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December 20, 2009: Numbing

April 17, 2010

That’s the news.  If one is devoted to Israel, it’s impossible to absorb information about what’s happening without reeling.  Or weeping. 
Defense Minister Ehud Barak is in the process of playing tough guy, winning points with the left of his own party, and tearing the nation apart.

There are two issues, although they are connected.  They both touch upon our rights in Judea and Samaria, and how the army is used against residents of the communities there.
First, is the continuing matter of the (former) Hesder Yeshiva, Har Bracha, headed by Rabbi Eliezer Melamed.  Barak removed this yeshiva from the Hesder program when Rabbi Melamed said he would advise his students to refuse to serve to dismantle Judea and Samaria. 
The heads of the sixty yeshivas of the Hesder movement — led by Rabbi Haim Druckman, head of the Union of Hesder Yeshivas — met today in an effort to resolve the situation.  Declaring that yeshiva heads were opposed to the exclusion of Har Bracha, and that he would do everything in his power to prevent this exclusion, Rabbi Druckman released a statement:

“A move excluding a yeshiva from the accord is severe and has dangerous, nationally dire consequences. We oppose this, and will do anything to prevent it from happening. Together we will find a way.”

There is no word on resolution of the issue as I write, but there are now several suggestions floating, including an appeal to the High Court and an action by heads of yeshivas to keep their students from going into the army. 
This afternoon, a spokesman for the Union released a statement. The Union, he said first, was opposed to demonstrations in the IDF.
And this requires a bit of explanation.  In the course of a public ceremony in October, members of the Kfir Brigade raised signs saying they would not participate in evacuation of residents from Judea and Samaria (in that instance, specifically, Homesh).  There was considerable flack about this, with the issue of free speech for soldiers raised, but Rabbi Druckman and others within the Hesder program coming out against public demonstrations. 
Now, with the current crisis, there was talk about Rabbi Eliezer signing a letter that said he would oppose demonstrations.  This would have been seen as a backing down by him.  Ultimately, he refused to sign such a letter, both because he didn’t believe it would make a difference with Barak, and, more significantly, because he feared that Barak’s office would make it seem that military rules had precedence over Torah law, and he could not be a party to this.  This stand helps make clear why he is admired as a man of principle and integrity.
Whether he is implicitly included in the statement made by the Union is unclear to me.
Public demonstrations, however, are not equivalent to a quiet refusal to serve in certain circumstances. And that leads us to the second demand of the Union:
…that “the army take our soldiers out of all activity with a civilian character.”  That is, the Hesder soldiers would be utilized only for defense of the nation.
Amen and amen on this. 
But so far Barak is being stiff-necked and will strike no compromise.  What he is doing, which I’ve already indicated, is damaging the very core of the army, locking horns with those who represent our best soldiers — with this whole issue evolving as a result of the use of the army against Jews instead of against the enemy.
What happens when the inevitable occurs, and we are attacked by Hamas, or by Hezbollah, and the morale of the IDF has been weakened?  What happens when we need our best soldiers to defend us, and they have been worn down?  There are those who say that the morale of the IDF was so shattered with the expulsion from Gaza that it lead to a weaker fighting effort in Lebanon.  Has our “defense minister” considered this?
I rather like the comment of Yael Mishali, writing in YNet:
“I am not a devout follower of Jewish law, and I never followed a rabbi formally; however, in my view any group of Zionist rabbis is preferable to any group of politicians that includes Ehud Barak.”
The question of using our soldiers against Jews leads us directly to the next issue:
The Jerusalem Post has obtained a 17-page IDF document drawn up by the Central Command, which indicates that the military intends to use “paralyzing power” to enforce the building freeze in Judea and Samaria. Paralyzing power.  The Jewish residents — who are blocking the freeze both out of a sense of their rights and the fear that this represents the beginning of a disengagement — are about to be turned into the enemy.  If this plan is enacted, building they have done since the freeze is in place would be destroyed. The Air Force would be used to do overhead reconnaissance.  Cell phone reception would be shut down, and the press banned.  And the army, which would surround areas, would move in as needed.
Shameful is the first word that occurs to me.  With painful a close second.
Said MK Michael Ben Ari (Ehud Leumi), “It’s an outrageous document that teaches us that the Likud government has declared war on the settlers.”
Danny Dayan, head of the Yesha Council, declared:
“This is quite simply deployment for a military operation against an enemy. This is not the way to enforce a government’s decision applying to citizens in a democratic state.”
Dayan is of the — not unreasonable — opinion that the defense minister is conducting himself in this fashion “to appease [Labor MKs] Daniel Ben Simon and Ophir Pines” — the rebels who threaten the cohesiveness of the Labor party.
The Yesha Council, after an emergency meeting, released a statement indicating they would do everything possible to foil the plans:
“Anyone using military resources meant to fight terror against ‘enemies’ the likes of young couples who want to build their home in Judea and Samaria has lost his senses along with any restraint.”
One military source explained that the document was drawn up in detail to account for all exigencies because, “This is what we do when we are given orders by the defense minister.  It is our responsibility to prepare as detailed a document [as necessary]…”
Orders by the defense minister.
I want to thank commentator Moshe Dann for pointing out that the current situation with regard to use of the army against Israeli civilians is exacerbated by the fact that we never established civil law over Judea and Samaria: the defense minister has a sort of jurisdiction in a region still under military law that simply would not exist in a region under civil law.
Many here in Israel are asking where our prime minister is in all of this.  He is all together too silent, as he permits Barak free reign.
I strongly recommend Caroline Glick’s column from last Friday, which deals with Netanyahu — with regard both to how he has been conducting himself and what is required of him at this juncture:

“It is hard to seize the initiative. The consequences of acting are frightening. It is always better to let others go first. But sometimes that is impossible. Today it is becoming clear that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has no choice but to lead.

“The stakes have never been higher…”

“…Until now, as Israel faced this growing threat [from Iran], it has tried to avoid leading by seeking to convince the US to act against Iran. Since US President Barack Obama took office 11 months ago, Israel’s desire to convince the US to act against Iran has driven Netanyahu to take drastic steps to appease the White House.

“Netanyahu has bowed to American pressure and announced his support for the establishment of a Palestinian state in Israel’s heartland, even as the Palestinians themselves made clear that they reject Israel’s right to exist.

“He bowed to US pressure and is implementing a draconian freeze on all Jewish building in Judea and Samaria, despite the fact that the Palestinians refuse to even discuss peace with Israel.

“Netanyahu has allowed Defense Minister Ehud Barak to unravel national unity still further by picking fights with yeshiva heads who oppose the wholly theoretical possibility that IDF soldiers will be ordered to expel Jews from their homes in Judea and Samaria in the framework of a peace treaty with the Palestinians.

“…Unfortunately, Netanyahu’s appeasement efforts have not brought a US payoff. The Obama administration continues to downplay the urgency of the Iranian nuclear threat and its calls for sanctions are half-hearted and will not prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring nuclear weapons.

“Moreover, the Obama administration remains stridently opposed to using military force to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations…

“…Israel cannot depend on the US to defend it from Iran. Indeed, it makes clear that a breach of relations with the US is unavoidable.

“…the time has come for Netanyahu to take the lead.”

Since the Suez Operation in 1956, says Glick, it has been Israeli policy to sign off with the US before taking military action.  But this is not how the current scenario is playing out, and this time Israel must act without a nod from the US.

She presents evidence for the very real possibility that others — most notably France — will join us if only Netanyahu will take that lead.



I think the time has definitely come for us — in large numbers! — to let Prime Minister Netanyahu know that he is expected to stand up and lead — as this is why he was elected. 

First, to lead by putting an end to the current shameful mess being wrought in this country by Barak.

And then, most significantly, to take the lead in attacking Iran. 

Remind him that no one else will do this, and that the world thus depends upon him.  In your own words, please, let him know that he faces the choice between making a mark on history for all time, or going out of office an abysmal failure who leaves his nation and the western world considerably weaker. 

Fax: 02-670-5369 (From the US: 011-972-2-670-5369) 

Phone: 03-610-9898 (From the US: 011-972-3-610-9898) 

E-mail:  pm_eng2@it.pmo.gov.il (underscore after pm) 

When possible, send a fax rather than an e-mail — it’s more effective. And encourage others to do the same!


“The Good News Corner”

Boy, do we need good news!

In a study done at the Department of Psychology at Haifa University, Dr. Irit Akirav has discovered that the active chemical ingredients of marijuana can relieve the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

Additional research on potential side effects must be done to ensure that the benefits outweigh the risks. 


A new “green” battery based on silicon has been developed in Israel by Professor Yair Ein-Eli, working in collaboration with other scientists.  The battery, which requires only one electrode, utilizes oxidized silicone, which turns to sand when the battery is depleted. At present the battery is not re-chargeable, but lasts for thousands of hours.


The Safari Park in Ramat Gan, outside of Tel Aviv, has become the world’s largest exporter of hippos. 

Is this “good” news? Who knows.  But it’s interesting, light-hearted news. 

The Park had a surplus of hippos, with a high birth rate, and so decided to send some elsewhere.  To date, 14 have been shipped, by sea and air, to Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam. 

The way to go about it is to sneak up on the hippo while it is sleeping and inject it with a tranquilizer. If the hippo runs into the water, it becomes near impossible to sedate it, and this animal is something less than docile. The hippo, once tranquilized, is lifted into a crate by a bulldozer.



Fresh red plums have five times as much antioxidant as red wine, apples and bananas, and three times as much as  pomegranates, Prof. Joseph Kanner, of the Department of Food Science at the Volcani Institute, has discovered.  Eating one plum counteracts the oxidizing effects of a seven-ounce portion of meat.


With acknowledgment to Israel21C for the above items.





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