A welcoming committee

The conservative talk show host, Glenn Beck, is back in Israel as he gets ready to hold three pro-Israel rallies.

August 21, 2011 21:20
Jeremy Ruden

Jeremy Ruden 58. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The writer is an independent media consultant and a former producer at the Fox News Channel in New York. Jeremy@jeremyruden.com

Some very interesting people have been coming to Israel.

Many of these are publicized in the press, and not always in the most congenial fashion. So permit me to express my salutations… 1. Welcome back, Glenn Beck.

The conservative talk show host is back in Israel as he gets ready to hold three pro-Israel rallies. The climax is expected to be on Wednesday, when Beck will hold the “Restoring Courage” demonstration in Jerusalem. It’s the sequel to his “Restoring Honor” event, at which tens of thousands gathered in Washington last year.

What I found a bit disturbing was reading about Beck’s trip around the country last week. It was perfectly understandable when he visited Itamar,site of the Fogel family massacre earlier this year, but when it was reported that he met with the leaders of the “Hilltop Youth,” that’s a whole different story.

Beck and many others were quick to attack President Barack Obama when he said that the baseline for a future Palestinian state would be the 1967 lines. Few seem to remember that it was former president George W. Bush who announced to the world that it would be official US foreign policy to support a Palestinian state.

Beck’s meeting with the Hilltop Youth seems to indicate his support for the continued settlement of the West Bank – a position which could be considered a break from the Republican stance.

It will also be very interesting to see how many people, especially VIPs, will come from the US for the rally, considering the current security climate and the escalation in the South. One thing’s for sure: those who do come will get a better idea what kind of cowardly enemy we’re facing, and just how complicated it is to fight them off.

2. An early “Welcome Home” to Gabby Levy, Israel’s ambassador to Turkey whose term is up at the end of the month. He might be our last ambassador in Turkey for a while. The constant back and forth between Jerusalem and Ankara over an apology and compensation for last year’s flotilla fiasco seemed to end last week when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu decided against the idea. Now Turkey’s leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is reportedly threatening not only to reject a new ambassador but also to carry out a series of diplomatic moves against Israel.

While I am a believer in diplomacy, every relationship has its breaking point, and Turkey is simply going too far. I hope that our government will finally put its foot down after the Palmer report on the flotilla is published. If Ankara continues its belligerence and carries through with its threats, we must match it step by step.

This case is not just the responsibility of the public sector but of the private one as well. Businesses should consider cutting ties with Turkish companies which sell to Israel. The public can also play a part by not contributing to Turkey’s tourism. There are plenty of other places to go on vacation.

Erdogan is doing his best to besmirch Israel and its representatives.

There’s no reason for any Israeli to take it lying down.

3. Finally, would someone please find Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz? I’d like to welcome him back to Israel, as it seems he’s living in a different country, based on an interview he gave to an Israeli paper published over the weekend.

The interview was an easy one for Steinitz; he wasn’t asked any difficult questions. The main topic, of course, was the demonstrations about the cost of living, but for at least half of the fourpage chat he waxed philosophic about socialism and capitalism, the global economy and other non-sequiturs.

A few of the statements were almost frightening. He seems to be totally disconnected with what’s going on in our country. In the interview he says (I’m paraphrasing here) nothing could be further from the truth than the claim that the average citizen doesn’t see the fruits of Israel’s economic growth.

He cites our low unemployment rate as compared to other countries like Spain and the UK. Of course he ignores the fact that a whopping 1.77 million people live below the poverty line, and that number is growing. We are a country of about 7.6 million people. Do the math.

The minister also expressed concern over whom to give money to.

He claims that pumping funds to the middle class is problematic because it will only increase the gaps with the poor. First of all, if nothing is done, there won't be a middle class left. Secondly, there is another strategy called tax breaks which can be doled out equally if you fall under a certain category. For example, if someone is buying their first apartment which they will live in, the interest on the mortgage can be a deduction.

Steinitz constantly repeated the argument of where to take the money from. Even the government hasn’t figured out how to create something out of nothing, he said. Perhaps it would be best if his office would start with the huge tax surplus the government has taken in over the past two years. Maybe figure out how to cut public spending in the bloated Netanyahu government – the biggest in the country’s history.

The most absurd thing about the interview was Steinitz’s total lack of vision. Not once did he outline concrete steps he feels needs to be taken. He focused on what can’t be done, actions already taken as well as the Trajtenberg and other committees. You would think that the person in charge of the country’s finances would at least have a few ideas of his own.

Perhaps there need to be a fewer hellos and more goodbyes….

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