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      The Eye of the Storm
      by Batya Medad
      A Unique Perspective by Batya Medad of Shiloh
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      Batya Medad made aliya from New York to Israel in 1970 and has been living in Shiloh since 1981. Recently she began organizing women's visits to Tel Shiloh for Psalms and prayers. (For more information, please email her.)  Batya is a newspaper and magazine columnist, a veteran jblogger and recently stopped EFL teaching.  She's also a wife, mother, grandmother, photographer and HolyLand hitchhiker, always seeing things from her own very unique perspective. For more of Batya's writings and photos, check out:

      Shiloh Musings



      Tishrei 25, 5773, 10/11/2012

      Elections! Israeli Politicians Dance The Tango

      Never dull. It's heaven for political pundits with so many elections in the near future.  Read more on Shiloh Musings and me-ander.  Here's how I see it:

      Bibi Calls for Elections! Israeli Politicians Dance The Tango

      There must be a method to the madness, as Israeli politicians and wannabe Knesset Members have started jockeying around tyring to find new ways to "party" in the very fluid Israeli political scene.

      Ramon, Itzik both seek out Olmert in attempt to oust PM; Livni, Ramon contemplate forming new party for broad center-left bloc.
      Wooing and power plays began to emerge in the political arena on Wednesday, less than a day after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced early elections. Among the speculation was a possible return to politics by former prime minister Ehud Olmert, who some believe could revitalize a fragmented and shrinking Left.

      For some strange reason, I can't stop seeing in my mind that great Tango by Al Pacino and Gabrielle Anwar in "A Scent of a Woman."

      Now we're starting to enter the complicated pre-election time in Israel when it's hard to keep track of the politicians without an erasable scorecard.

      Just like in sports, nowadays there's  very little player loyalty to teams, athletes will play for any team, as long as it's the highest bidder, many or even most Israeli politicians will sign with the party that offers them the biggest promises of the most elite and powerful positions.

      I'm just warning you to be prepared for all sorts of schennanigans.  This will actually continue until someone, the head of one of the political parties--most probably sitting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu-- succeeds in forming a government aka building a coalition.

      It's now barely the middle of October, and Netanyahu has announced that he's "closing shop" and getting ready to build another one in about three months.  He has picked a good time.  The students who were very helpful to the anti-government demonstrations and happenings just over a year ago are just now starting their academic year.  No too many can afford to waste a semester campaigning for the Left. The Americans, especially the Clintons who were so instrumental to Ehud Barak's victory over Netanyahu a good decade ago are busy trying to get their Barack Hussein Obama reelected.  They can't afford to waste their time and energies on Barak, who's pretty tarnished and pathetic as Prime Minister hopeful. 

      Even though the Likud party isn't all that popular, all of the polls show that the public sees no reliable and capable alternative to Binyamin Netanyahu.  Nobody in the opposition to the Left of the Likud inspires enough confidence outside of the confirmed Leftists and the situation on the Right is even worse.

      Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been working hard for years to position himself safely in the center.  The two extremes, Right and Left, disagree with him most of the time, but the general public is "Center" and they are satisfied with Bibi as Prime Minister.

      And in the meantime, let's dance!

      Tishrei 18, 5773, 10/4/2012

      Taking Bets-- Winter Elections in Israel?

      Succot Sameach, Have a Wonderful, Joyful Holiday!

      Yes, it's never dull. You can read more of my writings on me-ander and Shiloh Musings. In Israel, not even the succah can protect us from the news. The big question revolves around elections, not only American Presidential elections:

      Taking Bets-- Will There or Won't There Be Winter Elections in Israel?

      The Israeli media is back at it, trying to double-guess the wily Bibi Netanyahu.  Our Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu out-tricked the media a few short months ago when he quickly eloped with Kadima's Shaul Mofaz which "cancelled" the expected/presumed early September elections.  Mofaz had his agenda and expected to snake up in the Netanyahu kitchen cabinet, but he failed and bailed out hoping to annul the marriage.

      This is rather difficult for Americans to get used to, but Israeli Election dates are more "suggestions" than anything you can set your clock to.  Or think of it as "use by" dates on various food products.  You don't have to keep the cottage cheese until the "use by" date.  You may finish it earlier.  Israeli Governments are like that.  Especially in recent decades, they rarely, if ever, last the full term.  There's an inherent instability in the Israeli coalition system

      Or think of Israeli governments as yeast dough.  If they last too long, they overflow and spoil.  Yes, again, like the yeast dough, timing isn't set in advance, there are other factors like the heat and the sugar and salt all combining with the yeast and flour.

      Bibi tricked everyone just a few short months ago.  Looking back, I'm not surprised.  He's very sharp and I couldn't understand how he could agree to early September elections when the media had riled up the public against him with the faux social justice campaign going so strongly.  That's when he secretly courted Mofaz, eloped and pulled him into the government, effectively neutralizing the opposition.

      Now the talk is of February elections, when everyone is busy at work and studies.  It's a much better time for the Likud than summer.  The media is now trying to figure out who is the intended victim of Ehud Barak.  He's obviously been conning someone.  I've never trusted him.  I think that he's really in cahoots with American Democrats, and I don't like nor feel comfortable with the fact that Netanyahu has given him so much power.  The Clinton-Barak relationship is too close to be kosher.

      For the third consecutive election, U.S. officials are trying to help the Labor Party's candidate win the Israeli election because of their dissatisfaction with the policies of the incumbent. Taking a page out of George Bush's playbook, the Clinton Administration has once again done just about everything but announce that Bill hates Bibi. Anonymous officials tell reporters how bad their relationship is while the State Department makes pronouncements about Netanyahu violating promises he made to the President
      During the 1999 elections, James Carville, Clinton's media/election advisor worked for Ehud Barak. Barak's Labor Party won, but it was bad news, a reign of terror, Arab terror attacks in Israel.  The Barak government didn't last long.  The truth is that it was easier for Carville to market Barak than it was for Barak to govern. Since then, Ehud Barak as become more a postscript to Israeli political history.  If Bibi hadn't brought him in, his career would be over.

      The Ehud Olmert factor is just a media game.  Olmert and Arye Deri make great headlines, but I can't see them as returning to serious political power, except maybe behind the scenes.

      Technically, February 2013 elections would be early, but in real terms, the Netanyahu Government will have lasted longer than recent ones.  My guess is that the next Israeli Elections will be some time before Passover.

      Who's taking bets?  What's yours?

      Tishrei 12, 5773, 9/28/2012

      Simple Solution to Daylight Saving's "Long Yom Kippur"

      Good morning!  The Jewish World is in the midst of a marathon of holidays, praying, feasting, fasting and more.  As usual you can read more on Shiloh Musings and me-anderChag Sameach, joyful holiday to all!

      Simple Solution to Daylight Saving Time's "Long Yom Kippur"

      Last night as my neighbor was driving me home from work I decided to "make conversation" by first telling him how much I had enjoyed the dovening  prayers in our shul and then he mentioned that Yom Kippur would be "longer" next year.

      Hmmm... how could it be longer?  Yom Kippur is always twenty-five hours plus a couple of minutes of fasting from the time we finish the meal until we manage to get that first drink of water.

      Ever since Israel adopted Daylight Savings for the summer months, there have been bitter fights between the religious and secular populations about the dates it should start and end

      I must admit that I'm not a great fan of Daylight Savings Time, ever since I'd been a young mother struggling to get my "primitive" (following the sunlight) children to bed according to the distorted clock.  My married daughter, now the mother young children, says that she'd prefer it in the winter to give more sunlight in the afternoon.

      My neighbor admitted that he doesn't care all that much about the "longer Yom Kipper" and thinks that there are more important issues to stand strong against the secular.  It took me a second to finally realize what was meant by the "longer Yom Kippur."  It's davka the same thing I have against going to the faster very early, "neitz" Yom Kippur service which is very popular among some of my friends.

      To those who so happily reported how early they finished dovening and how quickly the dovening went I kept asking why they wanted a longer day with nothing to do and nothing to eat.  I'm very happy to spend my Yom Kippur day in the synagogue listening to the prayers and praying along.  The couple of hours we had as a break between Musaf and Mincha were enough for me.  I don't take naps, even Shabbat afternoon.  If I sleep during the day, I can't fall asleep at night.

      I barely had to think to find the solution to the "long Yom Kippur."  It's so totally obvious, as I told my neighbor:

      "Just start the morning prayers an hour later, the time it would be if there wasn't daylight savings, and you'll have the same shorter Yom Kippur."

      The biggest problem will be remembering in time to suggest it to our synagogue committee and make sure they implement it.

      Tishrei 4, 5773, 9/20/2012

      Strong Right Wing Opposition versus Bloated Cabinet

      As regular readers of mine know very well, my opinions are my own and not always very conventional. You can read more on me-ander and Shiloh Musinings.  And I'll also take this as an opportunity to wish all of you a good, healthy and successful New Year.

      Israeli Politics Primer, Cabinet Post versus Leadership and Ideology

      I look at politics differently from most, especially Israeli politics.  There's more than simple Right vs Left separating Israeli political parties. Generally Israelis choose their parties to vote for according to a few simple criterion, the youth movements they were members of as kids.  That's why the National Religious Party had a campaign slogan a few elections ago saying:

      "Come home."

      They wanted former Bnai Akiva members to vote nostalgia aka NRP or Jewish Home.

      Labor Party also has campaigned on nostalgia hoping the children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren of former loyalists will vote for them.

      Other parties campaign for or against religion, the chareidi and extreme Left parties. Kadima has even pledged to offer a "supermarket" of ideologies.

      Recently, in order to renew the Old National Religious Party aka NRP aka Jewish Home, they've opened themselves up and have an active campaign primaries with all sorts of media and internet savvy wannabes.  One of the most surprising is a secular Rightist, Ayelet Shaked.  I've read a few interviews with her and at first was very confused.  In terms of ideology, she seems more suited to the Ichud Le'umi, National Union, but then I noticed that she dreams of a cabinet portfolio.

      AS: I think I’d like to be either Education Minister or Foreign Minister since both education and hasbara are close to my heart. 

      That's the criteria most people ignore.  Does the political party aim to be in the cabinet at any ideological cost or do they want to be the magnet pulling the Prime Minister to what they think Israel should be?

      Ever since Menachem Begin's Likud put together the ruling coalition in 1977, there hasn't been a strong Right opposition.  The NRP is not a truly Right party; it's a coalition partner, willing to ignore and compromise in order to hold onto its portfolio and perks.  The Likud is a Center party supported by Right voters.

      The Left has a very strong opposition.  That's how it keeps pulling the Likud leftward.  We need a very strong Right opposition in Israel.  That's why, although I know it's far from perfect, I will continue to support the National Union.  I wish that some of those charismatic NRP wannabes could understand that if they really want to make a difference in Israel they should try to strengthen the National Union instead of getting mired in the NRP.

      Remember that cabinet posts come with lots of strings.  Wily politicians like Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu don't offer anything without those well-tied strings.  If a minister tries to step out of line, he or she finds them like a noose on the neck. 

      If an Israeli wants to lead on the political scene, he or she is best best off staying in the opposition until powerful enough to be Prime Minister.

      Tammuz 18, 5772, 7/8/2012

      IDF, Keep Compulsory Draft!

      Today's a fast day, the 17th, actually the 18th of Tammuz.  We fast to remember the destruction of Jerusalem and our Holy Temple.  This fast initiates a period of three weeks during which our mourning becomes more and more intense culminating with the 25 hour fast of Tisha b'Av, the date the Temple was destroyed and other tragedies happened to the Jewish People.

      Our sages say that one of the reasons G-d allowed them to happen was that we didn't treat each other properly.  There was sinat chinan the worse type of hatred.  The Jewish People must work together to prevent that sin.  That's one of the reasons I wrote:

      IDF, Keep Compulsory Draft!

      I used to think that I agreed with most of Moshe Feiglin's points, except for his totally unrealistic idea that he could and would take over the Likud.  Feiglin is no close to taking over the Likud than he was when he started his campaign. 

      Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu  proved it before the last elections when he got the Likud "court" to approve his "tweaking" of the Knesset list to move his backers yes-men up ahead of Feiglin and other Right wing candidates.  That move was totally immoral and antidemocratic.  I still can't believe that Bibi had the gall to attempt it and didn't think the Likud would let him pull it off.

      All Feiglin has succeeded in doing is get people to vote for Likud which gives us the policies of Meridor and Barak.  Netanyahu has been saying for years --I heard him with my own ears-- is that he wants the Likud to be a Center party, not Right.

      Now Feiglin is joining the "stop the draft" campaign.

      So the Right doesn't really want this compulsory draft and the Left doesn't, either.
      More ridiculous is the fact that not only is the IDF not interested in this draft, but it really doesn't need it, either.

      Says who? I don't see how Feiglin comes to those conclusions.

      Israel is a small country with a very heterogeneous population.  It is also a country in danger all of the time.  Surrounding countries and even those further away consider it their primary aim to destroy us.  We are nothing like the United States.  The USA doesn't really need much of an army.  Most of their soldiers are fighting foreign wars.  The country itself is not in danger.   I can see most of you opening your mouths to talk about 911, terrorism and all that.  To fight terrorism you don't need a conventional army of tanks and an air force.  The American system is irrelevant to Israel and its needs.

      Israel needs every single type of soldier.  The IDF must utilize the varied talents of the population to defend the country.  Our school system must educate the youth about the importance of defending the country.  Our history, citizenship and geography curriculum must be rewritten so that every student understands why we're here, what our rights are, our legitimacy etc.  We need soldiers from the Left, Right and Center and from the secular, traditional, dati and chareidi.  For many Israelis, the army is the first place they really get to know a wide variety of Israelis and understand that we must live and work together.

      Feiglin claims that the soldiers in a professional IDF will be respected and admired, unlike the situation in the USA.  He's wrong, just like he was wrong about his taking over the Likud.