.

    Cause for concern

    Admittedly, Lapid has conducted himself commendably since the election results were announced. He has come out with some surprisingly – including to myself – assertive Zionistic pronouncements.

    However, I would urge caution. I have attacked Lapid on numerous occasions, underscoring how he exploited his widely read Friday Yediot Aharonot column to propagate positions he himself later conceded to be merely mendacious manipulations.

    Thus, on the eve of the disengagment (June 24, 2005), he published a caustic castigation of the opponents of unilateral withdrawal.

    He warned darkly of the dire consequences and the unbridgeable rift that would result if they succeeded in persuading the public that the expulsion of Jews from Gaza should be aborted.

    Menacingly, Lapid declared that Israelis were tired of sacrificing their lives for the sake of the religious settlers, and that for the majority in the country, disengagement “appeared the last chance for us to live a normal life.”

    However, barely a year later (October 13, 2006), when the catastrophic failure of the disengagement was undeniably apparent for all to see, Lapid published a breathtakingly brazen follow-up, titled “Things we couldn’t say during disengagement.” In it he admitted it had all been a giant ploy: “It was never about the Palestinians, demography, and endeavor for peace, the burden on the IDF.”

    No, confessed Lapid, the real reason for imposing the deportation of Jewish citizens and destruction of Jewish towns and villages was…

    to put the settlers in their place, to teach them “the limits of their power” and show them who really calls the shots in the country.

    I don’t not know if Eitan Haber (see introductory except) is a Lapid supporter. But the sentiments that he expresses are certainly characteristic of the prevailing sentiment in much of Lapid’s core constituency.

    It would be more than naïve to expect that the current political super-star will not face growing pressure from his base, to whom he owes political allegiance, “to follow in the path” of those who brought the extremist warlords to the fringes of Eilat, the reign of terror to the streets, cafes and buses of Israel, and the rain of rockets to the towns and rural communities of the South (and beyond).

    So be afraid, very afraid – perhaps the best we can hope for is early elections.

    Martin Sherman (www.martinsherman.net) is the founder and executive director

  • Posted by Ted Belman @ 8:30 pm | 43 Comments »

    43 Comments to Into the Fray: Be afraid, be very afraid

    1. Canadian Otter says:

      Embarrassing? More than 800,000 Israelis voted for a party that refused to disclose its platform! This belongs in some Incredible-but-true section somewhere.

      Regarding the massive challenges facing the country, as listed by Martin Sherman, there was a conspiracy of silence between candidates and the electorate. It’s as if in the middle of a major personal crisis you decided to reorganize your closet instead of dealing with urgent and pressing issues.

      To Sherman’s Arab Spring, Sinai, Syria, the PA and Jordan items, one could also add the 100,000 African infiltrators roaming the streets and committing all kinds of crimes, rampant terror on the roads, unrestrained illegal Arab construction both sides of the Green Line, and uncertainty for Yesha communities. There are many more. But the only candidates who truly addressed those issues (Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben Ari) were not elected!

    2. Steve Smyser says:

      The similar situation here in the United States – personalities were discussed, issues were not

    3. Canadian Otter says:

      STATE OF DENIAL IN ISRAEL – They are not your friends – They helped German Nazis once, now they help and arm Arabs Nazis. Nothing has changed.

      A new book about Nazis on the run after WW2 shows how governments around the world torpedoed efforts to hunt down the worst of the Holocaust murderers for decades out of ‘vested interests’. ‘Nazi Hunt: South America’s Dictatorships and the Avenging of Nazi Crimes,’ by German historian Daniel Stahl, calls the half-hearted efforts of postwar governments a ‘coalition of the unwilling.’

      He says the French feared prosecutions would expose mass collaboration with the Nazis, the South Americans feared a spotlight on their own murderous regimes and the West Germans wanted to help ‘old comrades’ get away. These were not the ‘little fish’ of the Nazi extermination programme but people like ‘Angel of Death’ Josef Mengele, who chose victims for the gas chambers, and Gustav Wagner, responsible for 150,000 deaths at the Nazi extermination camp of Sobibor. S.S. murderer Rauff was even able to travel between South America and Germany as a company rep without hinderance. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2268242/Nazis-run-World-War-Two-escaped-capture-countries-world-willing-help-hunt-claims-new-book.html

    4. Bernard Ross says:

      However, barely a year later (October 13, 2006), when the catastrophic failure of the disengagement was undeniably apparent for all to see, Lapid published a breathtakingly brazen follow-up, titled “Things we couldn’t say during disengagement.” In it he admitted it had all been a giant ploy: “It was never about the Palestinians, demography, and endeavor for peace, the burden on the IDF.” No, confessed Lapid, the real reason for imposing the deportation of Jewish citizens and destruction of Jewish towns and villages was…to put the settlers in their place, to teach them “the limits of their power” and show them who really calls the shots in the country.

      Not a good sign!

    5. NormanF says:

      Netanyahu never wanted a center right government.

      And contra Eitan Haber, he’s playing much the same games with the Left.

      He does not want to be forced to do anything but stay in power.

      That the only issue in which Netanyahu is really interested. Everything else is political theater.

      This is a Prime Minister perfectly content with time standing still.

    6. Canadian Otter says:

      YAIR LAPID IN 2006 – THINGS WE COULDN’T SAY during Disengagement – http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3315071,00.html

      Reports on serious malfunctions in the evacuees’ rehabilitation process bring out some sympathy, but they do not seem any sadder or more uncalled-for than any other Israeli distress…Still, it is strange. After all, it was a turning-point event that put us – for the first time since the Altalena – on the verge of civil war. What happened that demoted this event to the level of a photo exhibition in the Tel Aviv Museum? Do we not care about what happened to the weeping settler girls, or the boys who fenced themselves inside the seaside synagogue? …The State of Israel, which was unable to privatize the Electricity Company, was impressively effective when it performed a move that no one fully understood….The Israeli Government stated it was a “national necessity,” but never bothered to explain what that necessity was exactly… Even those who supported the move with all their hearts could not really understand its timing, urgency, or the great effort it involved…It had nothing to do with the Palestinians…It had to do with the fact that we lost the delicate balance between the Israeli society and the settlers’ society…The national-religious – as people who are certain they are right always do – failed to fully grasp the hostility that was building up in the secular public against the illegal outposts …Some of the issues may be more myth than fact, but it did not matter because the secular Israelis were angry … Pinhas Walerstein’s “They do not want to disengage from Gaza; they want to disengage from us” …One year later, it seems that we can start the rehabilitation process. One thing we can say to the credit of yeshiva students is that they learn fast. Despite the outrage demonstrated when Amona was evacuated, no mass protest movement was ever really born, hesder yeshiva students are joining the army regularly, and people watch their tongues more than before. Things are back in balance.

    7. Canadian Otter says:

      It was after I posted excerpts from Yair Lapid’s 2006 column that I noticed something that kept bothering me. I realized that some of his emotional arguments against religious Jews were eerily similar to those expressed by anti-Semitic Poles after they perpetrated acts against Jews before, during and after World War II. The common complain was that the Jews had the best jobs and acted as if they were superior to the rest of the Poles, with better jobs, higher morals, etc. Now read what Lapid says about religious Jews:

      The national-religious – as people who are certain they are right always do – failed to fully grasp the hostility that was building up in the secular public … The way single-minded settler activists seized mid-level positions in the Housing, Construction, and Transportation Ministries…. Secular Israelis were angry and losing their patience…The accentuated settlers’ arrogance played its part too… Rabbi Levinger’s slightly ludicrous and avant-garde movement turned, over the years, into a predatory group that made it clear – in more than one way – that it is superior to all other Israelis in terms of its values and ideology.

      The Amona pogrom – and it was a vicious pogrom by Israelis against Jews – was the expression of this rage by seculars against religious, mirroring in a most shocking way the mistreatment of Jews by non-Jews throughout history. It is a pity that the nation moved on, some out of indifference, others out of resignation. There is something very nasty brewing in Israeli society that needs to be confronted. I don’t think that even Yair Lapid – in hia self-righteous contempt for the religious – is fully aware of it.

    8. Canadian Otter says:

      My comment is being held for moderation.

    9. Dean says:

      What some of the left-wing diaspora Jews take away from this election is that Israel’s war is a war on the Haredim and Orthodoxy and that Israel should be as unconcerned, misinformed, and unprepared regarding Israel’s adversaries as those in the diaspora happen to be. The election has in some small way vindicated the left-wing loonies. It brings me back to a discussion I once had with someone in a leadership role in our local community who, when the topic of the Islamic threat to Israel and Jews was brought up would say, “The orthodox Jews are just as bad!!” The last time I checked, a small handful of Neturei Karta were meeting with Ahmadinejad and making paid fools of themselves; but they are not a threat to Israel and they are certainly not as threatening as left-wing yahoos in Israel and America working hand-in-hand with the PA and Hamas against the interests of the nation of Israel.

    10. shachalnur says:

      Quote competition,bagel for the winner;

      Who said all this today?

      “The conclusion that can be drawn from the elections in Israel is that the founding parties,like Labor and Likud,are on the decline”.
      ” We can also conclude there’s isn’t a ruling party”.
      “History has taught us that most wars have been waged by Israel’s leftist governments”

    11. Perry says:

      A lot of American Jews must have made Aliyah recently…
      Because it seems like the Israeli Jewish voter is as brain-dead as the Obama-loving American Jewish voter.

    12. Bill Narvey says:

      Lapid, Livni & Yacimovich borrowed heavily from Obama’s election strategy of demonizing the opposition (ie. Bibi), sloganisms and demagoguery as regards Israeli self interest pocket book concerns, while assiduously avoiding issues regarding threats to Israel’s existence, which none of them seem equipped to deal with.

      As Sherman points out, it would not have worked, had Netanyahu not imprudently linked up with Yisrael Beteinu. It also would not have worked had Netanyahu, instead of sitting back as he did, resting on his laurels assuming everyone understood what a good (albeit, not perfect) job he had done on domestic and foreign issues, had come out, all guns blazing on both domestic and foreign issues as well as hammering away at showing it was not he, but the Palestinians that have invariably been the impediment to peace and realizing the TSS.

      What is done is done, at least for now.

      Some view these election results as laying a foundation for even more dysfunction to intrude into an already dysfunctional Netanyahu government which will practically guarantee Israelis will sooner, rather than later be heading to the polls again.

      When that happens, Netanyahu will be even more hard pressed to convince the Israeli electorate that he is the one for the job of leading Israel domestically and on the world stage.

      You can bet whatever coalition partners Netanyahu is forced to take on in order to hold onto his role of PM, will force him to compromise his own positions to accomodate his coalition partners, while they during their term in office will, with an eye to the next election, be doing what they can to undermine Israeli and world confidence in Netanyahu.

      Lapid, Livni, Yacimovich and Netanyahu detractors, mostly from the center and left, but also on the right, have and will continue to accuse Netanyahu of being far more concerned about holding power than the best interests of Israel. Again, such tactic borrows from the Obama-Democratic election strategy.

      To the extent those accusations have some merit, what will be lost in the rhetorical fog, unless Netanyahu can manage to turn the tables on them, is the fact that those very same Netanyahu critics, are equally guilty of what they accuse Netanyahu of.

      Israelis have brought government-political dysfunction on themselves by tolerating a multiplicity of political parties that are all more concerned about advancing their own political interests and sometimes feathering their own financial and power nests than pushing agendas that are good for all Israelis.

      This muli party political system that enables special interest groups to have party status has largely been responsible for Israel to have been governed since Ben Gurion’s time by coalition governments that exhibit a variety of inherent weaknesses.

      Yoram Ettinger, in a recent analysis of the 2013 Israeli election results speaks to the issue of the dysfunction inherent in the status quo Israeli political system. See:

      Israeli Election 2013– a Reality Check http://www.theettingerreport.com/OpEd/OpEd—Israel-Hayom/Israeli-Election,-2013-–-a-Reality-Check.aspx

      Paul Eidelberg too has written on this topic over the years, which Sherman also alludes to.

      The bottom line on the issue of the dysfunction of the Israeli political system is that unless the Israeli public rises up and demands change to reduce that systemic political dysfunction, the current crop of 34 Israeli political parties will have a green light as they have always had, to ensure the systemic politicial dysfunction that they use to their own self interested political advantage at the expense of Israel and the Israeli people, continues to perpetuate.

      Please God help save Israel from both her ambitious self interested shephard leaders and her ordinary citizen sheep who have not been and still are obviously not up to the task.

    13. the phoenix says:

      @ Bill Narvey:

      Please God help save Israel from both her ambitious self interested shephard leaders and her ordinary citizen sheep who have not been and still are obviously not up to the task.

      Amen!

    14. Bernard Ross says:

      shachalnur Said:

      Quote competition,bagel for the winner;

      I claim the bagel. apparently what you have saying appears to be true, according to Abbas 1984 book, that the zionists are the real nazis:

      “The Zionist movement led a broad campaign of incitement against the Jews living under Nazi rule, in order to arouse the government’s hatred of them, to fuel vengeance against them, and to expand the mass extermination,” Abbas wrote.”

      more of the same on this page
      http://freebeacon.com/palestinian-conspiracy-authority/
      shacalnur, take heart, your campaign against the Jews(zionists, bankers,etc) is achieving success; you can be proud of the role you are playing. Time for you to celebrate with your friends at veteranstoday.com and hamas: any sweeties?

    15. Bernard Ross says:

      Bill Narvey Said:

      … had Netanyahu not imprudently linked up with Yisrael Beteinu.

      I am no israeli political expert but perhaps BB’s gambit was brilliant. Knowing that Lieberman was about to be taken out of the picture, the need for the maintaining the voting bloc of IB in his camp, the possibility that Liebermans scandal would decimate votes for IB,the opportunity of coopting liebermans voters after Liebermans fall,the need to mitigate damage to Likud as a result of Libermans asssociation, etc. I cannot envision a more successful and brilliant tactic: he minimized the potential damage of lieberman(this could have been catastrophic to likud and IB), he has a weakened coalition partner in IB and may dictate his wishes, he has increased his power over the LB coalition after Liebermans demise. He moved past the lieberman debacle in the most efficient and prudent manner. Perhaps he has even won over some of libermans voters to likud.

    16. I was a bit more optimistic than Martin Sherman:

      Israeli election results – the price of ignorance – instability while facing Iran at a crucial time
      http://www.madisdead.blogspot.co.il/2013/01/israeli-election-results-price-of.html

    17. shachalnur says:

      @mr.Ross,

      I’m very happy that Abbas reads my posts and spreads my theories.
      You want a list of Jews who state exactly the same?
      My campaign is against the Bankers,who are/used to be Jews.
      They hyjacked Judaism through a political program called”Zionism2
      European Jewry was against Zionism,as several readers here agree with.
      My aim is to wake up fellow Jews and warn them for the consequences of buying into this Political program,that wiped out European jewry.
      Check out a Jewish Israeli girl called “shalom Juitsie”,on Veterans Today.
      Wide awake,de-programmed and girls like this are the only hope for Judaism in the future.
      If you identified the quotes as coming from Nasrallah,the bagel is yours.
      I’m against the Bankers,I don’t care if they are Jews,they killed millions of jews 70 years ago.
      Israeli’s and Jews for that matter are the biggest Holocaust deniers,they have no clue what happened there.
      Therefore the story will repeat itself.
      Unless we identify the Pharao,slavery will continue and Jews will serve this monster without knowing what’s killing them.

    18. Bernard Ross says:

      His merger with Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu was – as I pointed out in a previous column – a disaster foretold, creating a united list that, inevitably, could be expected to yield fewer seats than if they had run separately.

      creating the link, knowing what was coming for lieberman, may have enabled BB to avoid a catastrophe by separating lieberman from the discussion while maintaining a major portion of his votes. A demonstration of political acuity and leadership. BB is selling leadership not platforms, those that want platforms get to vote outside of likud for lapid or bennett but they know that they still get BB’s leadership. the influence of Lieberman over the decision making has dwindled to BB’s gain. Perhaps I am an idiot blowing air,(i admit) but from here it looks like a brilliant handling of a political crisis and turning crisis into opportunity. BB appears to now wield major power over likud and IB

    19. Laura says:

      Or perhaps as I said before, the Obama-Soros machine rigged the elections in favor of the left. However not enough to raise suspicions, but just enough to weaken the right’s power.

    20. shachalnur says:

      @laura,
      The proof of the pudding is in the eating.
      If Israel ends up with a government of “Left wing” parties ,then the Obama/Soros/ Bankers coup functioned.
      My guess is ,either that or new elctions and try again.

    21. ArnoldHarris says:

      All you folks, raised amid the fairy-tales of goodthink and who worship at the feet of western liberal democracy — or more accurately, at its rotting toenails — should stop bitching about the kinds of governments you wind up with both in Israel and the United States. Where everyone in the commonwealth has the right to vote, and where those whose primary function in life is to live off the entitlements — earned or otherwise — of that commonwealth, the slackers and looters eventually hold the whip hand.

      That’s always been one of the reasons while Iosef Vissarinovich Stalin was my prime hero among the great leaders of the 20th century. He not only industrialized great Russia on a scale and with a rapidity never before seen in any human society, largely in expectation that one day, an attack of unprecedented scope and scale would be mounted against Russia, and that it would never be safe for Russia to depend on any significant aid when that attack came. The events that began on June 22, 1941 proved him to be the most visionary of national leaders. Either that, or the NKVD and other intelligence organs of the Soviet state were the most superior of their kind. Probably some of both factors where at work in the defense of the Soviet Union.

      On top of that, he contrived to put everyone to work, mostly in something useful. Did millions of them have to perform physical labor in the camps in the frozen wastelands of Siberia? Too damned bad. And Stalin had sense enough to shoot dead any would-be or real troublemakers. If I had been him, and in his position and facing the forces that almost destroyed the Russian state, I would have done precisely the same as that man did.

      I have come to regard western liberal democracy as a poisonous weed that has been killing what began as the garden of western civilization. Behold what has become of the United States of America of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and over our greatest generation of the World War II era.

      – A country whose culture increasingly is dominated by sexual perverts; where hordes of users of dangerous and illegal narcotics such as methamphetamine, heroin, crack cocaine and cannabis all outnumber the federal agents who attempt to interdict this terrible traffic.

      – A country in which the national debit increases by about a trillion US dollars per year, fed now by annual increases by the US Congress of the debt limit, but with no attention paid to the deadly fiscal combination of inflation and unemployment that is in the process of destroying what is left of the US economy.

      – A country in which the public school systems are falling apart, along with the postal system, the passenger rail transit system, and some tens of thousands of bridges and other highway infrastructure which nobody does anything about until a bridge collapses over a waterway.

      – A country that starts wars it can never win and in some cases, can never retreat from; all generated by efforts of a frightened national government that responded to a 21st century Pearl Harbor attack by our Arab Moslem enemies by attacking two Islamic states only peripherally involved in that attack, rather than mounting an assault in massive force against a target at the heart of Islam, which alone would have signalled a message that all these enemies could never again ignore.

      – A country, plainly, that has rotted from within and which is now in the early stages of dissolution.

      Do not allow democracy or anything like that to destroy the Jewish state as has decayed and is now destroying the West. Or if you cannot or will not organize to stop the rot, then stop whining to the rest of the world about becoming victims to the social, cultural and political diseases that can do to a modern society in a few decades that which took centuries in the age of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.

      Arnold Harris
      Mount Horeb WI

    22. Bernard Ross says:

      shachalnur Said:

      ,…they killed millions of jews 70 years ago

      do not despair; perhaps you can break their record. You certainly have the ambition for the job.
      If you recomend people you should provide a link to something they wrote, the only thing i found of shalom juiste was a facebook blog composed of the most insane jew haters representing badlheaded biker nazis and satan hating jew blaming “christians”. Just throwing out names is meaningless.

    23. On Stalin: Mussolini made the trains run on time.

      In general often once newly elected and having access to hard data, attitudes change. Lapid in government may be far more responsible than Lapid the commentator, judging from much ( but not all) American experience. I suggest that one not rush to judgement.

      This is a general observation; I do not claim to be expert on Israeli politics.

      @ ArnoldHarris:

    24. For the younger set, not familiar with the Mussolini reference, he went down to the Rome railway station, and when the first late train arrived, he had the engineer taken to the platform and shot, “pour encourager les autres” .
      @ David Sternlight:

    25. ArnoldHarris says:

      Mr Sternlight,

      No matter what anyone says or thinks, or how profoundly contrary my suppositions must sound to all have been raised among this or that political principle which collectively make up the conventional wisdoms of modern Western civilization, I simply have no faith or trust in democracy anymore as an enduring guide to maintaining a modern commonwealth. Approaching my completion of my 79th year, I have seen all the verities of American civilization begin their processes of dissolution. I assume that will be the course of events for Israel, unless that state breaks away as soon as possible from the orbit of Western civilization, which has little or nothing to do with authentic Judaism or Jewish nationalism.

      Arnold Harris
      Mount Horeb WI

    26. I, too, turn 80 next month. You’ll forgive me for thinking your comment is a sophisticated version of the well known “pathetic fallacy”.

      @ ArnoldHarris:

    27. ArnoldHarris says:

      Mr Sternlight, you are senior to me by a single year. If all is well, I shall be 79 years of age on April 2, 2013; truly, a depression baby.

      Having spent much of my life reading and studying, I am aware of John Ruskin, but I have never familiarized myself with details of his essays. So I felt compelled to google up “pathetic fallacy”, which, as I now understand, is not a pejorative, but gets its name from the all too human tendency to humanize inanimate objects, conditions, or perhaps even trends in political economy or the wars among the classes.

      I admit to writing commentaries on current and historical events from points of view that probably cannot be as infrequently encountered. I am aware that not many Jews announce themselves as alienated as I have become, in concern with the practices but not necessarily the theoretical underpinnings of democracy.

      Having carefully restudied my comments on this particular blogsite thread, I do not think I have attempted to personalize any of the societal phenomena that I chose to discuss. I certainly made no effort to personalize Stalin. Had he not been the national leader of the largest country in the world, during the two decades leading up to the most terrible war ever thrust upon the Russian nation and the Russian land, then he could rightfully labelled as a monster. But had he done other than that which he did, during that terrible crisis, he and his people would have been destroyed and Nazi Germany could well have accumulated enough power to dominate the world.

      My careful readings of that period, which I lived through during the formative years of 5-11, convince me that it was the power of Russia and the Russian nation, marshaled as it was by their great and mostly silent tyrant, saved the world, including some 5 million of the 11 million European Jews who escaped the clutch of the assembly-lines of death in Eastern Poland.

      Many other observers and commentators view Stalin in a far different light, irrespective of the obvious fact that the Eastern Front was the anvil upon which the Nazi machines of war and mass murder were broken.

      My wife, a South Slav, tells me that one of their folk sayings is that it takes a hook to pull another hook out of a wall. Viewed in that light, Stalin was the hook that pulled the Hitlerite hook out of the wall of the world.

      Happy 80th birthday to you for next month.

      Arnold Harris
      Mount Horeb WI

    28. shachalnur says:

      @ Mr. Ross,

      You don’t read,you glance.
      You judge on impressions.
      Maybe the nitty gritty is too much for you,most writers here have ages I can only hope for.
      The world has changed,not neccesarily for the good,but there’s an exchange of (dis)info going on,that never existed before.
      You only get 10% of the story,unless you break through the fear of the mirror and read everything.
      I’m just giving you the shortcuts.
      Where are the 20 million missing Jews?
      Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Eugenics?

    29. Canadian Otter says:

      @ ArnoldHarris:
      @ David Sternlight:
      And anyone else who would like to contribute with an answer, I would appreciate it.

      Question: If you were to travel back in time and speak to your 18 year old self, what kind of advice would you offer?
      Thank you.

      And congratulations to both of you, Arnold and David, for your longevity. You must have done something right! :-)

    30. The most important lesson was enunciated by Woody Allen, who said: “90% of success is showing up.”

      Another lesson is to invest even small amounts when young. They can really add up over 40 years if you have the discipline not to draw them down.

      A final comment– if you think something is a good product you would buy, buy some of the stock as well.

      @ Canadian Otter:

    31. ArnoldHarris says:

      I never have regretted a single day of my life. And if I have picked up any wisdom since that day in April 1952, my 18th birthday, and think it is best to reason as follows:

      If I could indeed travel back in time, and if I then had an opportunity to change the anything I had done in my succeeding 61 years, and which I would be fully aware of despite the trick of time travel implied here, then how could I know if any change I would make reliving those years would hazard my participation in something of major positive significance to me at a later time?

      For example, my wife and I have four grown children and so far, one grand-daughter. We are strongly attached to all of them and to the spouses of our two married children. But suppose I had availed myself of an opportunity to make some sort of change that would have caused my wife and I never to have met. That would have robbed all those children and that grand-daughter of their lives. Of course, my wife could have made a marriage with another man, and given birth to four children. But they would not be my children. In fact, I almost certainly would never even have encountered them.

      And knowing all this in advance, I would feel an emptiness of unfathomable depth, from a loss that I would never undo, and I would be haunted by the thought that I had robbed my own children of their lives.

      Have I answered this question both from the standpoint of logic as well as the psychological mischief that would ensue from any such perversion of real life such as is implied by time travel?

      Yes, I have indeed made mistakes in my life. But I understand too that the only way to overcome the effects of earlier mistakes in ones life is to work assiduously to avoid repeating those errors.

      Arnold Harris
      Mount Horeb WI

    32. I was commenting on your remark about abandoning the West and going for traditional Judaism. The two are not mutually exclusive.

      It is related to the version of the pathetic fallacy, modern usage, as in : How happy is the native living with beautiful and loving nature.

      That same native has beri-beri, malaria,a short life span, and is the victim of hurricanes, floods, cold, heat and disease far more than Western, “civilized” man.

      Putting it another way, “Dear Brutus the fault lies not in our stars but in ourselves….” One can be thoroughly Western yet behave sensibly. In fact Israel’s survival is due almost entirely to its adoption of, and improvement on Western technology, medicine, agriculture, economics, weapons, women’s rights, etc.

      Or did I misunderstand you?

      @ ArnoldHarris:

    33. A wise man once said, “Life keeps handing you the same lesson until you learn it.”

      Corrollary: Wherever you go, there you are.

      @ ArnoldHarris:

    34. Canadian Otter says:

      @ David Sternlight:

      The most important lesson was enunciated by Woody Allen, who said: “90% of success is showing up.”
      Another lesson is to invest even small amounts when young. They can really add up over 40 years if you have the discipline not to draw them down.
      A final comment– if you think something is a good product you would buy, buy some of the stock as well.

      - Just showing up. How true. If one’s life has a minimum of direction, it’s mysterious how the right things start coming our way.
      - Saving and investing. I would give my younger self exactly that same advice. But how little I cared about money then. I always had a job, never lacked anything, but I was not a good saver. I now live in a city where real estate values are high and slowly going up. If I had lived here and purchased ocean front houses when prices were still affordable. I would be super rich! But I left home to see the world, and I’not super rich :-)
      But that’s OK because I’m happy.

    35. ArnoldHarris says:

      @ David Sternlight:
      I am too tired tonight to answer you as coherently as I would prefer. You are an interesting conversationalist. Will tomorrow do?

      Arnold Harris
      Mount Horeb WI

    36. Canadian Otter says:

      @ ArnoldHarris:

      I never have regretted a single day of my life…
      Yes, I have indeed made mistakes in my life…. But I understand too that the only way to overcome the effects of earlier mistakes in ones life is to work assiduously to avoid repeating those errors.

      It is wonderful that you have had a happy and loving family. NOTHING can top that.

      If I could go back in time I would make sure to tell my younger self to be more loving and kinder to my family. I had a wonderful father and older brother, who was like a second father to me. My mom and other relatives were very good people too. And so patient with me! I wish I had not been so self-centered and had appreciated more all they did for me. There is not a single day I don’t miss them.

      I did not have a long and happy marriage, but that was not the guy’s fault. I hated domestic life and the loss of freedom to be the slothful and independent person I like to be. :-)

      Another regret I have is not to have travelled more. I did a decent amount of travel, but not enough. I often get flashbacks of all those beautiful places I visited. The city where I live now is so gorgeous that it keeps reminding me of those places. And so do books and music. But travel has become such a degrading experience at airports now, that I’m staying put. But I travel with my imagination.

    37. Canadian Otter says:

      @ ArnoldHarris:
      THANK YOU and DAVID for your thoughtful answers. My reply to Arnold was just zapped by Spam Filter. I hope Ted will rescue it tomorrow.

    38. Bernard Ross says:

      shachalnur Said:

      You don’t read,you glance…You judge on impressions….Maybe the nitty gritty is too much for you,

      Utter and absolute rubbish appear to be your stock in trade. There is likely to be no one on this site who has given you the benefit of the doubt and researched your recommended sites and persons as have I. The problem is that the result is usually negative: nothing behind the declaration and/or typical and obvious anti semitic sources. You appear to violate the most basic standards of argument. You cast out names and the existence of an event as being the proof of a conspiracy with absolutely no basis. You never provide links to evidence or even the argument you are relying on. You merely make declarations as if manna from heaven. Evidence please, provide links. so far your posts have been incredibly superficial and appeared to be geared towards an ignorant and superficial audience who are not interested in the “nitty gritty” as your declarations never withstand the critical standard of supporting evidence past the initial level of the declaration itself. You are an empty suit. Please do not berate others for your own lack of depth. In psychology it is called “projection”

    39. Bernard Ross says:

      shachalnur Said:

      Where are the 20 million missing Jews?
      Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Eugenics?

      You keep repeating this but offer no supporting argument or evidence, true to form.

    40. ArnoldHarris says:

      @ David Sternlight:
      David, as I wrote last night, I was too tired to properly answer your questions.

      My attachment to Judaism is strictly that of Jewish nationalism. You could in fairness label me a tribalist, and I would not argue with you. I am an American midwesterner by birth, and I loyally served two years on active duty and one year in the reserves late in the Korean War and its immediate aftermath. All that notwithstanding, I regard the Jewish nation as my particular tribe, and I regard haShem as the god of our nation. What haShem may represent to non-Jews is neither my interest nor my concern.

      Therefore, I have no religious conflicts whatsoever with science. I studied geology for two years during my undergraduate pursuing a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communications. Even in the 1950s, anyone serious interested in geology was well aware that the age of this planet is some 4.5 billion years and the age of our particular universe is some 14.5 billion years.

      When I write of “our particular universe”, it truthfully implies that I think there could be more than one universe, as theorized by all-stars of quantum mechanics such as Hugh Everett, Max Tegmark, and even the cantankerous but brilliant Richard Feynman. I will not bore you with sophomoric details. But I think parallel universes — literally a multiverse, helps explain what could have led up to the creation of our particular universe and what will occur some time — hopefully not too soon — when all the stars and their planetary worlds in this universe race outward into distant space to leave our own little solar system and even our galaxy and galaxy cluster in permanent cold and darkness.

      So my answer is no, I do not want the Jewish nation to live like primitive south sea islanders, just to prove a point or for any other reason.

      By the way. My second degree was in urban and regional planning, for part of which I studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem under a graduate fellowship grant good for a single study year. My wife was awarded a similar grant, but her studies were in the Institute of Archaeology on the same Jerusalem campus. As you might surmise, I like the idea of city and regional planning because it fits in with the possibility of making everyday living and working more pleasant, and less difficult to get around the urban sprawl that is negatively affecting most of the urban places in modern America, and holding promise of saving taxpayer dollars now wasted on too much road construction rather than on commuter rail systems.

      Arnold Harris
      Mount Horeb WI

    41. Canadian Otter says:

      @ ArnoldHarris:
      TO ARNOLD – My reply to you yesterday was zapped by Spam Filter, so here is more or less what I tried to say:

      It is wonderful that you have a happy and loving family because nothing in life can top that.

      I had good parents and an older brother who loved me as if I had been his own baby. I often wish I could go back in time and tell them how much I appreciate all they did for me. But then I was a self-centered teen who took all that for granted. It’s a tough world, and a loving family is a blessing no money can buy.

    42. If the universe is expanding but our solar system remains, why should we be cold and dark as long as the solar furnace keeps burning? One has nothing to do with the other.

    43. ArnoldHarris says:

      Evidence from various radio-astronomical measurements over time indicates this our particular universe is expanding. Moreover, expansion accelerates over time. Presumably, this universal expansion has been proceeding for its approximate 14.5 billion year life span to date.

      All stars ultimately explode or burn out. Because each such star is in fact nothing more than its own fuel supply, is gravitational pull must diminish as its mass decreases. The implication of this matter of ordinary astrophysics is that the gravitational pull of each such star must lessen in time, releasing its planets and other orbiting bodies to increasingly wider orbits because of the increasingly diminishing gravitational pull.

      In any case, life — sentient or otherwise — must find new homes elsewhere in our universe. But as this universe expands, interstellar travel becomes more difficult, and ultimately, impossible.

      So a multiverse or possible a poliverse or even an omniverse, would hold out hope that life itself could be eternal across the expanse of all such systems, even if no individual life can either survive ultimate death or evade it.

      All of the above is based on scientific conjecture, to the limited extent that I freely admit that I can understand these processes. I also freely admit that I may have fundamentally mis-described what I have been thinking about. Therefore, I make no claims beyond that which I have stated.

      Arnold Harris
      Mount Horeb WI

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