Noa, Pazit, Keren and Shani are wanting to be glamorous like “Sex and the City “, but the problem is that there is not too much sex, they buy clothes from “Botik Dina” and spend their free time with their children in the neighborhood playground.
They deal with the problems that Carrie Bradshaw had never heard of: how to overcome sleepless nights because of the baby? What to do with a child that is telling terrible lies at the kindergarten? Does magnifying mirror that shows pores can become an addiction? or what to do with a guy on a date who refuses to take out his wallet?
Below are the annual Memorial Day ceremonies broadcast and special shows for this day:
MEMORIAL DAY CANDLE LIGHTING CEREMONY – LIVE
Europe: tonight at 19:00 CET
U.S.: Today at 1pm PST EST/10AM
(Additional U.S. broadcast after the main news)
SINGING IN THE SQUARE – LIVE
Europe: tonight at 20:00 CET
U.S.: Today at 14PM PST EST/11AM
(Additional broadcast at 10:10 PM EST / 7:10 PM PST)
7 DAYS IN THE DARKNESS
The story of four soldiers that were stationed on the Hermon post during the Yom Kippur War, who hid in dark tunnels deep in the ground for seven days, while the Syrians army soldiers overtook their post, and when most of their friends have been killed or taken prisoners
Europe: tonight at 22:45 CET
U.S.: tonight at 9:30 PM EST / 6:30 PM PST
MEMORIAL DAY CEREMONY FROM MOUNT HERTZL – LIVE
Europe: tomorrow, Monday, at 09:55 CET
U.S.: tomorrow, Monday, at 3:55 AM EST/00: 55AM PST
HOSTILITIES VICTIMS MEMORIAL CEREMONY – LIVE
Europe: Tomorrow, Monday, 11:55 CET
U.S.: Tomorrow, Monday, 5:55 AM EST / 2:55 AM PST
INDEPENDENCE DAY CEREMONY – LIVE
Europe: tomorrow, Monday, at 18:50 CET
U.S.: tomorrow, Monday, at 12:50 AM EST / 9:50 AM PST
(Additional broadcast after the main news will be broadcast two beaches at 7pm EST/4PM PST)
When U.S. President Barak Obama arrives in Israel on Wednesday for a three-day trip to the Holy Land (and his first visit as president), he will face an increasingly-complex political situation in the Middle East.
A new government was sworn in on Monday and is committed to varying changes in the status-quo on issues including the economy, the system of government, and the participation of ultra-Orthodox haredim in the IDF and national service. The rumblings of a third Intifada may be starting in the West Bank. Syria is in the midst of a civil war. Iran is making continued progress towards having a nuclear weapon.
Obama is looking to make progress on the peace process, and he is planning to make his case directly to the Israeli people. The president’s efforts will be interesting since, perhaps paradoxically, 62 percent of Americans sympathize with Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but 70 percent do not want the United States to take an active role in the negotiations. Meanwhile, Palestinians are protesting over a lack of 3G smartphone access as well as over Obama’s visit to the disputed territories, the Palestinian prisoners currently on a hunger strike, and Israeli construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
When the leader of the free world lands in Israel, the entire world pays attention. (Israeli police have opened a “situation room” and life in Jerusalem will be seriously affected for residents there.) While Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, has stated that Obama’s trip signals the president’s close ties with the Jewish state, the reasons for every step Obama takes – and those for not visiting other places – will be interpreted and analyzed many times over.
Of course, we at The Israeli Network do not take sides on specific political issues. Our goal is to present the best of Israeli TV – from news to entertainment to sports to religious programs – for those outside the country. So, in that context, we are presenting a general list of the Obama’s scheduled actions (courtesy of the Times of Israel).
Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will greet Obama. The two presidents will inspect an Israeli honor guard, and then Obama will make a short speech before visiting an Iron Dome battery at Ben-Gurion Airport and then travelling to Jerusalem.
In Jerusalem, Obama will go to the president’s residence and then have diplomatic meetings with Peres on issues including Iran, Syria, the peace process, and relations between Israel and the United States. Then, Obama will travel to the prime minister’s residence for more diplomatic talks. Obama will present Netanyahu with a gift of a nanochip on a piece of Jerusalem stone containing the U.S. and Israeli declarations of independence. Later, the two will hold a joint press conference before having a working dinner.
On this day, Obama will visit the Israel Museum to see the Dead Sea Scrolls and the “Israeli Technology for a Better World” before chatting with a few Israeli high-tech visionaries.
The president will then travel to Ramallah for a working lunch and press conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and then meet PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad and speak with younger Palestinians at the Al-Bireh Youth Center. After returning to Jerusalem, Obama will give a major speech to the Israeli people from the International Convention Center. Then, he will meet again with Peres and Netanyahu, and the Israeli president will give Obama the Presidential Medal of Distinction (Israel’s highest civilian award).
Obama will visit Mount Herzl and lay a wreath at the graves of Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, and Yitzhak Rabin, the assassinated former prime minister. The U.S. president will then go to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and lay a wreath there as well. Next, he will visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Obama will then return to Ben-Gurion Airport, where Peres will host a small farewell ceremony before the U.S. departs Israel for a brief visit with King Abdullah in Jordan.
Live Broadcasts on The Israeli Network – Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
When the world saw the initial election results in Israel, everyone probably thought the same thing: Benjamin Netanyahu will remain prime minister, but he will be weaker.
Most likely, that will be true. The joint Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu list garnered thirty-one seats in this election, but the two separate parties together had forty-two in the prior Knesset. Since a governing coalition needs enough parties to have at least a sixty-one seat majority, Netanyahu will need to assemble a coalition. (For more background, see our prior post on how Israeli elections work and what each party believes.)
This time, there are now many possibilities for various types of coalition governments (see our biographical backgrounds on each party leader), so Netanyahu will have many difficult choices to make. Israeli elections are never boring!
The number of seats gained or list by each party in the election:
Center-right Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu and centrist Kadima collectively lost thirty seats. Many of Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu’s seats went to the right-wing Jewish Home, and Kadima’s former seats were likely split between new centrist party Yesh Atid and center-left Labor.
While many people outside of Israel think of the country’s politics only in terms of the Palestinians, Iran, and terrorism, there are always other issues at play. As Herb Keinon notes in The Jerusalem Post on the leaders of the three parties that gained seats:
No, these three candidates ran primarily on domestic matters: [Yair] Lapid [of Yesh Atid] on a more equitable distribution of the army and tax burdens; [Shelly] Yacimovich [of Labor] on creating a more affordable state; and [Naftali] Bennett [of Jewish Home] both on the cost-of-living issue and on inculcating the country with Jewish and Zionist values.
So-called “bread-and-butter” issues decided this election rather than war-and-peace ones. Now, Netanyahu must decide whether Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu will partner with centrist parties or again join with right-wing and ultra-Orthodox ones as in the prior government (or do some combination of the two options).
Regardless, it is very likely that Netanyahu will have to join with Yesh Atid, the new party with the surprising second-place showing that is headed by former Channel 2 news anchor Yair Lapid, to form a stable majority – and that was the biggest shock of the election since Yesh Atid had only polled at thirteen seats in the last official survey. Now, Lapid will have a large say in what parties are included in the next government – and under what conditions. Some rumors are floating that the telegenic former anchorman may even become foreign minister.
As a result, Lapid’s domestic issues including equality in military service and taxation will likely be addressed – for better or worse – by the next government. Still, only time will tell.
Silvester or Sylvester (also spelled szilveszter, sylvester or sylwester) is the day of the Feast of Pope Sylvester I, a saint who served as Pope of the Roman Catholic Church from 314 to 335 and oversaw both the First Council of Nicaea and Roman Emperor Constantine I’s conversion to Christianity. The feast day is held on the anniversary of Sylvester’s death, 31 December, a date that, since the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, has coincided with New Year’s Eve.
As a result, many Europeans call New Year’s Eve “Sylvester.” When European Jews started to emigrate to the Land of Israel starting in the nineteenth century, the new year in their new country was, of course, Rosh Hashanah. But they still wanted to mark the changing of the secular year as in their old countries, so they continued to celebrate “Sylvester.”
Over time, the practice grew in popularity – especially after the aliyah in the 1990s from the former Soviet Union, where Christmas was banned and everyone celebrated Sylvester instead – to the extent that Sylvester parties are now held in many bars, clubs, restaurants, and peoples’ homes each year. As more and more Israelis consume American and European popular culture, they have also become more familiar with other holidays such as Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.
The year before the Council of Nicaea convened, Sylvester convinced Constantine to prohibit Jews from living in Jerusalem. At the Council of Nicaea, Sylvester arranged for the passage of a host of viciously anti-Semitic legislation. All Catholic “Saints” are awarded a day on which Christians celebrate and pay tribute to that Saint’s memory. December 31 is Saint Sylvester Day – hence celebrations on the night of December 31 are dedicated to Sylvester’s memory.
Over the following centuries, the New Year reportedly brought much anti-Semitic activity:
On New Year’s Day 1577 Pope Gregory XIII decreed that all Roman Jews, under pain of death, must listen attentively to the compulsory Catholic conversion sermon given in Roman synagogues after Friday night services. On New Year’s Day 1578 Gregory signed into law a tax forcing Jews to pay for the support of a “House of Conversion” to convert Jews to Christianity. On New Year’s 1581 Gregory ordered his troops to confiscate all sacred literature from the Roman Jewish community. Thousands of Jews were murdered in the campaign.
Throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods, January 1 – supposedly the day on which Jesus’ circumcision initiated the reign of Christianity and the death of Judaism – was reserved for anti-Jewish activities: synagogue and book burnings, public tortures, and simple murder.
So, whether one celebrates Sylvester is up to the individual Israeli. In fact, if you ask Israelis why they celebrate Sylvester, they’ll most likely shrug and reply, “Life is hard here – we’ll take any excuse to party!”
If you are in Israel, though, make sure you do not party too hard – since Sylvester is not an official holiday and January 1 is just a regular day, you’ll have to go to work or class!
In our prior post, we described Israel’s electoral process and the beliefs held by the parties that are competing for seats in the Knesset (the parliament). Since the leader of the party with the most seats in the resulting coalition will become the next prime minister, we wanted to provide the biographies of the leaders in this part of our electoral guide.
Of course, we do not endorse any party or support any specific political position. We are just here to provide information on the January 22 election. We will again begin with the current prime minister – Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud – and then go in descending order based on the number of seats the parties held in the recently-dissolved Knesset.
Note: The final three are leaders of brand-new parties, and two sets of individual parties have merged to form two larger ones in this election as described below.
Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman (Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu) – Netanyahu, 63, is the current prime minister, minister of health, minister of pension affairs, and minister of economic strategy. Born in Tel Aviv, he lived and attended high school in Pennsylvania. Netanyahu was a team leader in a special-forces unit of the military. He studied architecture at MIT and political science at Harvard University and then worked at the Boston Consulting Group. Before his current position in the government, Netanyahu has held positions including U.N. ambassador, minister of foreign affairs, and minister of finance.
Avigdor Lieberman, 54, is the current minister of foreign affairs and a deputy prime minister. He was born in Moldova in the former Soviet Union and moved to Israel in 1978, living in Beersheva. After serving in the Artillery Corps, he studied international relations and political science at Hebrew University. Later, he was director-general of first the Likud Party and then the prime minister’s office under Netanyahu from 1993 to 1997. Lieberman left the Likud after negotiations with the Palestinian Authority began. He has also served as minister of strategic affairs and minister of transportation.
The two leaders merged their parties to form a single list of Knesset candidates in this election.
Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) – Mofaz, 64, had been vice prime minister briefly in Netanyahu’s government earlier this year. He was born in Iran and moved to Israel in 1957, after which he served in the Paratroopers Brigade during the Six Day War and Yom Kippur War. In the 1982 Lebanon War, he was an infantry brigade commander. Mofaz later attended the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College and then became brigadier general, commander of the IDF forces in the West Bank, and then chief of the IDF general staff. In prior governments, he has also been minister of defense and minister of transportation.
Shelly Yachimovich (Labor) – Yachimovich, 52, was born in Kfar Saba to Holocaust survivors who had come from Poland. She studied behavioral science at Ben-Gurion University and then was a correspondent for the Al HaMishmar newspaper, an anchor for the radio station Reshet Bet, and a political talk-show host on Channel 2. Yachimovich left journalism and entered politics in 2005. She was the leader of the opposition in the Knesset while Kadima and Mofaz were briefly part of Netanyahu’s government earlier this year.
Eli Yishai (Shas) – Yishai, 49, is currently a deputy prime minister and minister of internal affairs. He has also been minister of industry, trade, and labor as well as minister of labor and social welfare. Born in Jerusalem of Tunisian descent, he was a member of the city council from 1987 to 1988 and was first elected to the Knesset in 1996.
Ehud Barak (Independence) – Barak, 70, is currently minister of defense after having been prime minister from 1999 to 2001 as well as minister of foreign affairs and chief of the IDF general staff. During his military service, he commanded a tank regiment during the Yom Kippur War and later ran the Military Intelligence Directorate and then Central Command. Yitzhak Rabin appointed Barak minister of internal affairs in 1995, and then Shimon Peres made him minister of foreign affairs. Barak left the Labor Party last year after the party had threatened to force him to leave Netanyahu’s government.
Barak recently announced that he is retiring from politics after the election, and it is not clear if his party will continue.
Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) – Litzman, 64, was born in 1948 in a refugee camp in Germany to Polish survivors of the Holocaust. His family moved to New York when he was two. At 17, Litzman moved to Jerusalem and his first job was as principal of the Hasidic Beis Yaakov girls’ school. He became close to the Gerrer Rebbe, Rabbi Simcha Binem Alter, who encouraged him to run for the Knesset in 1999. Litzman is deputy minister of health in the current government as well as a former chairman of the Knesset’s Finance Committee and deputy chairman of the Labor and Welfare Committee.
Ya’akov Katz and Naftali Bennett (National Union-Jewish Home) – Katz, 61, is executive director of the Beit El yeshiva and the radio station and website Arutz Sheva. Born in Jerusalem, he graduated from the Bnei Akiva Yeshiva High School and studied at Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav. During his military service, he led a commando unit and was severely wounded. He was a founding member of the Beit El settlement and was an assistant to Ariel Sharon when he was minister of housing and development.
Bennett, 40, is a businessman who was founder and CEO of the anti-fraud software company Cyota and also has a law degree from Hebrew University. During his military service, he was in the elite Sayeret Matkal and Maglan units and is currently a major in the reserves. Bennett was chief of staff for Netanyahu from 2006 to 2008. He was director general of the Yesha Council, which fought against the settlement freeze in 2010.
The two leaders merged their parties to form a single list of Knesset candidates in this election.
Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) – Gal-On, 56, was born in Lithuania and moved to Israel at the age of four. She has a M.A. from Hebrew University. Gal-On was general secretary of the B’Tselem publication “Politika” and is a member of Meretz’s general directorate. After being elected to the Knesset in 1999, she was chair of the committee that fights the trafficking of women and a member of the law and constitution committee. Gal-On lost a leadership election to Haim Oron in 2007 but was elected leader later after he retired.
Tzipi Livni (Hatnuah) – Livni, 54, was minister of foreign affairs and minister of justice under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and minister of agriculture, immigrant absorption, and housing and construction under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. She was a lieutenant in the IDF and also served in the Mossad. Livni has a law degree from Bar-Ilan University. She was a Likud member but left to join Kadima when Sharon formed the party in support of the disengagement from the Gaza Strip. Livni later lost a Kadima leadership election to Mofaz and then resigned before forming a new political party.
Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) – Lapid, 49, is a former journalist and TV presenter who entered politics earlier this year and formed his own political party. The son of journalist and politician Yosef “Tommy” Lapid and author Shulamit Lapid, he was a military correspondent for an IDF’s weekly magazine during his service. Later, he wrote for Ma’ariv, edited the local Tel Aviv newspaper, and had a weekly column at Ma’ariv and then Yedioth Ahronoth. In 1994, he moved to Channel 2 and most recently hosted the Friday evening news-magazine program.
Haim Amsalem (Am Shalem) – Amsalem, 53, was born in Algeria and lived in France until the age of 11. His family moved to Israel in 1970. Amsalem graduated from the Kisseh Rahamim Yeshiva and was ordained a rabbi in 1980. In 1993, he was appointed as a city rabbi by the Chief Rabbinate. Amsalem has a neighborhood rabbi in Netivot, head of the Ohalei Yaakov ve Tifereth Israel Yeshiva, head of the Baba Sali kollel, and then rabbi of the Sephardi community in Geneva before returning to Israel and entering the Knesset.
All of the party leaders have diverse backgrounds, and you can read about the beliefs of the various parties in our prior post here. January 22 will prove to be a very interesting Election Day in Israel!
When people vote in the United States like they just did on Election Day, they pull a lever or put a mark on a ballot next to the name of a candidate. In Israel, you take a piece of paper with the name of a party and put it into a locked box at your local voting location. And that’s not the only difference.
The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, has 120 seats – and each political party in an election gets a percentage of seats based on its percentage of the national vote (as long as it receives at least two percent of that vote). Each party creates a list of 120 candidates, and the top X names receive a seat when the party gets X seats. (If Likud, for example, receives twenty seats, the top twenty people become members of Parliament.)
Unlike the United States, which has only two major political parties, Israel has many. No single party ever gains close to a majority in the Knesset – so coalitions must be formed to form a government. The current government, for example, is comprised of Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, Independence, Shas, Jewish Home, and United Torah Judaism (see below). As a result, the entire political process is complicated – everything from the placement of one’s name on a party list to the concessions made to get a party into a coalition leads to much negotiation and brokered deals.
To help to understand the stakes in Israel’s 2013 election on January 22, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called after reportedly being unable to pass next year’s budget, we have comprised a brief guide to all of the parties that are expected to participate. As always, we take no stance on political and controversial issues – our goal here is to describe each party accurately and objectively. The parties are listed first by the one currently leading the government and then in descending order based on the number of seats held in the recently-dissolved Knesset.
The Parties in the Prior Knesset
Likud – The major center-right political party currently headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The party officially views the entire Jordan River as the eastern border of Israel and supports settlements, but Likud-led governments have negotiated with the Palestinian Authority on issues including statehood and settlements. The party also supports capitalist, free-market economic policy. Likud prime ministers have included Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, and Ariel Sharon. Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu (see below) recently merged their parties into a single organization and list.
Kadima – The centrist party founded by former prime minister Ariel Sharon after he had left Likud. The current leader is former Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz, who had defeated former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in the leadership elections. The party was formed by former Likud members in 2005 in support of Sharon’s Gaza disengagement plan. Kadima supports a two-state solution in which Jerusalem and large settlement blocks would remain under Israeli control. Kadima prime ministers have included Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert, and Tzipi Livni.
Yisrael Beiteinu – A secular, nationalist, right-wing party currently headed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The party’s base had been Russian-speaking immigrants in the past. The party supports a two-state solution and wants to redraw borders so that parts of Israel with large Arab populations would be in a Palestinian state. Yisrael Beiteinu also wants to moderate the power of the Chief Rabbinate and make the marriage process easier for secular Israelis.
Labor – The major center-left party and one of the oldest in the country, now headed by Shelly Yachimovich. The party was hawkish and socialist in the past but is now considered more centrist in economic and military policy. Labor prime ministers have included Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Ehud Barak.
Shas – A haredi (ultra-Orthodox) party for Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews that is collective headed by Eli Yishai, Aryeh Deri, and Ariel Atias along with spiritual head Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. The party supports the economic interests of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews, who traditionally have higher rates of poverty in Israel, and wants a state run by Jewish law. Shas opposes any decrease in West Bank settlement activity.
Independence – Former prime minister (and current defense minister) Ehud Barak’s party, which he formed after leaving Labor as a result of internal party politics and his view that the party had become too dovish on defense issues. Independence aims to be “centrist, Zionist, and democratic.”
United Torah Judaism – A haredi (ultra-Orthodox) party for Ashkenazi Jews headed by Yaakov Litzman and Moshe Gafni. The party wants to maintain the status quo on issues of religion and state and has no stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Jewish Home-National Union – The two religious-Zionist, right wing parties combined to form a single list headed by Ya’akov Katz and Naftali Bennett. The two parties oppose the Oslo Peace Accords, support settlements everywhere in the West Bank, and want what they call a “Torah-constituted, multi-ethnic, multi-diverse, thenomic, democratic, Jewish state.”
Meretz – A secular, left-wing party headed by Zehava Gal-On. The party wants a two-state solution and the removal of most West Bank settlements as well as a separation of religion and state, a social-democratic economic system, and what they call “social justice” for members of minority groups.
Two New Parties
Yesh Atid – The new party, created by former journalist and Channel 2 anchor Yair Lapid, wants to help the middle class and revamp much of the country by changing the system of government, making military service universal, having all schools teach the same curriculum, and creating a constitution. The party wants “two states for two peoples” and would keep large settlement blocs.
Am Shalem – A moderate haredi party headed by Haim Amsalem (who was ostracized by much of the ultra-Orthodox world) that aims to get more haredi Jews into the workforce and military while increasing their integration into general society.
Vote Like a Pirate?
Many Israelis, just like many people elsewhere, are disillusioned by politics. So, in some elections, more than a few Israelis vote for a random party that is unlikely to gain any seats as a “protest” against a political system that they think is corrupt and never does anything to help everyday people. In the 2006 election, that party was Gil – which advocates for retired and elderly Israelis. With the help from the protest vote (particularly from young people), the party gained seven seats and a ministry in the government.
This year, that protest party may be the Pirate Party, an international organization that supports civil rights, direct democracy, free education, copyright reform, and information privacy. Only time will tell how many seats they, just like the other parties, may get!