Israel Elections Day: Rivlin urges public to vote in rerun, promises they won’t have to do it again

September 18, 2019

President says he’ll do what he can to avoid a third election in a row amid deadlock predictions, tells Israelis ‘It is a real necessity’ to cast ballots
President Reuven Rivlin casts his ballot at a voting station in Jerusalem, September 17, 2019 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

President Reuven Rivlin casts his ballot at a voting station in Jerusalem, September 17, 2019 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
President Reuven Rivlin promised to do everything he could to make sure Israelis do not have to cast ballots again a few months down the line, as the country headed to the polls Tuesday for an unprecedented rerun election.“I will do everything I can to prevent further elections and to establish a government quickly,” Rivlin said in a statement early Tuesday.Rivlin has made similar promises several times in recent weeks, including a video published Monday night urging Israelis to vote once and then not again for a while.“We must remember that, in the game of democracy, influence happens only through the ballot box,” Rivlin said in the video which was posted to his official Facebook page.“I, for my part, will do everything in my power, within the framework of the law and authority given to me by my post, to establish a elected government in Israel as quickly as possible, and to avoid another election campaign,” the president promised.

This picture taken on September 16, 2019 shows Israeli election billboards on a street in Jerusalem for the Likud and Blue and White parties. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

Casting his vote on Tuesday morning at a polling station set up in a Jerusalem school, Rivlin implored voters in Hebrew and English to vote.“You must vote. It is a real necessity,” he said.As president, one of Rivlin’s responsibilities is choosing a candidate to attempt to form a government after elections.In April, he handed that task to Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who then failed to garner enough support for a government. Rather than allow Rivlin to select another candidate, Netanyahu engineered the collapse of the Knesset and called new elections for September 17.Rivlin said he understands the “feeling of frustration” among the public at having to go back to the polls.

President Reuven Rivlin (right) presents Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a two-week extension to form a new government, May 13, 2019. (Haim Zach, GPO)

Surveys have shown Netanyahu and chief rival Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party both still likely falling short of being able to form a government without reaching across the aisle.Rivlin said he will task someone with forming a government within three days of receiving the confirmed finals results from the  Central Elections Committee on September 25. The president usually gives the mandate to the person recommended by most lawmakers during consultations, but he has some leeway on the matter, one of his only non-ceremonial roles.The selected lawmaker will then have 28 days to produce a government. Although Rivlin can grant an extension of up to 14 days, the president stressed that he can also choose to give a shorter extension.He said if they fail to form a government he will give another lawmaker a chance, unless no suitable candidate is found, in which case 61 MKs can ask him to give the mandate to any chosen lawmaker, including the MK who was given first shot.Ultimately, the Knesset must give a vote of confidence for any new government, and without that the country would need, “God forbid,” to hold third elections, Rivlin said.The article was published on The Times of Israel

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Major Dutch Political and Religious Figures Vow to Fight Antisemitism in Famous Parliament Venue Where Nazi Decree in 1940 Took Place

A very special event marking Jewish life in the Netherlands took place on Tuesday 25th June in the prestigious Ridderzaal (Hall of the Knights) in the Dutch parliament, The Hague. The Hall is usually only used for state Royal and very special other events.
The Ridderzaal also has a more chequered past. The last time it was used outside of state events was in 1940 when the Reichscommisssar Seyss-Inquart held his inauguration speech.
75 years later the Jewish community was well represented by both the Israeli Ambassador Aviv Shir-On and a few very distinguished Rabbis, along with many Christian religious and political leaders who spoke on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people.
State Secretary Paul Blokhuis, the Minister responsible for commemoration:
“We do not accept anti-Semitism in this country. That is the constitution.
Personally: as a Christian and a pastor’s son, my parents helped people go into hiding. Our democracy can only function if we draw a line where discrimination and anti-Semitism arise. World War II and the Holocaust are also our history.
Rabbi Shmuel Katzman, the rabbi of The Hague, elaborated on the rich Jewish history of The Hague, the political capital of The Netherlands.
Jack van der Tang, a Christian advocate and friend of the Jewish people who organised the event said:
“Of the 140,000 Jews in the Netherlands, 102,000 were killed. We want to recognize the crimes, and write history. There are still echoes from the Ridderzaal in 1940, we must ensure that that it may never happen again”.
Aviv Shir-On, Ambassador of Israel to the Netherlands added:
“I am thankful that the Netherlands says about anti-Semitism: not here! And if everyone says so, we will eradicate it”.
Chief Rabbi Jacobs (Netherlands) gave his take:
“Is it realistic to talk about emerging anti-Semitism? It is not new after all.
 We used to have the wrong belief. In the Middle Ages we were a virus. And for that we had to be eliminated. My parents were the wrong breed. And we, the Jews of today, are all Zionists.
In 1945 my father returned home. The neighbors were not happy. It took a few weeks to get permission to go back to his own house. His windows were smashed. Like my windows were smashed a few years ago.
Minister van Schaik (just after the war) gave compliments and thanked the conductors of the Dutch railways to continue driving trains to the camps, and thus protect the Dutch economy. He said this just a few months after the liberation.
We must not exaggerate about anti-Semitism. But we must be vigilant for the danger. Anti-Semitism is increasing.
Thank God, the government protects us. I am grateful for that. But it is bizarre and unacceptable that this protection is needed. The generation of survivors is slowly disappearing.
I will tell you a small story: In deep darkness there are small candles that spread light. In the concentration camp of Westerbork, life was more or less normal: there was a hospital, a theatre and a school. A little boy stood in front of the open door of the classroom. He sang a song: “How happy we are that we are Jewish”. The teacher heard him. She picked him up and started dancing with all the children. So that little boy; in the gate to the hell of Auschwitz, on the way to the chimneys of the crematoria, brought light into the darkness.
That boy is here today…”
Rabbi Itzhak Vorst continued:
“Yes I was there. I was for eight months in Westerbork and afterwards in Bergen-Belsen. There was hardly any food in Bergen Belsen, my mother gave everything to us, so that there might be a new Jewish generation.
It is hard for me to go back.
 I saw the agents of the Marechaussee again in Westerbork. My memories came back to the camp agents. The fact that security is needed today is worrying.
We want to live. Tomorrow I will attend the wedding of my granddaughter, here in the Hague. Then I will sing my song again. “
Gert Jan Segers, the leader of the ChistenUnie in Parliament concluded:
“Israel is the last safe haven for Jews in the world. I am proud to stand here for a Holocaust survivor and for the Jewish community. I wonder why it exists; anti-Semitism. This was this place where the killing of Jews began.
There are historical reasons for fighting anti-Semitism. The signals are coming up again. There is only one correct response: get up and speak. Don’t shut up.
There are also selfish reasons: if we are unable to protect our Jewish community, then we are lost as a country and society. I don’t want that, so I’ll fight.
 Is there a rational explanation why people hate Jews? We have dark pages in the history of the church and society. There is no rational explanation. I can only think: hatred of the Jews is hatred of the God of the Jews.
 So it is not just a fight against flesh and blood. It is a spiritual battle. That can be difficult.
 “Let this be the place where the blessing of Israel begins.”
 

Norway Withholds Funding to Palestinian Authority Over Antisemitic and Jihadist Content in School Textbooks

Norway’s foreign minister on Thursday announced that funds earmarked for the Palestinian Authority’s education sector would be withheld until changes were made to schoolbooks that promoted antisemitism and terrorist violence against Israelis.
The decision followed a vote last December in the Norwegian parliament to demand such changes after the publication of a report by IMPACT-se — an NGO that analyzes school textbooks around the world for signs of intolerance — that demonstrated systematic insertions of violence, martyrdom and jihad across all grades and subjects in the textbooks used by the PA.
Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide said that when she met with PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in Ramallah in February, she had “communicated the government’s views on the matter, stressing that lack of improvements in the school curriculum could have budgetary implications for future Norwegian aid.”
Søreide expressed optimism that changes to the textbooks would be implemented. “We feel that there is a good and close dialogue with the Palestinian education authorities on the issue,” she said. “Some of the curriculum changes have already been made by Palestine’s own textbook quality control committee.”
A statement from IMPACT-se praised Søreide for her “unprecedented decision.”
“This remarkable pronouncement is a clear message that Norway’s elected leaders will not allow their generosity to be abused, to deliver a daily diet of violence, bigotry and incitement against Jews and Israel in Palestinian schools,” the NGO declared.
The article was published in the Algemeiner

Opinion Piece by Rabbi Margolin: The Palestinians’ all or nothing approach will get them nothing

There is a thin line between aspiration and delusion.
All of us seek to encourage aspiration, but we also regard it as a duty to tell others that they are being deluded. And yet nobody in the international community is willing to have this conversation with the Palestinian Leadership. What is this delusion? It is the “all or nothing” Palestinian demands for peace.

Israelis want peace. But there is zero chance of successful negotiations with a bar set too high for Israel to accept. The bar is a return to pre- 67 borders and the ‘right of return’.
It is time to be blunt. Nobody knows better than Israel what its security needs are. Israel has made it clear that 67 borders are not defendable and would pose an existential threat to the country and its citizens. In short, it’s not going to happen.
Israel may be a young state but it has a long memory. Those who ask it to compromise its borders and security are many of the same voices who left her on her own during wars when her needs were greatest. It will not compromise security for promises and words.
On the ‘right to return’ the bluntness must continue. The Palestinians are not only demanding a smaller Israeli State, and a Palestinian state free of Jews, but for the absorption of millions of Palestinians into Israel.
In short, Israel would simply cease to be a Jewish State – the world’s only one. It’s not going to happen.
Let’s keep it even more simple: A future Palestinian State can have the luxury of malleable borders, Israel cannot.
This is the reality. The Palestinians demands are not credible or achievable. And yet the international community continues to pay lip-service to their delusion.
This is a dereliction of duty. We need to rip up the current playbook that the international community is sticking to. It is a playbook that has not advanced the prospects of peace by a single millimetre. It enables Palestinian stasis. It removes any motivation for them to move forwards. It keeps them in their comfort zone of perpetual grievance.
The Trump plan on the other hand represents the first real attempt by any negotiators to understand and put Israeli security as the starting position and build from there. Previous attempts have always made this an afterthought.
The plan also offers Palestinians a real pathway to statehood, underpinned with a 50 billion investment in infrastructure and state-building – around a third, in today’s money – of the entire Marshall plan budget that was given to 16 countries.
The Palestinians rejected it.
Why? The official line is because of annexation, and because they lost trust in Trump.
Let’s take annexation first. In the past, and most recently in Gaza, but also including the return of Sinai and other territory, Israel has shown its willingness to trade land for Peace as long as it can safeguard its security. And there is no reason to believe that this would not be the case again. Annexation does not represent a final settling of borders. It can represent an opportunity for Palestinians to get back round the table, even if they are historically averse to doing so.
Which brings us to the issue of trust. The Peace process to date is a litany of failure to budge on the Palestinian side, even after significant and often painful moves by Israel, such as the withdrawal from territories that we just touched upon.
Their reaction to this plan is more of the same. The refusal to Trump is the same refusal given to Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Obama. The same refusal of 48, 67, 73, in the 80’s, 90’s, and OO’s. The terms of reference only change.
Which takes us back to where we started. Aspiration and delusion. A Palestinian state in an aspiration. 67 lines and the right to return is delusion. Annexation is not a final settling of borders, but can be part of negotiations.
It is time to get serious. To get real. To disavow delusion and face reality.
If we fail to do this, we will never get the Palestinians back around the negotiating table, allowing them to perpetuate ad-infinitum the suffering of the people that they represent.
And It’s time for the international community to finally choose between the two and get things moving again.
The article was published in The Times of Israel

Opening of the First ‘Chesed’ Centre in Odessa, Ukraine.

The First of many European ‘Chesed’ Centres operated jointly by the EJA and the RCE was inaugurated in Odessa, Ukraine.
The centres provide the free lending of of a large range of medical equipment to all.
The Odessa branch is one of dozens that will open over the next two months across Europe.
The unique project is a first for the Jewish communities in Europe, although similar lending centers exist in Israel.
Each lending centre provides medical equipment for people of all ages, from infants to the elderly, worth tens of thousands of euros. The arrival
of the equipment is imminent and the centre will soon be fully up and running

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