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October 28, 2016 / 26 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘military’

Jewish Practice In The U.S. Military (V)

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

After these turn of events, Goldman weighed his scant options. He considered requesting the Jewish Defense League (JDL) to conduct a protest across from the base, and he had some other not-fully-prudent ideas, but in the end he did the smartest thing that he could have done, which was to contact COLPA who advised him – among other things – not to organize any protests.

Goldman recounts that his predicament – one against the entire military establishment – was at the same time stressful and, oddly, exhilarating. He felt as if the Almighty was tapping him on the shoulder and whispering, “I want you to pull this off for Me.”

Goldman received the slightest of reprieves when the military defense counsel (who was all incredulity that Goldman refused a direct order and continued to walk around the base wearing a yarmulke) argued that the Letter of Reprimand should and could not be placed in Goldman’s file, for at the time of the order’s non-compliance the Defense Counsel was out-of-town.

The council further advised, upon examining the file, that Goldman take immediate advantage of the six days of leave that were coming to him. Simcha complied with this advice, applied for emergency leave – which was granted – providing him with nearly a week’s reprieve.

COLPA’s handling of the case was spearheaded by David Butler who worked for Nathan Lewin. Butler apprised Goldman that they were seeking injunctive relief from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (the correct address for military matters) claiming that the Air Force had violated Goldman’s First Amendment rights under the Free-Exercise Clause.

The district court under Judge Aubrey E. Robinson (the very same judge who had ruled in favor of Rabbi Geller) granted Goldman a temporary restraining order on July 3, 1981, preventing the Air Force from enforcing its headgear regulation.

“There can be no doubt that the Plaintiff’s insistence on wearing a yarmulke is motivated by his religious convictions, and therefore is entitled to First Amendment protection,” Robinson wrote. “Because of the seriousness of the First Amendment allegations,” he continued, “and resulting pressure on the Plaintiff to abandon his religious observances, injunctive relief is appropriate.” Judge Robinson also ordered the Air Force to withdraw the letter of reprimand and negative performance evaluation given to Goldman.

As a restraining order is filed in court it is technically a public matter. Factually, court orders are filed all the time, and no one in the public is the wiser. But in this instance an alert reporter was present – and sensing a serendipitous moment – was going to turn this routine court procedure into a national scoop.

After the termination of his emergency leave, yarmulke-adorned-Goldman returned to the base protected by a court order. No commander appreciates his wings clipped by an underling – how much more so in the wing-sensitive Air Force – and, as always, action begets a reaction.

Simcha Goldman received notice that the courtesy that the Air Force afforded him regarding Sabbath accommodation would be curtailed. The standing arrangement was that he worked one-and-a-half hours later on Thursdays so that he could depart one-and-a-half hours earlier on Fridays (Sabbath observance commences with sundown on Friday and concludes at nightfall on Saturday) in order to spend the Sabbath with his family that lived 90 minutes from the base.

The Air Force could deny Goldman the courtesy, as they were not requiring him to violate his Sabbath. Nothing prevented Goldman from observing the Sabbath by remaining in his office on the base for the duration of the 25-hour period, sans his family.

The fact that the Air Force lost nothing by allowing him to work extra hours on Thursday to compensate for what he would miss on Friday was immaterial. The matter was up to their discretion and this was a fight that Simcha Goldman could not win. The same could be argued regarding the yarmulke, but Goldman was emotionally unable to abandon that battle.

Because of his dogged commitment to principle, he ignored – initially – conventional wisdom which dictated for Captain Goldman to drop out of the Air Force and curtail the wave of hardships that were engulfing him. But no wisdom, conventional or otherwise, was able to dissuade him from fighting for his religious rights.

Alas, prudency would yet prevail. Despite Simcha’s desire to remain in service, it no longer made any sense, and was thrusting him into thornier dilemmas and further jeopardy. Daily. The four-year obligation that he owed the Air Force to compensate for funding his education was completed in August, 1981 and, reluctantly, he retired.

Simcha Goldman’s lawsuit against the Air Force came to trial in late September, 1981. He was suing the Air Force for… the $100 he had been docked in wages by being forced to take emergency leave. This created an interesting, legal paradox.


(To be continued)

Chodesh Tov – have a pleasant month!

Rabbi Hanoch Teller

U.S., Israel Sign Historic Military Aid Bill

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

The United States and Israel made history last week, signing the largest ever military assistance package between the two allies.

“I think it is a message of deterrence to Israel’s enemies in the Middle East,” David Makovsky, a former U.S. senior adviser on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, told JNS.

“Whatever U.S.-Israel policies differences there have been over the past several years, there now is a rock solid long term commitment to Israel’s security. There’s no adversary in the Middle East that has a commitment in advance of $38 billion dollars in support.”

The new security deal, which covers fiscal years 2019 to 2028, stands at $38 billion or $3.8 billion per year.

“This unprecedented agreement will ensure Israel maintains a strategic military edge over the next decade, which is the largest military aid package ever given to any other nation,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Malcolm Hoenlein said the agreement “sends an important message to the entire region of the Middle East of the enduring strength of the U.S.- Israel special relationship.”

“It underscores to those who have tried to portray a fraying in the fabric of the relationship that the two countries have the strongest security and intelligence cooperation and an enduring commitment to mutual support,” he said.

While the aid package was widely praised by Israeli and American leaders, it includes a number of notable changes from the existing military aid agreement that may fuel questions over the deal.

Previously, Israel obtained additional funding for its missile defense program on an ad hoc basis from Congress. Under the new agreement, this funding, roughly $5 billion, will be included in the agreement and committed toward missile defense assistance, therefore eliminating Israeli lobbying with Congress.

It also includes an end to Israel’s ability to use the military aid within its own defense industry and to lobby Congress for additional funding for its missile defense program.

Makovsky believes it was important for Netanyahu to enter the agreement with Obama to bolster the bipartisan consensus on Israel.

“For Netanyahu, this was important to have this is done under Obama’s signature,” said Makovsky, who serves as distinguished fellow and director of the Project on Middle East Peace Process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “People question bipartisanship when it comes to the U.S.-Israel relationship and here you have a liberal Democrat president who’s signing off on ten more years of military support for Israel.”


Sean Savage

American Military Aid: Bad for America; Worse for Israel

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website,  Abu Yehuda}

See, you trust in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; where on if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him. – Isaiah 36:6

Reactions to the signing of a 10-year $38 billion memorandum of understanding (MOU) for American military aid to Israel are coming in, as predictable as the moon and the tides. The man Netanyahu calls Israel’s “worst Prime Minister ever”, Ehud Barak, claims that Netanyahu could have obtained another $7 billion a year if only he hadn’t opposed Obama’s Iran deal so strongly. Similar remarks have come from the parliamentary opposition, unsurprisingly. Others thank America for its commitment at a time that its own military budgets are being slashed. Still others curse it for helping Israel with its continued ‘genocide’ against the ‘Palestinians’, who have tripled in number since 1970.

The truth is that Israel does not need and should phase out military aid from the US. It is bad for Israel and bad for the US.

  • Israel doesn’t need it: The $3.8 billion per year that will come from the US is about a quarter of Israel’s 2015-16 defense budget of $15.47 billion. This is a lot of money, but consider that the government’s overall budget is about $89 billion, and Israel’s gross domestic product today is close to $300 billion, almost double what it was 10 years ago.

In addition, the new agreement phases out Israel’s ability to spend any of it outside of the US. In the past, up to about a quarter of the aid could be spent in Israel. Does anyone doubt that many items can be procured here or elsewhere, at lower cost? I don’t. The F-35 alone costs about $200 million per aircraft. Are there alternatives? We might be able to find out if we went shopping with our own money (possibly the F-15SE would become available).

Finally, increased investment in our military industries would improve our ability to sell our products to other countries, helping to offset the loss of US aid.

  • Aid gives the US administration too much leverage over Israeli policies and actions:  PM Netanyahu will be meeting with Barack Obama next week at the UN. Obama will certainly make demands about Israeli-PA relations, the blockade of Gaza, and more. Do we want to give him a club to hold over our heads?

During the Gaza War in 2014, Obama cut off the supply of Hellfire missiles and other items in response to (tendentious) complaints that Israel had deliberately shelled a UN school. The more we can reduce our dependence on aid, the more equipment like this can be manufactured at home.

Israel needs freedom of action to respond to threats. The aid comes with too many strings attached.

  • Aid distorts our military purchase decisions: If you can get your army boots – or fighter aircraft – “for free” then maybe you settle for something that doesn’t meet your needs quite as well as a product  you have to pay for.  The decisions about what we will be given are based in part on US policy objectives and, since the aid is in effect a direct subsidy to the US defense industry, domestic American considerations – not what’s best for Israel.

For example, it has been suggested that manned fighter aircraft will be much less important in future warfare than drones, but we get ‘free’ fighter planes from America and build our own drones; so we have lots and lots of manned fighter planes – maybe more than we need.

The F-35, with its cost and all its problems, stands out. As I wrote a few weeks ago, would Israel even have considered replacing its F-16 fleet with F-35s if the first batch weren’t ‘free’?

  • Aid corrupts our military decision-makers: The word ‘corrupts’ is a strong word, but may not be out of place. If you are a Chief of Staff, and a quarter of your budget comes from America, wouldn’t you take the US administration’s wishes into account when considering whether or not to take some particular action (say, bombing Iranian nuclear installations)? How could you not do so? Enough said.
  • Aid cripples the development of our own military industries: This may be the most important consideration of all. Although the new MOU represents an increase from the previous $3.1 billion a year, it phases out over five years the ability to spend up to about a quarter of it for locally-produced goods. If we don’t have the capability to produce our own weapons, our dependence on the US becomes even greater, and we lose the jobs and technical know-how that come from it. Buying our own would pump additional money into our economy, which helps offset the loss of American aid. Even the IDF’s boots, formerly made in Israel, are now ordered from the US.
  • Aid doesn’t necessarily guarantee a qualitative edge: One of the rationales for US military aid was that the US promised to maintain our “qualitative military edge” (QME) over our enemies, as a way of counteracting their numerical superiority. But the US has more and more been selling its best weapons to anyone who can pay for them. The way to maintain the QME, then, is for Israel to use her technological abilities to develop weapons and countermeasures for her own use that will not be available to her enemies.
  • Aid damages Israel’s standing as a sovereign state: A nation that is dependent on another for its defense is a satellite, not an ally. In order to maintain her national self-respect, Israel should pay for her own defense. In addition, Israel’s accepting aid provides ammunition for anti-Israel and anti-Jewish propaganda in America.
  • Phasing out aid is better for America: The US is burdened by a large and growing debt. The end of military aid to Israel can only help America meet her own civilian and military needs.


Naturally, there will be objections.

Israel can’t afford expensive systems like the F-35 without aid. First, it’s not true, and second, maybe we don’t need such expensive systems, or so many of them.

But the US makes the world’s best weapons. Perhaps. If so, we should buy them with our own money. I’m not suggesting we break relations with the US. And who is to say that our home-made products won’t fit our unique needs better?

But it takes time to build up our industries. True, which is why I want to phase out the aid over a period of years rather than cutting it off sharply.

But what about the close cooperation between Israeli and the US defense industries? I’m not suggesting that such cooperation couldn’t continue, but in a framework of mutually beneficial business deals when indicated, as partners rather than clients.

But AIPAC works so hard making it possible. Yes, and Israel should be grateful to AIPAC and to its friends in the US Congress that for decades have made it possible for Israel to survive in its dangerous neighborhood against great odds. But the situation has changed. What used to be a necessity became a luxury, and then changed into a dangerous overindulgence. It’s not like there aren’t other critical issues that AIPAC could focus on.


In recent years much has changed in the world and in the Middle East. Israel, which was a third-rate power that managed to win her wars against great odds, became a first-rate power that nevertheless seems to be stymied and incapable of decisively prevailing over much weaker opponents. Although there are several reasons for this, one of the main ones is the increasing influence and control over Israeli decision-making by the US – whose government, at the same time, has become less and less supportive.

I’m sorry to say that I believe the US is in serious economic, social, political and even security trouble today – truly a broken reed. I hope it will repair itself. But like Isaiah’s Egypt, it is not a staff to lean upon.

Vic Rosenthal

Fake Bomb Next to Har Nof Shul

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

Police sappers on Monday checked what looked like an explosive device that had been planted at the entrance to the Yehave Da’at synagogue in Har Nof, where a terrorist attack took the lives of four worshipers and a policeman.

The suspicious package was a cardboard box with wires sticking out of it, which was stashed in a bag.

Police are looking for the perpetrator of this vile prank.

David Israel

Jewish Practice In The U.S. Military (IV)

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Rabbi Dr. (Psychology) Simcha Goldman entered the military like many others, as a means to pay for his education. This meant that he owed the military four years of active duty to pay back the government for his graduate work. During his deployment he wore his yarmulke without controversy, but this was going to change in April, 1981 when a vindictive airman reported that Goldman was violating the Air Forces headgear regulations.

After the complaint was lodged, Colonel Joseph Gregory, the Hospital Commander where Goldman was stationed, a devout Christian who unseamlessly managed to get Christianity into every military matter – even announcements – limited Goldman to wearing his yarmulke exclusively to the hospital; everywhere else on the base it was verboten. But, law-abiding, mild-mannered, Simcha Goldman was nonetheless, unprepared to obey this command.

If you were counting, this would have been Goldman’s second, blatant mistake.

Albeit there is a Constitutional right guaranteeing the freedom of religion, that does not mean that one may violate military protocol based on this principle. The Constitution also protects the right of free speech, but if what you say is deemed unsuitable you are liable to be arrested. And yet, and yet, Goldman decided to single-handedly take on the armed forces.

The Hospital Commander had the Base’s Legal Office contact the Jewish Welfare Board’s (JWB) ecclesiastical board, which governs the policy for Jews in the military. The Air Force wanted to know whether it was truly necessary for a soldier to wear a yarmulke while in service. The man who posed the question was a Catholic chaplain, who was acquainted with Goldman and the fact that he was an ordained Rabbi.

The woman who answered the phone at the JWB, strayed a tad above her pay scale to offer her opinion. It was non-other than her own personal opinion – assuming the imprimatur of the JWB from whose office she spoke – that it was not necessary for a Jewish soldier to wear a yarmulke while in service. Well, there you had it.

Just like with the military prosecutor, likewise with this staff Chaplain, there was baggage and a score was settled. The chaplain was aware that Goldman was angry with him for diagnosing patients, although he did not possess psychological training. Although the chaplain was in the wrong, he wasn’t about to admit it. Motivated by the friction, he allowed himself the liberty of inquiring about a rabbi to a very much non-rabbi, and reported a non-informed, ignorant opinion to the base commander.

Captain Goldman was aghast at what had been perpetrated by one who knew much better. He confronted the chaplain as to how he could warrant such misinformation. The chaplain said in his own defense that when he called the JWB there were no rabbis present, so he took what there was. Goldman wondered if there existed a lamer excuse.

The world was closing in on Simcha Goldman. While nobody should be judged at his worst, how one deals with hard times says far more about a man than his waltz down Easy Street. These were crushingly hard times for Rabbi Goldman and he realized that he was on the verge of serious trouble from an adversary that never threatened innocuously. His career, his pension, legal ramifications and penal discipline were on the line. He therefore turned to a military defender as he pondered his next move.

Lawyers, characteristically, write “lawyer letters.” Goldman’s meeting with the defender resulted in such an epistle. However, when the base commander received it, a souring situation began to ferment, making Goldman about as popular in the base as bank foreclosure.

When Pharaoh was threatened he harshened his edicts, and devout Colonel Gregory took his Biblical cue. Upon receipt of the lawyer’s letter the Commander extended the order to forbid Goldman from wearing a yarmulke in uniform while in the hospital as well.

Simcha Goldman now pulled a hat trick for mistakes by refusing to comply. There must be a metaphor somewhere about not starting up against a bereaved bear and the military. Goldman’s commanding officer reacted by issuing a formal letter of reprimand, withdrew a recommendation that Goldman’s active duty service be extended, and threatened to have him court-martialed.

This was followed by Captain Goldman being commanded to sign that he was refusing to obey an order which would be placed in his file. This order was considered so vital that Goldman was ordered to drop what he was doing and appear before the Hospital Commander to sign. At the time he was conducting a therapy session for ten airmen, but he was not allowed to delay this command. So he had to stop, interrupt – indeed destroy what he had developed until then ‑ and abandon the therapy for the non-time sensitive issue of formally confirming his recalcitrance.

And this order he also refused to comply with. (This disobedience was not as blatant as it appears as he was aware that the command could be fulfilled if witnesses (of which there were no dearth) signed that he refused. He, personally, could not bring himself to sign that he was compliant in the removal of his yarmulke.)

(To be continued)

Chodesh Tov – have a pleasant month!

Rabbi Hanoch Teller

Erdogan Formally Approves Turkey’s Normalization Deal With Israel

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan formally approved the country’s normalization deal with Israel on Wednesday (August 31), the state-run Anadolu Agency reports.

The agreement, signed by Turkish and Israeli negotiators on June 27, restores diplomatic ties between the two former allies after a hiatus of more than six years. Israeli charge d’affaires in Ankara, Amira Oron, said Monday (August 29) the two countries are expected to exchange ambassadors sometime within the next several weeks.

“The Law No. 6743 regarding the approval of the agreement between the Republic of Turkey and the State of Israel over compensation has been submitted to the Prime Ministry for promulgation,” a statement by the president’s office said.

Erdogan sent the agreement 12 days after it was officially approved by the Turkish parliament, and following its approval by Israeli cabinet ministers in late June.

The deal was ratified by Turkish lawmakers on August 19 after weeks of delay due to an attempted coup that failed to overthrow the Turkish government on July 15.

The agreement ends a period of rancor that followed an ugly incident in 2010 in which an illegal flotilla attempted to breach Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza. Among the six vessels participating in the incident was a Turkish ship. Israeli commandos boarding the vessel to redirect it to Ashdod port were attacked by armed “activists” who included Turkish citizens; the resulting clash left 10 Turks dead and numerous Israelis seriously wounded.

Turkey demanded an apology, payment of $20 million in compensation to the families of the dead and lifting of the blockade on Gaza in order to restore relations. “Ankara now considers these terms satisfied,” according to a report published Wednesday in the Hurriyet Daily News. “Israel will hand Turkey a ‘lump sum’ payment within 25 working days of the agreement coming into force, with families of the victims able to access the funds in due course.

“Both sides also agreed individual Israeli citizens or those acting on behalf of the Israeli government would not be held liable — either criminally or financially — for the raid,” according to the report.

Turkey has already been allowed to ship its own humanitarian aid into Gaza, and plans have been started for Ankara to build a hospital in the region.

Hana Levi Julian

IDF Military Advocate General Issues Update on 2014 Gaza War-Related Criminal Investigations

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

IDF Military Advocate General (MAG) on Wednesday issued a press release regarding a number of alleged “exceptional incidents” that took place during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. Many of these claims originated in complaints that were transmitted to the MAG Corps on behalf of Arab residents of the Gaza Strip, as well as by several NGOs. Other allegations were made in media reports, as well as by internal IDF operational reports.

To date, the MAG Corps has received some 500 complaints about 360 incidents alleged to have occurred over the course of the Operation. Some alleged incidents received more than one complaint.

Each complaint suggesting misconduct by IDF forces, undergoes an initial examination. If the allegation is deemed credible, prima facie, and is sufficiently concrete, it is referred to the MAG for a decision as to whether an immediate criminal investigation is warranted without further examination, or whether the incident should be referred to the General Staff Mechanism for Fact-Finding Assessments (FFA Mechanism), for a prior factual examination before making a decision on whether to open a criminal investigation.

To date, in the wake of allegations that indicated prima facie grounds for a reasonable suspicion of criminal misconduct, the MAG has ordered the opening of criminal investigations without the need for prior factual examination with regard to 24 exceptional incidents. Of these criminal investigations, the MAG decided to issue indictments against three IDF soldiers, accused of looting and of aiding and abetting looting. The legal proceedings regarding these charges are underway at the present time.

Regarding 13 other criminal investigations, the MAG has closed the cases without undertaking any criminal or disciplinary proceedings. The remainder of the investigations are still ongoing – some are still underway, and some have been completed with their findings having been submitted to the MAG for review.

Other allegations, which did not indicate prima facie grounds for a reasonable suspicion of criminal misconduct, were referred to the FFA Mechanism for examination. This mechanism, which was initiated while the operation was still underway, collates information and relevant materials and undertakes inquiries, in order to assess the facts of exceptional incidents. These efforts are intended to provide the MAG with as much factual information as possible in order to reach decisions regarding whether or not to open a criminal investigation, as well as for the purpose of a “lessons-learned” process and the issuance of operational recommendations that will assist in mitigating the risk of exceptional incidents occurring in the future.

All in all, to date, around 360 complaints and reports relating to around 220 exceptional incidents alleged to have occurred over the course of the Operation have been transmitted to the FFA Mechanism for examination, after undergoing an initial examination by the MAG Corps.

To date, after reviewing the factual findings and the material collated by the FFA Mechanism, the MAG has referred seven incidents for criminal investigation. One of these investigations has already been the subject of a decision by the MAG. Other investigations have been completed and are awaiting review of their findings by the MAG, or are currently ongoing.

With regard to around 80 additional incidents that were examined by the FFA Mechanism, the MAG decided to close the case without opening a criminal investigation, where the actions of the IDF forces involved did not give rise to reasonable grounds for suspicion of criminal behavior. However, in relation to some of these incidents, the MAG recommended reviewing operational methods in order to assess whether any changes should be made. In certain cases that were closed, the MAG found that no involvement of IDF forces could be identified in regard to the incident.

David Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/idf-military-advocate-general-issues-update-on-2014-gaza-war-related-criminal-investigations/2016/08/24/

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