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June 14, 2019
 

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 14, 2019 PAGE 5A By Stephen M. Flatow (JNS)--In what crazy, upside-down world does a Palestinian Arab randomly stab Jews in Jerusalem, get shot dead by Israeli policeman and then become the focus of an Associated Press article with a headline about Israelis killing Palestinians? In our crazy, upside-down world, that's where. The latest craziness began when the terrorist was stroll- ing through the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday morn- ing when he happened to see a Jewish man. So, the Arab stabbed the Jew. The stabber then went a little further along, until he spotted a Jew- ish child walking along. So, he ran up and stabbed the child in the back. You can already imagine Excuse #1 bubbling up in the fertile minds of the rational- izers and justifiers: The Old City is "occupied Arab East Jerusalem" meaning that the Jewish victims actually were "settlers" which makes them "legitimate targets" for "resistance." Resistance to what? Why, to the existence of Jews, of course. Israeli policemen ap- proached the terrorist. He was literally caught with the bloody knife in his hand. Instead of surrendering, he ran, which is why the police shot him. It's about as black- and-white a case as one can imagine. Yet, incredibly, the Associated Press character- ized him as "an alleged Pal- estinian attacker." It seems that as far as the AP is concerned, when it comes to Palestinian terror- ists, they're always "alleged" and never "terrorists." Isn't that curious? The would-be murderer turned out to be 19 years old. Get ready for Excuse #2. Technically, the terrorist was a teenager. And the word "teenager" can be morphed into "child." Which brings us to a pending congressional resolution about"Palestinian children." The bill in question, H.R. 4391, was authored by an extremist congresswoman from Minnesota named Betty McCoilum. It's called the "Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Deten- tion of Palestinian Children Act." It calls for slashing U.S. aid to Israel as punishment for arresting "Palestinian children." According to McCollum, it is immoral and illegitimate for Israel to ever detain a "Palestinian child." Even if the "child" was caught trying to stone, stab or shoot Jews to death. Children must never be detained! I guess that includes the "child" with the bloody knife in Jerusalem on Friday. When McCollum intro- duced the bill last year, it attracted 30 co-sponsors, all Democrats. One was Mas- sachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton, who is now a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. It will be interesting to see if Moulton again signs on to the re-introduced McCollum resolution. Elsewhere on Friday, an- other Palestinian Arab tried to cross into Israel by infiltrating the security perimeter near Bethlehem. When he refused to halt and desist, Israeli sol- diers shot him. Now the folks at the AP had their headline:"2 Palestinians Killed by Israelis in Separate Events." They took a story about a Palestinian Arab ter- rorist attack and a potential second attack, and turned it into a story about trigger- happy Israelis murdering Palestinians. And here comes Excuse #3. Why would a Palestinian Arab be trying to penetrate the security perimeter, instead of just applying for a permit to enter Israel? The AP found a way to excuse this obviously suspicious behavior: "Younger Palestinian men must request an entry permit from the military, which are [sic] hard to obtain." Oh well, that's different, then. If it's "hard" to obtain a permit to enter somebody else's country, then certainly you have a right to break into that country. Or so the AP apparently wants its readers to believe. The AP interviewed the infiltrator's father, one Louai Ghaith. It's odd how they couldn't manage to find and interview any of the stabbing victims' relatives. Or friends. Or neighbors. Or any other Jew in the Old City of Jerusa- lem. I guess theywere all busy. The father insisted that his son was just "going to fulfill his religious duty; he was going to worship" at the A1-Aqsa mosque. What a co- incidence--a knife-wielding man entered Jerusalem on a permit to pray at AI-Aqsa. Maybe the Israelis do have a reason to carefully scrutinize and restrict the foreign citi- zens who they allow to enter their capital city, after all. Stephen M. Flatow, an at- torney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian- sponsored Palestinian terror- ist attack in 1995. He is the author of "A Father's Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror." By Jonathan S. Tobin (JNS)--Israelis are rightly infuriated that their politi- cians couldn't get their act together and form a govern- ment after national elections held on April 9. A rerun sched- uled for Sept. 17 will be an enormous waste of time and money. But almost as infuriat- ing as the new election is the way this turn of events will serve as an excuse for months of bloviating from Israeli and international pundits about the crisis in Israeli democracy. That means we're about to be subjected to nearly 100 more days of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netan- yahu's critics claiming that if he wins again, it will sound the death knell for Israeli democracy. While there are cogent criticisms that can be directed at Israel's method for electing governments, in addition to Netanyahu's policies and conduct in office, like all the previous rounds of "death of democracy" predictions, the apocalyptic jeremiads that will be churned out along these lines will be utterly dis- ingenuous. Those who make these arguments will sound high-minded and principled. But what they are reallywhin- ing about are the democratic choices that Israelis have made--not the potential de- mise of liberty in the Jewish state. As they've done before, Netanyahu's critics continue to confuse their disgust at the outcome of Israel's democratic elections with the question of whether the country remains a democracy. The theme of Israeli democ- racy in crisis was proclaimed early and often in the months andweeks leading up toApril. Those making that argument went on about the law that reaffirmed that Israel is a Jewish state, the tribalism of Israeli politics, the failure to make peace or the threat to the rule of law from corrup- tion allegations against the prime minister. But as they had done the previous three times they went to the polls, Israel's vot- ers rejected these arguments. A clear majority voted for right-wing and religious par- ties pledged to support Netan- yahu. They did so not because they are stupid or don't care about democracy. They voted for another Netanyahu-led government because they generally support the prime minister's policies and didn't want him replaced with one of the chorus line ofex-generals leading the new Blue and White Party, which formed the main opposition. Instead of yet another Ne- tanyahu government, they got the chaos of the last week and what amounts to an attempt at a"do over" in September, even though there's a good chance that the outcome won't differ much from the April results. There's plenty of blame to go around for this mess. Avigdor Lieberman's re- fusal to join Netanyahu had little to do with a dispute about the drafting of ultra- Orthodox yeshivah students and everything to do with his conviction that this was the moment when the prime minister could be toppled, allowing the Yisrael Beiteinu leader to play the kingmaker. Netanyahu's desperate search for another coalition partner and/or a defector from the opposition was a similarly undignified display. The prime minister's problem was the corruption charges hanging over his head, coupled with his desire for the new Knesset to pass an immunity law to shield him from his legal woes. The desire for such a law is not, in and of itself, illegitimate. Parliamentary immunity is a feature of many, if not, most democracies. But even if you agree with Netanyahu--and arguably, the majority of Israelis who voted for par- ties pledged to govern with him--that the charges are a thinly disguised politically motivated attack rather than evidence of real corruption, passing an immunity law now purely for the purpose of keep- ing him in office is unseemly. Yet even if such a law were passed, Israel would remain a democracy. Most of those crying for Ne- tanyahu's head to be mounted on a spike have never been terribly worked up about far more serious corruptionwhen it concerned politicians they liked. Moreover, the flimsy nature of most of the charges against the prime minister-- amounting to an attempt to criminalize interactions with the media or the acceptance of gifts of cigars and cham- pagne-are not significant enough to justify the eager- ness of the legal establishment to overturn the verdict of the electorate. Nothing the Netanyahu government has done or is likely to do will in any way invalidate the ability of the opposition or the freepress to criticize him or stop the voters to throw him out of office at the next election. The real problem with Is- raeli democracy is the system by which the Knesset and government is elected, not Netanyahu. The proportional scheme of electing the Knes- set has been a mess since the state was founded. It has empowered minorities, espe- cially religious parties, out of proportion to their numbers. And it gives small parties and their cynical leaders like Lieberman regular opportu- nities to hold the government hostage, as he has just done. Israel has always needed a constitution with separa- tions of powers between the branches, including the out- of-control Supreme Court that considers itself superior to the elected legislature, and which would provide a more rational system for electing a parliament. Term limits for prime ministers who go on forever like the current incumbent wouldn't be a bad idea either. But given current realities, the kind of systemic change the country needs isn't go- ing to happen. Instead, it will continue to muddle along Tobin on page 15A By Haim Shine (Israel Hayom)--Yisrael Beiteinu chiefAvigdor Lieber- man's post-election ploy will go down in history as one man's attempt to distort Is- raeli democracy. As a result of this move, Lieberman has lent a hand to the few individuals at the State Attorney's Office who, in order to bring down Prime Minister Benjamin Ne- tanyahu, are willing to break with precedent to redefine various felonies to suit their agenda. This type of legal "trial balloon" is a serious infringement on democracy and the will of the voters. The results of the election for state comptroller (Prime Minister Benjamin Netanya- hu's preferred candidate won) are proof that, had Lieberman fulfilled his promise to his voters, it would have been possible to establish a strong and stable right-wing coali- tion that would have ensured territorial integrity and the unity of Jerusalem, alongwith immense economic prosper- ity, for years to come. Yisrael Beiteinu members quickly understood the vast damage the move had caused their party and took care to film their votes. The coming election cam- paign will be more difficult than its predecessor. Led by the Blue and White party, members of the left feel that by moving up the elections and workingwith Lieberman they could improve their showing. We got a preview of what is coming in the remarks from politicians and commenta- tors about the election of State Comptroller Matanyahu Engleman. Engleman has not yet taken up the role, yet they are already trying to convince the public he is a pliable lackey, a tool in the struggle for the rule of law. Because Engleman, unlike previous comptrollers, is not a judge, he is unable to make appropriate decisions, they say. But when the opposition proposed Giora Rom as their candidate for the position, no one voiced any concerns over his not being a judge. Had Rom been appointed comptroller, every single left-wing spokesperson would have praised his ap- pointment. Another issue thatpresents a challenge in the upcoming election is the uproar over United Right Knesset mem- ber Bezalal Smotrich's un- necessary call for Israel to be governed according to Jewish law. It has been a while since I saw Lieberman and Blue and White party leader Yair Lapid with such wide grins on their faces. It is very important for right-wing spokespersons to allow wisdom to emerge vic- torious. Smugness can cause real damage, as Smotrich has just shown. We were presented years ago with proof that the right has the ability to self-destruct. We have already seen how dan- gerous this can be for Israeli society in its entirety. The miserable 1993 Oslo Accords transformed the left into a religion without an ideology, while the rightwas revealed as an ideology with no religion. There are groups on the right who are unwilling to submit, and others who in the name of vanity and arrogance sow division and cause the bloc to lose a massive amount of votes. In the election, the right lost six Knesset seats be- cause of this internal division. If the right hopes to avoid the fate of a beached whale, it must put an end to the multiplicity of political parties and interests. It must present a united front in a campaign for the character of the state, its vision and its path. There are times when it is appro- priate to put one's ego aside and join together to preserve territorial integrity and the unity of Jerusalem ahead of the tests that lay ahead. As the Prophet Isaiah said, "Hark, thy watchmen! They lift up the voice, together do they sing; for they shall see, eye to eye, the Lord returning to Zion" (Isaiah 52:8). The success of the return to Zion depends on our ability to speak in one voice. I f not now, when? And if not us, then who? This column first appeared in Israel Hayom. elections offered a coin ip, choi.c b.etween Pro-Bibi ana AnTJ- !oJ forces and the corn landed on its edge. s.o we're ,o.mg to lap agaln