The Bulletin

1. Israelis to Elect a New Prime Minister Tuesday? Maybe Not

When Israelis go to vote for the 21st Knesset on Tuesday they will not be voting for a prime minister. You may already know this, but Israelis actually vote for the political party of choice. There are 13 parties in the 120 Knesset seats today and by most polls there will be 14 parties sharing the 120 seats after next week's elections.
After the election, President Rivlin will assign the leader of the party with the most seats (realistically Likud's Netanyahu or Blue and White's Gantz) with the task of forming a new government. Both parties are expected to get about a quarter of the vote, around 30 seats.
However, should the head of the largest party fail to build a broad enough coalition (61 seats at a minimum) the head of the second largest party will likely get a chance.
While many polls suggest Blue and White will have more seats, very few suggest its leader will be able to form a broad enough coalition. In the National Review my friend Jonathan Tobin speculates it will be Bibi again.  
2. Who Else Hopes to Be Elected?

Let's qualify them a little to perhaps simplify the question of why forming a coalition is so tricky.
Six parties have publicly declared their support for Netanyahu including: The New Right, the United Right, the United Torah Judaism (Haredi Ashkenazi), Shas (Haredi Sephardi), current finance minister Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu party, and Yisrael Beitenu.
Two parties have come out publicly in support of Blue and White: Labor, one of Israel's two traditional "large parties" (now a smaller center left party) and Meretz, further to the left than Labor with a small and loyal following.
The remainder includes, most significantly, the two Arab parties, Hadash-Ta'al  and Ra'am-Balad. Historically, Arab parties have never supported one prime ministerial candidate over another. One of the most interesting questions in the coming election for me will be if Labor and Meretz are able to get a larger share of the Arab vote from voters who realize that ending Netanyahu's run may be a greater cause than voting for their own. For more check out this link from Israel's Democratic Institute.
3. What Do the Polls Say?

Averaging a few polls from this week suggests: Blue and White 31; Likkud 27; Labor 9; United Torah 7; New Right and Shas 6;  Kulanu, Meretz, Zehut 5; Yisrael Beiteinu 4; and the Arab parties 11. Such results will likely hand Bibi another term.
Israeli law prohibits polls after April 6.   
4. What Does It Mean Exactly? Scenarios, Please.

Netanyahu remains prime minister and builds a coalition that is very similar to the current, outgoing government.
Should Blue and White win enough support, Benny Gantz will be the next prime minister, in which case Netanyahu may quit politics altogether.
Also possible, Gantz could go back on his promise not to sit with Netanyahu in government and could form a national unity government with him (perhaps with an agreement to rotate prime ministers between Gantz and Netanyahu after two years - it's happened before).
Or Gantz becomes prime minister by persuading moderate parties on the right (that support Netanyahu) to join his government instead. Or similarly Gantz invites the Arab parties to join him in government. (Both very unlikely.)
And one other thing: If no one can form a coalition of 61 or more, new elections would be held and we'd be having this conversation again a few weeks or months from now.
5. The Always True But Little Talked About Election Truism
There is one principle or behavior in politics that is always true. It was true when Socrates failed to mount a defense that could (and possibly would) have saved his life, and it has been present in politics and leadership in all the years since. Hubris. Term limits in our political system protect us from it. Our presidents are elected for not more than two terms.  
While Ben Gurion remains the record holder for days as prime minister of Israel, his 13- year-term included the state's first five years, a two-year hiatus and then another eight years. Netanyahu's current term has already passed 10 straight years and if elected could reach 14 straight years - not to mention a three-year term from 1996 to 1999. If left in office long enough, even Mother Teresa would falter. Right or left, religious or secular, Arab, Jewish, Israeli born or not, it is time for new leadership and if the leaders of Netanyahu's party are true to their ideology, they will not only understand it but act on it. Otherwise the person becomes the ideology and I don't wish for anyone to be in the position Plato was during Socrates' trial.
6. Levinsky, Vegan Haven, Steak & BBQ

One of my favorite areas in Tel Aviv (I have many) for spices, tea, hummus, produce, good conversation, great food (and where Telavivim like to go) is Levinsky Market. Wanna find out why?

And in a segue from what I usually eat, vegan options are plentiful in the most fabulous dining city on earth. Check out this: "An Old-School, 'Authentic' Tel Aviv Market Has Become a Vegan Haven."

This is more in line with what I like to eat and breathe (yes, I am a shameless carnivore). Nothing tantalizes more than the aroma of seared beef wafting on the air. So for the sake of balance I offer: "13 of the Best Steakhouses and Barbecue Joints in Israel."

Let me know what you think if you find yourself lucky enough to try any of these spots in person.

Something vegan . . .
Something not . . .

7. Good to the Last Drop

Mine the marketing gold of yesterday, polish it up, and - voila! - a new campaign for a new generation. Doubt it? Maxwell House is selling a Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Haggadah.

But of course long before this there was the original Jewish cultural phenom. In 1923, Joseph Jacobs convinced Maxwell House to create and market the first-ever Kosher-for-Passover coffee. Jacobs worked with rabbis to prove that coffee is technically a fruit and not a bean. He placed an ad in the Forverts, then bolstered sales by creating a free Maxwell House Haggadah to accompany each purchase of Kosher Maxwell Coffee.

The Maxwell Haggadah - with its legible print and side-by-side Hebrew and English, a soft cover, and the promise of kosher caffeine - became an icon. The rest, as they say, is history. Or herstory in the case of Mrs. Maisel.
8. Passover Appeal

Thank you to those who have already made a gift to the annual Passover appeal. If you have not yet, I hope that you will respond generously, helping the Federation provide kosher-for-Passover food to local community members in need. The families and individuals we assist are always deeply appreciative.
9. Scholarship Applications Available

Children and grandchildren of Federation members are invited to apply for scholarships for undergraduate and graduate programs from teh Federation adn New Bedford section of the National Council of Jewish Women.

To request an application write to office@jewishnewbedford.org or call (508) 997-7471.
Thursday, April 4, 4:00 PM
Speaker Carolyn Enger, concert pianist and director of the multimedia program Mischlinge Exposé 
Jackson Art Center, H-209/210, Bristol Community College
Friday, April 12, 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Conference on Women and the Holocaust featuring keynote speaker Sheri Sandler, managing director of Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, Rwanda and workshop leader of Echoes and Reflection, a resource center for the teaching of the Holocaust
Jackson Art Center, Bristol Community College  
Wednesday, May 1, 4:00 PM 
Holocaust Memorial Day Lecture by author Louise Borden 
Stories from World War II: The True Escape of Curious George and Raoul Wallenberg, Rescuer in the Holocaust
UMass Dartmouth, Carlton College of Business, Room 149  

Shabbat Shalom,


The Bulletin is a weekly email from Amir Cohen, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Bedford.  I welcome your feedback at amir@jewishnewbedford.org.

Jewish Federation of Greater New Bedford, 467 Hawthorn Street, Dartmouth, MA 02747
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