Posts Tagged With: IDF

Eisner and the Activists: What Really Happened on Saturday at Route 90?

Within a week it had almost 600,000 hits. The video, released on YouTube a week ago, showed IDF soldier Shlomo Eisner striking a young distracted Danish man in the face with the long side of his M16 on Saturday afternoon (April 14, 2012).

After a flurry of articles including two New York Times articles (April 17, April 18), it looked like the story would die down. But on Friday B’Tselem released a new video filmed by Palestinian TV. The video shows Eisner hitting an additional 4 people, one in the back with his gun. Another person struck by Eisner was standing still in front of Eisner. In order to strike her Eisner had to take at least one pace forward and lunge.

Eisner had claimed that he was acting in self defense after having already been attacked. He said the first video had been heavily edited. It presented a distorted picture of what happened. The so-called cyclists were anarchists. For Eisner to have acted in any other way would have put lives at risk. Continue reading

Categories: Building a Just Israel, How Others See Us | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

While Haredi Leaders Rattle Swords, Haredim Enlist in Record Numbers?

According to Arutz Sheva, sources close to the IDF reported that after last week’s announcement of the end of the Tal Law, thousands of young Haredi men visited the IDF recuritment offices and registered for the draft. If this is true, then a single Supreme Court announcemnt encouraged more recuits in one week than had signed up in all of 2010.

This news comes admist cries to fight to the death from Haredi leadership. On Friday, Rabbi Shlomo Auerbach published a letter in the Hebrew edition of Yated saying that Charedim should resist the draft even at the price of death. On Sunday, United Torah Judaism and Shas made a joint announcement that any change to the status quo was unacceptable. Moshe Gafni (UTJ) said “”We have no existence without Torah, we will give our lives for it,” .

But will they? Are we wise to be measuring the situation by looking at Haredi leaders, or is the Haredi community like any authoritarian regime: a society whose real opinion simply can’t be measured by looking at the public face?

Rav Dov Halbertal, a follower of Rav Elyashiv,  believes the Haredi community is fully behind their leadership, even if it means essentially negating the authority of the State  and following their rabbis as a separate theocratic government. On Monday he was interviewed by Kol Israel. When asked about the Haredi communities likely response to the Supreme Court decision he said:

Do you think [High Court Justice Elyakim] Rubinstein or the other two High Court justices are going to teach Rav Elyashiv about Moshe Rabbeinu? I don’t say this cynically. They may be outstanding justices but they are not talmidei chachamim and their opinion does not have a bearing on the actions of the chareidi community…. The gedolei hador guide us and we adhere to their words. The gedolei hador do not sit in the High Court, but in our community and they alone will make decisions for the chareidi tzibur…. no one is serving in the army as a result of the court’s decision and if they do not understand this, they are lying to you and your children. I am sorrowed over this, but Bibi for example is deceiving the public. Nothing is going to change.

Rav Dov Halbertal made the Haredi news last October because he argued that the Haredi community should stop all the religious deal making. Instead they should be fighting for a separation of religion and state, even if that means the state will accept Reform conversion. Even if there is an economic price, the benefits outweigh them. Separation would allow haredim to follow their life style in purity. It would also elminate the hatred caused by forced secular observane. People could again love and see the beauty in Judaism because anger would not be clouding their eyes.

Despite the joint statement on Sunday, United Torah Judaism and Shas may not be as united as it first seems. UTJ, Shlomo Auerbach, Dov Halbertal and Rav Elyashiv all come from the Ashkenazi faction of the Haredi community. The Ashkenazim have a reputation for being ideologically driven.

Shas, on the other hand, tends to be more pragmatic when pushed to the wall. On Saturday night during his usual Motzei Shabbat radio address, Ovadia Yosef told his followers not to go on the attack. They should keep studying and “Hashem will fight the war”. As for the joint declaration, HaAretz reported that some Shas members critized their leadershipfor”kneeling before the Ashkenazi leadership, which has taken a militant line.”

Back in December, Eliashiv told his followers that they shouldn’t go to college. While secular Israel was aghast at such a stance, former Eda Haredit spokesman Shmuel Pappenheim and several others argued that the declaration was in fact a sign of diminishing power. Eliashiv was making stern pronouncements precisely because more and more Haredim were defying the rabbis and seeking out work and trainging so they could have the skills needed to have a good income.

It may well be that all of the fierce statements coming from the Haredi politicians in fact recognizes that they are out of time and options. This is certainly one way to read one angry remark from a Haredi politician. According to Arutz Sheva, Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman accused Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch of playing hit and run: “Judges know politics, too,” he explained. “They know how to leave an impression for the years to come.”

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Countdown to Purim, 5772: Hesder Style in Australia

Today’s pre-Purim video is from teachers in Australia’s Torah MiTzion program. The Torah MiTzion program brings graduates from the Israeli army’s Hesder programs to teach in Jewish Day Schools in Australia.

The Hesder program allows Israelis Continue reading

Categories: Diaspora and Israel | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Speaking out of Two Sides of the Mouth

The Israeli government is making itself famous for making public statements to the media that it appears to have no intention of actually living by.

When reports surfaced that some burial societies were preventing women from eulogizing their dead, the Religious services ministry promised to change the contracts to require that women be permitted to eulogize.  Soon after it backed off saying it need a rabbinic opinion from the Sephardi Chief Rabbi, Shlomo Amar.  When public pressure made that position untenable, it agreed to use an older opinion by Chief Rabbi Metzger permitting women to eulogize.  However, instead of the promised changes in contracts it only issued instructions to the burial society.  The Religious Services Ministry has no authority to enforce these instructions so this amounts to window dressing.

Amid much fanfare the IDF announced it would require all soldiers to attend official ceremonies regardless of whether women are singing.  However, now there are rumors that soldiers may indeed walk out even on official ceremonies without consequences.

This summer Israelis gathered week after week in cities across the country for mass rallies to protest the high cost of living for middle class Israelis.   Prime Minister Netanyahu responded by setting up a committee that was supposed to make bold proposals for change.   However, a month later when its report was released, the proposals were anemic.   They offered a handful of changes, all of which would be funded without any budget increases.  The money was supposed to come from defense cuts.  Kadima called it a deception that spit in the face of millions of IsraelisThe IDF said cuts were unrealisticLabor said that it will never be implemented because it merely shifted funds from one place to another.    And indeed it hasn’t been – this December the IDF budget was increased, not decreased.

And perhaps one has to wonder whether the Trachtenberg commission was ever intended to be more than window dressing.  As the Mossawa Center observed:

The committee’s assertion that it is unable to reevaluate the allocation of the State Budget sets the tone of the entire report. The report does not propose to make any changes to socio-economic policy because the committee does not have the mandate to do so. However, the most unfortunate and disappointing aspect is that the committee employed the discourse of the protest movement to frame the report, but refrained from applying the demands of the discourse to the content of the report and the recommendations. Therefore, on face value, the report seems promising. However upon further investigation, it becomes abundantly clear that the report is lacking substantial means to achieve progress.

The committee wasn’t even allowed to consider an appropriate range of changes.  Further when a committee has no authority of its own, then it must rely on its convener, i.e.  the Prime Minister to use his political clout to carry out its proposals.   Not only did the scope of the report fall well short of its stated mission,  Netanyahu has done nothing to mobilize likud to carry out even its scaled down proposals.

In all of these cases the lesson is clear:  the Netanyahu government is only too happy to tell us what we want to hear even when it has no intention of doing anything other than business as usual.

Categories: Building a Just Israel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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