Category Archives: Uncategorized

privacy

Spy on me, I want you to

Spy on me, please

The cyber security officer at the newspaper [since when did we need one of those?] just put a password code on my iPhone and iPad – something to do with me getting my work emails on these devices and apparently that makes me an information security threat, a walking unlocked safe. It was OK for a while but apparently now Israeli web sites are getting attacked like a gazillion times a day. Continue reading

life

Signing my death away

I just signed my death away. Literally. For the first time in my life I’ve bought life insurance. The insurance agent just left. Aubrey. Not exactly the first name I would have given The Grim Reaper – Aubrey. Aubrey’s a soft, lovely name, and he’s a lovely guy, my new insurance agent. A real mensch. I guess you need to be if you’re selling someone a product they’re only buying because their wife wants them to – not because she thinks it will look great on you. It’s not exactly my idea of a romantic gift for my wife. It’s not the Taj Mahal that I leave behind to immortalise my love for her. What’s more, both seller and buyer know they’re dealing in a product tainted with the afterglow of the afterlife.

By the way, why don’t they call it death insurance? Surely that’s a much more accurate description of the product? I mean, that’s what it is, isn’t it? Money that goes to your family once you die – payments after my death. I’ll pay now, while I’m still alive, so that I can keep on paying, once I’m dead. Did I get that right?

My wife insisted that I get “life” insurance just in case, you know, God forbid, something happened to me, so that she and our baby boy will be looked after. I’ll be honest with you: I dragged my feet on this for a few weeks. In fact you could say that I was dragged kicking and screaming into this “what happens to me after you die” conversation. I’ve always enjoyed thinking about what happens to me after I die, but here my wife wanted us to talk about what happens to her after I die. I didn’t like the idea one bit. Life insurance was never something I gave much thought to, even after I suffered, and survived, a heart attack 2 years ago, just before my 35th birthday.

Before my heart attack, life insurance seemed like something that terribly boring grownup people did. It seemed a bit of a scam actually, giving someone your money every month on the off chance that they then give it to your family once you die. Why don’t we just give our families that money every month ourselves? Aren’t all these tycoons playing with, and losing, all our life insurance money anyway? And what if I die, and the tycoon who holds my life insurance fund needs to take a haircut? How do they expect me to authorise that transaction? Through a séance?

After my heart attack, when I thought about my mortality quite regularly, the very idea of life insurance seemed to fly in the face of everything I was working so hard to achieve: I was fighting for every ounce of life! I was spending a lot of time trying hard to live in the moment. I don’t need life insurance, that’s for people who think they’re going to die!

But, alas, my wife wears the ’grownup thinking cap’ in this house, so finally she made an appointment with the insurance agent. I knew I was going to be seated across from Aubrey The Grim Reaper, so to give me courage I poured myself a glass of red wine (recommended once daily for people with “heart conditions” or even anyone who just needs to “unwind a bit”) and let him tell me the story of what happens after I die.

“Since you are a young man with a heart disease I can’t get you any decent life insurance policy,” he said flatly, without missing a beat.

“Excuse me but I don’t have a heart disease,” I say.

“Sorry, a heart condition,” he says.

“I don’t have a condition either. I don’t consider myself as someone who has a heart condition. I consider myself a young man who had a heart attack a couple of years ago but who is doing much better now, thank you very much. I eat healthy. I exercise. I work with much nicer people now. In fact I’m healthier now than I have been for most of my life. My cardiologist says I’m good as new. Good as new. I can give you his number…”

“I hear you,” Aubrey says, and I feel like he really did hear me. He even told me about a client of his who had a heart attack in his fifties, and now runs marathons and plays golf three times a week.

“But even he can’t get proper life insurance. I don’t make the rules. For the insurance companies, someone who has had a heart attack is classified as someone with heart disease and they won’t insure you for any medical condition.”

So let me get this straight: even though I’m much healthier now than I was before my heart attack, and my cardiologist says I’m good as gold, I still can’t get proper life insurance? No insurance company wants to take a risk on me?

“Yes,” says Aubrey.

I understand the insurance companies’ position, I really do. Statistically, people who have had heart attacks are statistically more likely to suffer further heart attacks. Which is something I still have to wrap my head around. But why do they have to paint all us heart attack survivors with the same brush? Why does the conversation about my end have to start like this?

But Aubrey had a proposition. He could get me life insurance that wouldn’t require a medical statement from me. It would be expensive, and if, God forbid, something did happen to me within the first three years of the policy, my wife wouldn’t get anything except what I paid every month. So I signed away my death. I figure if I can make it past the first three years, then I’m home free. Free to die, that is.

life

Joker

New Rules From The Ministry of News

New rules from the Ministry of News, Israel

Here are the new directives, to be followed by the entire populace.

 There is now incontrovertible proof that hearing a speaker when you have a pencil placed crosswise in your mouth to make you ‘smile’ induces a sense of well-being. This good mood in turn makes you like what you see, believe what you hear, and intuitively feel that the current situation is comfortably familiar.

This is good work by our Research Department.

Pursuant to this new research then, here are the new directives by Minister of News Lie More:

• All citizens are required to place pencils crosswise into their mouths [and the mouths of their children] when the news broadcasts begin and keep them there until they end.

• Pencils must be kept sharp at all times.

• Pencils are to be held between the cheeks and not between the teeth, as research has shown that holding a pencil between the teeth can also lead to confusion, anger, and resentment, and should the news be really bad, could cause you to bite on the pencil.

• Remember that pain is something we all bear together, not alone. So keep a stiff upper lip and keep your chin up.

• Pencils are to be held in place for the duration of the newscasts, including, of course, for the full duration of speeches by the “Dear Leader” [both live and taped].

• This rule holds for radio and TV news broadcasts,whether listened to or watched on regular channels or through the Internet.

• The rules apply also to news broadcasts that occur while citizens are traveling on public transportation [if you do not have a pencil on your person the bus or train driver is required to provide you with one].

• The pencil rule is to be observed during the hourly newscasts, as well as the half-hour news updates and breaking news flashes.

• Should there be a war or protracted conflict with uninterrupted, round-the-clock news coverage, you are permitted to remove your pencils to eat and brush your teeth.

• Pencil Patrols will be invested with the authority to look through the doors of your homes [which must remain open during newscasts] to inspect compliance, and these patrols can impose fines and corrective behavior on those who are found to be in contravention of the law.

• Please all turn to face the door when the Pencil Patrol walks in and show them your smiling faces.

• Corrective behavior practices are now being drawn up in the office of Deputy News Minister Miri Rages and will be made available to the public on a need-to-know basis [you should not want to be in the need-to-know category].

• Seeing as we are a democracy we are happy to broadcast the speeches and statements by “The Opposition” but citizens are required to switch the direction of the pencils to vertical [pencil tip touching the upper palette] when members of “The Opposition” are speaking.

Remember, we’re watching you watching us.

The Ministry of News

Cartoon-Sunday-Times

A sign of the times at The Sunday Times

By publishing this cartoon in its pages

Cartoon-Sunday-Times

The Sunday Times has joined a list of some very dubious, mostly Arab newspapers, who have portrayed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in patently anti-Semitic terms. The Times said that its cartoon was not anti-Semitic: and rather “was aimed at Netanyahu and his policies, not Israel in general, or Jewish people.”

Whatever.

Using a motif of the use of Palestinian blood as cement in a wall crosses the line between legitimate criticism of the Israeli leader and Jew hatred.

Here are some cartoons of Netanyahu, taken from mostly Arab sources, that The Times now seems to have emulated.

 

Israel Hayom columnist David Weinberg explains why the cartoon is beyond the pale.

What Israel’s friends are saying

Recently while in London, I spoke with several high level political, diplomatic and security officials from countries that are very friendly to Israel. Their main message was: “Listen, we are your friends, but you are making it increasingly difficult for us to remain your friends.”

Our friends are saying to us that Israel is a bastion of western civilisation and the only pluralistic democracy in the region. “Your values are our values,” our good friends say.  But the corollary to that is that “you must stay a vibrant democratic state for us to still be able to say that our values are your values.”

But what will happen to this if the two state solution doesn’t pan out and Israel slowly, in effect, becomes a non-Jewish and non democratic state? As Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said at a recent meeting: “When the moment of truth comes and we have to choose between Jewish or democratic we will choose Jewish over democratic because we are the world’s only Jewish state.”

And as I have argued in a previous post, I think that this dichotomy is a false one, because if we don’t somehow separate from the Palestinians, and we continue to be ruled by ultra-Orthodox zealots, we’ll be neither a Jewish nor a democratic state. And if that comes to pass, what happens to our friendship with countries like England, Australia, Canada, France, and the US?

What happens to our shared values? Already, with America, we are moving away from a relationship based on “shared values” to one based on “added-value.” And in the long run, this is dangerous.

The ‘occasional disagreements’ we’re having with our friends over settlements are now coming thick and fast. We announce settlement building every time the Palestinians announce their own unilateral moves. We’re in an escalating diplomatic duel with them, and I’m not sure where this will all end up. What I am concerned about is the fact that our good friends in the world are telling us that we need to move toward a two-state solution, whether we, or the Palestinians, like it or not.

We have a good case against the Palestinians: they don’t want to negotiate, they don’t want to compromise, they don’t want to declare an end to the conflict and an end to all claims, they continue to incite etc. Our case against them is solid. But what are we gaining from this? Are we looking for a solid case against them, are we looking for an elegant way out of the two-state solution; or are we looking for a solution? And if we’re not looking for a two-state solution, then what are we looking for? What do we, as a nation, want? What direction do we want our next government to take us?

When you vote, think about what you want, not only for yourself, but for your country.

Israel down the line: Not Jewish, not Democratic?

I’ve changed the headline on this piece because a lot of people are misrepresenting what I actually wrote, and I think I may have chosen a headline that doesn’t properly reflect the piece itself.  The original headline was “Israel: Not Jewish, not Democratic” and the piece itself looks ahead at what is likely to happen to Israel’s character should a two-state solution not come about.

Here’s the article:

Let’s call a spade a spade, shall we?

Looking ahead at 2013 and beyond, there are two distinct trends which I see that are coalescing into one unmistakable reality: Israel is not going to be either a Jewish or Democratic state down the line.

In the absence of a two-state solution, we’re not going to be democratic, and to me there looks to be very, very little chance we’re going to have a two-state deal with the Palestinians. And that means that we’ll be heading into a different reality – either a binational state, or some other form of solution where an entity of “Palestine” is not recognised by us and the Palestinians don’t recognise our “Jewish state.”

The way things are shaping up, our next government will likely be the most right-wing we’ve ever had here and its common denominator will be the annexation of large areas of the West Bank and the ratification of a report which says that Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria are legal under international law – the Levy Report. Whether you agree with this worldview or not, the fact is that most members of the next government are going to work to make this a reality.

The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank is the most “moderate” we’re likely to have here – and what’s depressing about that is that even the maximum that a moderate Israeli government is willing to give isn’t anywhere near the minimum the Palestinians are willing to accept. That’s how “moderate” Abbas and his associates are – they’ve been offered everything and they still refused. And since we’re not going to have a moderate government here for at least the next four years, the Palestinians are not going to get their demands. And after the ‘moderate’ Palestinians go, their successors will be much more extreme, if that’s even possible to imagine.

So there won’t be peace and there won’t be two states.

A few weeks ago I reported that in a closed meeting Avigdor Lieberman said that when the day comes, and it will come, when Israel has to choose between being either a Jewish or Democratic state, the government will choose Jewish over democratic. Lieberman argued that since Israel is the ‘only Jewish state in the world’ that this trumped being ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’.

There will not be a two state solution with the Palestinians in our generation, and possibly the one after that as well, Lieberman said. And he knows what he’s talking about.

So, in the absence of a two-state solution, in essence we are looking at an Israel that controls about 4 million Palestinians and doesn’t give them the full rights of self-determination as enshrined in international law. No matter how justified our claims are to the places of our ancestral birthright [Shilo, Hebron, Beit El], and they are justified, without a deal with the Palestinians, the world is just not going to accept the rules of the game as we set them. The only game the world is ready to accept is a two-state solution that gives rise to a Palestinian state alongside a Jewish and Democratic Israel. There is no other game in town for them, and here I’m talking about our friends like America, Canada, England, France, Germany and Australia. I’m not even talking about the Arab countries, nor Indonesia, Russia, Brazil, China, India and many others – they couldn’t care less about our legitimate rights in this land. But our next government is going to hunker down and take on the world – and the world will oblige.

So instead of trying to remain a democracy in a situation of no-peace and no solution, maybe we should just let it go and lower the world’s expectations? Many settlers I’ve spoken to believe this is the correct path too. What’s more important than living in a democracy, they say, is living in the only Jewish state in the world.

We never really were the only democracy in the Middle East, I’m sorry to say, but its true. Our democracy stops at the Green Line, and in any case is being challenged on this side of the line too.

Ok so it looks like we won’t be a democratic state. But we’ll be a Jewish state so that’s good enough, right?

But will we be a Jewish state?

In 2010 one-third of Israeli marriages happened overseas because these lovebirds didn’t want to deal with the Israeli rabbinate. What’s more, 90% percent of the roughly 300,000 Israelis who immigrated here under the Law of Return (and then told that they were not Jewish enough) aren’t interested in undergoing state sanctioned conversion. So they and their offspring – close to one million souls –  won’t be considered Jewish by the state.

Add to that the West Bank Palestinian, Arab Israeli, Israeli Druze and Bedouin birthrate staying as it is now, and well, let’s just say they won’t be converting to Judaism anytime soon, so in a situation of no two-state solution, their numbers will have to count.

The soaring haredi birthrate and their continued stranglehold on the institutions of religious power increasingly alienate a majority of secular Israelis – many of whom, especially the young, are considering emigrating. Even modern orthodox Israeli Jews are not Jewish enough for the hardcore Haredim, whose number is increasing exponentially.

“We are fast approaching a situation where one half of the country doesn’t recognize the Jewishness of the other half,” says Rabbi David Stav, a leading modern-Orthodox rabbi and candidate for the post of Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi in the Chief Rabbinate.

So if half of the Jews here don’t recognise the other half, and the millions of non-Jews here won’t be recognised under a one-state solution and given full rights, how can we be a Jewish state?

We can’t.

The fact is that if there is no two-state solution [because neither the Palestinian Authority nor the Israeli government wants it] and no structural reform of state religious institutions in Israel takes place, not only will Israel not be a democratic state  - it won’t technically be a Jewish state either.

And that’s why I’m not excited about this election. There’s no binary outcome here, no ‘either or’, no alternate realities to choose from. It’s not about war or peace. It’s not about deep reform or status quo. The result is predetermined; this is our fate, whether we want it or not. And, according to the left-right Knesset political blocs calculus, it looks like we do want it.

And in that case I suggest a dose of realism. Instead of holding onto time-worn platitudes and slogans, I say we start calling ourselves what we truly are: a state in the unmaking, neither fully Jewish nor fully democratic and heading away from both.

Image

Abandon illusions all ye who enter here.

Death of a Sea Turtle

He/ She died.

 

Sea Turtle

 

Apparently there was enough time for the folks at The Israel Electric Corporation to take this picture and issue this photo and a press release about how cool it was that a huge sea turtle washed up at its Hadera power station.

The press release said a sea turtle had been found at the power station, most likely carried by the massive waves in the storm. It was 80cm long and 60cm wide.

That’s it.

 

The press release said nothing about his/ her condition. When I called them up to inquire into its condition, they said that they didn’t know. They didn’t even think about looking into it. I said: “Don’t  you think that you left out an important piece of information in your press release. Like, is the turtle OK?”

They’d check and get back to me. They didn’t. An hour later I called the spokesperson. “It didn’t make it,” was the short answer I got back. “Was it alive when you took the picture?” I asked. “Yes,” she said. “And then what happened?” Silence.

So, dear dead sea turtle, in the name of good humans all over this country, I’d like to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry that for the few minutes someone could have helped you, nobody did. I’m sorry that instead of shoving you in a truck and speeding you to a vet, someone took your photo and made use of you for their own cynical PR effort. I’m sorry. I hope you rest in peace.

 

Feiglin’s Fiscal Flop

Moshe Feiglin has presented a plan to encourage Palestinians living in the West Bank to emigrate.

feiglin

According to Feiglin, who is number 14 on the Likud list, each Palestinian family that agrees to emigrate would get US $500, 000 each.

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, there are 2.7 million Palestinians living in the West Bank.

Also according to the PCBS, the average Palestinian family is made up of 4.4 souls.

So if we divide 2.7 million by 4.4 we get 613,636 families that would each get US $500,000.

To fund that, Feiglin would thus need US $300. 068 billion.

In New Israeli Shekels that would be 11,00, 41296 [1100.4 billion] at today’s Dollar Shekel exchange rate of 3.72

However, since Israel already has a budget deficit of NIS 38 billion – more than double the planned deficit of NIS 18 billion – adding Feiglin’s 1100.4 billion could amount to a fiscal cliff of almost 1 trillion 49.4 billion shekels – assuming all the Palestinians in the West Bank agree to the proposal.

Anyone want to try crowd source that?

Or maybe Feiglin is just as kooky as some people say he is…

Polls: Israelis want and don’t want peace

Two polls, conducted by the same pollster, but for two different organizations from opposite poles of the political map, show vastly different results.

Have a look:

A poll titled: “Views of the Israeli Public on Israeli Security and Resolution of the Arab-Israeli Conflict,” by the Dahaf Institute was commissioned by the right-leaning Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Its main findings:

  • 76% of Israelis (83% of Jews) believe that a withdrawal to the 1967 lines and a division of Jerusalem would not bring about an end of the conflict.
  • 61% of the Jewish population believes that defensible borders are more important than peace for assuring Israel’s security (up from 49% in 2005).
  • 78% of Jews indicated they would change their vote if the party they intended to support indicated that it was prepared to relinquish sovereignty in east Jerusalem. 59% of Jews said the same about the Jordan Valley.

In a nutshell: Israelis do not believe peace with the Palestinians is possible and are not willing to gamble their security, or half their capital, on the chance that it is.

Another poll conducted by the Dahaf Institute, this one titled: Positions of the Israeli Public Regarding a Possible Peace Agreement,” but commissioned by the left-leaning S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace found that “when Israelis are presented with a peace plan that fortifies security elements and has American backing, a significant majority (about two-thirds) of Israelis say they would support such an agreement if it was brought to a referendum.”

The methodologies of the two polls were almost identical, with the major difference being that the JCPA survey was conducted at the end of November while the Abraham Center poll was conducted in the first third of December [both polls were conducted after Operation Pillar of Defense].

While the questions of both polls were framed differently, the overall picture that each poll presents is almost diametrically opposed.

The left wing commissioned poll shows that a majority of Israelis would agree to a peace deal with security guarantees.

The right-wing commissioned poll shows that a majority of Israelis do not think a peace deal is possible and are not willing to make the concessions the Palestinians are demanding.

I’m sure that a deeper investigation into the polls would answer the questions as to their differences, but the point I’m trying to make is that the ordinary Israeli [like me], or anyone abroad for that matter, who is trying to get a handle on what the Israelis think about the prospects for peace with the Palestinians, and more importantly, what they are prepared to concede to attain that peace – is now totally and entirely confused.

So what we have are two polls, by the same pollster, asking the same population what it thinks about peace, and coming up with two different answers. What’s that joke about two Jews having three opinions? Maybe it’s a case of the Israelis knowing what they want, but the polls who are confused…

Poll Data

Dead meat

Almost the start of the Third Intifada

Watch this video of six Israel Defense Forces soldiers holed up in a Hebron butchery surrounded by an angry Palestinian mob. The symbolism of the dead meat dangling from hooks and the Israeli soldiers confronted with a frightening situation cannot be ignored.

hebron

Dead meatA routine IDF patrol in Hebron turned violent last Thursday when a six-man IDF unit found itself surrounded, cornered, and threatened in Hebron’s market area.

Hebron Palestinian Authority policemen stopped the IDF patrol from entering the market area, something which generally does not happen. This then lead to the first confrontation between armed Palestinian police and Israeli soldiers. The IDF troops, rebuffed, took shelter in butchery, and shoot their way out of the sticky situation with gas canisters and rubber bullets. Continue reading

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The audacious Mr. Ehud Barak

Call it the audacity of hope. Only Ehud Barak could do it: turn certain defeat into one last desperate chance for victory. When faced with no further options, he maneuvered himself into a position where all options are still open to him.

Only him: the master of intrigue, Israel’s most decorated soldier, the man who personally snatched Syrian generals from their bedrooms, and entered Beirut dressed as a woman, only he could cook up this kind of gamble. A truly Sayeret Matkal-like operation – uncanny, unpredictable, with little or no chance for success, but if pulled off, extremely brilliant. Nothing in the military and political career of Ehud Barak suggests the conventional. Continue reading

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Israel, Lilliput

The International Herald Tribune political cartoon of Friday, November 23, 2012, has, sadly, nailed it.

The picture shows a giant Mohammed Morsi, President of Egypt, stretching his hand out to shake the hand of a giant Barack Obama. Underneath the outstretched arms of these two giants are two little men of the same size, Hamas and Israel, duking it out.

It’s sad that Israel is portrayed on the same physical level, as the same size as Hamas, but it’s true. Continue reading

Likud needs a Kahlon clone, darker than Dichter

Some thoughts on the political machinations this week:

The race is on and the two main political rival camps, the left wing bloc led by Labor’s Shelly Yechimovich and the right wing bloc led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are trying to frame the issues to best suit their platforms.

The Likud started the week off badly with the announcement by Social Affairs and Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon that he was leaving politics. With his departure, the Likud lost a serious socioeconomic star, as well as a Sephardi minister. This in a party whose rank and file are Sephardi but whose ministerial representation is almost entirely Ashkenazi. The Likud doesn’t want to be portrayed as the “white” party whose voters make up a large cross-section of the Israeli population, chiefly among them Jews of Sephardic origin.

This is why the Likud doesn’t really want Avi Dichter in its ranks [Dichter dumped Kadima this week and officially joined Likud]. It wants Moshe Kahlon back. And if it can’t get Kahlon back, it wants a Kahlon clone – someone who is darker than Dichter; it wants a socioeconomic maven to replace the one it lost, it doesn’t need another Mr. Security; it has plenty of those. It doesn’t want another light-skinned security man, it has those in spades: Moshe Yaalon, Dan Meridor, Yariv Levin, and Netanyahu himself.

It’s the height of irony that the two main parties heading into the next elections are looking for the unique value proposition traditionally held by the other: Labor, which is running on the socioeconomic ticket is looking for a Mr. Security, while Likud, which is running on the security ticket, is looking for a Mr. Socioeconomic.

Labor will try make these elections about socioeconomic issues, while Likud will try make them about stability – security and economic stability.

Meanwhile, former Shas minister [and conviced criminal] Shlomo Benizri let the cat out of the bag this Friday when he said that the real reason Israel is heading into early elections is because Netanyahu wanted to cut some of Shas’ welfare allowances budget. Shas refused; Netanyahu couldn’t fight Histadrut Labor Federation Chairman Ofer Eini [not wanting the latter to flood the streets with striking workers during an election season] and he couldn’t slash the defense budget without seriously damaging the Likud’s main election platform of security stability.

Netanyahu was thus in a bind. He couldn’t pass the budget because his coalition partners wouldn’t let him; he couldn’t carry on with the 2012 budget because there was no money left and the overdraft in the bank is growing to monstrous proportions. So to elections we go.

The main story of the week however, was undoubtedly the return of Aryeh Deri to the leadership of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party.

Netanyahu and [up until this week Shas Chairman] Eli Yishai have been working together well on the illegal migrants issue: Netanyahu built the fence to keep new ones out, and Yishai goes after the ones already here. The issue serves them both well. To his constituents Yishai can say he’s safeguarding the Jewish character of the state and ensuring that we Israelis don’t get infected with all sorts of terrible diseases that you get in Africa; and our Jewish girls are being kept safe from the unthinkable. To his constituents, and possible voters in the center, Netanyahu can point to having stopped the flow of migrant laborers, thus alleviating the pressure on neighborhoods that have a high population of African migrants; and he can also point to the security benefits of the border fence vis-a-vis the terrible situation in the Sinai. This cooperation has served both the Likud and Shas well.

But with Aryeh Deri back in a leadership position at the helm of Shas, the Likud can be slightly less certain that it has Shas in the coalition bag after the elections. It’s a long-shot, but Deri is not as predictable as Yishai, and he’s got strong ties to Haim Ramon and Ehud Olmert of Kadima. Furthermore, his relationship with Netanyahu is reportedly not so strong.

If we are to believe Benizri, that Netanyahu planned to cut Shas welfare allowances in an effort to balance the budget, then Shas has also been put on notice that they can expect more of the same from Netanyahu after the election. In 2009 when Tzipi Livni’s Kadima won more seats than the Likud, she made a rookie negotiating mistake: she made Shas a coalition offer in writing. Shas then took that offer to Netanyahu, who looked at the document, and simply gave Shas a better offer – and thus Netanyahu was able to form a coalition and Livni was not.

This time around, with Deri at its head, and an austerity budget on the horizon, Shas may be more receptive to a better offer from the left or center-left camp [if there is one]. Deri is not as ideologically fixed to the right wing camp as Yishai is.

the-big-bang-theory-poster-907ff

Explaining Israeli elections through popular TV shows

Person of Interest Aryeh Deri of Shas is Prison Break – making a comeback to the political party he led thirteen years ago after a long stint in prison for financial corruption. But first he has to push current leader Eli Yishai aside.

Yishai, a hardliner on asylum seekers, refugees, and anybody else who is not ultra-Orthodox Jewish, will say and do anything to keep his position, so he’s Lie To Me.

Together, Deri and Yishai are Supernatural; just like the party they’re in.

Olmert, convicted on charges of corruption, is the Sopranos. Continue reading

New BBC chief vows to re-invent content, not just re-purpose it

All well and good, but I think that the new Beeb chief is behind the curve: activists, witnesses, techies, and journalists all over the world [especially in the Middle East] are already creating “genuinely digital content” without all the resources of the BBC…they’re filming events on their phones and uploading it, and the whole world is following them, including the BBC.