Monday, August 09, 2004

Stop the presses!!!

Haaretz ticker today:

10:55 Technion researcher identifies cause of sesame allergy, believes may increase world consumption of sesame (Haaretz)

War games in Gush Katif

This is the main photo on Yediot Aharonot's front page today: Three boys, around 12-14 years old I would guess, wearing camouflage and flak jackets and carrying paint guns, as they go to play war games in the Gaza Strip settlement bloc of Gush Katif.

And we wonder what's wrong with Israeli youth today?


The other day I saw two separate Tel Aviv police cars parked on Allenby street, just south of Sheinkin, as officers were writing jaywalking tickets to Israelis pleading their innocence. One police car was parked in front of a store famous for selling pirated CDs, DVDs and videos. I guess it would be too complicated for the cops to actually go after the store owner, and jaywalking tickets is more profitable for the city.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Leak aimed at Peres

Shimon Peres to Abu Ala: "When I'm appointed foriegn minister we'll open secret negotiations"

This was the main headline on Thursday's front page of the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot. According to the story by Shimon Shiffer, a secret document given the previous day to "senior decision-makers in Israel" says that the dialogue between Peres and the Palestinian prime minister has intensified as of late, and that Peres made this promise to Abu Ala, even though negotiations to bring Labor into the government haven't been finalized.

The story says that senior Palestinian officials told diplomats in Ramallah that Israel is close to renewing political talks via a "back channel" after PM Sharon finishes rearranging his cabinet.

In a story such as this, it's important to consider who benefits from the release of this information at this particular time. Obviously, this includes Likud members opposed to Labor joining the government, and most specifically Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, who would likely lose his post if Peres joins the government.

(In my opinion, Sharon should have fired Shalom some time ago because the foreign minister is vocally opposed to the PM's disengagement plan. How can a head of state accept such a situation?)

It's also important to remember that Shalom's wife, Judy Nir Moses Shalom, is from the Moses family that owns Yediot Aharonot.

Sharon picking Kerry?

It looks as if Ariel Sharon is picking John Kerry to win the November elections. The timing of the Israeli government's decision to approve construction of more housing in the West Bank settlement of Maaleh Adumim is a slap in the face to U.S. policy in the Middle East. Sharon certainly knows that President Bush can't afford to take Israel to task on the decision because it would mean risk alienating Jewish voters in an election year. And if anything the move could indirectly help the Kerry campaign, because it makes it look as if Sharon is pushing Bush around and making a mockery of U.S. efforts in the region.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

More on Lapid

Haaretz political correspondent Yossi Verter slams Lapid.

The Lapid question

In a dramatic political about-face, Tommy Lapid, leader of the anti-Haredi Shinui party, is apparently willing to sit in a government that includes an ultra-Orthodox party, which in this case is United Torah Judaism.

It's still unclear if it will happen, but Lapid's move raises some important issues. 

Lapid seems willing to sit with UTJ, an ultra-Orthodox party primarily composed of Ashkenazi Jews. Would he be willing to do the same if we were talking about Shas, which has its main support base in the Sephardi community? Probably not.

"No one is as corrupt as Shas," a colleague who voted for Shinui told me when I posed this question to him. While this may be true, Lapid's new found willingness to sit with "white" Jews, but not the "dark" ones lends credence to the charges that this is a man with some racist tendencies.

I do recall one occasion a year or so ago when Lapid made some disparaging remarks about Mizrahi music. If I remember correctly, he said something about hearing it and thinking he was in Ramallah, or some other West Bank city.

Lapid is a Holocaust survivor and certainly a proud Jew, but there's something almost anti-Semitic (Yes, I dared to say it) about his message. I'm not anti-Shinui. I might have voted for the party myself if it had a more leftist peace platform. But I get the feeling that there's some kind of hatred of religious Judaism and not just corruption, among some Shinui voters, not unlike the immigrants who disavowed their religious backgrounds in Europe to come to Israel with a new secular socialist brand of Judaism, not like the weak religious Judaism they felt fueled anti-Semitism and contributed to the Holocaust.