Filed under: politics | Tags: Ahmadinejad, diplomacy, iran, netanyahu, Obama, posted by elan
This is going to be short and sweet, since I’m dealing with finals right now. Almost done though!
President Obama made a short statement today about the controversial Iranian presidential election. Obama was careful to say that US will not consider, and thinks it innappropriate, to intervene in or even weigh in on, the disputed results. As the Volokh Conspiracy points out this policy stands in direct opposition to Obama’s blatant attempts to change Israeli policy regarding West Bank settlements. Some even accuse Obama of trying to topple the Netanyahu government.
What do you think? Is US putting too much pressure on Israel? (Oznia writer Ron Shapiro thinks so.) What should Obama do and say about the Iranian election incident? Is it right for Obama to apply different methods and philosophies to his diplomatic interactions with Israel and Iran?
Filed under: opinion, politics | Tags: crime, democracy, gaza, Hamas, posted by elan, war
The international media continues to accuse Israel of committing gross violations of the Geneva Conventions and trespassing on human rights during the recent war with Hamas, the terror organization currently in control of the Gaza strip. Whether, and to what extent, the Israel Defense Forces actually broke international law deliberately or accidentally, remains to be seen. However, it is extraordinarily clear that Hamas consistently attacks Israeli population centers and uses schools, hospitals and residential structures as shields against Israeli troops and air strikes.
The Reason Foundation, in its magazine, explains the key difference between Israel and Hamas. While the terror organization strangles the civil liberties of Gazans and is willing to sacrifice them to hurt Israel’s self image, the middle east’s only democracy is engaged in a healthy debate over its tactical procedures. Dany Zamir, a former officer in the IDF, is openly criticizes the government and the military, without fear of reprisal. War is always ugly and bloody. The international community should cut Israel some slack for allowing dissent towards its policies and striving to avoid collateral damage.
Filed under: opinion, politics | Tags: Ahmadinejad, Durban, posted by Sam, racism, USA
Shimon Peres, Israel’s president, spoke out against the Durban 2 conference. The speech came at a ceremony commemorating one of the worst human rights disgraces of all time, the Holocaust. He proclaimed that the anti-racism summit currently being held in Geneva is really “an acceptance of racism, not a fight against it.”
Ahmadinejad gave a speech on the second day of the conference, without a translation from Farsi. Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz stood up at the beginning of the speech and commented on the lack of translation prevented attendees to participate. When Iran’s President mentioned Israel as a racist state, delegates from many European countries walked out. Other interruptions, like people interrupting Ahmadinejad with shouts of “racist, racist!” happened on several occasions.
This explicit example of racism is the reason that the United States did not want to legitimatize the conference with its presence. This is a a noble but incongruous position for the US to take. Under President Bush, this stubborn policy would have made more sense. Obama’s approach has been different. Since his election campaign, he has stated that he would be willing to meet with Iran with out preconditions. Congressional Black Caucus chair, Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee, pointed out that this non-confrontational strategy is only going to make the United States a less prominent player in the determination of what will be the future of global human rights policy.
Filed under: politics | Tags: coalition, Election, February 10, Kadima, likud, Livni, netanyahu, Peres, posted by a, posted by aklionsky, president, Prime minister, Yisrael Beiteinu
There I sat on February 10, the night of the Israeli election, repeatedly clicking the “refresh” button every few minutes on the Yediot Achronot website. Each time, percentage of seats won by Kadima and those won by Likud seemed insignificantly different. This raised an important question: What happens if the margin of victory by one party over another is tiny.
The way Israel dealt with that question was, in a sense, to disregard the results of the election. When the results are as close as they were this year, Israel brings the final decision to the President. So it was, that on February 20, President Shimon Peres announced that he has the most confidence in Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s ability—not the ability of Kadima’s Tzipi Livni, the candidate who won the most votes—to form a stable coalition, and thus a stable government.
To us, this seems ludicrous. For a country to go through all motions of an election—making campaign promises, ordering ballots, setting up voting booths, tallying the preferences—and then throw away the votes because it can’t be sure that the selected person will make a good leader: what was the point of voting?
February’s election showed something important about Israeli society today. The election showed the division amongst Israelis over what to do about the current situation, and displayed the appeal to large camps of Israelis of both major candidates and their platforms. But what the election failed to do was precisely what it was supposed to: decisively deliver a new Prime Minister to the Israeli people. (more…)
Filed under: opinion, politics | Tags: Ha'aretz, Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, Mahmoud Abbas, Operation Cast Lead, posted by ron
The most common question when dealing with Hamas :: “How does this make any sense?”
This time, it refers to the rising approval ratings after the Operation Cast Lead. A post on Ha’aretz said that a Hamas support is rising, according to the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. It says that the poll was conducted face-to-face, so hopefully this mean that those surveyed felt pressured to say “yes” for Hamas.
But how would this make sense. Here are a couple statistics:
- 5,000 homes destroyed
- 1,300 Palestinian fatalities
The more realistic statistics are listed later in the article.
- 71% of Palestinians believe they are worse off now than they were before the Operation Cast Lead
- Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is only ahead 2% (47%-45%) of current PA President Mahmoud Abbas – there is a great chance that this could be changed in actual elections, especially when votes are submitted privately.
One could only hope that the statistics that the poll focussed on are incorrect, and would change in real-life elections.
Filed under: opinion, politics | Tags: Green Technology, oil, OPEC, posted by joel, USIECA
This past Tuesday I was part of a delegation from Chicago (through the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish United Fund) with five other high school seniors and a handful of college and grad school students to lobby congress in Washington DC. I spoke with elected officials and their staff regarding the United States Israel Energy Cooperation Act (USIECA). As of now, we import 58% of our oil requirements, of which 45% comes from member states of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)–many of which are hostile to both the United States and Israel. The USIECA would help further the advancement of green technology in an emerging green economy, which is important to levy our dependence off foreign oil thus making the U.S. and Israel safer, and helping save the planet. About a year ago, this act was passed through the House and the Senate with broad bipartisan support, including the support of President Obama when he was a senator. In order for the USIECA to be properly implemented, it needs sufficient funding. I urge you to send your congressman and/or senator a letter or E-Mail and ask them to appropriate funds to support this issue that is so crucial to both the U.S. and Israel, and the world as a whole.
Filed under: opinion, politics | Tags: bibi, gaza, Hamas, Hezbollah, iran, Israel, Kadima, labor, likud, Livni, netanyahu, Olmert, posted by josh, settlements, West Bank
On February 10, 2009, the Israeli public made it abundantly clear that they are fed up with the status quo. Although most would like to see peace, they have grown tired of this past administration’s efforts to appease their enemies. Before I continue, I would like to make it clear that I am for peace. Having said that, I have come to the realization that territorial concessions and terror are mutually exclusive. Since the famous handshake between Yassir Arafat and Yitzak Rabin, instead of “Land for Peace” we have seen “Land for Terror.”
Perhaps the greatest example of why “Land for Peace” is a failed philosophy is Gaza. After the results of Sharon’s “Unilateral Disengagement,” I challenge anyone on this blog to argue why doing the same in Judea and Samaria would be effective. Before I discuss the security disasters that have resulted from the disengagement, I would like to make note of how inhumane our fellow Jews have been treated by the Israeli government. Many of the Gush Katif (region in Gaza) refugees are unemployed, homeless, and have experienced psychological damage. The government subsidized them to go on a “mission” and then evicted them from their homes.
Settlers aside, the disengagement has brought about a new age of terror. Since 2005, when Israel withdrew all settlers and security forces from every last inch of Gaza, thousands of rockets have been launched into southern Israel. While the media likes to make note of the fact that the rockets have caused few deaths, they ignore the fact that the Israelis cannot go to the mall. Residents of Beer Sheva have to worry about sending their kids to Kindergarden; the psychological damage that has resulted is disturbing.
Filed under: opinion, politics | Tags: coalition, Elections, government, knesset, posted by elan, proportionality, reform
One of the strengths of the Israeli political system is its high degree of proportionality–the makeup of the knesset very closely resembles the relative success of the parties in the election. In the past 15 years, the Knesset has seen a massive shift in composition, marked by the weakening of the ‘big tent’ parties and emergence of single-issue campaigns that can muster enough votes to capture a few seats. In general, this has allowed the small parties hold coalitions hostage to their demands and topple the government. In fact, the average lifespan of a government has decreased markedly since the establishment of the State.
I would like to introduce for public debate and criticism a system I call ‘hyper-proportional government’. Each voter would be allowed to split his or her vote into a number of discrete parts, and cast fractional votes for different parties. These micro-votes would be tabulated as usual and the Knesset seats would be allocated in accordance with the results. Voters who currently cast their ballots for a one-issue party because of strong convictions or desires would have the opportunity to support all of their favorite positions instead of just one, and even support a major party. Voters who currently choose large parties will have the chance to distribute some of their vote to smaller causes. I am not sure whether this would help concentrate power in the larger parties or not. Either way, it should help develop stronger coalitions. The new Knesset and coalition would be extremely representative of voter mandate, and thus ride the political winds more adeptly.
Please comment on this idea! Hopefully, I’ll be able to incorporate your suggestions and expand this idea further. I hope to address some of the technical considerations in a later article.
Filed under: arts/culture, opinion, politics | Tags: editorials, Israel, mfa, posted by The Oznia Staff
Ever want to read every single Israeli editorial, but just don’t have time? The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the solution. They’ve rolled out a nice little feature on their website: paragraph long English summaries of the major Israeli editorials…every day! You can check it out here. Enjoy!
Filed under: movies/television, opinion, politics | Tags: Facebook, Israel, posted by aklionsky
War is absurd. But never has it been more absurd than today, than the war that enveloped Gaza and Israel, and their supporters worldwide, for over twenty days. Because this war has spilled into the lives of everyone who owns a TV, who listens to the radio, who has access to the internet.
This war has called on reservists from the Internet Armies to donate their Facebook statuses, to post videos, to delve deeply into charters and and pamphlets, to enter debates on Youtube. Essentially, this war has incited pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian sentiments among the millions of people who use social networking sites, like Facebook, to share their concerns and opinions.
When I searched “Operation Cast Lead” in facebook, I got 53 group results, ranging from “We oppose Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Palestine!!!” to “Support Israel’s ‘Cast Lead’ operation to stop Palestinian Hamas terrorism.” The groups have sprung up, and every discussion board has intense debates. Israel-supporters join pro-Palestinian groups, and vice-versa, to try to diminish the effect that the group’s “sincere” members have in the discussion boards and wall-posts.
The groups are everywhere, and not just in America. Facebook is used as a political outlet the world-round, as documented by the New York Times last week. Samantha Shapiro focuses on the use of Facebook in Egypt to create civic participation in politics, and on the diversity of grassroots Facebook groups that have resulted from the current conflict. In Egypt, where so much of the public media and activism is regulated, political participants have focused their efforts in an unregulated medium: Facebook. Via Facebook, they have been able to organize a variety of groups from the basic ones calling for an end to the war in Gaza, to ones criticizing President Hosni Mubarak’s response (or lack thereof) on behalf of the Palestinians living in Gaza.