Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Naftali Bennett's Policies in One Page

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When Israel's two religious-Zionist parties united in November 2012, they comprised 5 Knesset seats (two others formed a break-away party). Recent polls predict some 15 seats for the combined Jewish Home – National Union faction. 

How did the religious-Zionist public triple their representation?

Meet Naftali Bennett.

His credentials are impressive:
  • He is a major in the reserves in Israel’s most elite IDF unit: Matkal
  • He founded a hi-tech company, and the partners sold it for $145 million
  • PM Netanyahu’s Chief of Staff in 2006-7
  • Director of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria from Jan. 2010 
Bennett is a rising star who through his many media appearances is positioning a proud and uncompromising claim to our land and our Jewish values as mainstream.

What are Bennett’s policies that are so convincing? Here’s a brief summary.

Bennett’s Position on a Two-State Solution
Summed up in one word: No.

Hear Bennett in his own words on this topic (in fluent English!) at the 5:35 minute mark in the video below. He successfully conveys a refreshing new message that saying “no” to a two-state solution is the logical and compulsory conclusion of recent Israeli policy. Watch the whole 7-minute video to hear his vision for Israel in the year 2040.

Bennett’s Next Step In Dealing with the Arabs
In the 1990’s, the Labor Party governments of Rabin and Peres imported tens of thousands of Arab soldiers from Tunis and handed tens of thousands of assault rifles to members of the world’s premier terrorist organization – the PLO – in order to facilitate peace in Israel. (I know that sounds like madness but leave it for another article.) The Labor Party leaders thereby established Arab autonomy over much of the region known as the West Bank. The map of this region was divided by the Labor Party into three areas:
  • Area A - large Arab-populated cities like Ramallah, Shechem, Hevron with Arab military control (20% of the land);
  • Area B - Smaller Arab towns with municipal but not military control (20% of the land);
  • Area C – the Jewish towns and tracts of open state-owned land (60% of the land incl. Judean Desert).
Bennett formulated a practical plan which takes a step forward towards Israeli sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria. He advocates extending Israeli sovereignty over Area C, while leaving Areas A and B under the status quo.  Extending Israeli rule over areas A and B would involve an all-out military clash and violent confiscation of weapons. But, annexing Area C – the Jewish towns – is picking the easy-reachable low-hanging fruit.

Here is the plan (English subtitles):

Bennett presents the same plan in this English video:

Bennett’s Economic Agenda
In the video below (starting at the 5:00-minute mark), Bennett explains the three groups and institutions which are strangling the Israel market:
  • The ruling elite tycoons
  • The Defense Ministry which has more than doubled its budget in ten years. The reason? The terms and pensions for the employees of the Ministry and IDF have become inflated
  • The labor unions which promote excellent terms for 250,000 workers, but this is done at the expense of the weak sectors.
( English subtitles)

Lowering Tuition Costs
"Giving=Receiving" is Bennett’s new policy regarding lowering tuition costs for those who serve in the IDF. He sought to reward people who serve in the IDF without increasing the military budget. But how? Here is his simple, brilliant idea.

State universities and state-subsidized colleges cost the Israeli student (whether Jew or Arab) approximately 10,000 NIS ($2600)/year. The private colleges cost 30,000 NIS ($8,000). That means that the state is, in essence, subsidizing every Jewish or Arab student at state schools with a 20,000 NIS ($5400) subsidy.

In order to encourage service in the IDF and reserves, Bennett’s plan raises the subsidy for students who enlisted (including minorities) and lowering the subsidy for students who didn’t contribute to the country (be they Hareidi-religious or Arab or anyone else).

Regarding tuition for the state schools, he says:
  • IDF Reservists - pay only 5,000 NIS instead of current 10,000 NIS
  • Others – pay 20,000 NIS instead of current 10,000 NIS.

Here is the college tuition plan in Hebrew (no subtitles)

Bennett on CNN On Gaza Warfare (in English)
Excellent job in presenting Israel’s case 

A Relaxed Interview With Bennett at His Home (English Subtitles)

Finally, here is the Jewish Home Party's USA-born immigrant stating in clear English the party’s platform

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Has the Paper Revolution Reached You?

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At a recent family celebration in Memphis, my Virginian cousin Maurice, a young engineer in his late 20’s, ritually washed his hands before partaking of bread, as per Jewish practice. But in an innovative move not passed down for generations, he wiped his hands dry on his pants.

“Maurice,” I said pointing, “the paper towels are right over there.”

 “I don’t use paper towels in order to save trees,” he replied firmly.

Eligible Jewish bachelor - cousin Maurice
For a date, contact agent: Baruch Gordon
Big players only!

I smiled back, but thought to myself, “Huh? Are you nuts? Dry your hands and let someone else worry about the trees, dude.”

But Maurice’s response left a mark on me. It was so pure and ideologically-driven, I felt that I couldn’t stand idly by and not join his crusade.

Bet El Institutions recently placed paper-recycling bins on campus including one 6 steps away from my desk. After glancing at the new fixture for several weeks, it finally occurred to me: I can bring all the paper from my home and recycle it.

Big white Hebrew letters say: Niyar Bilvad [Paper only]

My family first looked at me as though thinking to themselves, “Huh? Are you nuts? Throw the trash away and let someone else worry about the trees, dude.” But with time, the home recycling bag is filling up quicker.

Here is a cool video which demonstrates exactly how paper is recycled:

When presented in a restroom with the choice of a hand dryer or paper towels, I would always go for the quicker solution: paper. But Maurice’s firm reply has driven this crusader to hot air and even to making my own campaign poster:

I am not on Maurice’s level of a pants towel, but doing the above and thinking twice before I hit the print button are my contributions to the paper revolution. 

Join the revolution! Step one is to "Like" this article. Get with it - click "Like."

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Video: IDF Prep Academy Night Exercise in Pouring Rain

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"Why did you take the guys out all night in the pouring rain?" I asked Avi Sampson, an elite-unit soldier who serves as a counselor and educator at Bet El's Israel Defense Forces Preparatory Academy.

Anything for the IDF!

"What do you mean? We had been waiting for a night of torrential rains to get them working together in tough conditions," he replied not understanding my question.

So be it. I present below a short video of this insane, all-night exercise, in which the students hauled stretchers weighted down with sandbags through the Jerusalem hills ending at the Binyanei HaUmah convention center in the pouring rain. They crawl in rivers of rainwater and can't let down the stretchers, even during Avi's closing speech.

Count me out of this one. Enjoy:

The students, mostly from Sephardic and Ethiopian homes, come with little motivation to serve in the IDF or do anything but party for that matter. In the course of their 15 months in Bet El, they tap into their own potential, begin to invest in achieving, and come out having broadened their knowledge of Judaism, Zionism, and themselves.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Israel Beer and Wine Festivals in January 2013

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If you're in Israel now, don't miss the Beers 2013 festival taking place today and tomorrow (January 8-9, 2013) at the Nokia Stadium in Tel Aviv.

Good even on a rainy day like today

Just as Israeli wineries started a revolution just over a decade ago producing wines that are winning international competitions, so too, the Israel brewery revolution is now at its beginning stages. Click here for more info. 60 NIS entry gets you a beer mug and 5 tastes. Buy 5 more tastes for 30 NIS.

Regular beers are kosher, but the flavored ones may need a hechsher (Kashrut supervision).

And since we mentioned wine, make a note on your calendar to attend the Israel Kosher Wine Festival on January 28-30, 2013 at Binyanei Hauma, AKA the International Convention Center in Jerusalem.

Here's a video from last year's exhibition:

Eli Poch, who appears in the above video, is a big Israel wine enthusiast and facilitator. Join his Facebook Jerusalem Wine Club. Then you can brag to your friends, "Sure, I belong to the Jerusalem Wine Club." Moreover, if you become a paying member of the Jerusalem Wine Club, you'll get a discount on entry to the festival and get on-site tours with Eli. He knows the insides and outs of just about every single winery in Israel. Contact Eli here.

The 2013 exhibition will showcase wine from Israel and overseas. Called "Wine Seven Two +972," this will be its second consecutive year. See you there.

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Did Naftali Bennett Renege On His Refusal To Carry Out Expulsion Orders?

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Naftali Bennett, the newly-elected leader of the combined Jewish Home and National Union Party in Israel, has been rising in the polls in an extraordinary fashion reaching 15-18 Knesset seats compared to 5 in the  current parliament.

Naftali Bennett - newly-elected leader of the religious-Zionist political movement 

In a Dec. 20, 2012 interview with TV personality Nissim Mishal, Bennett was asked what he would do as a soldier if faced with an order to expel Jewish families from their homes in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). In no uncertain terms, he responded that he is not capable of carrying out such an order because it is immoral (translation below video clip):

Mishal: You a Major in the reserves?
Bennett: Correct. 
Mishal: If you receive an order to evacuate a civilian outpost or [Jewish] town in the Shomron [West Bank], what will you do?
Bennett: If I… 
Mishal: Don’t evade the question by beating around the bush. No speeches. What will you do?
Bennett: Listen! If I receive an order to evacuate a Jew from his home and expel him, I, personally, - my conscience won’t allow me to. I would ask the commander to relieve me of that responsibility. I will not issue calls publicly to refuse orders. I am not capable of entering… 
Mishal: You would prefer to go to jail?
Bennett: Yes. In such an extreme circumstance, yes. I will act to prevent such a circumstance from arising.
Mishal: In other words, you will refuse orders? In simple Hebrew?
Bennett: I learned as a soldier…

Mishal: You will refuse orders!
Bennett: Why don’t you listen to me ? 
Mishal: Answer me. You will disobey orders?
Bennett: I am not capable – not capable, I’m sorry. To enter a home...

Mishal: In other words, the leader of the Jewish Home party who wants to be in the government says in a live broadcast, “I will disobey orders. I will go to jail.”
Bennett: Listen Nissim. I am a soldier for twenty-two years. I have led soldiers into battle and into operations. Don't preach to me here what I will do and won't do. 
Mishal: I will preach to you. Refusing orders? This crosses red lines!
Bennett: I will explain. An integral part of being a soldier is the ability to be a conscientious objector. .If G-d forbid, G-d forbid they will want to expel 400,000 [Jews]... 
Mishal: Do you hear your own words?
Bennett: Do YOU hear your own words? Do you understand what it is? I am not capable of such a deed. Are you capable of going... 
Mishal: The young soldiers watching you now - what are they saying? We will also disobey orders.
Bennett: Listen. I think it would be a terrible mistake. I would come and beg and beg... 
Mishal: Did you educate your soldiers as a Major?
Bennett: I educated them not to obey an order which is immoral [lit. that has a black flag hanging from it]. To expel people from this land is a terrible and awful thing. I will act with all my soul and all my faculties to prevent this from happening, and, with the help of G-d, if we will be in the driver's seat [ed. in the next government] and the public will give us its support, we will prevent the next tragedy from happening. They expelled 8,000 Jews [from Gaza in 2005]. What did we get in return for expelling 8,000 Jews from their homes? Missiles?

Immediately following the above interview, Prime Minister Netanyahu and numerous others issued condemnations of Bennett for "calling on soldiers to refuse orders." Netanyahu declared that a person who calls to refuse orders will not be a part of his government.

Bennett wanted to soften the impact of his statement and in follow up interviews, emphasized the need for soldiers to carry out orders. Many people concluded from Bennett's sudden change of heart that he is just another wishy-washy politician who doesn't keep his word, and issues statements in accordance with the popular trend of the moment.

I present two follow-up statements of Bennett to enable the readers to decide for themselves.

First is Bennett at a press conference that he called to clarify his position on obeying orders (English translation below Hebrew video):

"I didn't issue a call to refuse orders, not during the interview with Nissim Mishal and not anywhere else ever. For twenty-two years, I have served in the IDF as a fighter and commander. I fought in all of Israel's wars during that period. And I say again, I did not call for disobeying orders. Any viewer with intelligence who watched the [Mishal] program understands this. But in the Likud and the political arena, they pounced on my statement and distorted my words creating an image as though I called for disobeying orders. In order to gain a quarter of a Knesset seat, they damaged the unity of the IDF. 
"On Thursday, I spoke passionately from my heart, and I do not apologize for my statement. With that, I am now not an individual, but rather a public personality, a political leader. 
"And now I will address this issue with complete clarity. An order to uproot an Arab village or Jewish town from its land is a fatal blow to the most basic human rights, and it places the soldiers before a heart-rendering dilemma between the value of human rights on one side, and the value of fulfilling orders on the other. This is a dilemma too hard to bear. It cannot be swept under the carpet. I pray with all my heart that such an order will never again be issued. But bottom line, if all options are exhausted, I say very clearly: a soldier must fulfill the orders of the army.

In the above statement to the press, Bennett focused on the principle that every soldier must fulfill orders including himself. But he didn't relate to what he would do when faced with an order which violates his conscience. He only mentioned that he does not apologize for his remarks on the Mishal program.

In an interview with Yaakov Alon after the Mishal program, Bennett reiterates the obligation to fulfill orders, but also touches upon the principle that a soldier should not fulfill an immoral order. Click here for the full Hebrew interview [fast forward to the 9:17 minute mark].

Translation of Alon interview:
Alon: Why did you call to disobey orders?
Bennett: Listen. On Nissim's show, I spoke from my heart. The subject is a very difficult one - uprooting an Arab village or Jewish town... 
Alon: You draw a parallel between an Arab village and a Jewish town?
Bennett: Totally. After all, we are talking about human beings in both cases. But I will say with utmost clarity: A soldier must fulfill orders including me, Naftali Bennett, a Major in the reserves. This point cannot remain ambiguous. If tomorrow a person from the left will oppose bombing a target in Gaza or serving in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank], our army will fall apart. We, as fighters, must fulfill orders, even if we very much disagree with them.  
Alon: Including evacuating Jewish towns? Evacuating settlers?
Bennett: Any order which is not immoral [lit. in which a black flag is not hanging from it] we must fulfill, including me, Naftali Bennett. 
Alon: But an order to evacuate a Jewish town does have a black flag hanging from it?
Bennett: Yaakov, each person has a conscience, and I am not going to guide each individual soldier. I am saying... 
Alon: I don't want to argue with you like Nissim Mishal, but, you know, you are rounding the corners right now. State clearly, must soldiers...
Bennett: I will tell you. If the government of Israel in a democratic decision will reach the terrible conclusion to evacuate an Arab village or Jewish town as a government resolution, the IDF and each soldier will be obligated to fulfill the order, including me.

After a careful review of Bennett's follow-up statements, please leave your comment below as to whether Bennett reneged on his position that he won't expel Jews from their home or not. My comment appears first.

As a parting shot, I leave you with a statement by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on this topic [hat tip to Dr. Aharon Lerner of IMRA for making this video]. He was speaking in 1995 while in the opposition:

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Sunday, January 6, 2013

My Grandchild's Birth - a Miracle or Unusual Turn of Events?

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I am happy to announce that my seventh grandchild began her life's journey this past Wednesday morning in the Holy city of Tzfat (Safed).

My wife and I with our latest tribesman  (no name yet)

Her debut appearance as a human being raised a question: was her birth a medical miracle or just unusual -  but nothing more?

This is what transpired: My daughter-in-law went to the hospital for a check up on Monday night. The doctors informed her and my son Yehuda that the baby had flipped into a legs-first position leaving no choice but to operate.  It's rare for a baby to flip in the 9th month (she was two weeks into the 10th) because there's no room. The couple was devastated because they badly wanted a natural birth, and in previous checkups, all was well.

The young Gordons went to their home in Tzfat (Safed). The mother wept and my son recalled that the saintly 19th-century Hassidic Master Rabbi Nachman of Breslov said that someone who reads his book Shmot HaTzaddikim will have the strength to "flip nature" (lehapech et hateva). This book is nothing more than a listing of all the righteous people who lived from the time of Adam until the time of the Talmud. So my son got a hold of the book and started reciting the thousands of names.

The book: Shmot HaTzaddikim [The Names of the Righteous]

As though waking them into action by uttering their name, my son read aloud flipping page after page, until he dozed off.

The next morning, they went for a checkup and behold, the baby flipped back into head-first position.

All of the doctors were astounded. "We've never seen anything like this. Babies don't flip at the end of a pregnancy," they said.

Labor was induced, and young Ms. Gordon soon was out and about.

Calling all skeptics - was this not a miracle? Say it ain't so!

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Naftali Bennett - What Do We Do With the Arabs? (Video)

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The Jews of Israel are struggling against the entire world for national liberation and the right to live with freedom and dignity in the whole of our land. In other words, the two-state solution is nothing short of an act of Western imperialism against the indigenous Jewish population which has maintained a presence in Israel for thousands of years.

Proponents of this struggle must face head on the question: what do we do with the large Arab minority (1.65 - 1.8 million) in Judea and Samaria?

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Naftali Bennett, front runner in the new combined Jewish Home - National Union Party, released a video to answer this question. Today, Bennett represents religious-Zionism in Israeli politics.

He offers his interim solution in the video below (write intelligent comments after watching):

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