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August 29, 2016 / 25 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘speak’

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.

 

YA’ALON AND THE WINTER AFFAIR

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 VS. HIS GENERALS

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.”

JNi.Media

Kerry, Biden Slated to Speak at J Street Gala

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry are both slated to speak Monday at the J Street 2016 National Gala.

The event is scheduled to take place at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Peter Beinart’s Cocoon

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

In the New York Review of Books, Peter Beinart is upset that the organized American Jewish community doesn’t invite Palestinian Arabs to speak at their events. He believes that American Jews don’t give enough empathy to Palestinian Arabs.

For the most part, Palestinians do not speak in American synagogues or write in the Jewish press. The organization Birthright, which since 1999 has taken almost 350,000 young Diaspora Jews—mostly Americans—to visit Israel, does not venture to Palestinian towns and cities in the West Bank. Of the more than two hundred advertised speakers at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) 2013 Policy Conference, two were Palestinians. By American Jewish standards, that’s high. The American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum earlier this year, which advertised sixty-four speakers, did not include a single Palestinian.

…Guidelines like Hillel’s—which codify the de facto restrictions that exist in many establishment American Jewish groups—make the organized American Jewish community a closed intellectual space, isolated from the experiences and perspectives of roughly half the people under Israeli control. And the result is that American Jewish leaders, even those who harbor no animosity toward Palestinians, know little about the reality of their lives.

Beinart grudgingly admits:

This lack of familiarity with Palestinian life also inclines many in the organized American Jewish world to assume that Palestinian anger toward Israel must be a product solely of Palestinian pathology. Rare is the American Jewish discussion of Israel that does not include some reference to the textbooks and television programs that “teach Palestinians to hate.” These charges have some merit. Palestinian schools and media do traffic in anti-Semitism and promote violence.

But:

Still, what’s often glaringly absent from the American Jewish discussion of Palestinian hatred is any recognition that some of it might stem not from what Palestinians read or hear about the Jewish state, but from the way they interact with it in their daily lives.

Beinart is at least as guilty of willful blindness as the American Jewish establishment he is insulting. His “Open Zion” site all but ignores the Palestinian Arab hate and antisemitism, just as he attempts to minimize it and contextualize it here as a natural result of things Israelis did. He says that most terror attacks are the result of anger at Israeli actions from the first intifada, without mentioning who started the first intifada. No doubt Israel’s initial reaction was more severe than would be acceptable today, but at the time Palestinian Arabs from the West Bank and Gaza would travel freely to pre-1967 Israel and Israelis would visit freely to Arab areas, without fear.

The restrictions that Beinart is so upset about today came because of Palestinian Arab terror, not the other way around.

Moreover, while Beinart talks about checkpoints that exist today, what does he think would happen if a two-state solution that he so passionately supports would occur? They wouldn’t be checkpoints – there would be national borders. Try commuting to another country every day, let alone an enemy country, and see how painless it is.

American Jewish leaders have access to The New York Times, the BBC, the Guardian and, yes, Open Zion. Jewish Americans read Thomas Friedman and Roger Cohen. The idea that they somehow live in a pro-Likud bubble is ridiculous. They know far more about Palestinian Arab claims and grievances than readers of Open Zion know about the day to day incitement against Israel and Jews in Palestinian Arab lives – not just “textbooks and television programs” but virtually every newspaper, every school, every media.

This is the stuff I expose along with MEMRI, Palestinian Media Watch and others.

Beinart would like to pretend that we cherry pick the worst examples. To an extent that is true. That’s how the media works – to show the worst in order to illuminate the facts – something Beinart is doing in this very essay.

However, as someone who reads quite a bit of Arabic media daily, I can assure Beinart and my readers that the hate isn’t an anomaly, while people like Salam Fayyad are the silent majority. No – within the “cocoon” of Palestinian Arab life, there is zero tolerance for any viewpoint that is the least bit conciliatory to real coexistence and peace. The hate is pervasive, not anomalous. Anyone who would speak to an American Jewish organization would, by that very fact, lose all legitimacy from their own people.

Elder of Ziyon

Jewish Survival in the Face of Existential Threats: a Focus on Women

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Women have exercised their inherent gift of intuition and bravery to influence the course of Jewish history from the earliest time recorded.

The dramatic confrontation between Sarah and Avraham over the choice of successor, in effect a struggle over the survival of Judaism, was reenacted a generation later between Rivka and Yitzchak. In the face of his own preference, Rivka, just like Sarah, was intrinsically directed to choose the optimal heir to Yitzchak.

Egyptian Exile and Exodus are pivotal landmarks in the history of our people’s struggle for survival. References to Galut Mitzrayim (Exile in Egypt) and Yetziat Mitzrayim (Exodus from Egypt) are central to the entire corpus of Jewish socio-ethical teaching. Against such background, the rabbinic dictum that “It is to the credit of the righteous women that our forefathers were redeemed from Egypt” (Sotah 11) is quite remarkable. Our rabbis recognized the roles women played in making redemption possible.

The Hebrew midwives, who at the risk of their lives defied the edict of Pharaoh “and let the children live” (Sh’mot 1:17), were rewarded for their great courage, and “G-d granted a bounty for the midwives, and the nation multiplied and grew very mighty” (Sh’mot 1:20). The other women also did their share to ensure survival by keeping their appearance attractive and boosting their husbands’ morale.

Within this context the Midrash focuses on the role of Miriam whose admonishment prompted her own father to resume his marital duty. And so, the birth and survival of Moshe, the Divine instrument of Israel’s redemption, was the consequence of intuitive acts by a number of women which included, besides Miriam and Yocheved, even Pharaoh’s daughter who, by adopting Moshe and providing a Hebrew nurse for him, completed the first phase of Israel’s redemption.

Regarding the next phase of redemption, Matan Torah, the Giving of the Torah at Sinai, our rabbis claim that the women were given the Torah first because it is they who teach their children “the ways of the Torah.” The teachers of “the way” to the next generation hold the secret of a people’s survival. They are the bridge to the Jewish future.

The Biblical precedent established a pattern for women of later generations to have a historically defined role as the vanguard in the struggle of Jewish survival. At every crucial juncture women have stepped into the historical vacuum to provide roles as unseen movers based on their prophetic intuition and their ability “to tune into” the existential self of the Jewish people.

From Rebbetzin Recha Freier who spearheaded a movement which evolved into the Youth Aliyah, a major instrument of rescue for Jewish children during the Holocaust, to Rivka Gruber, teacher, librarian, and social worker, who, after her two sons fell in Israel’s War of Independence, became the founder of a string of settlements in the Sharon Valley, women have been silent movers, creating educational, social, health and welfare infrastructures for the Jewish community.

And how about the women in our present situation of surrounding existential threat, the war of terror in Israel?

That chapter is being written even as we speak. Do you remember the name Chava Shatsky? How could you? She is one among innumerable heroines whose children were murdered by Arab terrorists, one name among hundreds. Her 15 year-old daughter Keren was killed by an Arab terrorist in the Karne Shomron mall on Motzei Shabbat, February 16, 2002.

I happen to remember because of a personal connection. Reading in The Jewish Press that Karen and the other casualties were pupils in Kedumim’s Ulpana Lehava, where someone from my family taught English, I immediately contacted her to offer my emotional support. When I started to speak and my words drowned in tears, it was she who comforted me. Yes, Keren was her pupil, she said, and Keren’s mother, Chava Shatsky, was the chairman of the department at Lehava.

“You must speak to Chava,” she advised me. “Chava will give you chizuk, strength… she gave chizuk to all of us. In our grief over Keren, the faith of Keren’s mother gave us all strength,” the young teacher said. When I expressed profound amazement, she continued: “Yes, it is amazing. Yet there are many other women who react similarly. And these women are the guarantee that we will make it,” she said with pride.

The young teacher’s words helped me. They helped me cope with the grief and face the future. Indeed, these heroic mothers, like Jewish women throughout our history of confrontation with existential threats are the guarantee that we will make it.

Prof. Livia Bitton-Jackson

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/jewess-press/impact-women-history/jewish-survival-in-the-face-of-existential-threats-a-focus-on-women/2013/08/09/

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