No Option for Filibuster

Filibusters by Republicans and Democrats.

Filibusters by Republicans and Democrats.

Even after 20 children were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012, gun-control legislation was shot down in the Senate. Although 54 senators voted in favor of a proposal to expand background checks on gun purchases, this amendment was defeated for failure to attain the 60 votes needed to force a vote. In other words, the filibuster was the opponents’ weapon of choice.

The House of Representatives adopted a “public option” to administer health-care coverage in 2009, but it was not an option in the Senate. Because of concern that a bill containing the public option could not get the necessary 60 votes, the public option was removed from the Senate bill. The cause of death: a potential filibuster.

As the presidential election moves into its final stages, the fate of the filibuster deserves attention equal to the ramifications of the Electoral College and the attendant congressional elections. [Read more…]

Two New Jerseyans To Join IDF

Lod, Israel – Two young central New Jersey residents are among 15 soon-to-be IDF lone soldiers scheduled to have landed in Israel on a Nefesh B’Nefesh group Aliyah flight, in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah & Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel, JNF-USA, Friends of the IDF (FIDF) and Tzofim-Garin Tzabar.

The total of 51 Olim landing at Ben Gurion Airport join more than 45,000 immigrants who arrived in Israel with the assistance of Nefesh B’Nefesh since being founded in 2002.

Ben Kravis, 22, of Lambertville and Rina Mischel, 17, of Highland Park are among the 15 future lone soldiers who went directly to a special ulpan to learn Hebrew before drafting to the IDF.

Kravis, who plans to serve in the IDF as a combat paramedic in one of Israel’s elite units, said, “When I visited Poland during high school and toured the concentration camps, I completely understood and appreciated why the State of Israel is so important and necessary for the Jewish people. I wanted to be a part of protecting it. It’s awesome to support Israel from my community at home but I really wanted to be here and do the work myself.”

Mischel, who wants to serve in the IDF’s canine unit, Oketz, noted, “I come from a long line of soldiers. My grandfather fought in the Etzel, my brother served in the paratroopers during Operation Protective Edge and my uncle served in the IDF as well. On May 1st, hundreds of high school seniors across the country woke up and put on shirts that said Rutgers, UCLA, Penn, and Yale. Each proudly displaying their home for the next 4+ years of their life. That day, I proudly walked into school wearing an olive green T-shirt with yellow olive branches and the word Tzahal on it.”

“This flight is the kickoff of our summer Aliyah season during which we are expecting close to 2,000 Olim to arrive from North America,” said Executive VP of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Zev Gershinsky. “The summer season is our busiest time of year as we work day and night to assist Olim throughout their Aliyah process as well as with their acclimation into Israeli society. We are especially proud to have the privilege of helping the brave young men & women who make Aliyah and later on volunteer to serve in the IDF.”

Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with the Israeli government and The Jewish Agency for Israel, is dedicated to revitalizing Aliyah from North America and the UK by removing or minimizing the financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles of Aliyah. The support and comprehensive social services provided by Nefesh B’Nefesh to its over 45,000 newcomers has ensured that over 90% of its Olim have remained in Israel.


Jake Sharfman, Co-Founder: J Cubed Communications

ADL Plans Walk Against Hate


ADL’s 2015 Walk Against Hate.

The Anti-Defamation League will hold its the 2016 Walk Against Hate on May 15 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Mayor Kenney will join in kicking off the official start of the two-mile fundraising walk from 9 to 11:30 a.m., starting at the Yard’s Marine Parade Grounds. Teva and 6ABC are prime sponsors of this year’s walk, which celebrates diversity and equal rights for all. [Read more…]

Earth to Ban Ki-moon: Israel Offered to End “Occupation” at Camp David

Reprinted courtesy of Yaakov (Dry Bones) Kirschen

Reprinted courtesy of Yaakov (Dry Bones) Kirschen

Ban Ki-moon is a curious kind of messenger.

He writes in The New York Times, “No one can deny that the everyday reality of occupation provokes anger and despair, which are major drivers of violence and extremism and undermine any hope of a negotiated two-state solution.” [Read more…]

3 Local Schools Listed in Anti-Semitic Incident Database

NoHateThree local academic institutions are among 109 schools listed in a new database that chronicles anti-Semitic incidents that occurred over the past academic year by state and university.

The database was unveiled in mid-January by AMCHA Initiative, based in Santa Cruz, Calif., as a resource for current and prospective students, parents, university administrators, elected officials, researchers, and donors. Amcha is the Hebrew word for “your people.” [Read more…]

English Anti-Semites Desperate for Reasons

Neo-nazis in London outnumbered by counter-demonstrators. (YouTube)

Neo-nazis in London outnumbered by counter-demonstrators. (YouTube)

Neo-Nazis in the English city of Birmingham claim Jews are employed as bankers and comprise “the 1%.” Yet neo-Nazis 90 miles south contend that the Jews of Golders Green, in northwest London, are not only rich but also “conspire with a corrupt state” 2,300 miles to the east that commits “horrific war crimes.”

Petty criminals in Birmingham, a city with a population of 1 million, vandalized a menorah, apparently because Jews are rich. Crude activists will descend upon Golders Green to tear up Israeli flags and burn the Talmud because Jews “oppress the Palestinians.”

The rationale of bigots is difficult to comprehend. Their motives are so thin and sweeping that their accusations cannot stand up to objective analysis.

A group of neo-Nazis, with their faces concealed, were seen in a video spray-painting a Star of David onto the gates of a Birmingham park gates, with the words “bankers” and “1%,” The Jewish Chronicle of London reported. The video then shows them climbing the menorah to hang a Third Reich swastika flag and a placard with the logo for National Action, a neo-Nazi organization.

In Golders Green and vicinity, home to 50,000 British Jews, neo-Nazis intend to “dismember by hand” Israeli flags in the center of town on July 4, a Sabbath day, and do the same in other Jewish communities later in the summer, according to The Chronicle. “Jewish privilege” is only one flaw attributed to Jews there.

White supremacist activist Joshua Bonehill-Paine wrote on his website, June 15, that destroying Israeli flags would be “in solidarity with those oppressed by the illegal state of Israel”:

This will be a show of solidarity by English people who recognise that Israel is a corrupt state which is responsible for horrific war crimes.

Bonehill-Paine also plans a “private ceremony” to burn the Talmud “in recognition of its racist anti-white teachings.”

Interestingly, these latter words correspond to an anti-Semitic message attributed to Dylann Storm Roof, 21, who is accused of murdering the nine black parishioners during Bible study inside a Charleston, S.C. church, June 17. The New York Daily News reported that Roof wrote on a website called “Last Rhodesian,” “How about we protect the White race and stop fighting for the Jews”:

The issue with Jews is not their blood, but their identity. I think that if we could somehow destroy the Jewish identity, then they wouldn’t cause much of a problem… most Jews are always thinking about the fact that they are Jewish.

Bonehill-Paine arguably contradicts himself, since western civilization, which is ostensibly run by the white race, has long been accused of imposing its imperialistic ways on the Third World. So where does the guilt lie for the Jews of Golders Green? Are they a threat to the white race? Or do they collude with the white race of Europe to colonize the lands of the Middle East? It is doubtful that even Bonehill-Paine can explain the discrepancy.

Though the English do not observe any kind of independence day, on July 4, 200 Britons, Jewish and others, declared their independence from neo-Nazis when the one-hour rally was held. Police had ordered the demonstration to relocate from Golders Green to central London where the area is more diverse, The Times of Israel reported.

The Times of Israel also reported that counter-protesters outnumbered the neo-Nazis eight to one that day. The counter protesters shouted slogans such as “Nazis off our streets,” and “We are black, white, Asian and we’re Jews, and there’s many, many more of us than you,” according to a report in the Evening Standard. The central London site was secured by 200 police officers who cordoned off an area for the rally.

Also, 80 people showed up in Golders Green for a pre-planned counter-protest on Friday, July 3, because many needed to observe the Sabbath the next day. The Times of Israel described the event as mostly “good-humored,” but two Jewish women who raised a large Jewish flag offended some, because in England more people distinguish between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

All the same, the English in Golders Green and central London championed the spirit of Independence Day for two days instead of just the one.

The flag debate: Literally topsy-turvy

images[1]In their desperation to keep the Confederate battle flag flying on the state Capitol grounds, a few South Carolina legislators have produced the kind of absurd environment that would supply William Schwenck Gilbert — the literary half of Gilbert and Sullivan — with plenty of material to fuel the kind of satire that made the British pair’s comic operettas so successful.

A confederate flag flies over the South Carolina State House.

The symbolism and history of the Confederate flag is absurd enough, but a few representatives in the state House of Representatives were expected to propose two dozen amendments that would have the effect of delaying a vote to remove the flag from its perch on the Capitol grounds in Columbia, S.C. Some amendments actually call for the American flag to be flown upside down, according to news reports in Politico and The New York Times.

That’s literally topsy-turvydom. Topsy-turvy was a phrase long associated with Gilbert, who slashed, sliced and hacked apart Victorian England’s mores and class division with glee in the operettas on which he collaborated with Arthur Sullivan, who wrote the music. “Topsy-Turvy” was even the title of director Mike Leigh’s 1999 movie in which Sullivan threatened to break up the legendary partnership of the late 19th century.

museumThe House debate follows the Senate’s overwhelming votes earlier this week to lower the flag and relocate it in the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum. In South Carolina’s struggle to join the modern world, it is a sample of topsy-turvydom that the still-living T. Leland Summers has his head in the 19th century while the deceased Willie Gilbert had his head in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Summers, commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter in Columbia, wrote his membership: “We must light up the switchboard in the Senate chamber and House chamber to the point it blows up.”

What Gilbert could do with that notion today on London’s West End or our Broadway.

After the Confederate battle flag has flown on the Capitol grounds for more than 50 years, it took the June 17 massacre at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church to provoke the current drive to remove the flag. Charleston County prosecutor Scarlett A. Wilson said Dylann Roof, 21, was charged with nine counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder and one count of a weapons charge, the Times reported. Roof is white and nine victims were black.

Gov. Nikki R. Haley, a Republican, urged the removal of the flag after she learned that Roof was photographed prior to the shootings with the Confederate battle flag.

The amendments could hamper legislative action because the House permits 20 minutes of debate on each amendment.

Let us remember that flag supporters like Summers would argue that his ancestors fought in the Civil War to retain states’ rights. No doubt that Gilbert would depict states’ rights as the right to deny others their rights.

Mahmoud Abbas’s words at U.N. need cleansing

Whatever your view of the United Nations resolution recognizing “Palestine” as a state, Mahmoud Abbas’s speech revises Middle East history — to the point of being downright insulting to supporters of Israel.

“Without a Palestinian state,” says Australian Prime Minister Bob Carr, as quoted by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “there can’t be peace in this region.”

What “peace in this region” can there be if the leader of the so-called state of Palestine demonizes Israel in front of the General Assembly of the United Nations?

More after the jump.
Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and forced expulsion of the Arabs from Israel in 1948.

Strange. That’s exactly what the Arab world intended for Israel from the instant the U.N. approved its creation as a state of its own.

It is fair game for Australia and five other developed nations to criticize Israel for apparent retaliation of the GA’s vote to recognize “Palestine” as an independent state. However, they opened themselves up to accusations of bias for letting Abbas get away with his brazen lies before an assemblage that was formed to solve the world’s turf battles through reason and fair play.

Carr and the other leaders — from Britain, France, Spain, Denmark and Sweden — probably did not even read Abbas’s speech before they summoned Israel’s ambassadors to register their anger with Israel’s decision to build 3,000 housing units in the West Bank.

Abbas lost all credibility when he declared:

“The Palestinian people, who miraculously recovered from the ashes of Al-Nakba of 1948, which was intended to extinguish their being and to expel them in order to uproot and erase their presence, which was rooted in the depths of history.”

Nakba” has been traditionally translated to mean “catastrophe.”

He then accused Israel of “one of the most dreadful campaigns of ethnic cleansing and dispossession in modern history.”

History contradicts Abbas. Israel accepted a U.N. partition plan to allow Jews and Arabs to live in separate enclaves… in peace. Instead, Arabs from within the partitioned areas and from five Arab nations attacked Israel.

As Israel held its ground, many Arabs fled for a variety of reasons, according to historians. Their leaders demanded they move out so Arab troops could conquer Israel, and the Arab inhabitants would return a few days later. Others understandably feared being caught in the cross-fire.

Perhaps Jewish extremists drove some Arabs out, but this has yet to be proven. If indeed they did, the Arabs provided them with the opportunity by initiating the war from the outset.

No doubt that some Israelis were pleased that a large number of Arabs fled, yet this was not their responsibility.

A half-century later, the Israelis offered the Palestinian Authority an independent state, but then-PA leader Yasser Arafat turned it down and facilitated a war against Israel.

Abbas likely bypassed the negotiating process because he is afraid that powerful blocs among his people are demanding more — the “right of return,” which will mean flooding Israel with 5 million refugees.

Granted, Netanyahu authorized settlement expansion on the West Bank, which gave Abbas an excuse to ignore negotiations.

In the midst of this 64-year span of events, a 30-year-old Israeli colonel known as “Yoni” died in 1976 while leading the rescue of 100 Israeli hostages held in Uganda by a group of Arab and German gunman. His brother is now Israel’s prime minister.

“Extinguish their being?…Expel them?” First Abbas’s associates cause the death of Netanyahu’s brother, and all these years later Abbas casts Israel as the villain. One needs not to have lost a brother to these creeps or even live in Israel to take offense with Abbas’s version of history.

Bruce S. Ticker of Philadelphia is author of the e-book George Costanza Goes to Washington available at TheWriteDeal.


Bust the filibuster already

When Harry Reid blames Republicans for obstruction, he neglects to mention that the Democratic majority in the Senate enables it by allowing the filibuster to persist. Now that Democrats kept their majority on Nov. 6, it is long overdue to curtail the power of the filibuster.

More after the jump.
Many factors contribute to our current economic misery — Republican abuse of the Senate filibuster, GOP control of the House of Representatives, President Obama’s inexperience and an overwhelming mess that nobody could fix in four years.

It still boils down to Harry Reid and his merry band of Senate Democrats, or some of them. Tom Harkin, Jeff Merkley and Tom Udall rate credit for attempting to rein in a historically dumb and destructive legislative mechanism.

Some weeks before Obama’s re-election, the Senate majority leader was on television relaying the latest filibuster count — 382 filibusters since the Democrats seized control of the Senate six years ago. I groaned as I listened to Reid whine: “They’ve conducted filibuster after filibuster blocking one bill after another. They’ve blocked judge after judge after judge.”

All true.

“The party trying to defeat President Obama has tried to make the president look bad.”

So far, so good.

Then, standing in the well of the Senate, Reid baldly lied: “For him (an unnamed Republican senator) to come and say the Senate is not working because of the Democrats is a big lie.”

Reid compounded this fib by adding: “Republicans are complaining about a result that they caused.”

No question that Republican behavior pre-Nov. 6 was disgusting. They employed the filibuster to block sensible legislation that they once supported…before they opposed it. Guess who handed them this kind of power, or at least allowed them to hold onto it.

Democrats had three opportunities to eliminate or curtail the power of the filibuster since they were elected to the majority in 2006. A majority of the Senate can change the body’s rules on the first day of the legislative session in early January, though some may dispute this. Democrats could have attempted such a move in 2007 and 2009, and some made a spirited effort in 2011.

Even if it was successful, the 2011 bid probably would not have worked because of Republican control of the House then. However, action against the filibuster in 2007 and 2009 would have likely made a difference then since Democrats also held the majority in the House.

Two of the most prominent measures — tax cuts for the wealthy and the “public option” for health-care reform — were blocked by the filibuster; an independent and a Democrat were among the opponents.

A health-care bill authorizing some form of a government-run health care system, a.k.a. as a “public option,” passed the House in 2009, but could not make it through the Senate.

Without the filibuster, Congress would no doubt have passed far more of its legislation aimed at combating the recession. If those measures succeeded to an appreciable degree, maybe Republicans would have had no substantial issues with which to incite voter wrath – and Democrats would not have lost control of the House in 2010.

Team Udall entered the fray in January 2011 when they proposed that any senator threatening a filibuster must present their arguments on the Senate floor. Not enough takers, even among Democrats.

Behind the scenes, Reid and GOP leader Mitch McConnell reached a deal allowing the Republicans to keep the filibuster so long as they did not abuse this power. The rest is history.

Reid himself liked the filibuster at the time, along with some other Democrats. Yet he reversed himself last May when he vindicated Team Udall’s quixotic bid to curtail the filibuster’s power. He was mad when Republicans blocked a bill to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, Politico reported.

“If there was anything that ever needed changing in this body, it’s the filibuster rules, because it’s been abused, abused, abused,” Reid declared on the Senate floor.

A few days later, Common Cause announced a lawsuit to declare the filibuster unconstitutional because the Constitution “envisioned majority rule except where specifically stated otherwise.”

On Tuesday, Nov. 13, a New York Times editorial urged measures to curtail the filibuster’s powers when the next Senate convenes in early January.

Short-term, the filibuster may not be problematic because the election has left Republicans in a more cooperative, and humbled, mood. Still, the GOP can feel emboldened to filibuster any time, without warning, if the tide turns again.

There is nothing like the rule of law to stop bad behavior dead in its tracks. Please go for it, Sen. Reid.

Bruce S. Ticker of Philadelphia is author of the e-book George Costanza Goes to Washington which describes fault lines in the political system. Ticker can be reached at [email protected].