Monday, March 2, 2020

Denying Reality - Again

In the previous elections, I wrote about the thousands of people who voted for Itamar Ben Gvir's Otzma party, even though there was absolutely no chance of it passing the electoral threshold (as it indeed did not). Many thousands of Otzma supporters are going to do the same again today. Some of them are simply in denial that they are throwing their vote away, succumbing to completely unrealistic fantasies that they will get enough votes to get in. Others claim that it's more important to "vote their conscience."

As I wrote last time, throwing away your vote in order to "vote your conscience" is just silly. The only reasonable excuse for ever encouraging people to throw away their vote is if the election results are truly insignificant either way, which is rarely anyone's perspective. The value of democracies is that you can influence the direction of the country. You can bring about good and prevent evil. You can encourage wise decisions and discourage bad ones. Yes, you have to compromise some of your values and work with people that you disagree with. But by doing so, you are able to exert influence on the bigger issues. You can prevent people from making well-meaning but foolish mistakes that can have absolutely catastrophic consequences. This is real life.

What's interesting about today's election is that many, many more than just Otzma voters are succumbing to completely unrealistic fantasies, and/or harming national interests for the sake of voting their conscience.

This is the third election in a year. At this point we can be very, very confident of how many votes each party will get, and what their leaders will and will not do.

And if there's one thing that's certain, it's that Benny Gantz does not have enough seats to form a coalition.

And if there's another thing that's certain, it's that Gantz and Netanyahu will not sit together in a national unity government.

You can despise Bibi all you like - and there are plenty of good reasons for doing so. But Bibi's unworthiness to be Prime Minister again does not make Gantz a plausible reality.

So, if we are to face uncomfortable truths, they are as follows: This is not an election in which you can choose between Bibi leading the government and Gantz leading the government. This is an election in which you are choosing between Bibi leading the government, and there not being any government.

Some very sensible people that I know have realized this. They utterly despise Bibi. They voted for Gantz the first two times. But at this point, they have come to terms with reality. And they see that it's better to have a functioning government than no government at all.

Another friend of mine sees things differently. He despises Bibi so much that he said he would rather have endless elections than another Bibi-led government. Well, that's his preference. But others, who don't want to continue with a paralyzed country, might see things differently.

Ideally, in a crazy election like this, there would be a party that has no values at all other than seeing a stable government, and would be willing to support whoever has the best chance. But there is no such party. So, in order to have *a* government, it's best to support a right-wing party, no matter what your politics.

That is the uncomfortable but undeniable reality.


  1. Your logic is flawed. You assume having a functioning government is preferable to having none, but that is not necessarily true if the functioning government will subvert he basic rule of law as argued here - In that case endless deadlock and elections may be better until Bibi is perhaps found guilty.

  2. Given what Otzmah Yehudit represents, I am not sure I want a party that makes it into the Kenesset be beholden to the kind of people who would vote for them.

    All the more so if we are talking about someone who is so beholden to Kahana's ideology that they vote Otzmah despite it having no chance.

    Maybe we are better off with their votes getting wasted rather than talking them into being a position where they could influence the platform of a major party.

    Of course, I'm American, used to the two party system, and have little practice at the chess game that is parliamentary elections. My opinion shouldn't be counted for much.

    1. Otzma Yehudit and Kahanist are not anti-Arab. They are just pro-Israel.

      If you watch Alan Dershowitz debate Meir Kahane you will find that both sides make excellent points. Kahane's view might sound a little racist for some, but he is generally concerned for the Jewish state. He ponders: "If we let in all the Arabs they will outnumber us and the modern State of Israel will longer be a Jewish state but an Arab-state." 

      Many far-leftist like to call Kahanism and the Bibi-led government, as Sanders did, "racism." But is that an accurate label? Perhaps there are some racist views at the core, subconsciousness? But Judaism is a culture, a way of life, and Israel is inherent;y for Jews, not Arabs. Non-Jews, of course, are welcomed, be it Noahides who follow the Seven Laws of Noah or secular people. Arabs are welcomed, too. So long as they have peaceful intentions. Bibi's government is not anti-Arab, it is anti-militant Islamic groups. Yet others, such as Dershowitz will argue that religious fanaticism (especially Haredin) in politics is chauvinism.

    2. I usually find your posts very agreeable but want to chime in on Kahane. I was once a kachnik. "His views might sound a little racist for some" No, he was a full on racist who addressed Arabs as "dogs" simply because of their ethnicity. His followers in the JDL hated blacks and Spanish in the US. He had an affair with a non Jewish woman who committed suicide when he broke off their relationship. He was not a saint and arguable whether he was even a talmid chacham. He toned down some of his rhetoric for the public, like the Dershowitz debate which i still have on VHS. He made some valid points like the demographic issue of Israel being voted out of existence by an Arab majority, but as time goes on there is less and less I agree with. It reminds me of Rebbi Meir and Acher - take what's worthwhile and discard the rest

    3. @MV I actually agree with much of what you wrote. I was unaware of Kahane's supposed "racist" views. I thought what he preached at the Dershowitz debate were his actual views, I guess I was mistaken. This reminds me of Chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef who may have held some disdain for non-Jews when he called them slave, comparing them with animals and Africans to dogs, similar to Kahane's usage. I once watched a tribute video to Kahane years ago. In the video, the anchorman invited us to welcome Kahane's views into our homes. (He had passed away by this point due to an assassination). But if he was truly as bad you say, I don't wont to welcome his views.
          I agree that Israel should predominantly be a Jewish state, with peaceful well-meaning non-Jews. I disagree with his more "radical" views on Arabs. As I said previously, the Bibi led-government is not anti-Arab. It is anti-militant Islamic groups who wish for the eradication of the modern State of Israel.
          I never heard about Kahane's sex scandal. I have heard a similar accusation about Rabbi Tovia Singer. We must remember to be cautious about such rumors. Yet again, we should not assume a man is righteous because he is called rabbi. 
      Could you send me information or links to essays about Kahane's true views. I would like to see them. Thank you.

    4. Kahane has been gone for a long while. Overanalyzing details of his position might capture details of his approach that didn't reach Otzmah. Past the basics, you need to look at Otzmah itself.

      And any sexual escapades he may have been accused of committing certainly have nothing to do with Otzmah.

      I think we're getting off course here.

      All that said, if you look at Otzmah itself, you still end up with racism.

    5. Turk Hill, again I'm impressed with your willingness to seek the truth no matter what. Many people wouldn't be open minded and ask the questions you asked!

      First, I'd be hesitant to say he lied about his views in the Dershowitz debate, or ever for that matter. It was more about omitting or withholding the full extent of it in public. "I don't hate Arabs, I love Jews" is a nice catch phrase, but the fact is, his hatred of Arabs and other minorities was according not to individuals but by groups. He never denounced indiscriminate violence by his followers, like Levi Hazan who shot up a bus full of Arabs in the mid '80s or the bombing of the Soviet airline Aeroflot offices in the early '70s which killed a young Jewish secretary.

      People who lived in Israel during the '70s and '80s would be much better equipped to tell you how he spoke when the press wasn't around. I also want to say his middos were quite bad, he was totally intolerant of other views, and insulted those who questioned him. Very, very different than the proper Jewish way, which you exhibited by being nice and at least giving me chance to explain what I meant.

      The following is copied from a NYT article from March 1994:
      "SHE was not rich. Her real name was Gloria Jean D'Argenio. She adopted Estelle Donna Evans when she looked for modeling jobs. By 1966 she was involved in a romance with Rabbi Kahane. She was 22 years old. Her roommate told me that Estelle had told her the rabbi had promised marriage. Then, the roommate said, he sent a letter breaking everything off, admitting he was married with children and saying he could not leave them. On July 30, Estelle Donna Evans jumped from the bridge. Pulled from the water, she died in Bellevue the next day. The letter was in her pocketbook.

      I confronted the rabbi with what I had learned. He put his hand on my knee and said, "I loved her." He acknowledged everything and told me he had placed roses on her grave for months. He then began pleading with me not to publish the full account of this story. His self-assuredness vanished and he started to stutter.

      He came to my office. He told me that writing about his affair would torment his ailing mother and inflict pain on his wife and his children. At one point he promised that if I withheld the story he would abandon public life. On another visit he told me a story about a rabbi who as a young man wanted to save all the Jews in the world. In middle age he wanted to save the Jews of Poland, and when he had grown old he hoped to save just one Jew, himself. "I am that rabbi," he said.

      In the end I wrote about Estelle Donna Evans and her death, but I did it elliptically and without emphasis. I devoted six discreetly worded paragraphs to the romance and the suicide and these did not appear until midway through the 5,000-word article. Some readers may have missed the point.

      Years later, when racist supporters of the Rabbi's Kach movement screamed that their Israeli critics slept with Arabs or lived with shikses, I re-examined my choices and wished I had stressed the Estelle Donna Evans story more prominently in my expose. Looking back, it seemed more central to the rabbi's motivations. When last weekend I read of the slaughter in Hebron, I realized once more that Rabbi Kahane's legacy was compounding itself, and again I thought back to the woman on the bridge."

    6. @MV Thank you for the essay. If no too much to ask, could you send something about his views that were not censored in the debates? Thank you again.

    7. “Give me 15 policemen and we will deal with them … Those dogs should be gassed.” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 8/30/84

      From here you can do the simple googling i did, or better yet speak with older Israelis with first-hand knowledge. His book Ohr HaRaayon goes into his religious philosophy that Arab Israelis have the status of the Seven Nations and should be exterminated.

    8. @MV Thank you for sharing it. Your writing has prompted me to do additional research on the subject. That is good. I also agree that it would be unreasonable to imagine that all Muslims are evil and are part of the seven nations.

  3. Voting for Otzma is not an issue of conscience. It is an indication for pseudo-right politicians like Ayelet or Rafi Peretz that they cannot play their games forever: either they should be real-right or they will be not relevant.

  4. I would rather have no government than a government that includes Haredim. That's why I voted Kahol Lavan. The Haredin are the greatest existential threat to the State of Israel. Greater than the Arabs. Greater than Iran. They will destroy our economy by not even learning *how* to work in a high tech global economy.

    1. "The Haredin are the greatest existential threat to the State of Israel."

      What on earth are you talking about!? Iran is the greatest existential threat to the modern State of Israel.

    2. Although I have appreciated your comments on this forum, Turk Hill, your response to Avi is not correct. The existential threats are not balanced. Although Iran's threat of nuclear attack would obviously be more deadly, the chances of it happening are relatively remote. The Mullahs although vicious and hateful are logical enough to know that Israel's response to attack would be devastating and said attack might be accompanied by US help. This holds them back. That doesn't mean that Israel should underestimate Iran's threat or not prepare accordingly. However, the Haredi threat is ongoing and becoming increasingly dangerous to Israel's existence NOW. It can be calculated and actually does have an effect on Israel's ability to defend itself against external existential threats like Iran. Because they contribute little to Israel's direct defense (by not volunteering for the army) and Israel's financial burden (by learning full time and / or working at low wages because of a lack of a proper education) they hurt Israel's overall defense. That defense (also) needs a large tax basin to maintain the flow of capital needed to fund training and buy weaponry. Also the large tax burden on fewer people means that there is greater pressure on some to commit Yerida (and often these are the highest earning and most technically able citizens). So take your poison: An ongoing present, known threat or a larger threat that has a lower probability of actually happening? That is what the elections were about. Bibi sees the Iranian threat as supreme and will incorporate the Haredim because he thinks that eventually economic forces will change them. His opponents downplay the external threat and worry about the financial and social burden created by among other things the growth of a sector that volunteers to be poor. So both you and Avi have strong arguments BUT the problem of the Haredim also bears down on the ability to defend against external existential threats like Iran. In other words the problems are directly linked. If we can solve the Haredi problem, it will contribute to solving (at least in part) the other.

    3. @JD Yes, I agree with what you wrote. I stick with my former premise that Iran is the single greatest existential threat to western civilization as we know it. But, as you and Avi said, the charedi problem is directly liked to the Iranian threat. To put it to an analogy: Israel lacks a good immune system to fight the intruders, the bacteria invading the body. To effectively fight the on-coming plague we need to build up a stronger immune system, a stronger economy. Bibi sits in judgment on no man’s religion, but their charedim sensibility does Israel a gross disservice. RNS wrote in one essay that if Israel were to effectively enlist (or, draft) Arabs and haredi men into the military service (IDF), "it would just cause civil war." So they have the ability to fight Jews with good intentions but not militant Islamic groups who wish to eradicate Israel?

    4. I am not sure that there would be a civil war if the haredim were drafted. Yes there would be a rump of Haredi society that would protest but it probably wouldn't be the majority. I think many would acquiesce, the same way that many would acquiesce and go to work if forced to. Why? Because deep down many Haredim know that the situation as currently construed does not work for them. They are trapped by the power of the Gedolim, who they are afraid to cross. They would love for a strong government to force them into a more viable economic pattern. That way they have an in-built excuse to leave Yeshiva full time and start working. They just need a government with a backbone. This is Bibi's great failing. He keeps throwing them a lifeline because he prioritizes defense above else. It is a legitimate worry but in doing so he works against his own plan and actually makes our defense ultimately weaker.

    5. @JD I agree with you that the Haredim community needs to participate more effectively in the economy. And if they want to do so, then they should do so. they should not allow their rabbi to hold them back from defending their county. I think a forced enlistment would work. If women can be forced to join the army (IDF) then they are without excuse. If nothing else, all Arabs and haredi men should join in the place of women (though Israel needs everyone to train). I agree that there would not be a civil war.

  5. Would you accept a rav of your shul who was indicted for fraud? How about a rebbe of your kids school?

    So why is it acceptable as a prime minister?

    Get rid of bibi. Tell likud to find someone else if you are on the right.
    But since that's not an option vote gantz.
    For the sake of decency.
    צדק ומשפט is more important than ארץ ישראל שלמה

    1. Indictment is not conviction

    2. Oh what a moral statement that is
      I can see all the Nevi'im applauding you.
      For shame.

    3. Lazar, would you say that about a rebbe in your kids school??
      Be honest.

    4. It is not Bibi's job to teach me or my kids what tzedaqah, chesed and yir'as Shamayim mean.

    5. Was it David HaMelelech's job to do צדק ומשפט?

      Does it not matter to you that the person with the most power in the country is corrupt?

    6. are you staying the PM is a halachic Melekh, and presiding over a halachic theocracy?

      In any case, you would have to argue the PM'srpfessionap conduct was awry; that he actually sold his platform for the price of some cigars and Champaign. And the people who would vote for him don't believe that. Even those who feel he broke the law.

      Whereas a Rebbe does lead by example. There is no "but that is my private life".

    7. He did a lot worae than that.
      Stop hiding the facts. And it's the Chief of Police and the government's own Legal Advisor are the ones suggesting his behavior was awry.

      Its irrelevant if the PM is technically / halachically a king. What relevant is the standard of moral behavior we expect / accept from the most powerful person in the country and who represents the Jewish State on the world stage.

      A PM should also lead by example.
      Even a child gets that.
      Why do religious Jews find it so difficult to grasp? (As their voting record shows...)

  6. Interesting post. I reread the last one for context. I have Israeli relatives (obviously living in Israel) and I can tell you that they like Bibi. In the last Democratic debate, Senator Bernie Sanders, whom Ben Shapiro calls a communist, called Bibi a racist. Yes, Sanders called the Bibi-led government a racist government. And he called the Palestinians humans. In his new book, The Palestine Delusion, best-seller Robert Spencer explains Israeli policy towards Arabs and shows that it is not so bad as people (usually American left) like to think. In fact, they have it very good there, for example, all the signs are in Arabic, so Muslims can read them. Arabs get free health care in Israel, etc, etc. What are they complaining about?

    This is why we need four more years of Trump. During the Obama administration, Netanyahu was hard-pressed to convince the president to back Israel, even in the event of an Israeli primitive strike against militant Iran (who is currently amassing weapons of mass destruction, a threat to western civilization as we know it). In the end, Obama said he would not back Israel. I fear Sanders, who hangs out with anti-semites and anti-Zionists would not hesitate to do the same. It doesn't matter if he was born Jewish. Karl Marx was also born Jewish.

    Obviously, it is unreasonable to suggest that all Palestinians are evil. But we need Netanyahu to protect Israel against militant Islamic groups who wound, if given the chance, eradicate the modern State of Israel. In an ideal world, the Arabs want to coexist with Israelis. and Meir Kahane is never assassinated, and Al-Queda does not exist. But we do not live in such a messianic age, and no, the Chasidic rabbi is wrong when he says the Messiah is among us unless of course, he means the current Prime Minister, for if there is such a messiah, it must be Netanyahu.

    1. Sanders called the Palestinians humans? And you have some sort of problem with that??

    2. @dIz Thank you for taking my post out of context. I was saying that Sanders, whether knowingly or unknowingly for the benefit of the doubt, supports and hangs out with, as Ben Shapiro proved, anti-semites. Sanders lived in Israel for a few months, he respects all peoples, Jews and Arabs. But in the last Democratic debate, he criticized the Bibi led-government with insulting vehemence: calling the Bibi led-government "a racist."
      I like Sanders in many ways. It saddened me to see him lose the Democratic nomination, but I do not think his election would be good for the modern State of Israel. No one never said all Arabs, or for that matter, "all Palestinians are evil," to quote my comment. Only that Sanders is unaware that the majority of Arabs he supports are the same ones who support militant Islamic groups who wish for the eradication of the modern State of Israel.

    3. Netanyahu actually hangs out with mass murderers like Putin. He endorses anti-semitic regimes like the Orban clique. He finds common cause with the Polish nationalist government that repays their shared anti-muslim and 'Zionist' positions with anti-semitic libel. The Netanyahu regime is absolutely 100% racist, racist and power-hungry - constantly fear mongering about the Arab populus, flirting with Kahanists and transferist/annexationist groups. He is despicable. But that is the future of Israel - for every educated Jew making Aliyah - 2 educated (secular) Jews are voting with El Al tickets. The Dati Leumi & Haredi sectors can fight it out as to which Iran-lite country they will forge. The Diaspora is going to be the place where vibrant Judaism will continue without the scourge of these zealots.

    4. @Meir Moses
      Three points to make:

      (1) Putin is not a mass-murderer. If anything, polls show that Putin is probably the greatest politician alive. Many of his cabinet members are Jewish.
      (2) Bibi does not endorse anti-semites. If nothing else, Bernie Sanders associates himself with anti-semites (as proven by Ben Shapiro) and endorsed the Labor Party in the UK, actually flying to Great Britain to endorse Corbyn.
      (3) Bernie Sanders is mistaken, as are you, to call the Bibi-led government "racist." If anything, the Kahanists of the world are the racists (read my comments and exchange with MV above). Bibi is not anti-Arab, he is pro-Israel and he's anti-militant Islamic groups who wish to eradicate the modern State of Israel.

  7. I personally really enjoy getting an extra vacation day every six months.

  8. The whole fiasco is the best reason why politicians have to stop playing games with these stupid criminal indictments. They don't fool anyone (obviously), and instead have the effect of essentially forcing Bibi to run again. He might have retired gracefully as a statesman were it not for this transparent political nonsense hanging over his head.

    The first thing that should immediately be passed into law, overriding an activist supreme court if necessary, is a bill preventing all criminal inquiries into a sitting prime minister. If he gets voted out - and if enough people are convinced that there's an actual, REAL crime, then he will be voted out - he can be tried then. But the political gamesmanship motivation must be taken away. It's hurting the country.

  9. This makes no sense.

    Both KL and Likud will implement the same policies. KL's policies will be right of their preelection rhetoric, and Likud's will be left (I don't need to give a dozen examples of Likud behaving like Labor over the last 12 years, right?)

    Their guaranteed coalition partner(Jewish Home, Meretz) will certainly not change anything major-they will get their cuts and life will go on.

    In this situation, a vote for any of the above is a vote thrown away, unless you like the status quo.

    You like paying Hamas' bills while they rocket the South?

    You like seeing terrorists released from jails where they are treated like university students?

    You like a Jewish house knocked down every week (with Bennett's signature) and Jewish kids arrested and tortured for years without trial?

    You like knowing that the cops can beat you up and then charge you with assaulting a police officer, that the judiciary exercises unilateral veto power over the legislative and executive branches, and that the country is run like a second world mafia state?

    You like all of that, then vote for any of the mainstream parties, because it will continue under any of them.

    If you don't find that acceptable, you can not vote for any of them.

    1. Jewish houses are being knocked down because Arab houses are being knocked down. Jewish kids are being arrested and tortured for years without trial because Arab kids are being arrested and tortured for years without trial. Brutality and millitarism is the norm, widely accepted throughout the land - not the exception.

      Military occupation has consequences for the whole of society. We have sown the wind, and we are reaping the whirlwind.

  10. But you wrote a serious post contemplating voting for Blue-and-White (plus Arab Joint List Coalition) because you thought it might harm haredi interests. You are the last person who should be moralizing about the electorate's voting choices.

    The funniest part is that after the most recent election, Meretz leadership celebrated and described it as a victory for future Center-left (sic) - Arab - Haredi coalition! The moment they see their path to power as buying off your haredi political enemies, they embrace them immediately. But according to you I was supposed to not vote for Bibi on principle because he would sit in coalition with haredim and B&W wouldn't. They not only were willing to have a coalition with haredim, they tried to make a coalition with the Joint List!

    If the rightwing religious parties were smart, they would have made an alliance deal with Otzma to bring in their voters and add to the poor showing they had! But political correctness gets in the way of that, doesn't it? Talk about a waste.

  11. First of all, I think it's great that Otzma supporters don't have any influence over the current sitting members of Knesset. So what can you do?

    But second, the idea that it's wrong to vote for a party that won't make the threshold in this election ignores the strategic value of holding out for someone to pursue your votes next election. A lot of fringe ideas ten or twnety years ago have been mainstreamed this way. So it's not altogether irrational, and if Shas or Likud has someone on their tickets next time who is designed to appeal to Otzma voters I wouldn't be one bit surprised.

  12. It's not the biggest deal, but Einstein almost definitely didn't say that popular statement:

  13. Who would your logic and conclusion have suggested voting for in the German elections of 1933? !!!

  14. I am suprised to have agreed with much of the analysis in this blogpost, with the exception of a salient, missing fact.

    Netanyahu's indictement is scheduled for 17 March. Time was not on his side. His grip on power is palpably weakening.

  15. This isn't how revolutions are made. You keep trying to deliver your message to the people and you don't quit. I am not a strong supporter of Otzmah, but if there were a true fascist party in Istael, it would be the only one that I would ever vote for regardless of election outcome. Democracy in general, and Israeli democracy in particular, is a disaster that brings chaos and destruction of civilization. A totalitarian fascist state is the only solution. But there being no such party, I would vote for Shaked and Benett.


    1. And, no, this Jew expressing support for fascism eighty years after his grandparents blood ran in the streets isn't satire. Perhaps it's inevitable after a racist paralyses the political discourse of the country for 12 years by continually stoking racial tensions, while and another racist runs amok in the white house.

      It's possible, that, like Gavriel, you have become a Jewish antisemite, buying into toxic myths and tropes about Jewish decadence and parasitism.

      Alternatively, you think that Adolf was something of an aberration, and that real fascism, as practiced by such inspirations as Antonescu, the Arrow Cross Party, and Mussolini were Not Bad For the Jews. That modern day fascists don't hunt down and shoot Jews. In which case, Google is your friend.

      Or perhaps you think that the state will protect you, and you just don't care about diaspora Jews being gunned down for practicing their faith. Shame on you.

    2. RNS, why do you allow these people “anonymous” to post content like this?

  16. Islam is against Terrorism Terrorists are not following Islam. Allah says in Quran whoever kills a soul unless it is as though he has killed all mankind. Muslims Are Not Terrorists and whoever saves one life it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.

    1. @truthaboutislam:

      Interestingly, the Quran was explicitly quoting an idea from Jewish tradition when it says that.

      Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5 ("Jerusalem" Talmud 4:9, c.f. Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 37a):
      ... [B]but a single person was created in the world, to teach that if any man has caused a single life to perish from Israel, he is deemed by Scripture as if he had caused a whole world to perish; and anyone who saves a single soul from Israel, he is deemed by Scripture as if he had saved a whole world.

      And here is what it says in the Qur'an, Sūrat l-Māidah (#4), v. 32, in the Sahih International translation (see here for original and other translations). Notice the mention that this truth was in the Jews' hands already:
      Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors.

      (The mishnah predates the Qur'an by some


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