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  • Word is just beginning to break inside Israel about a possible sex scandal involving a “senior Israeli political figure.” Several days ago, the political affairs correspondent for a major Israeli newspaper was interviewed on Channel 10 (just prior to 6:00 mark) about stories that were too hot to handle. After the interviewer asked him for specifics, he hesitated a long while and then mentioned the above information. I began to put out word and an Israeli feminist blogger queried a friend who knew another reporter who told her the figure being spoken of was education minister, Gideon Sa’ar, age 45. An excellent Hebrew bio is here. This identification has subsequently been confirmed by a second reporter which makes me confident that the story has legs. More on the specific claims in a bit.
  • Israeli election if you want to understand the Israeli party system, here's a chart for you
  • Charismatic Leaders Body language of two great leaders
  • Operation 'Cast Ballot': Post mortem. As yet another military campaign ends, the IDF turns out to be, as usual, the weakest link in the chain. Operation Cast Ballot, or as it is formally known, “Pillar of Defense,” has come to an end. Childish to the end, the Palestinians and Israelis managed to miss a ceasefire on Tuesday, as they quarreled over who would fire the last shell. The practice of announcing a ceasefire in advance, so as to make certain that all troops know of it in time and observe it, has been perverted into a competition of who can fire more in less time. Israel has been at it for at least three decades; I still remember how, in 1982, Israeli television enthusiastically reported about Israeli artillerymen making use of the last hours before the ceasefire to spread more death and destruction in Beirut. A ceasefire has been announced, and we can officially mark Cast Ballot as a failure. It is a failure as far as Binyamin Netanyahu is concerned: he could have made it to the polls with four years of relative quiet, and he chose to end his second term with Tel Aviv being bombed (for the first time since 1991), as well as Jerusalem (first time since 1970), and a terror attack on a bus to boot, seemingly a first since 2006. As in 1997, when he ordered the botched assassination of Khaled Meshal and ended up empowering Hamas by releasing Ahmed Yassin from prison, Netanyahu – whose slogan once was “strong against Hamas” – will end yet another campaign by strengthening Hamas. It is a failure as far as Ehud Barak, possibly the most hated man in Israeli public life, is concerned. Once more, he proved he learned nothing, and that his image as a military genius is a self-perpetuated myth. He was at it before, in Cast Lead, and he knew what happened in Lebanon; he should have known that the most important thing, before opening fire, is to have a solid exit policy, so that it can be quenched. He didn’t have any.
  • With surprise resignation, Barak may have rocked political arena for last time.
  • Settler violence and IDF raids: For West Bank Palestinians, there is no ceasefire.
  • This is worth watching to the end. WATCH: Israelis from Sderot play Palestinians under the occupation.
  • A troubling testimony of a Gaza youngster who now thinks that perhaps it's true that Israelis only understand force
  • Notes about the Israeli operation in Gaza
  • The rise and fall? of Ehud Barak
  • Syria in Ruins - In Focus - The Atlantic. These look real
  • The 44 Greatest Barack Obama Facial Expressions
  • A topic that needs deconstruction. Looks too good to be true.
  • CIA's david petraeus admits affair and resigns, Labor's Uri Sagi quits In recent days, a former IDF subordinate met with Party chief Shelly Yachimovich to tell her of alleged sexual harassment to which she’d been subjected by him. There was also a rumor that Sagi fathered a child out-of-wedlock with another female IDF subordinate in the 1980s. Earlier today, yet a third woman came forward on Yachimovich’s Facebook page and accused Sagi of attempting to rape her while she served with him. She claims that at the time her male supervisors encouraged her not to press charges. Instead, they offered her a transfer, which she accepted. Today, she says, she regrets she didn’t pursue the matter.
  • Ilana Dayan has produced yet another dramatic segment for the Israeli 60 Minutes-like news magazine, Uvdah. It deals with the history of Israel’s covert war against Iran. More specifically it recounts a pivotal security cabinet meeting which took place in 2010, at which Prime Minister Netanyahu told the senior security officials present to raise Israel’s military preparedness level to “P+.” This is essentially one step below actual war. Mossad chief Dagan and IDF chief Ashkenazi did something rare, if not unheard of in the annals of Israeli political history: they balked.
  • Inside the Investigation of Leading Republican Money Man Sheldon Adelson
  • A nuclear Iran threatens. The Palestinian conflict smolders. Meanwhile, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has largely vanquished his domestic foes—the Israeli media, the political opposition—in a battle backed by two U.S. billionaires and reportedly fueled by his wife, Sara. Interviewing the 62-year-old leader, David Margolick explores why “Bibi” is in control of his country, but not of its destiny. At one point or another for an entire week last November, most of the Israeli establishment showed up at the Bauhaus home in the Rehavia neighborhood of Jerusalem: members of the Cabinet and Knesset, security officials, rabbis, businessmen, journalists, supplicants of all stripes, “everyone who didn’t want to get in any trouble,” as one participant put it. They stood solemnly around the small stone courtyard with a tent on top, officially mourning, but also studying who else was there, who was whispering to whom. Ehud Barak, the defense minister and, by many accounts, the most vigorous proponent of an Israeli strike against Iran, was there. So was Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister, who then held the key to the current government’s survival. Even an Arab member of the Knesset, Ahmad Tibi, came by later on. The guest registry also included Sheldon Adelson, the ubiquitous gambling magnate, and Ronald Lauder, an heir to the Estée Lauder cosmetics fortune—a pair of American billionaires who, improbably, have also become major Israeli media moguls.
  • Israel's Newspaper Wars - an excellent summary of the newspaper crisis in Israel
  • Who's Trying to Scare Israelis into Nuclear War with Iran?
  • Eritrean asylum seekers trapped on Israel-Egypt border for 7th straight day A group of some 20 Eritreans has been trapped for seven days between the Israeli and Egyptian fences in Sinai. Until Wednesday, soldiers were ordered to give them some water but no food. Activists who went there over the las
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This aggression will not stand.