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January 18, 2017 / 20 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘soldiers’

Terror Attack Stopped at Crossing Near Tulkarem

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

An armed Arab terrorist was stopped in his tracks Tuesday afternoon while trying to stab Israeli soldiers at a crossing near the Palestinian Authority-controlled city of Tulkarem in Samaria.

The terrorist, armed with a knife, attempted to stab an IDF soldier stationed at the checkpoint.

No injuries were reported, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, except those suffered by the terrorist.

“Responding to the imminent threat, forces fired towards the attacker, resulting in his death,” the IDF reported.

Hana Levi Julian

Internal Report: Majority of IDF Soldiers Don’t Expect Support from Commanders in Case of Errors

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Just 41% of IDF combat soldiers expect their commanders to support them should they make a mistake, according to an internal IDF survey reported by Ha’aretz Thursday. When the respondents include a sample of the entire IDF population, a small majority, 51%, believe they would receive support.

Only 61% of combat soldiers say they are pleased with their commanders. In 2014 the figure was 65%, in 2012 76%.

Only 23% of combat soldiers want to become officers. In 2014 it was 24%, and in 2012 33%. Only 25% of combat soldiers consider a military career, compared with 32% in 2014 and 41% in 2012.

The study authors noted that “it can be assumed that these findings were influenced by the events with Elor Azaria.”

Interestingly, despite their clear mistrust, 73% of IDF combat soldiers say they are satisfied with their service, compared with 76% in 2012. However, when asked if combat service contributes more to the country, only 40% of combat soldiers agreed, compared with 54% in 2014. Among the general IDF population 41% feel the same way.

The IDF Spokesman’s Office refused to comment on what they said was an internal survey.

David Israel

A Soldier’s Mother: An Open Letter to Senegal

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Years ago, I gave a lecture at the MASHAV (Golda Meir Center) for guests of the Foreign Ministry. As I arrived a bit early for the lecture, I was asked to be the “judge” of the presentations each team delivered. Most of the participants were from Africa and the task they were assigned involved creating a social media campaign to promote the topic. As I listened to a group (I believe one of the men was from Senegal), I realized that the very foundation of their presentation was wrong.

They were trying to raise awareness that domestic violence was wrong. The presenters spoke about how proud they were that African countries, such as Senegal, got around to signing the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, including the rights of women in 2005. They spoke about media campaigns, television shows, etc. What they missed, I explained to them as gently as I could, was that their campaign was all wrong. To a man, I bet if you asked a Senegalese man if domestic violence was wrong, he’d say, “oh, absolutely,” and then, in too many cases, if he went home and found that dinner was cold, he’s smack his wife. That’s not domestic violence, he would say, it was a well-deserved punishment for her crime.

Into this picture of cultural norms, poverty, and tremendous need, Israel stepped in, bringing light, experience, assistance. We didn’t preach to them, we helped, we taught. About 75% of the workforce in Senegal is involved in agriculture (that’s a fancy way of saying they are farmers). So says Wikipedia and many others. Wikipedia continues, “Production is subject to drought and threats of pests such as locusts, birds, fruit flies, and white flies.”

Agriculture in Senegal

Agriculture in Senegal

Well, Israel is pretty lucky with most of those things – pests, locusts, fruit flies, etc. but drought, now that’s a serious thing here in Israel and so back in the early 1960s, an Israeli named Simcha Blass, invented this amazing thing called, “drip irrigation.” And a few years back, Israelis flew to Senegal in 2014 to help them implement this and other water-saving technologies.
In fact, Senegal and Israel ties go back much farther. In fact, one year after Senegal declared independence (in September 1960), Israel’s Defense Minister, Shimon Peres, represented Israel at the celebrations. This was after numerous interactions between the countries – all one-sided, of course. Senegal sent military delegations to learn about the Israeli army (the kibbutz movement and ways to combine agricultural development with the armed forces: Israel sent seed cultivation experts (Middle East Record, published by Tel Aviv University, Volume II, Edited by Yitzchak Oron, Page 341-342).
Israel continued to assist Senegal for about 13 years…until Senegal thanked Israel by breaking diplomatic relations in the wake of the Yom Kippur War defeat. Yes, that was one of the wars in which WE were attacked, defended ourselves, gained the upper hand and handed back a stunning defeat…and so Senegal, of course, had no other option but to break relations to cater to their apparently deeper ties in the Arab world.

And yet, twenty years later (when the Senegalese were probably running out of water) diplomatic relations with Israel began to develop once again. Israel has…um…had…an Ambassador to Senegal and according to Aminata Toure, a former prime minister and an adviser to the current president, relations with Israel would be long-lasting (that was about 8 months ago).
In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Toure said, “We can maintain good relations with Israel and the Arab countries. “We see no contradiction, even if we have our opposition to some issues.”
So, they see no issue in taking our aid and then supporting an anti-Israel resolution, one-sided, unfair, completely out of proportion to what Palestinians are doing and problems around the world. Okey-dokie. Clearly this calls for an Open Letter to Senegal.

Dear Senegal,
Let’s make this short and sweet. Israel has been giving you assistance for the last 55+ years. In light of your recent vote, we are re-evaluating our Friends list and find that we’ve been wasting valuable time, energy, resources, faith and hope on you.

We just want to reassure you and the world that we are not leaving you helpless and abandoned. Your good friends,the Palestinians, have offered aid. Yes, I know, they have never sent economic aid to a foreign country, never sent humanitarian assistance. They have no trained search and rescue forces (but they ARE pretty good at demolition if you need any buildings, schools, homes, etc. blown up).
They have never invented any great medical devices, medicines, procedures and yes, I know, they regularly send their sick patients to Israel (including those of their President, Prime Minister, leaders and more) but the good news is after a visit to one of their doctors in Gaza hospitals, there are rarely any follow up visits needed (or possible).

Agriculture? Well, um…they did have green houses, amazing green houses that produced some of the most desired and delicious bug-free, organic celery, peppers and other produce. Although, to be fair, I think they only had them for about 24 hours before they burned them to the ground, so that might not be much help given that the ones who created the hot houses were the people you just betrayed last week.

Telecommunications and cellular networks and cyber-security? Well, no, sorry, I don’t think they have any of that, but you still have telephone polls, right? And, pigeons, maybe?
Look, I know this might look bad if Israel told you to go to hell, but it’s okay. First, becasuseThe Palestinians have got your back now that you’ve decided to stab Israel in our backs.
Don’t worry…be happy. Oh, and if you need any more help from Israel…yeah…that’s funny.
Um. No.

Shalom, Senegal.

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: What would happen if…

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Yesterday, four soldiers were murdered by an Arab who decided that ramming his truck would in some way serve his god. A dozen more were wounded, most lightly. This morning, I got a note from a father asking what would happen if…

He doesn’t live in Israel, though his son has come here alone to serve. If the son is here, there’s a really good chance it is because his parents instilled in him a love of this land, and a belief that it is his job to serve it.

He must have seen the video, or at least the pictures and his first thought, as mine has been too many times, was…how would I know? Imagine four sets of parents yesterday, going about their day. Really not much to worry about – their children were in a training course to be officers…they weren’t even combat soldiers. More, they were on a “culture” day – a day where they are taken to places of historic and cultural significance. See, learn, understand why you are defending this land.

So they came to Jerusalem…and they died. More, they were murdered. And at the moment their children died, they were going about their normal day.

To a parent, it seems unthinkable. How could I be taking a shower, eating lunch, playing a game on my phone in that second when life changes forever?

How will I know if he is hurt or killed, the father asked me. I couldn’t even bring myself to address the second so I started with the first.

It will depend how bad it is. They won’t want to waste time so they will call. If your son is well enough to speak on the phone, they’ll put him on. Hearing his voice, will keep you calm. And then someone will explain what has happened. And I believe the Israeli consulate or embassy will help make arrangements and likely pay for you to fly here to be beside him.

And worse? Then the army will call the Consulate or Embassy and they will send someone, perhaps even find your local rabbi and ask him to come along. They will deliver the bad news and they will leave and you’ll never see them again. In your mind, these are bad people who delivered news that destroyed you. And so Israel will send a second team to take care of logistics. At least that is how it is in Israel.

Abroad – they will help you get here, help you make arrangements. If…

I told him Israel would take care of everything. If..

For four families, if happened yesterday and they make my words a mockery. When your world crumbles, does it really matter if others are there to “take care of everything?”

I’ve been thinking about “if” since my children were little. Sometimes, it is a passing thought that comes and goes in a moment. Once at 6:30 a.m., a policeman knocked on my door and when I opened it, my heart felt like it had stopped beating. I looked at him and my mind whirled – where are each of my children? Why is he here?

He asked if we were a certain family. It took me a moment to realize he was using th ename of the people who lived in the house before us. Apparently, in addition to making our lives miserable during the sale of the house, they also never bothered to change their legal address and so when their car alarm went off (right outside the apartment where they now live a few blocks away), the police looked up the car and came to my house.

The policeman apologized and asked if I knew where they now live – “where the car is,” I told him.  Could he possibly know what I’d been thinking?

I remember many years ago, there was a brutal terror attack and 7 young girls were murdered while on a school trip. I cried for hours then and as my husband tried to comfort me, I remember asking him, “How…how do parents say good bye to their children in the morning as they leave home…and then bury them that night?” How?

I pray with everything inside me never to know the answer to that. Just explaining to the father this morning filled my eyes with tears. May we never hear that knock; may we never know the pain. May soldiers never come to my door and destroy my world.

Please God watch over our sons and daughters. They are so precious. So so precious.

May God watch over the souls of Shir and Erez and Yael and Shira and may You send a speedy recovery to the wounded.

Paula Stern

Discharged Lone Soldiers: You Chose the Thug Life

Monday, January 9th, 2017

When people hear that you’re a lone soldier, the shocked O’s on their lips are almost always accompanied with the classic string of praises. You know what I’m talking about. The “You’re so brave!” “I could never just leave my family like that!” or “It must be soooo hard!” But what they don’t know, and you probably won’t tell them (because they don’t really want to hear it), is how good the lone soldier life really is. Lone soldier life= Thug Life. Allow me to explain.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to belittle the whole you left your family, friends and everything you once knew to join a foreign army for idealistic reasons – but I would like to point out that we don’t have it so bad. From the day you arrive at the recruitment office and put on those army greens, you are IDF property. This means that it’s in the army’s best interest to put a roof over your head, feed you, clothe you and meet all of your basic needs. The IDF is kind of like a womb. You have everything you need in a safe little place, until you’re pushed out of your comfort zone and the world gives you a nice slap on the… Say bye-bye to free living accommodations, money for groceries, gift cards on holidays, a steady salary straight to your bank account every month, financial help and the many other millions of benefits you get for just being a little chayal/et alone in this country.

But don’t worry, the thug life doesn’t end when you peace out of the army. Israel knows how hard it is for a lone soldier to go from the comforting arms of the IDF into hardcore Israeli civilian life. The Holy Land has got your back. Along with the basic benefits that every discharged soldier in Israel gets ($$$$$$), there are many added benefits for lone soldiers.

First of all, before you even cut your choger (army ID), as a lone soldier it is your right to attend a one-week course that coaches you through the transition to civilian life This course is extremely educational because it explains things you never had to worry about, as the army was taking care of them for you. Health care, property taxes, education, welfare – these are all basic things that every citizen should have some knowledge about in his or her prospective country. Especially if he or she are immigrants who moved to said country alone (cough, cough).

During this course you also learn about all of your rights as a discharged lone soldier – some of which include: a scholarship of 1,000-1,500 shekel to complete your high school degree (GED); a one-time loan for living, studies, getting married, medical care, opening up a business or special circumstances; scholarships to help pay for a psychometry course; psychometry and application fees to universities waved and many different scholarship options to help pay for your BA or MA.

There are also many nonprofit organizations that were created specifically to help discharged lone soldiers. The “Wings Program,” for example, is committed to helping discharged lone soldiers find careers that are fitting for them. It offers professional guidance with a personal advisor who you can meet with you for up to two years following your release. If a lone soldier is looking into what academic studies or career to pursue, it offers free diagnostic testing that usually could cost hundreds of shekels. It offers help with resume building and financial coaching and has a Big Brother/Big Sister organization for mentoring. There is also the option for lone soldiers to be in contact with volunteers from the Israel Rotary club for anything from discounts on furniture to internships. Another foundation, the HESEG Foundation, provides the opportunity to apply for a full academic scholarship as well as paid living expenses.

Basically, Israel is doing everything in its power to help you fulfill your dreams and succeed in everything and anything you pursue after the army. So don’t fear this new weird phase of being a citizen and actually making adult decisions for yourself. Embrace this new stage, because when you chose to volunteer for the IDF, you chose the thug life for life.



Helpful Links:






Deena Felsenthal

Thousands Accompany IDF Soldiers to Final Resting Places in Jerusalem, Kfar Etzion, Haifa

Monday, January 9th, 2017

Thousands of people came to stand in solidarity at graveside with the families and friends of four Israeli officers who were killed Sunday in a truck ramming attack in Jerusalem. Shira Tzur, Shir Hajaj, Yael Yekutiel, and dual Israeli-American citizen Erez Orbach each were accompanied on their final journeys by hundreds of people.

Israel Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, and Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar, plus several Knesset members were present at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem to support the family of Shir Hajaj.

Her sister Bar spoke to her, saying, “I’m sorry you didn’t get your life… From now on, all your beauty will be robbed in the sadness of your song.” (The word “shir” in Hebrew means “song.”)

IDF personnel gathered with family and friends at the military section of the Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem to support the parents of Yael Yekutiel. Her father eulogized her as “a teacher, a soldier.”

Israeli-American officer Erez Orbach was accompanied to his final resting place at the Kfar Etzion cemetery by his family, and one of the rabbis at the yeshiva where he had studied.

Despite a health problem that initially excluded him from service, the soldier had fought until he was accepted, telling the IDF it was his “duty to serve.”

Hundreds also accompanied the family of Shira Tzur, from the city of Haifa, as she was taken to her final resting place in the city. Like her fellow officers, Second Lieutenant Tzur had been posthumously promoted. The 20-year-old officer began her military career in a pilots’ course before transferring to the unit in which she ended her life. She was known for always trying to make her environment “a better place,” her aunt told Ynet.

Hana Levi Julian

Don’t Judge the Soldiers

Monday, January 9th, 2017

The video of Jewish soldiers running away during the Armon Hanatziv terror attack was difficult to watch.

Realistic or not, we expect our soldiers to be well trained, physically, and, more important, mentally, to charge and engage the enemy.

It’s all too easy to ignore that these soldiers are inexperienced teenagers, some with more training, most with less. And yet we expect them to respond properly, effectively and professionally to bewildering situations on a level of competence we’d expect from seasoned combat veterans.

The IDF has to invest a lot of time and effort to train combat soldiers to charge the enemy and then pull the trigger. For most people it’s not a natural act.

Most of the soldiers in the Armon Hanatziv attack had had minimal combat training, and were designated for deployment in office positions, “Jobnikim,” in IDF slang.

In addition, it would be foolish to assume that the Elor Azaria trial which has torn up the country for close to a year did not impede their reaction time, compelling them to think ten times before charging and opening fire.

However in a civilian milieu, even experienced security personnel must think three times before pulling the trigger, in case their target is actually an innocent civilian.

There were mistakes made yesterday, just like there were mistakes made in Hebron, including mistakes made by Azaria’s officers, going all the way up the chain of command.

There were also heroes.

Lessons will be be learned from this incident, just as the IDF learned from previous ones. There will be investigations and consequences, as there should be.

Unfortunately, our suicidal enemy will still invent new, different and evil way to attack us.

In our war against Islamic terror, we must not drag our soldiers to court like common criminals, or shame them in social media.

Sgt. Elor Azaria last March and the soldiers in Armon HaNatziv on Sunday had to deal with an evil enemy in a very complicated situation, and whether or not their responses were picture perfect, or even warranted, they were acting in the service of our country. To treat them any other way is to invite more confusion and, inevitably, more victims of terrorism.


May all our wounded soldiers have a Refuah Sheleimah – a healthy and complete recovery.


Stephen Leavitt

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/dont-judge-the-soldiers/2017/01/09/

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