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August 26, 2016 / 22 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘FREE’

IDF: Free Degree For Released Combat Soldiers

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

By Tzvi Lev/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – The IDF announced that soldiers who enlisted before 2013 and served in a combat unit will now be eligible for a free academic degree as of October.

The new measure, which is estimated to cost NIS 230 million a year, will pay for two thirds of the soldiers’ education while the last third will be paid for by the soldiers’ post-military grant. The funds for the program will be provided by the Friends of The IDF and the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers.

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot also reportedly asked Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to find ways to fund the education of non-combat soldiers as well.

Ari Friedman, 25, served in the Kfir Brigade and welcomed the IDF’s decision. “I am glad to see that the IDF is taking the initiative to assist its soldiers in advancing their education and life beyond their service,” he said. “I have no doubt that this will make a positive impact on the soldiers upon their release, as well as on the State of Israel at large.”

Soldiers from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds will also be eligible for the new program despite not having served in a combat unit.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

The Jewish Exception to Free Speech on Campus

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

{Originally posted to the JNS website}

In 2012, the Electronic Intifada, an online anti-Zionist media outlet that aggressively promotes the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, ran a lengthy article suggesting that “allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ create a real climate of fear” that is “silencing” pro-Palestinian student activists on U.S. campuses. I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw the article, not because of the absurd nature of the charges — that Jewish students were somehow intimidating and silencing pro-Palestinian student activists just by virtue of speaking up about the intimidation, and silencing they themselves were experiencing at the hands of those same activists — I laughed because of the accompanying photograph set beneath the headline. In one concise image, it revealed the utter disingenuousness of the thousand words that followed.

Students face a climate of intimidation on several California campuses (UC Berkeley SJP)

Students face a climate of intimidation on several California campuses (UC Berkeley SJP)

The photo, credited to Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at University of California Berkeley, depicted a large pole on campus that was covered from top to bottom with multiple layers of promotional flyers. However, the only ones that were fully visible — because they had been affixed directly on top of the others — were the SJP’s flyers demonizing and delegitimizing Israel and urging the university community to support BDS. The juxtaposition of the photo with its caption, “Students face a climate of intimidation on several California campuses,” practically begged the reader to think: Which students are facing a climate of intimidation?  Certainly not the members of SJP, whose bold and brazen “freedom of expression” to demonize and delegitimize Israel and promote efforts to harm it is literally smothering everyone else’s!

In the four years since that article was published, the smothering of speech depicted in the article’s photo has not improved. In fact for one group of students, it has gotten worse.  Much worse.

A study of anti-Semitic activity in 2016 on more than 100 campuses, which our organization released earlier this week, revealed that over the past year the number of incidents involving the suppression of Jewish students’ freedom of speech and assembly by members of SJP or other anti-Zionist student groups had approximately doubled. For example, in April of this year, more than two dozen members of the General Union of Palestine Students at San Francisco State University disrupted and ultimately shut down a Jewish student event featuring a speech by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. A few minutes after Barkat’s speech had begun, protestors stormed into the hall and loudly chanted slogans such as “Get the hell off our campus,” “Long live the Intifada,” and “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free,” until the speech was prematurely terminated. Similar disruptions and attempted shut-downs of Jewish student events unfolded on campuses across the country.

It is telling that in our study we found a strong correlation between incidents involving the suppression of Jewish students’ freedom of speech and assembly and those involving the expression of anti-Semitic tropes that demonize and delegitimize Israel or promote its destruction: in 2016 all 12 of the schools at which the speech and assembly of Jewish students were suppressed played host to one or more incidents of anti-Zionist expression, and the greater the number of these incidents, the higher the likelihood that Jewish student expression would be suppressed. Not only does this strong correlation suggest that anti-Zionist expression may incite conduct which harms Jewish students, it also underscores the breathtaking hypocrisy of anti-Zionist activists on campus, who vigorously exercise their own freedom of expression but deny Jewish students that same right and freedom.

In addition, the increase in incidents which trample on the civil rights of Jewish students indicates the growing success of a tactic known as “anti-normalization,” which members of SJP and similar anti-Zionist groups routinely employ to aggressively stifle all pro-Israel expression. For example, in one of its founding documents the SJP group at Binghamton University outlined strategies for harassing Jewish students and disrupting or shutting down their Israel-related events in a section entitled: “Tactics and Strategies Used to Counter Zionist Normalization.”

Adherents of “anti-normalization” target not only pro-Israel students, but anyone presumed to support Israel, first and foremost Jewish students, regardless of their actual personal feelings on Israel. As a result, Jewish students engaging in Jewish activity having nothing to do with Israel — wearing their Jewish sorority or fraternity letters, displaying Star of David necklaces, walking to Hillel for Sabbath dinner – report fearing for their safety and well-being.  In addition, because of their support, or even just presumed support, for Israel, Jewish students report being rejected from progressive social justice activities such as pro-choice rallies, anti-rape demonstrations, Black Lives Matter events and racial justice conferences.

The situation has become intolerable for many Jewish students.

This past spring, the University of California system took a critical stand against the rising anti-Semitism plaguing its 10 campuses. Its Board of Regents issued a Statement of Principles Against Intolerance acknowledging that anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism which incites additional Jew hatred and, like other forms of discrimination, has no place at the University of California system. The Regents’ statement also singled out “actions that physically or otherwise interfere with the ability of an individual or group to assemble, speak, and share or hear the opinion of others,” stating that they “impair the mission and intellectual life of the University and will not be tolerated.”

Universities across the country must follow suit.

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin

New Legislation Would Free Up $1.5 Billion in Credit for Israeli Housing Starts

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Construction companies are no longer allowed to charge their customers fees for their own legal services, according to a key item in a new amendment to the Sales Law being promoted by the Ministry of Housing and Construction, Calcalist reported Thursday. Another significant change in the law would remove the requirement that contractors post a bank guarantee for the VAT portion of the cost of the apartment, and instead the state would set up a special fund to cover the buyers’ outlay. This would save contractors millions of dollars, releasing more than $1.5 billion in bank credit to the real estate market. The construction firm would still have to insure the rest of the buyer’s investment, in case said firm goes out of business.

The Housing Ministry, which began the move to amend the law nine months ago, is hoping the changes would pass by the end of the Knesset summer session in August. The move was spurred by the common understanding that the construction section of the current Sales Law is outdated, and has led real estate companies to develop their own ways of bypassing it, at the expense of their customers. The amendments were forged by an inter-office team that included Deputy Attorney General Erez Kamenetz, the Consumer Protection Authority, the Finance Ministry, and the Tax Authority.

“It is our responsibility to help the Israeli public get accessible housing, while legally protecting the buyers and maintaining fairness in all processes,” Minister of Housing Yoav Galant told Calcalist. One of the problems in the way housing business is done in Israel has to do with the buyer paying the contractor’s attorney for processing the new apartment at the Land Registry Office (the local word for the office is Tabu — no relation to taboos, the word is simply the Arabic mispronunciation of the Turkish word Tapu, or title-deed). A recent legislation limited the fees paid to said attorney to about $1,300, but even so, the clients may believe that by paying his fees the attorney is now working for them, which he certainly isn’t — he remains in the service of the contractor.

The Housing Ministry believes that registering the apartment and providing a legal deed is part of the overall product the contractor is expected to provide, and so they now want to go one step further and eliminate altogether the requirement for buyers to pay for this service.

There are other amendments which are not as crucial economically, but certainly add transparency to the process of buying an apartment in Israel. Companies would have to inform buyers of every change they intend to make in the original construction plan, for instance, if they want to add apartments. They also must inform buyers of changes in nearby lots, so that, if, for instance, their magical view of the Mediterranean would now be blocked by a 48-story tower, buyers would have the opportunity to get out of the deal and look elsewhere.

Contractors may no longer be permitted to sell apartments on land that is yet to be re-zoned for construction. If a plan for a new housing construction exists but the permit for building has yet to be issued, firms may sell units to buyers, but only with the proviso that the project is not yet legally authorized, providing the date for the expected authorization, and that buyers can get their money back in its entirety should the permit not be issued.

Also, any significant change in a purchased apartment’s layout, including in common areas such as storage spaces and lobbies, would be considered legally as failure to fulfill the contractor’s commitment and buyers may recoup their investment.

JNi.Media

Free Worship

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

The modern world was shaped by four revolutions: the English, the American, the French and the Russian. Two – the English and American – were inspired by the Hebrew Bible. The French and Russian revolutions, by contrast, were inspired by philosophy: the French by the work of Jean Jacques Rousseau, the Russian by the writings of Karl Marx.

Their histories are markedly different. In England and America, revolution brought war, but led to a gradual growth of civil liberties, human rights, representative government and eventually democracy. The French and Russian revolutions began with dreams of utopia and ended in a nightmare of hell. Both gave rise to terror and bloodshed, and the repression of human rights.

What is the difference between philosophy and the political vision at the heart of Tanach? The answer lies in their different understandings of time.

The sedrah of Behar sets out a revolutionary template for a society of justice, freedom and human dignity. At its core is the idea of the Jubilee; one of its provisions is the release of slaves: As it is written: “If your brother becomes impoverished and is sold to you, do not work him like a slave. He shall be with you like an employee or a resident. He shall serve you only until the Jubilee year and then he and his children shall be free to leave you and return to their family and to the hereditary land of their ancestors. For they are My servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves. Do not subjugate them through hard labor – you shall fear your G-d … For the children of Israel are servants to Me: they are My servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your G-d.”

The terms of the passage are clear. Slavery is wrong. It is an assault on the human condition. To be “in the image of G-d” is to be summoned to a life of freedom. The very idea of the sovereignty of G-d means that He alone has claim to the service of mankind. Those who are G-d’s servants may not be slaves to anyone else. At this distance of time it is hard to recapture the radicalism of this idea, overturning as it did the very foundations of religion in ancient times. The early civilizations – Mesopotamia, Egypt – were based on hierarchies of power that were seen to inhere in the very nature of the cosmos. Just as there were (so it was believed) ranks and gradations among the heavenly bodies, so there were on earth. The great religious rituals and monuments were designed to mirror and endorse these hierarchies. In this respect Karl Marx was right. Religion in antiquity was the robe of sanctity concealing the naked brutality of power. It canonized the status quo.

At the heart of Israel was an idea almost unthinkable to the ancient mind: G-d intervenes in history to liberate slaves; that the Supreme Power is on the side of the powerless. It is no accident that Israel was born as a nation under conditions of slavery. It has carried throughout history the memory of those years – the bread of affliction and the bitter herbs of servitude – because the people of Israel serve as an eternal reminder to itself and the world of the moral necessity of liberty and the vigilance needed to protect it. The free G-d desires the free worship of free human beings.

Yet the Torah does not abolish slavery. That is the paradox at the heart of Behar; to be sure it was limited and humanized. Every seventh day, slaves were granted rest and a taste of freedom. In the seventh year Jewish slaves were set free. If they chose otherwise they were released in the Jubilee year. During their years of service they were to be treated like employees. They were not to be subjected to backbreaking or spirit-crushing labor. Everything dehumanizing about slavery was forbidden. Yet slavery itself was not banned. Why not? If it was wrong, it should have been annulled. Why did the Torah allow a fundamentally flawed institution to continue?

Rambam, in The Guide for the Perplexed, explained the need for time in social transformation. All processes in nature, he argued, are gradual. The fetus develops slowly in the womb. Stage by stage a child becomes mature. And what applies to individuals applies to nations and civilizations.

It is impossible to go suddenly from one extreme to the other. It is therefore, according to the nature of man, impossible for him suddenly to discontinue everything to which he has been accustomed.

Accordingly, G-d did not ask the Israelites to suddenly abandon everything they had become used to in Egypt. “G-d refrained from prescribing what the people, by their natural disposition, would be incapable of obeying.” But surely G-d can do anything, including changing human nature. Why then did He not simply transform the Israelites, making them capable immediately of the highest virtue? Maimonides’s answer is simple:

“I do not say this because I believe that it is difficult for G-d to change the nature of every individual person. On the contrary, it is possible and it is in His power … but it has never been His will to do it, and it never will be. If it were part of His will to change the nature of any person, the mission of the prophets and the giving of the Torah would have been superfluous.”

In miracles, G-d changes nature but never human nature. Were He to do so, the entire project of the Torah – the free worship of free human beings – would have been rendered null and void. There is no greatness in programming a million computers to obey instructions. G-d’s greatness lay in taking the risk of creating a being, Homo sapiens, capable of choice and responsibility – of obeying G-d freely.

G-d wanted man to abolish slavery, but by his own choice. And that takes time. Ancient economies were dependent on slavery. The particular form dealt with in Behar (slavery through poverty) was the functional equivalent of what is today called “workfare,” i.e. welfare benefits in return for work. Slavery as such was not abolished in Britain and America until the 19th century, and in America not without a civil war. The challenge to which Torah legislation was an answer is this: How can one create a social structure in which, of their own accord, people will eventually come to see slavery as wrong and freely choose to abandon it?

The answer lay in a single deft stroke: to change slavery from an ontological condition (“what am I?”) to a temporary circumstance. No Israelite was allowed to be or see himself as a slave. He or she might be reduced to slavery for a period of time, but this was a passing plight, not an identity. Compare the account given by Aristotle:

“By analogy, [the difference between animals and human beings] must necessarily apply to mankind as a whole. Therefore all men who differ from one another by as much as the soul differs from the body or man from a wild beast … these people are slaves by nature, and it is better for them to be subject to this kind of control, as it is better for the other creatures I have mentioned [i.e. domesticated animals]. For a man who is able to belong to another person is by nature a slave…” (Politics 1.5).

For Aristotle, slavery is an ontological condition, a fact of birth. Some are born to rule, others to be ruled. This is precisely the worldview to which Torah is opposed. The entire complex of biblical legislation is designed to ensure that neither the slave nor his owner should ever see slavery as a permanent condition. A slave should be treated “like an employee or a resident” – in other words, with the respect due to a free human being. In this way the Torah ensured that, although slavery could not be abolished overnight, it would eventually be. And so it happened.

There are profound differences between philosophy and Judaism, and one lies in their respective understandings of time. For Plato and his heirs, philosophy is about the truth that is timeless (or for Hegel and Marx, about “historical inevitability”). Judaism is about truths (like human freedom) that are realized in and through time. That is the difference between what I call the logical and chronological imaginations. The logical imagination yields truth as system. The chronological imagination yields truth as story. (A story is a sequence of events extended through time.)

Revolutions based on philosophical systems fail – because change in human affairs takes time, and philosophy is incapable of understanding the human dimension of time. The inevitable result is that in Rousseau’s famous phrase, they “force men to be free” – a contradiction in terms, and the reality of life under Soviet Communism. Revolutions based on Tanach succeed, because they go with the grain of human nature, recognizing that it takes time for people to change. The Torah did not abolish slavery but it set in motion a process that would lead people to come of their own accord to the conclusion that it was wrong. How it did so is one of the wonders of history.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

The Lie Of Academic Free Speech

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

The disturbing campaign to suppress speech that is purportedly hurtful, unpleasant, or morally distasteful is a troubling and recurrent pattern of behavior by “progressive” leftists and “social justice” advocates from Muslim-led pro-Palestinian groups.

Coalescing around the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, this unholy alliance has been formed in a libelous and vituperative campaign to demonize Israel, attack pro-Israel individuals, and promote a relentless campaign against Israel in the form of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.

As the ideological assault against Israel and Jews intensifies on university campuses, and pro-Israel individuals begin answering their ideological opponents, the student groups leading the pro-Palestinian charge (including such groups as the radical Students for Justice in Palestine [SJP]) have decided that their tactic of unrelenting demonization of Israel is insufficient, and the best way to optimize the propaganda effect of their anti-Israel message is also to suppress or obscure opposing views.

The pronouncements of these groups are now frequently defined by baleful whining.

Because it cannot win an honest, open ideological debate about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, SJP has characteristically tried to ensure that no pro-Israel voices are heard, by either disrupting and shutting down pro-Israel events and speakers or urging administrators to disinvite speakers they deem Islamophobic, too pro-Israel, or critical of their own tactics and activism.

The thuggish substitution of event disruption and the shutting down of other people’s speech for what is supposed to be two-sided academic dialogue and debate occur with increased regularity. These methods mark another, more pernicious, aspect of the campus campaign against Israel, Zionism, and Jews.

At the University of California, Davis, for example, George Deek, a Jaffa-born Arab Christian, planned to give a speech titled “The Art of Middle East Diplomacy” when some 30 pro-Palestinian activists stood up and blocked Deek with banners and took over the event by screaming “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free” – meaning an Arab state in place of present-day Israel – and chanting such toxic ditties as “Long live the Intifada,” “Allahu Akbar,” and “When Palestine is occupied, resistance is justified.”

In February, Bassam Eid, a Palestinian himself and the founder of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, witnessed how nothing positive said about Israel is allowed to be heard, even from such a credible, though unusual, source as a Palestinian.

During his speech, in which he was critical of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority for their failure to seek peace, Eid was verbally attacked by a student attendee, who said in Arabic, “Dr. Bassam, do not dare talk about us [Palestinians] anymore. You have shamed our God…you’ve shamed us, disgraced us, you are a traitor, you are a traitor, in the name of God you are a traitor…. You are worse than the Jews and we will hunt you down and find you in every place. Be prepared.”

When it became obvious that his speech would not be able to continue uninterrupted, Eid cancelled the event and had to be escorted offsite by the police.

Last November, the University of Minnesota Law School sponsored a lecture by Hebrew University professor Moshe Halbertal, an expert on Israel’s military code of ethics, titled “Protecting Civilians: Moral Challenges of Asymmetric Warfare.” The lecture was delayed for 30 minutes by the unruly heckling and chants of some 100 protesters from the Minnesota Anti-War Committee and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), who indignantly rose from the audience, interrupted, and accused Halbertal of war crimes and complicity in the 2014 Gaza incursion.

Also in November, as yet another example, the University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Israeli Studies hosted an event with Stanford University’s Dr. Gil-Li Vardi, who was to present a study on “The Origin of a Species: The Birth of the Israel Defense Forces’ Military Culture.” At the event, twelve members of the “Palestine Solidarity Committee,” intent on disrupting the speech, created a human wall in the back of the room with the purpose of not allowing the event to begin. The anti-Israel activists tried, without the benefit of actually knowing what the speaker would say, to prevent her from presenting her viewpoint by shrieking out such taunts as “You are a former IDF soldier; we do not listen to you.”

The university officials and student groups who now try to suppress all thought of which they disapprove have sacrificed one of the core values for which the university exists. n their zeal to be inclusive, and to recognize the needs and aspirations of victim groups, they pretend to foster inquiry but have actually stifled and retarded it.

As this otherwise noble purpose for the university has devolved, the first victim in the corruption of academic free speech, unfortunately, has been the truth.

Richard L. Cravatts

UN Mid-East Envoy Not Thrilled with Netanyahu’s Free History Lesson Offer

Saturday, May 7th, 2016

The UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, on Saturday angrily refused an invitation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to attend his lecture to the world organization on Jewish history. The PM’s offer came in response to a UNESCO resolution that ignored completely the Jewish history of key spots in the Old City of Jerusalem, most notably the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. According to UNESCO, both sites have always been Arab, and only Arab.

“I was shocked to hear that UNESCO adopted a decision denying any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, our holiest site,” Netanyahu said in a statement, adding, “It is hard to believe that anyone, let alone an organization tasked with preserving history, could deny this link, which spans thousands of years.”

As a measure of correcting “this historical ignorance,” the prime minister, whose late father was a prominent professor of history, offered to host a special lecture on Jewish history for all UN personnel in Israel.

Mladenov appeared deeply offended by the PM’s suggestion that his staff were uneducated. “If someone wants to issue invitations they should be sent to Paris and addressed to the ambassadors of the member-states of UNESCO there,” he said in a statement. “UN staff in Jerusalem know the history of the region, its people and religions all too well.”

It should be noted that after Israeli officials had hit the ceiling in reaction to the insulting UNESCO resolution, the organization’s chief Irina Bokova issued a statement acknowledging that “Jerusalem is a Holy Land of the three monotheistic religions, a place of dialogue for all Jewish, Christian and Muslim people.”

Perhaps Netanyahu could ask Bokova to give that free lecture.

JNi.Media

A Soldier’s Mother: From the River to the Sea; from the Ghetto to the Free

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

Almost every year, I post or share this video.  It is, as the pilot would say later, the perfect example of the transition the Jewish people have made from the ghetto and the concentration camps, to the free people of Israel.

I can’t watch it without starting to cry. I can’t tell you how many times I have watched and listened…and each time, as I hear the pilot begin to speak, and I see Israeli fighter jets fly over Auschwitz as a tribute to the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, my eyes fill with tears, my heart hurts.

There are many videos of the Holocaust – this one is not so much about the Holocaust as a memorial to it. It’s been more than a decade since I was in Poland, since I entered a gas chamber and the lingering feeling of death. Every step was agony – to walk on blood and bones, to feel that every inch was covered in death and a thousand showers would never wash away the horror.

Tonight, as I sit here, a memorial candle burning nearby, I check the news. Five mortars were fired at Israel today…no, that’s wrong… “were fired” is passive and there was nothing passive about this action.

Earlier today, the Arabs fired five mortars at Israel today. Perhaps they know our minds are remembering but what they don’t know is that even when we cry… We watch, we see, we guard.

In the heavens above us, six million souls form a ring if protection as mighty and as precise as the greatest weapons we have developed.

Today our defense, our entire defense is the sum total of several amazing things – first and foremost is the protection of the God of Israel. Second are the prayers and faith of an entire nation. Third are the angels – souls of generations of Jews who never lived to see the miracle we live every day. Fourth are the amazing sons and daughters who have committed years of their lives to watching over our people, our land.

Watch our sons fly over Auschwitz – a message to the souls of six million. If we had been around, we would have moved heaven and earth to save you and so today, we do the only thing we can do – we remember you, we honor you. We bless your memory and keep it alive.

Paula Stern

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/a-soldiers-mother/a-soldiers-mother-from-the-river-to-the-sea-from-the-ghetto-to-the-free/2016/05/05/

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