Thursday, December 29, 2005

A7news: Mass Attack Prevented, IDF Officer Killed

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Mass Attack Prevented, IDF Officer is Killed
A Palestinian terrorist, prevented from crossing the Green Line, blew himself up near a group of Israelis and Arabs near Tul Karem. One Israeli and three Arabs are dead, nine people were wounded.
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 1. Mass Attack Prevented, IDF Officer is Killed
 2. Kadima Unveils Details-Free Platform
 3. One Man, Nearly 40 Knesset Appointees
 4. Security Zone in N. Gaza Created, Sderot Remains Exposed
 5. Preparing for the Next Expulsion
 6. Publicizing Chanukah, Then and Now
 7. Feature: Expulsion Objectors Have No Regrets
 8. Netanyahu Proposal Would Bar Both Feiglin and Sharansky
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Editor: Hillel Fendel
Thursday, December 29, 2005
28 Kislev 5766


1. Mass Attack Prevented, IDF Officer is Killed
By Hillel Fendel

A Palestinian terrorist, prevented from crossing the Green Line, blew himself up near a group of Israelis and Arabs near Tul Karem. One Israeli and three Arabs are dead, nine people were wounded.

The attack occurred shortly before 10 AM. Warnings of a possible terrorist attack planned for a densely-populated area in Israel had been received - as has been the case in many areas over the past weeks.

At one of the impromptu checkpoints set up in the area as a result, soldiers stopped a suspicious-looking car and began to check the occupants. At one point, one of the passengers got out and, realizing he would not be allowed to proceed to his destination in an Israeli population center, detonated the explosives he was wearing under his clothing.

The IDF officer who tried to check the terrorist was killed, and three soldiers were wounded - one of them in serious condition. Two of the wounded were evacuated to Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba, and another one was flown to Hillel Yaffe Hospital in Hadera. In addition to the three Arabs who were reported killed, six more were lightly wounded.

The name of the killed officer was publicized after his family was notified: Lt. Uri Binamo, 21, of Kibbutz Nesher. "I am so proud of that boy," his father told Ynet. "We have lost a boy who gave his soul to the country... He would often visit his soldiers, to make sure they didn't have problems at home, rather than come home himself." Uri is survived by his parents and three younger sisters. He will be buried in the Haifa Military Cemetery Friday morning.

It had originally been thought that two terrorists blew themselves up, but it then became clear that a woman standing nearby was not involved in the attack.

MKs Uri Ariel (National Union) and Ehud Yatom (Likud) said that the current increase in terrorism is fueled by the government's soft response to Kassam attacks from Gaza and other terrorist activities.

A soldier was stabbed this afternoon in his neck at the Atarot industrial zone north of Jerusalem, and is listed in moderate condition. Another attempted stabbing nearby, at the Kalandia checkpoint in the same area, was thwarted last night. Earlier this month, Border Guard Sgt. Nir Kahane was stabbed to death at that checkpoint.

Today's attack brings the total number of terrorist casualties this month to eight.

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2. Kadima Unveils Details-Free Platform
By Hillel Fendel

Kadima, sometimes known as the Ariel Sharon party, publicized its platform at a Knesset faction meeting Wednesday. Sharon favors more withdrawals, but the platform doesn't specify from where.

The platform states that Jerusalem will remain under Israeli sovereignty, indicates that Israel will withdraw from large areas of Judea and Samaria, and does not mention the all-important Jordan Valley at all.

The party's Platform Committee Chairperson, Justice Minister Tzippy Livny, acknowledged the lack of detail, saying that in general, "Israel blabbers itself to death." She has said in the past that there is no point in elaborating on issues that must be settled in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The Jordan Valley represents a buffer zone between the rest of Israel and Jordan, Iraq and much of the Arab world.

The platform follows Ariel Sharon's line in stating that unspecified "large settlement blocs" - usually understood to mean only Maaleh Adumim, parts of Gush Etzion, and Ariel - will remain Israeli. The remaining areas of Judea and Samaria are understood to be dispensable.

As Ariel Sharon was the first Israeli prime minister to agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state, the platform unsurprisingly also features this concept prominently. Such a state, according to Kadima, would also serve as the solution for the so-called refugee problem. The Arabs claim that the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 led to the creation of "millions" of Arab refugees who deserve to return to their homes in Israel. The Kadima platform states that once a PA state is formed, the refugees will become the problem of this new entity.

"Israel's consent to a Palestinian state is contingent upon it being the absolute national solution for all Palestinians, including the refugees," Livny said. "No refugees will be allowed to enter Israel, under any agreement."

Meanwhile, the Labor Party platform is also being worked on - and appears to be startlingly similar to Kadima's. A seemingly major difference is Jerusalem. The holy city will apparently be noted by Labor as the "eternal capital of Israel," with the implication that the Arab-populated areas surrounding it will come under Palestinian Authority rule. The settlement blocs are also to come under PA sovereignty, but Labor would like to seem them leased by Israel in a Hong Kong-type arrangement. (Britain leased Hong Kong from China for a 99-year period, ending eight years ago.)

The Likud, currently running a close third in the polls behind Labor, has not yet finalized its platform. Party leader Binyamin Netanyahu has appointed a platform committee comprising Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Health Minister Danny Naveh, faction whip MK Gideon Sa'ar and MKs Yuval Shteinitz and Uzi Landau.

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3. One Man, Nearly 40 Knesset Appointees
By Hillel Fendel

One of Ariel Sharon's problems seems to be how to go about filling the long list of MKs he must appoint in the coming weeks. Newest member Shai Hermesh says Sharon doesn't have too much power.

The party has attracted several leading political names since its inception in mid-November. However, even with those who left the Likud to join Kadima, there are not nearly enough famous names to fill out the nearly 40 Knesset seats the party appears headed to win.

Sharon himself is to appoint the party's list of Knesset candidates, giving him the unprecedented power of exclusively naming a significant portion of the Israeli legislature. In addition, Sharon is not bound by party organs - which do not yet exist in the fledgling party - and his control over his appointees in the future is expected to be very great.

A total of 20 MKs, including Sharon himself, are now members of Kadima. These include 15 who left the Likud, as well as Shimon Peres, Chaim Ramon, and Dalia Itzik of Labor, David Tal (One Nation), and Michael Nudelman (National Union).

Others who have joined Kadima include Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz, former GSS head Avi Dichter, former Shinui party bigwig Prof. Uriel Reichman, former Education Ministry Director-General Ronit Tirosh, and Kiryat Shmonah Mayor Chaim Barbivai.

The latest to do so is Jewish Agency treasurer Shai Hermesh [pictured above], who announced his decision yesterday. Labor Party members fear that with his departure, he will take many Labor supporters with him to Kadima.

In a conversation with Arutz-7 this morning, Hermesh good-humoredly attempted to dispel concern over Sharon's growing power. He made sure to emphasize his [Hermesh's] help to, and praise of, the uprooted residents of Atzmonah who are now living in the Faith City encampment in the Negev, where he served as Regional Council Chief for 15 years. Excerpts from the conversation:

A7: "What made you leave Labor and join Kadima?"

Hermesh: "It's very simple: Ever since Sharon announced the Disengagement Plan two years ago in Herzliya, the political structure in Israel has changed greatly. Once the Likud accepted the idea of a small state with a Jewish majority, as opposed to 'two banks to the Jordan' ... there's no longer a gap between my conception and Sharon's. The question for me therefore became, 'Who would be able to garner the most support and succeed in this goal?' It was clear that the answer was Sharon."

A7: "Do you not feel that Sharon has too much power? He will no longer face a hostile Central Committee, nor a group of 'rebel' MKs like in the Likud, but rather dozens of MKs that he himself has appointed."

Hermesh: "I have seen him with too little power... just weeks ago he was humiliated by his own party, and it became too much for him, so he left and started his own party."

A7: "When you met with Sharon, how did it work? You said, 'I've decided to become a Knesset Member, so here I am,' and then he said OK and told you what number you would be?"

Hermesh: "Not at all... I know him for a very long time, and I told him I want to join forces with him, that I have no demands, and I want to help him, and asked what he would like me to do... He then invited me to come with him to the Kadima Knesset faction meeting... It was not said at all that I would be an MK, but I had a feeling that I wasn't being asked to attend the faction meeting as his bodyguard..."

A7: "You don't feel that it's undemocratic for one person to single-handedly appoint 40 MKs?"

Hermesh: "It's true that he's like Raful [the late Tzomet Party head Rafael Eitan] and Tommy Lapid [head of Shinui], and it's true that there are no organs, but that is the situation at present, and in the future we will form party organs..."

A7: "Is this a democratic arrangement?"

Hermesh: "You'll have to ask the voters. Apparently they have decided that they want something different..."

A7: "Have they decided that they want a one-man rule?"

Hermesh: "There is still a democracy here - "

A7: "There have been other dictatorial regimes in history that have been voted into power democratically."

Hermesh: "I would advise you not to compare Israel to Germany, or Sharon to Hitler..."

A7: "Let's say it happens a year from now that you and several other party MKs disagree with Sharon on something, will your voice be heard?"

Hermesh: "Those who know me know that when I disagree with something, I'm not bashful about it."

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4. Security Zone in N. Gaza Created, Sderot Remains Exposed
By Ezra HaLevi

The IDF began enforcing a security zone in northern Gaza Wednesday evening, shelling targets in the region as part of “Operation Blue Skies.”

The operation is aimed at ending rocket attacks on western Negev communities and the Ashkelon industrial area, including the strategic power plant. Towns such as Sderot, though, remain exposed to rocket attacks.

Northern Gaza residents were warned in leaflets dropped by IDF planes earlier in the day not to enter the zone, beginning after 6:00 PM Wednesday. Those who disregard the warning, risk to their lives, the leaflets warned. Arab residents told Israel Radio, however, that they have no intention of leaving their homes.

A Kassam rocket launched from Beit Hanoun landed just south of Sderot a few hours before the security zone went into effect. No injuries or damage were reported.

Arutz-7 military correspondent Haggai Huberman reports that the security zone consists of the destroyed communities of Elei Sinai, Dugit and Nissanit, whereas the populated area of Beit Hanoun is being left alone, even though it is the source of the majority of Kassam fire. "While Ashkelon is being protected, the lives of those living in Beit Hanoun are still being valued above those of the Jews living in Sderot," Huberman said.

Shortly after the security zone went into effect, an Arab man trying to fire a Kassam rocket with two accomplices was wounded when he entered the zone, defying the IDF ban.

Meanwhile, a new armor that will protect roofs against Kassam rockets has been approved for use in buildings located within the ever-growing range of Kassam rockets, according to the Globes business news website.

Israel Military Industries Ltd. CEO Avi Felder said the armor is inexpensive but very effective for all types of roofs. IMI was chosen by the IDF Home Front Command to develop the technology.

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5. Preparing for the Next Expulsion
By Hillel Fendel

"The next expulsion is not far off," warned former Foreign and Defense Minister Moshe Arens warned at a meeting of local Yesha representatives held in Beit El earlier this week.

"It appears that nothing will prevent Arik Sharon from continuing and implementing further disengagements," Arens said. "Let's not fool ourselves as to his intentions. Sharon himself doesn't believe that agreements with the PA will work, and there's no doubt that he will once again consider unilateral measures."

Prof. Arens served as Defense Minister in four different Israeli governments and Foreign Minister in one. Disengagement prisoner Eli Herbst and MK Uri Ariel were also in attendance at the Beit El meeting.

Representatives of Shilo, Adam, Migron, Beit El, Psagot, Kokhav Yaakov, Rimonim, Ofrah, Tel Tzion, Psagot, Amonah, Eli, and Michash took part as well.

Arutz-7's Shimon Cohen reports that MK Uri Ariel (National Union), who served as Mayor of Beit El before entering the Knesset in 2001, told the concerned audience, "The current political reality is a danger - and there are those who have not yet internalized this. Not one community throughout Judea and Samaria has an insurance policy."

The proof, MK Ariel said, is the area of northern Gaza: "The three communities there - Dugit, Nisanit and Elei Sinai - were destroyed [in the disengagement] with no logic whatsoever. Even [former Shabak head] Ami Ayalon said he didn't understand why they were taken down. It was an area without Arabs, close to the Green Line, with a fence, and with state-owned lands. There was no logic to the uprooting there."

Prof. Arens said that the withdrawal from Gaza was a "Supreme Court-approved strike against civil rights... proving that whoever lives in Judea and Samaria has fewer rights than one who lives in Haifa and Tel Aviv." Sharon thus broke a taboo, Arens explained, "proving that he can do something that even the left-wing thought was impossible. It aroused the appetite of the Americans and the PA, and part of the Israeli public as well, for more uprootings."

The disengagement was "a Sharon initiative, and was not forced upon Israel by the Americans," said Arens, who served as Israel's Ambassador in the U.S. in 1982-3.

It wasn't thanks to Sharon that the expulsion went over without violence, Arens said, "as the media portrayed it, but rather due to the special nature and patriotism of the residents themselves."

MK Ariel said there is no point in waiting any longer to start the campaign for Yesha: "We must initiate, and not be dragged along by events. The chances of winning are much greater when we initiate. It won't help if we wait for the army to stand outside our gates with the expulsion orders... We must begin immediately with public relations - but unfortunately, we're not doing it. Even to sell bananas you need PR today. We have to understand that this requires investment of resources, and it must be done professionally."

"We must have those who make the decisions come here and see for themselves," Ariel said. "There are some 500 people who are influential and who make the decisions. They have to be brought here. It's not easy; there's not much time. We also have to bring thousands of other Jews from all over the country, as we did in the We're on the Map campaign. We need not work on the leftists, but first on those who are closer to us in ideology."

YeshaHomestead is a movement that promotes Jewish settlement and purchase of land as a possible solution. "Sharon forcibly expelled 10,000 Jews from Gaza and dumped them in hotels," the movement asserts, adding, "Next, they intend to 'inconvenience' only 20,000 Jews by forcibly evacuating them. Only by having another several hundred thousand Jews move to the areas slated for the next expulsion of the Jews can this roadmap be stopped. We need a roadblock."

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6. Publicizing Chanukah, Then and Now
By Hillel Fendel

The commandment to publicize the Chanukah miracles is central to the holiday celebrations. In Israel, it works both ways: Publicizing Chanukah - and Chanukah-izing publicity.

A radio commercial on Voice of Israel Radio begins with an obviously freezing man singing in a shivering voice the famous Chanukah hymn, "Maoz Tzur" - at which point the narrator interrupts and asks, "Cold in your feet? Try buying a Carmel carpet!"

The next commercial, coincidentally, features another man trying to sing the same song but stumbling over the words - and yet another narrator interrupts and says, "Can't see? Go to Opticana for new glasses!"

Thus is Chanukah enlisted in modern Israeli ad campaigns to sell various goods. Those who came up with the campaigns, however, might not have been aware that Chanukah itself is the very epitome of a public-relations campaign, instituted by the Sages.

Candles are lit each night of the eight-day holiday for one reason: pirsumei nisa - to publicize the miracles.

Israel's Education Ministry features a [Hebrew] webpage dealing with the main Chanukah commandment: publicizing the Divine miracles of the holiday. The program outlines the four questions that any ad campaign addresses, and explains how they are implemented in the Chanukah campaign. The four elements are:

1. What is to be advertised? The Sages of that generation [some 150 years before the Common Era] instituted eight days of joy and praise to G-d, featuring nightly candle-lighting, to publicize and glorify the miracles of the victory over the Greeks and that of a Holy Temple flask of oil lasting for eight days.

2. What is the target audience? Jewish Law states that everyone is obligated in the commandment, even children who are barely of school age, and even one who is blind and cannot see the candles.

3. What is the main message or slogan? The Sages emphasized the beneficent and miraculous nature of G-d's intervention, while minimizing human courage and prowess. Matathias and his son Judah led the military fight against the Greeks, but it was mainly their spiritual courage in refusing to give in to the Greeks' religious oppression that is lauded.

4. How to achieve maximum exposure and high ratings: The Sages instituted the candle-lighting at a time and place that would be seen by the maximum number of people: not before sundown, and not after people have left the streets; neither below or above a certain height; ideally, outside the front entrance to one's home; and not in a place where one normally lights candles, so that it will be clearly noticeable that these lights are for Chanukah.

A major publicizer of websites publicizing a wide variety of information on the Chanukah holiday is Jacob Richman's list of Chanukah websites.

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7. Feature: Expulsion Objectors Have No Regrets
By Ezra HaLevi

They were stripped of their jobs, their ranks and their source of income, but expulsion objectors from the IDF and police don't regret their decision to stand up for what was right.

They have harsh words for their fellow "kippa-wearers" who took part in the implementation of the expulsion, and say they will only wear the olive-green uniforms of the Israeli army once it returns to the IDF it once was.

Elazar Sandorfi, Dmitri Pechnikov, Avidan Weitzman, Moshe Gonen and Shaya Leib Gilo spoke with Hagit Rotenberg of the B'Sheva weekly, describing their ordeals. The lengthy trials and jail-time they have faced does not make them flinch from their belief that they did the right thing from an ethical and Jewish legal perspective.

Moshe (Botavia) Gonen of Beit El had served just two months as the commander of an Engineering Vehicle Operators’ (TzaMA) company in the Judea and Samaria division, when he was stripped of his duties for refusing to take part in the Disengagement. He recounted the following story:

"The day before I was supposed to go up with my platoons to northern Samaria. I toured the region and saw the enormous expanse before me. I understood that all this was going to be handed over to Arabs. I went to my commander that very night and told him, 'I am incapable of carrying out this mission. I am not going up with my platoons tomorrow.'

"He was surprised and I tried to explain it to him in understandable terms: 'I am not able to get up in the morning, to put on tefillin, to pray for the integrity of the Land and its holiness, and in the afternoon to do the opposite of all that. This prayer book is not some magazine. I try to mean what I say.' 'Don't mix religion with the army,' he answered me.

"He continued to try to persuade me. 'There is a plan to retake the region,' he said. 'What is the connection?' I asked. 'It is like eating swine and then later eating strictly kosher. It is forbidden by our Torah. With all due respect, commander, there is One who outranks you.'

"He still didn't give up, insisting, 'There are religious officers who are executing this mission.'

"'Maybe they put on tefillin and fast on Tisha B'Av, but they are not religious,' I answered. 'It is black and white: forbidden to carry out.' "

Moshe was sent to three weeks in prison under conditions difficult for an observant soldier. He was relieved of his command, stripped of his rank and compelled to release the IDF from his two-year contract. "I had the best contract of any company commander in the IDF," he recalled, "great salary, meals at home, company car, cellular phone, my own schedule. It was not simple to give all that up. But every man has lines he won’t cross and principles on which he lives, and he cannot throw them away because of a Toyota or an honor."

Moshe says the army wanted to deal with him the way they did with so many other soldiers who refused to take part in the Disengagement – under the table, quietly. "I am the highest ranking standing army soldier who refused," he explained, "and besides, the show trial that is to take place is not meant for me, it is aimed at anyone who wears a kippa, at anyone who insists on 'mixing religion with the army.' "

Moshe, who became religiously observant later in life, is married and the father of a three-month-old daughter. He now works as a supervisor for a security company in the western Binyamin region. The decline in his quality of life due to the loss of his job as a ranking officer was drastic, but he does not regret a thing. "I am happy. There is nobody happier than me," he said. "The only decision I sometimes regret was not speaking with my soldiers and convincing them to refuse as well. I decided not to, because they were men with problems at home, with criminal files and the like, who the IDF was actively rehabilitating – I didn't want to be the cause of complications for them."

Commander Was Proud of Him

Dimitri Pachnikov, married and a father of two, lives in Kiryat Gat. He worked for eight years as an investigator in the Ashkelon police. When the police began preparing for the expulsion, he was shaken to the core. The regional commander informed the police that any refusal would be met with unequivocal termination of his job as a police officer.

"I understood that it would be difficult for me, and I didn't want to be in a situation where they would give me an order and then I would refuse. I could not see myself carrying out such orders and remaining a normal person. I thought about how I would be able to look at myself and how people would look at me."

Dimitri requested to be dismissed on the day Gush Katif was first closed to enable the evacuation of the Maoz HaYam Hotel stronghold. When he saw his former co-workers taking part in dragging people from the hotel, he knew he had done the right thing. "I didn't regret it for a second – I was happy I wasn't there," he said.

Interviewer Rotenberg asked whether it was his own decision or whether he was influenced by any rabbinic rulings. "I asked two rabbis, who both said it was forbidden for me to take part in the expulsion. That wasn't the deciding factor, though. I don't see it as a question of kashrut; even if the rabbis had ruled that it was permitted to fulfill the order, I would not have been able to do it."

Most of Dimitri's friends from the police identified with his decision, but the financial need for their jobs outweighed their conscience. He received the most moral support from one of his commanders, whom he met on his way to Kfar Maimon. "He hugged me and said, 'I'm proud to be your commander.' " His wife also supported his decision all along the way, despite the fact that it has meant financial hardship for the family. Now Pachnekov has found only part-time work in a nearby kibbutz, relying on the Lev Yehudi organization - which provides help to those who refused to take part in the Disengagement - to make ends meet.

Settlers as Amalek

Avidan Weitzman served for six years in the now-infamous Yassam riot police, becoming deputy commander of his unit. Avidan took part in a police conference prior to the Disengagement in which 3,000 police took part, including the country's most senior officers.

"They told us they were bringing a rabbi to speak to us. When they called the rabbi to the podium, a guy with a three-foot ponytail got up and compared the conflict we would be taking part in against the settlers with the biblical mandate to make war against Amalek, saying it was just as critical. I sat there fuming; my hands were shaking. My commander grabbed my hand so I wouldn't get up and yell at him. Afterward, someone got up from the Israel Democracy Institute and presented a code of ethics, asking for participation from the audience.

"I asked him, 'What must we do if obedience to the government violates the rights of the citizen?' There was a huge round of applause, with officers yelling out that the whole plan was illegal, and it simply destroyed the conference. Someone in the audience tried to explain that it was democratic, and one of the commanders said that Hitler was also elected democratically. The next day the regional commander came and declared that there would be absolutely no refusal, and that anyone who refused would be thrown out of the police."

Avidan was unimpressed by the threats, and when his commander ordered him to pack up the crowd-dispersal equipment to be transported to Kfar Maimon, he replied that he wasn't planning on going anywhere. When they tried to convince him that it wasn't worth losing his job, he called his wife to consult with her, and then told them he stood by his decision. The next day he was fined 1,500 shekels and fired.

"Almost all my friends at the police were lamenting the fact that they didn't have the courage to do the same thing," he said. Today he is taking a Labor Ministry course and living off of unemployment and help from Lev Yehudi. Though his financial situation is not good, he insists that he and his wife have never been happier.

On the Roof in Kfar Darom

"You have crossed all the red lines," said the 12th Golani regiment commander to Elazar Sandorfi when he saw him among those on the fortified roof of Kfar Darom's synagogue on the day of the expulsion.

Just weeks earlier, Elazar had been the deputy company commander in the same battalion, recognized as an outstanding soldier. He commanded the Kfar Darom region, but when the IDF was ordered to lay siege on protestors at Kfar Maimon, he refused orders and was compelled to dissolve his four-year contract with the IDF. "I lost my entire career," he said, "but I don't have one millimeter of regret. It was the right thing to do. Everyone needed to do his part in the struggle. Now they are trying to convince me to go back to the army, but I'll only go back once the army goes back to what it is supposed to be."

Elazar, a resident of Nachliel, a settlement near Modi'in, still stands to be tried for his presence on the Kfar Darom rooftop. He is still angry about the IDF's role in the expulsion, and particularly the religious soldiers and the rabbis who legitimized their behavior in carrying it out. "We received an order to block the gate of Kfar Darom the day they evacuated the [Maoz HaYam] Hotel. A very large number of the soldiers heard the order, but continued to sit on the side, ignoring it. Suddenly I saw a rabbi show up, one of the heads of one of the IDF preparatory academies. He approached the soldiers and told them: 'Carry out the order!' "

Avidan Weitzman said the phenomenon of rabbinic support for soldiers 'just following orders' was one of the worst aspects of the expulsion. "This is something that is very difficult for the youth," he said. "On the one hand, they hear that it's totally forbidden, but then they ask about those rabbis who say yes to carry out the order - and I have no answer for them."

Shaya Leib Gilo told Rotenberg that scores of religious officers and soldiers with whom he has spoken justified their participation in the expulsion, saying, "There are rabbis who say it is permitted." Elazar Sandorfi added that many soldiers he knew planned to wait until the day the order was given to refuse, but when the time came, they instead relied on the rulings of the rabbis from the pre-army academies to solve their ethical dilemma the easy way.

"The youth were ready for anything and everything," Avidan said. "If they had been told unequivocally to refuse, they would have done so without question."

Shaya Leib, from Maaleh Levona, was a platoon commander in the Duchifat battalion stationed outside Beit El. After he refused to go to Kfar Maimon, he was sent to prison and thrown out of his combat unit. He was assigned to janitorial work for the remainder of his army service and chose to leave early for psychological reasons. Leaving the army in such a manner has many negative effects on his civilian life, but he says he has no regrets.

Won't Wear Olive Green

Moshe misses the IDF often. "I would like to return to serve in the reserves," he said. "There, it's a different mindset. On the other hand, it is hard to wear that uniform now."

He recounted a number of his students at one of the religious military academies who returned from witnessing the expulsion and have since expressed their inability to wear the olive-green uniform and are considering not enlisting at all. "I tell them that they should enlist, but not agree to be rags and instead stick with their faith to the end. 'You are Jews with faith and there are things you simply don't do, even if they beat you,' I tell them. It needs to be clear to them that everyone is united on this matter, that there is a clear line that we are determined to stand by."

Avidan and Dimitri express no interest in returning to the security forces until the IDF embraces "Jewish ethics" once again.

At the time of the expulsion, each of the refusers was in a different place.

"I was in jail," recalled Shaya Leib. "The prison commander forced us to watch the broadcast of the expulsion, saying it was an important event in the nation's history. It was very hard to watch. After I refused to take part, I regretted not having gone AWOL and joining them in Gush Katif. Everyone there in the prison watched and wept together."

"I was on the roof there in Kfar Darom," recalled Elazar, "in a crazy conflict. The whole community recognized me, because I was in charge there. All the tools they used against me had been under my command the day before and now I was standing in the same place, but on the other side. I was faced with my own soldiers and the officer who replaced me, convincing them to refuse orders as well."

"I felt completely betrayed by the State and the public," said Avidan. "My covenant with the state has ended. The symbols of the State of Israel no longer move me. I know that they are empty of content. I felt mourning, but a bit of happiness that I was not a part of them."

Asked if their actions were for naught, and if they were disappointed that masses of soldiers didn't follow their lead, Avidan answered: "In a police bulletin after the expulsion, it said about 30% of police was absent from the force during the expulsion for health reasons. Do you think that so many police just happened to get sick during those five days?"

"We wanted there to be a wave," Elazar said, "but even if I knew there wasn't going to be, I still would have done it. I have my path – the Torah, and to it I am obligated."

With other high-profile refusers, such as Avi Bieber, recently breaking their silence, the expulsion objectors hope that their message will ensure that at least the religious public will learn the lessons of the Disengagement and will act differently next time.

"The next stage is the destruction of Amona in Ofrah and the Shalhevet neighborhood in Hevron," Elazar told B'Sheva, adding that he hopes that soldiers will realize that they held it in their power to stop the destruction of Gaza and northern Samaria and hold the keys to the future of the Jewish people in the rest of the Land of Israel as well.

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8. Netanyahu Proposal Would Bar Both Feiglin and Sharansky
By Ezra HaLevi

Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu's efforts to ban Moshe Feiglin from office would also affect former prisoners Dov Shilansky and Natan Sharansky if implemented.

Michael Fuah, managing director of the Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) faction within the Likud, published an open letter Wednesday, asking party chairman Binyamin Netanyahu to cease his efforts to classify those arrested for opposing the government on ideological grounds as criminals.

Netanyahu has been spearheading a campaign to rid the Likud of "criminal" and "extreme" elements, submitting a proposal to the central committee that would ban anyone who served more than three months in prison from ever holding office in the party. Moshe Feiglin, who received 12.5% of the vote in the recent Likud primaries, was sentenced to six months in prison for the British Mandate-era crime of sedition after organizing mass civil-disobedience following the signing of the Oslo Accords. He was allowed to do the prison time in the form of public service, but the legal status of having served time remains the same.

Feiglin was prevented from running for Knesset in the last elections because of a similar reason. Likud Elections Committee Chairman Judge Tzvi Cohen ruled, however, that Feiglin's crime is not considered one of "moral turpitude," and that therefore the disqualification was only temporary. Netanyahu's proposed addition to the party guidelines, would, however, permanently disqualify anyone who served more than three months in prison.

While Fuah said that removing criminal elements from the Likud is a noble effort, the way Netanyahu is going about it is liable to remove outstanding members of the party such as the Tagar movement's Eli Sheetrit or former Knesset Speaker Dov Shilansky, who also served prison time for ideological reasons.

"Valued members like Atty. Dov Shilansky, who was sentenced to 21 months in prison during the protests against accepting German Holocaust reparations, would not be able to serve in the party unless they receive permission from Likud judge Tzvi Cohen," Fuah wrote. "Former Minister Natan Sharansky and MK Yuli Edelstein, who were sentenced to long prison terms in the USSR as Prisoners of Zion, will also have to request a special dispensation from Cohen. This situation is intolerable and ridiculous. MK Michael Eitan's proposal that only those whose crimes were tainted by moral turpitude be excluded would have solved all these problems."

"It is clear that the actions of Shilansky, Sharansky, Edelstein and Feiglin were not crimes of dishonor," Fuah wrote. "These ideologues are symbols of public struggles for which they paid a heavy personal price, but because of mistaken terminology, they have been classified as people unfit to represent the party without special permission from the head of the election committee."

"Netanyahu's refusal to limit the disqualifications to those who committed dishonorable crimes is not practical," the letter continued, "and is also unethical from a Jewish perspective. The sweeping disqualifications reject the Jewish concept of teshuva, repentance."

The Likud Central Committee is set to vote on Netanyahu's proposal this Sunday.

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