Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Israel's Army Out of the Box

By Moshe Feiglin

1 Sivan 5769
May 24, '09

Translated from the Hebrew article on NRG

In Israel, you just don't talk about Israel's Defense Forces, the IDF.
People prefer not to think about the army's shortcomings, blithely saying that if the IDF has successfully protected Israel over the past sixty years, it must know what it is doing. Only people from within the system - and with a lot of decorations on their shoulders - are allowed to express their opinions and occasionally - their criticism.

With all due respect to the IDF, a serious analysis of the history of Israel's wars leads us to the conclusion that in some cases, Israel didn't survive because of the IDF, but despite it. The IDF is the army of the entire nation. It is the largest and most important tool that Israel has in its battle for its physical survival. Silencing constructive criticism does not help it to become a more effective army.

Now for a personal story. As part of my reserve army service, I was once sent to command a small group of soldiers at a front line position on the border. After we got ourselves organized, the commander of the area arrived to check the capabilities of the new units manning the posts.

"Do you have any comments?" the officer asked us. "Yes," I answered, "It is very easy for a single terrorist to infiltrate this outpost and to murder the guard and the other soldiers as they sleep in their beds." At this point I delineated the exact and simple path that a potential terrorist could take. The commander's reaction surprised me. He was visibly angered and left the outpost.

Two years later, our battalion was sent once again to that outpost. A 16 year old terrorist infiltrated - using the exact path that I had described to my superior - and murdered one of our soldiers.

With that in mind, I would like to present some ideas to improve the IDF.

Draft age is too early. An 18 year old is not mature enough to be a soldier. This was true in the past and is even truer today, when society conditions youth to remain children as long as possible. Men should be drafted at the age of 20, as prescribed by the Torah (Numbers 1:45). At 20, a young man is mature enough to serve in the army. When I was only 19 years old, I was already an officer. Some of my soldiers had been drafted late and were 20 or older. The difference in their performance was clear for all to see.

An army based on soldiers who begin their military service when they are 20 will be a mature, professional, efficient army, free of those "immaturity" blunders that fluster boys who are not yet ready for army life. Presumably, the number of army suicides will drop, as well.

Currently, Israeli boys are inducted into the army at the age of 18 because that is when they finish high school. In the two year interim until their induction at age 20, these boys should be allowed to do national service or to pursue whatever path they choose.

If an 18 year old decides that he would like to spend the next two years traveling the world or to begin his academic studies that would be fine. But the future draftees should also be allowed to do national service vital to our country in exchange for one year of the three year term of military service. Alternately, they could be sent to study professions that are in short supply in Israel, such as medicine or Jewish studies. These studies can be considered one year of national service. These students should be allowed to defer their draft until the completion of their studies.

Another point: I believe that the IDF's reliance on the reserve forces is more tradition and ideology than what the rules of efficiency would dictate. An army based on reserve forces cannot be a truly professional army. Israel should consider transition to a standing army-based force in which the reserves would be relegated to home-front missions.

Reserve duty is extremely expensive. The tax payer pays for it twice: Once to the reserve soldier and another time for lost days of work. The reserve units' equipment is stored and managed by the standing army in special IDF warehouses. All these factors lead to the conclusion that expanding the standing army while downsizing the reserves would produce a much more effective military result at a similar price.

And now for the most important point: Transition to a volunteer army. The standing army should be comprised of volunteers. They should receive excellent salaries and a respected place in society. I am certain that the supply will be greater than the demand and will allow the IDF to exact top-notch performance from its top-notch soldiers.

And what about everybody else? Every capable male should be drafted for a short basic training in which he would learn to shoot and perform basic military functions. Yes, every capable male from every sector - with the training appropriate to the needs of the sector. Yeshiva students should be allowed to do the basic training during the break in semesters and in accordance with all the standards of Jewish law. Once every few years, all the basic trainees should be required to do a "refresher" course. These men would be drafted in the most extreme cases of all out war, when they could quickly be trained in more advanced military methods.

In truth, the IDF is already quite volunteer-based. It is no coincidence that most of the dead and wounded from this winter's Gaza war were Religious Zionists. Those men who do not wish to enlist, already know how to avoid army service. Volunteer enlistment will free us of our obsession with the issue of draft for yeshiva students. If they want, they can enlist. If not, they won't - just like every other Israeli citizen.

In addition, the volunteer enlistment will eliminate the advantage that Arabs enjoy today in the work market, which they join at the age of 18, while their Jewish counterparts begin their civilian lives three or four years later.

The IDF is an army that we can and should be proud of. Let's think out of the box to make it even better.

When Leaders Remove G-d from the Equation

By Moshe Feiglin

And it came to pass in the days when the judges judged, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Beit Lehem in Judah went to sojourn in the field of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.
And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Beit Lehem in Judeah. And they came into the field of Moab, and stayed there.
And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.
And they took them wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth; and they dwelt there about ten years.
And Mahlon and Chilion died both of them; and the woman was left of her two children and of her husband.

(Ruth 1:1-4)

The Scroll of Ruth opens with a description of a leadership crisis during the era of the Judges in ancient Israel. (Elimelech was one of the leaders of Israel at the time). The mentality of the leaders at the start of the Scroll is not connected to Jewish identity or Jewish destiny in the Land of Israel. They did not believe in the unique role of the Nation of Israel and when the going got tough, they sold out their compatriots and bought themselves passports (just like Avrum Burg) to the nearby land of Moab.

When Israel's leadership lacks the basic understanding of the unique destiny of the Nation of Israel and the vital role of the Land of Israel - when holiness is completely uprooted from Israel's existence - everything turns upside down. The Nation of Israel's presence in the Land of Israel becomes a temporary real estate venture, while its existence in foreign lands becomes permanent and sanctified. In fact, the Nation of Israel's very physical reality becomes just some more merchandise that can buy another day of quiet - quiet for the people standing at the top of the heap of concrete that used to be someone's home. They feel perfectly comfortable trading in the Land's real estate and even in the lives of its inhabitants.

When nothing is holy - not the Nation of Israel and not the Land of Israel - it is fine to give the Nazis the children of the poor just to buy a few more days of quiet in the ghetto. It even makes sense. The Judenrat and the Jewish Police were Jews who had basically removed G-d from the equation. When that happens, all that is left is simple arithmetic. 10,000 children will be sent to the crematoria but - for the time being - tens of thousands will be saved. It makes sense, doesn't it?

When nothing is holy anymore, when the land is not holy, it is fine to destroy Jewish homes and towns and surrender our land to the Arabs. Just like the children of the poor who were hunted down by their brothers to fill the Nazi transports, the settlers are the sector of society that has proven that it is incapable of fighting its brothers/destroyers. And if their destruction means another day of quiet, another day of holding the government together - and maybe it will even somehow allow us to save Jerusalem - then it is all very logical, isn't it?

It always begins with the outposts. But just as in the case of the Nazi transports - when the leadership betrays the nation - the enemy's appetite gets larger and larger. The end is a given. Destruction for all.

The Scroll of Ruth does not describe what happened to the common people who remained in Judea after they had been abandoned by their leaders. What we do know is that the "leaders" who betrayed their people are just passing names in the Scroll - forgotten or derided. But after they left, they were replaced by true Jewish leaders - leadership of faith and loving kindness - leadership that got the Nation of Israel back on its feet again.

Happy Shavuot and Shabbat Shalom

Bushehr in Exchange for Yitzhar

In the face-off between Mahmoud (Achmadinijad), Hussein (Obama) and Bibi, the first two can chalk up a major victory even before the game begins. Mahmoud doesn't have a bomb yet, but Netanyahu is already running to drive Jews from their homes and destroy their villages. Hussein Obama, who released the trial balloon called Bushehr in exchange for Yitzhar can also congratulate himself on two big wins. Netanyahu paid lip service to a strong, independent Israel, but his actions show that he has accepted Obama's Bushehr for Yitzhar principle. He also accepted another of Obama's principles: that the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state is open for negotiation. Netanyahu attempted to make negotiations with the Arabs conditional on their acceptance of the fact that Israel is a Jewish state. But he folded as soon as Obama refused to buy into this pre-condition. When the negotiations begin, the principle of a Palestinian state will be irrefutable. But a Jewish state? What's that?

"It is possible that we will have to take down illegal outposts as the US is requesting - so that we can focus attention on the Iranian threat."
(Binyamin Netanyahu, this Monday to the Likud MKs)

And really, why should we fight the Americans? It is certainly much simpler to fight the Jews. The world will once again watch with delight as the bulldozers flatten Jewish homes and will say, "Hmmm - it looks like Achmadinijad is right! Even the Jews don't believe that Israel belongs to them!"

One thing is certain. Destruction of the outposts will do nothing to relieve Israel of the Iranian threat. The US will not attack Iran just to show its good will toward the Israeli leaders who betrayed their nation and their land. Netanyahu is hinting that the destruction of the settlements will unite the nation and allow him to attack Iran. But he will never attack without the green light from America - as per the commitment that he has already made to the US. Hussein Obama will never allow Bibi to attack Iran, just as Johnson did not allow Eshkol to conduct a pre-emptive strike in 1967 and just as Truman did not allow Ben Gurion to establish the state in 1948 (and also implemented an arms embargo that could potentially have completed the Final Solution in the Land of Israel).

As opposed to Eshkol and Ben Gurion, though, Bibi is captive to American mentality. He lived in America for years, studied and worked there and if not for the political opportunity that he saw in Israel - would have remained there. His Jewish mentality and ability to rely on G-d are sorely lacking. Bibi will never make a decision to attack Iran without US approval. Obama will not approve. He is pro-Islamic. It simply will not happen. We will drive ourselves out of Judea and Samaria. We will open the gate wide to our expulsion from the entire land. And we will also get Iran's payload in our faces.

The good news is that a storm is brewing within the Likud Knesset faction.

Most of the Likud MKs are rightists - Manhigut Yehudit played a key role in getting them elected - and they are already fighting against Bibi's plans. True, there is no deep understanding in the Likud (or in any other party) of the depth of the danger hovering over our heads. The Likudniks are still relying on Boogie Ya'alon and Benny Begin, neither of whom understands the proportions of the crisis.

Former Chief of Staff Ya'alon must certainly remember the rules that every budding officer learns in his training. If you are off course, do not attempt to get back on course from the middle of the wrong track. Go back to the beginning and correct your error at the start. Reliance on half-solutions and the attempt to relieve the pressure by claiming that the Arabs do not want peace have already been tried by every Israeli government until Oslo. The approach that failed for Begin in Camp David, Shamir in Madrid and Rabin in Oslo will not suddenly succeed for Ya'alon and Benny Begin.

Nevertheless, the hearts of the majority of the Likud MKs are in the right place. They are the only politicians who, at this stage, can save the day. It is important for us to show them that they have strong public support for the political struggles that await them.

And there is just one way to do that. Now is the time to register for the Likud.

We cannot expect a politician - as supportive as he may be - to commit political hari keri. If we want to see a real struggle against the destruction of Judea and Samaria inside the Likud we must prove to the MKs that they have widespread support and that they can count on loyal voters to vote for them the next time elections are held.

If you are already an Israeli citizen and have not yet registered for the Likud, there is no time to lose. Click here, print out the registration form and fax the completed form to our office at (Israel) 09-792-0570, or mail it to our office at:
POB 21
Ginot Shomron
But that's not all. Register your family and friends. Print out 10 more forms and register your co-workers. It may not sound like much, but it is the most effective way at hand to prevent Israel's destruction.

For more information or for help with filling out the Hebrew form, call our office at (Israel) 09-792-9046.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Just One Great Expectation

By Moshe Feiglin

23 Iyar, 5769
May 17, '09

Translated from the NRG website.

I have only one expectation of Netanyahu's visit to Washington. Jonathan Pollard.
I do not expect the Prime Minister to stand up against the pressure that Obama is certain to apply. If he does stand up to the pressure, that will be great. But I do not believe that he is capable of doing so.

I do not expect Netanyahu to achieve any sort of understanding with the US on Iran. Currently, the interests of the US and of Israel are mutually exclusive. The Obama administration seems to have come to terms with nuclear weapons for the ayatollahs. President Hussein (Obama) is not going to attack Iran, and Netanyahu is the last person who will convince him to do so.

In truth, I do not understand why Netanyahu made the trip to the US. Even before he left Israel, he had already been embarrassed by the administration. He will be further humiliated when he gets there and will camouflage the scorn with all sorts of diplomatic platitudes that will present his talks with US leaders as constructive and productive and that yes, certainly, the dialogue between the two nations will continue. After Histadrut union leader Ofer Eini plucked half of Bibi's feathers before his trip to the US, Obama will be sure to pluck the other half. And that is how Bibi will look when he returns to Israel. I do not understand why he is subjecting himself to this treatment.

What's that? We have no choice? If Bibi doesn't go to America, the administration will cut off all aid to Israel and we won't have arms or even oxygen and we will all die here of hunger and thirst?
Not quite. Remember that until 1967 there was a US arms embargo on our entire neighborhood. Israel got nothing from America - until we "occupied" the "West Bank" and Gaza and became a factor that was worth investing in. Today, Egypt also receives American aid similar to the aid received by Israel. For some reason, Egypt's president does not run to the US to lobby for his aid. On the contrary - it is Obama who woos Egypt.

Be that as it may, I do not expect anything from Netanyahu's visit to the US. Except for Jonathan Pollard.

Of all Israel's prime ministers, Bibi is the only one who made any sort of effort on Pollard's behalf. In his previous term as PM, he demanded and received Pollard's release within the framework of the Wye Accords. Clinton deceived him and did not fulfill his commitment. Instead of picking up and returning to Israel, Bibi surrendered most of Hebron to the PA.

So while it is true that Bibi's actions were far from admirable, we must give credit where credit is due. As opposed to the other prime ministers, Netanyahu at least tried. And if he will pick up now where he left off and bring Jonathan Pollard home, that will, in my opinion, justify his present term as prime minister.

A person who is not informed by Jewish, faith-based consciousness (I have purposely not used the term "religious") cannot understand this concept. Why should a prime minister set national interests aside for one Jew who endangered himself for all of us? True, he saved us from Iraq's diabolical plans, but the bottom line is that he was a secret agent. We all know that every time James Bond goes out on a secret mission, the flinty commander explains to him that if he is caught, nobody is going to help him. Those are the rules that secret agents play by, so why am I going on about Pollard?

First of all, Israel doesn't play by those rules. It has done all in its power to save its agents who were caught in various missions in Europe, Jordan and the US. But Israel has rejected Pollard because he acted as a "Jew" and not an "Israeli." When Pollard was arrested, the Americans also demanded custody of Aviam Sella, who worked with Pollard and received asylum in the Israeli embassy. But while Israel refused to relinquish the Israeli (Sella) to American hands, it threw the Jew (Pollard) to the dogs.

But that is not the main issue. The main issue is that Judaism is about Jews being responsible for and loyal to their fellow Jews. I honestly believe that we suffer as a nation because of our terrible betrayal of Jonathan Pollard. I believe that because of Israel's betrayal of one Jew who has spent the last 24 years buried in prison in Butner, North Carolina, we have not been able to remain loyal to the Jewish nation's other soldiers. Not to Ron Arad, not to Gilad Shalit, not to any other Jew and not to anything at all. Everything here is crumbling - in no small part because of our betrayal of one man - Jonathan Pollard. Ethical issues cannot be quantified. One person is all it takes. James Bond ethics do not interest G-d. The Jewish nation works on a completely different value system.

I once went to a demonstration for Pollard. Israel's TV Channel One sent a bored sports reporter to cover the event. He turned to me and said,
"You have failed."
"Why did we fail?" I tried to understand.
"Everyone here is religious," the reporter answered.
"In that case, you have failed," I automatically countered.
"Why us?" the reporter asked.
"Because your people did not come." I answered.

I do not believe in the concepts of religious and secular. But I do not know how to explain mutual Jewish responsibility to somebody who was not brought up on total loyalty; from loyalty to family to loyalty to one's nation. The shared fate and destiny that connect me to Pollard are the same glue that connects me to this Land and to this State. It is the collective strength that motivates us to stand up and triumph against whatever challenge comes our way.

In the cases of Gilad Shalit and Ron Arad, we could soothe our consciences by saying that we have done whatever possible. Not so with Pollard. We know exactly where he is. I personally have visited him four times. Our betrayal of Jonathan Pollard is intentional. If we really wanted him back, he would have been here long ago. Israel's betrayal of Pollard means that we have lost our national solidarity. That solidarity - the brotherhood that testifies to our shared Jewish destiny - is our secret weapon. Without it, we are lost.

All that Netanyahu has to do is to take the one basic step that Israel has refused to take until now. He has to make an official request for the release of our brother, Jonathan. He has to stand up in front of the cameras and present the letter signed by 112 MKs requesting Pollard's release to Obama.

That's right, Bibi. You have another brother named Yonatan.
Don't let him die in prison.