Showing posts from February, 2013

Who is a refugee?

Who is a refugee?  It might seem straight forward but it isn't.
If I lost my house in a financial crisis and moved abroad with nothing but a couple of suitcases, am I a refugee? I suppose you need to be persecuted because of your sexuality, politics or ethnicity but what does it mean to be persecuted?

Were Jews who left the USSR in the 'Seventies (and allowed to take only two suitcases) persecuted? If they were persecuted for being Zionists, couldn't they have chosen not to be Zionists?
Are refugees people who are forced to leave their countries? But if they are persecuted for being Zionists and then leave willingly to a country that adopts them, then are they still refugees?  Were they refugees when they arrived?
What about the Palestinians, who having arrived as refugees, were persecuted by their host countries in order to force them to maintain their refugee status. Are they now refugees because of 1948 or because of their treatment by their Arab hosts?

Perhaps a refuge…

Did Ben Zygier expose Israeli networks in Iran?

Do you remember how Iranian scientists kept getting murdered? Have you noticed that it has stopped?  You may also recall how the Iranians announced that they had caught the networks and put people on trial. They were all Iranians, supposedly recruited by Mossad. The Iranians accused the Israelis and desperately kept trying to kill Israeli tourists around the world.
Time Magazine reported two days ago that the Western Spy agencies say the Iranian story about catching the assassin networks are reliable.  The timing of the Time story, just as Ben Zygier was hitting the headlines strikes me as something which could be more than a coincidence.
Having said that, Zygier was arrested in 2010 and the last Israeli assassination was in January 2012.  The Iranians claimed to have wrapped up the network in June 2012. The Iranians aren't the only ones to have wrapped up some Israeli networks in recent years.  Hezbollah has also had some successes, though reports I read suggested they did it by …

Political party funding in Israel and how it encourages splinter groups

Israeli political parties are state funded. The way it works is that parties receive funds according to the number of seats they hold in the Knesset and are subject to legal restrictions on how much they can spend in election campaigns. They are allowed only limited non-state funding sources, which are small private contributions and membership dues and there is a ban on anonymous contributions, contributions by people who are ineligible to vote or public associations.
 Any party which wins more than 1% of the vote is entitled to a refund of some of its election expenses (2% of the vote are required for a seat in the Knesset).
New parties that register for an election can use some financing sources that are not available to existing parties but are still subject to many of the restrictions.  TV time is allocated on the basis of 25 minutes for every party running in the election + 6 additional minutes for every MK in the outgoing Knesset.

If a party with Knesset seats splits, the spli…

I voted Labour in Israel's 2013 election and felt like a fool.

I voted Labour in the last Israeli elections, but I did so with a certain amount of dread. In 2009 I voted Labour and half the 13 members of Knesset subsequently decamped to a new party and sat in Netanyahu's government. You might say that half my ballot went to the Likud and half to Labour.  Not what I intended.
Most outrageously, the group that left included the party chairman, Ehud Barak.
I no longer remember who I voted for in 2006, but it may well have been Labour.  The party took 19 seats, led by the Sephardi union organizer Amir Peretz, who inspired hope that Labour would focus on social issues. Unfortunately he was offered the Defence Ministry by Olmert and his greed for power led him to take an office for which he was manifestly unsuited, followed by entry into a war for which he lacked appropriate experience. That and a photo of him looking through binoculars which still had their lens covers on, finished his career. Peretz also chose to leave the party, joining (former …