Monday, June 30, 2008

Amir Peretz plans his return to head the Labor Party

Peretz to challenge Barak in primary

You couldn't make this up, this is so completely and utterly absurd. Here is a guy who was elected to lead the Labor party and was a total failure. It is hard to imagine someone failing worse. In any other democratic society he would be done for. Just look at what happened to Michael Dukakis after his failed Presidential bid, and his failure was nowhere close to Amir Peretz's failure. After his disastrous term as Defense Minister how can anyone take him seriously as a candidate for Prime Minister? How can anyone think of voting for him? The fact that he can even think of returning shows how warped politics is here in Israel.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Israel should reject the deal with Hezbullah

As much as I feel for the families this deal cannot be accepted. For probably the first and last time in my life I agree with Yossi Beilin that this deal needs to be rejected.

According to all the intelligence reports the 2 soldiers are dead. The fact that Israel would make a deal with Hezbullah with this fact unknown is in and of itself a reason to reject the deal. How can you make a deal when you don't even know what you are getting back? Given the fact that we are 99% that they are dead, paying the same price for bodies as live soldiers is a terrible precedent. Until now, organizations like Hezbulah and Hamas have understood that live soldiers were worth more then dead bodies and therefore acted accordingly. Now why should they bother keeping prisoners alive, the government will pay the same price in any case? Deals like this bring on the next round of kidnappings and give the enemy no incentive to keep prisoners alive.

We have had a lot of emotional please from the families. That is their right and that is what they need to do. However, leaders need to back away from the emotional pleas and evaluate the situation in a logical cold hearted manner. They are responsible for the well being of all the citizens. The fact is the head of the Mossad and the head of the GSS are against the deal because it is a terrible precedent. Emotion, no matter how justified, can't change that.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Labor Party is a Joke

So says the headline of today's ישראל היום (a free daily newspaper given out in Israel).

The reason is really simple. Not only did the deal with Labor gain time (3 months until the primaries) for Olmert, he is planning to run in the Kadima primary.

PM: I'll run again despite Labor deal

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert embarrassed the Labor Party on Wednesday when he announced at the Knesset podium that he intends to run for reelection as Kadima chairman despite the deal reached overnight Tuesday in which Labor gave up its effort to initiate an early election.

Even if Olmert does not run, he has made no promise to relinquish the premiership to the victor. He could continue serving as prime minister even if Kadima elects a new leader, because there is nothing in the Kadima bylaws that would force him to step down.
Labor secretary-general Eitan Cabel, who negotiated the deal, did not insist on ruling out an Olmert reelection bid, mostly because he thought this was superfluous and because he did not want to embarrass the prime minister. But he ended up being embarrassed and outraged by Olmert's statement at the Knesset.

"I can't deal all day with the question of whether or not I am being lied to," Cabel said. "If Olmert runs, we will quit the coalition and I will submit a motion of no-confidence in the government."

The bottom line is that Labor got absolutely ZERO from this deal, except a black eye for again zigzagging.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Shas is now sitting pretty

Shas must have breathed a huge sigh of relief. They don't really want elections and now they can continue to extort money from Olmert in return for staying in the coalition. I guarantee you that at least once a week we will hear Shas threatening to leave the coalition over some issue. It is patently clear that Olmert will find a way to give Shas money and keep them in the coalition.

It is unclear how this will work out for Shas in the long run. If Olmert actually makes a deal with either the Palestinians (dividing Jerusalem) or Syria (gving back the Golan) it will be a disaster for Shas because their voters will not forgive them for allowing that to happen. On the other hand, if there is no real progress and Shas continues to extort money they will be in an excellent position for the next election.

Can politics in Israel sink any lower?

I haven't posted about Israeli politics in a while, here I go again.

It doesn't get any worse then this. Ehud Barak who a month ago stated that he doesn't see how Olmert can continue as PM, made a deal to allow just that.

Labor agreed late Tuesday night not to vote in favor of the bill which calls for the dissolution of the Knesset, whether it is brought to the floor on Wednesday, or any time in the coming weeks.
According to the agreement, the Kadima party promised to convene a committee on Wednesday which would begin the process of primaries for choosing a new chairperson. On Monday of next week, the Kadima faction will discuss the results, and 10 days later the Kadima council will convene to determine an exact date for primary elections, to be held before September 25. Should a run-off election be needed as well, that, too, will be held before September 25.

What this means is that Olmert survives until at least October the beginning of the next Knesset session. Let's not forget that Olmert may very well run in the Kadima primaries and win. Then what?

This is absolutely pathetic. The Winograd commission without saying so explicitly told Olmert to go and he ignored what they said. At that point Ehud Barak said that he would work towards replacing Olmert. So far he has done nothing but help Olmert survive. Then came all the corruption investigations culminating in Talansky's infamous testimony. Again Barak made a lot of noise and again is doing nothing.

Let's look at what is going on.
1. The so called "cease fire" has already started to fall apart
2. Gilad Shalit is no closer to coming home.
3. On the Northern front the deal with Hizbullah is also very controversial and may or may not happen.
4. Negotiations with Syria
5. Iran

All being done by a Prime Minister who has no moral authority, has a single digit approval rating and is spending a good part of his day fighting off the 5 corruption investigations.

The political system in Israel is absolutely bankrupt. More and more people are losing faith in the system. When all the politicians care about is keeping their seat and there is no real accountability people simply tune out and don't vote.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Looking back at what the leftists said before the disengagement

I was reading an old post and the comments from 2005 (before the disengagement) and was struck by some some of the things said by leftists and how wrong they turned out to be.

Doresh wrote:
Withdrawing from Gaza makes 100% sense. Israel originally at one time in the 70s offered it back to the Egyptions but they didnt want it. Staying there forments more and more hatred. Remember the Arabs living there think its "their land". They regard it as the one bit of land they have managed to keep a hold of. They are desperate to 'keep' it.

Thus pragmatically you have to understand how the other side sees things and figure out what CAN be done. Once Israel withdraws from Gaza it can effectively seal it off and spend its resources more effeciently. Then there will also be one less thing that enrages the Palastinians.

We see how well that worked. Lets see. We sealed Gaza off but they are shooting rockets over the fence. We are probably going to invade Gaza in the fext weeks and reconquer it.

Someone asked DovBear:
But I still haven't figured out how exactly is the IDF going to stop the mortar and rocket fire that is going to get worse as soon as the IDF leaves.
His answer:
I trust the IDF. I trust that leaving Gaza is the right thing to do. And I trust God to make up the difference.

I guess his trust was misplaced.

Here is another beauty from good old Dovie:

And in conclusion, may I propose the blorange prayer:

Elokeinu v'elokai avosaynu, please let this inevitable withdrawal proceed peacefully and please let it deliver a good outcome.

Som much for Dovie and his prayers, the first half was accepted but not the second.

Age discrimination in Kollels?

I have to say this would never have occurred to me. I would never have thought that there is a phenomenon of age discrimination in kollels. I thought it was only in the secular world that there is a culture of youth. It seems that the Charedi world has been affected as well.

Last week's Mishpacha magazine (in Hebrew) has a long article detailing the problem.

It seems that Avreichim over the age of 40 have a very hard time finding a kollel to learn in. Some of the reasons given are:
1. It is assumed that a young person in his 20's has more zeal for learning then someone who has been learning already for 20+ years.
2. Younger people are less busy and have more time to devote to learning. Someone who is 25 has a few little kids and not s many financial worries. Someone who is 45 probably has 8-10 kids that are older and therefore he is busy trying to marry them off and deal with their problems. He mostly probably is in finanial trouble as a result. As the old saying goes "little kids little problems big kids big problems".
3. The Roshei Kollel feel that they will have more influence on a younger person. They believe that they can have a major influence on the דרך הלימוד of someone who is in their early 20's. However someone in their 40's is already set in their ways.
4. The Roshei Kollel feel awkward about having someone in the kollel their age or older. They also feel that the person will probably not follow the sedarim in the kollel and will learn what they want.
5. Someone who is still just sitting and learing in kollel in their 40's is not going to become a Rosh Yeshiva, Rosh Kollel etc. The fact that they haven't moved up shows that they are not so successful.

These are all stereotypes but there is some truth in all of them. The article points out that the reasons listed above apply mostly to small kollels. Therefore it suggests that older Avreichim should start learning in a big kollel where these issues are not nearly as problematic.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Forner Bais Yaakov girl play football

Football Pro Keeps Her Faith on the Gridiron

Gable grew up Orthodox, with nine siblings, in Monsey, N.Y., and is a running back for the New York Nemesis. Six weeks into the 10-week season, the team is undefeated (5-0) and has a strong chance of making it to the National Women’s Football Association’s equivalent of the Super Bowl, to be held July 26.
The more daunting challenge for Gable is adhering to Jewish law in a league where all games are played Saturday, women wear pants and the goal is to carry a football on the Sabbath.

“Most Orthodox people would say it’s not in the spirit of Shabbat,” said Gable, who considers herself Modern Orthodox. “I respect that,” Gable said. “I thought about it. I believe rules should be followed strictly, but if I’m not breaking anything, then, I guess I’m allowing myself to be lenient.”

Gable travels to game sites Fridays, finds the hotel closest to the field and makes sure there’s a fence around the stadium (which acts as an eruv — a Sabbath barrier — and permits her to carry things, such as a football, within its boundaries). She then memorizes the route from the hotel to the field, because she can’t carry the map on the Sabbath, and walks as far as five miles to get to the game the next day.
Gable was a standout student at the Heredi Orthodox all-girls Bais Yaakov in Passaic, N.J., before graduating from Bruriah High School in Elizabeth, N.J., and attended Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim in Israel during the 2001 intifada. When she returned to the United States, Gable attended SUNY Rockland Community College. In 2006 she graudated from Cornell, where, a year later, she earned a master’s degree in health administration. She now works as an analyst at Hewitt Associates, a health management consulting firm.

Traveling in America

I was recently traveling in the US (which is why I haven't posted in a while), and would like to relate some of my experiences.

I was in Palo Alto for Shabbos and had a very interesting Shabbos. There is an outreach kollel ( in Palo Alto as well as 1 Orthodox shul. It is very interesting to see the mix of people in the shul, you have the black hat kollel guys side by side with the students from Stanford, the single guys with long hair etc. It is amazing how well everyone gets along. In Israel many of us live in basically homogeneous communities and this is the complete opposite where you have a very heterogeneous community.

I am always surprised when I visit Northern California how few religious Jews live there. There are so many Jews in hi tech, you would think that more religious Jews would move to Silicon Valley to work there. For some reason it hasn't happened and there is only a very small Jewish community.

I was also in Kansas City. I was amazed to find out that in Kansas City there is a Glatt Kosher Subway. Kansas City has a relatively small Jewish community and therefore I am very surprised that they can support a restaurant like that.

The religion of America is sports. It is amazing how much sports there is on TV. In fact, it is the only thing that there is to watch. In my hotel I had ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN News, and ESPN Classic.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Hamodia: The yeshivos are on the verge of collapse: 'Only a miracle can save us'

The article explains that the crisis comes mostly from the cuts in government funding. One of the biggest issues relates to the core curriculum. The government is refusing to fund any school that does not adhere to a core curriculum (e.g. English, math, science, etc.). The Charedi schools absolutely refuse. The Charedi schools also have a much longer school day then regular schools and again the government does not want to pay.

Basically the Charedim want to have their cake and eat it. On one hand, they want to have complete freedom to do whatever they want, including curriculum, hours, etc. and on the other hand they want the government to fully fund them. They should have seen this coming. I for one, am surprised at how long the government funded Charedi schools that teach no secular studies.

In every other country in the world the Charedi schools teach the core government curriculum in addition to whatever they want and no one complains and the students don't seem to be affected negatively.

The question now is how will the Charedi world react.

With new elections coming soon, the Charedi parties are going to try to get all this money back in return for joining the government. Depending on the election results this may or may not work.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The latest סגולה

Can anyone explain to me what the connection to 104 shekel is?

In any case this is not the only סגולה in yesterday's Yated Neeman. Here some more סגולה ads:

I think this is a very unfortunate and damaging phenomenon. It makes Judaism into magic and promotes a quick fix. You have a problem do this סגולה and your problem will be solved. That is not how it is supposed to work. You are supposed to be מפשפש במעשיו do teshuva, etc. not some quick fix.