Saturday, April 13, 2019

Politics – April 2019 - Israeli Elections 2019

There are very few matters that are worth fighting for. Peace is one of them.

Peace is the key factor in sustaining security.

Peace is the key for Israel’s survival.

~Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Reflections on Last Newsletter

Israeli Elections 2019

An Israeli Public Relations Company Boasted It Was Behind Initiative to Place Cameras in Arab Polling Stations

Gantz: Israel Democracy Is in Danger
Netanyahu Pledged to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank
Gantz: Annexation Pledge Is an Irresponsible Bid for Votes

Israeli Government Authorized the Largest Settlement Plans Since 2017

“Deal of the Century”

Honduras and Romania to move embassies to Jerusalem


Brexit Emotions Run High

Labour Jewish members declare party's leadership 'antisemitic' in damning vote

My Book Review- Head of Mossad, by Shabtai Shavit, Rishon LeZion, Miskal-Yedioth Ahronoth, 2018, 328 pp., $32 (paperback), ISBN 978-965-564-549-1 

Gem of the Month - Lincoln

Gem of the Month – The Prado, Madrid

Gem of the Month – London

Monthly Poems


Light Side - All Golden Buzzers Auditions on America's Got Talent 2018 


Reflections on Last Newsletter

Mr Joel Singer wrote from Washington DC:

I wanted to let you know that I have launched a website in which I collected many of the articles I had published over the years regarding the Middle East peace process. A link to this website is inserted here:

As you can see, the website also includes a blog in which I plan to publish periodically my analysis of various aspects of the peace process. Please note that I have already posted the first blog item, which includes my analysis of President Trump’s soon-to-be–published  “Deal of the Century.”

I invite you to subscribe to this blog (by adding your email address at the top, right-hand side of the posted blog item), so that you can automatically receive future blog items. You should also feel free to share this blog item with others by using one of the “share” buttons included at the top of the blog item.

Best regards,



Professor Stephen L. Newman wrote from Toronto:
It seems that my homeland and yours are experiencing the same troubling political trend.  Call it authoritarian populism, call it incipient fascism, call it what you will.  Trump and Netanyahu get on so well because it pays political dividends to each for them to be such good friends, and perhaps because they are birds of a feather.  Rescue could be only an election away in both Israel and the US.  I would find hope in Netanyahu and Trump being swept out of office.  But even if this occurs, the societal forces that put them in office will remain.  And who knows if some even more malevolent actors will appear on the scene to exploit those forces?  It's an unsettling thought.

Mr M.J. Friedman commented from Leeds:

Dear Rafi,

Stimulating though your newsletters are already, by including the offering by Dr Jacques Cory you have widened the topics to include arguments for a critique of capitalism which Dr Cory claims is in crisis - but which only those with a particular prejudice would support!

Dr Cory is a prolific writer apparently specialising in the theory of business ethics. However,  his understanding of free market economics is very skewed, presumably because he disapproves of the system ab initio. Consider the two aspects he mentions.

Dr Cory does not approve of a company reducing its workforce, seemingly regarding it as unethical (strange for someone who claims expertise in business ethics). In fact, maximising efficiency by producing goods and services with the minimum resources, including the resource of human input, leaves those extra resources available to produce other goods and services. By such means, over the years, real incomes in capitalist countries have increased immeasurably -  contrasting sharply with the drag on incomes due to having to share the return to productive workers with un- and under-productive employees as in planned economies, various protected industries and others favouring Dr Cory’s “ethical" blueprint.

Dr Cory’s view is that, once Boeing 737 planes have been sold and the profits secured, Boeing does not much care whether or not they are safe. This is, of course, utter nonsense. Quite apart from their employees' humanitarian concerns, if Boeing airplanes were considered to be less safe than those built by their competitors, customers will buy elsewhere with the consequent reduction in the sales and profit accruing to Boeing. The company is thus very concerned about post-sales performance. Capitalism at work maximising safety!

Dr Cory is on firmer ground with his analysis of the problems of the Middle East suggesting to me that it is to this that he should confine any future contribution to your newsletters.


M.J. Friedman

Israeli Elections 2019

2019 Knesset election results
Updated 12 April at 10:00 AM
Projected · 99% reporting

The threshold to enter the Knesset was: 139,744 votes.















Other parties

I hoped for a different result.

Outsiders may fail to understand the Netanyahu appeal and the Israeli public fascination with Bibi. It is not rational. Often it is emotional. Some people are incapable but to vote Bibi. It does not matter that:
  • their personal condition is poor,
  • the Likud government care far more about the welfare of 10 rich families than about the welfare of 22% of the population who are below poverty line
  • Bibi is indicted by the Legal Advisor to the Government;
  • The police, following a thorough investigation, one of the most thorough in the history of investigations since the establishment of Israel, recommended that Bibi will stand trial;
  • Bibi promises the public blood, sweat and tears by his annexation policies;
  • Bibi has associated Israel with some of the worse populist anti-democratic governments of the world

When they come to vote, they vote Bibi or King Bibi, as they love to call him.

Security was, is and will remain the prime consideration when people go to the polls.

Netanyahu was able to provide most Israelis with security. Israel votes Likud.

Peace is a yearning, a hope, a value. Security is a must.

So Netanyahu will continue to live and work in his favourite place on earth.

What is noteworthy is the crush of Labour. It received 5% of the vote and mere 6 seats in the Knesset; down from 19 MK in the last Knesset.

Expect Gabbay to resign, or be forced to resign. I would not rush to mourn Labour. It could regain power.

Silver lining: Naftaly Bennet and Ayelet Shaked are out (if there won’t be any last minute surprises).

Feiglin “Identity” (Zehut) is out.

Sadly, Gesher is also out. Orly Levy-Abuksis is a quality person who cares for workers, for the poor and the underprivileged. She was a very effective MK, given the size of her party (1 MK). She tried to merge with Gantz but he preferred to merge with Yesh Atid, and then the merger failed probably for personal reasons (place of Levy on the list). With Levy, Blue and White could have had 38 MKs.

Blue and White has entered the Knesset some quality people.

The Israeli-Palestinians lost 2 MKs as a result of their division. 12 in the last Knesset; 10 now.


The Israeli public prefers large parties, rather than small.
70 MKs in 2 major parties.

Israeli left is moribund. Meretz barely passed the threshold. It has only 4 seats. I won’t be surprised if it will disappear in the next elections unless it will find ways to unite with Labour. This might be possible post Gabbay. Gabbay objected to such a union.

Kulanu was the flavor of the month during the last election. The flavor of this month is Blue and White. Down to 4 MKs from 10 it had.
Kulanu is also likely to disappear. Kachlon will find his way back to Likud.

Shas has 8 MKs; likely to rise in importance and stature.

United Torah Judaism has 8 MKs; likely to rise in importance and stature.

These two parties are unlikely to merge, although they share much in common.

The Israeli-Palestinians will find ways to overcome personal difference and merge. Their public did not like the split and delivered a strong message of unity.

Such a united party is likely to rise in importance and stature.

United Right, with 5 MKs, has a constituency and may increase its power.

Yisrael Beiteinu, with 5 MKs. Much depends on Avigdor Lieberman’s conduct in this Knesset. His partisan interest requires him to enter into the coalition and serve in government.

I think the next coalition government will look like this:

Likud – 36 MKs.
Shas – 8 MKs.
United Torah Judaism – 7 MKs.
United Right - 5 MKs.
Yisrael Beiteinu -5 MKs.
Kulanu – 4 MKs.

Total: 65.

Blue and White – 35 MKs.
Labour – 6 MKs.
Hadash-Ta’al – 6.
Meretz – 4 MKs.
Ra’am-Balad – 4 MKs.

Total:  55.

This will be a very right wing government.
Annexation of parts of the West Bank on the cards.
Two-state remains, in my mind, the desired solution but won’t happen soon.
Peace will remain an obscure hope.

The gap between the centre-right and the centre-left is increasing.
It used to be 5-6 seats. Now it is 9-10.

It is likely to increase, unless security will become so bad that Israel will opt for an alternative who could regain and retain security.

It is important to see whether there will be Acting Prime Minister (Memale Makom to PM) position.
That person may inherit the PM position if Netanyahu will be convicted.
This position is different from Deputy PM, which is a mere title and does not confer such a responsibility on No. 2.
Ehud Olmert inherited the premier office after Sharon became incapacitated because his title was Acting Prime Minister.

An Israeli Public Relations Company Boasted It Was Behind Initiative to Place Cameras in Arab Polling Stations

An Israeli public relations company headed by a settler leader boasted that it was behind the Likud initiative to place hidden cameras in Arab polling stations on Election Day. The firm added that it was to thank for the historically low turnout among Arab voters. "After a long preparation period, an amazing logistical base and deep and close partnership with the best people in Likud, we put together an operation that contributed crucially to one of the most important achievements of the right-wing bloc,” the company posted on Facebook.

Gantz: Israel Democracy Is in Danger

Leader of Blue & White, Benny Gantz, accused PM Netanyahu of attacking everyone around him while putting Israel’s democracy in danger. Speaking at a Time of Israel event in Tel Aviv, Gantz also lashed out at two of Netanyahu’s ministers, saying Culture Minister Miri Regev is “attacking culture,” while Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is “attacking the justice system.” “He’s attacking everyone. We need to fix our house,” Gantz said. Gantz and Netanyahu have engaged in vicious attacks against one another, which the Blue & White leader said endangered Israel’s democracy. “Democracy is functioning, but it is in danger. It is in our interest to try and keep democracy safe,” he said. 

Netanyahu Pledged to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank
Prior elections, Benjamin Netanyahu, has pledged to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories if he wins his country’s election, a dramatic last-minute rallying call to his nationalist base.
In interviews with domestic media ahead of the polls, Netanyahu repeated his promise and said he would prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state by “controlling the entire area”.
Netanyahu gave an interview to Israel’s Channel 12 TV. He pledged not to dismantle a single Jewish settlement, of which there are more than 100, from makeshift trailer parks on hilltops to huge townships indistinguishable from towns in Israel.
The interviewer asked why he had not already annexed some of the larger settlements. “Who says that we won’t do it? We are on the way and we are discussing it,” he replied. “You are asking whether we are moving on to the next stage – the answer is yes, we will move to the next stage. I am going to extend sovereignty and I don’t distinguish between settlement blocs and the isolated settlements.
“From my perspective, any point of settlement is Israeli, and we have responsibility, as the Israeli government. I will not uproot anyone, and I will not transfer sovereignty to the Palestinians.”

Gantz: Annexation Pledge Is an Irresponsible Bid for Votes

Prior elections, Blue White Party Leader Benny Gantz condemned Netanyahu’s controversial pledge to extend Israeli sovereignty to West Bank settlements, calling it an “irresponsible” bid for votes. Netanyahu said he planned to apply sovereignty over West Bank settlements. “Why not ask how it is that for 13 years Netanyahu could have annexed and didn’t?” asked Gantz. Gantz added that he opposed “unilateral” moves but supports “a regionally and globally backed peace agreement while maintaining our basic principles.”

Israeli Government Authorized the Largest Settlement Plans Since 2017

Prior elections, Israel’s Civil Administration’s High Planning Subcommittee has advanced plans for over 3,600 West Bank homes. Nearly 1,200 of the homes advanced will be located well beyond the Green Line in isolated settlements such as Shilo, Elon Moreh, Rehelim, Mitzpe Jericho and Nokdim. Also advanced through the deposit stage was a plan for 720 homes in the central West Bank town of Haresha, a move that retroactively legalizes the outpost of roughly 50 families.

“Deal of the Century”

This is a fictional scenario taken from my wild imagination:

President Trump convenes a special and urgent press conference. All rush in as he announced that then and there he will announce his “Deal of the Century”.

Trump: I am here today to update you about the deal you all have been waiting for. Since I took office, I have been negotiating this clever deal with the moderate Arab countries in the Middle East, primarily with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. Today I am able to announce that these progressive and moderate countries, led by benevolent and peace-loving leaders, have agreed to create a special fund called “The Trump Peace Fund”, upon my name because I originated this great and unprecedented idea. I put to them a target of 100 billion dollars. I am pleased to say that the target has been reached. They have now committed to donate that great sum of money in the pursuit of long-lasting peace.

Thank you.

Reporter A: Mr President. Can you please elaborate on the peace plan?

Trump: We made some preconditions for funding projects for peace. First, it is limited to the liberated territories of Judea and Samaria. The recipients will be primarily Palestinians. No money will be given to terrorist organisations. Consequently, no money will be given to the residents of the Gaza Strip. The money will be utilized to building houses for all refugees, and, I repeat, ALL refugees; to create hubs of excellence; to establish state-of-the-art economic and technological infrastructure and, generally speaking, to make Palestinian lives up to the standards of the West.

Report B: Great. What about the Palestinian national aspirations?

Trump: What about them?

Reporter B: Mr President. The Palestinians are yearning to have a state, a sovereign state.

Trump: I do not think this is possible.

Reporter C: Do you expect to buy Palestinian national sentiments with money?

Trump: They should be very grateful. I worked days and nights for this deal.

Reporter D: What will happen if those dissatisfied with your generosity will show their frustration via violent means?

Trump: If they know what is good for them, they should take the money and be quiet. Zero tolerance to terror.

Thank you, gentlemen and, oh, some beautiful ladies. Tara.

Honduras and Romania to move embassies to Jerusalem

Honduras and Romania are to relocate their Israeli embassies to Israel’s capital. Both President Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras and Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă announced their plans during the AIPAC conference in Washington.


I asked English friends who were born and raised in the United Kingdom whether it is conceivable that a prime minister will be indicted; still, run for elections and won’t resign. All friends, without exception said: In politics, never say never. Yet, this is unthinkable. It simply not to be done.

Brexit Emotions Run High

I met a MP, known for his vocal views against Brexit. In the past few months, he has been receiving on average two life threat a month, some of them quite gruesome, threatening to cut his head off. His wife does not know about those threats. He does not wish to make her worried. Brexit is divisive and destructive. It takes over the political and social agenda. All other issues, including very important issues, are not discussed. Brexit takes it all.

Labour Jewish members declare party's leadership 'antisemitic' in damning vote

Jewish Labour members have branded the party leadership as antisemitic in a fresh blow to Jeremy Corbyn.

The Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) passed the damning motion at its annual general meeting on Sunday, accusing Mr Corbyn of having “condoned antisemitism and antisemites”.
The group said the Labour leader was “unfit to be prime minister” and that a government he led “would not be in the interests of British Jews”.
JLM is Labour’s only official Jewish affiliate and has been part of the party for almost 100 years. 
One source at the meeting told The Independent the decision to approve the motion of no confidence in Mr Corbyn was “almost unanimous”.
It reads: “The leadership of the Labour Party have demonstrated that they are antisemitic, and have presided over a culture of antisemitism in which they have failed to use their personal and positional power to tackle antisemitism, and have instead used their influence to protect and defend antisemites.

“Jeremy Corbyn is directly responsible, whether through his own actions, where he appears to have condoned antisemitism and antisemites, or through his inaction to tackle the wider problem within the party.”
The motion said JLM “has no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn’s ability to understand, respond to or solve the problem” and claimed “his leadership of the Labour Party combined with his past actions and associations shows a complete disregard for the Jewish community in Britain”. 
It added: “Jeremy Corbyn has not been an ally against antisemitism in the Labour Party.
“Jeremy Corbyn is therefore unfit to be prime minister and a Labour government led by him would not be in the interest of British Jews”.
The motion of no confidence in Mr Corbyn was tabled as an amendment to a wider motion on antisemitism that claimed Labour was “institutionally antisemitic” and said the party leadership had “directly intervened in disciplinary cases to exonerate members responsible for grotesque and overt antisemitism”. 

My Book Review- Head of Mossad, by Shabtai Shavit, Rishon LeZion, Miskal-Yedioth Ahronoth, 2018, 328 pp., $32 (paperback), ISBN 978-965-564-549-1 

Unlike many autobiographies of people who served in high-power positions, this autobiography does not put the author at the centre of attention. While Shavit does recall events and incidents that occurred in his long career in the Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations (Mossad), this book is mostly about intelligence, power relations in the Middle East, security, peace, war and terror, written from the perspective of an experienced man who dedicated his life to secure Israel, a doer who for more than thirty years served in various positions in the Mossad, slowly advancing in his career until reaching the head of the pyramid. Shavit shares with us insights he gained as he was working in intelligence, and when he joined heads of state in sensitive meetings around the globe.

You can read the read the review in full at:

Gem of the Month - Lincoln

The marina is quite lovely and picturesque. Well, anything that has something to do with water is great for me.

Gem of the Month – The Prado, Madrid

I returned to this fine museum, and this time enjoyed a learned private guide who tries to persuade us that Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez was Jewish. The guide discerned Hebrew letters in Velázquez’s paintings. It sounds too stretch for me but, hey, good to know about the Jewish roots of this great painter.

Gem of the Month – London

I am meeting some truly fascinating people. My soul enlarges having these meetings. It is wonderful to meet intelligent people who share my concerns, people who enrich my world with wisdom and knowledge. London attracts these people and makes these enriching meetings possible.

I am also invited to deliver several lectures on various topics: Israel, Internet, freedom of expression, multiculturalism, end-of-life. My last talk was yesterday about the Israeli elections. Three more in the coming weeks.

Monthly Poems

A Calendar of Sonnets: April

No days such honored days as these! While yet
Fair Aphrodite reigned, men seeking wide
For some fair thing which should forever bide
On earth, her beauteous memory to set
In fitting frame that no age could forget,
Her name in lovely April's name did hide,
And leave it there, eternally allied
To all the fairest flowers Spring did beget.
And when fair Aphrodite passed from earth,
Her shrines forgotten and her feasts of mirth,
A holier symbol still in seal and sign,
Sweet April took, of kingdom most divine,
When Christ ascended, in the time of birth
Of spring anemones, in Palestine.

Helen Hunt Jackson

A Cute Poem From A Cute Girl

They are the tiny drops from the sky.
Who are so pure that they cannot deny
They quietly listen to all that we say
Then, touch the earth or vanish in a bay.
When I'm with you I will not cry even a single a tear
And your touch have chased away all of my fear
you have given me a life that I could live worthwhile
it is even better every time you smile.
You changed my world with a blink of an eye
That is something that I cannot deny
You put my soul from worst to best
That is why I treasure you my dearest
Feel our bodies pressed close
As close as skin to skin,
Open your heart to me
Come on, let me in
Fill my senses with your rush
Let me taste your deep kiss,
Hold me tightly to your heart.

It so magical those things you've made
to bring back my faith that almost fade
now my life is a dream come true
it all began when I was loved by you.

Mary Wismer

Light Side - All Golden Buzzers Auditions on America's Got Talent 2018 


Peace and Love. Yours as ever,


My last communications are available on Israel: Democracy, Human Rights, Politics and Society,

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