Monday, March 27, 2006

I'll get to Yisrael Beiteinu eventually but what I really want to do is luxuriate over this little story so I'll meander a bit.

In my undistinguished army career as a combat medic, there was one thing I resolutely refused to do: wear gumiyot, those rubber bands that keep the cuffs of your pants tight around the boots. We all have our red lines. In fact, once I was doing all-night guard duty at one of the border crossings with Jordan together with another fellow and we were both standing in position when some guy with falafels on his shoulder (I never bothered learning the names of the ranks in my many years in the army) shows up to check on us at 4:00 AM. (The fact that we were both awake and in position is not to be taken for granted and the only reason it happened is that my partner was engaging me in learning and being mefalpel in some difficult sugya. This wouldn't be remarkable except that the only things this fellow had less use for than amhaaratzim were shabbos and kashrus.) Anyhoo, this officer had to do something to assert his superiority in this particular situation so he had me tried and convicted for not wearing gumiyot. The jail sentence was suspended but I do believe it is on my Permanent Record.

All this I mention only as an introduction to an introduction to my story. During the early days of Oslo, on a different stint of reserve duty, this time in Elon Moreh, my commander took me up to the very isolated top of nearby Har Kabir, which overlooks the whole area of Shechem (including Har Brachah, Itamar, Yitzhar, Tapuach). There we met the Machat (Battalion Commander) of the Shechem area. He looks me up and down and says "where are your gumiyot?". My commander says, "This is Dr. Chorin; he doesn't wear gumiyot." The Machat says, "you'll be securing the area for a big meeting today, so just for an hour or two you'll need gumiyot." I buckled.

Finally, to the point. It was indeed a big meeting. A helicopter lands next to me and out hop the head of the Shabak, Carmi Gillon (then known as "Kaf"), his deputy, "Yud", the head of Army Intelligence, Rabin's security advisor, Yossi Ginosar (actually serving illegally since the High Court had disqualified him for one of the crimes for which he'd been caught), head of the Central Command (Aluf Pikud Hamerkaz), Ilan Biran, and a couple more Generals. I was the only person there who was armed. Except for Biran, who said hi, the rest acted as if I were made of glass.

Anyway, they were up there to discuss the route of a new road from Elon Moreh, via the other settlements, down to Tapuach Junction. Biran, who knew what he was talking about, was carefully explaining the issues. The braintrust of the Israeli military began asking questions such as "where exactly is Shechem?". You've got to understand that from Har Kabir, this is something like standing on the observation deck of the Empire State Building and asking where the Chrysler Building is. They fretted about Arab claims to the barren land on which the road would be built. They all sounded exceptionally clueless but by far the biggest idiot was "Yud", who kept asking why another road was necessary. What's wrong with the existing road? Finally, Biran couldn't take it any more and blurts out, "You don't get it, do you? The existing road goes through Shechem. Tzahal is leaving Shechem. We can't leave these people to the mercy of the terrorist in Shechem. Get it?!" He didn't.

I mention this now because "Yud" is Yisrael Hasson, number 3 on the Yisrael Beiteinu list for the Knesset.


Blogger bar_kochba132 said...

Ha'aretz, which doesn't like Yisrael Beiteinu, ran an extensive article pointing out how "Yud", along with some other shady Israeli character has either directly or indirectly extensive business dealing with veteran Palestinian terrorists like Jibril Rajoub. It seems that once these SHABAK guys are finished torturing terrorists for information, they go into business with them. After looking at Gidon Ezra, Yossi Ginnosar, Yud and others, it makes me wonder whose side they are on,

12:51 AM  
Anonymous H, B said...

Regarding your explanation of Bader-Ofer: Shkoiach, first of all. When do the surplus-agreements get executed - before they start Bader-Ofering, or after? What you wrote implied that it happened only after. Please advise. Thanks.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous H, B said...

Also, what about "white slips" - do they also get Bader-Ofered, or are they simply ignored?

11:28 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

Then I wasn't clear. The combined party is treated as a single entity during the "Bader-Ofering". White slips are thrown out.

11:29 AM  
Anonymous h said...

Not clear to me. The first step is to divide up the votes into 120 and assign the integer of seats. Is the next step to continue that process via the surplus agreements, or is the next step to start Bader-Ofering with the two parties considered as one? i think there's a difference.

11:35 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

Now I see your point. Good question. I think there's no difference but I don't have a proof yet. Do you have a counterexample?

11:57 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

Definitely no difference.

12:11 PM  
Anonymous h said...

It seems to be this way then: After each party gets its integer seats, then let's say Party x has 60% of a seat left over and Y has 55% of a seat left over. Party X is then assigned another seat. I would assume then that the remaining 15%, plus all the other surplus votes, plus the ones that didn't pass the threshhold, are then put through the Bader-Ofer mill - with the surplus-agreement parties continuing to benefit because they are now treated as a large party.

12:21 PM  
Anonymous h said...

X and Y are surplus-partners, of course

12:22 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

That's almost right but there's no garantee that x would get it and not y. Once it's determined that the combined x+y gets a seat, you'd use the regular formula to see which of the two actually gets it. If the integer part of y is sufficiently more than that of x, y might get it.

12:31 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

One other correction to what you wrote. The ones that didn't cross the threshold are completely dead. They don't go into the Bader-Ofer mill.

12:33 PM  
Anonymous h said...

You have said two chidushim which I must ask you to provide some evidence for. First, you say that the party with the greater surplus does not necessarily get the extra seat? Why and wherefore should that be? It doesn't make sense! If one party gets 50.1 seats and its partner receives 5.92, it's possible that the 50 would get the extra one?! Somewhat absurd. 2ndly, the whole claim against Marzel is that his votes will get ofer-badered and thus be used to benefit the larger parties. See, for instance, Haggai Segal at He says straight out that votes that don't make it will go to the bigger parties. So would you like to restate that?

12:54 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

The answer to the first question is that indeed the larger party with a smaller reminder can get the extra seat but not in the extreme example you suggest. Here's a better example:assume each seat represents 1000 votes and x gets 26.5 and y gets 2.7. According to your reasonable intuition, y should get the extra seat. But according to Bader-Ofer, x gets it. Here's why: if we give the extra seat to y, y will be getting 3 seats for 2700 votes or a seat per 900 votes, while if the seat goes to x, x will be getting 27 seats for 26500 votes or a seat per 980 votes. In this sense x has outbid y for the seat. There are other ways this could be done that might be more fair but this method is not totally arbitrary.
As for your second question, the votes for parties that don't cross the threshold are NOT split among the larger parties. They are thrown out. However, IN EFFECT, they are split up among all the parties because the act of throwing them out simply lowers the cost of a seat and hence proportionally increases the representation of each party that does cross the threshold. This has very little to do with Bader-Ofer; in fact, you could hardly imagine any other way of doing it.
This has been used to discourage people from voting for Marzel. In fact, as I've pointed out, it could be better used as an argument to vote for Marzel since -- if you believe he is hovering near the threshold - the marginal value of a vote for him is larger than for other parties.

1:54 PM  
Anonymous h said...

Well, it looks like you are right. 1. There is good logic in giving the extra seat to the larger party, and that is to say that in the fight over that particular seat, measurably more people in the country want x than y.
2. The Central Elections Committee, according to Arutz-7, said it clearly: votes of measly parties that can't squeak by are thrown out and totally ignored.

And so I conclude this round with a graceful concession to you on these two substantive points. Yasher koach, and may the right-wing and satellites score a decisive victory over the forces of evil and apathy.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Jack's Shack said...

I just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading your story about you and the gumyiot.

7:00 PM  
Blogger Ben Bayit said...

Enjoyed the gumiyot story. A classic!

It seems odd to me that all these ex-spook types never went into the mainstream "establishment" parties. Gideon Ezra hooked up with the Likud when Sharon was very, very non-establishment. "yud" is with Lieberman. Gillon is a suburban mayor. Menachem Landau originally hooked up with Effie Eitam (now with Kadima though).

Regarding surplus-vote agreements, it is my understanding that the extra seat goes to one of the parties as per the specifics of the agreement between the two parties. It is a dispositive arrangement that can be settled between the two parties any which way they wish to. I could be wrong about this though.

12:25 AM  

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