New Year, New Happenings in Israel
Guest Column

New Year, New Happenings in Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fortunate that the Iranian uprising is transpiring now.

Rabbi David Geffen

Rabbi David Geffen is a native Atlantan and Conservative rabbi who lives in Jerusalem.

Finally, winter has come — cold, rain, flooding, snow — and it all began Jan. 1. Someone was watching over us.

Although the police had announced that the results of the Netanyahu investigation would be forthcoming in January, now the spokesman says the findings will not come until February.

Some Israelis are very passionate about the allegations of corruption. On Dec. 30, about 10,000 Israelis demonstrated in the streets of Tel Aviv.

None of my family has been out there. Most of them are not happy with what is transpiring with the government, but they are not into public actions.

I am proud that they do civilly discuss the topic readily. I am surprised that some of my cousins who were liberal when they grew up in the United States are now quite far to the right. Each person must have the opinions that satisfy himself or herself.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fortunate that the Iranian uprising is transpiring now.

Because he is accused of fomenting street protests in Iran, he can speak in English to the world to deny any accusations and criticize the Iranian government, pointing out its terrible shortcomings.

Iranians are protesting because of small salaries, a shortage of food, an inability to purchase housing — sometimes even to eat. Part of the essence of the demonstrations is that the people are aware of how much money is being spent on armaments. As it turns out, the weaponry used in a recent Hamas attack on Israel was made in Iran.

In the wee hours of the morning at the start of the month, at least two notable laws were pushed through the Knesset by the governing coalition. One raised the number of Knesset members needed to vote in favor of any division of Jerusalem to 80, a two-thirds majority.

The bill is touted as a breakthrough, but all the newspapers reported about the big loophole in the legislation: A clause permits the Arab villages just outside Jerusalem to be given away with just a majority vote.

I do not understand everything, but the newspapers and TV are reporting that the bill missed the boat because it was rushed through so quickly.

The second bill appears to have more meaning — not spiritual.

The problem in Israeli elections is that the government provides a certain amount of money to each party based on its Knesset members. Of course, that is not sufficient, so private fundraising is done, making legislators beholden to those who give them money.

The new legislation forbids private fundraising and says the government will cover all the election expenses of each party running. The analysis of this bill has just begun.

The rush to finish the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv fast train is on. By Pesach it probably will begin running. The hoopla caused by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz about building a line to the Kotel off the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv line and naming the station for Donald Trump was only Katz’s way of getting his name in the papers.

In 1907 there was talk about building a light railway line in Jerusalem with a stop at the Kotel. There was no suggestion that the station be named for Teddy Roosevelt.

Rabbi David Geffen is a former Atlantan and longtime Israeli.

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