November 3, 2010 Mid Terms and Israel- Yeman and Terrorism

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

November 3, 2010 Mid Terms and Israel- Yeman and Terrorism

There has been very little News from Israel this past week. Most of the Israeli news broadcasts were devoted to covering either, the American elections, the attempted package bombing or the resurgence of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

There has been extensive coverage of the American elections. The coverage has been reasonably realistic, with most Israelis commentators realizing that the elections will have very limited influence on the Middle East peace process. Clearly President Obama has suffered a significant set-back domestically. However, considering how ineffectual the administration has been so far in attempting to promote the Mid-East peace process, it is hard to see what difference this set back will make. For those who are afraid of US pressure on Israel, they now have a little less to be worried about. A divided Congress, can be used to decrease any US pressure, in the short term. However, I would not want to bet Israel’s future on Obama losing re-election in 2012. In the meantime, the Arab League deadline is only a few days away. Netanyahu will be coming to the US for the annual meeting of the General Assembly of the Federations this weekend, taking place this year in New Orleans. President Obama will be in the Far East, so Netanyahu will meet with Vice President Biden. What proposals he is bringing, if any, he has kept very close to his vest.

The recent attempt to bring down airliners with package bombs has once again reinforced the realization that there is a very real threat out there. While the US has been fighting in far off Afghanistan, Al Qaeda has established itself as a significant presence in Yemen, (the scene of one its first successes– the attack on the USS Cole.) Yemen is a far easier target for the US than Afghanistan. Yemen is physically closer, with a large coast, which makes it easy for sea-based US forces to attack. There is no snow, and overall, the terrain is mostly desert. So, remind me what are we doing in Afghanistan?....

The domestic news from Israel has mostly been about the confluence of the ecnomy and the state. There was a threatened strike of Public Service workers scheduled for Monday, but it was averted by the Treasury giving in to much of the workers' demands. The Treasury had offered an alternative wage increase, instead of a 6% increase over three year that it ultimately gave, it offered a fixed amount raise to all workers, (which come in total to the same amount.) That offer would have of course helped the lower paid workers more than the higher paid worker, but the Histadrut turned it down. This just shows how far from its socialist roots the Histadrut has become.

Rabbi Elyashiv, the highest Ashkenazi Rabbinic authority made two interesting pronouncements this past week. First, he stated that someone who was not religious could no longer be considered a child. The meaning of this was that, until now, the Haredi community could excuse the behavior of secular Jews (being irreligious) by treating them like children. Rabbi Elyashiv now claims that since all Jews have seen the Haredi community, they can no longer claim that they do not know better. When he was asked that if those seen not wearing kippot should be assumed not to be Sabbath observers and treated accordingly, he stated: "It depends... if they are Ashkenazic, then yes, but if they are Sephardic, you need to check further.

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