Thursday, February 21, 2013

Boycott Obama!

Moshe Feiglin has come up with an excellent idea. The continued incarceration of Jonathan Pollard should not be tolerated. Therefore, if President Obama does not do the right thing, that is to say pardon Jonathan Pollard, he should be boycotted here in Israel:
When an American President visits the Knesset, it's an event, and all members of the plenum want to be there to hear what their esteemed guest has to say. But at least one Knesset member is likely to be absent next month when President Barack H. Obama speaks to MKs. Likud Knesset member Moshe Feiglin said that he would not attend the speech – unless Obama brought Jonathan Pollard with him.

“We are losing Pollard,” Feiglin wrote on his Facebook page Thursday. “Today, on the Fast of Esther, I realized that we have reached a 'red line' on Pollard.

“President Barack Hussein Obama is due to arrive in Israel on the eve of Passover,” Feiglin wrote. “We welcome him. But we want to welcome our brother, Jonathan Pollard, too. G-d willing, when Obama releases our brother Jonathan, we will gladly welcome Obama and listen to his speech” - but not before, Feiglin wrote.

Feiglin called on fellow MKs to follow his example. According to Feiglin, an empty Knesset during the time of Obama's speech will impress upon the President how Knesset members and Israelis feel about “the government that continues to hold our brother prisoner for 28 years.”

If Obama does not release Pollared, I would just love to see him ascend to the Knesset podium, and read from his teleprompter to an empty chamber.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Moshe Feiglin Story

Good News For ultra-Orthodox Soldiers

If the State of Israel wants ultra-Orthodox Jews in the army, this is what needs to be done:
For years, the treatment of hareidi-religious soldiers in the Israeli army has been based on oral agreements and yet-to-be-signed orders, orders which were subject to abuse in certain divisions. But on Sunday, IDF officials finally signed a written order outlining in full the mandatory procedures for accommodating hareidi-religious soldiers.

Special conditions have been extended to soldiers from religious units such as Nahal and Shachar, in which high standards of kashrut are maintained, Shabbat is strictly observed and there is complete separation between male and female soldiers.

However, these conditions were based on oral agreements, which meant that soldiers had nowhere to turn to when they felt these conditions were not being met. Soldiers voiced frustration that because the agreements were not binding, some commanders refused to follow them as promised.

Eliyahu Lax, Chairman of the Organization for the Religious Soldier, has made repeated calls for official guidelines and has claimed that public promises to make army service more religious-friendly do not always materialize and that the lack of a written standard regarding the treatment of hareidi-religious soldiers in the army makes the situation even more complicated.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The Need to Strive for Unity

The elections are over and Binyamin Netanyahu is left with the formidable challenge of forming a stable coalition. This is a nerve wracking process, not only for the haggling politicians but also for the public who helplessly watch it unfold. In Israeli political discourse, the Russian variant of the word "coalition" is used: ko-a-litz-i-ah. Yitzchak Rabin used to call it go-a-litz-i-ah, a play on the Hebrew word for "disgusting". For once, I agree with Mr. Rabin.

As the stomach turns: Netanyahu could, in theory, ignore Yesh Atid's 19 mandates and form a narrow coalition of 61 MKs: 31 from Likud-Beiteinu, 12 from HaBayit HaYehudi, 11 from Shas and 7 from Yahadut HaTorah. However, such a coalition would likely be quite unstable, as it would only take 2 disgruntled MKs to take the government down. Therefore, Bibi is going to great lengths to please Ya'ir Lapid and his cohorts. Lapid better watch his step! For if Yesh Atid continues to grandstand, Bibi could very well leave them out of the coalition at the beginning. In such an event, wallowing in the opposition may very well cause the Yesh Atid party to disintegrate, with some of them forming a faction that will run on all fours in order to join the government.

With the expected change in the status quo regarding religion and state, one would expect that the religious parties would find a way to cooperate. Unfortunately, the distrust among them is very, very deep. In addition to this deep distrust is an equally deep enmity, fed by mutual disrespect. Everybody thinks that their way of life is the way of life, that their rabbis are the rabbis, and that anyone else just does not make the grade. The situation brings to mind the words of the Netziv, in his introduction to the book of Genesis:

Because of the groundless hatred in their hearts, they suspected anyone with a different religious practice of being a Sadducee or heretic. Due to this, they came to extreme bloodshed and to other evils until the Temple was destroyed. Regarding this came the justification of the divine judgment, because the Holy One, blessed be He, is a yashar, and He cannot tolerate righteous people like this unless they also function with decency in their dealings with the world.

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.

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