Life is Belief & Struggle - Ahmed Shawqi

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Jenny Craig – Hamas needs you.

No one, and I do mean no one,  does ‘refugee’ like the Palestinians. I stand literally in awe….

Dateline:  March 22, 2007 The Electronic Intifada

RAMALLAH, 22 March 2007 (IRIN) - One-third of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are food insecure, according to a report by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

About 34 percent of Palestinians cannot afford a balanced meal and another 12 percent are at risk of reaching this state, the organisations found in a Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Assessment published this month. Most affected is the Gaza Strip, where 51 percent of the population suffers from food insecurity.

“The poorest families are now living a meagre existence totally reliant on assistance, with no electricity or heating and eating food prepared with water from bad sources,” according to a statement by Arnold Vercken, the WFP country director for the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt). But an Israeli spokesperson said Palestinian authorities should take more responsibility.

Dateline: February 20, 2009  -  The Electronic Intifada

GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IRIN) - Thousands of food-insecure Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are facing an even worse situation after large numbers of livestock and agricultural land were badly damaged or destroyed during Israel’s military assault, which began on 27 December.

The already fragile food situation in Gaza has been seriously aggravated by the conflict, according to a report by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

Chicken and meat are now very costly or unavailable, while fresh fruit and vegetables will be unavailable by May due to destroyed crops, according to the World Food Programme (WFP) in Gaza.

An emergency operation was jointly approved by FAO and WFP in January to provide food to 365,000 worst-affected residents in Gaza, including social hardship cases, internally displaced people and farmers to 19 January 2010.

Dateline:  May 30, 2010 IRIN News Org

RAMALLAH, 30 May 2010 (IRIN) - The amount and quality of food available to the estimated 1.5 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip has been severely restricted by more than 1,000 days of a near-complete blockade, states a UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report.

“Sixty-one percent of the Gaza population is food insecure,” said Sarah Leppert, FAO’s communications adviser for the West Bank and Gaza Strip. “There is a diverse range of foods available in Gaza; the problem is people do not have the means to purchase the food due to rising poverty and unemployment, now nearly 39 percent.”

Israel's import and access restrictions continue to suffocate the agriculture sector in Gaza, directly contributing to rising food insecurity, said acting Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt), Philippe Lazzarini, in a joint statement with humanitarian aid agencies, and the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA), representing more than 80 NGOs on 25 May from Gaza.

Dateline: June 17, 2011 The Guardian:

In a rural area of the central Gaza Strip, Eyad Najjar plucks organic carrots from the sandy soil of his tiny farm. Najjar no longer uses fertilisers or pesticides for his plot, which also grows tomatoes, parsley, rocket, lettuce and spinach. Instead, a fishpond on the field's far edge delivers water rich in nutrients via drip irrigation.

Smiling, Najjar squeezes an almost-ripe fruit hanging from the branch of a lemon tree. "The onions and lemons are bigger and better," he says. But Najjar is not part of a hip, green revolution. In Gaza, organic agriculture has grown out of a concern for safe supplies of food. When Hamas took control in 2007, Israel imposed a crippling blockade. Not only were a number of foods blocked from entering, but stocks of pesticides and fertilisers also dried up. Israeli officials have said militants can use agricultural chemicals to make rockets. Food insecurity among Gaza's 1.6 million people rose, and 80% became reliant on food aid, according to the Word Food Programme. Najjar was one of them.

Dateline: June 3, 2014 UNRWA Press Release

Food insecurity in Palestine remains at very high levels, with a third of households – 33 percent or 1.6 million people – food insecure, according to the 2013 annual food security survey, a collaborative effort between the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and United Nations (UN) agencies in the food-security sector.

In Gaza, food-insecurity levels remained at 57 per cent, while in the West Bank, food insecurity remained at 19 per cent – both unchanged from 2012 levels. The high food-insecurity levels in 2012 and 2013 reversed the improvement that took place over the 2009-2011 period, when overall food insecurity in Palestine fell to 27 per cent.

Dateline March 25, 2014 Al-Monitor

Obesity has become prevalent in the Gaza Strip, as confirmed by the increasing demand on dietitians. Ata Qaisi, health care consultant and owner of Gaza City's Diet Center, said obesity can have negative repercussions on a person's life, making him or her more vulnerable to hypertension, diabetes and joint pain. Obese women are also more susceptible to pregnancy complications and miscarriages, according to Qaisi.

Qaisi told Al-Monitor that there is a large demand in Gaza for weight-loss programs. “The comfort is in the improvement of the figure and this is what we seek through our programs, which are supposed to be followed through diets and not only by relying on weight loss. When the person finds that the weight has been reduced and the shape has been improved, his or her entire life completely changes. This is how people find comfort in their hearts and minds,” he said.
Qaisi said that many Palestinians have consulted weight-loss centers, either in a bid to treat obesity or just to shed a few pounds ahead of a social event. Only five weight-loss centers can be found in the Gaza Strip, according to Qaisi. Statistics on the number of nutritionists in Gaza are unavailable.
Some people consume herbal supplements or take pills to lose weight in a short period of time, said Qaisi, yet this often results in complications and does not help individuals lose weight. Qaisi estimated that women represent 95% of weight-loss program clients. 

In the Gaza Strip, a high proportion of people suffer from obesity. “Only 18% to 25% of the Strip’s residents have a normal weight," he said. "The rest are suffering from obesity because of the nature of our life pattern, in addition to the unbalanced social lifestyle, bad eating habits, food traditions and dessert consumption.”

He added, “Such a large proportion is the result of common diseases such as diabetes, stress, cancer and rheumatism. If, for example, the proportion of patients with high blood pressure is 30% of the population, know that 97% of them are due to obesity and the rest are due to accidental causes.” 
Suhail al-Qishawi, an endocrinology and diabetes consultant, told Al-Monitor that obesity puts one at risk for Type 2 diabetes, as do other factors such as lack of exercise, age and genetics.
“Obesity is now classified as a disease that results in high blood pressure, because it is often associated with the pancreas producing less insulin due to the fat on the organ. This causes diabetes among obese persons. Patients with Type 2 diabetes in the Gaza Strip represent more than 95% of patients with diabetes in general, which means that around 95% of diabetes patients got it as a result of obesity,” he said.

Despite the deteriorating economic situation in the Gaza Strip, residents’ awareness of the danger of obesity has pushed many to seek out the services of weight-loss centers to help them overcome the disease.

Imagine being the first to bring Jenny Craig to the Gaza Strip...the possibilities are endless.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Progressivism; as a diagnosis

There is no sore loser like a progressive sore loser.  Of course, what would I know? I am a mezuzah kisser. 

Controversy over Amir Hetsroni’s comments has dominated Facebook and other online forums in Israel in recent days, after he made statements online after the election blaming the loss of the Zionist Union on Jews from the Muslim world and Asia. He also argued that if he could go back in time he would impose more stringent limits on immigration to Israel from such countries to prevent future Likud supporters from coming to Israel, adding that voting for the Right “is a sign of mental retardation.”

The controversy reached new height on Sunday however, after Hetsroni, who was dismissed by Ariel University in August 2014 for “inappropriate comments” because of statements he made on Facebook and elsewhere, was kicked off a morning show panel for offensive comments made about Sephardi and Mizrachi Jews. During the argument, a woman on the panel called Hetsroni a fascist, after which he said “all I said was that nothing bad would have happened if your parents had decided to stay in Morocco and rot there.” One of the show’s hosts, Yoav Limor, asked Hetsroni to apologize or leave, at which point he stood up and walked out.

As the controversy stormed on Sunday he vowed to leave Israel in the coming year. (Jpost)

Baruch HaShem to that, but really, since this is the ' Israeli leftwing' is it any wonder why the right took the vote?

Friday, March 20, 2015


Thomas Friedman wades into the Israeli post-election fray.

You cannot win that dirty and just walk away like nothing happened. In the days before Israelis went to the polls, Netanyahu was asked by the Israeli news site, NRG, if it was true that a Palestinian state would never be formed on his watch as prime minister, Netanyahu replied, “Indeed,” adding: “Anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state, anyone who is going to evacuate territories today, is simply giving a base for attacks to the radical Islam against Israel.”

This makes null and void his speech in June 2009 at Bar Ilan University, where Netanyahu had laid out a different “vision of peace,” saying: “In this small land of ours, two peoples live freely, side by side, in amity and mutual respect. Each will have its own flag, its own national anthem, its own government. Neither will threaten the security or survival of the other.” Provided the Palestinian state recognizes Israel’s Jewish character and accepts demilitarization, he added, “We will be ready in a future peace agreement to reach a solution where a demilitarized Palestinian state exists alongside the Jewish state.”

I do not actually see that it does contradiction Netanyahu’s Bar Ilan University speech.  Netanyahu was quite clear on his vision on what it took to make a two state solution possible. And as of today, the Palestinian Authority is in the midst of a full-scale meltdown in the West Bank. You probably don’t know that, only because it gets very little play in the world media. Dateline March 10, 2015:

The West Bank is witnessing unprecedented security tensions. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has been arresting Hamas activists and partisans of ex-Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan, and armed clashes between the youth and security officers have taken place.

Al-Monitor was able to secure a copy of the statement issued by one of Fatah’s organizational structures close to Dahlan, which read: “The PA arrested more than 20 supporters of Dahlan and attacked the offices of the Gaza members of parliament who live in the West Bank.”
During an interview with Al-Monitor, Hamas spokesman Hossam Badran called for “ending the PA’s violations and the political arrests targeting Hamas, among others. The PA is fighting each patriotic person and pursuing those who resist occupation.”

Maj. Gen. Adnan al-Damiri, spokesman for the PA’s security apparatus, accused Israel, Hamas and Dahlan on Feb. 16 of conspiring together to stir chaos in the West Bank by forming groups to end the PA’s presence and get rid of President Mahmoud Abbas. But what he described as “the Gaza coup” — meaning when Hamas took control of Gaza in mid-2007 — will not happen again, he said.

The security developments in the West Bank are not limited to a pursuit here and an arrest there. The PA is concerned about a local, regional and international scenario to turn Abbas’ page, given his multiple disputes with everyone, from Hamas to Dahlan and Israel. Fatah spokesman Osama al-Qawasmi said the PA seems to believe that these rivals might unite their interests temporarily to get rid of Abbas.

Abbas cannot be envied for the situation he's in. He is fighting along several fronts, be they internal, with Hamas and Dahlan, or external, with Israel. Perhaps if he had resorted to a strategy to solve crises instead of fueling them — by withholding the Hamas employees’ salaries, pursuing Dahlan’s supporters in the West Bank and freezing the latter’s money in the Gaza Strip — he would not have been under these threats, as his partisans call them.

Fatah and parliament member Alaa Yaghi, who's close to Dahlan, warned on Feb. 27 of the deterioration of the security situation in the West Bank if the PA’s security campaign persists. The situation will worsen, just like the incidents in Gaza that led to the division in 2007. He said the security campaigns in the West Bank are based on a conspiracy theory and on spreading rumors that a huge network is attempting to stage a coup against the PA.

In the same context, a high-ranking official who frequently visits the PA’s headquarters, told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity about “simmering deliberations between senior Palestinian officers against the backdrop of growing tensions in the West Bank. Some of the PA’s high commands are deeply concerned about the recent behavior of some senior officers with Abbas.”
In a phone interview from Ramallah, the official said: “Abbas received information stating that some high-level security officials are reporting to the US and Israel the details of the political steps he intends to take. Upon receiving these reports, the US and Israel warn him of the danger of taking such steps.”

However, Ismail al-Ashqar, Hamas leader and chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council's Security Committee, told Al-Monitor: “Abbas is to blame for the security chaos in the West Bank as it is in a state of loss and devastation. This could be a systematic sort of chaos that the PA is practicing to prevent Palestinians from defending themselves from the occupation’s soldiers.”
Go read the rest, but it just not the Al-Monitor reporting.

Mahmoud Abbas is an old man who is the midst of a bitter fight within Fatah for control that plays out on the West Bank streets. Once again, the Palestinian Authority threatens to end security cooperation withIsrael, but security cooperation is a two-way street.

 If the Palestinian Authority were to make good on their threats of ending security cooperation with Israel, it would not be Israel who paid the ultimate price. In fact, without Israeli intel warning Abbas of the continued plots against his rule, well, the Islamists would completely co-opt and control the Palestinian narrative, and that is the narrative the Israeli Prime Minister rejects being created on his door step.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Get out the Vote from jail or Israeli Prison turnout

New fun Israel election fact. Ynet News:

Voting closed at 8 pm on Tuesday at the Israel Prison Service with 81.74% of the 10,000 eligible citizens serving time in prison carrying out their right to vote.
I am not surprised prisoners can vote, we have been doing that for years in Canada, but what surprises me is that they cannot get a better turnout from the prisoner population.

Update:  I found a picture from today's vote in an unnamed Israeli prison at Jpost...Photo Credit: Ben Hartman


The Key to Heaven or why Israelis have the greatest election rules

Imagine have an election law specifically prohibiting the handing out of blessings, amulets or curses?

The keys to heavenly paradise are yours if you vote Shas. That at least is the message from beyond the grave of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the late, revered spiritual leader of the Shas party, which has appeared on cards being handed out to voters by party activists today.

The card bears on one side an image of a a golden key and on the other side the words a picture of Yosef with the phrase “The word of Maran [Yosef]: Whoever votes Shas goes to straight to the Garden of Eden.

Distributing amulets, promising blessings as a result of voting for a certain party or threatening curses for voting for the ‘wrong’ party or all forbidden by the Law for Knesset Elections.

An appeal against the distribution of the cards was upheld by the chairman of the Central Elections Committee Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran on Tuesday and the party was banned from handing them out. Shas has however however been using several other means to reach out to their potential voters to inform them of how Yosef would want them to vote.

A message sent out by SMS and WhatsApp to voters reads “Maran Rabbi Ovadia Yosef: I won’t forgive someone who does not vote Shas, not in this world and not in the world to come.”
Photo Credit: Kikar Hashabbat.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Israeli election primer or the anyone but Bibi election

Israel was founded as a socialist state, and even in 2015, it reminds, more or less, one. It is important to understand that ordinary Israelis are a long way from abandoning their socialist roots which why a party like Meretz (the Israeli Jewish version of the Communist Party) still has a place on the Israeli political map.

The first truism of Israeli politics is to understand all politics starts on the left end of the political spectrum in Israel. What makes a party left or rightwing in Israel has nothing to do with political theory or  idealogy as much as where each party stands on the security issues.  This is why a party like Shas which fully supports the idea of a social welfare state, but is characterized as a ‘right-wing’ party.

 If I were to map economic theory and policies to equivalent Canadian political road map and removed the ‘security issues’ which define a party as left or right wing. The Israeli Labour party would stand far to the left of the New Democratic party, Likud would stand somewhat to the left of the Liberals, and the Jewish home still stand somewhat around Joe Clark Conservatives.

Parties like Yesh Atid lead by former  television personality Yair Lapid, and Kulanu (“All of Us”) lead by former Likud member Moshe Kahlon represent the Israeli ‘centre’ which means it is nestled  between Labor and Likud but remains firmly on the socialist left. Yesh Atid, strength comes from the Ashkenazi secular and anti-religious establishment; while Kuhlon represents traditional but not particularly observant Israeli element. 

Israeli polls are notoriously unreliable and usually have a large margin of error - despite the usual 4.5 percentage representing their official margin of error. . Let me give you a concrete example of the failure of the Israeli pollsters. The strength of new comer Yesh Atid (Futurist Party) with 19 seats in the 2013 election was the surprise. No pollster was predicting a Future sweep of 19 mandates, and had pegged Yesh Atid with 12 seats in best case scenarios. That 7 seat difference made hogwash out of that 4.5 margin of error.

In the 2013 cycle, Likud ran on a combined ticket with Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is our home).  Yisrael Beiteinu was head by clowned prince of Israeli politics, Avigdor Lieberman. This cycle, Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu is running on separate tickets. Liebrman’s party is mired in the middle of what could turn out to be the ‘mother’ of all Israeli corruption scandals - and that's saying something. Yisrael Beitenu drew its membership from the secular Russian immigrant community.  Yedioth has pegged their mandates to around 5 seats for the 2015 cycle down from the 11 or so mandates Yisrael Beitenu brought in the last election cycle. So the question we need to ask ourselves  is; where are those  mandates likely to end up in this current election cycle?

The Labour ticket this election cycle is a combined ticket with Hatnua lead by Tzippi Livni. In the last election cycle Livni’s Hatnua party garnered 6 mandates, but with the defection of some major supporters, and a stunningly poor parliamentary showing by Livni during the last government, Hatnua would be lucky to make the voting threshold for 1 mandate let alone 6. Hence, the desire early in the election cycle to join the Labor ticket. Labor is projected to carry 26 mandates according to the last Yedioth Ahronoth poll published.   
So if we were to combine the previous 5 mandates from Hatnua and Labor’s party’s 15, we have a net Labor gain 4 seats but from where do these people come from? It is not likely they are former Yisrael Beiteinu supporters.

The Israeli Centre – where even the centre is split.

Yesh Atid – Centre Left (Sort of, kind of)

This brings us to the last election surprise, Yesh Atid (Futurist party). Yesh Atid is considered a ‘Israeli centralist secular Ashkenazi’ party. In the last knesset session, Yesh Atid received 19 mandates, but are now projected to only retain 12 mandates. This is the result of the declining popularity and the dismal performance shown by Yair Lapid. He has an absolutely disastrous turn as Finance Minister, and sponsored legislation for drafting the Charedim.

Normally, this would be a pretty popular move outside of Charedim circles, but inserting a jail term for non-compliance was widely viewed as overtly harsh. One of the problems with Lapid is that he never works well with others. Too long a television prima donna? Perhaps. So where will those former Yesh Atid supporters go? My best guess – probably a relatively even split between Labor or Kalanu.

Kalanu – Centre Right:

The former Likud Minister of Communications and Minister of Welfare and Social Services left Likud and politics in 2013. During his tenure as a Likud Minister, he lowered electricity rates for the poor, headed an inquiry into Bank Charges, and he is thought to have been the driving force into opening up the cellular phone market in Israel. This move directly lead to increased competition and lower rates for consumers. Kahlon remains enormously popular in Israeli politics. Yedioth has newcomer Kalanu pegged with 8 mandates. I think there is a reasonable possibility that Kalanu will end higher. Here is the nature home for more centralist Likud members, dissatisfied Yesh Atid voters and potentially former Yisrael Beiteinu voters who still want to cast a vote but not for the clowned prince of Israeli politics.

Religious Parties:

In Israel, religious parties are ‘characterized as ‘right-wing’ parties but it would be more accurate to characterize these parties as pragmatic parties of self-interest.  They will willingly sit in any coalition government provided their interests are served. Pay them off and they will tow pretty much whatever line you want.

Shas came into the last Knesset with 11 mandates, but owing to the leadership fall out between convicted felon Aryeh Deri and Eli Yishai, Yishai left to form his own Charedi party Yachad. Yachad has subsequently merged with Otzma Yehudit to become the Yachad Ha Am Itanu ticket. I have to be honest, I just do not understand why any voter would cast a vote with Deri at the helm of Shas. My gut says, Shas support will bleed a lot more than 4 mandates this election cycle.

Yachad – Ha Am Itanu. Eli Yishai’s new party is pegged at 4, just barely making the mandate for a seat in the Knesset. He has his demographic and bleeds Shas’ support. It is a religious based party with right wing security issues. Yishai is thought to be reasonable and someone Likud can work with. Shas primarily represented religiously observant Sephardic voters.

United Torah Judaism. An Ashkenazi Charedim party.  Owning to party leader Yair Lapid sponsoring the Charedim draft bill, United Torah Judaism swears it will not sit in any coalition in which Yesh Atid is a member. I think they are pretty serious about this….but the bribe to get them to change their mind might bankrupt the country.

The Israel Loonie Left:

The Zionist Union - This is a merged ticket with the Israeli Labor and Tzippi Livni’s Hatnua party. Livni started out as a Likud member, then jumped ship to go with Ariel Sharon in Kadima, she eventually headed Kadima only to lose an election and the party leadership. After a good sulk, she decided to found her own political party so she could be a  leader, more or less indefinitely. No one likes her, she whines a lot and does not play well with others. She will never be elected Prime Minister except by stealth.

The Israeli Labor party had a proud history and is now being run by a man who just narrowly escaped indictment for election fraud during Ehud Barak’s run for Prime Minister. He’s got a tin ear and speaks with a high pitch whine. Apparently, he has been undergoing speech therapy for that.  Yitzhak "Boujie" Herzog is part of the Ashkenazi elite in Israel. Herzog’s platform consists in being primarily as ‘Not BIBI’. This more or less works for Obama. In fact, if I were to describe Herzog with an Americanism; I would call him 'all hat, no cattle'. He made a disaster deal to merge his ticket with Tzippi Livni and offered her a rotating Prime Ministership; if they win.

No one in their right mind should want Herzog to be able to form a coalition and negotiate with the Palestinians or the White House. The real irony in ‘Zionist Union’ ticket is just how many anti-zionist have united behind Herzog. In a surprise move, Herzog and Livni have announced that Livni has offered to give up the rotating premiership. She's taking one for the team...of course, I haven't seen anything in writing, and when dealing with Livni; you need it in writing, witnessed and backed up with video. 

The Zionist Union is currently running with 26 mandates and still cannot form a government. The religious parties will not sit with any government which includes Yair Lapid. Meretz won’t still in any coalition which includes a religious party. And there is a good chance Yesh Atid will never sit with any Labor coalition that includes the Joint Arab List.

Joint Arab List, is a combined ticket for three different Arab parties who decided to bury their differences in order to present a united front against the ‘Zionists’. Reality is, there is new legislation raising the bar for votes needed to enter the Knesset and none of the Arab parties could reach the bar on their own without banding together.  They are not good neighbours and it is simply a matter of time before the ‘UAL’ explores into inter politic clashes among themselves.

Meretz. Forget these losers, they will be lucky to hold onto 5 mandates and I will not cry if they don’t make the threshold. Never having to read a headline quoting Gal-On again – is simply priceless. Of course, they will not sit in any coalition with a religious party.

The Israel Right.

Yisrael Beiteinu lead by Lieberman, clowned Prince of Israeli politics.  Massive corruption scandal decimated what was left of Lieberman's party list just after the Knesset was dissolved. Yisrael Beiteinu drew its base from the secular Russian immigrant community and it will be interesting to see if Yisrael Beiteinu's base chooses to stay home or throw in their lot with another party.  Likud is the natural option, but Bennett at Bayit Yehudi did a stellar job representing Israel's case during the recent conflict with Gaza, and his 'stop apologizing' promotional videos might just appeal.

Likud lead by Bibi Netanyahu. The party everyone loves to hate – with good reason. This isn't the Likud of Menachem Begin, but Netanyahu remains the only leader who has a reasonable chance of clubbing together a coalition, and Likud still has the 'get out the vote' machine in place. In fact, even with 21 mandates, he can easily pull 64 mandates without Yesh Atid, JAL or even the Zionist Union.

The real shame about Israeli democracy, is that you cannot have two Prime Ministers. One to deal with all foreigners, and another to run the country. Bibi’s real weakness in the last two Knesset sessions has been running the country internally. Bibi gives a great Anglo sound bite but it takes more to govern Israel. Furthermore, Bibi is slippery even when not wet and I would not put it pass him not to have been making a backroom deal to enter into a 'unity coalition government' with the Zionist Union with the caveat Livni never has a turn with leadership of the Zionist Union before the votes are cast.

This brings me to Bayit Yehudi run by Naftali Bennett. Pollsters are predicting Bayit Yehudi, despite Bennet’s rising profile in the last Knesset, will maintain only 12 mandates. There are rumours that Bayit Yehudi is now polling in single digits, but without hearing of increased mandates for Likud or Kalanu, I am not buying it since Bennett is not guilty of any recent missteps to account for a sudden recent drop. At the start of the campaign trail Bennett was polling 16-17 mandates and rising. A miss-step mid-way in the campaign saw a descent in the number of mandates in an act designed to widen the appeal and base of his party. I  would not count Bennett out entirely and he is widely believed to be a ‘future’ Prime Ministerial material...just not in this election.

If I was an Israeli voter, I would be hard pressed to vote between Kalanu and Bayit Yehudi. After the Zionist Union's 11th hour announcement. It's Bayit Yehudi all the way for me. I wouldn't want Bibi getting into bed with Herzog-Livini, and the best way to prevent that is a strong Bayit Yehudi.

So my predictions; Likud forms the government with Bibi as Prime Minister in a strong rightwing coalition. Last night, there was a right wing rally in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square. Ha'aretz suggests only 25,000 showed up. Arutz Sheva claims 100,000. If the truth lies closer to Arutz Sheva's estimates on election day we will be watching a left wing impulsion. The election commission would not allow any Israeli singers to perform at rally last night in Tel Aviv, so Naftali Bennett took to the stage to sing Jerusalem of Gold.