Sunday, February 16, 2014

Israel Doesn't Need a President

The end of Shimon Peres's term in July would be an excellent opportunity to abolish the Israeli presidency. It's a largely ceremonial position that costs taxpayers a lot of money. Sure, almost all parliamentary democracies have a separate head of state, either a monarch (e.g., the UK and the Netherlands) or a president (e.g., Ireland and Italy), but just because it's a common practice doesn't mean every country has to follow the same model.

If it were up to me, I would have a three-member presidency. The prime minister, speaker of the Knesset, and the Chief Justice, the heads of the three branches of government, would be co-Heads of State. Some presidential duties would be shared by all three, like signing bills into law, while other duties would be divided between them. The prime minister would be in charge of the more executive aspects of the presidency, such as signing the credentials of Israeli diplomats and receiving the credentials of foreign ambassadors. The speaker of the Knesset would officially appoint the prime minister, comptroller and other positions elected by parliament. The Chief Justice could be in charge of pardons and commutations.

Of course, none of this will happen. Politicians like the idea of the presidency too much. Some of them dream of being elected to the position. For even more of them, having another office they have the power to elect, especially when it is the most prestigious one in the country, makes them feel all the more important.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Roger Cohen Sees the Real Goals of BDS

In an op-ed in the New York Times, Roger Cohen says what I've been saying all along about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement:

"I do not trust the B.D.S. movement. Its stated aim is to end the occupation, secure “full equality” for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and fight for the right of return of all Palestinian refugees. The first objective is essential to Israel’s future. The second is laudable. The third, combined with the second, equals the end of Israel as a Jewish state. This is the hidden agenda of B.D.S., its unacceptable subterfuge: beguile, disguise and suffocate."

Friday, January 03, 2014

Ariel Sharon Has Been Dead For 8 Years

On January 4, 2006, the almost 78 year old prime minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, suffered a debilitating stroke. He has been in a minimally conscious state ever since. Technically, it's better than being brain dead or in a permanent vegetative state, but for all intents and purposes, he has been dead for eight years. He now has gone into kidney failure and other bodily systems will shut down soon. One report on TV said he has no more than four days left.

Just like eight years ago, news crews are waiting outside his hospital room. Eight years ago, when he was still prime minister and it wasn't clear whether he would recover or not, the coverage was warranted, even if it suffered from the usual problems of having to fill airtime without having any new information. Now, however, the media vigil is odd. Reporting on his condition once a day would be more than enough.

It might be horrible to say, but once Sharon dies, it will be a great relief to his family. His sons lost their father in 2006, but got stuck in the limbo of minimal consciousness with him. Now they'll be able to bury him and move on.

Ariel Sharon would turn 86 in February. That's a ripe old age for anyone, let alone someone who has been kept alive artificially for so long.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Blogging New Years Resolution, 2014

I barely wrote anything on this blog this year. I used to post at least five times a month, and 2013 is ending with just five posts for the entire year. My resolution for 2014, which I can't promise to keep, is that I will blog much more often, maybe not as much as I used to, but still more than the last two years.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Bold 2014 Predictions

It's that time of the year when people make predictions about the coming year. I'll join in the fun, foreseeing the future on matters serious and silly alike.

  • As the roll-out of Obamacare progresses, most people will see that its positive aspects far outweigh its shortcomings. Despite this, Republicans will make gains in the election in November, strengthening their hold on the House of Representatives and gaining 2-3 Senate seats, which is not enough for a majority.
  • In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, violence will increase, but will not amount to a third Intifadah. 
  • In Israeli politics, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and her HaTnuah party will leave the coalition due to a lack of progress in negotiations with Palestinians and Netanyahu's evident disinterest in reaching any deal. Finance Minister Yair Lapid will threaten to do the same with his Yesh Atid party, but a lack of backbone coupled with the fear of losing half of their seats if an early election were to be called will lead to Lapid staying in the government. "Without us, the government would be even more extreme," would be their excuse.
  • The Syrian Civil War, which has already started spilling over to Lebanon, will lead to a new civil war in the small country. Both conflicts will have no end in sight by the end of the year.
  • At the Winter Olympics in Sochi, sports will be overshadowed by protests against the autocratic regime of Vladimir Putin, including, but not limited to, his persecution of gays. Russia will win the medal race, but who cares. Most people only consider Summer Games as "real Olympics".
  • The Soccer World Cup in Brazil will be won by the host country. It will be a South American final after Brazil defeats Germany in one semi-final and Argentina defeats the Netherlands in the other.
  • At the Oscars, Tom Hanks and Matthew McConaughey will compete against each other in two different categories: Supporting Actor ("Saving Mr. Banks" vs. "The Wolf of Wall Street") and Lead Actor ("Captain Phillips" vs. "Dallas Buyers Club"). However, they will lose to actors from "12 Years a Slave" - Best Supporting Actor Michael Fassbender and Best Lead Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor.