Haifa Sea

Haifa Sea

Near Hadera

Near Hadera

Both beautiful images by PninaN. Check out her photostream.

Well, this has not been a good week for yours truly, so let’s hope that the Sabbath brings some reprieve and next week will be better.

I read Caroline Glick’s weekly editorial with interest. Agree or disagree, she is one sharp analyst. Her article mentioned the Berkeley Hillel:

Take UC Berkeley’s Hillel center, for example. Since Ken Kramarz, Hillel’s regional director for Northern California, started his job in June 2007, Berkeley’s Hillel has adopted a hostile view towards Judaism and Israel. As pro-Israel community activist Natan Nestel notes, in the past year alone, Hillel held a dance party on Yom Hashoah, and it held a Cinco de Mayo barbecue on Remembrance Day for Fallen IDF Soldiers. It has also failed to hold community Seders for the past two years. Instead, last year, its members hung signs in the Hillel building declaring, “Matza sucks.”

Beyond its derogatory treatment of Jewish and Israeli holidays, Berkeley’s Hillel has allowed an extremist group called Students for Justice for Palestine to participate in its organizational meetings.

SJP calls for Israel’s destruction through unlimited Arab immigration. It also advocates for UC Berkeley to divest from Israel. Edgar Bronfman, Hillel’s International Chairman, has characterized SJP umbrella organization as “anti-Israel… anti-Semitic [and] alarming…”

No doubt owing in part to Berkeley Hillel’s decision to permit SJP members to spread their propaganda at its organizational meetings, Hillel’s student leaders and members participated in SJP’s Israel Apartheid Week this past March.

The student meeting that SJP participated in at Berkeley’s Hillel was sponsored by a group called “Kesher Enoshi.”

This group describes itself as “a progressive Jewish community that engages directly with Israeli civil society. We do this by educating ourselves and others about the day-to-day struggles of people in Israel by making direct connections with human rights/social change organizations in Israel, linking their struggles with those on campus and in the wider community, and building a community of active participants in social change in Israel.”

This mission statement, which says nothing about Zionism, sounds an awful lot like the goal of the New Israel Fund. This month, three Arab “civil society” groups supported to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars by the NIF published a poster depicting an IDF soldier touching the breast of an Arab woman with the caption, “Her husband needs a permit to touch her, the occupation penetrates her life every day.”

The poster was issued to publicize a conference in Haifa called “My Land, Space, Body and Sexuality: Palestinians in the Shadow of the Wall,” whose purpose was to demonize Israel using post-modern jargon.

The unending attacks, now sometimes supported by American Jewry, on Israel and Israeli society are disturbing, to say the least. The dishonesty and reprehensibly unfair expectations the Jewish Left has from a society that has experienced so many wars, so much bloodshed, such ongoing strife and pressure are shameful. That in some corners these attacks have become fashionable is probably the saddest part about all of this.

Then again, Hillel is not a leftist organization. To see a Hillel join in the Apartheid Week activities indicates a severe failure on the part of the people educating these young men and women.

Perhaps there is one thing sadder than these misguided students from the Left: for the third time in the past couple of weeks, a small group of Israeli combat soldiers, who obviously lean to the political right, have hung signs declaring their opposition to removing settler outposts.

This is nothing less than insurrection by IDF soldiers. They are informing their superiors and the Israeli government that they will refuse orders. As I consider the implications, it occurs to me that even having Jewish campus groups support Arab-Israeli NGOs that attack Israel is far preferable to the politicization of the IDF.

The IDF has always been a people’s army. Israel’s sons and daughters come together in that melting pot and their service is important in shaping them and the country’s future no less than in protecting Israel. It’s not a great thing that Israeli society is influenced by this militarism, one can certainly find fault with it, but it has also been a positive aspect of building out this society. The IDF could be counted upon to be the center where both right and left could meet, which is why chiefs of staff who enter politics can be found in both left- and right-wing parties.

Having the IDF politicized will undermine its effectiveness and could potentially undermine Israeli democracy. Today, these soldiers are holding up banners proudly, tomorrow they could be holding guns up against Israeli leaders with whom they disagree. They are throwing a challenge to Israeli society that they will not obey orders, that they will refuse to abide by government – hence majority – rule, and they will do so loudly and openly.

This is the other side of the coin of the leftist youth that avoids the draft, sometimes publicly, and then uses the media to promote their views. The difference is that in this case, the people protesting are trained combat soldiers with guns and combat expertise.

I haven’t seen any evidence to support my supposition that they are Hesder soldiers (Hesder is a program for religious men who combine their services with breaks where they attend yeshiva for torah study), but there are strong indications these soldiers are from the settlements themselves and most likely are Hesder soldiers. There are many combat soldiers coming from settlements and Hesder yeshivas. If some of them begin to undermine the authority of the government and the army leadership, it is not going to be long before the real worry becomes whether they believe that they should use force to compel Israel to do what they want.

Any soldier holding up such a banner should be jailed for a couple of years and then compelled to serve out their entire 3 additional years of military service cleaning latrines without any cleaning supplies. The IDF needs to begin shifting some Hesder students (I assume that not all Hesder soldiers agree with what their peers are doing) into non-combat roles like intelligence so they don’t dominate combat units.

Radicalism on either side, the Left or the Right, helps nobody except for Israel’s enemies. All it does is kill the prospects for peace.

Shabbat shalom!!

About the author

themiddle

15 Comments

  • Middle:
    1) When Joshua says “seruvnikim” he means the RIGHT-wing conscientious objectors, not the left-wing conscientious objectors.

    2) Thank you for drawing the connection with the left-wing conscientious objectors – although I disagree with your theory that somehow people who actually enlisted should somehow be less vocal about the politicization of the army’s tasks.

    Those actually carrying out the missions should have more say than yuppie-leftie draft-dodgers.

  • Ben David, there are plenty of Israeli leftists and centrists who fight in combat units and do so with as much motivation and spirit as right-wingers. And don’t kid yourself, the relatively recent phenomenon where you have the kipah serugah crowd taking a substantial role in the IDF does not erase the decades where the center and the left dominated many of the combat units.

    The problem here is even if you “actually enlisted,” you are still just somebody whose role is to serve society and the people who rule – democratically – over that society. That has always been the IDF’s compact with Israel. It should be of grave concern to everybody that these soldiers have done what they have done.

    By the way, a commenter on one of the Israeli newspaper sites pointed out that some organization in Yesha gave $5000 to one of the groups of soldiers who raised a banner. Add to my latrine suggestion a financial penalty that doubles any gift these soldiers accept and fine the parties contributing these funds an amount several times the donated figure.

    Don’t worry, soldiers in uniform have much more influence than draft dodgers, because they are in the army, their families tend to have reservists, their friends go to become officers, etc. Let’s hope the influence these people have will be used to quash this insurrection. Otherwise, you might as well start shopping for real estate in the US or Europe, because you will be living either in Palestine or in a Jewish dictatorship within the decade.

  • No, I was referring to the left-wing “conscientious objectors”. They allowed that to go unchecked, so why should they be surprised that it’s now happening on the right?

  • Well, they did put some of them in the brig for a couple of weeks. I think the IDF’s attitude was that if they don’t want to serve to the degree that they want to go public about it, it’s better not to have them there to potentially demoralize others or undermine their motivation. Maybe you’re right, though, it’s possible that when the right-wing soldiers saw a soft response to the left-wingers who were avoiding conscription, they felt they could get away with what they’ve done.

  • “As I consider the implications, it occurs to me that even having Jewish campus groups support Arab-Israeli NGOs that attack Israel is far preferable to the politicization of the IDF.”

    And what do you say of the politicians that cynically use soldiers, rather than policemen, to carry out expulsion orders? Does that not amount to politicization of the IDF?

  • Expulsion orders are no different than decisions to finance settlements or the roads to settlements. Both are made by governments from both the left and the right and both affect one side or another of a political debate. However, we accept the latter because a democratic government decided to build these settlements and if you think about it, the same governments have the right to dismantle them. This is no more or less political than the decision to build them.

    When they send soldiers to dismantle them, this is because of the opposition they have come to expect. Maybe if there was mild or no resistance, they could send in different forces. For example, if I were in charge, I’d diffuse tensions by sending in attractive female bureaucrats in high heels and fashionable suits who would be carrying pens and notebooks instead of guns.

    It’s a little hypocritical to complain that the army shouldn’t be there when they are there only because of the resistance they have learned to anticipate.

  • Middle:

    By the way, a commenter on one of the Israeli newspaper sites pointed out that some organization in Yesha gave $5000 to one of the groups of soldiers who raised a banner.

    Which is a drop in the bucket compared to the money and free publicity lavished on soldiers who refused to serve in the “occupation” – and were never disciplined by the army.

    … or the EU-funded backstabbers who paved the way for Goldstone with their false accusations of IDF misconduct.

    The monies raised cover legal fees and other expenses of the married soldiers who protested.

    Middle – you can’t cry “democracy” just when it’s your political ox that’s gored.

    The left rolled over democratic due process again and again during Oslo and the Gaza expulsion. So when you write:

    you will be living either in Palestine or in a Jewish dictatorship within the decade.

    We’ve already seen the left try to create both – at once!

    Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

    A policy of “free speech for me and not for thee” leads to more obnoxious and forceful speech.

    Use of a citizen’s army to implement a policy most oppose leads to dissent among the ranks.

    So: the patriotic mainstream has stopped waiting for the other side to fight fair, and are playing the same power games.

    In the distorted context of an country struggling to get out from under left-wing oligarchy – spare me the eye-rolling self-righteous blather about the rule of law and following orders.

  • “Justified” in the sense of “what else can you expect”

    This is not the outcome I want, either – but most Israelis were not raised in a working representative democracy as we were, and the White Queen behavior of the ruling left-wing elites (“democracy means just what I want it to at any one time”) has convinced them that it’s a shell game.

    And then American Jews like you ignore the abuses of the Israeli Left simply because you agree with them, and have your own axes to grind with the Orthodox…

    So the two groups most identified with “promoting democracy” – the Labor elite and liberal American Jews – have taught Israelis one clear lesson by their actions: the end *justifies* the means. Fancy-pants talk is used to keep other groups in line – and out of power – but the rules of representational governance are suspended at will to impose the “progressive” agenda.

    So much for building towards a working democracy here…

    • Ben David, you continue to justify what can’t be justified and you’re doing it with a mish-mash of weak claims. Sharon was of the Right and always was of the Right. He was always a key supporter of the settlement movement and he was unquestionably one of the most dedicated Zionists among Israel’s leaders. The fact is that he is not someone responsible for “the abuses of the Israeli Left” because he’s not of the Left. The “Labor elite” has not reigned since 2001. To remind you, Olmert and Livni were both and are both creatures of the Right. There is no “progressive agenda” governing Israel and never has been. Even in the days of early Oslo, calling Rabin “progressive” would be considered a joke.

      There is no shell game. What there is are fringes who think they have the right to undermine the IDF and the Israeli democracy which benefited them by building and defending their homes in Judea and Samaria. These ungrateful hypocrites who received the fruits of democracy would now like to undermine those who funded, supported and protected them even as they pursued an agenda which may be harmful to Israel in the long run and with which many Israelis disagree.

  • … and you base your view on… what, excactly?

    RE: Sharon – please don’t be so disingenuous. We all know that Sharon rolled over the will of his voters, the Likud, and the rule of law to carry out the expulsion – and the people who claim to be bringing the fruits of progress to their barbaric brethren were his water carriers and “etrog guarders”.

    Similarly, American Jews look away from the damage done to Israel’s democratic fabric by people they agree with or feel comfortable with.

    The rise of Shas and militancy in the knitted-kippah community are fueled by that hypocrisy. If your response is to further demonize the MOTs that you disagree with – you are not building towards democracy, for all your self-congratulating condescension.

    Public discourse and policy in Israel are still controlled by Leftist elites that have barricaded themselves in the media, courts, and academia.

    That elite has been selective and two-faced when it comes to the fundamentals of representative democracy – shutting up speech, denying free assembly, and trampling due process or representation when it suits them.

    How many of these “hilltop youth” have you spoken with?

    If you’re a 20-something junior officer – the patriotic and Jewish Labor party that built the country is not in your lived experience.

    • Right, Sharon “rolled over” everybody right in front of the cameras, the media, his own party, etc.

      Face it, he did something as an elected PM and he did it despite his right wing roots. Olmert, not Barak, offered to internationalize Jerusalem.

      I will demonize any person who undermines the integrity and impartiality of the IDF. Right now, we are discussing right wingers who seem to be Hesder soldiers. I am not demonizing all of these soldiers and I am not demonizing all settlers, but I am most definitely demonizing those who participate in these actions that undermine the IDF and Israel.

      I agree that Israeli academia and the courts are dominated by the Left. The courts have some serious impact, the academics less so. The media, however, has plenty of people from the Right writing and broadcasting.

      Finally, this business of “elites” really pisses me off. You sound like the feminist who blames everything bad on the male-dominated-whatever-it-is-she’s-interested-in, the Mizrahi who blames everything bad on the Ashkenazi-dominated-whatever-it-is-he’s-pissed-off-about, the settler who blames everything bad on the kibbutznik-dominated-whatever-it-is-he’s-pissed-off-about, the Republican twit who blames everything bad on the Democratic-dominated-whatever-it-is-she-wants-to-bitch-about, etc.

      Give me a break. It’s not all black and white. The only thing here that has no shade of gray is that these young soldiers, egged on by settler leaders and funded by settlement supporters, are literally tearing apart the fabric of the IDF from within. None of your excuses make this black into gray or white. It needs to be stopped now, harshly. Then steps need to be taken to wean these combat units from these wackos.

  • Dear Israel,
    your future is in the hands of those with a global agenda.
    ‘Democratising’ youth is a large part of this agenda.
    Your nuclear facility is there for the manipulative use of others when the time is right. See who has been behind the building and regeneration of both Israel and Palestine and you see who is making use of you – and the rest of the world.
    Taking sides is a distraction, sadly I see it here in England,too.( The EU has taken England off the map, but it is still here, in our hearts.)
    Be strong and hold to what you know is right, each one of you; and pray for guidance.
    The real enemy is attempting to destroy the world through nice phrases and ‘change’. It is truly a global agenda.

    I wish you peace in your Faith and pray that your land will remain just that. .

Leave a Comment