Sunday, February 23, 2020

Benny Gantz and corruption



Is Benny Gantz corrupt? If he could be, should you vote for him?

Many in Israel damn Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a crook. They won't vote for him in the up-coming March 2, 2020 national election. They know he's going to trial March 17, 2020 for corruption and other, related  crimes. They ask, why should they vote for him when he could go to jail?


These critics have been damning Netanyahu since the first 'he looks like a crook' - style headlines began to appear more than two years ago. Even back then, these critics refused to consider Netanyahu innocent until proven guilty. If accused, their thinking went, he must step down immediately from being PM. They said, to protect democracy, he mustn't receive a democracy's basic human right--the presumption of innocence. Accused, they said, he's guilty. Period.

Should Benny Gantz be held to the same standard? This isn't a hypothetical question. It's real.


You see, once Gantz retired from the military in 2015, his leadership experience focused on developing a company called, Fifth Dimension. 
That company went bankrupt less than three years later, in December, 2018. That's the month, by the way, Gantz also declared he was going to start another endeavor: a new political Party, which he did.

 After failing in business, he decided his next career stop should be Prime Minister of Israel.

In March, 2019, Israel's State Comptroller's Office reported that it had "castigated" Israel's police for (having previously) signed a 50 million dollar contract with Gantz' Fifth Dimension--without entertaining proposals from any other company. This was a violation of existing business acquisition regulations for the police. In addition, the State Comptroller also "castigated" the police for attempting to sign this contract without any effort to request those offers--another State regulations violation (here). In addition to to these two violations, the State Comptroller also found that Fifth Dimension had given to the police false information about its operations (ibid). 

Specifically, Fifth Dimension was reported to have told police it had been formed in 2012, when that was untrue; that it had an already-developed product, when that was untrue; and that the company had five customers, all of whom were security organizations--when that was not true; Fifth Dimension had zero customers (ibid). 


Fifth Dimension advertised itself as creating artificial intelligence solutions for law enforcement agencies (here). While there may be reason to say that its failure as a business had more to do with a failure to raise sufficient capital (here), the State Comptroller's Report suggests that the company's activities may have been illegal nonetheless, as noted above.



Israel's State Comptroller's Office also "faulted" police for having included Gantz in contract talks (ibid). This is an especially damning piece of information because it cuts off any future attempt by Gantz to say he knew nothing about any false presentations during contract talks: he was right there, in real time. 


In a statement issued at that time (March 2019), Gantz said that this report was about police conduct, not his own conduct (ibid). His own conduct, he added, was "unimpeachable" (Ibid). 

Really?

If the above Comptroller's report is correct, Gantz's professing his "unimpeachability" could be wrong. The report puts him at contract talks. How did he deal with those false statements from his Fifth Dimension (above) when sitting in front of police officials? 


Those who seek to invest millions of dollars with you aren't stupid. They want to know if you can deliver, especially if you're new at what you do, as Gantz was. They look at what you've written to them--and if you are the boss--they look to confirm with you what the company had earlier put into writing. 


In March 2019, there was , inexplicably, no investigation initiated into Fifth Dimension. But last week, Israel's Attorney General's office announced that enough evidence had indeed been gathered about  that company's business activities that a criminal investigation was warranted. Inexplicably, that investigation won't begin until after the election (here). 

At the moment, Gantz himself is not a suspect, just as Netanyahu is not a suspect in at least one corruption case. Yet, Netanyahu's 'corruption' could pale compared to Gantz': Netanyahu took cigars and champagne; Gantz received at least 4 million dollars of taxpayer money from the police by lying about Fifth Dimension--and if he himself didn't lie, someone on his staff did.


Every top army officer learns that the proverbial "buck" stops with him. That is,  he's always responsible for the actions of those who serve under him. Will he now be held responsible for lies by underlings?

Gantz is s cheduled to be questioned by the AG's office. This will create difficulties for Gantz because he's already spent a lot of time blasting Netanyahu (before and after indictments were handed down) for being associated with corrupt actions undertaken by people under his leadership. Now, Gantz has his own 'corruption' associations.  

How will Gantz respond? Will he  continue to claim his actions were "unimpeachable"? Or, will he withdraw from the election, as he had repeatedly demanded that Netanyahu do over his accusations of corruption?


If Gantz has the ethical standards he wants us to credit him with, shouldn't he recuse himself from running for office in this election, so he can spend his time dealing with the criminal investigation licking at his heels. After all, that's what he's said about Netanyahu. 
Surely, what's good for Netanyahu is now good for Gantz, isn't it?

What a choice Gantz forces upon Israel's voters: suddenly, he's no longer 'Mr. Clean'. Instead, he's just another Israeli politician, close enough to corruption to be considered tainted goods. 


Gantz can't just wiggle out from under this corruption investigation. He can't claim he 'knew nothing'. He was present during contract talks.


Regarding the corruption that took place under his nose, what did Gantz know, and when did he know it? Regarding his participation in the election, why should he escape from what he's so aggressively demanded of Netanyahu--that is, to step down immediately?


Remember, it's been Gantz who's been demonizing Netanyahu for corruption during this entire 11-month-long-three-election-process. He's done an effective job attacking Netanyahu: judging from online reader comments to political stories from Israel, a certain number of voters believe him when he phrases what he's said about Netanyahu's investigations to make himself look like the better PM choice. 


How does he look now? With this new corruption 'shoe' now on his own foot, how squeaky clean does Gantz look? And by the way, if you argue he should be considered innocent until proven guilty, I say, no, he shouldn't be. He's never given Netanyahu that benefit; why should we give it to Gantz?

Why should we vote for him when he could go to jail?

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The March 2, 2020 elections: Israel's election system is broken



Israel's next national elections are now just thirteen days away. Latest polls indicate that voter sentiment hasn't changed since the first two elections that have preceded this election. That is, once again, both Netanyahu and Gantz still poll at almost equal number of Knesset seats won, with--at the moment--Gantz ahead by just one or two seats (here). As with the first two elections, such a result means that both Netanyahu and Gantz once again will probably be unable to form a government, should one of them win the upcoming March 2, 2020 election (here). 

That means--should this stalemate happen--that yet again, Israel will be deadlocked (ibid). Once again, Israel will be left without a democratically-chosen government. Worse yet, this circumstance would also mean that Avigdor Liberman, with perhaps no more than eight Knesset seats (less than 7 percent of the Knesset) to his name, will apparently remain 'the king-maker'. 

If  Liberman does get to play 'king-maker', Israel might not get a leader chosen by the majority of its voters. Instead, Israel could end up with a minority politician (Liberman) with few enough votes to be able, under normal circumstances, to exercise much influence over anyone, actually ending up with the power to make the voters' choice for them. 

Seems to me like Israel's entire election system will have to be overhauled. One good reason for such an overhaul is cost. Each national election costs Israel something like a billion+ shekels. This third election--if it ends in a a deadlock-- will have meant more than 4.5 billion invested into a 'losing game'. 

Israel's taxpayers aren't so rich they can long afford to invest that kind of cash into something that continues to fail. Perhaps Israel would be better off with a simple, 'vote-for-the-man-you-want-to-be-leader' method of selection, as is done in the US. 

Certainly that would be fairer and more 'democratic' than the 'Rube Goldberg' system (overly complex plan created to get a simple result) Israel now uses. It would certainly be cheaper. 

Besides, Israel's current election system isn't the most 'Democratic' way to elect a new leader. It leaves the final choice for leadership not dependent upon a final vote-count of all of Israel's voters, but upon the negotiation skills of a few normally unpopular politicians (if these politicians were popular, they'd get a lot more than 7-9 seats in an election). Is this how Israel wants to govern itself?

How many unworkable elections will Israel need to endure before voters decide to change? How many unpopular politicians will grab the reins of power from voters' hands before Israel decides to change?

Indeed, how many future Libermans must take charge of  Israel's voting booth before Israel decides to change?

Enough is enough.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Abbas brings peace and an intifada to the UN?




Today, February 11, 2020, Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmmoud Abbas plans to appear at the UN to present his own "peace" plan (here). But he also plans to unleash at the UN a diplomatic war (an intifada) against the Trump Plan--and Israel-- on the same day he talks of his "peace" plan! (ibid).

What does this man want, war or peace? If he wants peace with his enemy, why create a 'diplomatic war' against that enemy?

is this war-peace concept Abbas' plan? It might be.

This plan can be seen as having four parts which, altogether, would give Abbas--if it worked--the strongest anti-Israel, anti-Trump foundation possible to push his own ideas at the UN. It could also suggest that his "peace" plan is a blueprint for the destruction of Israel--in diplomat disguise.

Here are the four elements of this plan:

-Part One began February 8, 2020, at an Arab League meeting. There, Arab League members voted unanimously to support Abbas by rejecting the Trump Peace Plan (here). It gave Abbas a self-protecting argument to fight the Trump Plan: all Arabs reject this Plan; how can you ask me to accept it? 

-Part Two was first reported in Israel the next day (February 9th). According to Israel's channel 13 news, the PA had announced it would now bring ever more lawsuits against Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC)--supported , the PA statement said, by "international lawyers" (here, ibid).

This was no accident. It seems that one mostly unreported portion of the Trump Plan was a specific provision that required the PA to drop all lawfare lawsuits against the Jewish state (here). This Part Two call for  more such lawsuits at the ICC was Abbas' way to signal he wasn't about to give up one 'arrow' in  his war 'quiver' against Israel--not for peace, at any rate. 

Part Three was to be a pro-Palestinian, anti-Trump UN Security Council Resolution. This Resolution, to reject and condemn the Trump Plan, was to be presented--and passed by the UNSC--today, February 11th.

Then, as the triumphant capstone to this four-part plan, Abbas would stand up later today at the UN to make a speech in which he would begin by touting his newest victory--the UNSC's rejection of the Trump Plan--and continue with his own ideas about what the world should do about the Arab-Israel conflict--ideas he would present on the world's biggest stage, the UN, for all to see. 

At first blush, the plan appeared to be a well-planned assault against those (Trump, Israel) Abbas chooses to hate. Except for one thing. Abbas didn't get enough support (or, at least, enough early support) from the UNSC to present today his 'we-reject-the-Trump-Plan' Resolution. Rumors (which may not have been rumors at all, but fact (here)) circulated late yesterday that Abbas had to withdraw his Resolution--out of a fear of being "humiliated" by a UNSC rejection of his call for condemnation of the Trump Plan (here, ibid). 

This is where we stand late morning, February 11, 2020, with Abbas. He's already spoken of an "intifada" at the UN and of peace in the same breath (here). What kind of madness is this? It's a madness, I would bet, many at the UN will cheer or applaud.

While in his home-city, Ramallah, Abbas incites violence (after the Trump Plan was announced on January 29, 2020) (here). It's his way of responding to the Trump Plan ; and  now he will now bring ideas for peace-with-an-intifada to the UN? 

This is no man of peace. This is a man of violence against peace (here).

As I write this, it's just before noon, Israel time, February 11, 2020. Reports here in Israel say Abbas is scheduled to give his speech at the UN at 5pm today, Israel time. 

We ask, will this speech suggest a plan for a Palestinian peace that is based on international diplomacy forcing Israel to destroy itself by, for example, having to allow some 4 million Palestinians to be repatriated back into Israel as part of a final peace resolution to the Arab-Israel conflict--or will it outline a different path? 

What will he say? What "peace' talk will we hear from him?

Stay tuned. 







Sunday, February 9, 2020

Here is the Palestinian's counter-proposal to the Trump Peace Plan



Now that the Trump Peace Plan has been around for a couple of weeks, we've gotten a chance to see how Israelis and Palestinians have reacted to it. Here's a hint about that reaction: the two sides couldn't be more different.

In Israel, Jews are taking the Plan seriously. They're discussing its pro-and cons. 

For example, in Israel, there's talk of Jewish 'sovereignty' (here). That is to say, there's talk of annexation--for and against (here and here). There's even talk of implementing the Plan, after real negotiations have taken place (here). 

Certainly, Jews have what to say about this Plan--and they're not afraid to express an opinion (here).  The Plan has been everywhere--on Israeli TV, on radio talk shows and in the nightly news.

Many in Israel like this Plan. They believe the time has come for both Israel and the Palestinians to talk seriously about it (here).  

Then again, many in Israel are against the Plan. They see it as a "Peace trap" that won't in the end help Israel (here).

Actually, these differences might not matter. This is Israel, remember. This is the place to go when you want to argue over something, especially "peace". The main point is, Israelis are talking--and thinking--about Trump's ideas.

What do we see from the Palestinian Authority? Are officials there giving this Plan a hard, serious look? Are they discussing it? Are they debating it's pros and cons?

Well, they're certainly discussing it. But the Palestinian discussion looks nothing like the Israeli version of "discussion". You see, in the PA, there is no real "discussion" at all. There's no debate.

In the Palestinian Authority (PA), you'll find only a singularly uniform reaction--complete rejection. Leaving no doubt as to who's in charge in the PA, Palestinian leader Mahmmoud Abbas has taken an active  'leadership' position on this Plan. He's already called it not 'the Deal of the Century', but the 'Slap of the Century'--and he's continued to stick to that description. 

His spokespeople have been even more blunt than that. For example, one official has said that, as a reaction to the Plan, the PA might just vote to dissolve itself--perhaps to "punish" Israel by making Israel become the sole 'adult in the room' for looking after the 'Palestinian people' (sic) (here). Fatah officials (Abbas is President of Fatah) have joined with other PA anti-Israel organizations to declare a 'Day of Rage' against the US and Israel (here). Then, Abbas declared he's going to cut all ties with both the US and Israel, to highlight his 'dismissal' of the Plan (here).

To make sure there'd be no misunderstandings whatsoever about his response to Trump's Plan, Abbas described his response as, "no, no, no, a thousand times, no" (here). He said, the Trump plan "will not come to pass". Our people, he bragged, "will send it to the dustbin of history" (ibid).

Did you get his message? Do you understand what he's saying?

To top off this rejection, all members of the Arab League--including even those Arab countries which have recently shown a warming trend towards the Jewish state--voted unanimously to support Abbas. They voted to reject the Trump Plan (here). 

This vote is generally seen as a "win" for Abbas (ibid). Or, looking at this Arab League vote a different way, it's a win for continuing the Palestinian rejection of any chance of economic  prosperity for the Palestinian people. It's a win for continuing both poverty and misery for the Palestinian people (here). 

In place of this Trump Plan proposal, Abbas offers, you will notice, no Peace counter-proposals of his own. He offers nothing.

He offers no compromise solutions to the questions of how to deal with Jerusalem as a capital city, or how to deal with some 700,000-800,000 Jews in the 'West-Bank" (including the eastern portions of Jerusalem). He offers no concessions as to how, exactly, to situate 'two states for two people living side-by-side in peace and security'. He offers nothing to counter-balance the "peace-offerings" of the Trump Plan for economic cooperation and the massive US support for the PA Trump has promised. Abbas suggests no ideas of his own for economic arrangements or security arrangements or political/diplomatic arrangements. He offers no willingness to negotiate with Israel--or the US--in any way other than with his, 'it's my way or the highway', approach.

He isn't interested. 

Instead, Abbas will only discuss arrangements of his own making. These arrangements are simple.There's only one "negotiation" for Peace--the same as it's always been. It's a negotiation process that begins with Abbas saying, 'here's what I demand. If you don't agree, these negotiations have ended, period".

Neither Israel or the US is interested in that. Can you guess why? Abbas would leave Israel with no state.

Meanwhile, back in Israel, Israelis are still talking. Both Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main political rival in the up-coming March 2020 national elections (Benny Gantz) have expressed interest in it. Jewish leaders of Judea-Samaria have met with Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu about it (here). Politicians on both the Left and the Right have either stood to support it (this, mostly from the Left) or to speak against it (mostly from the Right). Israelis are certainly engaged by this Plan.

Not so in Abbas' Palestinian Authority. From the PA, we don't hear discussions about any peace plan. Instead, we hear calls to condemn it. For example, PA officials call this plan "the filth of the century" (here), not the "Plan of the Century"; and, in speeches especially, officials claim that to accept this plan is treasonous; that is, any Palestinian who talks to Israelis about the Plan will be labelled a traitor (here).

Now Abbas gets set to go before the UN with his own, self-designed counter-proposal for "Peace". It's his  big Plan, his big moment. 

His idea is simplicity itself. He's going to the UN to unleash a "diplomatic intifada' against Trump, the Plan, the US and Israel (here). 

He won't give up. He won't back down. 

He's serious. If he has to, he will destroy both the US and Israel at the UN to protect his upcoming (at the UN) counter-proposal for "peace" in the Middle East.


Stay tuned. This movie has just begun.








Thursday, January 30, 2020

Why Trump's 'Deal of the Century" will fail

(Last updated: February 3, 2020)


On January 27, 2020, US President Donald Trump presented a much-advertised "Peace Plan" Trump has named, 'The Deal of the Century'. It's an ambitious Plan. One indication of its ambitiousness is the curious fact that, out of all Peace Plans ever presented to solve the Arab-Israel conflict (since 1948), this is the only one to present an actual, geographical  map of how the Plan  would play out "on the ground" (here). Apparently, no other plan, not even the  most recent (2013) 'John Kerry' Plan, contained a map (ibid). 

As I understand it, this Plan would give to a new Palestinian state some 70% of the West Bank (Judea-Samaria), mostly involving what is currently called 'Areas A and B', which are already under Palestinian control (ibid). This new map seems designed to disrupt current Israeli-controlled areas as little as possible--something that might well be another innovation of this Plan.

Clearly, a lot of thought has gone into this idea. Will it be accepted?

Well, in Israel at least, this Plan will be debated. As with all past 'plans', it aims to change the 'status quo' for both sides. As time unfolds --and if you follow this Israeli debate--you'll learn why Israel will be divided over it.

In the end, however, it won't matter what Israelis conclude--or do--about the Plan. Yes, Israelis will certainly vent their passions over it. But that venting will be nothing more than an empty exercise. It will be wasted energy.

It will be wasted energy because the Palestinians will never  say yes to it--ever.  Palestinian leader Mahmmoud Abbas has said all along--since the end of December 2017-- that this deal is dead. He's said all along it didn't matter. He's said all along he was rejecting it, sight-unseen.

Even without looking at details, he understood that this Peace Plan wasn't for him a deal at all. It was a slap in the face (here). 

From his point of view, Abbas is 100% correct. This deal is stillborn for Abbas and his followers because it would mean the end of the Palestinian dream. Abbas will never say 'yes' to a Plan that wouldn't just end the Palestinian Cause (here). This Plan, Abbas has said, "aims to liquidate [my emphasis] the Palestinian cause (sic)" (ibid).

This Abbas-led hostility to peace is what all Peace Planners for the Arab-Israel have always missed or chosen to miss. Abbas--and his predecessor, Arafat--have never wanted a state to call their own, 'to live side-by-side with Israel in peace and security'. The "Palestinian Cause" is not about just statehood. It's about a new state that replaces Israel, a state that would take over all of modern Israel and wipe the Jewish state off the face of the planet.

To see this truth, all you need to do is look at another map--that of Palestine as envisioned by  the Palestine Cause:



Related image
(courtesy of palwatch.org)


This picture immediately above is the Palestine envisioned by Abbas (standing on the left in this picture, holding the frame). It's a map of Israel, with Arabic text on it, that renames Israel as 'Palestine'. 

Abbas knew from the very beginning of Trump's administration that the Trump Peace Plan would never do Abbas's bidding and convert Israel into 'Palestine'. For Abbas, this Trump Plan is no different from all other Plans: It's just one more reprint of the West's silly desire to create a two-state solution for this conflict. 

Abbas doesn't want a two-state solution. He's never wanted a two-state solution. He wants one-state solution--an Arab-Muslim nation that sits on top of a destroyed-and-replaced Israel--a 'Palestine' similar to what you see above.

That is the Palestinian dream--to replace Israel with a Muslim 'Palestine'. That dream is the essence of  the 'Palestinian Cause'. 

Therefore, any Peace Plan that ignores this Palestinian vision for nationhood is automatically 'dead on arrival'. Such a Plan is useless. It doesn't bring Abbas peace--or fulfill the Palestinian dream. Instead, it "liquidates" the Palestinian Cause--because the Palestinian Cause isn't about peace. It's about conquest. 

To the West, a "Peace" Plan is an attempt to avoid or end war. Put another way, peace is about "liquidating" the need for war. 

That's not Abbas' idea of Peace. His idea of Peace is a Region with no Israel, anywhere.

This is why Trump's Plan will fail. It leaves Israel intact. It won't satisfy the Palestinian dream.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

More questions about Benny Gantz's fitness to be Israel's Prime Minister



I have already written about the question of Gantz's fitness to be Israel's PM (see "Has Benny Gantz just proven he lacks  the skill to make competent political decisions?", below, December 31, 2019). In that essay, I questioned his ability to choose competent enough advisors for him to become Israel's leader. Now, a new report surfaces that again raises this same question--for the exact same reason.

As you may  know, Benny Gantz was in Washington, DC yesterday, January 27, 2020. The purpose of this trip was to meet with US President Trump just before Trump was scheduled to announce details of his "Deal of the Century" Peace Plan for Israel and 'Palestine'. Current Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu was there, too--but not at the same time. Each man vying in the March, 2020 national election in Israel to be Israel's next PM got his own session with Trump to hear privately about the Peace Plan's details. 

So far, there's nothing obviously wrong with any of this. What is wrong is Gantz's apparent inability--once again--to choose close advisors who are politically competent. The latest person to raise this issue, inadvertently, of course, is a "close" Gantz advisor, Ronen Tzur. Tzur, we have been told,  had accompanied Gantz to Washington for this visit (here).

Apparently, Tzur is what some might call a potential "political hand grenade" right next to Gantz. If that 'political hand grenade' goes off, Gantz could be finished. 

What did Tzur do? Well, here's a short list of some of what Tzur has done:

-In March, 2016, Tzur twitted about Trump that, "Trump's next book: Mein Trumpf".

-In May 2017, Tzur wrote, “The most surprising thing about Trump is only one thing was leaked to the Russians until now.”

-In July, 2017, Tzur wrote: “Tonight at the White House: The Elimination Episode.” [The Hebrew word for 'elimination' is the same as 'impeachment' (sic)].

-In August, 2017, he referred to Donald J Trump as "Donald Adolf Trump".

-In May, 2018, he tweeted, “2 approaches to leadership now clashing fiercely: Obama and Clinton’s psychological approach and Trump and Putin’s psychopathic approach.”

Tzur never deleted these tweets (ibid). The inference is, he came to Washington with them still up--and visible for anyone to see.

If Gantz is to serve as Israel's next PM, will he be well-served by such an advisor? Certainly not, if Gantz wishes to have a good relationship with the current US President.

To lead Israel successfully, Gantz needs to know how to interact with foreign leaders. He especially needs to know how to interact with leaders from the planet's most powerful nations. Insulting those leaders, or bringing on a visit to such a leader those who do that insulting for Gantz (for that will be the inference taken), doesn't win friends. It doesn't influence any sitting foreign leader for the better. 

Can Israel afford such a leader? 

Unfortunately, Tzur wasn't finished with insulting others. He kept it up from Washington. Apparently, some members of Likud reacted badly to these tweets about Trump. Two hours before the Trump-Gantz meeting took place, and in reply to criticism from Likud members, Tzur labelled such followers of Likud as 'cult members'. He wrote, "“Seeing that some members of the cult have gotten overexcited at some tweets from past years I will clarify: There were certain issues that I thought differently about from the president" (ibid). 

Clarification for Tzur: 'thinking differently' about 'certain issues' isn't the same as calling Trump, Donald Adolph Trump, or using such language as Mein Trumpf, or 'Trump behaves like a psychopath'. 'Thinking differently' isn't even in the same league as these insults. If Tzur doesn't understand the difference between 'differences', versus slanderous--or, perhaps, even hate-speech--what's he doing at the ear of a potential Prime Minister?

For that matter, what's he doing in Washington, DC with that potential leader? A t the very least, leave such a man at home.

 Yes, at the same time that Tzur trashed Likud followers, and just minutes before the Trump-Gantz meeting, Tzur did praise Trump (ibid). But such praise doesn't erase the unerased anti-Trump slurs from 2016, 2017 and 2018. Indeed, compared to the earlier insults, such praise right before a meeting with Trump just makes Tzur look like a hypocritical boot-licker.

Is this the kind of advisor Gantz surrounds himself with? Worse yet for Israel, what does such a choice tell us about Gantz?

Remember, Tzur is a political confidant of Gantz. Unlike you or me, he has Gantz' ear. He's important enough to travel to Washington with Gantz. 

What is someone like this doing so close to a potential Israeli leader? 

In the US, many, many people who refer to Trump using this language above are Leftists. They promote an anti-capitalist, anti-border, anti-religion, anti-Trump and pro-Socialism agenda. Is this what Ronen Tzur believes? 

More important for Israel's voters, is this what Gantz himself believes? Is this why Gantz has Tzur traveling with him?

What is Tzur--and his beliefs--doing with Gantz in America? We don't know.  But his tweets raise questions: Does Tzur suggest with his political insults what will be Gantz' secret agenda--an anti-Trump, pro-Socialism agenda for Israel?

How, exactly, will that look for Israel? Well, Gantz hasn't spoken about any of this. He hasn't laid out the plans he will bring to Israel. Does Tzur now speak for him? Certainly, we actually know next to nothing about Gantz' plans for Israel--other than, Netanyahu-man-bad-Netanyahu -must-go.

Is this enough to elect him our leader?

This is what make Tzur's slander so frightening. It makes us realize how little we know about Gantz' ideas and ideology. Does Tzur inadvertently reveal the political realities that are close to Gantz' heart?

More important for all of us who will vote in March, 2020, is this the kind of anti-Trump, anti-capitalist  belief-structure Israel wants to vote for?

Once again (as with the episode reported in the December 31, 2019 essay), we see a Gantz advisor force us to ask if Gantz is really the 'best man' to lead the world's only Jewish state. After all, between now and at least the end of 2021, Israel has some treacherous waters to navigate. Israel will need to travel upstream against strong currents in the UN, the EU, a potentially hostile US Congress, a hate-mongering Iran, rockets at Israel's Northern--and Southern--borders, potential fallout from international economic anti-Israelism, a potential ICC war crimes tribunal set up against Israel, and pressure from a growing Russian interest in increasing its influence in the Middle East. People like Ronen Tzur aren't going to help Israel with such challenges. People like Tzur could, in a single, unguarded instant, seriously undercut--or even destroy--any positive understanding Israel has--or will have--developed with a foreign power.

Israel's voters need to think very hard about what they'll get with a Gantz-led Israel. So far, Gantz does more to cut off his nose despite his face than to enhance his standing in the world. Is the man Israel needs right now?









Friday, January 24, 2020

Is this why Trump has been impeached?





As I have previously suggested to my readers, since I now live in Israel, I try not to get involved in US politics. But the US drive to impeach US president Donald Trump is so historic an event, I cannot stay away from this event. It's simply too big to ignore, no  matter where I live.

I'm sure you know the basics of this impeachment. I won't rehash anything. But I do want to offer the occasional comment from afar. Perhaps distance provides some perspective.

I realize some of my readers could be offended by what I will say. After all, one doesn't have to live in Washington, DC to understand how passions about Trump run high--very high. I hope my readers will not abandon me over this issue. I hope you remain loyal to this blog.

Here's a comment about this Trump impeachment process: in the US Senate impeachment trial now unfolding, the US House of Representatives has seven 'Managers' whose job it is to serve as 'prosecutors' against Trump. If I understand matters correctly, these seven Managers will today, Friday, January 24, 2020, finish presenting the Democratic case against Trump. These seven Representatives, all Democrats, all chosen specifically by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), include: Jason Crow (D-Colorado), Val B. Demings (D-Florida),  Sylvia R. Garcia (D-Texas), Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York), Zoe Lofgren (D-California), Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) and Adam Schiff (D-California) (here). 

According to one source, US Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), three of these seven US House Managers in the Senate impeachment trial (some 42+ percent of the House 'Prosecutors') voted against lethal aid to the Ukraine--and these same three (Nadler, Jeffries and Lofgren) now lead the call to impeach Trump for, arguably, simply delaying the same lethal aid which they themselves refused to send? (here). Indeed, what's worse, delaying aid because of Ukraine's recent past history of corruption--or voting against it altogether? 

What's going on here? Is this why Trump is being impeached--over a policy dispute? 

Certainly, some have believed that, during December's House impeachment hearings, several anti-Trump 'witnesses' (few of whom had any face-to-face interactions with Trump, never spoke to Trump, but condemn him for impeachable offences anyway) were actually arguing that they condemn Trump because they, the professional diplomats, disagreed strongly with Trump's policy decisions (at least, that's the way it looked to some).  Is this the impeachable offense?

In the end, the impeachment Articles spoke specifically of Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress. Obstruction of the Congress is a separate issue. But is this policy dispute over Ukraine the real reason behind Trump's alleged Abuse of Power?

Remember, at app 10:25 EST yesterday, Thursday, January 23, 2020, Representative Adam Schiff said that this President "needs to be removed [from office] because Trump chose Rudy Giuliani over his own intelligence agencies and national security advisers" (here). Schiff then added, "that makes Trump dangerous" (ibid).

Really? Dangerous? A President does not have the power to send special envoys on special missions? Plus, if a President does use such envoys, he can be removed from office?

Really? How many times have other US Presidents used special, even private, envoys? A hundred times across American history? A thousand times?

Democrats claim no, no and no, again. That's not the reason for this impeachment. They say Trump's Abuse was his effort to influence a foreign leader to get for Trump dirt on a potential political opponent (Joe Biden). But was Trump's interest in a potential Biden-Ukraine connection just about a potential political opponent--or about real corruption in a place that had been one of the most corrupt countries in the world; a corruption that could have included the-then US Vice President (Biden and his family members) working behind the scenes?

More to the point, if what Schiff said, above, is not the point for impeachment (that Trump needs to be removed because he didn't rely on his own advisers, etc), then why make that remark? How does it relate to 'Abuse of Power'? If Schiff is saying that such a remark is in fact related to 'Abuse of Power', is such a connection legitimate? 

Does Congress really want to create a basis for the impeachment of a President that will literally tie the hands of all future Presidents? What is the message here--that a President cannot choose his own foreign policies, and cannot choose whom he wishes to perform delegated tasks?

Has Congress become this stupid? Something is wrong here.

Very wrong.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Here's a video. About Trump. From 1980. Dare you watch it?

(Last update: January 15, 2020. includes a title change)


Over the years I've been writing, I've developed an informal rule: stay away from US politics. True, I haven't always adhered to this rule. But it does influence what I choose to write about.

I believe that for the better part of the last two years, I've been pretty faithful to this rule. So far as I can remember, I've published little, if anything, about US politics during this time-frame.

You can confirm that by digging deeper into my blog posts, below. What I've written is not hidden. It's part of the blog's historical record.

Today, I will break this rule. I will show you a video about Donald Trump--from 1980, when he was 34 years old. A friend sent it to me from a Facebook entry they had found. It's less than 4 1/2 minutes long. 

You might say that I post this interview not for a political purpose, but for historical perspective. Perhaps it puts Trump-the-man into an historical context. Perhaps that context could be important.

Please note that Trump in this interview references Iran and the 'hostages'. He is referring in this interview to 52 Americans who were taken hostage by Iran, in Iran, in early November, 1979, eleven months earlier. At the time of this interview, October, 1980, those hostages had been held in captivity for something like 380 days. Iran didn't release them until January 20,1981, the very day the newly-elected US President, Ronald Reagan, was sworn into office. Iran held these Americans for a total of 444 days before their release.

One final point: no matter what your political position is vis-a-vis Trump, I think this brief interview excerpt is worth your time. 



What do you think?