Showing posts from March, 2015

Better Sense on the Roads

Today a new law came into effect, requiring that drivers stop at pedestrian crossings, giving way to pedestrians who are not yet physically on the crossing.

Israel lost 281 people in deadly traffic accidents during 2014. And 1804 were seriously injured.

Pedestrian crossings are particularly hazardous.

The law in Israel has required a driver to stop when a pedestrian is ON a pedestrian crossing. In practice this results in a test of daring, as someone needs to take that first brave step, in the hope that a driver will indeed stop.

Drivers will typically take advantage of their tons of steel, and, even when someone is on a crossing, but not on the driver's side of the road, they will continue driving on.

It is particularly horrifying to witness children crossing at pedestrian crossings on busy streets.

Back in England, where I learned to drive, the law was that the vehicle must give way to a pedestrian, even if he's not yet on the crossing, but is simply waiting at the side.


The Other Nose-Dive

There is universal concern in Israel about the current nose-dive in Israel's relationship with the Obama Administration.

Although Obama has often pledge that he "has Israel's back" it now seems that this means to plant a knife in it.

The USA has taken on a critical role in helping protect Israel by both Military and Political means.

There does not seem a likelihood of Obama cutting defense aid to Israel, currently around $2 Billion/a - if for no other reason than he would need Congressional support to do this, which he won't get.

So the current weapon of choice for Obama to 'punish' Netanyahu for his election victory (or, Obama would argue, for the statements Netanyahu made in order to win the votes) is political - initially at the UN.

The USA has protected Israel's back at the UN for decades - often Israel's only and certainly most important supporter in this historically anti-semitic institution.

Whereas motions are regularly passed at the UN, …

Brooklyn Tragedy - Are There Lessons to Be Learned?

(Important Note: I am not a rabbi or halachik expert; I offer this as a regular layman, horrified by tragedy and concerned, like everyone, for the safety of Jewish families)

Seven children from the Sassoon family horrifically and tragically died in a blaze at their Brooklyn home over shabbat.

According to the New York Fire Department, the fire started with the shabbat hot plate in the kitchen and there were no smoke detectors installed in the main part of the house. The children died in their bedrooms, and the mother and one daughter managed to jump from an upper floor - both now in critical condition.

The combination of the halachik requirements NOT to light a flame on shabbat, while requiring one to nevertheless eat hot food, has resulted in various methods of keeping cooked food hot over shabbat. These methods can involve safety risks.

It is hard to imagine rabbinical leadership giving up on or adapting either of these two conflicting principles, either the forbidding of lighting …

Those Winners & Losers..

Winners:  Benjamin and Sarah Netanyahu Moshe Kachlon Israel's Right Wing Arab Joint List US Congress

Losers: The Israeli Media The pollsters - all of them!! Herzog + Livni Barack Obama Yachad/Eli Yishai Meretz

Bibi, Bennett or Yishai??

There used to be a TV game show in Britain which featured the final phase of the game - "Make Your Mind Up Time!"

This is Make Your Mind Up Time for us the Israeli voters.

I'm still wavering between:

1. Likud - on the basis that if Bibi isn't selected by the President to chose the coalition, but rather Herzog will be - then this would be Bad News. The President's decision is guided by which is the biggest party - and he would gravitate towards selecting the leader of that party first to build the coalition.

2. Bayit Hayehudi - I'm a long standing Mafdal (as the National Religious Party used to be called) supporter. Naftali Bennett is probably the most charismatic and dynamic leader the party has had in a generation or two. He did a pretty good job riding the waves during his time in Government with Netanyahu - so my natural tendency is to give Bennett my vote.

3. Yachad - Eli Yishai's varied collection of religious representatives either shows Unity (as …

Reminder Why Bibi Went to Congress: P5+1 Concessions to Iran in Nuclear Negotiations

New York, NY - Today, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is releasing a new analysis of the current status of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1. The analysis compares the positions of the U.S. and Iran on each of the core components of an emerging nuclear accord.
UANI's resource analyzes the evolution of U.S. and Iranian regime positions on centrifuges and enrichment capacity, the Arak heavy water reactor, advanced centrifuges and R&D, the Fordow underground enrichment facility, Iran's ballistic missile program, and resolving allegations about nuclear weaponization activities.
Duration of Agreement: When Will Be the "Sunset" of a Deal?
USA Current Status in Negotiations Iran Chief U.S. nuclear negotiator Wendy Sherman: "We believe the duration of this should be at least double-digits [in years]. And we believe it should be for quite a long time." Reports indicate that a final deal will restrict Iran's nuclear program for a period of 10 years, at whic…

The Value of One Vote

We are all gearing up for Israel's national elections.

The electoral process is the foundation of a thriving democracy, and most Israelis will do their part, by going out on Tuesday to stand patiently (?) in line at the "kalpi", and then vote for their preferred party.

In the past three national elections (2006, 2009 and 2013) electoral turnout has been 63, 64 and 67%.

As there are therefore around 4,000,000 votes expected to be placed in the voting booths, my vote would appear to have the impact of 1:4 million.

However, the actual impact of my vote is rather more torturous or circumspect in Israel.

Whatever the electoral results, the next Israel Government will definitely be a coalition of various parties.

Both Netanyahu and Herzog are telling their voters to vote for their parties (Likud and Zionist Union/Labour) as this will increase their chances of forming the next government.

However, the majority of voters will nevertheless not vote for the party of the prime min…

NBC 60 Minutes about the death of Alberto Nisman

This NBC 60-Minutes about the death of Argentinian Prosecutor Alberto Nisman features Nisman's friend, confident and unofficial biographer, Gustavo Perednik (who is also my brother in law).

An open letter to the Board of Trustees and Committee of Management of the Yeshivah Centre

(Reposted here by kind permission of Mr Manny Waks. Original posting here)

TO: Board of Trustees

Mr Binyomin Althaus                                              
Mrs Nechama Bendet                                            
Rabbi Binyomin Cohen                                          
Mr Harry Cooper                                                      
Mr Michael Goldhirsch                                            
Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Groner                                      
Mr Samuel Gurewicz                                              
Rabbi Shimshon Jurkowicz
Rabbi Sholom Mendel Kluwgant
Mr Jeremy Lobenstein
Mr Chaim New
Mr Max New
Rabbi Laibel Raskin Committee of Management Mr Merv Adler
Mr Michael Goldhirsch
Mr Jeremy Loebenstein
Mr Chaim New
Mr Chaim Raitman
Mrs Sue Susskind
Mr Shlomo Werdiger

It has now been almost four weeks since the conclusion of the Royal Commission public hearing into the Yeshivah Centre. While submissions by interested parties are yet to be made and findings are ye…