Coalition Capers; Obama’s Visit – TWTW … ending 9 March, 2013

Shalom all,

The late Will Rogers was never without a statement that tended to reflect the times in which he lived. One of the most memorable is: “Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.” Certainly, this is true of our time as well.

Coalition Capers
With all of the politicking going on this past week, we must, of necessity, relate to the attempts to form a coalition government. These attempts have gone like a roller coaster, sometimes up and sometimes down. Most of the time, they were waiting for someone to give them a push start.

Politicians make promises, lots of them. In most instances, they campaign and argue about the “issues” that affect their constituencies first and the nation second. Sometimes, they are charismatic enough to get away with simply throwing out nice, catchy slogans that people latch onto, when they have nothing else of substance to say. During the campaign for office, when dealing with the “issues”, the politicians tend to be direct. But, once elected, something happens and shades of grey cloud over what were once clearly defined goals and principles. In the final analysis, most of the “issues” could be dealt with, with the different players vying for the best government “jobs”.

The week started out with great expectations. The parties were talking to each other and attempts were made to bridge ideological and political gaps, so that a coalition government could be formed. As of this writing, less than a week remains to accomplish that task. In the early morning hours before dawn on Wednesday, negotiators for Yesh Atid’s Chairman, Yair Lapid, sent a text message to the negotiating team of Likud-Beytenu, saying that they were canceling the meeting scheduled for that day, because of the refusal of Likud to accept Yesh Atid’s demand to reduce 18 the number of cabinet ministers, which now stands at 27. However, this could hardly be acknowledged as Lapid’s primary concern. Apparently, the real reason for canceling the negotiations (which got back on track Thursday evening) was his desire to get the Foreign Ministry and his reluctance to accept the post of Finance Minister. 

By creating this almost last-minute negotiations crisis, which was made to appear as being ideological, Lapid has put himself in a difficult position. On the one hand, he campaigned vigorously against too much government spending. He is opposed to having a large cabinet, because of the financial waste that goes along with it. He is opposed to giving money to religious institutions when those who sit in the yeshivot do not serve in the military. His campaign emphasis was on protecting the middle class, who shoulders most of the financial burden of the country. This is not a last-minute concern. It was the thrust of his campaign for the better part of a year, which focused on almost every type of economic issue facing Israel today. If fiscal waste was such a burning issue for him, why wouldn’t he jump at the opportunity to become Finance Minister?

There are obvious reasons for this: The position of Foreign Minister is considerably more attractive than that of Finance Minister. The former travels a lot, gets to rub shoulders with heads of state and representatives of foreign governments, meets, greets and entertains foreign dignitaries and the like. The Finance portfolio, on the other hand, gets to deal with all of the economic ails that trouble this country. It is anything but glorious and can often end a political career, even of someone considerably more experienced in politics. It also requires a head for finance and an understanding of how government fiscal policy fits in with the different, and often conflicting, demands of government ministries. The Finance Minister often comes under fire for making decisions that affect one sector or another. He will never be able to please everyone and his major expectation is to move from that position to one that is less politically destructive. Interestingly enough, neither Lapid nor Naftali Bennett (the head of the Habayit Hayehudi party) has the economic background or experience in finance that such a position requires. If Lapid were to accept such a position, his constituency would expect widespread, economic reforms to take place in the economy, in line with his campaign speeches. This would require considerable curtailment of government spending almost across the board. It is a formidable challenge, even for someone with a doctorate in government economics, a challenge that would determine whether his voters will retain or lose confidence in him in any future election.

Still, unlike Lapid, Bennett would probably be willing to accept the Finance portfolio, notwithstanding his lack of experience with economics on a nationwide level. This is not because he considers the position to be glamorous, but rather, because it would be of tremendous benefit to his constituency, the national-religious sector. His willingness to accept such a position would smooth over a lot of sore feathers among those who put him into office. The reason is simple and straight-forward: As Finance Minister, he would be able to affect budgetary allotments primarily for settlement construction, as well as for religious institutions.

As of Thursday night, the offer of Finance Minister was said to be placed before Lapid. By Friday morning, it was denied by a member of Lapid’s party, who reported on Army Radio: “Lapid heard about Likud’s offer of the Finance Ministry through the media. No official offer has been made and that is why Lapid said that he is not ruling anything out”. If he says “no”, the likelihood is that the offer will, in fact, be made to Bennett and Lapid will be offered another portfolio that has an economic impact. 

With regard to the pact of the dynamic duo – Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi, the purportedly “unbreakable alliance” began to exhibit cracks. While negotiations were going on, a rumor was spread that Lapid was over-stepping his bounds and making demands that would upset the religious status quo, such as that the Israeli public transportation system would continue to operate on Shabbat (from Friday sundown until Saturday sundown), that restrictions on converting to Judaism be eased and that civil marriages should be allowed. These rumors turned out to be untrue, but they were enough for some members of Habayit Hayehudi to strongly speak out against them. The above showed that the agreement, while appearing to be strong, was actually fragile and that the ideological differences between them could easily upset their embracing one another politically.

By mid-week, an attempt was made to convince Netanyahu that Yesh Atid, Habayit Hayehudi and Kadima should be viewed by Likud-Beytenu as a single, voting group of 33 votes. This was not coordinated in advance with Habayit Hayehudi, who said that it was unacceptable, and created a further rift between it and Yesh Atid. Netanyahu didn’t bow to the threat of an internal alliance against his coalition government and continued to negotiate as if that potential, coalition threat was not made.

In the meantime, Habayit Hayehudi (Bennett) is demanding the Religious Services Ministry, as well as control over other religious institutions, such as rabbinical courts (now under the authority of the Justice Ministry), yeshivot (religious schools that are now under the Education Ministry), the Chief Rabbinate and the conversion to Judaism (both of which are, of all things, under the authority of the Prime Minister’s office). As stated, in part, by a representative of Habayit Hayehudi: “We are entering the government to change things and this is one of those things…We want the Religious Services Ministry to make it more efficient and to improve the issue of religion and state in the country. You can’t do that without these institutions.”

Of course, as in all matters affecting politics, the control over budgetary expenditures is one of the main issues that has the ultra-orthodox up in arms and they (Shas and United Torah Judaism – U.T.J.) are willing to sit in the opposition and take revenge on the government for leaving them out. As stated by Moshe Gafni (U.T.J.): “From Israel’s founding onward, the time haredi [ultra orthodox] parties spent in the opposition has always exceeded their tenure inside the coalition governments. This time around, something grave has occurred — people lied outright [referring to the alleged anti-haredi stance of Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi]…Let’s say the Arab parties would one day announce that Israel should rule all the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River and let’s say they announce that they would endorse whatever path the government pursues. Would anyone then reject them and veto their participation in the coalition simply because they are Arabs?! We are very reliable and loyal coalition partners, and no one has even bothered to ask us whether we would agree to this or that plan to reform the military draft law. Yair Lapid couldn’t even be bothered to ask us what plan would be acceptable for us; Habayit Hayehudi also had none of its members sit with us. They [Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi] said that even if an agreement was reached on a certain national service mechanism, they would have then insisted that haredim study the core curriculum [like in state-run schools], until finally the cat was out of the bag – they said they would not agree to haredim serving in the government just because they were haredim. This is unforgivable behavior. Today it is the haredim who are boycotted; tomorrow it will be the settlers’ turn, and two days from now it will be the Arabs’ turn – this is a self-destructing society.”

The ultra-orthodox threaten to make the lives of the new government ministers miserable, a pay-back for leaving Shas and U.T.J. out of the government. Yitzhak Cohen (of Shas), serving as Deputy Finance Minister for four years, said that the settlements are costing the government a lot of money: “They keep saying the burden [of national service] should be shared equally, but they are responsible for all this burden when it comes to defense, foreign affairs and the economy. Migron [the largest illegal outpost until its dismantling last year] is a burden; [the illegally constructed Beit El neighborhood] Givat Ha’ulpana, where houses are now being taken apart, costs the state millions; this is both an economic and security burden…There is no such thing as a sacred outpost; there is such a thing as a holy yeshiva.” It is amazing that the for past 4 years, as long as the ultra-religious were getting their extraordinary funding, no complaint was made by them about the settlements. Now, all of a sudden, there seems to be a realization that settlements need finances to exist.

In similar fashion, the Religious Services Minister, Yakov Margi (of Shas), stated: “Lapid asked [throughout his campaign] ‘Where is the money?’ So we will tell them exactly where the money is; it is in the housing projects that are run by national religious activists in far-flung communities, which get double the funding other projects get even though these projects are pure fantasy and never really materialize; there is no good reason to funnel funds to these projects, and they deserve no budget; we are going to apply extra scrutiny to all the funds that go to communities beyond the Green Line [in Judea and Samaria] and we are going to look very carefully at the budgets Yair Lapid takes from the have-nots to fund culture in Tel Aviv and curry favor with the social elite.”
Some influential figures in the haredi world went so far as to call for a boycott of products that originate from communities that lie beyond the Green Line and accuse Naftali Bennett of whining about how mothers in the settlements don’t sleep at night, while accusing him of being the cause of that sleeplessness, because he wants those outposts to be protected. What the ultra-orthodox refuse to acknowledge, at least at this juncture, is that the existence of those settlements allows their families to live in relative peace and allows their sons to sit in a yeshiva, while someone else is on the front line to protect them.
In response to these statements and calls for boycotts, Habayit Hayehudi Member of Knesset, Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, who may be considered for the position of Minister of Religious Services, said: “I really don’t get it; this can all turn upside down in the course of one hour; let’s say Labor Chairwoman MK Shelly Yachimovich agrees to enter the coalition and we are left out, are we going to say we are being boycotted?! Are we going to stop buying [Shas spiritual leader] Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s books?! What’s been taking place is all part of the political game. The haredim are pro-Land of Israel only if they are in the coalition? If it is important, then it must be important from the outside, too.”
The most telling statement came from Moshe Gafni [U.T.J.]: “As the chairman of the Finance Committee, I helped everyone: the settlements and the hesder yeshivot. If we are all in agreement that everyone should get by in these tough economic times and that everyone should lend a helping hand to the other, that is a good thing; but if Habayit Hayehudi, which represents the settlers and the [hesder] yeshivot, targets our budgets, then everything will be on the table, and we will use all of our might.”
With less than one week to go, there is progress and optimism, but nothing concrete, other than Tzippi Livni bringing her left-wing politics into the coalition. Despite all of his efforts, it is still possible that Netanyahu may fail to put together a coalition, if neither Lapid nor Bennett comes on board. In that case, Netanyahu can try to add Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) and the religious parties (Shas and United Torah Judaism) and would end up with about 55 coalition members. He could try to ask for more time from President Shimon Peres. Of course, that would put us into the situation where there is no formal government in place when the President of the U.S. comes for dinner. Who will have the authority to approve the payment for his visit? On the other hand, the cracks between Habayit Hayehudi and Yesh Atid could worsen and the wall could come crumbling down, allowing for Bennett to join the coalition without Lapid, which would also re-open the door for the ultra-orthodox to come back into the fold. The other possibility, far-fetched as it may be and fairly dangerous to a Likud-Beytenu led coalition, is to have the Labor party (headed up by Shelly Yachimovich) join the coalition, a move which would also enable the ultra-orthodox to come in. 
While late in the game, it is still too early to call the shots on who will get what position [other than the Ministry of Justice, which was promised to Tzippi Livni], if and when a coalition government comes into existence. What is reasonably certain, however, is that if the present, expected coalition composition is Likud-Beytenu, Yesh Atid, Habayit Hayehudi, Tnuah (Tzippi Livni) and Kadima (Shaul Mofaz), Netanyahu’s government will be forever teetering on the brink of collapse. It is also clear that Netanyahu’s coalition-making deals will leave some of the people in his own party very unhappy. A reduction in the number of cabinet ministers will remove some now serving as Ministers and will reduce some to deputy positions or even some lower ministerial job. This could create internal troubles far beyond those of the convoluted coalition politics that have taken place up to this point. His own people could rebel against him when it comes time for a vote on certain issues, aligning themselves with the opposition, or simply failing to vote in favor. This would be their “internal revenge” against him for their ouster or non-appointment to ministerial posts and weaken his own authority within the coalition.
And so, as the saying goes – the plot thickens. It appears to be almost over,  but it won’t be over until it’s over. And then it will all begin again.

Boycott “Settlement Goods”? The Ultra-Orthodox Will Not Be Alone.

It’s one thing for those outside the country to want to institute measures that will hurt us. It’s another thing when those who, up until now, have been loyal supporters of the government and of the settlements to do so. I won’t add to what has already been said about the “revenge” of the ultra-orthodox vis-a-vis the settlements. But, if they do take action, they won’t be alone.

Holland just joined other European Union countries, such as Britain and Denmark, as well as South Africa, in recommending that Dutch retailers label products that were made beyond the “Green Line” (in Judea and Samaria, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights), so as to distinguish them from products “made in Israel”. It it not illegal to import products from the settlements and retailers who fail to comply with the government’s recommendation will not be punished. 
Israel reacted sharply to such a move and said that Euope should be even-handed in its claimed efforts to inform consumers, as Yigal Palmor, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said: “If the Europeans claim that labeling products made in the settlements is intended only to inform the consumer that the product comes from a disputed area, they should also be consistent and mark any product from disputed territories in Europe and around the world. But if the move denigrates Israel, and only Israel, it is clearly a manifestation of blatant discrimination and thus inherently wrong.” He was joined by Eli Yishai, Minister of the Interior, who said that “products from the settlements beyond the Green Line, just like those made within the Green Line, are proud blue and white products. The State of Israel will stand as one entity against any attempt to boycott its products.”
The “P.A.” Wants ‘Confidence-Building Measures’  from Israel.
The pot is again calling the kettle “black”. In anticipation of President Barack Hussein Obama’s planned visit to Israel and its environs, U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, met last week with “Palestinian” Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas (known here as “Abu Mazen”), when they met in Saudi Arabia. The latter reportedly gave to Kerry a document containing a list of “trust-building steps” to be taken by Israel, that would allow the resumption of “peace negotiations” in a “positive atmosphere”. 
It is reported by a political adviser to Abbas that the list contains, among other things, renewal of VIP identification cards for “Palestinian” officials that were cancelled, release of “Palestinian” funds frozen by Israel, transfer of security control of so-called “Palestinian areas” to “Palestinian” police, providing ammunition to “Palestinian” security forces, removal of checkpoints and the release of “Palestinian” prisoners arrested before 1994. It is further reported that Kerry spoke with Netanyahu about these “trust-building steps” and P.M. Netanyahu did not rule them out. As I read the news report, I was looking for the part where Netanyahu demanded “trust-building steps” from the “Palestinians” in return. Alas, I found none. Silence should not be taken as assent. It’s only when we open our mouths and allow words to come out that we get into trouble. Maybe, when a coalition is finally formed and approved by the Knesset, Netanyahu will find the time to remember that the State of Israel is at stake in all of these negotiations, including his upcoming discussions with B.H.O.
Speaking of President Obama’s Visit…
Last Thursday, President Obama met with American Jewish leaders and told them that even though prospects for Middle-East peace may not be strong right now, the only way for Israel to achieve long-term security is to make a deal with the “Palestinians”. Yet, along with this, Obama said that he does not plan to present a “grand peace plan” when he comes here on March 20th, adding that he could make such an effort in the “next six, nine or twelve months”.
The full contents of the two-hour meeting were not reported, but Obama did repeat to them his “unshakable support” for Israel and indicated that he wanted to speak directly to the Israeli public while he was here, hoping to gain our trust and urging us to work for peace with the “Palestinians”. Doesn’t there seem to be an imbalance here? Why are “we” being asked, again and again and again, to do that which we have been doing for the past umpteenth time, namely, work towards peace? Where is the reciprocity on the part of the “Palestinians”? The writer of Proverbs says that the leech has two daughters, “Give”, “Give” (Prov. 30:15). To that should be added a third daughter, “Palestinians” who say “Give us more”.
If his visit is to win the hearts and minds of Israelis, and not to necessarily convince our government of what kind of action should be taken vis-a-vis the “Palestinians” or Iran, he will need not only all the “charm” that he can muster, but he’ll have to talk with an understanding of Middle-East realities, which favor neither a “Palestinian” state in the heart of Israel, nor a nuclear Iran. He will have to address the chaos taking place in Syria and the potential movement of weapons of mass destruction from Syria to the Hizb’allah. If Obama really understood how things work here, he would seek to genuinely strengthen ties and relations with Israel. This would take the wind out of the sails of the “Palestinians” and many of our neighbors, who think that they can continue to demand and pressure Israel and the U.S. to cause Israel to commit national suicide by agreeing to the establishment of a “Palestinian” state in our midst. Any position short of a statement of absolute, unwavering support for Israel, would only serve to strengthen the resolve of the “Palestinians” to continue in their opposition to Israel and failure to recognize our existence. U.S. Vice-President, Joe Biden, made the point very clearly when he attended the AIPAC conference last week: “We’ve always disagreed at some point or another on tactic…But, ladies and gentlemen, we have never disagreed on the strategic imperative that Israel must be able to protect its own, must be able to do it on its own, and we must always stand with Israel to be sure that can happen…We especially understand that if we make a mistake, it’s not a threat to our existence…But if Israel makes a mistake, it could be a threat to its very existence.” May it be that President Obama will gain this understanding before he comes and that he, along with P.M. Netanyahu, will both affirm that whatever decisions will be made will be with a view to “the strategic imperative that Israel must be able to protect its own”.
Are you interested in being present when the President makes his speech here? Well, the U.S. Embassy in Tel-Aviv (not in Jerusalem) is holding a competition that will allow 20 people to be invited to the speech, even though it will be reported on the news and then appear over the Internet. The competition relates to “liking” the Facebook page of the embassy and explaining why the competitor should be selected to attend, along with a host of other guests. I shouldnwarn you though, if you win, you’ll have to pay your own way to Israel. So, if you’re still interested, here’s the site:

Embarrassment for the Presidential Entourage – Did Shimon Peres mean what he said?

At a meeting with Israeli reporters who accompanied President Shimon Peres on his trip to France, he was asked by a reporter from Channel one whether, in his opinion, the “peace process” should be renewed and construction should be frozen ahead of the upcoming visit of President Obama to Israel. His response was that in his opinion, “It should be done. This would considerably relieve Israel and improve its international standing. We need to strengthen our friendship with the U.S., but we’ll know what future steps she’ll take only after the [government] is set up.” 

Immediately following these remarks, the President’s Spokeswoman stopped the briefing and stated that the President did not understand the question and requested that the reporters ignore the answer, claiming that he heard and replied only to the first part of the question that related to renewing the “peace process”. Earlier during the briefing, Peres expressed hope that after the government is set up, Israel would return to the “peace process”. It is not clear whether the President misunderstood the reporter’s question, or whether it was a Presidential “blooper”. The President needs to refrain from talking about government policy and should not have been put in a position to answer a question concerning his opinion relating to that policy.
Israel is getting ready for Lebanon War III.
Not that we are looking for it, but the reality is that the civil war in Syria could spill over and trigger a confrontation with the Hizb’allah, whom Israel suspects is receiving advanced weapons from Damascus.
In recent days, 21 U.N. peacekeepers were abducted by Sunni rebels on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. They were all released. But, tank and mortar shells from Syria have also landed in Israel and a written complaint was submitted by Israeli Ambassador, Ron Prosor, to the U.N. Security Council. In it, he warned that Israel “cannot be expected to stand idle as the lives of its citizens are being put at risk.”
Asked whether another war with the Hisb’allah would have consequences similar to the one that took place in 2006, one senior Israeli military officer said that he did not “in any way expect the casualty rate to be similar” and added “I want things to be as bad as possible for the other side and as good as possible for us.” Israel recognizes that the Hizb’allah has improved its capabilities over what existed in 2006, but, as one Lieutenant-Colonel here stated: “We train all the time for various possibilities, for scenarios. If we need to fight, be it tomorrow morning, or in another week or  year, we will be the best that we can be and we will win.” May we continue to train to “be the best we can be” and may God help us, so that we never have to prove it.
A nuclear Iran – the “most destabilizing event that we could imagine for the Middle East.”
In a candid admission before a U.S. Senate committee last week, Marine General James Mattis, the outgoing commander of U.S. troops in the Middle East and South Asia, said although he believes that Iran is trying to “buy time” through ongoing negotiations, it might still be possible that sanctions and other pressure could be applied to bring Tehran “to its senses”. He added that Tehran’s history was one of denial and deceit and that it was “enriching uranium beyond any plausible peaceful purpose.”
At one point, an interesting question and answer took place, as Mattis was asked straight out by Senator James Inhofe (Republican) whether he thought diplomatic efforts and economic sanctions were working to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon: “No sir”, was his reply, to which Inhofe stated, “Good”.
Mattis further stated that if Iran were allowed to develop a nuclear weapon, other countries in the region would probably follow suit, adding that he feared that a nuclear Iran would be the “most destabilizing event that we could imagine for the Middle East.” He predicted that a fall of the Assad regime would represent a major setback for its Iranian supporter and would prompt Iranian to arm militias in Syria, to “try to create a Lebanese-Hizb’allah-type effect.” He noted that the power base and geographic area of control of Syrian President, Bashir al-Assad, were eroding and that the U.S. was “quietly planning” with regional allies to undertake stabilizing operations, if needed, after the collapse of Assad’s regime.
The recent kidnapping of the U.N. peacekeeping force has brought the reality of the Syrian civil war home to Israel. Up until now, there were border skirmishes between Syrian regulars and the rebels and there were even “stray” bullets and mortar or tank shells that fell in Israeli territory. Recently, some seriously injured rebels (originally reported as civilians) sought refuge in Israel to receive much-needed medical treatment. But, on the whole, it had been something that took place “there” and the only ones who really dealt with the situation were our soldiers who were stationed on the Golan Heights and its vicinity. Now, the gravity and immediacy of the situation has hit home. The rebels have gained control over Syria’s borders with Jordan, Lebanon and Israel. Assad’s forces tend to be regrouping and focusing on retaining control over Damascus and the road leading from there to the Syrian coast, which is the region where most Alawite (a minority sect of Shiite Moslems, to which Assad belongs) Syrians live.
The problem facing Israel from the northeast is one of uncertainty. Assad was a known factor that we took into account. But now, there are no major players among the rebel forces; no central authority. Some belong to affiliates of al-Qaida. Others are simply armed militias and some are gangs looking for territorial control. Still others are Iranian soldiers, sent here to help Assad remain in power, or to try to establish a foothold in Syria, if his regime falls. Their presence in Syria is a fact and they were kept more or less from our border by the presence of the U.N. peacekeeping force, which acted as a buffer that keep the civil war from our fences. We need to adjust to a new reality, that has no ascertainable dimensions. As such, it is unstable, volatile and could erupt at any time, particularly as Assad’s regime and control diminishes. We should not rule out a desperate attempt on the part of Assad to go down in Arab history as the one who breathed his dying breath in an attempt to destroy Israel. He knows that his stockpile of weapons will be useless to him if his regime is overthrown, or worse, that it would fall into the hands of the rebels. So, a transfer of those weapons to the Hizb’allah (another Shiite ally) or use of them against Israel are two realistic probabilities.

U.S. rescinds International Woman of Courage Award to Egyptian Activist

The U.S. canceled its decision to give an Egyptian women’s rights activist the International Woman of Courage Award, after discovering her anti-American and anti-Semitic remarks on Twitter.

The recipient of the reward was reported to have said: “As time goes by I have discovered that no unethical action takes place without a Jewish touch.” Although she claimed that her Twitter account was “hacked”, she later wrote on Twitter in Arabic

: “I refuse to apologize to the Zionist lobby in America regarding my previous anti-Zionist statements under pressure from [the] American government therefore they withdrew the award.” Her latter comment could be understood as an admission that the earlier statements were hers.

Women proudly serve in the Israeli Defense Forces.
In “this man’s army”, women play a significant role. A full one-third of all Israelis serving in the military are women. They take their role seriously, as evidenced by the fact that 57% of all officers are women, who also constitute more than a quarter of all career officers. Some 92% of all army positions are available to them. I salute them!

“Music has charms to soothe the savage breast”, even those of U.N. members.
Israel and Iran are able to peacefully co-exist, not in the political realm, but in the person of Israeli pop singer, Rita. In the third-ever, full concert to take place at the United Nations General Assembly hall, Rita captured the attention and hearts of diplomats from around the world, as she gave an unprecedented and unforgettable concert of 10 songs, some of which were in Persian and some in Hebrew. Israeli Ambassador to the U.N., Ron Prosor, was the event’s organizer, that included distinguished attendees such as U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon and General Assembly President, Vuk Jeremic.

Upon appearing on stage, the Israeli chanteuse introduced herself as an Israeli of Iranian origin. She also related a personal story how her mother influenced her musical career, adding that two years ago, she had an urge “to record the Persian songs that were the soundtrack of my life … the colorfulness of my roots … the warmth, the pain, the love, the hardship, the favorites, the aromas, the stories … But, I am actually celebrating being both Israeli and Iranian, a unique mixture that found expression in the most beautiful language: music.” And so there was for a time, peaceful co-existence.

And That was The Week That Was.

“O magnify the LORD with me and let us exalt His name together … O taste and see that the LORD is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! … The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and His ears are [open] to their cry. The face of the LORD is against evildoers, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.” (Psalm 34:3, 8, 15-16)

Have a truly blessed week.


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