Thursday, June 4, 2020

The Palestinian Authority's Nazi complex

(Last update: June 5, 2020)

There are many similarities between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Nazi Germany. Both are virulently anti-Semitic. Both believe their culture and ideology are superior to those around them. Because of that sense of superiority, both became arrogant. Both are authoritarian. Both feel it is their destiny to conquer others. 

And yet, these similarities seem jarring. They don't correspond to reality (see below).

The reality is, the PA is no Nazi organization, as you'll soon see. Yet this very reality highlights what might be called the PA's Nazi complex: like Nazis of old, the PA is vain, boastful and with an overly high opinion of itself; and, like Nazis of old, the PA seeks to ennoble itself through a belief--Nazism's arrogance and Jew-hate--that has nonetheless proven its power to destroy those who embrace it. 

Embrace something that could destroy you? The PA doesn't care. It is passionately pro-Nazi, despite Nazism's horrific destruction. 

The PA and the Nazis. No two ideas could be more different. 
Nazi Germany's leader, Adolf Hitler, was a conqueror. He conquered all of Europe. His army was a juggernaut, unbeatable during the conquest period, September 1939-May,1941. Within this singular 21-month period, Nazi Germany conquered nine countries with a lightning-like speed: Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Yugoslavia and Greece. Its power during this process appeared overwhelming.  

By contrast, the PA hasn't the power to conquer anyone (thank G-d). Yes, the PA is certainly desperate to conquer Israel. But it can't (again, thank G-d). So how does the PA press forward with its Nazi-dream of conquering the Jewish Israel? It draws cartoons showing Israelis as Nazis (here, using a Nazi image from 1936here).

That's pathetic. But then, the PA doesn't care. 

Compared to the raw and stunning military power of Nazi Germany, the PA is an empty drum. It makes a lot of noise. It certainly dreams of killing Jews. But all it can do is spit, cry and lie about Jews and Israel (for example, here). 

This is pathetic. The PA doesn't care. 

Even today, as Jewish sovereignty over parts of the Jordan River valley fast approaches (it's scheduled to happen at some point after July 1, 2020--maybe), the PA makes a lot of noise about what it will do should Israel act on 'sovereignty'. But the PA has no real options; it's powerless-(here).  

The PA has never developed a plan to create the state it claims it wants. The PA has never begun any plans for statehood. The only plans the PA has ever focused on are plans for inciting Palestinians to pick up a knife and attack heavily armed Jewish soldiers.

That's pathetic. 

Nazi Germany by contrast, was everything the PA isn't. It was 'all action'. Nazi Germany did as it threatened. It acted. It conquered. 

The PA's only tangible, visible goal is to generate Jew-hating propaganda, 24-7. It produces nothing to support or to promote excitement about its future statehood. 

Statehood? The PA has never created any detailed description of what a new Arab state should look like.

That's pathetic.

By contrast, Nazi Germany had a strong and well-organized national game-plan that went far beyond military conquest. Hitler had plans not only for the 'enemies of his state', but also for Germans who accepted him: he would rebuild Germany. He would carry Germany from poverty to prosperity (here). He fulfilled that promise.

Then, to promote the glory of the Nazi race (and its society), Nazis co-opted cinema, art, medicine, engineering and science to showcase what it saw as the genius of the Nazi mind (see here, esp at the 0:30-2:35 mark). Scientists and doctors didn't hesitate to join the Hitler bandwagon (ibid). Metaphorically speaking, they joined Hitler's Nazis with a smile and cheer.

By the mid-1930's, Nazi Germany had figured out how to promote and celebrate its 'glorious and triumphant' Aryan ideology. The Nazis did this through the power of propaganda (start here to look at the genius of filmmaker Leni Reifensthahl, at 8:25-10:10 mark, then watch a commentary on her propaganda masterpiece here)Nazi Germany celebrated its propaganda by turning it into high art (herehere). 

The PA (thank G-d) doesn't produce such propaganda. It produces only bald-faced lies in the form of really disgusting--and sometimes outrageous--hate and incitement. (See, for example, herehereherehere). 

The truth is, no one can build a viable, modern nation-state on a recipe of hate and the arrogance that lies beneath that hate. Perhaps 600 years ago, that might have been  possible--perhaps. But the modern world has been  traditionally too interlinked, too complex to support such a state. 

By contrast, Nazi Germany was, for its day, an ultra-modern, high-tech and science-based operation: organized, and focused on using some of the best/most current scientific knowledge to accomplish its goals (see especially the years 1933-1939).  But Nazi Germany nonetheless failed because it was built on a recipe of hate and arrogance. That arrogance led to a war that destroyed the Nazi dream. 

The PA is no high-tech powerhouse. It offers no scientific 'advancements'. Instead, it's a badly managed, almost primitive society that plainly embraces hate--and rejects everything Western, including science and medicine. It has no engineering or medicine to celebrate. The only thing it celebrates is either (1) demonizing Jews, (2) killing Jews (here), or (3) glorifying Palestinians who die while trying to kill Jews (here)

That's pathetic.

Ultimately, the world saw the horrors of the Nazi world-view. The same may be true for the Palestinian Cause. Where once the PA could dream of making Israel a pariah among the nations, it now sees Israel's international market value  leap forward in most every category imaginable except, of course, in the UN, which stomps obsessively on Israel while,  by the way, it becomes increasingly irrelevant (here hereherehereherehere). 

Yes, Israel may be condemned by the despots who populate the UN, but Israel's high-tech culture, its expertise in cybersecurity, its success fighting terror--and now, its success fighting the coronavirus pandemic (here)--have all brought to Israel (literally) many admirers from the world's halls of power. 

As Israel's star rises, it is Ramallah and Abbas who appear increasingly to be viewed as less-than-desirable. For example, support for the Palestinian Cause within the EU may be waning (here). Support for the Palestinians against Israel may be waning in much of the Arab world (here). Increasingly, Abbas's threats and laments fall on deaf ears (here). The Palestinian Cause seems to have failed so badly that PA President Mahmmoud Abbas complains openly that Arab states fail to condemn Israel's talk of Jewish sovereignty over land the PA says belongs to it (here). 

The PA has no military power, just terrorism. It has no good life to offer, just mind-numbing victimhood. It is weak. It is, indeed, incompetent. 

But it does have hate (here). Lots of hate.

In the end, there are two similarities the PA shares with Nazi Germany. Both hate. Both fail. 

They fail because, ultimately, they are each built upon arrogance and hate. Arrogance and hate, you might wish to remember, do not, as a national goal, create modern, competitive, economically strong nation-states. Nations built on arrogance and hate are built on political quicksand. Ultimately, they sink because of the weight of their hate. Look at Iran. Look at the PA. Look at the majority of the Islamic world.

Nazi Germany was driven by arrogance and hate. It ended up destroyed. With an extraordinary passion, the PA has bought into Nazi Jew-hate. It, too, will be destroyed. 

Put another way, the PA's destiny of destruction has already been set into its Nazi-chosen love affair: you see, the chickens come home to roost. They always do. If the competent Nazis failed, how much more so will the incompetent PA.

Stay tuned. Pay attention. Watch how the Palestinian world incites Palestinians to pick up a knife to attack Jews (here).

Such incitement is pathetic. A knife? Do you really believe the PA will win this war? 


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Coronavirus and cartoons in the Palestinian Authority

The coronavirus has been, so far, a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. By the time it's over, it could kill more than a million people worldwide--maybe. It could end up being the single greatest viral killer since the last great pandemic a hundred years ago (the 'Spanish' flu). 

G-d willing, that won't be true.

This disease has struck most of the world. It threatens lives everywhere. It threatens economies everywhere. Few, if any, major countries have proven to be exempt from this killer.

Nations were not prepared for it. But as soon as it began, nations responded. Some responded better than others. 

Every country had its own approach. Each nation designed its own coronavirus game-plan. In the Middle East, both Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) developed their own game-plans. In a short time, Israel became (somewhat) famous for the relative success of its coronavirus response (here). Even now, more than three months into the pandemic, Israel counts only 31 deaths per million population, one of the lowest death rates among developed countries. 

The PA also had its own coronavirus game-plan. Much of that plan was familiar--lockdown, closed businesses, etc. But their game-plan also took on a new, perhaps unique dimension. It's dimension seen nowhere else in the world. 

To put the corona pandemic into a context, the PA turned to a few, well-designed and sharply focused cartoons to show how it felt about this deadly killer. Here, now, for your entertainment, are a few examples of Palestinian creativity in the face of this particular pandemic. 

Each cartoon below shows how the PA saw the corona risk. The first cartoon below is dated March 16, 2020. It appeared in an official PA daily called, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (here). The cartoon presents an Israeli tank 'dressed up' as a coronavirus carrier. The cartoon shows the tank's main gun, also represented as a coronavirus shape, pointing at a Palestinian carrying a baby. The tank gun appears ready to 'shoot-to-kill' the innocent Arab. The message: Israel uses its military to kill the Palestinian people with the corona pandemic:

The second cartoon is dated May 4, 2020 (here). In this picture, the word "Israel" appears written in Arabic on a tree. The tree is presented as a 'coronavirus tree'--the shape of the tree's greenery appears in a 'corona' shape. This Israeli 'corona tree' is pictured 'killing' (hanging) a Palestinian; meanwhile, US President Donald Trump appears in the cartoon watering the tree and (in Arabic) says, "The coronavirus was created by China". The message: Israel is the coronavirus; Israel kills Palestinians--and Trump sustains the killer, Israel" (ibid):

Today's third cartoon is dated April 12, 2020. It shows an Israeli soldier shooting 'coronas bullets' into a PA village (the sign in the cartoon indicates this). The message: Israeli soldiers deliberately spread the deadly corona virus (from: here). The cartoon is from an official PA newspaper called, al-Hayat al-Jadeeda:

Anti-Israeli propaganda and incitement in al-Hayat al-Jadeeda, the PA's official newspaper. An IDF soldier shoots "corona bullets" at Palestinian towns and villages [from an Israeli settlement] (al-Hayat al-Jadeeda, April 7, 2020).

These cartoons are vicious. They  have nothing to do with the pandemic as a disease. Instead, they politicize the disease to demonize Israel. In an era when political correctness demands we respect one another, these cartoons should be disgusting to all who support such 'correctness'. 

These cartoons are nothing more than primitive anti-Israel propaganda. They don't aim to support peace with Israel. They don't aim to reassure a population to be calm in the face of a deadly disease. They suggest instead the antithesis of  'peace'--and the antithesis of 'remain calm'. They reveal an obsessive dedication to incitement and hate against the world's only Jewish state.  

They spew hate for the enemy. They give readers more reason to hate. Their subliminal message is simple: look at what the killer Jew-soldiers do to us. 

Don't ask Israel why there's no peace. Ask the Palestinian Authority. Ask them, why do you print such obscenities?

Apparently, Palestinian leaders don't want peace with Israel. They want to destroy Israel--and these images above suggest what they have in mind: hate, not peace; demonization of--not cooperation with--the world's only Jewish state.  

Thursday, May 21, 2020

From Israel: will summer heat kill the coronavirus--or more people?

As nations around the world struggle to cope with the pandemic called, coronavirus, many now begin to face a new challenge: extreme temperatures. Yes, there is some evidence--from lab tests--that suggest increased heat and humidity might slow the spread of corona (here and here). Certainly, if that happened, a heat wave would be great. 

But many experts aren't convinced that a heat wave will help. Lab results aren't the real world. In fact, no one knows if a heat wave will help reduce the spread of corona (here)--or, worse, if it would actually spark more death by killing more of the most vulnerable among us, the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions (here).

 A heat wave during a pandemic creates a potential 'double-whammy'. That is, when extreme temperatures combine with the corona virus, the possibility exists that communities could see a deadly one-two punch against the elderly and the ill. 

Or, as one health professional has put it, for older people and for those with chronic medical issues, a heat wave during a pandemic can feel like "getting hit twice" (ibid). If a heat wave combines with the coronavirus, no one knows if the elderly and the medically vulnerable could cope with both a corona crisis and a heat crisis striking at the same time.

So, as heat waves hit across southwest America, southern Europe and Israel, we can ask a question: will corona death rates fall during a heat wave only to be replaced with a spike in heat-related deaths? 

For the past six weeks, during the height of the pandemic, millions of people have self-isolated in homes and apartments that lack adequate air conditioning (here). In cool weather, such a lack of air conditioning isn't a problem. But during a heat wave, little or no air conditioning can prove deadly (ibid).

High heat may not kill the virus. But it will kill people. 

This is a timely topic. As heat waves strike across the globe, public health officials can't relax. High heat brings its own problems: beaches, for example. As heat waves come, beaches fill with people seeking relief (here). From pictures taken of beaches filling up with people, it seemed clear that some beach-goers don't appear to observe social distancing or self-isolation rules (here). This lack of self-restraint could complicate the fight against the coronavirus because it could transform the above-mentioned 'double whammy' (corona-plus-heat) danger into a 'triple-whammy': a corona-heat-social-distancing danger (this assumes that social distancing effectively keeps the virus from spreading).

If summer heat does in fact bring a positive advantage to the fight against corona, will beach-goers (and shoppers, as economies open up) who violate social distancing cancel that advantage? We don't know. 

To give you a sense of the power of this heat, my own outdoor temperature on my apartment porch (we live in Israel's desert) on the morning of May 19th was over 100--by 10:30 am. The temperature rose to 104 by noon--and stayed there until 5 pm, by which time it had dropped only to 103. On this day, it's possible that more people died from heat stroke (at least 3, here) than from coronavirus (1) (here).

May 20th was a repeat: our porch temperature hit 102 by 9 am. It rose to 103 by 1:00 pm before dropping only to 102 by 5 pm. 

May 21st was more-of-the-same: 102 at 9 am; then, by 1 pm, 104 (I posted this essay before 5pm, the 21st).

Our outdoor porch thermometer is in the shade. I have no idea what the temperature in the sun has been. All I can tell you is, on the 19th--and again on the 21st--the midday sun was brutal. In Israel, heat sufferers have continued to drop from heat stroke and heat exhaustion. 

I can understand why.

In the US, extreme heat kills more people each year than any other weather-related event (here). My guess is, this observation holds true for Israel. So what happens when extreme heat collides with a pandemic, while beach-goers and shoppers ignore social distancing? 

No one knows.

In Israel, as elsewhere, temperatures rise while local economies begin to approach "fully open". For example , in Israel, people are now starting to go out. Malls and open markets (the 'shuk') are open. Schools are almost all open now.  Synagogues are open (as of May 20th), though with some restrictions (here). Restaurants are scheduled to open next week.

The questions Israel faces today are the same questions everyone around the world asks: as we all leave our lock-down status, will corona cases spike? Will the summer's heat slow down the spread of corona? Will the heat help our health--or simply kill more of us? 

We don't know. But we'll surely find out soon enough.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Has Netanyahu gone one slap too far?

(Last updated: May 19, 2019)

It's one thing to slap at your political enemies. It's often expected one should do so, depending on the political circumstances surrounding the 'slap'--and, of course, depending as well upon the general political climate that exists at the time of the 'slap'.

But slapping your allies? That's not what we expect from politicians we vote for. We expect better. 

Certainly, if any politician should understand that you don't slap your friends in the face (metaphorically speaking), it's Israel's longest-serving Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.  Relying on such a lesson may in fact be the very reason a longest-serving PM got to be longest-serving in the first place: Netanyahu knows how to treat those who stand with him.

But in recent days, Netanyahu's actions seem to suggest that he has forgotten this lesson. Take, for example, Netanyahu's treatment of Rightist politician Naftali Bennett. 

Recently, Bennett has been Interim Defense Minister (his days as Defense Minister ended today, with the swearing-in of the new government, one that included a new, different Defense  Minister). Bennett performed ably and competently in his job as Defense Minister, especially when the coronavirus pandemic hit Israel (see below).

For example, Bennett ordered (either directly or indirectly) IDF soldiers to bring food to shut-ins during the nation-wide lock-down. He created innovative--and effective--ways for the IDF, working with Israel's High Tech and Defense industries, to invent, build and deliver cost-effective ventilators for use in Israel. He opened several IDF field hospitals to help house coronavirus patients. He even had time to initiate needed infrastructure corrections at Israel's Cave of the Patriarchs, in one of Israel's holiest cities, Hevron.

As a consequence of these accomplishments, Israelis gave him high marks (here). Not only did 65% of Israelis express satisfaction with his corona crisis management, but of the three politicians measured in this poll for their perceived pandemic crisis management skills--Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, PM Benjamin Netanyahu, and Defense Minister Naftali Bennett--Bennett was the only one of the three to receive positive feedback from all sectors in Israel (ibid)--religious, secular, Left, Right.

More important to our point here, Bennett supported Netanyahu during the recent national elections, even as some other natural allies criticized Netanayhu. Bennett also criticized Netanyahu--but nonetheless stood steadfast in his support of Netanyahu.

How has Netanyahu rewarded Bennett? In Israeli politics, you reward your most steadfast political allies by offering them plum Ministries to manage. It's the Israeli way.

Bennett received nothing. He got no offers at all.

This was a slap in the face. Worse, it was public.

Put mildly, this was an extraordinary show of ingratitude. It's certainly not how Israelis have learned to treat a political ally.

Bennett wasn't alone. There were others. The first of these allies to receive similar treatment was Avi Dichter.

Dichter is counted as one of the first eleven names on the Likud political List. In Israeli politics, your place on a Party's 'List' is very, very important. It means that, should your Party's leader be chosen to become Prime Minister, the reward for being a highly-place Member of that Party is to be first-in-line to receive a  Ministry to control. 

Dichter is a strong, experienced and articulate Right-wing politician. But according to news reports, the offer made to him by Netanyahu (to receive a Ministry to manage) was so minor, so unimportant--given the man's past experience--as to be an insult. Dichter was described as ''disgruntled" over this insult (here). In the end, he received nothing.

There were others. MK Gideon Sa'ar is higher up on the Likud List (at number 5) than Dichter (number 10--or, 11; he's been listed in the media with both numbers). But as of  Sunday, May 17, 2020’s new government swearing-in ceremony, Sa’ar had no role in the coalition (here). He'd been shut out by Netanyahu.

In what might be an unprecedented incident, there are at least five additional politicians (see below) who are not only angry that Netanyahu didn't offer what he'd already promised, but were also angry about that public snub.

Then there's the case of Rabbi Rafi Peretz, head of the Jewish Home Party, and (once) a Bennett ally. Peretz had recently joined with other high-profile Right-wing politicians to stand together as a Right-Wing bloc--and to support Netanyahu, no matter what. He pledged to remain loyal to his Right-Wing bloc.

But Peretz faltered. He allowed himself to be convinced by Netanyahu to go over to Likud at the very last minute, in order to receive a Ministerial post.

But then, almost immediately after bolting from the Right-wing bloc to join Netanyahu--indeed, just moments after the news of Peretz' bolting was aired--Peretz got completely blind-sided by Netanyahu.

You see, supposedly, to attract Peretz to Likud, Netanyahu had promised Peretz to take over the 'Jerusalem' Ministry. Peretz accepted. But immediately after Peretz went public with his decision to join with Netanyahu, Netanyahu announced, 'oh, sorry. I've promised that Ministry to someone else' (here)!

Peretz suggested he'd retire from politics if he didn't get an 'important Ministry' (here). Less than 24 hours later, he announced he was joining the government as the 'Jerusalem' Minister' (here).

Perhaps Peretz had called Netanyahu’s bluff to get what he wanted. We don’t know. But we do know that the 'optics' of what Netanyahu did to Peretz weren't pretty. The entire 'affair'  looked like Netanyahu had tried to humiliate Peretz, showing Peretz to be an unfaithful/disloyal politician who had no apparent scruples (see reader comments here). Is that how  Netanyahu treated a brand-new 'political friend'?

By my anecdotal count, Netanyahu had somehow 'slapped in the face' some 11 Israeli politicians--including 7 from Netanyahu's own Likud: Naftali Bennett,  Ayelet Shaked, Betzalel Smotrich, Rabbi Rafi Peretz, Avi Dichter (number 10/11 on Likud List), Gideon Sa'ar (number 5 on Likud List), Nir Barkat (9), Tzachi Hanegbi (number 15 on Likud List), Gila Gamliel (number 10), David Amsalem (number 19) and David Bitan (number 25). Had Netanyahu really so egregiously insulted both his allies and his own Party Members? (here).

Just hours before the swearing-in-the-government  ceremony, Netanyahu continued to try to shoe-horn some of these spurned MKs into a Ministry portfolio (here). He succeeded only with Gila Gamliel and David Amsalem. Gamliel received the Minister of Environmental Protection. Amsalem became Minister for liason between Cabinet and Knesset.

Can such last-minute maneuverings erase the insult of making so many high-ranking Likud MKs wait to the very last minute to be given a Ministry?

Netanyahu's behavior may not have erased any insult felt by MKs. Indeed, as if to make sure everyone in the Knesset heard about Netanyahu's 'insults', long-time Netanyahu-hater Avigdor Liberman did the unspeakable, even for an Israeli politician. He stood at the Knesset podium today (May 17th) during the new government’s swearing-in ceremony, and recited for the entire plenum how Netanyahu had--according to Liberman, at least--betrayed a series of MKs (here). It was a despicable performance by Liberman.

It left a bad taste in many a mouth. It left some wondering if Netanyahu had really lied to MKs (ibid). Had Netanyahu wrecked his own Party (here)?

We don't know. But we do have a question. Does this unpleasant picture (see here) of Netanyahu suggest how the Netanyahu era will end--with one 'slap' too many? 

Stay tuned. You may get the answer to this question sooner than you think.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Israel's election process, democracy--and Israel's High Court

(Last updated: May 19, 2020) 

In simplest terms, a democracy is a form of government where a nation's citizens have real power. Typically, this power comes from elections, where citizens use the ballot box to make a nation's most important decision: who will lead (here)?

While elections certainly don't guarantee that a nation remains 'a democracy', the presence of elections in a democracy does make a 'statement': elections mean that 'the power to choose a leader lies with the voter alone--and not with any cabal, elite, or ruling regime. 

But Israel's democracy has a problem. Elections in Israel don't reflect the voter's power to choose a leader. Israel's elections may actually deny voters that power. This denial has a very nasty name: lawful disenfranchisement. 

Is Israel, so aggressively touted as a legitimate democracy, actually guilty of denying its citizens the power of the ballot box? Indeed, does Israel choose its leaders by using a form of legal disenfranchisement that rejects ballot box results? 

To answer these questions, consider just  one part of Israel's multi-tiered election process--what happens after election results in Israel are published. What happens after an Israeli election reveals the first clue that Israel might use lawful disenfranchisement against its voters. 

The way Israel's election system works, the candidate with the most votes in a national election doesn't 'win the election'. Instead, once election result numbers become clear, the only sure thing that occurs, is that voters essentially get cut out of the process of choosing the nation's leader. Is that how a democracy is supposed to work?

The first thing that happens in Israel after election results are in is that everyone turns away from the voters' choice to focus instead on the nation's President--who, by the way, is not elected by voters, but by politicians who serve in Israel's Parliament, the Knesset. As soon as election results are known, the President's job is to push the voters' choice aside in order to consult with all political Parties which have succeeded in getting elected into the Knesset (in the same election in which PM candidates run). The President (currently, Reuven Rivlin) asks each Party leader just one question: who will your Party's newly elected Knesset Members support? 

Voter disenfranchisement begins here because the candidate with the most votes doesn't automatically get the support of any of the newly elected MKs, except those in his own Party. In fact, to answer the President's question (above) Members of Knesset (MKs) can choose anyone they like. They can choose to support themselves for PM if they wish. The voters' ballot box choice is ignored.

The President's goal here is to find out which candidate in the recent election will be supported by the most MKs. Once the President adds up the answers he has received, the President must then choose the one candidate he (the President, not the voters) feels has the best chance to get the support of 61 MKs, which is the minimum number of MKs a candidate needs to form a ruling government coalition. The candidate chosen by the President at this time doesn't automatically get to be Prime Minister. All he--or she--gets is the opportunity to convince a total of 61 MKs to agree to join him in forming a coalition. 

Of course, in Israel's election system, if a candidate's political Party wins enough seats in the Knesset to secure 61 seats, then, yes, the candidate who is that Party's leader can automatically be chosen by the President to be PM. But such a circumstance has never happened in Israel. That is, it has never happened that just one political Party so dominated an election that it earned enough votes to secure at least 61 Parliamentary seats. 

So in order to rule, a PM-candidate in Israel always needs to find and 'control' at least 61 seats. He attempts to do this by convincing enough competitor Parties to join him in forming a coalition government that will contain (at least) 61 MK seats (each MK represents one Knesset seat). 

Once Israel's President chooses one candidate to make that attempt (to get a total of 61 MKs to join with him), that candidate begins what might be called either politics-at-its-best or, alternatively, politics-at-its-worst. What happens next isn't so much politics as it is a political form of "horse-trading".

For this Israeli political version of "horse-trading", each Party leader who has told the President that he supports the candidate in question will now officially meet with that candidate. At these meetings, each of these Party leaders makes his case for helping that candidate to create a ruling coalition. He makes his case by asking the candidate just one question: how many Government Ministries will you give to my Party to control in order to convince me to join your government?  

Notice that, at this crucial point in Israel's most important democratic process--choosing its national leader--the voters' ballot decisions are nowhere to be seen. In fact, at this point in the process, the voter has been completely forgotten.

This is legal. This is why you may call this process a legal disenfranchisement. It legally ignores the voters' choice for national leader. 

This is how Israel defines its 'democracy--not by using  elections to choose its next PM--but through laws which grant to politicians that ultimate power. These politicians get the legal right to deny the results of the voters' ballots. It's a definition that allows politicians, not voters, to choose the next national leader.  

This form of 'democracy' can be summed up easily: politicians ignore the voters. They just do what's best for themselves.

This is 'democracy' at work? Really?

The real working portion of Israel's election process--where a leader is actually chosen--isn't about counting ballots. It's about political "horse-trading". This is what warps Israel's democracy. Politicians choose leaders, not the voters.

You might also wish to note that, in Israel, elected politicians are not indebted to any voter or voter district. They represent no one.They are indebted only to their Party leader--or their own conscience, if they have one.

Israel's election process is more complex than this. This (above) is just the starting point. There's much more--too much to go into here.

Israeli elections are overly--perhaps even suspiciously--complex. Elections in Israel are more complex than the proverbial Rube Goldberg device--an incredibly complicated and/or elaborate contraption that leads to a very, very simple solution. Elections in democracies aren't supposed to be this complex. They're supposed to be simple. 

In fact, if a democracy is to be truly legitimate, a nation's elections should be both simple and transparent. Anything else might look to voters like a game aimed at fleecing the voter, not empowering him. 

Israel's election process does not give voters the power to choose their next leader. It takes that power away. Israel's elections legally disenfranchise the voters. 

Such a process is not good for democracy. For Israel, it may turn out to be disastrous.

You see, the news regarding the disenfranchisement of Israel's voters got worse today (May 3rd) because Israel's High Court heard a case about overturning our most recent (March 2020)  national election. The case before the Court is against Benjamin Netanyahu. The case requests that the Court effectively overturn the March 2020 election by prohibiting its vote-winner (Netanyahu) from forming a new government--because he has been indicted for crimes against the State. 

You might wish to  note that Israel's current law requires all indicted Ministers and MKs to step down until they are proven innocent--except a Prime Minister. An indicted PM is not required to step down until he has been found guilty--and all appeals have been exhausted. Current PM Netanyahu's trial isn't scheduled to begin until later this month.

The case before the Court today was, in essence, to nullify the existing law so as to force Netanyahu to step down immediately. 

Some in Israel argue that, to protect Israel's 'democracy', the voters' choice in the recent election must be nullified. They argue that the High Court must nullify the election even though the voters who voted for Netanyahu knew about his indictments before they voted--but chose him anyway. 

If the High Court rules against Netanyahu, will it thereby enshrine into law the legal disenfranchisement of Israel's voters? More important still, given the importance of elections to the meaning of 'democracy', what will overturning a legitimate election say about Israel's democracy?

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Israel Independence Day, 2020

Today, April 29, 2020, is also the 5th day of the Hebrew month, Iyar. This is the Hebrew date which Israel takes to celebrate its modern-day re-establishment. Today, Israel is 72 years old.

I have a video for you about that time in the 1940's when Israel became a 'nation'. Please take a look:

As you have just seen, the struggle to create this modern Jewish nation during those years in the 1940's was not easy. Few gave Israel any chance at all of success. Certainly, on paper, in 1947-48, the Jews who fought for Israel looked like losers.

Perhaps it's true what some whispered about Israel back then: some whispered, give the Jews their state. Give it to them. They'll never succeed. Let all those Jews from the Holocaust--Europe's unwanted--go there. It's a good place for them because, in the end, they'll all perish. 

Let them perish, these whisperers said. Perhaps this 'gift' will be what's needed to finish them off for good.

So as you've just seen, the UN voted on November 29, 1947. Arab nations in the UN General Assembly staged a walk-out in protest (here). 

The day after the November 29th vote, Arabs in Israel attacked Jews, killing several. A civil war in Israel between Arab and Jew broke out, initiated by Arabs. 

According to the UN plan, the British Mandate was to end on May 15, 1948. It did, and on May 15, 1948, when Israel officially declared its statehood, open hostilities began between surrounding Arab nations and Israel. Immediately, war erupted on May 15th as Egyptian airplanes bombed Tel Aviv (here). Also, Arab nations around Israel attacked. 

The new state was outgunned, out-equipped, out-trained and out-manned. America and Britain imposed an embargo-blockade against Israel, to interdict all shipping into Israel. We truly seemed destined to be wiped out.

But HaShem, the G-d of Israel and the Shield of David and Avraham, would not have it. He made miracles for us--every day. The Jewish national homeland was reconstituted.

This is why we celebrate this day. Happy Independence Day.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

David Gordon z"l, we remember you

Today is Israel's Memorial Day. It is the Day all of Israel remembers soldiers who have lost their lives while in service to their country, Israel. To paraphrase something former US President Abraham Lincoln once said, these fallen are men and women who have given 'their last full measure of devotion' to their country. This is also the Day we remember Israeli civilians who have been murdered in terror attacks against Jews. 

This is "a day of collective and personal anguish mingled with honor for the fallen" (here). That is exactly what this day is--for so many families.

The number of Israeli soldiers who have died while in service since the founding of Israel now stands at 23,816. For Israel, this is not a small number. We all know such soldiers.

Since last memorial Day,75 soldiers have been killed, mostly from Palestinian terror attacks.In addition, three additional civilians this past year were murdered in terror attacks. The total of Israel's civilian terror victims has now risen to 3,153 (ibid), in addition to the 23,816 soldiers killed.

When my family and I first made aliyah in 2010, a neighbor told us that, in Israel, almost all Israeli families personally know of someone who has been killed in action or murdered by terror. This is a small country--very small. Such death is felt by all. It is keenly felt.

Our own, new-aliyah family also feels such pain. You see, in August, 2014, while the Hamas-Israel war still raged, an IDF 'lone soldier' (a soldier who serves in the IDF with no immediate family in Israel) by the name of Corporal David Menachem Gordon died (here). His death was--and for some, still is--a mystery. We miss him. We remember him. 

We go to his grave site. We visit him at least once a year at Israel's National memorial cemetery, Har Herzl. 

We didn't visit him this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Virtually no one went to any National Memorial cemetery this year. There's a lockdown of all Memorial cemeteries, to keep people from 'mingling'. Very few of the bereaved families were allowed to visit their loved ones today (here). The lockdown just added to the pain one feels.

David was a family friend back in the USA before we made aliyah. At that time, he was in our city to go to our neighborhood Jewish Day school. He lived with relatives just down the street from us. That's how we got to know him.

He was in the same grade as one of my daughters. After both we and he had made aliyah, David kept in touch with that daughter, as young people often do after making aliyah.

We believe our family may have been the last 'old country' friends who saw him just before he died. We spent a Shabbat meal together, hosted by a neighbor here in Israel. 

We were very impressed by the David we saw. He had changed during his Army service. We could see that change. He was more mature. He was more self-confident. 

He had served in combat in Gaza just weeks before. I seem to remember that all he'd say about combat was that his combat had to do with 'sniping'. I remember someone at that Shabbat meal asking David if he--David--could talk about what he'd learned from his combat experience. His response was telling. Very telling.

First, he paused. He became thoughtful. You could see that thoughtfulness in his face--relaxed, looking inward. Then he said, 'you know, when you go into combat for the first time, you just don't know how you're going to react. You never know how you'll perform.' He paused again. Someone asked, 'and what did you learn?'

He responded, 'I learned that I'm a warrior".  

Several days later, we were informed he was dead. We were shocked. We were horrified. He had survived combat. Now he was dead? We couldn't understand.

We learned that David hadn't died in combat. The IDF had investigated. But even today, we're not entirely sure what were the results of that investigation. 

For us, who knew David, his death is still a shock. We still mourn for him him. We still remember him. 

Personally, I remember what David told us at that Shabbat meal. I also remember what his commanding officer said of him at the gravesite service for him at Har Herzl: during training, David was always challenging his officers. David was never satisfied with the training. He wanted more. When he got more, he still wanted more--and David's combat experience showed it. He was an excellent soldier. 

David, I will never forget you. After the funeral, I remember telling someone that David was a warrior, is a warrior and will forever be a warrior. I haven't changed my mind about that. I never will.

He came to Israel. He stood up for Israel. He went to war for Israel. Now he's gone.

David, may your neshama (soul) find rest and peace. May the Creator Himself comfort you.