Archive for January, 2008

Needed: Jewish Statesmanship

Edited transcript of the Eidelberg Report, Israel National Radio, January 28, 2008.

Let us first define statesmanship. Statesmanship is the application of philosophy to action. Jewish statesmanship is simply the application of Jewish philosophy to action. Jewish philosophy is grounded in the rationality and ethics of Jewish law.

Second, let us define the Jewish statesman. The Jewish statesman is first and foremost an educator whose power is less political than intellectual and moral. The Jewish statesman must therefore be well educated in the heritage and history of the Jewish People. This is a formidable task, since the knowledge Jews have accumulated during the past four millennia is vast and unsurpassed.

Jews have excelled in virtually every discipline, especially in the domain of law. Consider Jewish law (Halakha) only so far as concerns the relations between man and man (in contradistinction to the relation between man and God). That we should discuss Jewish law is appropriate if only because Jewish law is the one thing that has preserved the Jewish people and their national identity. » Continue reading “Needed: Jewish Statesmanship”

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Electoral Rules Matter: Part II

Part I cited the renowned expert on electoral rules professor Rein Taagepera. Perhaps his most telling point is this: “As the number of actors increases, the number of possible disputes increases roughly as the square of the number of actors.” This obviously applies to Israel, whose government typically consists of roughly 20 cabinet ministers representing rival political parties. No wonder the average duration of Israeli governments since 1948 is less than two years! This short tenure renders it virtually impossible for the government to pursue coherent, consistent, and long-term national policies.

Here I am reminded of the warnings and wisdom of James Madison in Federalist Paper No. 62, where he defends the six-year tenure of the Senate, a defense that applies to Israel’s Knesset as well as to its Government despite their prescribed (but unrealized) tenure of four years: » Continue reading “Electoral Rules Matter: Part II”

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US Lecture Tour—March 2008

Dear Friends:

I am going on a one-month cross-country lecture of the United States during March. Some venues have been settled, some are tentative. My primary topic is “What Can You Do to Save Israel?” Apart from travel expenses, I am not requesting any honorarium for any talk that I may give during this tour. » Continue reading “US Lecture Tour—March 2008″

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Electoral Rules Matter: Part I

Professor of social sciences Rein Taagepera and political scientist Matthew Soberg Shugart are renowned experts on electoral systems. Israeli politicians should study their book Seats and Votes.

Taagepera and Shugart use mathematical models in studying scores of electoral rules. Their research is especially relevant to Israel, not only because the government is working on a constitution, but also because it is considering a proposal to make the leader of the party that wins the largest number of seats in a Knesset election Israel’s prime minister.

That Kadima won 29 seats (the most of any party) in the 2006 election would have been sufficient to make Ehud Olmert prime minister without his having been designated by the president to form a government and have it approved by the Knesset. » Continue reading “Electoral Rules Matter: Part I”

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Bush Said, “End the Occupation,” and Olmert Was Silent

Edited transcript of the Eidelberg Report, Israel National Radio, January 21, 2008.

In his visit to Israel, President Bush had the audacity to say, “end the occupation.” He had in mind Judea and Samaria including the Old City of Jerusalem. Unsurprisingly, Prime Minister Olmert, like other Israelis who are “tired of being courageous,” was silent.

Of course, Israel requires more than courage. Leaving aside the self-serving motives of Israel’s secular elites, they are abysmally ignorant. They have no understanding of the grandeur of the Jewish heritage, hence of what should be the character of the so-called Jewish state. They know not how to deal with the Arab Palestinian problem. Many would sacrifice much of the Land of Israel in the belief that this would solve that lethal problem. Mr. Bush is also drowning in ignorance, to say nothing of Saudi oil.

Except for the benighted, including journalists or academics, it should be obvious that neither democratic politics nor political science can deal adequately with these issues. The time has come for an unconventional approach. Let’s begin with a Torah perspective. » Continue reading “Bush Said, “End the Occupation,” and Olmert Was Silent”

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Judge Aharon Barak on Judaism and Democracy

In a speech at Haifa University, former Supreme Court Justice Aharon Barak declared: “It may already be said that the term 'Jewish and democratic' is not a contradiction, but rather a completion.” Judge Barak obviously has a permissive view of Judaism as well as of democracy. On the other hand, perhaps he was just being “politically correct.” Let’s examine the issue candidly.

The Torah divides the Jewish people into Kohanes, Levites and Israelites. To these divisions it applies, in various instances, non-egalitarian laws. For example, if the wife of a Kohane is raped, he must divorce her. This is not so for the spouse of a Levite or an Israelite.

In procuring their release from captivity, “A Kohane takes precedence over a Levite, a Levite over an Israelite, and an Israelite over a bastard … This applies when they are all [otherwise] equal; but if the bastard is learned in the Torah and the Kohane is ignorant of the Torah, the learned bastard takes precedence over the ignorant Kohane” (Mishnah, Horayot 3:8). » Continue reading “Judge Aharon Barak on Judaism and Democracy”

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A Pipe Dream

The question arises: When will the big brass in the Israel Defense Forces overcome the lie about Israeli democracy and “dismiss” prime minister Ehud Olmert? How can the general staff stomach a prime minister who has ordered Israeli soldiers not to destroy the enemy, the Palestinian Authority, but to fight for that terrorist organization?

Doesn’t any general understand that the government, though democratically elected, has forfeited its legitimacy by the simple fact it has failed to fulfill the first and foremost object of government, namely, to protect the lives of its citizens?

Is the general staff mentally retarded? » Continue reading “A Pipe Dream”

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Obama, the Muslim Thing, And Why It Matters

Courtesy of Arutz Sheva IsraelNationalNews.com

by Pamela Geller

The thing is, you can't be a leader and not know what Islam means. The average Joe pumping gas on Route 66—okay, not on top of the issue. But there is no way you can be running for President and not know the hell being wreaked on the free and not-so-free world by Islamic jihad.

That said, Barack Obama went to a madrassa in Jakarta. A madrassa in a Muslim country. Whether he was devout or secular, he knows what was taught. He knows what is in the Koran. Even if he is ambiguous, he knows the stakes involved. His father was a Muslim who took three wives (without divorcing). His stepfather and close members of his family are devout Muslims. Not an unimportant influence.

Every Muslim who left Islam is very definitive about leaving and why. They are quite vocal—Wafa Sultan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Walid Shoebat, Elijah Abraham, etc. If he left Islam, Obama must have very definite thoughts about it. » Continue reading “Obama, the Muslim Thing, And Why It Matters”

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The Jerusalem Embassy Act

January 10, 2008

The Foundation for Constitutional Democracy urges public-spirited Americans to initiate a law suit against President George W. Bush in a federal district court for violating The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which says in part:

  • Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected;

  • Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel.

The full text of the legislation follows: » Continue reading “The Jerusalem Embassy Act”

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Bush in Jerusalem: An Intellectual and Moral Travesty

The government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has assigned some 10,000 police and security personnel to protect President George W. Bush, who has come to Israel to promote peace between Jews and Arab Palestinians. What an absurdity!

The Olmert government has ordered Israeli security forces to close all entries from Judea, Samaria, and Gaza to prevent Palestinian terrorists in these areas from killing the American President, who is committed to establishing in these same areas a Palestinian state. Can anything be more absurd?

Apart from those living in the world of make-believe, no one really expects genuine peace between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East. Even Middle East expert Dr. Daniel Pipes, who supported the Israel-Egypt peace treaty of March 1979, has admitted the treaty has been a failure. Let me review his November 21, 2006 article “Time to Recognize Failure of Israel-Egypt Treaty.”

To begin with: “Ninety-two percent of respondents in a recent poll of one thousand Egyptians over 18 years of age called Israel an enemy state. » Continue reading “Bush in Jerusalem: An Intellectual and Moral Travesty”

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