Former journalist and current co-founder of the Blue and White Party, Yair Lapid, kept saying during the election campaign that world leaders don’t want Benjamin Netanyahu and would like to see him go. The warm, congratulatory messages that Netanyahu received from world leaders before the final results were determined speak volumes for Lapid’s dissemination of Fake News.
■ ANOTHER PIECE of fake news was the widespread forecast that Moshe Feiglin was going to have at least four seats in the Knesset. There were even a few predictions about a double-digit figure. In the final analysis, his party didn’t cross the threshold. In a radio interview the following morning, Feiglin said that he wanted Israel to be a place in which all Israelis would feel comfortable. He noted that many Israelis living abroad had come home to vote. The implication was that they care enough to spend the money on a round-trip airline ticket, but they can’t make ends meet in Israel; they don’t enjoy some of the freedoms they have abroad and they’re not happy with the political climate.
■ ELECTION FEVER continued on Wednesday and Thursday, as people from the winning and losing parties were interviewed. Former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat who is among the top 10 on the Likud list, when interviewed on Reshet Bet by Esti Perez and veteran political analyst Hanan Krystal, said that he was not seeking any specific ministerial post, but would do whatever was asked of him. His interviewers didn’t believe him and kept on trying to cajole him into saying what they wanted to hear. They even suggested that he might want to be Foreign Minister. Barkat did not fall into the trap, and it’s possible that he might be happier as a deputy minister. Barkat failed in his first bid for mayor, but as a member of the city council learned a lot, and won the election the second time around. It’s not surprising that people with political savvy think of him as a future foreign minister. As mayor he met a lot of foreign leaders, so he has experience in that respect. He also speaks fluent English with correct grammar without an Israeli accent, and he also hides an iron will behind an easy-going manner.
■ IN THE past, the various party delegations that met for consultations with the president did so behind closed doors and later emerged to tell journalists which MK they had recommended, or to declare that they hadn’t recommended anyone.
In a departure from precedent, President Reuven Rivlin announced on Wednesday that for the sake of transparency, his meetings with the various factions will be broadcast live, on all social media platforms.
Although it seems to be a forgone conclusion that Likud chairman Netanyahu will be asked to form the next government, Rivlin has to go through the motions and consult with delegations from each of the elected parties. He will then decide on the Knesset member to whom he will entrust the task of forming a government. There’s one tiny problem. Benny Gantz, who heads Blue and White, has not yet made his declaration of allegiance as a member of Knesset, and won’t do so till after Passover, when the new Knesset will be sworn in. This means that in accordance with the Basic Law, he cannot enjoy the rights of an MK and therefore cannot be the president’s choice. The chosen MK has 28 days to form a new government, but can receive a 14-day extension. If the chosen MK fails to form a government within 42 days, someone else will be tasked with this mission. This is what happened to Tzipi Livni in 2008. Unable to form a government, she returned her mandate to President Shimon Peres, who then tasked Benjamin Netanyahu.
Despite support openly expressed by various right-wing and haredi parties prior to election day, most political pundits do not expect an instant coalition, which is why they are saying that the person who the president picks to form a government has 42 days.
One thing is for certain, the prime minister designate cannot be coerced into allowing Ayelet Shaked to continue as Justice Minister, a factor that should be extremely pleasing to the Supreme Court – unless of course he gives the portfolio to Bezalel Smotrich, which would fall into the category of out of the frying pan into the fire. However, Smotrich is more interested in the Education portfolio. The New Right had a drawn-out hair’s breadth trauma over whether or not it would pass the threshold, a factor exacerbated by a serious hitch in processing the votes. By lunch time Thursday, there were still no absolute results.
■ UNLIKE HIS older brother Yair Netanyahu, who vents his rage and malice on social media, Avner Netanyahu keeps a low profile and tries to stay out of the limelight and outside of the political sphere. He made a rare exception on Election Day, and on his Instagram account expressed his pride and love for his father. He also noted that he was repeatedly in awe of his father’s achievements, yet had often told him that life would be just that much simpler for the whole family if his father was an ordinary citizen. However, continued Avner, he realizes the extent of his father’s dedication. In his victory speech, Netanyahu thanked his wife Sara and his two sons for always being there for him, but omitted any mention of his daughter Noa.
■ MANY PEOPLE were disgusted by the vicious election campaigns in which personalities more than policies were under attack. Rani Rahav, one of Israel’s leading public relations executives and the co-host of a television show, sent out a long message on social media in which he emphasized that enough is enough.
He wrote that he was fed up with hearing about politicians being labeled as a traitor and mentally ill. What is needed, he emphasized, is national reconciliation between Left and Right, religious and secular, Sephardim and Ashkenazim, Jews and Arabs. Efforts toward such reconciliation must be immediate, he insisted, underscoring that rifts are the outcome of animosity and that whatever our differences, it’s high time to remember that we are one nation, and that we should not stoop to racism or expressions of incitement, because we are essentially cut from the same cloth. Stressing the need to make peace among ourselves, Rahav called on all 120 elected members of Knesset to make this their mission.
■ ELECTION RESULTS and coalition talks notwithstanding, next week, talk shows on radio will feature representatives of social welfare organizations, who will be soliciting invitations for people who have not been invited to a Seder. Mostly, they are worried about Holocaust survivors and other senior citizens who live alone, people who are homeless and people who are poverty stricken. But these are not the only ones who are not invited to a Seder. Many new immigrants who have not yet had a chance to make friends and have no relatives in Israel, may also be missing out on an invitation to a Seder. For anyone living in Jerusalem who has not been invited to a Seder, Rabbi Avraham and Nechama Dina Hendel who run Chabad of Baka, are keen to unite new and veteran residents of the capital as well as tourists, and are hosting a Seder at Yaffale Hall, 6 Maaseh Choshev Street in Talpiot. The meal is free of charge, though donations would be appreciated to help defray costs. For reservations call 054 830 5799.
As a matter of fact, wherever there is a Chabad Center, there is a good chance of getting a Seder invitation. Not all are free of charge, and not every Chabad Center runs a Seder, but the people there always know where a Seder is being held and can point anyone looking for one in the right direction. Another Chabad Center in Jerusalem that is also reaching out to people who have nowhere to go is Chabad of Rehavia, whose directors Rabbi Yisroel and Shoshi Goldberg are hosting a community Seder for the ninth successive year at Heichal Shlomo, 58 King George Street, adjacent to the Jerusalem Great Synagogue. Reservations should have been in by Thursday of this week, but Chabad usually tends to be flexible and accommodating. The invitation is not only for singles and couples but also for families. To reserve a place call 02-800-1717 or email Office@JerusalmChabad.org.
■ FRIENDS WHO may be looking for Kenneth Collins on May 17 will not find him in Jerusalem where he lives now, nor in Glasgow where he was born, raised and worked. He will be in London receiving the Rose Prize for the History of Medicine, an award conferred every two years by the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries. The prize is for a study of the history of primary care and community obstetrics in Glasgow. The study is based on patient interviews carried out by his late mother, Hetty, around 1990. Collins and his mother were partners in a medical practice for 12 years and the 80 interviews for which he will receive the prize were her retirement project.
The award will be presented during the spring meeting of the college. An internationally known medical historian, Collins is visiting professor of the History of Medicine, the Hebrew University Jerusalem; and senior research fellow, at the Centre for the History of Medicine, at the University of Glasgow. He was a general practitioner in Glasgow for more than 30 years, and editor of the medical history journal Vesalius from 2009-2017.
He is also keenly interested in the history of Glasgow’s Jewish community, about which he has written email@example.com
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