21 thoughts on “Even Israeli Intelligence Falls Under Sway of Rabbis – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Another day, another blackwash.

    “The officer corps was once composed of the cream of the kibbutznik youth, a secular elite. Now virtually all units in every branch are dominated by Orthodox officers and soldiers.”
    The result can be seen in the brutal violence meted out by them on Palestinian victims.

    From the 1948 expulsions, through the Kfar Qassem Massacre and the two Intifadas, the worst violence against Palestinians has been at the hands of the secular officer corp.

    Now you say that the officer corp is dominated by Orthodox officers (cite please) and you don’t like them either!

    Richard, just be honest and come out and say that the sight of a militarized Jew make you sick to your stomach.

    in British English(ˈblækˌwɒʃ)
    VERB (transitive)
    to present (someone or something) in the worst possible light
    Collins English Dictionary. Copyright © HarperCollins Publishers

    1. @ Kareem: Your comment is anti-Semitic. Be very careful not to conflate Jews with Israelis. I do not consider Judeo-messianist settlers to be Jewish. They are an aberrant form of Judaism. Call it Judeo-triumphalism or Judeo-supremacy. But not Judaism.

      Nor is my problem as Israel which maintains an army for its own defense. But that’s not what the IDF is. It is a weapon of a garrison state geared for perpetual war. I oppose such militarized societies whether Israeli, American or whatever.

      Your comment about secular Israelis engaging in war crimes is wrong as well. Secular units predominate for 50 years. Orthodox units for 20. The number of Palestinian and Arab dead proportionally is far larger for the Orthodox IDF, than the secular IDF.

      Here’s a definition for you:

      Blue & Whitewash (n.) : (def.) propaganda offered by Israelis and their apologists designed to defend the indefensible.

      You are done in this thread.

  2. Just to be clear, you are advocating for Jews marrying non Jews?

    I am curious, why would anyone object to this practice given that Muslim women are forbidden from marrying non Muslim men? The Church won’t accept Christians marrying out either.

    Israel is the Jewish state. I have not seen either the Church or the Mosque objecting to the Synagogue marrying its own members.

      1. ‘Tiff’ reply is an excellent example of religious bigotry though, and further evidence of the argument presented in the article.

        Voltaire: “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

        Napoleon Bonaparte: “In politics stupidity is not a handicap.”

        John Stuart Mill: “I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid persons are generally conservative.”

        Thomas Paine: ”To argue with a person who has renounced reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”

    1. Correction : Zionism is one of many victim ideologies. It portrays us (the Jews) as victims, now arising with power and might that we did not have in previous generations to claim what allegedly belongs to us. Sadly, so many people abuse Zionism and turn it into racism, but it is not an “ideology of mass theft and genocide”.
      And yes, I am very critical of victim ideologies, of all kinds.

    2. Zi·on·ism
      Learn to pronounce

      1. a movement for (originally) the re-establishment and (now) the development and protection of a Jewish nation in what is now Israel. It was established as a political organization in 1897 under Theodor Herzl, and was later led by Chaim Weizmann.

      To say that Zionism = mass theft/genocide – is outrageously hateful and wrong by all means.
      Are there “bad” zionists? Probably. As well as good zionists – similarly to most other civil movements.
      I am surprised @Richard Silverstein allowed this comment here – as it is against his own rules (for example rule #4: No Palestine, Israel or Holocaust Denial. No racism, Islamophobia, hate speech or misogyny. No conspiracy theories).

      1. @ Jorge: I have studied Zionism for five decades and published scores of articles about it. I don’t need a dictionary to define what it is. Nor do I agree with the phrasing of the definition.

        Frankly, I could care whether you say that Israel or Zionism are guilty of mass theft and mass murder. One or both is fine with me. “Hateful?” Hateful is the murder of tens of thousands of Palestinians and Arabs since 1948. Hateful is the mass murder of women and children in Gaza last May and in 2014. So you can stop with your faux outrage. It doesn’t work here.

        Are there “bad” zionists? Probably

        It is far worse than an aberrant number of “bad Zionists.” Zionism as defined by the right-wing Judeo-fascists who’ve run Israel for the past few decades is murderous, racist and apartheid. Zionism wasn’t necessarily always this way. But that was in the past. Today, it is all those and worse.

        You don’t need to quote my comment rules. I wrote them. I know what they are. If someone violates them, they will hear from me without your offer of editorial assistance.

  3. Hi Richard,

    I think you are not accurate in this article.
    From the establishment of the modern state of Israel till the Oslo agreements in the nineties – the secular jews dominated the ranks of the IDF. In saying that, those who we call “secular” were not uniform – and had many “traditional” Jews (a hybrid form of secular and religious).
    During all that period there were quite a bit “woven kippahs” soldiers as well – as documented numerous times (for instance pictures of soldiers on tanks wearing tefillin and praying).
    I believe that the change occurred because of a different reason: Israel started to rapidly modernize and get open to Western ideas, from the nineties onward – which led to a lot of secular Jews skipping the military service altogether – a behaviour not committed as much by the “traditional” soldiers.
    This, in my eyes, was the main cause we see now more traditional Jews in the mix – which inevitably leads to more traditional Jewish officers/pilots/generals.

    I must also disagree with your statement “The result can be seen in the brutal violence meted out by them on Palestinian victims“.
    The war of Independence, as well as all other major wars until the nineties happened during the “secular” leadership times. Late Yitzhak Rabin, the darling of the Israeli secular Left, was the one that commanded to “break the arms of the Palestinians that threw rocks at the Israeli soldiers”.
    The displacement of Palestinian encampments and communities was led by the secular leadership of Israel. And that during the times Israel had primitive and inferior weapons, compared to nowadays. So I see more violence in the past, committed during the secular “times”, than nowadays. Todays we just have more Facebook/Twitter/TikTok etc – so we are more exposed, as opposed to 40 years ago.

    And lastly – I am not sure why are you surprised with the nomination of this person – all Israeli units have Rabbis (prisons, combat units, Airforce etc).
    It would be odd to see a secular Rabbi – so I am not surprised that this Rabbi is a religious one (and even from the moderate camp, rather than the Orthodox one).
    By the way – There are Rabbis and priests (and Imams) in most Western military apparatuses.

    1. @ Jorge: I think your suggestion that many secular Jews “skipped” military service has some truth to it. THough men cannot simply “skip” service. It is mandatory. So they either need to get an exemption, do national serivce, or leave the country. But even more likely is that the IDF has made itself far more accomodating toward the ultra-Orthodox. And the rising number of such soldiers and officers may be due to a new influx of those who previously took exemption for yeshiva studies.

      As for the comparison between the murderousness of the IDF under secular vs. Orthodox leadership. 2,300 Gazans alone were murdered in 2014. Many times more than were killed in any single event when the army was secular. Of course the secular dominated army committed war crimes (including the Nakba itself). But the full hatred and violence of the IDF toward Palestinians has been unleashed under the religious-dominated IDF. Scores of Orthodox officers (some documented here) have publicly used blantantly genocidal rhetoric to motivate their troops to kill Palestinians. And this rhetoric is always couched in religious terms.

      all Israeli units have Rabbis (prisons, combat units, Airforce etc).

      As for appointing a rabbi to this position: intelligence agencies are nothing like prisons or combat units. This rabbi’s most critical job, as highlighted by the article itself, is to justify the morally troublesome acts Orthodox workers much do under halachic terms.

      There are Rabbis and priests (and Imams) in most Western military apparatuses.

      While there are chaplains in many armies, there are no clerics serving in the CIA or NSA. Nor should there be.

      1. As an Israeli, I can tell you that anyone who wishes to not join the IDF, can do so quite easily. The IDF has no interest in forcing someone to join its ranks and besides, there seems to be an abundance of recruits, so much so that the army has reduced the period of compulsory duty for both men and women and reduced the number of professional officers. The overwhelming, universal stigma of not serving in the IDF is simply no longer there, especially in secular circles. As for Israel the theocracy – bars and restaurants are open across the country, even in holy Jerusalem. Cars drive on the sabbath, abortions are readily available, gays and lesbians openly express their identities etc.

        1. @ pea: Really? So that’s why scores of refusers who refuse to serve in the military for moral reasons are treated like criminals and jailed and hounded for years for their refusal? Or are you saying that they want to go through constant miltiary trials and jail sentences which they could easily avoid if they chose??

          As for Israeli theocracy: you mean to tell me that Israel’s grey beards don’t control marriage, divorce, birth and death matters? And that religious politicians, parties and organizations have no influence over Israeli society and politics? No, of course you don’t mean to say that because it wouldn’t be true. What you mean to say is that overall religion dominates Israeli life and ways large and small. While there a few nods here or there to secular life. But that’s quite different than what you actually said. Wonder why?

          1. The people I am talking about, the vast majority of refusers, simply get a note from a friendly Doctor or a Psychologist in order to get out of serving. Their motivations may be personal or ideological but they definitely seek to avoid jail time. The ideologically motivated refusers, those opposed to the occupation for instance, don’t engage in trickery, and accept the possibility of jail time. Ideological refusers are prosecuted, mere shirkers aren’t so much.

            As for Israeli theocracy, I’m no fan of the grey beards but things like marriage are controlled by religious groups, 12 in total. Thus the Rabbinate controls Jewish marriages in Israel, Islamic authorities control Muslim weddings, Christian authorities control Christian weddings etc. No religious authority controls weddings that have taken place outside of Israel, and once they take place, they are considered perfectly legal in Israel. Thus a gay or secular couple can get married in Cyprus and upon their return to Israel, they receive all the same rights as a couple married in Israel. Similarly, civil unions are fully recognized in Israel and are outside the authority of any religious body. I’m not a fan of this system but it’s hardly a Taliban style Theocracy. People openly work on the Sabbath (which is a capital offense in Judaism), non-kosher restaurants operate openly and are open on the Sabbath – I could go on and on. Secular life isn’t merely tolerated here, it flourishes. Most Israelis are, in fact, mostly secular.

            And now that Shas and UTJ are not in control of any government ministries, their influence is, at least for the moment, waning. But their admittedly outsize influence is merely a matter of another election.

          2. Oh and right now I’m watching a TV series called Kfulim / False flag. On season 2, there’s an actress on the show called Omer Goldman. She’s a pretty successful Israeli actress with a string of roles from 2013 to 2021. She was also a very well known conscientious objector and a member of the Shministim who ended up spending 21 days in military prison in 2008 for refusing to serve in the IDF. Said refusal does not seem to have affected her career much.

          3. @ Pea: You’re changing the goalposts in the middle of the game. Your original claim was that Israelis can avoid the army easily. When I disproved that claim, now you’re claiming Goldman’s refusal hasn’t harmed her career. I never made such a claim. I have not done specific research on her case, but I am virtually certain she did not serve a single jail sentence. In almost every case, refusers serve multiple jail sentences until the army finally relents. And there is even an NGO founded specifically to support such refusers.

            BTW, I was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. Refused to fight. And used my Jewish values and tradition to justify my refusal. I didn’t go to prison. My status was approved by the draft board. That’s one difference between Israel and here. Thank God.

          4. She served two jail sentences. And then the army relented. Israeli model Bar Refaeli got sham married to avoid IDF service and wasn’t charged or arrested and, obviously, served no jail time. Her face adorns billboards and magazines around the country and around the world to this day. Anyways… I’m not saying the situation here is perfect but to even utter the term “Taliban” or to make comparisons to Wahabism is a bit much in a country with nude beaches, openly operating swingers clubs, reform and conservative communities and synagogues, film and music festivals, a vibrant predominantly secular literary scene, night clubs, bars and unkosher restaurants open on the Sabbath, vibrant LGBTQ culture, stater subsidized abortions and fertility treatments for gay and lesbian couples etc. – it just seems, I don’t know, disingenuous? Don’t get me wrong – none of the points you make are untrue per se. The situation at the Kotel is ridiculous and, frankly, embarrassing. The influence wielded by Haredi Rabbis is inappropriate and there are in fact several NGOs who seek to curb said influence, not just one. But you can’t just cite all the bad stuff and ignore everything else. All you do is distort reality! Like with those refusing to serve in the IDF. I laid it out for you. The reality is that most people who don’t want to serve can do so easily unless they are trying to make a statement. Mere shirkers are treated with kid gloves, while those motivated by principle can and are jailed for their principled positions .I think I read somewhere that recent data showed that 33% of army age Israelis do not enlist at all and another 15% do not complete their military service. Now my lunch break is over. Have a great day Richard!

          5. @pea:

            to even utter the term “Taliban” or to make comparisons to Wahabism is a bit much

            I didn’t make the phrase up. Israelis for years have described the cult that started in Beit Shemesh as the “Israeli Taliban.” And the hundreds of thousands of Haredim living in israel certainly live by rules and laws just as harsh and intolerant and brutal as Wahabism.

            As for your examples of Israeli secularism–they’re largely irrelevant to the way the country is ruled. The nation’s politics, many of its more critical social interactions, and foreign policy are dominated by nationalist-theocratic conceptions. Israel is a settler state, an apartheid state, a theocratic state because many of its most important decisions are made with Judeo-supremacist considerations in mind. You can have a nude beach in a country and even eat treif while the country is still dominated by religion. That’s Israel.

            Not to mention that the majority of the secularism takes place in Tel Aviv. Secularism does not dominate the rest of the country, especially the cities dominated by Orthodox Judaism or right-wing nationalists. “Vibrant LGBT culture?” Again largely in Tel Aviv. But you’ve discounted the huge homophobia rampant in Orthodox environs and the murders of gay victims in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. One suspect freed from prison only to murder, while another mass murder not even solved.

            As for curbing the influence of the Orthodox rabbinate: you can’t. They control the most important aspects of Israeli life. Their allies run the Knesset.

            Please don’t repeat yourself, as you’ve done here. I only need to read your arguments and refute them once. Not twice or more. And no more comments in this thread.

          6. @ Pea: I note you conveniently have only spoken of marriage. But omitted birth, death and divorce: all controlled by religious authorities. These are among the most important activities humans engage in and in Israel and other theocratic states they are controlled by religion, not secular authority. Not to mention the thousands of other ways in which Orthodox Judaism, in all its intolerance and rigidity, controls Israeli life.

            You also neglected to mention the Israeli Jewish Taliban who used to live in Beit Shemesh. And the other ultra Orthodox sects which enforce an even more rigid version of religious life.

            You also conveniently neglected to mention the women spat upon, and sidurim torn up by Grey beards at the Kotel. And the arrest of such women for carrying Torah scrolls and having the temerity to read from them during prayer service. And the supposedly secular government refusing to enforce a compromise which it itself negotiated to permit egalitarian worship under egalitarian conditions there.

            Secular life exists. It doesn’t flourish. Perhaps in Tel Aviv it flourishes. But it flourishes under a strong rigid foundation of Orthodox Judaism. In fact these forms of Judaism have much in common with the Taliban or Saudi Wahabis. The only difference in Israel is that the country permits secularism to exist subordinated to religious sectarian authority.

            As for political parties, that is no measure of how society is governed. Political parties wax and wane. But the underlying system remains the same. And in Israel it is a theocratic one riddled with some of the worst, most intolerant, hateful aspects of Judaism. Settlers aren’t a particular political party. Yet they, their interests, their religious nationalist ideology infect the entire nation. You can be a secular politician or a religious one. It doesn’t matter. You must serve these interests or you will be defeated.

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