Gantz Political Consultant and the Israeli Rabbi and Others Who Allegedly Conspired to Tape Personal Matter

Tikun Olam תיקון עולם

From Tikun Olam

Israeli Rabbi Secretly Records Embarrassing Tape of Gantz Election Advisor

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Though the incident which is the subject of this post is garden variety dirty tricks in the context of a typical Netanyahu election campaign, there are some larger issues of religious ethics which have important political implications.  Benny Gantz’s chief campaign consultant, Issac Bechar, asked for counseling from his rabbi, Guy Havura, about a personal family matter.  Unbeknownst to Bechar, Havura recorded their conversation and leaked it to Israeli media. Why?  Because the day before, Havura had welcomed Netanyahu and the latter’s lawyer into his yeshiva classroom, where he had blessed Netanyahu and exhorted his students to offer a prayer that the former would win 61 seats in the election and continue as prime minister.

 

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Netanyahu Indicted – Fraud, Breach of Trust, Bribery

POLITICO Playbook PM: Trump’s man in Israel indicted on bribery and fraud charges

BREAKING IN ISRAEL — “Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Indicted on Bribery, Fraud, Breach of Trust Charges,” by WSJ’s Felicia Schwartz in Tel Aviv: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted on bribery charges Thursday, imperiling the country’s longest-serving leader as he looks set to fight for his personal and political future in a third election contest.

“Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said Mr. Netanyahu will be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection to three corruption probes known as Cases 1000, 2000 and 4000. Mr. Netanyahu allegedly traded official favors for flattering news coverage as well as gifts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, including pink champagne, cigars and jewelry. The bribery charge, a key element of Case 4000, is the most serious and, if convicted, Mr. Netanyahu could face up to 10 years in prison. The lesser charges could result in three to five years in jail.” WSJ

— @jaketapper: “I’m sure this will alarm all of those who profess to be concerned about corruption abroad.”

NYT JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF DAVID HALBFINGER: “There were already signs of unrest in Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, as a popular younger lawmaker, Gideon Saar, called Thursday for a primary contest for prime minister, and said he would be a contender.

“Even if Mr. Netanyahu fends off intraparty challengers, and assembles a viable coalition in Parliament, Mr. Plesner said that the Israeli president, Reuven Rivlin, might balk at assigning him the task of forming a government while he awaits trial. In addition, critics are expected to petition the Supreme Court to rule that Mr. Netanyahu must step down.” NYT

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“Religion ought to be a beautiful thing, not a political thing” – Israel and the Religious Hurting Judaism

[OPINION] – By David Suissa/JNS.org – reprinted in part without explicit permission

Israel’s Religious Parties Hurt Judaism

On the surface, the fact that Israel is headed back to an election only weeks after the last one looks like a system failure. It’s never happened before in Israel. The Israeli government will now have spent the bulk of a year in election mode rather than governing mode. There’s something wrong with this picture.

And yet, if we look at the reason for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failure to cobble together a coalition — one party’s refusal to kowtow to religious parties — this “do-over” election presents a unique opportunity for a political upgrade.

Israel’s religious parties crave political power because it enables them to fulfill their religious agenda, from refusing to enlist in the IDF to forcing Torah laws on the public. Over the years, because Netanyahu has desperately needed their seats to form a majority coalition, he has tolerated their demands.

He probably figured the same thing would happen this time around — but one man stopped him. Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of the right-wing secularist Yisrael Beiteinu party, decided he had had enough and refused to compromise on a bill to draft haredi(ultra-Orthodox) Jews into the IDF.

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Normally, Netanyahu is able to pull things together at the last minute, because Knesset members are loath to jeopardize their positions by going to new elections. In this case, it didn’t work. The religious parties threw a few bones of compromise, but Lieberman held firm, sticking to the original draft bill.

This dispute is rooted in the founding of the Jewish state, when Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion made the fateful decision to exempt ultra-Orthodox men (only a few hundred at the time) from enlisting in the IDF. A well-known modern Orthodox rabbi in Israel once told me that this decision did more to turn off secular Jews to religion than anything else.

This makes sense. If you’re an Israeli parent whose children are risking their lives to defend the state, why should ultra-Orthodox citizens be exempt? And if you see ultra-Orthodox leaders fighting to keep their community out of the army, how would that make you feel about religion in general?

There are countless other ways that political power in the hands of ultra-Orthodox parties has become corrosive.

 

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Did Netanyahu Agree to Gender Segregation in Public – Selling his Soul to the Ultra-Orthodox Minority

PM agreed to ultra-Orthodox demand for gender-segregation in public — report

Netanyahu reportedly agreed to an ultra-Orthodox demand for gender segregation in public places during the coalition negotiations last month, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

According to the report, Netanyahu sought to soften the demand in his talks with his would-be coalition members, but ultimately agreed to the condition laid out by Shas, United Torah Judaism, and the Union of Right Wing parties.

The Likud denies the report, telling Kan that no such agreement was made.

From the Times of Israel

The Ultra-Orthodox Free-Loaders in Israel Posing Existential Threat to Israel and to Jews

Israel Headed Toward Political Meltdown as Shasniks Refuse to Submit to Mandatory IDF Service Like all Israelis

The New York Times

With 2 Days Left, Israel’s Netanyahu Struggles to Form a Government

 

JERUSALEM — With just two days left before the deadline for forming a government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel was struggling Monday to sign up coalition partners, thrusting the country into a political crisis and raising the possibility that it could be forced to hold a new election.

The drama stemmed from a battle of wills between two political forces that Mr. Netanyahu needs to form a right-wing coalition: the ultra-Orthodox religious parties that won 16 parliamentary seats in the April 9 election, and Avigdor Lieberman’s ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, which won five seats and whose constituents are mostly secular, Russian-speaking Israelis.

Having long sparred over issues of religion and state, the sides are now wrestling over legislation to replace a military draft law that exempted ultra-Orthodox men. Mr. Lieberman supports a law that sets modest quotas for enlisting them, which the religious parties oppose.

A new law must be passed by late July, according to a deadline imposed by Israel’s Supreme Court.

Mr. Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party, which won 35 seats, needs the ultra-Orthodox parties, Yisrael Beiteinu and two other parties to assemble a 61-seat majority.

Analysts said it was entirely possible that the parties could resolve their differences, allowing Mr. Netanyahu to announce a new government by midnight Wednesday, which would not be the first time Israeli coalition negotiations have gone to the wire.

But the alternative threatened to catapult Israel into uncharted political terrain: Israel has never had to hold a new national ballot because of a failure to form a government after an election.

“Right now it looks as if we are at a deadlock because everybody has climbed to the top of a tree and nobody’s ready to get down, especially not Lieberman,” said Abraham Diskin, professor emeritus of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Putting the chances of a new election at 50-50, he added, “Definitely there is a possibility that we will have early elections even before the government was formed.”

On Sunday, Likud submitted a motion to disperse the newly sworn-in Parliament, paving the way for new elections. While questions arose over the legality of an interim government taking such action, the move seemed like a canny negotiating tactic in a game of political chicken.

By Monday, one newspaper, Maariv, had already published a poll asking, “If elections were held today, who would you vote for?”

On Monday evening, the motion passed a preliminary vote in Parliament; possible dates were being bandied about for a new election in about three months.

Even as his party moved toward a new election, Mr. Netanyahu insisted he didn’t want one.

“It is still possible to come to our senses,” he said in a televised address Monday evening. “I promise that I will continue to work in every possible way during the time that is still left in order to form the government. I call upon Avigdor Lieberman to reconsider.”

Mr. Netanyahu also quoted a tweet posted on Monday by President Trump endorsing Mr. Netanyahu’s efforts, which many critics described as an improper intervention in Israel’s domestic politics. Mr. Trump, calling Mr. Netanyahu by his nickname, Bibi, wrote: “Hoping things will work out with Israel’s coalition formation and Bibi and I can continue to make the alliance between America and Israel stronger than ever.”

Calling a new election would pre-empt another possibility, distasteful to Mr. Netanyahu, that Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, could offer someone else the chance to form a government.

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Avigdor Lieberman, the former defense minister, said he was not prepared to be part of a government controlled by religious law.CreditDan Balilty for The New York Times

The opposition is led by Blue and White, a new centrist party whose main appeal was that it was not led by Mr. Netanyahu, who has already served 13 years as prime minister and is facing indictment on corruption charges.

Mr. Netanyahu, who is on track to become Israel’s longest serving prime minister this summer, is also the first to face possible criminal charges while in office. In February, the attorney general announced plans to indict him in three cases for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

The attorney general has set a hearing for October where Mr. Netanyahu’s lawyers can plead his case before a final decision is made.

The Likud nevertheless won five more seats than last time, which Mr. Netanyahu took as a vote of confidence, and together with the right-wing and religious parties that made up his last coalition, seemed poised to form a government with a majority of 65 seats.

He also appeared set to take on another challenge — promoting legislation that would guarantee him immunity from prosecution while in office. Tens of thousands of Israelis rallied in Tel Aviv on Saturday night in a protest against such a move.

Instead, Mr. Netanyahu has found himself at the mercy of smaller parties engaged in a power struggle over the military draft law, which critics said was in any case a mild compromise unlikely to significantly change the status quo.

There is a long history of bad blood between Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Lieberman, a blunt, tough-talking politician who resigned as defense minister in Mr. Netanyahu’s last government and was eyeing returning to the post.

Some commentators suggested that Mr. Lieberman was driven by a desire for revenge against his old nemesis, or was counting on the prospect that Mr. Netanyahu could not survive an indictment and was setting himself up as an alternative.

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TIME TO GET NETANYAHU OUT! Selling His Soul to the Ultra-Orthodox

Ultra-Orthodox parties to ‘unequivocally’ back Netanyahu as next PM

United Torah Judaism’s Yaakov Litzman and Shas’s Aryeh Deri meet in Jerusalem, vow not to join Gantz-led coalition ‘under any circumstances’

Shas leader MK Aryeh Deri (right) speaks with United Torah Judaism leader MK Yaakov Litzman (left) during the opening session of the 20th Knesset, March 31, 2015. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The leaders of the two major ultra-Orthodox political factions, Shas and United Torah Judaism, announced Thursday they were joining forces to ensure that Benjamin Netanyahu wins the April 9 election and forms the next coalition government.

Shas chairman Aryeh Deri and UTJ head Yaakov Litzman met in Deri’s office in Jerusalem on Thursday to begin coordinating their parties’ campaigns.

They vowed to back Netanyahu over rival Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz.

“We continue with all our might to unequivocally support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and not Gantz,” the two party leaders said in a joint statement after the meeting.

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