Monday, June 20, 2022

The Disaster That Wasn't

In the last municipal elections in Beit Shemesh, the charedi political movement warned that if the non-charedi candidate was elected, it would be The End Of Torah. There would be buses on Shabbos, treife food being sold in stores, yeshivos would be closed, secularism would run rampant, chassidic children would be in prison camps (see the advertisement on the right)! It could even lead to mixed dancing.

Of course, after Dr. Aliza Bloch was elected, no such thing happened. Religious life in Beit Shemesh - including charedi religious life - is flourishing just as strongly as ever, and probably even more so, especially now that there is a non-corrupt administration. (One of the deputy mayors in the previous, charedi coalition flat-out asked me to bribe him and the mayor.)

Today's news about the opposition's success in collapsing the government reminded me of this terrible religious tragedy in Beit Shemesh that failed to happen. Because the same thing happened (or rather, failed to happen) at a national level. The Bibi-Likud-Smotrich-UTJ camp all cried that the Bennett-Lapid coalition were Evil Leftists who would destroy the country. They screamed about how the government was such a terrible danger that they must be stopped by any and all means, even including previously unthinkable things such as working to protect rapists and to harm the residents of Judea and Samaria. The ends were so crucial that they justified any means.

But what terrible things actually happened as a result of the Bennett-Lapid government? None at all. The fight against enemy states and terrorism continued just as before, in some cases even more decisively so. The economy had its improvements and problems just as before and in line with the rest of the world. None of the terrible (from a right-wing perspective) withdrawals and prisoner releases that happened under previous Likud governments happened under this government. And on the undeniably positive side, there was actually a functioning government and a budget was finally passed, for the first time in years.

What about the allegedly terrible thing of having an Arab party, Ra'am, in the government? Well, this was hardly an innovation - it used to happen regularly. And again, nothing bad actually happened as a result. In fact, considering that neither right-wing nor left-wing politics has any kind of realistic solution for Judea and Samaria, the cooperation of Ra'am provided some much-needed good news that there is hope for long-term change. 

Actually, the only novel and serious harm that happened over the last year was caused by Bibi, the Likud, Smotrich, and UTJ. For the first time in Israel, it became acceptable to deliberately and systemically and explicitly cause harm to the country for the sake of political power.

Well, they got what they wanted. Israel is heading for elections again. And perhaps Bibi will return to power, followed by his adoring groupies who do not know or care that they are compromising the country's interests for the sake of one man's ego and lust for power. Or perhaps we'll be in another endless, expensive, paralyzing cycle of elections. And all for the crucial, all-important need of avoiding the disaster that wasn't.


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68 comments:

  1. " For the first time in Israel, it became acceptable to deliberately and systemically and explicitly cause harm to the country for the sake of political power."
    "who do not know or care that they are compromising the country's interests for the sake of one man's ego and lust for power."
    This is classic politics and it is not at all new. All of this is completely natural especially in a democratically elected socialist state. Once it is accepted to steal from Peter to pay Paul, you will have politicians [whose livelihoods depend on votes] doing whatever possible in order to control the pot of money (stolen through taxation) and use it to please their voters. A politician's one and only aim is to get re-elected. In reference to last week's portion, Caleb was the exception not the rule.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiHtRp57-gI&t=19888s

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    1. You're either writing in bad faith or severely lack discernement. Don't try to pretend this is all because *taxation*. Power struggles exist because people want power. The current situation comes from wanting power but not the responsibility to the country and its inhabitants that comes with it.

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    2. I appreciate your response. Like I said, a politician's sole aim is to get re-elected (stay in power). This is not a Haredi phenomenon, each politician will use the common chatter that speaks to the 'groupthink' of his constituency. For Haredi politicians it's "buses on the Sabbath, non-kosher food and closed yeshivas," while from politicians of other parties you may hear "public housing, Haredi draft laws and more cultural centers," The common denominator is that they are all for taking from one citizen to please another. Government's sole purpose is to preserve the private property of it's citizens. There is no responsibility that comes with power that is usurped, other than to return it to it's rightful owner.
      Listen (or read) chapter 10 of 'The Road to Serfdom' I left a link in the previous post.

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    3. Daniel, indeed, there is such a thing called politics as usual. But rarely do the opposition actively try to harm the country. Oh, there is obstruction, and there is rhetoric (see Rush Limbaugh's statements about Obama and how he "hopes he will fail" - which of course was actually more nuanced than that but still in bad taste).

      I don't know, maybe I don't see it as much because I live in the US (where Kalev's "opposition" is actually in NEXT parsha), where the election process is scheduled. The government cannot simply fall leading to new elections; those in power are stuck until the end of their terms, so the opposition may as well try to get SOMETHING done with them...

      And let's just discard this whole "taxation is theft" thing. It makes you look like a crazy person in camo gear in the woods, waiting to ambush the "gub'mint agints" out to get you.

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    4. Would you please explain how it is not theft?

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    5. 1) Taxes are not the subject here at all so it's weird to continue to push it. There are a lot of economic liberals blogs you can go to and exchange ideas on the subject on, doing it here make you look like a troll.

      2) It's not theft because theft is done illegally. Taxes are legal and therefore not theft. Also government officials don't wear a striped shirt and an eye mask so they don't qualify as thieves as per universal conventions.

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    6. Taxation is relevant here, since the vast majority of taxation in a socialist state is used to distribute to various populations. Each representative wants the funds to fund the programs that his 'tribe' supports. This causes extreme divisiveness and topples governments over issues that shouldn't involve them in the first place.
      Your second comment is very striking as you are conflating a moral issue with legality. Was the legal confiscation of citizens' property by the Bolsheviks, NAZIs or China not theft? Moreover, is a murder committed only when the life is taken illegally?

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    7. OK, Daniel, let's start with basics:
      Taxes are an agreed upon aspect of the social contract we implicitly agree to when we are part of any civilization. Taxes pay for roads, police, schools, etc, including grants to companies who use that money to develop new technologies. Sure, I might not use the schools because I send my kids to a private school, and maybe I only walk on other people's grass, and maybe I have body armor and plenty of weaponry to defend myself, I benefit from the fact that the roads - and all of those other things - EXIST.

      This is not as extreme an argument that Obama put forth that made the argument that all of "your" accomplishments are really only because of the government. But I think that my safety and convenience and standard of living are in large part possible because of the society I live in, and that is only able to exist because of our taxes.

      So your latest post clarifies your viewpoint. You feel that taxes, when taken by the government to send to a thing that you do not want is theft. You want educational subsidies, not environment subsidies. You want universal health care, not more advanced military technology. You want whatever it is that YOU want, and not what the majority of the country has voted on at the time.

      Sorry, buddy. That is ALSO part of the social contract of being in a country of that sort. You are free to disagree with the government's choices and then to campaign and vote them out. But then when next time, the money is ready to be siphoned to YOUR preferential target, are you going to say, "Wait! Only send money that came from people who voted for this party! I don't want to be guilty of taking money from people who prefer something else!"?

      One can debate the plusses and minuses of different styles of democracy, but to call taxation "theft" is still a little strong, especially when that isn't even what you actually meant.

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    8. Israel isn't a socialist state apart from little pockets of it that remain from the past. Any government needs power and money to have credibility and tanks, for the purposes were discussing it doesn't matter if that comes from taxation or from outer space.

      My second comment was obvious trolling. "taxations = theft" is meant to be a provocative statement that liberals use but can't be true unless you just throw commonly accepted meaning of words in the trash. Nothing to do with conflating morality and legality, that's just a knee jerk reading on your part. It just so happens that legality is a big part of the definition of theft, along with some vague notion of fairness. Anyone serious understands that so I guess you're not in this debate for serious arguments. Which is just as good as that subject has nothing to do with the article.

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    9. Yosef, your post proves exactly the point I was trying to make.
      I will point out to you, since you live in the USA, the "social contact" or the Constitution grants no power to the Federal government to give grants to companies, build schools, roads, pay for healthcare, education or environment subsidies etc. Government was instituted by men in order to protect our natural human rights, not to give us privileges. Once that line is crossed (i.e. the social contract is breeched) you have disagreements exactly as the one you so eloquently described above. When that doesn't exist, the thirst for power will still exist but there will be much less power available for one man [or small group of men] to wield.

      Anonymous, granted that Israel is not as it was, yet a country where 50% of what you produce is taken by force in order to distribute to others is still socialist. Regarding theft I will simply post the definition:
      "The act of stealing specifically the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it."
      I don't appreciate the personal attack, I am obviously taking this seriously, as I am taking out time to reply to you.

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    10. Eh, Daniel, I see the "originalist" interpretation of the Constitution and appreciate it for its truth. But unfortunately, the reality of life and modern society - and by modern I mean the past at least 300 years - requires intervention from the government in various areas. Take public schooling. There are people who would not educate their children if school was not free, ubiquitous, and required. Some of these kids would learn a trade, perhaps, and be productive, but most would be a drain in some way on society. And not only in terms of having a job, but also in terms of being less educated about money (including economics in general, banking, investments, scams), science (including what it means to be in the Space Race, get vaccinated, own microwaves, use computers), language (including the ability to critically read the newspaper or even a book, and much of our common culture is based on shared book knowledge - though sure much of that is TV or movies now), and of course history, religion, and Everything Else. So I have to support the concept of the Constitution being a "living document" for these purposes...

      I agree that Socialism is Overall Bad. I just think that calling it theft in a serious discussion that had nothing to do with the merits of Socialism was over the top and incorrect.

      Though, Anonymous, I always thought that the Left LOVED taxes. It's the folks on the Right - Libertarians and Liberterian-adjacents and Sovereign Citizens - who claim taxation is theft. The Left's opinion that overtaxation is OK because it's not really my money in the first place. Both of these extreme viewpoints, I'm sure it does not need emphasizing, are wrong.

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    11. Lol! What a hopeless idealist!
      How many inner city kids who go to public school learn what you claim they are learning:
      "educated about money (including economics in general, banking, investments, scams), science (including what it means to be in the Space Race, get vaccinated, own microwaves, use computers), language (including the ability to critically read the newspaper or even a book, and much of our common culture is based on shared book knowledge - though sure much of that is TV or movies now), and of course history, religion, and Everything Else."

      Seems to me that you only get that kind of education in a private school!

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    12. Yosef, all I will say to you is to have a look at 19th century USA and GB, along with 20th century Hong Kong. There is no place and time with greater economic growth in the history of the world. All three of them are specimens of almost pure capitalism offering none of the items on that list of yours.


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    13. In regards to this comment:
      "So I have to support the concept of the Constitution being a "living document" for these purposes..."
      When a government wants a power that the constitution does not grant them, they must go through the amendment process. This nonsense that it is a "living document" was invented in order to bypass the limits on government. Don't buy it.

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  2. You have neglected to mention the many anti Chareidi laws implemented by Avidor Lieberman.

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    1. Oh, the disposables tax. :-)

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    2. You mean the tax that we all pay and for which the charedi parties rejected a bill which subsidize a dishwasher for them because the govt was “evil”? Seems anti-charedi to me.

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    3. "Remind me what those were?"
      Planned defunding kollels, canceling child care subsidiaries for studying in yeshivot, increased transportation costs primarily in Haredi areas, just to name a few. Aside from intention for harming Torah Jews, Bennet/Liberman pushed implementing faked giurim, destroying of kashruth sistem, and shabbat transportation.

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    4. So things that didn't actually happen, are not bad for non-charedim, and are actually good even for charedim in the long run.

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    5. 1) Didn't actually happen: I give you that one but it was clearly on the government's agenda...
      2) are not bad for non charedim: Yes, but the comment you were responding to is clearly only about Charedim, so avoiding the question...
      3)Are good in the long run: What??? Busses on shabbos? Messed up giyur??
      What even is this reply of yours.

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    6. RDNS - Whether or not this government successfully imposed anti-chareidi measures, you can't deny the fact that Lieberman is openly anti-chareidi and held significant power. That alone was a strong enough basis to have been extremely wary of this government
      -RD

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    7. "increased transportation costs primarily in Haredi areas,"
      The fares in those areas were steeply discounted. The changes merely brought those fares to normal levels.

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  3. An incisive post but in one important respect, self serving.

    It's actually not the first time that it became acceptable to deliberately and systemically and explicitly cause harm to the country for the sake of political power.

    The repeated coalitions Netanyahu made with the corrupt functionaries of the UTJ have been pure poison to the body politic, and it shouldn't have taken the Leifer scandal to see why. Likewise, the repeated romances with the Kahanist facists - a faction Netanyahu cultivated to his own ends - a faction which brings an ugly face to Israeli politics.

    Bibi's actions are purest Bibi, and the man's policy has remain unchanged for decades. He has always put himself first, and the nation second. That's why the big problems - Charedi integration, Gaza, public sector corruption, Iran - have always festered under his watch.

    The only thing that changed last election was that you didn't vote for an indicted prime minister, and the pink tinted blinkers dropped. But he has always been that way if you had eyes to see.

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  4. Let me ask you a counterpoint question: What terrible things *actually* happened while we were in a paralyzing cycle of elections? Saying "we didn't pass a budget" isn't an answer, because that's not in and of itself a bad thing. What was the negative outcome associated with not passing the budget?

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    1. Not passing a budget is a very bad thing. Hospitals and social services had to severely cut back because they were stucj with the budget of years ago which didn't account for rising costs. People were hurting!

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    2. There was a severe under funding of various areas of the army. From buying weapons to attack Iran, to things as minor as building upgrades for housing soldiers. Roads, social infrastructure, housing projects were cut, money for battered women, the list of important issue is actually very long. The fact that the economy went on didn't mean that everything was ok. Government plans are often for the long term and a lack of funding can be closed over in the short term but ultimately it catches up. Oh also schools, finding, teachers pay.

      Many important organisational, government or local government positions could not be appointed either during election times.

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  5. What a moronic post. The government didn’t get around to implementing the liberman Michaeli meretz anti religious agenda. The biggest impediment to all sorts of abominations was the frum Islamist party! Bloch never had such an agenda.

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    1. That didn't stop her detractors from saying she did.

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    2. "If they did good things, it was to distract from the bad things; if they didn't do bad things, it's because we stopped them just in time."

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    3. The coalition ended when silman quit. Trigger was Horowitz of meretz insisting not only that hospitals keep high court ruling against ban of chametz in public hospitals, but they could not even respectfully REQUEST that chametz not be brought in. Qed.

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    4. So the campaigners to bring it down, Bibi etc., failed. Instead, insider Silman gets the credit together with Horowitz.

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  6. Rabbi Shalom Cohen, the spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, hails the impending dissolution of the government from his hospital room.

    “His name is praised in the world! A government that harmed and tried to destroy Judaism and the sanctity of Israel and harmed the weak has been driven from the world. The Holy One, Blessed Be He, has taken mercy on the people of Israel,” Cohen says in a statement.

    https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/shas-spiritual-leader-hails-demise-of-government-that-tried-to-destroy-judaism/

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    1. Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, the spiritual leader of the Ashkenazi United Torah Judaism party, also rejoiced at the government’s downfall when he was informed of the development by Knesset member Yaakov Asher.

      “It’s thanks to the public, it’s thanks to the Torah,” Edelstein said, in a video shared by his office.
      ===============================
      And when bad things happen?
      KT

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    2. RGE's givens are that the public is good, the Torah is good, and that the government's downfall is good. If so, a good thing happened to good people--which we can understand.

      What about when bad things happen to good people? Check--I mean don't check--with Harold Kushner. And then check with his critics. But that won't detract from our understanding of why good things happen to good people.

      --From an admirer of RJR's always thoughtful comments.

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  7. And environmentalists have been warning for over 100 years - yes, there are articles on this point from the 1920s - about impending ice ages or icerbergs melting. Feminists warn about back alley abortions with coat hangers. Democrats warned that the Republicans would “shred” the constitution. Lefties, whose voters were never the sharpest on the political spectrum, pull these scare tactics all the time. Maybe some of them even believe it. Have you suddenly discovered politics?

    GP

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    1. Silly comment as usual. All the wildly successful immigrant Jews who voted Dem for decades weren't the sharpest on the political spectrum? Noam Chomsky isn't an incredible genius, the father of multiple fields of study? How about Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, and J Oppenheimer who were all left wingers? You can think they are terribly mistaken, but don't make the mistake of impugning their intelligence.

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    2. They were all *political* idiots.

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    3. Amazing - your politics are so objectively correct that *anyone* who deviates to the left is a political "idiot." There is zero room for anyone to reasonably deviate to the left of your view. Do you hear how ridiculous you guys sound? (I wonder if your religious views are also perfectly correct - if so, please share your divine wisdom with the rest of us!)

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    4. Dave - when your political gods refer to the other party as deplorable gun-totin' bible-thumpin' degenerates, it kind of makes your protest look a little silly, you know what I mean?

      GP

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    5. ...and of course, I forgot to add, racistsexistmisugnistshomophobicageists.

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    6. More nonsense. When did I even say my political affiliation? (I happen to be a right-winger, and voted against the "gods" you cite, not that it's relevant.) Why would being a left-winger automatically make Hillary/Obama my political gods. You think anyone on the left is not "sharp." That's profoundly myopic.

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    7. You're a right-winger who thinks Noam Chomsky was a genius, and who cites fawningly to Albert Einstein, who once wrote a public letter calling Menachem Begin a Facist and comparing Herut to Nazis. Some right-winger, Dave. I suppose you'll tell us next that you're really a republican, but THIS year plan on voting democrat because...ZZZZ.

      And don't duck the issue. My response to P. Slifkin was that political claims are always overblown. Your particular issue about name-calling political opponents is irrelevant to mine, and frankly, when considered against left wing heroes who routinely disparage their political opponents, absurd.

      Gn Pckls

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    8. Beat me to it, Unknown. I was about to mention Begin.

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    9. No, I don't vote Dem, but your obsession with a person's politics as coloring *all* of their views is really quaint.
      "Cites fawningly to Einstein" - there is nothing fawning in referring to someone as a genius. But anyway, you *don't* think Einstein was a genius? It's weird that we needed the simpleton J. Oppenheimer at the Manhattan project, when any right-wing physicist was obviously much smarter than he was. I utterly disagree with their politics, but it's really childish to think that anyone who disagrees with you [on politics, or anything?] is automatically unintelligent. I think that Bill Buckley was a genius, as was Aquinas, but their embrace of Christianity was terribly mistaken and borderline irrational. So what?

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    10. And Nachum, I am curious: is there anyone to the left of you politically who is *not* a "political" idiot? How about R' Aharon Lichtenstein?

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    11. Dave - the men you referred to were brilliant in their fields, agreed. You might as well have cited Lebron James and Barbra Streisand, two other leftist activists who were successful in their field. But this has nothing to do with the point you were trying to make, which is that voters for the left are not comprised mostly of easily-led fools. There are always exceptions to everything, obviously, and in any event brilliance in a specialized area doesn't translate into brilliance politically. As Buckley, whom you mention, once said, its better to be governed by the first 1000 times in the Boston phonebook than the faculties of Harvard and MIT combined.

      GP

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    12. Please. Your characterization of my point is completely off the mark. Regarding the majority being easily-led fools, that's true of both sides of political spectrum, as it is of most of humanity. I objected only to your indication of leftist voters as not being politically sharp. My reading (perhaps wrong, but strongly supported by your subsequent comments) is that you think right or left wings politics is connected to intelligence per se. I think that is very naive and silly.
      Your instinctive reach to paint me as a leftist (or an Obama or Hillary sympathizer!!) simply for disagreeing with you about a politically *adjacent* question, indicates you lack even a broad sense of nuance, so whatever.

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    13. Yes, Aharon Lichtenstein and Yehuda Amital had foolish, naive, and dangerous (if somewhat understandable) political beliefs that at the very least gave cover if not ammunition to an initiative that ultimately cost thousands of Jewish lives. I've heard tell that R' Aharon apologized at some point.

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    14. Dave, why don't you reflect a little more about who constitutes the primary voting base of democrats, and maybe reconsider your opinion.

      Gersh

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  8. Does anyone else remember when they lost their virginity and heard that Santa isn't real?

    Someone discovered that political rhetoric and truth are not all that connected. How cute! Everyone learns about it some time, and I guess now is as good a time as any.

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  9. By the way, I'd like to see sources for your claim that "the charedi political movement warned that if the non-charedi candidate was elected, it would be The End Of Torah." I don't even know how warnings can be issued by a "political movement". And I certainly dont know even a single charedi who thought a bad municipal election result would cause "the end of Torah." More exaggerations from the Professor?

    Grn. Pckls.

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  10. I find the claims that The Bennet Government was so pure while Bibi's was all about Netanyahu's ego and personal interests to be so FALSE. Remember, the current government of unnatural partners was equally personal- Anyone But Bibi. Equal and opposite considerations. There is no purity in this political swamp.

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  11. I saw a speech of one Likud Knesset member where she called for enacting a death penalty for convicted terrorists. She pointed out that this idea was espoused by both Bennett and Lieberman in the past. Why don't they enact it now? Because the real Prime Minister is not Naftali Bennett, but Mansour Abbas. They know that trying to pass such legislation would make the government fall.

    The rash of terror attacks could also be attributed to the dependence on Ra'am to keep the government afloat. Why is there terror? Not because terrorists are given so many incentives--both spiritual and monetary. Ra'am always manages to redirect the anger to something that the Jews do: "storming Al Aqsa", the police being too aggressive with Arabs rioting on the Temple Mount, Sheikh Jarrah, or "the occupation".

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    1. And if the Likud is such a supporter of the death penalty, why didn't THEY pass such a law during all the years they were in power?

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  12. your previous admitted love of Yesh Atid once again blinds you to reality. Yolu completely ignore the rise in cost of living thanks to Leberman's ridiculous heavy tax increases on soft drinks and plastic goods, the 60 billion of our tax money removed from the economy and given to Arabs the $ will no doubt end up in Hamas' hands and be used to buy advanced weaponry to zap us.

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    1. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. Inflation is rampant worldwide right now and Israel's inflation is among the lowest. And the Arabs did not yet get a fraction of the billions they were promised.

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    2. *Arab Israelis.

      But Israel is the only democracy in the ME and Arabs are treated equally (except when they are).

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  13. Did you ever see a politician without ego and lust for power?
    The only difference with Bibi is his skills that pose a danger for his political competitors. It's much easier for Bennett to rid off of Lieberman, and for Lieberman to rid off of Bennett that Bibi for both of them, that's why they both prefer to rid off of Bibi first and then to "take care" on each other.
    As for their damage, it is not so huge simply because they did not have enough time.

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  14. You, as well as every MO loudmouth, have been predicting the demise of the Kollel system for decades, yet they are still around and flourishing.
    Does that prove you to be a bunch of blowhards?

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  15. Unfortunately, there are some things that the current government has done that I would label a "disaster". I live in the north (Galil) and we frequently enough get the raw end of any deal. MK Shaked recently approved additional housing for up to 70,000 units in various Arab villages and cities (Sachnin, Arrabe, etc). How much new housing did the Jews get? ZERO. Today Jews represent approximately 15% of the population in the north. Soon enough it will be down to 10%.

    Totally sad situation.

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    1. Why are the two connected in your head?

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  16. Bibi will save the country of Israel.

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  17. Seeing reactions of some Orthodox Jews to the Supreme Court decision, I'm thinking "disaster that wasn't."

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  18. Someone I know has campaigned for Likud for years alongside lobbying for various right wing political reforms.

    And yet the current government has made more progress on his intiiatives in one year than the Likud has done in ten (in terms of market reform, school policy reform, etc). Not stuff you see in headlines, stuff going on quietly behind the scenes, like a list of defunct outdated regulations Shaked slashed to help open up the market)

    So after he listed off all the things he accomplished recently I said "so I don't get it, Likud stonewalled any changes for years and now Bennet's government is actually making progress, why would I vote Likud"

    And he paused.

    And then he said " You know, I'm not sure what to answer that"

    (I don't know what he'll vote this time - he truly is a very long-term staunch devoted Likudnik. But his wife is done voting Bibi. So am I!)

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