Bibi Netanyahu and the First Zionist Congress at 1897

Bibi Netanyahu was excellent Minister of Finance, who saved the Israeli economy from the fate of Argentinian economy. Too bad people do not recognize this fact and are angry with him due to cutbacks in handouts to poor people. They do not realize that if Netanyahu hadn’t cut back those handouts, those handouts would have suffered much more serious and less controlled cuts as the Israeli economy collapses.

Bibi Netanyahu was OK as Prime Minister.

However I am not happy with one thing which he failed to accomplish.
This failing is a reason why I and other people do not remember the exact date of the first Zionist Congress at 1897.

You see, Bibi Netanyahu was Prime Minister at 1997. However, he failed to arrange for celebrations to mark 100 years since the first Zionist Congress. The event could be used to explain to the world why Zionism was necessary given the status of the Jews in Europe and Russia at the time. Why Zionism is not as discriminatory as an affirmative action type movement. What problems Zionism set out to solve.

However, since the original Zionist ideology was different in details from Netanyahu’s ideology, budgetary excuses were invoked to avoid celebrating the event.

Ten years later, we have a chance to partially fix this oversight. At 2007, we can celebrate 110 years to the first Zionist Congress. Let’s start preparing for this.

Grassroots Leadership Crisis in Israeli Democracy

Recently I have been informed and/or been involved in three events. Each event is very different from the others, but there is a surprising and alarming common denominator among those events.

  • Eli Moyal, mayor of Sderot, told, in an interview publicized in Ma’ariv’s “Sofshavua” (Weekend) dated 16 Dec 2005, why he abolished the open door policy, which is the norm among mayors of Israeli development towns (which have lower average socioeconomic levels). He found that 99% of the people, who came to see him, came for three purposes: discount on the municipal tax (“arnona”) due from them, getting a job, and getting an apartment. He did not have the authority to grant any of those requests.
  • During the weeks before and during the General Assembly of Hamakor, it was evident that several people did not understand the proper roles of the governing board and the comptrollers. Some people wanted the governing board to take active role promoting various activities.

    They did not understand that Hamakor was originally founded in order to provide accounting and legal framework to people (“projectors”), who want to push their own Free Software related projects. The board itself should concern itself only with finding, nurturing and helping those projectors.

    Some of them even made proposals, which required enlarging the group of Hamakor officials, without ensuring first that there are enough volunteers to fill all the positions they proposed to create.

  • Today there was a dedication ceremony for the new Israeli Sign Language dictionary in a high school in Yahud. I attended the event and noticed that Deaf persons themselves did not lead the project or the ceremony. The dictionary was created by two hearing women (however one of them is CODA – child of deaf adults – and her mother tongue is Israeli Sign Language). All political speeches during the ceremony were by hearing persons. They at least took a Deaf woman to explain the audience how to use the dictionary software, and the concluding art program was by Deaf artists (drummers and dancers).

    If I compare this to the situation few years ago, when the Association of the Deaf in Israel (a wholly Deaf-run organization) led the fight for rights of the Deaf – I conclude that the Deaf community abdicated its leadership position. I believe that this was because of some poor decisions and infighting by some leaders of the Deaf community.

The common denominator I see among those events is the fact that training in the practices of leadership and democracy is not sufficiently ingrained in Israeli formal and informal educational establishments.

People do not understand that they should bother their mayors about waste disposal, traffic jams, schools and city planning rather than about their personal financial woes. Then they get corrupt mayors, who get elected because they obtain and give handouts to a group of supporters. For example, in Yeruham, there was a very good mayor. However he was ousted in elections because his electorate did not understand the proper division of responsibilities. The guy who replaced him botched his job, and now Yeruham is managed by an appointed committee, led by Amram Mitzna.

Discussions in Hamakor and several other nonprofits are full of comments by people, who are not familiar with the relevant Israeli law and expect the nonprofit leaders to accomplish miracles. People are not aware that if they want something to happen, they should move their asses and do something. They can only expect the organizations not to interfere with their endeavors (if the endeavors have worthy goals), and only sometimes to provide some help. But they themselves must be the movers and shakers.

The general situation in Israel has implications on the situation in the Deaf community. The Deaf community now finds itself in the uncomfortable position of being led by non-Deaf people, benevolent as they may be. The root cause for this sorry situation is lack of grassroots understanding of the political process and the responsibilities of each participant in the political process.

Alarming plans of Israeli political parties re: Internet usage

According to today’s Ma’ariv, the political parties are planning to make heavy use of the Internet. The arsenal of tools to be used will include interactive ads, viral distribution of E-mail messages, and even astrosurfing.

The alarming aspect of the plans is that even spam E-mail will not be ruled out.

I have the policy of boycotting any entity which spams me. However, if all political parties choose to stoop to spamming me, for which party will I vote? 🙁

Source: Ma’ariv’s Saturday Supplement, pg. 7, article by Nadav Eyal “Spam E-mail from _____” (the actual name was censored to prevent online defamation until proved guilty).

Ayn Rand turns over in her grave

According to The Business Experiment and The Wisdom of Crowds, the collective is smarter than the individual.

On the other hand, a condition for a collective to be smarter than its members is that its members think independently and are allowed to reach their conclusions independently. This condition was not met by historical collectives, in which one or few people dictated to the masses what and how to think.

Orange ribbons

The disengagement opponents finally hit upon a way to express their position, which is nevertheless a legitimate use of Freedom of Expression, and which does not arouse the ire of neutral third side parties.

They tie orange ribbons to the antennae in their cars if they are anti-disengagement, leaving blue-white or green ribbons to supporters of disengagement.

On Friday I drove to Jerusalem and back. There were several cars with orange ribbons, as well as youths standing in road junctions ready to give an orange ribbon to any car driver who shows the slightest interest in having one.

On Saturday afternoon, I drove to Netanya. This time, the orange ribbons were conspicuous in their absence. I saw exactly ONE car with an orange ribbon.

My conclusion: there is high correlation between disengagement opposition and degree of Jewish religion observance, as Jewish religious people do not drive on Saturdays.

About opposition to the disengagement plan

Full disclosure: I am in favor of disengagement and movement of Jews from Gaza Strip to various areas in Israel.

Today I read in the newspaper about an ingenious public relations trick of the disengagement opponents. They sent to residents in north Tel Aviv an official-looking letter telling them that they must leave their homes and move elsewhere because it is planned to build underground train in place of their homes.

They reasoned that this would cause the recipients to feel the pain of being forced to move elsewhere.

The official response to the trick was angry one, but I think that this time the disengagement opponents did the right thing. They made a point, and their point had better been taken into consideration when arguing about the disengagement plan. Except for faster heartbeats, they did not interfere with the daily routine of the letter recipients. They made proper use of their Freedom of Expression.

They can make even better point, if they display their slogans (in quiet and non-interfering way) near cinemas which show the movie “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy”.

Memorial event for IDF and terror casualties in Tel Aviv

On Tuesday evening, I attended the memorial event for IDF and terror casualties, which was held in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv.
The event consisted of introductory words, appearances by singers, some music, speeches (by the mayor of Tel Aviv and the top man of IDF) and some video clips consisting of interviews with bereaved family members.

This was the first time such an event was fully accessible to me as a deaf. There was a Sign Language interpreter. We had two rows of chairs reserved for the deaf near the position of the interpreter. The video clips were fully subtitled (!).

Kudos to the organizers, who made the event accessible to the Israeli deaf and allowed them to share the grief with the other Israelis.

Civil empowerment in Israel?

Where is the Israeli Ralph Nader?

After Yom Kippur War in 1973, there were civil protest movements, which eventually caused Golda Meir to resign from her post as the Israeli Prime Minister. However, there were no organizations which lasted for long time and which addressed a spectrum of issues, like Nader’s creations.

The longest surviving organization of protesting citizens, “Peace Now”, dealt with Mideast political issues, rather than with consumer or civil issues.