Yanover’s piece

This is the article by Yori Yanover, first published in the Jewish Press, then removed as they sacked him. I think it’s worth preserving:

For the record, I believe the new Shaked-Lapid-Bennett draft law is by far worse than the one it came to replace, the Tal Law. Most importantly, because the Tal Law was getting results, without the idiotic, needless, divisive rancor generated by the new legislation. Killing the Tal Law, or, rather, issuing an edict that it had to be replaced by something that worked faster, was the parting poisonous gift of Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch, protégé of that beacon of light unto the nations, Chief Justice Aharon (evil genius) Barak.

Since then we’ve seen one demonstration of a few hundred thousand Haredim against the new law in Jerusalem (but not a single day’s work was lost!), and yesterday, in downtown Manhattan, another 50 thousand Haredim marched to condemn the evil decree.

I went on the vosizneias.com website to check out the rally, because I expected them to bring the authentic stuff. I wasn’t disappointed, even though they just lifted the AP story without attribution:

“We’re all united against military service for religious men in Israel because it doesn’t allow for religious learning,” said Peggy Blier, an interior designer from Brooklyn. “The Israeli government is looking to destroy religious society and make the country into a secular melting pot.”

Every single point made by Peggy Blier is a blatant lie. Of course the law allows for religious learning, it merely suggests that at some point—way past the age non-Haredim serve, and for half the time that normal Israelis give freely of their lives—”religious Jews in Israel” should participate in caring for the security of their country, or, if that’s too much, serve the equivalent time in vital organizations inside their own communities for their own neighbors.

That, according to Peggy Blier, is a conspiracy on the part of the Israeli government to destroy religious society.

Shmuel Gruis, 18, a rabbinical student from Phoenix studying at a Long Island yeshiva, said, “These kids, a lot of them don’t know how to hold a gun. They don’t know what physical warfare is.”

Are you kidding me? Have you ever been to a Shabbes demonstration? Those kids can throw a rock at police like born Palestinians.

“Their whole world and their whole lifestyle is peace and love and in doing mitzvahs,” he said.

OK, who can argue with that description of Haredi behavior? I’m sure non-Haredi women walking the streets of Beit Shemesh or boarding the bus in B’nei B’rak would attest to that pure goodness.

Some of the Hebrew prayers were led by Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, a spiritual head of the Satmars living in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. If the IDF only enlisted the Satmar folks who ever participated in the clashes with the Satmar followers of the other spiritual head of Satmar, they could forge a most brutal and violent commando unit that would put to shame even the late Lee Marvin’s Dirty Dozen (and those included Telly Savalas and Trini Lopez).

Next Verena Dobnik, the AP reporter giving news content for free to Vosizneias, interviewed Yitz Farkas, a member of the Brooklyn-based True Torah Jews organization (step aside, all you False Torah Jews), who informed her that “The problem is, anyone who goes into the Israeli military becomes secular, and that would erase our whole tradition.”

I always enjoy that one. See, you and I are pretty sure the Haredi costume is just that – a costume, underneath which hides a regular Joe, with desires, even lusts, like you and me. The only thing that keeps Joe Haredi from going apecrackers is not the Torah he has learned and integrated into his personality as a shield against evil—it’s the long bekkesh, the velvet yarmulke and the shterimel. Take those away, and Joe Haredi will become a beast overnight.

That, essentially, is the main argument being advanced by the deans of Haredi yeshivas: We have no trust in the Torah we’ve taught our students. we know better. This is why the only means we have of keeping them in line are extreme social pressure and intimidation. You take those away and Joe will spring the trap and become a normal man, availing himself freely of the gifts of a modern society. We can’t afford that. If we do, as Yitz Farkas put it so eloquently, “that would erase our whole tradition.”

The word Haredim is based on Isaiah 66:5: “Hear the word of God, you that tremble at His word.” The “you that tremble” part in Hebrew is “Haharedim el dvaro.” Meaning that there’s urgency on your part to fulfill His word impeccably. It’s not about fear but about devotion.

But the post-Holocaust Haredi world is all about fear. Fear of new things. Fear of books. Fear of voices. And above all, fear that the education a young man receives during his 20 years in a Haredi yeshiva is worthless, because as soon as he encounters the outside world, those 20 years would vanish, melt away like Cholov Yisroel butter on a skillet.

What an astonishing degree of honesty regarding the bankruptcy of an entire school of faith and study.

You know, the Lubavitcher Rebbe was once asked how come he’s not afraid that his Shluchim, the emissaries he was sending out into the farthest and darkest corners of the Earth wouldn’t be tainted by the unholy stuff that surely awaits them there. He responded by citing the laws of kashering-cleansing a vessel in preparation for Passover: k’bol’o ken polto—the way the vessel absorbed the substance so it would let go of it. Meaning that, had the emissary remained clean in body and spirit during his training years, he has nothing to fear “out there.”

I miss him very much. This year marks the 20th anniversary of his passing, and his absence today is felt more than ever before. He would have devoted a segment of a Shabbat farbrengen to the draft bill, and it would have set the whole thing straight: these guys are right on this and wrong on that and vice versa. now go and behave like dignified yidden and stop attacking one another.

What a strange, low-key ending to a piece that began as an exhilarated attack on Haredi IDF bashing. I guess I got tired of it. We’re not going to change the Haredi leadership’s position, we just have to rejoice in a merciful God who made them, like the rest of us, biodegradable.

Shabbat Shalom, said the commandoes

From the Algemeiner:

Soldiers in Israel’s Navy who set sail last week on a mission to stop an alleged Iranian weapons shipment from reaching Gaza terrorists celebrated Shabbat together by singing the traditional Shalom Aleichem hymn, the IDF said on Facebook.

“As Shabbat began last week, these soldiers had already set sail to stop Iran’s weapons shipment from reaching Gaza terrorists. In the middle of the sea, they all sang ‘Shalom Aleichem’ – a Shabbat song meaning ‘peace be upon you,’” the IDF said. “Days later, their successful mission brought peace upon the entire nation of Israel. They are our heroes.”

The members of elite naval commando unit Shayetet 13 gathered below deck to sing the song together. The soldiers, who mostly wore kippahs, put their arms around each other’s shoulders and swayed back and forth as they prayed. After the song was over, one soldier stepped forward and made the traditional Shabbat blessing over wine, to which the other officers replied in unison, “Amen.”

Days later, the unit successfully intercepted the arms shipment in the Red Sea. The boat, named KLOSC, was headed to Sudan, 1,500 miles from Israel.

One of the weapons captured, the M-302 missile, is made in Syria and is based on Iranian technology, Israel’s Walla reported. IDF Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, oversaw the operation and gave the order to Major General Ram Rothberg, head of the Israeli Navy, to seize the KLOSC, the IDF said earlier this week.

Watch the video of Israeli commandos celebrating the Shabbat below:

Heartwarming. Inspirational.

A little inside story

We have a friend who has a well developed social conscience. She volunteers frequently for the IDF through the Sar-El organization. Essentially, the work she and others like her do, frees up soldiers. It’s hard, but worthwhile, and we guess she enjoys it from the way her face beams as she recounts her many experiences there.

This friend, let’s call her Ann, is in the middle of a Sar-El session right now. Last week she spent time packing emergency aid for the Philippines. The IDF is part of the Israeli contribution to international aid. Well done Ann, the IDF, and Israel.

All of which makes this snapshot from the BBC, a little galling:


Can you see Israel on this list? No, neither can I. BBC Watch has the full story, here.

You know, it’s funny.

Whenever anything bad happens (or appears to happen) in Israel, you can almost guarantee it will feature with organizations like the BBC. Stuff that would not get a sniff of the media if it happened in Bangor, Brighton, or Blairgowrie, becomes a Big Deal.

Whenever Israel does anything good…

Hypocrisy also comes in a three letter form, starting with “B”.


From the IDF blog:

Muslim IDF Soldier Keeps Watch Over Gaza Border

Watch our exclusive interview with Staff Sergeant Ahmed Inaim, a Bedouin soldier who guards Israel’s Gaza border. Staff Sgt. Inaim’s brother, who also served as an IDF soldier, was killed in combat several years ago. In 2006, Hamas terrorists injured another one of his brothers when they attacked Israel and kidnapped Gilad Shalit.

Despite his family’s sacrifices, Staff Sgt. Inaim remains determined to serve his country. Last week, he spoke with us as he patrolled the Gaza border.

What’s that sound you can hear? It’s the sound of pro Palestinian Israel haters venting their anger at somebody letting the truth out into the wild…

1967 and 2013

Two cool pieces from the IDF blog for you to enjoy.

From 1967

The first is a set of six new (certainly new to me) pictures from the 6 Day War.  As the bog says:

In the Six-Day War (June 5-10, 1967), the IDF fought some of the defining battles of Israeli history and of the 20th Century. But what happened during preparation beforehand, and during those six days in between the battles? These are the people who fought for Israel’s freedom – some famous, some not – and six heartfelt moments that happened behind the headlines.

The pictures are here. Burning question: where the hell did the puppies come from?

To 2013

The second is a feature about HaBayit Shel Benji (Benji’s house), a home for IDF lone soldiers. The place is named after Benji Hillman, a British-born IDF soldier who fell in the 2006 Second Lebanon War. His parents decided to commemorate his life by working towards establishing this center, currently hosting 50 lone soldiers.  As the parent of a lone soldier (before we made aliyah) I can appreciate how much this place will mean to those fortunate enough to snag a place.

The details are here. Burning question: how many lone soldiers played their part in 1967?

Running for cover

Jon Donnison wrote a piece about the “first West Bank marathon” for the BBC’s Middle East News part of the corporation’s web site, a sense of which you can get from the following screenshot:


Some key extracts:

The athletes, the race organisers and the Palestinian Olympic Committee have asked the Israeli authorities to reconsider their position but have not received a reply.

“The Israelis should look at this purely as a sporting event. It has nothing to do with politics,” says Samia al-Wazir, the spokeswoman for the Palestinian Olympic Committee.

So, it has nothing to do with politics and the nasty Israelis are to blame.

What, according to Mr D, do the Israelis have to say for themselves?

An Israeli military statement said: “The entrance of the Gaza Strip residents to Israeli territory, and their passage to the West Bank, is possible only in exceptional humanitarian cases, mainly urgent medical cases.”

It added that this was because Gaza was ruled by Hamas which Israel considers a “terror organisation”

It’s a question of security, and whatever the situation is, the run is not a humanitarian cause.

Now all of this is fine and dandy, but his report completely misrepresents the position. A big dollop of credit is due to Hadar Sela at BBC Watch for spotting what was really going on. As is pointed out (here), while Mr Donnison was promoting the non-political, er, party line, the truth was way different. For example, the event is called the Right to Movement Palestine Marathon, and is as political as Fatah is corrupt. In short, it’s a combination of a political event and a public relations stunt. Worse, Mr Donnison could have found this out with some basic research. He obviously failed to do this, and largely regurgitated the material given to him by the race organizers.

BBC Watch’s criticism of Mr Donnison’s lazy journalism are well founded, and if the man had any standards he would be blushing with embarrassment and shame. (“Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets…”)  However, while his behavior is inexcusable, I also want to highlight the woeful response of the IDF spokesman. As I commented on the BBC Watch site:

In fairness to Mr Donnison, he did (apparently) put the story to the Israeli military – presumably the spokesman. If so, while I suspect the spokesman did not know the angle Donnison would promote from the Palestinian side – “It has nothing to do with politics.” – the spokesman should, in my opinion, have been well briefed enough to make all the points made in this blog’s post. It may not excuse the laziness of the BBC man’s approach, but if the IDF are getting any chance to be quoted, they should be doing far better than this. Somebody needs to bring this type of situation to the attention of the right people in the IDF. It is just not good enough.

In other words, with a bit of work, and a sharp soundbite or two wrapped around the basic facts, this story would either have died a death, or not been as anti-Israel as it currently stands.

Unfortunately, unless somebody at the IDF notices what is going on and takes some pre-emptive action, something like this will happen again.

Marching to a different tune

First, some background.

I have been, over the years, to several IDF ceremonies. There are many things – thank heaven – the IDF is good at. Based on my experiences at these ceremonies, I can safely say that parade ground marching is not one of their strong suits. Let me put it another way: if the safety of the country depended on how the IDF marched, we would be in trouble. I don’t know what it is, but there is something that prevents any group of Israeli soldiers marching in time, in line, from one place to the other. They just cannot do it. Start 10 Israeli soldiers marching in a straight line, and you end up with 10 individual, staggered lines.

At least partly, I understand this. It is not important. Nobody cares about it. How well the IDF can execute a parade ground move, has no impact on their skill at dealing with the enemies we have.

Now, there will be professional soldiers out there (and I have met some of them) who will say that parade ground performance is simply a form of disciplined teamwork. They are right. However, that type of disciplined teamwork, doesn’t work here. The IDF – thankfully – seems well able to deliver teamwork without being any good on the parade ground. (Note the absence of ‘disciplined’ from the last sentence.) So, given the situation, we will take battleground excellence over parade ground prancing, anytime.

Bear that in mind before reading on.

In the Times of Israel live blog coverage of Obama’s visit, I spotted this 12.26pm entry as being of interest:

Obama’s plane comes to a halt.

Trumpets blare. The honor guard comes to attention.

Mitch Ginsburg notes: The IDF, never much of a powerhouse when it comes to formations and marches, has put together an 88-member honor guard: 22 IAF flight school cadets, 22 Navy officer cadets, 22 infantry cadets and 22 female Military Police officers. The IDF Spokesperson’s Office relays that they trained for the event for the past three days.

Three days? They could practice for three weeks, months, or years, and there is a fair chance they will still be awful. I dread to think what it was like. I would have preferred it if they had skipped any parade ground stuff. On the other hand, maybe those mis-stepping soldiers will bring a smile to Obama, and give him something nice to remember from his trip here!