Israel’s Invisible Elections??
With the great election redo of 2019 less than two weeks away Israelis across the political spectrum are meeting up in living rooms, pubs and coffee shops around the country to discuss the great issues of the day…not.
The political fatigue is palpable right about now: Picture an old basset hound passed out on the front porch, trying to escape the summer heat. Sure, the major media outlets continue to breathlessly report on corruption allegations and the latest attempted mergers and acquisitions of splinter parties, whose potential votes could prove to be the difference between a center-left or right-wing government. But Israelis by and large have tuned out of the incessant focus on labyrinthine negotiations, political jockeying and mudslinging.
Their concerns are more immediate. Parents are busy getting their kids back into the school year swing, young men and women are gearing up for their university studies and those who’ve recently returned from vacation are just now trying to figure out how on earth to pay off that 7-day luxury trip to Greece. Israelis, once the most politically engaged citizens of any democracy on the planet, have settled into a low grade stupor just days before a national election.
What’s this epidemic of ennui all about? Some of it can be traced to that point in Israel’s history when personalities began to trump platforms. Local journalists have only fueled this Gossip Girl approach to covering politics. As a result, there are no great issues, only rumors, allegations, spin and endless innuendo. It’s not surprising that people would rather spend their well-earned Saturday afternoons at the beautiful Beit Yanai Beach not discussing politics with their family and friends.
The problem is that such apathy is anathema to the long-term wellbeing of any democracy. What truly legitimizes any form of representative government isn’t its regulations, laws, Constitution or Declaration of Independence. These are but procedural mechanisms that will blow away like dust in the wind if people stop cherishing and fighting for the values that undergird free nations everywhere.
Democracies can’t long function on auto pilot. The very legitimacy of a representative government depends on a proactive public holding its leaders’ feet close to the fire. To paraphrase Robert Kennedy, a passionate and engaged citizenry, “…dreams of things that never were, and asks why not.” But detached, disinterested citizens accept the smallness of its countries’ leaders and settle for small victories: holding on to a job, making the monthly rent, getting through an entire summer without a call from the bank.
When the national discussion isn’t about Israel’s security, economy or place among the family of nations, playing matkot or backgammon is surely a more productive way to spend one’s time. But viable democracies demand much of their citizens. Escaping these responsibilities will only prolong and deepen Israelis’ crisis of confidence in the country they so love.
Ban Iran & the PA from the Olympics
The National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) called on Iran and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to be banned from the Olympics.
High ranking Iranian officials reportedly instructed Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei to throw his semi-final match at the recent 2019 World Judo Championships in Tokyo in order to ensure that he would not have to face an Israeli competitor in the final. To his credit, Mollaei fled to Germany and stated that his days of competing for Iran are over.
The head of the International Judo Federation, Marius Vizer, is reported to have threatened to ban Iran from taking part in the Olympics as a result of the incident. Vizer reportedly told Iran that International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach supported his proposed ban.
The PA has repeatedly failed to condemn the massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics Games in Munich, in which Palestinian terrorists murdered 11 Israeli athletes in a brutal terrorist attack. In fact, Fatah, which is headed by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, has praised the attack and called it a “heroic operation.” In addition, Abbas dedicated a building at Jericho’s Istiqlal University in honor of Khalil Al-Wazir Abu Jihad, a terrorist who was the chief architect behind the massacre in Munich. Abbas himself reportedly played a role in financing the deadly Olympics attack.
“With a long history of unsportsmanlike conduct in an arena where sportsmanship is supposed to be sacrosanct, Iran has relinquished its right to participate in the Olympic Games,” said NCYI President Farley Weiss. “By repeatedly instructing its athletes to purposefully lose sporting events so they will not have to compete against Israeli athletes, Iran has injected bigotry, anti-Semitism and intolerance into the international sports world and should face the consequences for their heinous and anti-Semitic acts. There is no room for this type of reprehensible behavior at the Olympic Games.”
“Like Iran, the Palestinian Authority has tainted the Olympics through its ongoing refusal to formally apologize for the 1972 massacre in Munich and through its incomprehensible glorification of the despicable terrorists who carried out the deadly act of terror,” Weiss added. “Coupled with its outrageous ‘Pay to Slay’ program, through which it provides financial remuneration to terrorists, the PA has fundamentally relinquished its rights to take part in the Olympics. Until such time as the PA issues a formal apology for the 1972 terrorist attack in Munich and pays reparations to the families of the victims, they should not be permitted to field an Olympic team.”
Nat’l Council of Young Israel
Questioning Dem Rule in Albany
If you needed any more evidence that one-party Democrat rule in Albany is a recipe for billions of dollars in new and burdensome taxes, Governor Cuomo reinforced it recently when he announced that the state will require millions of drivers to buy new license plates starting next year.
This is a regurgitation of the same, uninspired idea that Governor David Paterson proposed a decade ago, one that failed thanks to strong opposition from County Clerks and Republicans in the state Legislature. It’s also the latest example of Albany’s nickel-and-diming of hardworking middle-class taxpayers.
Add this to the $4.6 billion in taxes and fees imposed in this year’s budget by the Governor and the all-Democrat Legislature, and it all adds up to a death by a thousand cuts. New taxes on internet purchases and grocery bags. A new commuter tax. The elimination of the much-needed property tax rebate checks. And, now $25-$45 a pop for every vehicle New York families put on the road.
Enough is enough. It’s time to stop spending other people’s money so we can give New Yorkers the tax relief they need and deserve.
John J. Flanagan