Donald Trump and the Jews

September 19, 2016
In this episode of the JPost Podcast, we talk to the Washington Bureau Chief Michael Wilner about his investigative report on Donald Trump and the Jews. 

In his article, Wilner sought to resolve the competing narratives of Trump as a Semitophile, whose daughter converted to Judaism and bore him Jewish grandchildren, and Trump as a bigot, who tolerates or even emboldens anti-Semitic voices.

Wilner snagged some interesting interviews, including Trump supporter David Duke, a former KKK imperial wizard, and Tony Schwartz, who ghostwrote Trump’s bestseller “Art of the Deal” and has recently spoken out strongly against him.
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Why Starbucks failed in Israel, and only in Israel

August 24, 2016

It’s an odd point of pride, perhaps, but Israelis take a strange satisfaction in the fact that their country is the only one where Starbucks, the international coffee giant, failed.

On social media, when the factoid is raised as part of a clever tourism marketing campaign or even an effort to tempt the company to try its luck in the Holy Land a second time,the reactions are fairly universal. 'We don’t want you here,' people seem to say. 'We make better coffee on our own.'

While the fact of Starbucks Israeli failure is well-known, the reasons behind it are less widely understood.

This week, the JPost Podcast brings you a special episode on why the coffee giant failed in Israel and only in Israel. The episode was produced by TLV1.fm, an English-language radio station in Israel that originally aired the episode. You can find more of their stories and subscribe to their podcasts here.

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Taxicab Diplomacy: Trump vs. Clinton

August 19, 2016

After a brutal primary season, the general election is infull swing in the United States. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, of course,emerged as their party’s nominees.  Duringthe nominating conventions in July, protesters of various stripes chanted “TheWorld Is Watching.” And it is! Here in Israel, developments in the US electioncampaign often lead the news. So what do Israelis have to say about it?

On this episode of the JPost Podcast, we bring you anotheredition of Taxicab Diplomacy, where we hear what local cab drivers think about politicalissues. On this episode: Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton.

Israelis have always had their own perspective on USpolitics, and most of them filter their views through the lens of one question:what’s best for Israel? In recent years, there’s been a feeling in Israelicircles that Republican administrations are more friendly to Israeli interests.For example, former President George W. Bush, who was unpopular around much ofthe world by the end of his second term, still had many fans in Israel. PresidentBarack Obama, a Democrat who is largely popular around the world, has much lesssupport in Israel. According to a Pew survey in 2015, just 49% of Israelis hadconfidence in Obama, compared with a world average of 65%.

But this election year is no ordinary election year.Clinton, the first woman to lead a major US party, is a known quantity. She’s linkedboth to President Obama, for whom she worked as Secretary of State, and to herhusband, former President Bill Clinton, who was pretty well-liked in Israel.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, is a wild card. The factsthat his daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism and her husband Jared Kushner isseen as traditionally pro-Israel help his case. But he’s been criticized bypro-Israel advocates for saying he’d be neutral on the Israeli-Palestinianconflict.

So what sticks out to Israelis? Have a listen and find out!

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After Turkey, Africa and Egypt, is Saudi Arabia Israel’s next ally?

July 10, 2016

Today, in a surprise visit, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry came to Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It’s the first such meeting since 2007, and it comes on the heels of a flurry of Israeli diplomatic activity.

Two weeks ago, Israel and Turkey restored full diplomatic ties after a six-year lull in relations. Last week, Netanyahu flew to Africa for a diplomatic tour, the first such visit by an Israeli Prime Minister in a quarter century. With all these changes, one can only wonder if the so-called moderate Arab states such as Saudi Arabia will be next?

JPost Diplomatic Correspondent Herb Keinon argues that Egypt is reasserting its role in the region, in part, to build a Sunni front against Shi’a Iran.

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From Tel Aviv, a story of hope for Orlando

June 17, 2016

This week’s shooting at the Pulse night club in Orlando Florida, the worst mass shooting in US history and the deadliest terror attack there since 9/11, was first and foremost a human tragedy. 49 people were murdered, and 53 wounded.

There is much to think and say about the various facets of the shooting, but today, on the JPost Podcast, we’re going to focus on one through the lens of an Israeli story: the status of the LGBT community, how much progress has been made, and how much remains to be done.

It’s a story about how this year’s Tel Aviv pride parade was almost canceled, at the behest of the LGBT community itself, and reminder of how the LGBT community has proven its ability to overcome horrific events and tragedies, and come out stronger on the other side.

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Briefing: King Bibi pulls it together, again

May 30, 2016

This week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put an end to a coalition crisis, finding a path to install Avigdor Liberman as his new defense chief.

Though the outlines of a deal with Liberman were already in place, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett threatened to boycott the deal and potentially flee the coalition unless Netanyahu offered him concessions on security-related matters.

Bennett had wanted Netanyahu to install a military secretary, who would regularly brief the security cabinet, on which Bennett sits. Until the change, Netanyahu and the defense minister could, in principle, control the information flow from the military and security services to the security cabinet, and circumvent them on important decisions.

Late Sunday night, Netanyahu acquiesced, and on Monday, Liberman was sworn in, alongside Sofa Landver as Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Minister and Tzachi Hanegbi as Minister-without-portfolio. Liberman’s predecessor, Moshe Ya’alon, had quit the Knesset in protest of the deal, and over the weekend Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay, of the Kulanu party, quit his ministry. Thus, the man Time Magazine once dubbed King Bibi seemed likely to keep his throne.

But not all of Netanyahu’s political woes were put to rest.

Police investigators recommended that Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit indict the Prime Minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu for misusing funds.

The charges would be over alleged fraud and breach of trust related to using public funds for purchasing food, paying special chefs and related costs for hosting private events.

In a JPost analysis, legal affairs reporter Yonah Jeremy Bob casts doubt on the likelihood that criminal charges will proceed.

In US politics, Israel has become an issue in the contentious Democratic primary between likely nominee Hillary Clinton and her Jewish rival Bernie Sanders. Sanders, wielding power from his strong showing in the primary, got say in several members of the platform committee. Among them were prominent Israel critics, including social activist Cornel West, Arab American Institute president James Zogby, and Minnesota Congressional Representative Keith Ellison.

Hillary Clinton, who chose six members to Sanders’s five, installed more traditionally progressive pro-Israel choices, including Wendy Sherman, who was one of the lead negotiators on Iran talks. The remaining four delegates were named by the DNC’s chairwoman, Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is among the most prominent Jewish leaders in the party.

And finally, Arab Israeli Ta’alin Abu Hanna won the first-ever “Miss Trans Israel Pageant” in Tel Aviv, ahead of Israel’s LGBT pride week.

Abu Hanna, a Christian Arab from Nazareth, will represent Israel at the Miss TransStar International pageant in Barcelona in September. The annual Tel Aviv pride parade takes place this Friday, and is expected to draw 180,000 people.

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The mystery of Tel Aviv’s Jane Doe alleys

May 26, 2016

Off the crowded, boisterous sidewalks of Tel Aviv’s King George Street lie two, small dead-end alleyways with the most cryptic names: Almonit and Plonit. Almoni in Hebrew means anonymous, and the phrases Ploni Almoni and Plonit Almonit are the equivalent of John and Jane Doe, an unknown person.

On today’s episode of the JPost Podcast, we’re back with “A Road by Any Other Name,” the segment where we delve into the strange and interesting stories behind Israel’s street names.

The story behind Tel Aviv's "anonymous" alleys strikes at the heart of one of Israel’s central identity crises, as a socialist or capitalist state.

We’re joined by tour guide Samuel Green. You can find more information about Samuel’s tours and hire him at www.myisraeliguide.com/.

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Breifing: Liberman, Trump and fascism

May 22, 2016

This week, in a dramatic turnaround, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu struck a coalition deal with Yisrael Beytenu, giving its leader Avigdor Liberman the defense portfolio. The serving defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon, resigned even before the deal was finalized, and said he was taking a break from politics altogether, despite Netanyahu offering him the foreign ministry.

In his resignation speech, Ya’alon, a former stalwart Netanyahu ally warned of “manifestations of extremism, violence and racism” in Israeli society and its institutions.

Former Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak echoed the comments, saying that Netanyahu "is exhibiting signs of fascism."

Ya’alon’s departure from the Knesset paves the way for the next member of Likud list, Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick, to enter the Knesset.

The final deal with Liberman is expected soon, and in the meantime, it seems the Foreign Ministry portfolio will remain unfilled.

Despite Netanyahu’s decision to slam the door on the Zionist Union, which had been negotiating a potential unity deal for several weeks, the Prime Minister said that some developments in the Middle East had created a great diplomatic opportunity, and that remained open to the Zionist Union joining the government.

Meanwhile, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls arrived in Israel Sunday to push a diplomatic plan that, thus far, has gained little traction in Israel.  

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In other news, a report from the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies found that a million Israelis were at risk of losing their jobs to computerization in the next 20 years.

Workers with the highest risk of being replaced by technology include those without college degrees and those already earning less – in other words, the more vulnerable parts of society.

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The Mayo Clinic, one of the world’s best-known medical research and practice groups, announced a new initiative to invest in and partner with Israeli start-ups. It is the first initiative of its kind from the clinic, which will be sending representatives to Israel this week for a major life sciences conference.

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And finally, a JPost Poll taken ahead of Sunday’s Jerusalem Post Conference in New York found that Israelis think Hillary Clinton is more suited for the US Presidency than Donald Trump by a margin of 40% to 29%. On the flipside, however, 38% said Trump would be more effective against terrorism, as opposed to just 21% who thought so of Clinton.

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A stable government? Fat chance

May 19, 2016

This week has seen a political whirlwind in Israel, with a shakeup in the cabinet and the widening of the governing coalition. After on-and-off negotiations with the Zionist Union and its leader Isaac Herzog, Prime Minister Benjamin did an about face and made a deal with Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party to join the government, offering Liberman the position of Defense Minister, and ousting Moshe Ya’alon. The new deal will expand the collation to 67 seats, up from the razor-thin 61-seat majority that’s been in place for the past year.

Chief political correspondent Gil Hoffman explains the implications behind the moves, and why he doesn't think the deal will bring a full term's worth of stability to the governing coalition.

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Briefing: Eurovision and Europe’s vision for peace

May 15, 2016

Israel celebrated its 68th birthday this week. Independence day followed the annual Remembrance Day, in which Israelis memorialized the 23,477 people who have fallen in the country's wars and terror attacks.

Speaking at a Remembrance day event, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "We will not give up our hope to achieve peace with our enemies- But first we will achieve peace with ourselves."

The subject of peace came up several other time throughout the week.

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French Foreign Minster Jean-Marc Ayrault arrived in Israel Saturday night meet with to Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on a peace initiative France plans to launch at the end of this month.

On Sunday, Netanyahu attacked the initiative, telling his cabinet that it gave the Palestinians an opportunity to evade direct negotiations.
 
Such an initiative, he said “just pushes peace farther away and gives the Palestinians an escape hatch to avoid confronting the root of the conflict, which is the recognition of the state of Israel [as Jewish state].”
 
In a Twitter Q&A session last week, Netanyahu said he would be open to an updated version of the Saudi initiative, which offered Arab peace with Israel in exchange for a return to the pre-1967 lines, among other things.

Netanyahu also reiterated his willingness to “to meet President Abbas today, right now.”

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After enjoying a long weekend for Independence Day, Israelis may have hope for more leisure time in the future as well. MK Eli Cohen, of Kulanu, is advancing a bill that would create a long, three-day weekend once a month. In an interview with the Post, Cohen said that Israelis work more hours than most of their OECD counterparts, but are less productive. The bill is still in its early stages, but Cohen hopes it will be in effect by 2017.

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Is Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid Israel’s shadow Foreign Minister? In an interview with Jerusalem Post Knesset Correspondent Lahav Harkov. Lapid said the fact that Israel currently lacks a foreign minister is a problem, not an opportunity. Still, the former television host and finance minister has been traveling the globe, trying to boost Israel’s interests from the opposition. You can read the full interview on JPost.com.

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In US politics, billionaire Sheldon Adelson has reportedly warmed up to the candidacy of Donald Trump. Adelson reportedly decided to donate nearly $100 million dollars to Trump’s presidential campaign after the two spoke in a private meeting.

Some projections have put the cost of funding the last six months of the presidential race at a staggering $1 billion.

Trump’s decision not to self-fund the general election may weaken an argument he made during the primary, in which he said his wealth meant he was not beholden to big donors or moneyed interests.

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Israel’s Eurovision entrant Hovi Star performed his song “We Are All Made of Stars” in the Eurovision song contest on Saturday, but only took 14th place in the final tally. Israel also took pride in France’s contestant, Amir Haddad, who grew up in Herzliya, and finished in 6th place with “J'ai cherché”.

The winning entry came from Ukraine’s Jamala, with a political song called “1944” about the scars left by Soviet deportations from Crimea.

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And finally, Yaakov Katz  began his tenure as the Jerusalem Post’s new editor-in-chief  last week. In his first Editor’s note column, Katz warned that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is playing a high-stakes game of poker in negotiating a deal with US President Barack Obama over renewing Israel’s ten-year military aid package. “Whatever the government does, it needs to be sure that politics are off the table,” he wrote.

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