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September 28, 2016 / 25 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘soldiers’

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

A Soldier’s Mother: From One Soldier’s Mother to Another

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

Arranging a holiday in Israel can be very interesting. It seems like the whole country goes on vacation at the same time. Occupancy in the north during the summer and in the south during the winter reaches, quite literally, close to 100%. Get that spot early, or you’re not going to find a place.

We found a place – or at least my amazing older daughter did. And then we found out that David would be out of the army…the week before. So we decided to check around and see if we could find somewhere else to stay. I started calling and realized the week we want coincides with a huge musical festival up north…wonderful.

I called a bunch of places and then got desperate enough to ask one if perhaps she knew of another. I explained that I wanted my “soldier” to join us. That we already have a place the following week, but I really, really want to give him that time, that break. I’ve never gone on vacation without him and I don’t want to start now if I can help it.

“Where does he serve?” she asked.

“Givati,,” I answered.

And then, the most amazing thing happened. She started to speak. I’ll write down what I remember as best I can,

“My son served in Givati too. It was very hard. You know they go into Gaza, right?”

Yes, I told her, already hearing the dread pour into my voice. “I don’t want him in Givati,” I confessed.

“Listen to me. This is what you have to do. Every day, you have to give tzedukah [charity]. Find a poor family and every day, give them a few shekels. And pray. Say to yourself, ‘he should go in peace and he should serve in peace and he should be safe and come home in peace. Him and all of the soldiers of Israel.”

I told her again how much it scares me; she told me again that she it will be okay, just to give charity every day. Can you imagine speaking with a complete stranger and having her bless your child and offer you her support? It happens here all the time.

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: The Face of a Hypocrite

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

This is the face of a hypocrite.

Rami Hamdallah is the so-called Prime Minister of the so-called Palestinian Authority government in Ramallah. He’s also a hypocrite of gigantic proportions. It boggles the mind how he dares to stand in front of cameras and open his mouth. It really does.

He says that the Palestinian Authority will not allow Israel to hold on to the dead bodies of terrorists, presumably those who died in the act of terror and those who were caught afterwards.

And yet…and yet…these “people” have been holding the remains of at least one Israeli soldier for two years, torturing his family and this country. They have returned the bodies of soldiers with clear proof they were tortured and mutilated. You won’t allow us to do to you what you’ve been doing to us for decades? Yeah, sure…I’m sure that’s reasonable, fair and…oh right, I’m talking to a terrorist leader of a terrorist organization or a people that supports terror and murder and hate and violence.

Well, dear “sir” – you can take that and shove it where the sun don’t shine. For once, I am awfully tempted to use one of those four letter words.

On the other hand, our Prime Minister, who was actually elected in free and democratic elections, is best at refusing something when others order him to do it…here’s hoping he’ll take his God-given talent for speech and tell the Palestinian Authority where to go..

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: Time to Admit this Great and Tragic Truth

Monday, August 1st, 2016

Last week, in the town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, two terrorists walked into a church and murdered an 84 year old Catholic priest. In the early morning hours, as the priest was conducting mass, they entered the church with the specific and clear intention to murder.

They violated the holiness, the sanctity of that holy place because…because…

You know what. Stop there. The because leads you to madness.

This is Jacques Hamel.

Jacques Hamel.

He was 84 when he was murdered by Islamic terrorists in a terror attack in France. He was a priest but more, he was an old man who hurt no one. He was murdered in the name of Allah. He was murdered in the name of intolerance. They entered a church and violated the sanctity of that place. The priest was murdered because he was a Catholic, an infidel. Yes, that’s right. According to Islam, this man of the cloth was an infidel.
 

This is Hadas Fogel.

Hadas FogelShe was only four months old when she was murdered by Islamic terrorists in a terror attack in Israel. She was a baby, but more, she was the essence of innocence and she too was murdered in the name of hatred and Allah. She was murdered in the name of intolerance. She was murdered because she was a Jew, an infidel. Yes, that’s right. According to Islam, this child, this baby of only four months old was an infidel and a worthy and honorable target.

And this is Hallel Yaffa Ariel.

hallel

She was just 13 and a half when she was murdered by an Islamic terrorist in a terror attack in Israel. She was in her bedroom, asleep when he entered her room and began stabbing her. She was a child on the brink of so much more when she was murdered in the name of hate and martyrdom and Allah. She was murdered in the name of intolerance. She was murdered because she was a Jew, an infidel. Yes, that’s right. This sleeping child is, according to Islam, a legitimate and honorable kill.
 

I keep wondering what level of violence will it take to shock the world into action. They have burned people, hanged them, decapitated them. They have stabbed, stoned, bombed, and shot people. They murdered a baby…baby Hadas, and many other babies across the globe. The murdered Hallel as she slept, and many other young girls and boys. And today, they murdered a priest in cold blood.

What will it take for the world to be able to say – without lowering their voices – this was the work of Islamic extremism? This was Islamic terror? All Muslims…no. No. NO.But today, and yesterday, last week and last month and last year and ten years ago and twenty. In Madrid, New York, Tel Aviv, London, Paris, Jerusalem, Brussels, Itamar, Nice, Kiryat Arba, Orlando, Normandy, Afula and on and on and on.

Say it. Islamic terror. Stop it. Stop it. Be shocked. Be angry. Scream out your anger. Stop terrorism.

Stop them now…before they come to your city, as they have come to mine. Stop them because they will not stop. They will come to yours, as they have come for mine.

You and yours…that’s right…YOU are an infidel and they want you dead. They want your way of life crushed. Does that scare you? Does that terrify you to the depths of your soul?

GOOD!

 

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: Keeping the Sabbath

Friday, July 29th, 2016

On my first trip to Israel when I was 16 years old, I discovered, truly for the first time, the deepest and truest meaning of Shabbat, our Sabbath day. For years in America, I had adopted the traditions, attempted to follow the rules, but what was missing was the absolute depth and beauty of sharing that day with others in song, sharing meals, simply living in the moment. My family was not religious and so I was mostly on my own, sailing through the mechanics.

Only in Israel, sharing each Shabbat day with hundreds of other teenagers who were also enjoying the experience of Israel did I suddenly understand why the rules are what they are and how incredible a gift we as a people have been given.

While I was here, one Shabbat was shared with another group of kids. This one included girls who had recently been “converted” from Reform Judaism to Orthodoxy and the sudden plunge that they experienced was so very different from my slow and easy (and lonely) journey from Conservative Judaism to Orthodox. Though I understood that these girls had been quickly taught that they must be modest, I found their climbing under the blankets in an all-girls room to be a bit absurd, but I held back figuring, with all the superiority a 16 year old can muster, that they needed to be helped along and accepted, not criticized.

Later that night, after yet another amazing meal, hearing 300 kids singing and clapping and even dancing, I was not even a bit bothered the first time one of them complained that the last person out of the room, whoever that was, had forgotten to shut the light. So here we were, four girls in a room with a light on, while Jewish law forbade us from closing it during the Sabbath.

I accepted the situation and turned on my side, but this one girl said out loud, “Oh, it’s so hard to sleep with the light on.”

I closed my eyes and waited for sleep, “I just wish the light hadn’t been left on,” she said.

A few minutes later, “It’s just so hard to sleep with the light on, too bad it can’t be closed.”

And a few minutes later, “It’s so hard to sleep with the light on.”

And then somehow, a crazy thought entered my mind, “Are you hinting that we should shut the light?” I asked her as I sat up in bed and looked at her.

Such incredible relief filled her face with joy, “YES! My rabbi told me that I wasn’t allowed to turn the lights on and off but that I could hint to someone else to do it!”

I looked at her somewhat surprised myself and yet also relieved at having the mystery solved, “to a non-Jew,” I told her. “We can’t turn the lights on or off either.”

David is home for a long weekend. He’s talking about the army, funny stories, serious ones and I listen and smile. He’s happy. He looks amazing. He was so silly, so playful today. He hasn’t been home in more than 2 weeks and I’ve missed him a lot.

His grandmother asks him to tell her one good thing about being in the army, “You get a lot of exercise,” he answered.

“Where you are sleeping, is it air-conditioned?” I ask.

The answer is “sort of.” There are machines there, but to cut down on costs, the air conditioners automatically go off every two hours and then someone has to turn them back on. This works just fine during the week, but on the Sabbath, the air conditioners go off and can’t be turned back on…at least not by the Jewish soldiers in David’s unit.

And so they hinted and explained to a Druze soldier who had heard of such practices but never really experienced them. It took a few minutes but he finally understood what was needed after a sudden power outage cut the electricity. Quite willing to help his fellow soldiers, he turned the electricity back on…everyone thanked him.

Then, he smiled, closed the electricity, laughed and walked out of the room. A minute or two later, he came back in and turned it back on and everyone joined in the laughter.

Another soldier who serves in his unit is from Russia. He is not Jewish, though going through the conversion process. David said that on Friday in the middle of the night, the Russian soldier woke because  it was very hot in the room. He got up and turned the air conditioner back on and then, thinking of the other soldiers, he went room to room to turn the air conditioners on again for the other soldiers.

Keeping the Sabbath is not always the easiest thing to do. Years ago, I found myself in Jerusalem and spent the night with the light on because it was Shabbat and I couldn’t turn the light back on. Now, so many years later, my son’s army life is made that much easier by two non-Jews – both of whom have volunteered to serve in the army.

We are commanded to remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. This holy Shabbat, Davidi will be home to share in it with us. He left a short time ago to visit his friends. I’ve got corned beef boiling on the stove top; chicken cooling in the oven. Soon I’ll make the dough for the challah and leave it to rise overnight.

Years before my first trip, I knew that I wanted to live in Israel; now, as I watch my son and hear the stories he tells me about his life in the army over the last two weeks, I smile. I wish I could go back and whisper in my 16 year old year…have faith, you’ll get back here; you’ll raise your children here and they will be everything you dreamed of and so many things you never imagined.

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton

Monday, July 25th, 2016

My thoughts…mine alone. Not meant to interfere. No money was distributed, no attempt is being made to infiltrate the US to undermine any campaign (as compared to what the Obama administration did during the last Israeli elections).

I’m smart enough to know that if we were stupid enough to attempt this, America…or what is left of it…would respond to us as we responded to Obama (A Message to America).

So, I offer my thoughts…and mine alone…on the choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton:

I am more amazed by the endless need to attack the other person that typifies almost all Facebook posts. And the only posts I’ve seen the have been positive about either candidate are usually lies. The best single post I’ve seen is quite simple “We’re Screwed, 2016.”

I have been accused of being interested in only one aspect of the US elections – how the candidate relates to Israel. I can’t totally deny this because while I believe which candidate you choose will impact on your future economic situation and perhaps some personal freedoms, I don’t think the very lives of most Americans hangs on the balance of how the next election goes.

Potentially every Israeli life, including and especially the soldiers of Israel, could be on the line. I am proud of my country, Israel, for taking the necessary steps and cultivating other relationships outside the one with the US. This will be needed if Clinton is elected.

But I will also tell you that again and again, I see that what happens to Israel first, spreads to the rest of the world. We lived through terrible days of suicide bombing attacks, now they are very rare in Israel (thank God and the IDF). While terrorism is still a reality in Israel, far more attacks are averted or mitigated by our strong and constant attempts to fight it. We watch as horrible things happen in Brussels, Orlando, London, San Bernadino, Paris, Nice, and now Munich. Left unchecked, terror will spread and spread. And who the US chooses in this election, will likely have a direct impact on how the US fights terror (or even if it fights terror), in the coming years.

What boggles the mind is how many of you now agree Obama was a disaster, just as we here in Israel said he would be, but are prepared to go with Clinton when we say the same thing about her and the policies she will implement, the people she will empower. Fool us once, shame on him…and Obama did. Fool us twice even, shame on him…and Obama did. Fool you three times, and Clinton will, shame on you.

At some point, however, you can’t fight stupid. Do what you gotta do, America. The world is watching. Your society is imploding. It is horrible to watch from outside. Those of us who live in Israel by choice still care deeply for the US and it is very painful to sit here and watch you choose between two such horrendous options. Worse, to watch as you pick the worst of the worse.

Clinton has now picked a Vice President who has a clear anti-Israel position. Oh yeah, he’ll mouth the words about supporting our backs…just like Obama did. But like Obama and Clinton, they despise the Israeli government, and the vibrant Israeli democracy that brought it to power.

I firmly believe that in four years, if you elect Clinton, America will be weaker and more isolated, thousands more will have died in terror attacks. As for Israel, you may not believe this next statement, but I do…we here in Israel will be fine. We are strong. We love this land and will defend it.

Four years ago, when Obama was re-elected, I wanted Israel to send the US a message, “God bless you and keep you safe…see you in four years.”

Well, it’s four years later. If Clinton is elected, I hope we’ll send that message because there will be no reason to attempt a closer relationship. Israel gets financial aid…yeah, we do…and we paid for that aid right back in many ways. It is not at all clear that Israel needs the US more than the US needs Israel – ask your military…or what is left of it after Obama has systematically worked to destroy it.

Look at the innovation coming out of Israel. I’ll tell you a secret…ready? What you see is nothing compared to what is happening here. You’ve seen pieces of it – Iron Dome – that WE developed, to meet and knock missiles out of the sky to protect our people, and now a Tunnel Discovery technology that is finding and destroying Hamas tunnels.

What else is there? Don’t worry – there’s more. We’ll deal with what we have to, no matter who you elect. With great disgust and sadness, I hope it will be Donald Trump.

I hope it will be Donald Trump, because I’d rather stand with the United States before the Russians, the Germans, Asians and Africans.
I hope it will be Donald Trump, because a united stand against Iran is the only way out of the dangers ahead that would (and will) be presented by a nuclear Iran. My country will fly alone if it has to but it would be better for the west if it wasn’t Israel alone.
I hope it will be Donald Trump, because I don’t think the US military can survive another years of Obama under a new name.
I hope it will be Donald Trump, because he is a Washington outsider and it’s time to bring in someone from the outside to change the corruption that has robbed America of so much of its greatness.
I hope it will be Donald Trump, because Israel is an important ally and deserves better treatment than it got from Obama or will get from Clinton and Caine, who supported Obama’s ongoing attempts to humiliate and insult Israel’s leaders.
I hope it will be Donald Trump, because the alternative is so much worse and because the next few years will force America to deal with very similar problems that Europe is struggling with right now…in places like Paris, Nice, Brussels, London, and Munich.
I hope it will be Donald Trump…
I hope it won’t be Hillary Clinton. I hope it won’t be Tim Kaine.
Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: In My Little Country

Monday, July 18th, 2016

It’s been a heck of a busy day.

Early in the morning, my phone beeped with news that shouldn’t have been shared. A grenade had gone off in the north…there were injuries, possibly fatalities. Hours later, this was confirmed and at this moment, a family is flying to Israel to attend the funeral tomorrow of their 20 year old son, who came to Israel to live here, to serve in the army, as several other children in the family have already done.

Later, it would come out that the grenade that detonated killed two soldiers, one was the lone soldier whose family is flying now; the second was a Druze soldier from the north. Ironic because a short while after he died, another Druze, this one a security guard for the light rail in Jerusalem, saved dozens if not hundreds of lives when he identified and with another guard rushed to stop a terrorist armed with bombs who was about to get on the light rail in the center of Jerusalem.

And then, as if that wasn’t enough excitement in my little country. A drone was intercepted by Patriot missiles as it infiltrated into Israeli airspace over the Golan Heights.

There are days that are roller coasters of emotion here. Even the hint of a soldier’s death brings on terror and pain. When you hear that a terrorist attack has been averted, the sun shines a bit brighter, you walk a bit more sure that whatever diving plan there is, Israel remains protected.

When you hear that Israel has fired a missile to ward off a threat, you think war might be coming, yet again to your small country.

My first thought when I heard about the almost-terror attack this morning was that I was grateful that there would be no funerals, no mourning families. In the end, there are two families in Israel who are in mourning now. Tomorrow, there will be a a funeral – of a 20 year old soldier whose family is flying in from New Jersey right now.

In the end, tomorrow, I will go to the funeral of a lone soldier who died for Israel today and somewhere in the sadness, I’ll try to remember, as always, that there are blessings in life despite the pain.

Paula Stern

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