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November 29, 2014 / 7 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘army’

IDF: Haredi Yeshiva Deans Cheat, Covering for No-Show Students

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Yesterday, during an in-camera session of the Knesset committee preparing the “equal burden” bill for its second reading before the plenum, the IDF representative at the meeting, Brigadier-Gen. Gadi Agmon, launched a vehement attack on the deans of Haredi yeshivas, accusing them of outright lying and covering up for students who are registered but do not show up for classes, Ma’ariv reported.

The legal arrangement between Israeli governments and Haredi yeshivas over the years, known as the “Torato umnuto” (his Torah study is his occupation) deal, recognized that young men whose only engagement was Torah scholarship would be absolved from enlisting in the army so long as they continue their studies. To be fair, the IDF has been giving similar deals to young men engaged in secular studies, but in many cases those deals involved attending students technical schools who went on to serve a longer stint, often using the skills they had learned.

The “Torato Umnuto” soon became a blanket covering the vast majority of Haredi young men, whether they were actually studying or not. It also turned out to be a two-edged sword, as those young men were barred from legal employment because of their military status, and so many were condemned to a life of dead-end jobs paid for illegaly.

This was the main purpose of the Tal Committee Law, which, back in 2002, was attempting to interject fairness and honesty into a seriously broken system. Many in the Haredi world have pointed to the steady stream of recruits, as well as the steadily rising numbers of Haredim both in the job market and in academic institutions as signs that the Tal law was working. But the Supreme Court, ever eager to equalize the country, was dissatisfied with what it considered lukewarm results and eventually killed the bill in the winter of 2012.

The new law, hammered out by the (Yesh Atid MK and Minister) Jacob Perry committee over the past six months, is a more sweeping version of the Tal law, calling for larger numbers of Haredi recruits in a shorter period of time. But while on paper the numbers might please the high court—in the Haredi world the Perry effort (which they usually pin on Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett’s back) is tantamount to at least the Russian Czar’s conscription of Jews, if not an outright holocaust.

This is the background of Brigadier-Gen. Agmon’s assault on the yeshiva deans, whom he sees as saboteurs of all the arrangements ever reached between the Zionist establishment and the Haredim, whether the Haredi representative were inside or outside the coalition government.

“It is inconceivable that deans of yeshivas would lie knowingly and sign for their students as if they’re present full time in the yeshivas, while in reality they’re not there,” Agmon, who serves as head of the Planning and Military Personnel Dept. in the IDF. “There are thousands who don’t study in the yeshivas [while stating that they are], but we don’t have the apparatus to enable us to identify them and enforce their enlistment,” he added.

Agmon’s appearance marked a distinct change in the IDF’s approach to the new draft legislation being cobbled in committee, this time headed by Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked. Until yesterday, the army stayed away from the discussion, essentially committing to carry out whatever the political echelon would decide. But the gloves were taken off yesterday, and all the spades were called out by the general.

MK Shaked decided to keep the session closed to the media, most likely to enable the Haredi committee members to speak frankly, away from their own newspapers which have been frothing at the mouth over the new bill for six months now. According to Ma’ariv, MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) and MK Ariel Atias (Shas) both agreed that a yeshiva boy who comes of age and is not attending classes should be drafted. Gafni went as far as to say that, should it be needed, those students should go to jail if they refuse to serve.

The problem is that that, too, is part of the Haredi parties’ kabuki theater, whereby they talk a good line, but when it comes to anyone actually encouraging those young men to inject a measure of honesty into their lives and go serve in the army – everybody is collaborating to keep them in the black garb, hat and all.

The Next Bloodbath : Lebanon

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

During the past two years we have become accustomed to the seemingly endless bloodbath in Syria, which has become a boxing ring for the many forces that are tearing it apart, while tearing its citizens apart in the process as well. But now the flames of the Arab Spring are threatening its western neighbor, Lebanon, the most democratic Arab or Muslim state in the modern Middle East. The Lebanese political system, which is built on a delicate balance among many sects and political bodies, has been directly influenced in the past two years by the events in Syria, because several Lebanese bodies are deeply involved in the Syrian tragedy.

Many have written about Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria, and one may assume that this involvement – together with the terror attack in Burgas, Bulgaria – was the basis for the EU’s decision to declare the military arm of Hezbollah as a terror organization. Hezbollah is the target of harsh criticism these days, both by Sunni groups that identify with the rebels against Asad in Syria, and by the Shi’ites who fear that the Syrian Sunnis will bring its revenge to Lebanon. However, Nasrallah does not listen to his opposition and continues to carry out Teheran’s instructions to help Asad survive at any price, even at the price of the lives of hundreds of Hezbollah fighters.

The Sunnis do their part too, by trying to attack Hezbollah in it’s own domain, in Lebanon. To date we have seen missile strikes on Dahiya, the southern suburb of Beirut, which is the Hezbollah stronghold, as well as a car bomb that exploded there in mid-June. Supporters of Syria are also targets of Hezbollah’s opposition: In the beginning of the week of July 21, a Syrian journalist of Kurdish extraction named Mohammed Dhirar Jammu, a supporter of the Asad regime, was murdered in the Lebanese city of Sarafand.

But lately reports have begun to appear in the Arabic media that a new Sunni front, the Lebanese branch of the Syrian group Jabhat al-Nusra, is steadily strengthening and consolidating in Lebanon. Jabhat al-Nusra, which also has branches in Iraq, is part of the global system of al-Qaeda-inspired organizations that translate into practical terms the teachings of bin Laden, which are based on the ideology of his mentor, Palestinian Sheikh Abdullah Azzam.

First of all, the full, official name of the organization is “Jabhat al-Nusra li-Ahal al-Sham” – “The Defensive Front for the People of Greater Syria.” The term “Greater Syria” expresses the organization’s rejection of the division of the modern Middle East into modern states – Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel – because they were founded by Christian-European colonialism in order to serve its own interests. The “al-Sham” region includes West Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the Land of Israel, which the Arabs call “Filastin”. Therefore, Israel must keep a watchful eye on this organization because it is theoretically possible that the Muslims in Israel will want to open branches of the organization in Israel as well. And this actually almost happened, but then was blocked when Sheikh Nazem Abu Islim of Nazareth was arrested, tried and imprisoned.

Jabhat al-Nusra in Lebanon

The Christian writer Luna Khuri describes the structure of the Lebanese branch of Jabhat al-Nusra in the Elaph Internet site. The head of the organization is Muhammad al-Rish from Tripoli, whose brother, Samer abd al-Rahim al-Rish, was one of the leaders of the Jund al-Sham organization (Greater Syrian Army) and was killed last month in the battle of the Crusader fortress Krak des Chevaliers, near Homs. Muhammad al-Rish’s immediate task is to defend the budding development of Jabhat al-Nusra in Lebanon from attacks by the Lebanese military, which are carried out against it by instructions from Hassan Nasrallah.

In mid-June of this year, the Lebanese army eliminated the Sunni Salafi sheikh, Ahmad al-Asir in Sidon, and captured a truck full of military equipment near the town of Arsal, in Lebanon’s  Bekaa Valley. This town is apparently the logistical center of the Jabhat al-Nusra organization in Lebanon, because of its location on the border of Syria and Lebanon. Its local commander in the town was Khaled Hunayd, who was killed by agents of Lebanese military intelligence. The present commander took a lesson from this event, so he now operates incognito, heading a group that includes approximately 200 fighters under the spiritual leadership of Sheikh Mustapha al-Hujairi – called Abu Takia (the turbaned one), who issued a fatwa – a religious legal ruling – that allows killing soldiers of the Lebanese army.

Egyptian Army to Morsi: You’re No Longer the President

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Al Ahram reports that a source close to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi said that the Egyptian Army informed Morsi at 7 pm on Wednesday, that he is no longer the president of Egypt.

The Egyptian Army is carrying out a “full military coup” and the army has placed a travel ban on the country’s embattled President Mohamed Morsi, officials told the AP.

The coup came at the end of the 48 hours Egypt’s army gave Morsi to respond to the demands of protesters who have filled the country’s streets in recent days.

The streets of Cairo were jammed again on Wednesday, with competing pro- and anti-Morsi rallies.

In a statement posted on the Egyptian Presidency Facebook page, Essam El-Haddad, Egypt’s national security adviser called the on-going situation “a full military coup,” and warned that it will only lead to more violence.

“Today only one thing matters. In this day and age no military coup can succeed in the face of sizeable popular force without considerable bloodshed. Who among you is ready to shoulder that blame?” he wrote.

Gen. Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi said the military was fulfilling its “historic responsibility” by ousting Morsi, who was elected only a year ago. Morsi failed to meet the people’s expectations, most notably on economic issues, and the crowds took him down. Now these same crowds erupted victoriously as the announcement was made.

Ahead of the statement, troops moved into key positions around the capital and surrounded a demonstration by Morsi’s supporters in a Cairo suburb. Citing an unnamed presidential source, the state-run newspaper Al-Ahram reported that “the General Command of the Armed Forces told President Morsi around 7 PM (1 PM) that he is no longer a president for the republic.”

Morsi offered to form an interim coalition government “that would manage the upcoming parliamentary electoral process, and the formation of an independent committee for constitutional amendments to submit to the upcoming parliament,” he said in a posting on his Facebook page. He noted that hundreds of thousands of supporters and protesters had packed plazas around the country, and he urged that his countrymen be allowed to express their opinions through the ballot box.

But as night fell Wednesday, troops surrounded a pro-Morsi demonstration at a Cairo mosque and took control of a key bridge across the Nile River. Gehad El-Haddad, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, reported via Twitter that tanks were on the streets.

Possible Military Coup Underway in Egypt

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

The US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki could not confirm if a military coup is currently underway in Egypt. but they are  “very concerned about what we’re seeing on the ground”.  There are rumors that Morsi has been confined to house arrest. AFP reports that the army has placed a travel ban on Morsi and other top Egyptian Islamists.

Egyptian troops have been seen spreading out throughout Cairo, Alexandria and at some points along the Suez.

The Egyptian Ahram Online  reports that ninety three Egyptian diplomats have gone on strike in protest of Egyptian president Morsi’s “failure to meet the people’s demands”.

U.S. Cuts Israel’s Military Aid by 5%

Friday, June 21st, 2013

The U.S. cut $175 million from the $3.1 billion dollars of Foreign Military Financing (FMF) it supplies Israel, as part of across the board cuts in international military aid, according to a report in Ma’ariv.

Ambassador Michael Oren said Israel would not be asking for an exemption from the cuts, and that Israel would carry its share of the burden.

Most of the US military aid must actually be spent in the US, with purchases from U.S. companies recognized by the Department of Defense as authorized military contractors.

Israel is one of the largest recipient of FMF funding.

Some in Israel believe that the FMF funding is not a good thing, and in fact limits and restricts Israel’s ability to develop and sell its own military projects, by restricting development and sales to projects that don’t significantly compete with U.S. military sales.

It’s not yet clear what purchases will be cut from the budget, but it may affect the purchase of the controversial F-35 stealth plane.

The cuts in general will negatively affect U.S. military activities overseas, as well as possibly reduce joint training exercises with Israel.

Syrian Army Completes S300 Training in Russia

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

Syrian soldiers have completed their training on the S300 surface to air missile systems (anti-aircraft) on Russian soil, according to a report on Israel Channel 1. The Syrian soldiers have spent the past two months training on the platform.

Russia is expected to deliver the first missiles to Syria within two months.

There is concern in Israel that the S300 systems will actually be manned by Russian troops in Syria.

Canadian Chief of Staff Visiting Israel

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Chief of the Defense Staff of the Canadian Armed Forces General Thomas J. Lawson arrived in Israel today for his first visit to the country as commander of the Canadian Armed Forces. His arrival coincided with the first official visit by U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

Gen. Lawson will be hosted by the IDF Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz and will hold briefings with senior military commanders to discuss mutual security challenges, as well as cooperation between the Canadian and Israeli militaries.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/canadian-chief-of-staff-visiting-israel/2013/04/21/

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