-- May 1, 2012- Livni Exits, Lapid Enters- State Controller Report

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Israel Update
A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

May 1, 2012- Livni Exits, Lapid Enters- State Controller Report

Today was a big day in Israeli politics. On one side of the coin, Tzpi Livni, the former Foreign Minister and head of the Kadima party, resigned from the Knesset. That decision was preordained from the moment she lost the Kadima primary battle with Shaul Mofaz. She could not stay in a party led by a man that she clearly cannot stand, and for whom she has no respect. Unfortunately for her, she failed to connect with the people during last summer's social protest movement. While at the same time, the Labor Party's newly elected head, Shelly Yachmovich, turned the party back to its social economic roots. With Mofaz as its leader Kadima is already floundering, as I expected. He is a colorless leader, with no natural leadership qualities. I expect the Kadima party will totally implode, and have almost no presence after the election.

On the other side of the coin, today was the first official conference of the "Yesh Atid" (There is a future) party of Yair Lapid. It was the party's first public gathering, held two days after the party's registration became official. Lapid decided to devote the first meeting to a plan he presented for the drafting of Haredim and Arabs, either into the army, or for civil service. I have not seen enough details of the program at the moment to comment. There is no question that Lapid is charismatic and he will be a force in this election. With the Israeli electorate so much in flux, anything is possible.

Today was also the day that the State Controller released his annual report. The report is 1,800 pages long and criticizes a whole host of areas. I hope to get an actual copy of the report. However, in the meantime, one area covered in the report that has received some publicity, and is very troubling, is the actions of the Army Rabbis. According to the report instead of dealing solely with issues such as: Kashrut at army bases, they have become an active Kiruv organization. So much so, that when units want to have retreats the Rabbanut of the Army (with the help of American donor organizations) is able to organize free or nominal cost weekends for units. The traditional organizers of these events (e.g. the Army Education Corp) are unable to compete.

Any one want to start an American Friends of the Education Corps... to help fund alternative retreat opportunities for Israeli soldiers?

Today was May Day. In the past the country would have stopped, until tonight one could not have guessed it was May Day just a normal day here. Tonight however there was a May Day Parade.

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