Bedpan Conversion to Judaism

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Renee is a very caring lady who spends a lot of her spare time visiting and helping sick members of her Shul. Her car is also well known in the community because it’s decorated all over with lots of Hebrew decals and bumper stickers showing the Jewish charities she helps.
One day, as she is driving to one of the care homes she regularly visits, her car runs out of petrol and splutters to a stop. “Oy veh,” she says to herself, “and just when I’m late.”
Fortunately, she notices a petrol station only a few hundred yards away, so she walks to the station to get help. “Hi,” Renee says to the man behind the till, “I’ve run out of petrol and I’m hoping you can lend me your petrol can. I’ll pay you for the petrol I use and I’ll return your can as quickly as possible.”
The attendant replies, “I’m sorry, lady, but I’ve lent out my one and only can, not more than 5 minutes ago. I’m expecting it back in about half an hour, so if you want, you can wait here for it.”
But as she’s behind schedule, Renee goes back to her car to find something that she could use to fill with petrol. Then, what mazel, she notices the bedpan she always keeps handy in case of patient need. So she takes the bedpan to the petrol station, fills it and carries it back to her car.
Two Christian men are passing by and watch her pour in the petrol. One turns to the other and says, “If that car starts, I’m converting to Judaism!”

Israeli Doctors in Haiti

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(compiled by Jacob Richman)

The IDF sent an aid delegation of over 220 search and rescue and medical personnel to assist in the rescue efforts following the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Search and rescue teams are working around the clock to extract victims trapped in the rubble and the IDF has constructed a field hospital capable of treating up to 500 people a day near the soccer field in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Footage from the IDF Field Hospital that has been set up in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, after the earthquake. This video includes footage of the first baby born at the field hospital on January 17, 2010.http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-jHcwlKqYLo
CNN Video: Haiti Patients are desperate for better medical care.Article: Haaretz: Israel’s Haiti field hospital:
a microcosm of a country’s turmoil
Article: Muqata Blog:
IDF Soldier’s eyewitness account in Haiti 
CBS News Video: IDF Field Hospital in Haiti
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UX-UmrFAWNw2nd video of the IDF Field Hospital that has been set up in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, after the earthquake.
This video was uploaded on January 18, 2010.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=FCx0SKPG9V0
IDF Search and Rescue teams in Port-au-Prince Haiti pulled a 52 year-old Hatian man from the rubble of a collapsed building. The team worked for 8 hours to extract the man, who was in good condition despite wounds on his limbs and dehydration. He had been trapped in the rubble for 90 hours, and had managed to communicate his location to rescue forces via sms. Article: Ynet: Israelis Rescue Earthquake Survivor in HaitiArticle: NBC New York: Brother of Queens Doctor Rescued in Haiti http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=oSsCBuBVzQwhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=mzOAwIMcErg
Hebrew interview with the rescue team that worked for 7-8 hours to pull a 52 year-old Hatian man from the rubble of a collapsed building.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UP1SOlw4mjAA Fox News clip of Israeli doctors in Haiti http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Q3yTptugzPI
 

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A Get Or Not A Get is Gotta be the question.An orthodox woman’s 3-year divorce fight

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Her approach is correct.  Broadcast these Middle Age Jewish Chauvinistic Customs

An orthodox woman’s 3-year divorce fight

Four-and-a-half years ago, Gital Dodelson, now 25, of Lakewood, NJ, married Avrohom Meir Weiss, part of a respected rabbinic family on Staten Island. Ten months after the wedding, Dodelson left the marital home with their newborn son, claiming her husband was controlling and manipulative. Despite getting civilly divorced in August 2012, they remain married under Jewish law because Weiss refuses to grant the faith’s decree of divorce, known as a “get.” As a result, Dodelson’s life in the Orthodox community is in limbo and she is unable to date, let alone get married again. Now, after more than three years of pleading with Weiss to sign the document that will set her free, Dodelson has gone public with her story in The Post:

I’m helping my friend get ready for a date. It’s Saturday night after Shabbat, and I can see how excited she is as she puts on her makeup and curls her hair. She never met the guy before, but it’s fun to think about the possibilities. Who knows — in just a few months from now, could this be the man she’s engaged to?

As I zip up her dress, I feign a smile — but inside I feel despair. She has what I long for — a life where she’s free to date men. But men can’t even look at me now. That’s because I’m an agunah — an Orthodox Jewish woman whose husband won’t give her a “get.” Under the eyes of God, I’m still married, chained to someone who refuses to release me back into society.

When I first met Avrohom in October 2008, I thought he was great husband material. That’s what my parents and friends told me. After all, in my society you’re expected to listen to them on these matters.

They told me that at 23, he was learned, a great Talmudic scholar from an esteemed family, whose great-grandfather, Moshe Feinstein, was a legendary rabbi.

It’s traditional to arrange the date through a matchmaker. Days later, there was a knock at my front door. My dad opened it and led a handsome, dark-haired man with bright blue eyes into the room. He spoke softly and politely, but seemed shy. I happily got in his car.

Our first date was at a big hotel near the Garden State Parkway, and we sat in the lobby drinking Diet Cokes. In Jewish culture, this is the quintessential way that you get to know a potential partner. Dates always happen in a public place and are very formal. We spoke about our families, and although he seemed interested in what I had to say, it was a little off-putting because he kept fiddling with his phone.

I always think it’s impolite not to accept a second date, so I agreed to see Avrohom again. This time, he only really became animated when he was talking about his expensive watch. I told the matchmaker I wanted to stop seeing him, that we weren’t a fit.

Days later, my parents got an urgent phone call from his parents — begging me to reconsider, saying that the personality he showed me on our dates wasn’t the real him, that he was nervous around girls. My parents asked me to think about it because his parents were so insistent I had the wrong impression of him.

In Orthodox dating, you rely a lot on what other people tell you — what their impression is. So I gave him another chance.

After two months of dating — about twice a week, every week, first sharing sodas in hotel lobbies, then graduating to dinner and visits to the Museum of Natural History — we both knew we were expected to take the next step of getting engaged.

Gital Dodelson is now studying law while awaiting a religious divorce from her ex.

It was a chilly December night, and he took me to a glitzy hotel in Midtown. We were walking around on the mezzanine level, watching all the tourists whizzing around below. Avrohom suddenly dropped to one knee, pulled out a black velvet box with a sparkling, round diamond ring inside, and asked me to marry him.

“Gital,” he said, softly. “We can have a wonderful future together.” He talked about the kind of marriage he wanted, where we’d be equal partners and make decisions together. Suddenly my reservations about him melted away. All I could think about was the excitement of the wedding.

The engagement period in our community, like our dating, is very short. There was so much to do before our February wedding that I didn’t worry too much about our compatibility.

As per our tradition, each side pays for certain things — our side the food, his side the flowers. I didn’t fuss much over these things, but I couldn’t believe how many times Avrohom sent back the invitation because it wasn’t the perfect font. Looking back, I should have seen the signs.

Before I knew it, the big day arrived. Four hundred guests celebrated with us at a gorgeous catering hall in Lakewood. I felt so beautiful in my ivory lace dress and veil, with a white rose bouquet. The band, which Avrohom chose himself, had all the guests, women on their side and men on the other, dancing for hours.

But only three days into the marriage, I knew I made a terrible mistake. It was our first Shabbat together as man and wife — and it was spent in silence. We were about to light the Sabbath candles, and we discussed how each of our families likes to light it. It’s a female tradition, and you typically do what your mother did. When my way contradicted his way, he criticized me and turned angry. Avrohom said: “You have no choice. It’s not my way,” and gave me the cold shoulder for the next 24 hours. From Friday night to Saturday night, we didn’t speak a word.

When I couldn’t stand the hostility anymore, I said, “You can’t just ignore me — this isn’t how a relationship works. We have to be able to talk about these things.” The only response he could muster was: “When I don’t get my way, I don’t know how to function.”

I got pregnant right away. As a Torah-observant man, Avrohom would study in the yeshiva all day while I was in school or working at my mom’s technology company.

I was the sole breadwinner, but he had control over our finances. Several times he would give handouts to his brother, who was unemployed. “Why are you giving away the money that I earned?” I asked Avrohom one day. “You don’t get to make the decisions,” he replied, adding that I’m stupid. “I’m the man of the house.” He wouldn’t allow me to employ an occasional housekeeper so, even though I was pregnant and exhausted, I had to do all the cooking and cleaning as well as work up to 40 hours a week.

His controlling and belittling behavior only got worse. I guess I was in denial about how bad things really were. I couldn’t confide in anybody, not even my mom.

We were sitting down to dinner one night, and I casually mentioned that I’d picked an OB-GYN. “Why didn’t you consult me first?” he growled. “It’s up to me to choose your doctor.” When I asked if he had any better suggestions, he said that I should produce a short list of 10, and that he got final say. He always had to be in the position of control — it’s stifling.

At one point, I suggested we look at places in Lakewood, where there would be more room for the baby and we’d be closer to my family who could help out. He said, “People always fuss too much over new mothers, not the father. You’re too spoiled!” My heart sank. I thought: “How can I bring a child into this world with a virtual stranger? Someone I’m so disconnected from?”

Around my seventh month, after getting the silent treatment over Shabbat again, I told Avrohom that we needed to see a marriage counselor. He flatly dismissed the idea, saying: “You can pack your bags and leave. We’re not going to therapy under any circumstances, and if anyone finds out we have a bad marriage, I’ll divorce you.”

Our son, Aryeh, was born on Nov. 19, 2009 at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital. He was two weeks early, and I wonder to this day if it was because of the mental strain I was under during the pregnancy.

The second the nurse handed him to me, the world was a perfect place. I had this beautiful, perfect person. But I was soon reminded that my husband was quite the opposite. My parents had been in the waiting room for hours during the labor.

When they asked to come in to see me afterward, Avrohom steadfastly refused to let them into the room.

I later found out that he actually manhandled my mom, shoving her back as she tried to walk out of the room. That’s a major taboo against women, and she was very shaken up. My father told Avrohom, “Don’t touch my wife,” and he backed off.

Finally, Avrohom gave in, and they came in to see me.

A few weeks after Aryeh arrived, Avrohom agreed to move together to a rented apartment in Lakewood. It was on one condition: that we took the baby and slept over with his family in Staten Island at least once a week.

Two weeks later, on a frigid December night, Avrohom insisted we drive to see his parents. I didn’t want to needlessly drag a newborn out in the freezing cold, so I said no. He was yelling at me, and the baby started crying because Avrohom’s shouting woke him up. He was only 1 month old.

Avrohom had already stormed out of the house twice after two other rows, but this time I reached my breaking point. I said, ‘This isn’t working, I’m moving back to my parents.’ I packed up Aryeh right then and there, and drove off. I told him I wasn’t coming back, and I meant it.

I said: “You’re not a bad man. We’re just not right for each other.” He snapped back: “You would make any man unhappy.”

When my mom met me at the front door, I blurted out what had happened and how terribly unhappy I’d been. Thank God she was sympathetic. She then told me she and my dad had been increasingly worried about his controlling behavior.

Avrohom filed for full custody of Aryeh a few months later, in March 2010, at New Jersey civil court. He broke with tradition — instead of going straight to a beit din (a Jewish court) to resolve our issues, he filed in civil court, which shocked people because it takes a certain kind of person to thumb his nose at Jewish tradition like that.

But it was all a front. He was actually going to use Jewish tradition against me as a weapon.

While he agreed to a divorce in the civil courts (which blocked his bid for full custody of Aryeh but gave him custody every other weekend, plus every Tuesday and Thursday for a total 12 hours a week), he still holds the trump card. He will not sign the “get,” the all-important bill of divorce which is recognized by halacha (Jewish law).

Civil law governs the legal aspects of life, but under the eyes of God — and everyone who’s important to me — I’m still married to Avrohom. On paper, I am a free woman. But this means nothing in halacha, and I’m still imprisoned by my husband to this day.

On my last mission to ask for a get, a month ago, Avrohom said, “I can’t give you a get — how else would I control you?” I think that’s the key to it all. He insists the marriage isn’t over until he says it’s over.

We’ve tried everything — the informal route, negotiations. I’ve asked him myself, my parents have asked his, our camp tries to reason with his camp, but, counting down from the time when he sued for custody in March 2010 and I first asked him for a get, we’ve been shut down for 3¹/₂ years. One proposal his side put forward in January was for me to agree to override the court decision on custody of Aryeh and hand over a payment of $350,000. There’s no way I can afford that.

It’s been an uphill battle trying to appeal to his family — this almost untouchable, powerful rabbinic family. Many rabbis have called on his grandfather, Rabbi Reuven Feinstein, who heads the Yeshiva of Staten Island, to influence his grandson to give a get, but he staunchly supports Avrohom. Prominent rabbis have even called for the dismissal of his father, Yosaif Asher Weiss, as editor for the major Jewish publisher . Ironically, [Avrohom’s] great-grandfather Moshe Feinstein was a major champion of agunot, and convinced many husbands to give their wives a get in his day. Now Avrohom is one of those insubordinate husbands.

I would love to find a stepfather for Aryeh, and someone who I could have more children with, but right now I can’t even have coffee with a guy. It wouldn’t be fair to him or myself.

If I move on romantically without a get, I would have to leave this community — my friends and family and entire support system — because it’s committing adultery. My children and I would be ostracized and not welcomed in the community.

Some people might argue that I should ignore the traditions of the Torah. But I’m deeply religious and won’t go against the God I believe in. Why should I?

One good thing is that I have gathered a lot of support from people in the community who are horrified by the whole issue of the agunot [women whose husbands won’t grant gets]. They staged two rallies outside Avrohom’s home in Staten Island, with about 200 supporters each, in June 2012 and June 2013. We asked people to make it as non-confrontational as possible and keep it respectful. He never even came out of his house. Even though withholding a get is defined by Jewish law as a form of domestic abuse, Avrohom refuses to give an inch.

[Calls and e-mails from the New York Post to Avrohom Meir Weiss and his family members have gone unanswered.]

I am currently in my last year of a law degree at Rutgers University, but I was planning on being a lawyer even before I got married. I find the idea of the law helping agunot interesting, and I would be willing to do whatever I could to help anyone is such a situation.

The lesson I’ve learned from this whole thing is not to turn people away when they need help, regardless of what kind of situation they’re in. I hope I can use my legal experience to help people, regardless of whether they’re agunot.

It’s an insulated community. It takes a strong push to step out beyond that. This step I’m taking is difficult but necessary. I’ve decided to go public with my story after exhausting every other possible means. the Orthodox are fiercely private, but I am willing to air my dirty laundry if it means I can finally get on with my life.

Avrohom, if you’re reading this, this is my last bid: Let’s both move on with our lives. Let us focus on Aryeh and our future, instead of being stuck in the past.

More about the get:

Few people outside the tight-knit Orthodox Jewish community have heard of the get — the crucial document in Jewish law which a husband must sign before a divorce is finalized in the eyes of God.

Without it, the wife, known as an agunah, is not allowed to marry again. If she has children, they are considered bastards. The man, however, can move on without a get, openly dating other women.

The contentious issue of the get came to public notice last month after two rabbis in Brooklyn were accused of charging vulnerable agunot up to $60,000 each to kidnap and torture husbands who refused to sign the paperwork.

In some cases, electric cattle prods allegedly were used on the recalcitrant men’s genitals.

The Organization for the Resolution of Agunot (ORA), a New York-based nonprofit, condemns all forms of violence and extortion, and acts as an intermediary between the wives and husbands in an effort to secure a get.

“The refusal to issue a get is never justified and is defined in Jewish law as domestic abuse,” says Rabbi Jeremy Stern, executive director of ORA.

Some agunot have been waiting as long as 10 years after their marriages ended in the civil courts. Others have been unable to unchain themselves from husbands who are criminals or even pedophiles.

“It’s the last form of control the husband has over his wife,” adds Stern. “The mentality is, ‘If I can’t have her, no one can.’ It’s fundamentally about control and spite.”

NYC is highly affected by the agunah crisis, with 30 of the 50 cases currently being handled by ORA involving at least one spouse living in the region.

ORA has resolved 205 cases since 2002. (The latest estimates, from a 2011 study, report 462 agunot from the previous five-year period in the US and Canada.) Twenty-three percent of ORA’s cases concern non-Orthodox women.

Stern says that in Modern Orthodox circles, the get is often used as leverage, so his organization tries to broker one before any civil decision is made.

As for the Dodelson case, he says: “It’s shocking that Weiss hasn’t made any public statements about it. What his side says they’re looking for is greater custody/visitation and a large sum of money as compensation for legal fees.

“He was the plaintiff in all civil court matters; now he’s using the get as extortionary leverage.”

For more information, see SetGitalFree.com or getora.org.

Torah and Head Gear – One woman – many ways to cover your hair

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To be a man and choose what kind and what color of your kippah to wear can sometimes be complicated – knitted, velvet, satin, big, small, black, blue etc – but that’s nothing compared to the options that the women are having:

Tichel, sheitel, hat – or just a head band.

romantico-en-raso     jean-con-cinturon-charolado

By living in the holiest of the holy cities, Jerusalem, I’m asking myself daily where do all the women find their head coverings and I seriously think I found the answer to this question today – at israelhats.com

Israelhats is more than just a store. Israelhats is a provider of all different kinds of head coverings, with both physicals stores in Israel and the U.S, as well as they sell all their productsonline.

Many similar shops online are selling one kind of head coverings, either hats or scarves – or at least mainly one of those – but israelhats are offering a big variety of both kinds. In addition to the actual scarves and hats, you can also order stunning accessories such as headbands. And it’s all very affordable too – and all manufactured in very good quality and modern design too.

petalos-y-madera      trenza

One reason why israelhats.com one of my favorite websites is simply because its so easy to navigate their website – doesn’t matter what you’re looking for. The menu is easy to understand, and each kind of head covering has its own page, with pictures and prices – and with an option to press “add to cart”.

With prices from as low as $20 you can all find something useful and fashionable to wear – either you’re looking for a tichel, a bandana or a hat.

aterciopelado      frunces

Survey: Egypt Overtaking Saudis As Most Conservative

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Survey: Egypt Overtaking Saudis As Most Conservative

Survey of 7 Arab countries: Saudis think women should cover all but eyes in public, yet half for women choosing clothes.
Arab women (file)

Arab women (file)
Flash 90

A recent survey of 7 Muslim-majority Middle Eastern countries has revealed conflicting viewpoints in Saudi Arabia, a country that doesn’t let women drive and is often considered one of the most repressive nations in terms of women’s rights.

While nearly 2 out of 3 in Saudi Arabia think women should cover all but their eyes in public, nearly 50% say women should choose how they dress. The latter figure is close to the response in more liberal Lebanon with its large Christian population, and is far more permissive than Iraq, Pakistan or Egypt.

Mansoor Moaddel, lead author of the survey published by the Middle Eastern Values Study at the University of Michigan, claims to CNN that the results show Saudia Arabia has “a considerable liberal leaning.”

“Saudi has had a religious government for a long time,” stated Moaddel. “People tend to develop an opposition attitude.”

While Saudi Arabia recently allowed its first female lawyer, the nation’s religious police enforcing Sharia law have a far from stellar record on women’s rights. In March 2002, religious police stopped schoolgirls from escaping a burning school in Mecca because they were not wearing headscarves and black robes, nor were they accompanied by a man. As a result, 15 girls died and 50 were injured.

Moaddel argues that Egypt is the most conservative of the Muslim nations, as only 14% there said women should choose their dress, the lowestresults among the 7 nations.

Furthermore, 19 in 20 Egyptians said a women should be required to obey her husband, the highest result in that question.

The findings back research last November which placed Egypt the lowest in the Arab world in terms of women’s rights, with Saudi Arabia coming in third worst. A UN report last April found that 99.3% of Egyptian women and girls had been sexually harassed.

However, Moaddel assesses the Egyptian position as being sexist without relation to Islam. “The problem with Egypt is not just religion, it is an intellectual trend,” said the researcher, adding “Egyptians have become more sexist in the past decade. They have become less religious, less supportive of Sharia (Islamic law), but on the issue of gender, more conservative.”

The survey found that the generally agreed mode of dress for women in public among the 7 Muslim nations consisted of a tight white headscarf covering everything but the face.

Interviews with 2,005 people in Saudi Arabia and at least 3,000 in each of the 6 other countries made up the data for the survey.

Top 10 Fast Facts about Ariel Sharon

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 Ariel Sharon was known as The Bulldozer: a larger-than-life, blustering figure who came to dominate the domestic political scene as much by his sheer physical presence as by his rhetoric. He died this afternoon at the age of 85. Here are some important facts you need to know about this very important leader.

Ariel Sharon in Knesset

10. Unit 101

In 1953, Sharon created an elite military group called Unit 101. This special branch of the Israel Defense Forces was responsible for the launching of retaliatory strikes against Palestinian terrorists.

9. Renewed friendship with Africa

He renewed diplomatic ties with some African nations that had been cut off nearly a decade earlier. He also assisted with the immigration of large numbers of Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

8. Lebanon War 1982

Sharon allied himself with pro-Christian Lebanese, and supported a new government that was led by Bachir Gemayel. After Gemayel was assassination, a faction of Gemayel’s supporters attacked the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. Palestinians held Sharon accountable for the terror. Sharon would later explain that the militia was supposed to rid them of any remaining terrorists. The Lebanese War put a dent on Sharon’s career as a military and political figure.

7. Meat lover

Sharon, 5-foot-7 and a meat lover, at times had weighed more than 300 pounds. Doctors ordered him to go on a diet in 2005 after a minor stroke. Stories of Sharon’s appetite and obesity were legendary in Israel. He would often stock his car with caviar, vodka, and snacks.

6. Eldest Son

Sharon’s eldest son, Gur, died at age 11 in a gun accident in 1967.  Gur was playing with his friend when they found an antique gun and the friend accidentally pulled the trigger. Gur died in Sharon’s arms on the way to the hospital.

ariel sharon and david ben gurion

5. Hometown

Sharon was very connected to his family farm in the Negev Desert. He asked for updated information when every calf was born, according to Sharon: The Life of a Leader.

4. Roadmap to peace

In May 2003, Sharon approved the Road Map for Peace, which paved the way to open a dialogue with Mahmud Abbas, showing his willingness to establish a Palestinian state.

3. Marriage

Sharon was married twice. His first wife Margaret died in a car crash in 1962. He soon remarried Margaret’s sister Lily and the two were married until Lily died of cancer in 200.

2. Health problems

Sharon suffered a minor ischemic stroke, while still in office. He had no major health concerns before the major stroke that left him in a coma for 8 years. His obesity, combined with high cholesterol, contributed to his failing health.

1.Legacy

He is ranked among the most powerful leaders in the history of Israel, who succeeded in removing the Israeli soldiers from Gaza. Unfortunately, he did not live to see the tensions diminish.

Related articles

 

Sharon’s political legacy: Livni and Lapid are in his debt

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Pulling Israel out of Gaza, Sharon created a new constituency of Israeli voters looking for peace but without compromising on security. Its impact is felt even today

His military prowess made him famous, his disregard for the rules infamous and his decision to pull Israel out of Gaza a legend, but few outside of Israel remember him as the unlikely father of the Israeli political center.

Kadima election poster (Photo: Gilad Kollorchik)
Kadima election poster (Photo: Gilad Kollorchik)

Following his overwhelming defeat in the 1999 elections,Benjamin Netanyahu resigned the Likud leadership, and Sharon was elected as his successor in Israel’s right-wing party.

Related stories:

In 2001, with the Likud under his control, General Sharon ran against Ehud Barak in a special election for prime minister, and won by a landslide. Sharon was still the epitome of the Israeli rightwing: Militant, headstrong and unabashedly opposed to the land-for-peace formula.

But after two years of a brutal and bloody intifada, which left more than 4,000 Palestinians and Israelis dead, Sharon began to promote his plan for unilateral Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

The plan swayed neither to the left nor right: On the one hand it called for the uprooting of Israeli settlements, settlements Sharon himself had built as housing minister, yet it wasn’t leftist: its underlying rationale was not one of dialogue and peace, but rather a unilateral “disengagement” from the Palestinian people – a severing of a rotting umbilical cord, not an end to the occupation.

More importantly, the plan was primarily concerned with Gaza, and not with the West Bank.

Against all odds, and despite a severe internal crisis within the Likud, the Disengagement Plan took place in August of 2005; eight thousand settlers were removed from Gaza, and their homes demolished. In the aftermath and the not unexpected political fallout, Sharon announced his departure from the Likud to establish a new party – Kadima , or Forward.

The rationale behind the party’s formation was both ideological and political: Sharon had come to understand that he would not be able to realize his vision for the region through the Likud – yet it was obvious that he had no viable home in the Labor party that he despised, and which despised him just as much.

Pulling moderates from the Likud and disgruntled Labor MKs – among them current President Shimon Peres – Arik created ex nihilo a centrist party based around the premise of unilateral disengagement from Palestinians, a vaguely liberal ideology and a capitalistic agenda.

While it was far from being Israel’s first centrist party, Kadima succeeded where others had failed, overcoming classic political and ethnic fault lines and consolidating a constituency underrepresented on either the right or the left; both in terms of economy and security.

Unlike its political predecessors Shinui (Change) and before that Dash, which ran on a strong liberal and anti-religious agenda and failed to step beyond the niche of wealthy Ashkenazi voters, Kadima managed to pull in right-wing Sephardic votes – at the expense of the Likud – as well pragmatic and free-market oriented Labor voters.

Riding on Sharon’s political and military clout, Kadima managed to present a viable alternative to the classic left-right (Likud-Labor) divide. It allowed the middle class to vote for a two-state solution, without compromising on security. It was a peace-oriented jingoism of sorts.

Thus, Sharon, the man who always got his way, cashed in on a crisis of representation and facilitated a new type of politics in Israel – one unbound by international demands or messianic land-grabs.

Kadima’s impressive success in the elections after Sharon’s collapse consolidated the center as a long-term presence in the Israeli political scene; not so much as any specific party, but as a political force to be reckoned with.

And although Kadima failed to follow up on its 2006 victory, and its power seemed to slowly ebb away, the modest success ofTzipi Livni ‘s Hatnua and the massive win by Yair Lapid‘s Yesh Atidgive weight to the belief that there is a large number of Israelis still in search of a political home.

Lapid managed to pick up the votes that Livni and her Kadima successorShaul Mofaz lost, but the pool of voters over which they’re fighting is Sharon’s doing. Thanks to Sharon, a new constituency has been born in Israel.

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