Thursday, March 21, 2013
You can read what he said here. I will not comment on particulars of the speech. In general, he regurgitated typical leftist talking points, complete with references to "settler violence" and "occupation". Obama knew that the nonsense that he wanted to utter would not go unanswered in the Knesset. Therefore he instructed the Embassy to choose a crowd to his liking: star-struck students who would come to cheer the celebrity who came from overseas. What an act of cowardice! What a fake! This is what has become of the United States presidency.
For me, this speech ruined the good impression that he made at the airport. It was almost as bad as the infamous Cairo speech. To quote the late Yitzchak Shamir, "They are the same Arabs, and it is the same sea." We can now add, "And he is the same Obama."
I know that in stepping foot on this land, I walk with you on the historic homeland of the Jewish people. More than 3,000 years ago, the Jewish people lived here, tended the land here, prayed to God here. And after centuries of exile and persecution, unparalleled in the history of man, the founding of the Jewish state of Israel, was a rebirth, a redemption, unlike any in history. Today, the sons of Abraham and the daughters of Sarah are fulfilling the dream of the ages: to be masters of their own fate in their own sovereign state. Just as we have for these past 65 years, the United States is proud to stand with you as your strongest ally and your greatest friend.Thank you Mr. President. You are absolutely correct. We, the Jews, are revenants that have returned to our ancient homeland. Enjoy your stay here in the land of Israel.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Cars cross the tracks in Kiryat Moshe after the train passes by:
Near the bridge looking north:
The mast in all of its glory:
The view from the top:
A train ascending the bridge near the Central Bus Station:
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Sources in Bayit Yehudi said they had managed to alleviate some of the harsher strictures that Yesh Atid had sought in the agreement, and had even improved the standing of yeshivas in some ways. Among those accomplishments, party sources said, was the recognition by the state for the first time of the importance of Torah study.The article does not tell us if the plan has anything to say about the drafting of Arabs. Neither does it inform us of what will be the status of the various Hesder programs under this plan. Is the 1,800 exemptions per student-year, or is it the grand total? (I think that it is the grand total.) How will it be decided who gets these exemptions? Can you imagine what kind of Hareidi infighting this could cause?
The coalition agreement will read “the State of Israel recognizes the importance and centrality of Torah study as a central value of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.” Students who do receive exemptions will be receiving them as Torah students upholding these values, as opposed to receiving them for “academic excellence,” as Yesh Atid had sought to have them termed.
In addition, the draft of yeshiva students will begin at age 21, instead of age 18 – giving students an automatic deferment of three years. At that point, they will have to serve two years, like all other Israelis, as the coalition agreement calls for an eventual reduction of service for all Israelis to two years, instead of the current three years.
The reduction in service for all will be possible as a result of the extra manpower the army will have with the inclusion of hareidi yeshiva students. The army will significantly increase the number of Nachal Hareidi units to accommodate the new recruits. A wide-ranging plan for the drafting of women that Lapid had sought was also shelved, Bayit Yehudi said.
Yeshiva students who refuse to appear for military service will not be criminally charged, as had been planned. Instead they will be subject to economic sanctions, losing virtually all government support. Party officials said that this aspect of the agreement would avoid the “doomsday” scenarios hareidi political leaders portrayed of jack-booted military police marching into yeshiva study halls and pulling students away from their Talmud folios. No arrests will be made in yeshivas, the deal specifies.
The number of students who will be exempted for Torah study will be 1,800, far more than the 400 Lapid had suggested. The plan will take effect only in 2017, and students who are beyond enlistment age up until that time will not be “grandfathered” into the arrangement.
If this plan goes into effect, what will the reaction of the ultra-Orthodox? Since the plan apparently does not talk about drafting Arabs, I imagine that the Hareidim will take their case to the High Court of Justice, saying that the plan is discriminatory. I do not expect the court to help them, because drafting Hareidim has been on the secular agenda for so long. They will resort to their regular legal newspeak to sanction the law.
It is obvious that many Hareidim will forgo government benefits in order to avoid army service and to continue the way of life that they are accustomed to. What's more, since this is being done against their will of the Hareidi rabbis, many of special programs that exist today that are geared towards the ultra-Orthodox, such as “Bina B'Yarok”, may be shunned.
I also suspect that there are those who will choose to live abroad. The land of Israel is acquired through affliction, and not everybody is ready to pay the price.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Monday, March 11, 2013
Friday, March 08, 2013
The religious parties are now faced with a great task: to strive for unity! This unity must not be a unity of "lets grit our teeth and bear them". It must be a unity of mutual respect, founded on humbleness and the ability to see beyond one's own shteeble.
HaBayit HaYehudi went a long way on the road to unity before the elections, and it payed off in the polling booth. Now they, along with Shas and Yahadut HaTorah, must bury the hatchet, and find the way to sanctify God's name in the public sphere. The public will not forgive them if they fail.
Instead, we have this unfortunate situation. The man ultimately responsible is Prime Minister Netanyahu. He is the one who destroyed the natural Right/Religious/ultra-Orthodox block. In the previous elections he left the National Union out of the government, in spite of numerous promises to bring them in. In the current elections the Likud-Beiteinu campaign found nothing better to do than to besmirch the Jewish Home party. The Jewish Home party tried to form a block with Shas and UTJ. Since these efforts did not bear fruit, Bennett, like I wrote previously, had a choice between making a pact with Lapid or sitting in the opposition.
As far as the government that will be formed, they should know that any attempt to conscript Hareidim against their will is doomed to fail. Bennett will have to prove that he really is an "ach", a brother, to the ultra-Orthodox public who feels, justifiably or not, betrayed. The Jewish Home Party will have to stand like a fortified wall against the anti-Torah forces in the Yesh Atid party, as well as other anti-Torah MKs in the Knesset.
Wednesday, March 06, 2013