New Government in Israel: Lapid, Bennett and Livni join Netanyahu

— by Amir Shoam

Update: The Government was sworn on Monday. See photo below.

As speculated after the elections in Israel last January, one-year-old center party Yesh Atid (19 Knesset seats) and rising right-wing party HaBait HaYehudi (12 seats) signed today coalitional agreements with HaLikud (31 seats in a list shared with the Israel Beytenu party), that had also reached an agreement with new center party HaTnuah (6 seats) earlier.

HaLikud leader Benjamin Netanyahu will remain Prime minister — for the third time — and will also be Foreign Minister until the end of Israel Beytenu leader Avigdor Lieberman’s ongoing court hearing. Yesh atid Leader Yair Lapid will be Finance Minister, while Habait Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett will be “Economy and Trade” Minister. Hatnuah leader Tzipi Livni will be Justice Minister and will also be responsibe for the negotiations with the Palestinians.

With 68 of the 120 Knesset seats, it will be one of the only Israeli governments to have not contained religious parties (although Bennett himself is an Orthodox), due to differences with Yesh Atid about recuiting yeshiva students to the IDF. Also due to Yair Lapid’s pressure, it will be one of the smallest governments in Israel’s history, with 20 Ministers, in contrast to the current one, which started out with 30.


Left to right. Sitting: Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres
Standing in front row: Minister of Health Yael German, Minister of Culture and Sport Limor Livnat, Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver, Minister of Communications and Home Front Defense Gilad Erdan, Minister for the Development of the Negev and Galilee, Energy and Water Resources and Regional Cooperation Silvan Shalom, Minister of Economy and Trade and Religious Affairs Naftali Bennett, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Yair Shamir, Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovich, Minister of Finance Yair Lapid, Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz, Minister of Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz, Minister of Welfare and Social Services Meir Cohen, Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni, Minister of Science and Technology Yaakov Peri, Minister of Education Shai Piron
Standing back row: Minister of Tourism Uzi Landau, Minister of Environmental Protection Amir Peretz, Minister of Pensioner Affairs Uri Orbakh, Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon, Minister of Internal Affairs Gideon Sa’ar, and Minister of Housing and Construction Uri Ariel

The Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City

KD Lang, Tony Bennett, Jerry Seinfeld, and the Temptations

Philadelphia has a vibrant music, cultural, and arts scene and we are fortunate to have the Wilma Theatre, The Walnut, InterAct, the Suzanne Roberts Theatre and avante garde companies like the Pig Iron.  Broad Street is a culture maven’s paradise.

More after the jump.  
Labor Day marks beginnings and endings:  the end of summer, the beginning of school, the end of blueberries, the beginning of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.   Only an hour drive from Philadelphia, you can still take a walk on the Atlantic City boardwalk and take in a show at the Borgata Hotel.   The fall season at the Borgata Music Box and Event Center is filled with big names like Art Garfunkel, Tony Bennett, and The Temptations.

On Friday, August 17, Canadian pop and country singer-songwriter KD Lang performed a 90 minute set at the intimate Borgata Music Box Theatre.  She transported her devoted fans with standards like “Constant Craving” and “Miss Chatelaine.”   Lang’s version of Leonard’s Cohen “Hallelujah” was by far the most moving song in a vast and varied repertoire.  Lang closed the evening by paying homage to her “mentor” and duet partner, Tony Bennett.  

Lang is not just a singer, but a grand performer.   She fills the stage with her diva presence; she dances, jokes and banters with the audience: “They’ll be no hate’in here tonight” she said, with a smile on her face. Lang, 50, is best known for her 1992 hit “Constant Craving,” which won her a Grammy for best pop vocal performance. In 1989, she shared a Grammy with Roy Orbison for their collaboration on “Crying” and won for best female country vocal performance for her album “Absolute Torch and Twang.” In 2003, she and Tony Bennett won the Grammy for best traditional pop vocal for their standards CD, “A Wonderful World.”

“The Siss Boom Bang – they bring an extra-special zest to the record, performing it live in the studio,” she said in a video interview for Australia’s Art Nation. “The collaborative energy of having six people involved is really important. Plus, the songwriting process was really, really fun and superfast, so the momentum of the record seemed to gather steam and never peter out. It all happened very fast. We went into the studio with a session booked. The second we started recording, it was obvious there was something special about the group of people. After three days, we recorded eight songs. The band was integral to the sound of the record, so I just thought in all fairness it was k.d. lang and the Siss Boom Bang because they were so much a part of the record.”

So even though on this rainy Labor Day we feel summer slipping away, only a hour’s ride away is the ocean, the boardwalk, and the Borgata Hotel with a fabulous line-up of cultural events this season.

Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa
One Borgata Way
Atlantic City, NJ 08401
General Information: 1 609 317 1000
[email protected]

Latinos, Jews in Landmark Conference in Texas

— Elie Bennett

Ex-Speaker Newt Gingrich in Surprise Visit to Event

Over 100 Jewish and Latino leaders from across the US conducted a milestone dialogue conference today in San Antonio. The event was chaired by ex-HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros and veteran Orthodox Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg, both from San Antonio.

More after the jump.
 
The gathering’s honorary chair was San Antonio mayor Julian Castro. It was organized by Cisneros’ and Scheinberg’s group, Bridges & Pathways (www.bridgesandpathways.org), and was co-hosted by The Netanya Academic College’s S. Daniel Abraham Strategic Dialogue Center and The World Jewish Congress. Other partners included the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, B’nai B’rith International and the Anti Defamation League.

Cisneros outlined three key subjects for discussion: education, immigration and national security, especially as it relates to US foreign policy regarding Israel.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich, a likely Republican Presidential contender, accepted a late invitation to address both electorally influential groups, the Jewish and Hispanic voters. Gingrich walked a tight line between his immigration-friendly audience and many of his conservative supporters who favor tighter immigration regulations.

“Someone who illegally entered America last Tuesday should not have the right to stay,” he said, but acknowledged that “very few expect the U.S. to deport 11 or 12 million people who have lived here for years, work hard and pay their taxes. Our approach must deal with reality on the ground while enforcing rule by law.”

Cisneros said that “one of the most important things to be done is to encourage Latino influentials to visit and see for themselves the miracle that is Israel.” Mayor Castro accepted this challenge and announced his own plans for a first visit to Israel in July 2011, heading a delegation of business and civic leaders from San Antonio.

Rabbi Scheinberg urged the leaders present to “replicate this important forum all over America, in tens of cities.”

Although consensus prevailed amongst the participants, evenly drawn from both groups, a new poll initiated by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, headed by Rabbi Marc Schneier, did underscore some important differences.

Where 56% of the Jews surveyed instinctively supported Israel and found US policies not sufficiently favorable to Israel, far fewer Latinos shared these views. Jews and Latinos alike believe that anti-Semitism exists within the Latino community in America, whereas neither group senses significant anti-Latino feelings within the communities.