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October 29, 2016 / 27 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘officers’

Netanyahu Confronts Ya’alon Over Call to IDF Officers to ‘Speak their Minds’

Monday, May 16th, 2016

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Sunday night got on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wrong side when he urged IDF leaders to speak their mind in public and not fear reprisal. At this point it appears that some reprisal may be coming Ya’alon’s way from the Prime Minister, who summoned him to what the Israeli media described as a “rebuke meeting” Monday morning. Neither side in the meeting has issued a statement yet, which suggests that the meeting may not have ended in a compromise.

Ya’alon spoke at an event in Tel Aviv Sunday night and referred to the public storm around the speech by Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Gen. Yair Golan, which in turn had alluded to the episode of the IDF soldier who shot a neutralized terrorist on the ground in Hebron last Purim day. Golan, speaking at a Holocaust Remembrance Day event, compared episodes such as the Hebron shooting to the events in 1930s Germany which later resulted in the European Holocaust. At the time, Netanyahu was critical of Golan, and demanded that he apologize, since it sounded as if he was saying the IDF was a proto-Nazi army. Golan came close to saying just that, as many on the right suggested, while the IDF denied any such allegation.

An examination of the speech text reveals that the overall subject of Golan’s message was the concept of “purity of the weapon,” meaning that he was indeed criticizing phenomena inside the IDF when he made the Nazi Germany comparison.

Instead of an apology, the IDF Spokesperson’s office issued a denial, which Netanyahu probably did not love, but decided to let it go. With the narrowest possible majority in the Knesset, a puny 61 MKs, at least three of whom can be classified as Netanyahu’s enemies inside his own Likud party, the PM did not need another internal battle, certainly not with a national figure such as Ya’alon. But then, instead of the industrial peace Netanyahu needed so badly, on Sunday night his defense minister upped the ante with a new challenge to the boss, under the guise of protecting the freedom of expression of IDF officers.

“Tonight, too, I again demand of you and of your subordinates: continue to say what’s in your hearts. Do it even if your ideas are not part of the mainstream, and even if they challenge the ideas and positions adopted by the high command or the political echelon.”

Was the defense minister calling on his officer to rebel against the political class? Probably not, although he sounded dangerously close to saying just that. In his own mind, Ya’alon was probably hailing the old IDF tradition of encouraging questions from soldiers and officers, which may make the army a little harder to organize, but also encourages it to keep thinking outside the box, at least in some of its units. It should be noted that this tradition of rejecting iron clad “conceptions” dates back to the early, abysmal failure of the political and military leadership in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The accepted dogma was that the Egyptian and Syrian armies were too fearful of Israel after 1967 and the string of local victories by the IDF that followed, to dare launch another all out war against the Jewish State. A subsequent investigating committee discovered that the intelligence pointing to an imminent attack was all there — it was just discarded by the decision makers.

But, in the end, Ya’alon on Sunday night was not engaged in an educational effort to breed more independently thinking soldiers and officers. He was, in fact, declaring a culture war against rightwing Israel. He described the issue at hand as a struggle “against an extremist minority which is active on the ground and in social media. Some of it has infiltrated the social mainstream, too. Under cover and concealment it is trying to influence the character and values of the IDF. This is a hugely significant fight, perhaps the most vital and important in many years. Not only over the image of the IDF, but the image of Israeli society as well.”

Since the appointment of the new Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, the IDF has been engaged in a persistent effort to “de-Jewify” itself. Jewish education was removed from the military chief rabbinate and handed to HR, which in turn made it the purview of the Education corp, guaranteeing that it take on a secular bend. And there were several minor assaults on the traditional Jewish elements in the army, such as when soldiers were ordered to shave their beards. So that when Ya’alon reviles extremism he is not concerned with leftwing NGOs who turn in to the PA for imprisonment and a possible execution Arab land brokers. He is after the Jews.



At this point we must pause to relate the story of Givati Brigade Commander Colonel Ofer Winter, who, on July 9, 2014, during the Gaza War, issued a daily “commander’s note” to his soldiers, in which he stated: “History has chosen us to serve at the forefront of the fighting against the terrorist enemy in Gaza, which is taunting, cursing and blaspheming against the God of the Armies of Israel. … I raise my eyes up to the heavens and say along with you, ‘Shema Israel, God is our Lord, God Is one.’ The God of Israel, please make successful the path we take as we prepare to fight for your nation Israel and against an enemy which blaspheme Your Name.”

Needless to say, the text, which refrenced Psalms 44 and Samuel I 17, as well as the She’ma Israel, was not received well by the Israeli largely secular media. It should be noted that Reform rabbi Uri Regev was among the first in Israel to attack the Colonel for mixing his private religious sentiments and the military. Many others continued to target Winter for the six months that followed.

It should be noted that Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon led the attacks on his subordinate. “I didn’t love it,” he told a forum of the heads of pre-military preparatory institutions. He said the Brigade Commander should have stuck with language that is common to all his recruits, presumably not language that cites from Jewish sources. He also questioned how a Druz soldier might have responded to the Jewish text, as if non-Jews should be naturally offended by the concept of a Jewish State and a Jewish army.



Netanyahu has had a rough relationship with the military leadership for most of his terms as prime minister. It began in his first term in the late 1990s, with overt confrontations with then Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Amnon Lipkin-Shahak and head of Shabak Ami Ayalon, as well as Netanyahu’s defense minister at the time, Yitzhak Mordechai. Netanyahu dismissed Mordechai before he had a chance to resign, in 1999, and Mordechai left Likud along with several other members to establish a new Center party, which failed miserably and ended up joining Ehud Barak’s new Labor-led government.

If their meeting on Monday did not reach a working compromise, both leaders must be thinking back to the Yitzhak Mordechai episode and wondering how soon before Ya’alon would jump ship to Labor.

Ya’alon’s colleagues in the Likud went after him with a vengeance Monday morning. Culture Minister Miri Regev, who served as the IDF Spokesperson at one time, told Channel 2 News that “It is inconceivable that a serving officer would grab the reigns from the political echelon and conduct himself as if this is an army that also has a state.” She continued: “The defense minister is confused. Military officers should speak what’s in their hearts in the appropriate forum and regarding the issues under their care.”

Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz told Army Radio, “I do not understand what’s driving the defense minister in these statements. His job is to instill discipline in the IDF. There must be a red line between army and state and between army and politics. I think his words were a miserable mistake. Ben Gurion would never have allowed for such a thing to happen.”

And Likud MK Oren Hazan, who often opposes Netanyahu, stood squarely behind the PM in a tweet that went: “Someone should remind Bogy (Ya’alon’s nickname) that we are a democracy and not under martial law. The IDF is not a junta, his job is to carry out the decisions of the political echelon and not oppose it and set a different policy.”


Day 27 of ‘Operation Protective Edge’ – “We Are Keeping All Options for Action Open”

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

The IDF has begun to partially withdraw troops from parts of the Gaza Strip. Having completed their specific missions, the forces are coming out of completed areas. The IDF is still continuing to complete its mission to destroy the terror tunnels. The IDF estimates it will complete the mission within the next day.

Over the past 24 hours, the IDF struck 153 terror targets in the Gaza Strip, including tunnels, weapon manufacturing and storage facilities, and command and control centers. Among the targets was a Hamas military wing facility that was used for research and development of weapon manufacturing located within the Islamic University.

Hamas was reportedly researching chemical weapons options.

In addition, weapon caches and Hamas command and training facilities concealed within five mosques were targeted.

PM Netanyahu said last night at a press conference that the IDF will continue its military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip for as long as needed and with as much force as necessary. “From the beginning, we promised to return the quiet to Israel’s citizens and we will continue to act until that aim is achieved. We will take as much time as necessary, and will exert as much force as needed,” Netanyahu said. He further stressed that the IDF’s redeployment did not indicate an end to Operation Protective Edge and that the IDF would continue to operate “only on the basis of security considerations.” “I can’t tell you how it’s going to develop,” he said. “We are keeping all options for action open.” Last night a special committee led by the IDF Chief Rabbi announced the death of Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23, an infantry officer in the Givati Brigade who was killed in battle in the Gaza Strip on Friday. Medical, religious and other relevant factors were considered before making the official announcement. Lt. Goldin’s family was notified by Head of the IDF Personnel Directorate Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai and Chief Military Rabbi Brig. Gen. Rafi Peretz. Minister of Defense Ya’alon visited the family as well. “Prior to the decision, all medical considerations, religious observances, as well as additional relevant issues were taken into consideration,” the IDF statement reads. As Goldin’s group was attacked, two other soldiers, Benaya Sarel and Liel Gidoni, were killed.

At the announcement, many of the hundreds rallying outside the Goldin home in a show of support for the family burst into tears on hearing the news.

Over the past 24 hours 86 rockets were fired at Israel, 58 rockets hit Israel and 6 were intercepted by the Iron Dome system.

Hamas has fired 3,127 rockets towards Israel since the beginning of Operation ‘Protective Edge’.

Aryeh Savir, Tazpit News Agency

Undercover Police Entangled in Refugee Camp, Killing Three Arabs

Monday, August 26th, 2013

A Border Police unit shot dead three Palestinians early Monday morning during an attempt to arrest suspects in the Qalandiya refugee camp in northern Jerusalem. 11 Arabs were lightly injured from gunfire, in addition to the three dead: Robin al-Abd, 28, Jihad al-Aslan, 20, and Jonas Jachjuch, 19. the Palestinian Authority condemned the killing.

The unit of undercover officers from the Judea and Samaria Border Police, entered the Qalandiya refugee camp before dawn Monday, and their activity there generated violent disturbances and severe clashes between locals and members of the police unit. Dozens of young locals came out of their homes and began hurling stones at the unit, until the gravely outnumbered force was forced to resort to live fire.

Police testimony shows that after the undercover unit had been exposed, the open confrontation with dozens of angry locals posed real and present danger to their lives. An initial investigation revealed that the officers used riot dispersal means, including the Roger rifle, which fires ammunition at lower and thus less dangerous speeds. A security official told Walla: “We are familiar with the report about deaths and the issue is under review.”

It appears that, despite calming messages from the IDF about how the rate of violence on the part of Judea and Samaria Arabs is going down, a third Intifada is still brewing. Last week, a Palestinian civilian was shot dead and two others were seriously injured, while two IDF soldiers were lightly injured during an arrest operation in the Jenin refugee camp.

The Haredi IDF battalion Netach Yehuda and Border Police arrived in Jenin to execute arrest warrants against Palestinian residents. The arrest attempt, much like this morning’s scenario, developed into mass disturbances against the two forces, as dozens of Arabs began throwing stones, grenades and improvised explosive devices at the two forces.

Yori Yanover

Female IDF Officer Upgrades Diet & Exercise

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Speaking at the International Women’s Conference sponsored by Stand With Us, IDF Officer Lieutenant Colonel Shirly Subul, a resident of Tel Aviv, said she had the aspiration to serve Israel in the armed forces since age 4. She currently serves in the IDF combat fitness department, where she has personally transformed the Lifestyle Branch, which is responsible for army athletics and encouraging Israeli soldiers to live a healthy life-style, into one of the most influential branches in the IDF.

She was a professional athlete as a teenager but put her athletic dreams on hold in order to serve the State of Israel. In March of 1993 she served in the intelligence unit and continued on to officers training course. Later on she served in the foreign relations department of the intelligence department. During the Second Lebanon War, Lt. Subul’s best friend Anat was murdered in a suicide bombing and she spent five weeks in an underground bunker as the head of the operations division. Her army career took a different direction when she transferred to the combat fitness department. There Lieutenant Colonel Subul sought to combine her passion for serving Israel with her love of athletics and sports.   

Lieutenant Colonel Subul places special emphasis on IDF commanders, believing that their physical condition has a great effect on the army as a whole. Subul is also known for whipping high ranking officers into better shape and has even put obese Israeli commanders on a six month program of diet combined with exercise. In order to keep Israeli soldiers in shape, she has organized four marathons and is planning a fifth. Subul also organizes swimming and bicycling sessions and has special programs for women.

Subul also has a BA in gender studies and sociology from Tel-Aviv University and was a pioneer in this field. As a female IDF officer, Lieutenant Colonel Subul emphasized that women serving in the IDF enjoy full gender equality, stating that 92 percent of the positions within the IDF are open to women, nearly 59 percent of Israeli women enlist to serve, representing 33 percent of the IDF’s manpower, and that the number of female IDF officers continues to rise. Israel is the only country in the world to have mandatory military service for women. “There are so many opportunities for women in the Israeli Defense Forces,” she claimed. Israeli women can be found in the artillery corps, armored divisions, infantry and intelligence units.

Visit United with Israel.

Rachel Avraham

‘Moral Authority,’ Jewish Style

Monday, February 11th, 2013

There’s an interesting article in the Jewish Press by Joe Settler which hinges on the concept of “Moral Authority.”

When a drafter of Israel’s Constitution says there is a problem because too many IDF commanders are religious, we need to worry about what kind of Constitution he is drafting.

“I meant, that as long as there is no solution for the source of the authority in the IDF in general, and specifically, including the integration of women [because listening to women sing, is the biggest problem the army faces], the problems will grow and increase. As the number of religious soldiers and commanders grow, since the authority of their Rabbis is what rules for them, the size of the problem will get larger. More and more officers and soldiers will find themselves indecisive when they face this conflict.” Dr. Arye (Arik) Carmon, head of the Israel Democracy Institute For many years, I’ve been troubled by the fact that even Torah observant (aka Orthodox) Rabbis, especially American Yeshiva University educated ones, such as Rabbi Shlomo Riskin and Rabbi Aaron Lichtenstein, have somehow added non-Jewish concepts/ideologies of Liberalism and Democracy to the 613 mitzvot, Torah commandments.

We Jews have a much more veteran and well documented social and political philosophy/ideology in our Torah and Talmud.  It actually contradicts many modern “moral” philosophies/ideologies, because it’s timeless.

I was especially disturbed in the troubling times leading to the Disengagement expulsions when so-called Torah observant rabbis said that a Knesset vote could over-ride the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel and even banish Jews from their homes, communities and businesses.

ישוב הארץ Yishuv Ha’Aretz, the Settling of the Land is a cornerstone of Judaism, and a large portion of the Torah is centered on it.

The Torah is our MORAL AUTHORITY.  Without it, we Jews couldn’t have had survived as a People during the thousands of years of exile from our Holy Land.  Our Land and our Torah are what has kept us a people.

Last night, I was at a shiur by  Inbal Amiton – “Believe and plant: The Redemption of Land as a Reflection of the Redemption of the Nation, According to Yirmiyahu 32”  in Matan.  Amiton said that according to Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah,) first G-d will return us to the Land and then we will do Teshuva, repent.

I see the process of Torah observant Jews growing in the IDF (Israeli Army) as proof that it is happening today.

Israel’s secular and quasi-secular/religious  leaders don’t understand that our true Moral Authority is G-d given.

Visit Shiloh Musings.

Batya Medad

Too Many Religious Officers and a Constitution

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

In an interview last week with Makor Rishon, Dr. Arye (Arik) Carmon, head of the Israel Democracy Institute said,

“as the number of religious commanders in the army increases, we’re in for bigger problems.”

Dr. Carmon is not only the president of the Israel Democracy Institute, but he is one of the senior members of a group of people trying to put together a Constitution (“by Concensus”) for the state of Israel. A Constitution that is supposed to represent all of Israeli society and our shared values.


Following the publication of his statement last week, Carmon felt that there was a need to clarify what he really meant.

Carmon said (with my comments added in [italics]):

“As someone who was injured during my army service [yes, because that now gives any statement he makes automatic legitimacy], and whose sons fight shoulder to shoulder with their brother’s [see previous comment], the religious soldiers, the alumni of the National-Religious educational system, I have much respect for them, to the soldiers and commanders in the IDF whose contributions to the security of Israel are priceless [did he mention that some of his best friends are religious too?].It’s important for me to clarify that in the heat of the interview, my words were not understood properly [Actually, I think we did understand them properly].

I meant, that as long as there is no solution for the source of the authority in the IDF in general, and specifically, including the integration of women [because listening to women sing, is the biggest problem the army faces], the problems will grow and increase. As the number of religious soldiers and commanders grow, since the authority of their Rabbis is what rules for them, the size of the problem will get larger. More and more officers and soldiers will find themselves indecisive when they face this conflict.

Any other way to understand my words is mistaken.”

I’m honestly not sure what is worse, the original statement or his clarification.

Carmon is clearly afraid of two things, that the soldiers have a moral authority and value system that he doesn’t share, that supersedes blindly following orders, and that religious soldiers are blocking his coercive goals of secular-democratic supremacy.

His first problem is that religious soldiers listen to a higher moral authority, and he is afraid of the conflict that religious soldiers might have, especially if there are too many of them, and how that will affect their following orders.

Though logically that doesn’t make sense, because if there are more religious soldiers who share a common moral thought process, the conflict is unlikely to trickle down, as obviously immoral and illegal orders will be identified and stopped higher up in hierarchy – as they should be.

But, Carmon is thinking of two specific issues – one he states, which is the integration of women, and the other, which I believe he implies, is not following orders in case of another Expulsion/Disengagement – the classic Israeli argument of moral/religious right vs. the tyranny of the majority- the Jewish-Democratic state conflict.

Carmon has firmly placed himself firmly on one side of that argument, the secular side that immorally kicked out 8000 Jews from their homes and let a terrorist state develop in Gaza, and would do so again in Judea and Samaria if they could.


Yet Carmon apparently doesn’t have a problem with too many left-wing pilots or reservists, hundreds of whom famously signed onto petitions saying they won’t follow orders to attack our enemies. You would think that he would find an identifiable group who seditiously and openly called for disobeying orders to attack the enemy to be far more worrisome than religious soldiers and officers, with a healthy and respected value system. But as you’ll see later in the article, he doesn’t.

To my knowledge, Carmon has never said that as the number of Left-wing pilots grows, the problems will increase. No, he specifically said the problem is with too many religious commanders.


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/muqata/too-many-religious-officers-and-a-constitution/2013/02/10/

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