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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The war was lost before it started

All the talk about a ceasefire yesterday just confirms this.

It pains me to say this but the war had no chance to succeed for a very simple reason. The government does not want to win. Again, the government has no clear objective for the war. They have stated explicitly that they have no intention of reconquering Gaza or deposing Hamas. A lot of damage will be done, a lot of Palestinians will be killed, but, whenever the war ends Hamas will still be in charge of Gaza and the day after, they will be back smuggling more rockets back into Gaza.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Shaul Mofaz - Another wasted year as Transport Minister

YNET has an article which details how public transportation went nowhere in 2008 and all of the promises (train line to Eilat, bus competition, etc.) have not been fulfilled.

Why is this very important? The answer is that the Transport Minister is none other then Shaul Mofaz who wants to be Prime Minister and is currently number 2 in Kadima. He has been Transport Minister for 3 years and he has absolutely nothing to show for it. In fact, just recently the FAA downgraded Ben Gurion Airport to category 2. This put us in the elite company of countries like Honduras, Indonesia, Ukraine, Haiti and Bulgaria. Given his track record of no accomplishment as Transport Minister why would anyone want him as Prime Minister?

This emphasizes again the problem with the Israeli system of government where the ministers are appointed for political/coalition reasons. You end up with ministers who have no interest and know nothing about their ministry.

The left is calling for a ceasefire

I am actually surprised it took so long, but today all of the leftist icons (Amos Oz, AB Yehoshua, David Grossman, Shulamit Aloni) called for a ceasefire.

A ceasefire now would be a colossal mistake. Hamas would declare victory and in a very short period of time would start firing rockets again. Nothing will have been gained except the feeling in Hamas that Israel is a paper tiger afraid of real war.

Here is David Grossman's idiotic suggestion:

We should in no way strike them so violently, even if Hamas, for years, has made life intolerably miserable for the people of southern Israel, and even if their leaders have refused every Israeli and Egyptian attempt to reach a compromise to prevent this lastest flare-up.

What these people don't understand is that peace cannot be one sided. You can't make peace with yourself.

I am positive that in 1941 all of these idiots would have been calling for a ceasefire with Hitler, after all war solves nothing and you make peace with enemies. Luckily, the world was saner then and the Allies pressed on for unconditional surrender. Israel needs to take a similar tack here.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Degel and Aguda are running together

Last weeks Charedi newspapers were very pessimistic and predicted that they would run separately. However, yesterday in marathon negotiations they came to agreement and are running together.

It will be interesting to see how things play out as Litzman is again number 1 one on the list and he is a very controversial figure in the non-Ger world. Porush is number 3 on the list another controversial figure who many blame for running for Mayor of Yerushalayim and losing. Many people may find it hard to vote for such a list and we may see some Haredim voting for other parties.

So far so good, but how will it end?

So far Israel has landed some big blows on Hamas. However, the question is what is next and how will it end? The second Lebanon war started out fine also but the governments indecision and failure to apply overwhelming force led to disaster. The big question is will history repeat itself?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ehud Barak is Crazy Eddie - His prices are insane

80 rockets buys the Palestinians 40 trucks with "humanitarian aid".

This really is just insane. There is no other way to describe this. No sane leader would allow this situation to continue let alone aid and abet those who are firing the rockets.

Is Kadima in the opposition?

If you were out of touch for the past 3 years and just returning to Israel, after listening to Kasima leaders like Tzipi Livni, Chaim Ramon, Mofaz, etc. you would be sure that Kadima is in the opposition. They get on the radio every day and say the situation is unbearable, we need to take action, the ceasefire with Hamas was a mistake, etc. without ever acknowledging that they are responsible for the situation because of their past actions and they are in charge of the government that is doing nothing. The fact is that the situation is unbearable because of them. They were the ones who executed the disengagement, they were the ones who voted for the ceasefire, they are the ones running the government now.

What is amazing (or maybe not so amazing) is that no one and I mean no one in the press calls them on this. The Likud needs to keep hammering away with this. I heard Benny Begin on the radio this morning make exactly these points and the host tried to shut him up and move on.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Some interesting Chanukkah related posts from years past

Here are some interesting posts related to Chanukkah that I posted over the years:

Why aren't there 9 days of Chanukka?

When to daven mincha this Friday?

The laining on Chanuka in chu"l and EY

What is the nature of the mitzvah of lighting candles on Chanukka?

The contrast between על הניסים and the gemara's account

Where to light Chanukkah candles?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

הוציאוה ותשרף

All of the mefarshim are bothered by this, why was Tamar chayav שריפה? Rashi says that she was the daughter of שם and therefore a בת כהן (against the Gemara in סוטה), but in any case even so the din of שריפה should not apply.

The בעל הטורים quotes a fascinating pshat in the name of R' Yehuda Hachassid. He says that they were not going to kill her, rather they were going to burn a mark on her forehead to mark her as a prostitute.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Primaries in Israel, a big joke

Today is the Kadmia primary and last week was the Likud's. To call these democratic primaries is in IMHO a big joke. What is amazing to me is how the press here in Israel thinks this a wonderful democratic process when in truth it is anything but.

The way the system works is that every voter has to pick a list of candidates that they want to serve in the Knesset. For example in Kadima voters have to pick between 18 and 22 names. There are a number of glaring problems with the system:

1. There is no ranking. Everyone you pick is equal. Imagine you have a few candidates you think are really worthy so you vote for them. Now you have to vote for another bunch of candidates just so your ballot is valid. In other words, your vote for some Joe Shmo as your 18th pick who you know nothing about counts as much as your number 1 pick.
2. You end up voting for people that you never heard of and know nothing about. What ends up happening is that various groups make up lists of recommended candidates and that is who people vote for. For example, in the Likud, Feiglin put out a list of candidates to vote for. Most people had no clue who many of the names on the list were who they were voting for.
3. There are all kinds of crazy deals and revenge lists. The system lends itself to manipulation by organized groups.

It is clear that the only solution is a district based system where every MK is elected from a district and then you can have district based primaries.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

יש תורה אין קמח


This was the headline of last week's Mishpacha in Hebrew. Some yeshivos have cut out meat meals, others are literally serving only bread and water, and yet other yeshivos have had their electricity cut off.

The kollelim are not doing any better and in fact have no money to pay the Avreichim.

In short, the Yeshiva world in Israel is on the verge of collapse with no salvation in sight.

In fact, Lakewood has been affected as well. Recently they closed the dining hall for the Avreichim and stopped serving lunch. They have also installed special monitors to save electricity because of the financial difficulties.

One idea suggested to deal with the crisis is that every Charedi household in America should contribute $180 per year to a special fund which will pay the Avreichim in Israel.

The reality is that these are all bandaids for a much larger problem. The kollel society that has been created since the end of WWII is simply unsustainable.

I am still voting Likud

Even after Netanyahu's machinations to push Feiglin down to number 36. Here are some of the reasons:

1. There is no alternative. The other right wing parties simply have little or no influence.
2. Number 36 is not unrealistic. If everyone who would have voted for the Likud with Feiglin at number 20 votes for the Likud with Feiglin at number 36, there is a good chance that he will get in. Once he is in the Knesset there is absolutely no difference what number he was on the list.
3. For all his flaws, Netanyahu is still the best candidate for PM. It would e a disaster of Kadima ended up with more seats then the Likud.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Livni: "We can't bring back everyone"

Tzipi Livni mad an unbelievable statement today regarding Gilad Shalit. She said "We can't bring back everyone".

This is a terrible statement that undermines everything the army stands for. What motivation is there to serve in a combat unit if the government won't do everything to bring you back if you are captured?

Gestures to the Palestinians abound, releasing prisoners, giving them 100 million shekel etc. all for free. What has the government done to bring Shalit back? Absolutely nothing.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Moshe Feiglin has caused hysteria in the media

Yesterday on the radio they kept playing the same clip over and over again, "Moshe Feiglin number 19". The press has gone wild about him just because he is number 19. The truth is number 19 has little or no influence. Who is number 19 in Kadima today? Labor? I don't know and I doubt very many people know. It is clear that the press is doing this because they want the Likud to lose the election. The press has jumped on this like crazy.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

ויהי בבקר והנה היא לאה

Aside from the practical issues of how could Yaakov have not realized who he was sleeping with there is a halachic issue here. The Gemara in Nedarim (20b) has a list of פגומים (who the Gemara calls rebellious), one of them is בני תמורה, which the Rishonim explain to mean that he has 2 wives and thinks he is having relations with 1 and is actually having relations with the other. This would seem to be exactly the case of Yaakov and Leah, he thought that he was sleeping with Rachel not Leah and Chazal state that Reuven was born from Yaakov's first emission (ראשית אוני). it is very hard to believe that ראובן one of the שבטים, would be considered פגום.

The Raavad is bothered with this and answers that Yaakov was before Matan Torah and was not מקפיד on this (clearly very difficult). He offers another answer that Leah did not get pregnant that night. However, this contradicts the Chazal about Reuven being from Yaakov's first emission. See the Magen Avraham ( סי ר"מ סעיף ט) for another difficult answer.