by E. Rauchberger
Politica: Netanyahu's Internal Opposition
After passing a first reading in the Knesset, the national
budget and the Arrangments Law have made little progress,
primarily because of Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. One
reason may be Finance Committee Chairman Avraham Hirshenson's
tight connection with Ehud Olmert, Minister of Industry and
Trade and one of Netanyahu's toughest political rivals.
Convinced Hirschson will eventually have to yield, Netanyahu
would prefer not to grant Olmert's associates any
Netanyahu acts like an economic prime minister. He and Sharon
have a tacit understanding: Netanyahu backs Sharon in the
political-security arena, while Sharon lets Netanyahu have
his way with the economy. Netanyahu is unafraid of Hirschson,
for with Sharon's support he knows Hirschson will be forced
to submit in the end, even if Olmert speaks up for him.
But there is still one thing Netanyahu has not taken into
account: the six Likud MKs on the Finance Committee who are
all out to prove themselves, exert an influence and gain
publicity. A seasoned politician, Hirschson could bring them
onto his side and with their support put a wrench in the
works for Netanyahu.
Life has been rough for them ever since they lent a hand in
the economic decrees. Dani Benlulu, an Ashdod resident, had
to be extricated by police after port workers threatened him
over his intentions to privatize the Port Authority. And Ayub
Kra was under siege when Haifa port workers demonstrated
outside his home near Haifa.
This time they do not intend to make the same mistake.
Instead they will battle for the underclass in development
towns. Even if they lose at least they will have shown their
friends they tried to make a change.
They are demanding alterations in almost every paragraph of
the budget and the Arrangements Law, including education
cuts, plans to close hospitals in Haifa, plans to impose a
border tax on foreign workers, another cut in Child Support
Payments, a cut in the Authority for the War Against Drugs,
harming the Law for the Encouragement of Capital Investment,
eliminating certain medications from the list covered by
Kupat Cholim, a cut in pension funds, etc. Although on most
of these issues their demands will be rejected, if they rally
together around a few selected issues chances are they will
be able to overpower the Finance Minister.
Blaming the Rabbonim for the Lack of Vitamin B1
As soon as it was reported Remedia's German supplier had put
its production line at Israel's disposal because of kashrus
requirements, "ranking Health Ministry officials" found the
blame for the lack of Vitamin B1 in Remedia's baby formula:
the rabbonim, of course! The German company must have removed
Vitamin B1 because it was not kosher, they reasoned.
To reach such a farfetched conclusion they had to overlook
the obvious. Not only did the problematic product received a
hechsher with Vitamin B1 listed on the packaging, but
also other kosher infant formula products contain Vitamin B1
The media, of course, did not bother to check out the claim
by these unnamed Health Ministry sources, instead jumping to
the conclusion that religion was to blame for the deaths of
three babies and for striking down many other babies with
Shocked by this wild, anti-religious incitement, MK Rabbi
Yisroel Eichler sent a letter to Health Minister Dani Naveh
demanding he repudiate the illogical claims and ascertain
which officials supposedly made such assertions. Rabbi
Eichler also contacted the media entities that publicized the
crude lie, but of course they made no apologies or
corrections, just as Naveh did not conduct an internal
investigation to find out who in his ministry made such an
When the State of Israel recently marked 30 years since the
Yom Kippur War, the Knesset released a special information
sheet on MKs who took part in the war, including the two MKs
most vocal in their demands to draft yeshiva students--
Justice Minister Tommy Lapid of Shinui and Yossi Sarid of
What were they doing during the Yom Kippur War? Were they
fighting at the front? Did they risk their lives? Not
Our brave fighter Tommy Lapid was serving as a reporter for
Galei Tzahal during the war and was discharged with the rank
of corporal. Meanwhile Yossi Sarid served in the IDF
spokesmen's unit and was discharged with the rank of
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