Thursday, July 24, 2014

An IDF soldier's letter from the front.

From a Solider at the Front. Original in Hebrew....translated into English with a few comments from me. Having been down there a few times, I can personally vouch for the accuracy of this letter. On a personal note, before going down South last night for a pizza delivery to IDF soldiers, my daughter gave me a stack of letters and pictures from children in our community to distribute to the delivery. After giving the soldiers 60 pies, I said, "Wait, I have to give you the letters from the kids..." A soldier stopped everything and said -- "THOSE are the most important...much more than the pizza...and hugged a pile of letters that I gave him."

Am Yisrael Chai!

--Jameel

A soldier on the border writes:

What's happening here in the staging area [area where soldiers prepare to enter Gaza] is beyond comprehension, not rationally, not emotionally and beggars the imagination.

Almost every hour a car shows up overflowing with food, snacks, cold drinks, socks, underwear, undershirts, hygiene supplies, wipes, cigarettes, backgammon and more. They're coming from the North and the Center, from manufacturers, from companies and private businesses, from prisons, Chareidim and Settlers, from Tel Aviv and even Saviyon.

Every intersection on they way down here we get stopped, not by the police, but be residents giving out food. What is amazing is that the entire situation wasn't organized and everyone is coming on their own without coordination between the folks coming.

They're writing letters and blessings, how they're thinking of us all the time. There are those who spent hours making sandwiches, so they're as perfect and comforting as possible.

Of course representatives of Chabad are here to help soldiers put on Tefillin and distributing Cha'Ta'Ts (Chumash, Tehillim, Tanya) for every troop transport and Breslov are showing up to the border and dancing with the soldiers with great joy.

The Chareidim are coming from their yeshivot to ask the names of the soldiers with their mothers' names so that the whole yeshiva can pray for them. It should be mentioned that all of this is done under the threat of the terrorist tunnels and rockets in the area.
Soroka Hospital (in Be'er Sheva) today looks like a 5 star hotel. A wounded friend who was recently discharged told us how the MasterChef truck is parked outside and is preparing food for the wounded.

It goes without saying the amount of prayer services that are going on. On the religious front as well, there are lectures and Torah classes, all the food is obviously Kosher. Shachrit, Mincha, and Maariv with Sifrei Torah. They're giving out tzitzit and Tehilim by the hundreds. It's become the new fashion! The Rabbi of Maglan [Special Forces unit] told me that almost the entire unit has started wearing them, because the Army Rabbinate has been giving out tzitzit that wick away sweat. They're gaining both a Mitzva and a high quality undershirt. We've started calling them "Shachpatzitzti" (a portmanteau of the Hebrew term for body armor and tzitzit). We're having deep conversations late into the night without arguments, without fights and we find ourselves agreeing on most stuff.

We're making lots of jokes at Hamas's expensive and without politics. There's lots more to add but my battery is running low and the staff has been requesting someone give a class on Likutei MoharaN (Breslov).

How happy is the nation that is like this.


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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Don't Lose the Psychological Warfare battle to Hamas.

The current Israel-Hamas war is being fought on many battlefields.  Our IDF soldiers are bravely fighting in and around, under and over Gaza by land, sea and air.

There is also another battle going on -- and you readers are all participants.  Its the psychological warfare battle being waged by Hamas and their allies around the globe, against us.

People are posting everywhere a Hamas released photo of an "alleged" kidnapping of an IDF soldier. People see this, decide it's fact, and then get deeper into depression.

Hamas is playing with you.  This is a photo they have posted and is being shared around the web:


Ostensibly. Hamas is "proving" that they have a kidnapped soldier. However...this is psychological warfare.  The exact same photo appears already on 06-05-2013.  There this photo can't possibly have anything to do with the alleged "kidnapping." Here is a source for photo when it was used over a year ago... link.

 Translation:

Hoax about the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier near the city of Umm el-FahmReporter learned site every day, that someone has contacted police Umm al-Fahm in advance tip about the kidnapping of a soldier near a civilian Umm el-Fahm, and so on Wednesday evening.
Our correspondent added: "The police has sent units intense around the city of Umm al-Fahm and explore the plane, but that police recently discovered that a hoax." According to our correspondent, as police are still investigating the case.

Image to illustrate not onlyYou can send materials and articles for the site every day - Umm al-Fahm on e-mail kul-yom@hotmail.com
Information Thread
Hamas has shown repeatedly and throughout the web the following photo as proof of the IDF soldier's kidnapping.


However...soldiers don't carry their National ID card with them into battle. And more so, the Hamas already tried using this exact same photo in 2012.  See the link here, when they tried using it in Operation Pillar of Defense.

Hamas has created a FAKE twitter ID for the soldier and are posting out tweets from it. Don't believe it.

Hamas has created a movie based on photos from the soldier's Facebook page.

NONE of the above are actual facts that point to Hamas actually holding a kidnapped soldier.

Don't fall for it....and we win.

Thanks to our friends at rotter.net for some of the above information.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Muqata -- Israel at War. Live blogging on Facebook and Twitter

During the past month, the Muqata staff has ramped up the live blogging effort from Israel and is live blogging and providing commentary on the ongoing war from Gaza.

Till we start adding the live blogging feed to this blogspot account, you can follow us here:

www.facebook.com/Muqata

www.twitter.com/Muqata

We can be reached by email at muqata@gmail.com

Hoping for quieter days...

Jameel @ The Muqata
In the Rolling Hills of the Shomron.


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Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Kidnapped Jewish Teenagers



I will be posting updates about the search and rescue operation for our teenagers on the the Muqata Facebook page.  I simply do not have energy or time to keep the blog and the FB page updated in sync.





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Sunday, June 08, 2014

The Moral Midgets who Voted Against the "Don't ever free the terrorist" law

A historic law was passed today by Israel's government, allowing it to proceed to the Knesset for ratification.

The law would allow at sentencing for the court to specifically prohibit the release of the terrorist...for life.

No Presidential pardon, no goodwill gestures to Fatah or Hamas in honor of Ramadan, and no pressure from the United States will allow for the terrorist to be released, ever.

The importance of this law is crucial from the perspective of justice, ethics and morality.

Following are the immoral pond scum of the Israeli Government who voted against the law:


Their worldview shoves morality to the wayside, spits in the face of the victims' memories and their families, makes a mockery of the whole notion of justice.

Luckily, this law from MK Ayelet Shaked did receive approval from the vast majority of the Israeli government.  At least someone still has a backbone.


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Thursday, May 01, 2014

Mad Magazine's Soul -- Al Feldstein, has died.


In memory of MAD Magazine's Al Feldstein, z"l

NY Times pays homage to Al Feldstein: 

Millions of young baby boomers looked forward to that day when the new issue of Mad magazine, which Feldstein ran for 28 years, arrived in the mail or on newsstands. Alone in their room, or huddled with friends, they looked for the latest of send-up of the president or of a television commercial. They savored the mystery of the fold-in, where a topical cartoon appeared with a question on top that was answered by collapsing the page and creating a new, and often, hilarious image.  Read his whole obit here.


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Friday, March 14, 2014

A Purim Post: The Waze Conundrum

On a very serious note, Israel's Ministry of Religion has contracted the popular GPS application WAZE to create a special service for WAZE users in Israel -- the ability to find mikvaot in every Israeli city.

Ostensibly, this is a great idea - demonstrating how the religious establishment connects to the community by offering a well-intentioned  high-tech solution for discretely finding the closest mikva to your location.

Here in Israel, Waze isn't only used as a GPS program, but its connected directly to people's Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter feeds -- enabling your friends to see where you are going, and where you have "checked in.".  WAZE actually posts your location to your FaceBook page...and you are bound to even forget its being posted there.

Unfortunately, the following disaster scenarios are a very likely possibility...




And of course, this would propagate via the web on twitter and all the standard social media applications.

Maybe the religious ministry didn't think this through...



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Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Ukraine Drafts Yeshiva Students!

In preparation for a possible war with Russia, Yeshiva students in Kiev have received draft notices from the Ukrainian army.
Meir Pavlovsky (29), a Kiev yeshiva student said he and a number of his friends received draft notices. Pavlovsky said that if drafted, he would move to Israel.  Pavlovsky was first drafted in 2002 for 2 years and then became religiously observant.  "It is impossible to be religious in the Ukrainian army," he said.  "There is no kosher food and you cannot observe halacha. You must be clean shaven daily and work on Shabbat -- the day for cleaning the base.  Whoever tries to draft me -- I will flee to Israel." (translated freely from NRG) and reported in the JewishPress
Coming on the heels of the anti-draft rally 2 days ago, in which signs were seen that Yeshiva students in Israel would flee Israel if forced to be drafted -- what could be more ironic.

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Saturday, March 01, 2014

To Rally or Not, That is the Question

There were two blocks debating each other in many of the settlements this Shabbat, and both sides raised some very valid points.

On one side are the pro-rally settlers who plan to go join in the Haredi anti-draft protest.

Their positions are as follows:

1. Haredim are currently on target for the army's annual draft expectations from the Haredi community. At this growth rate, they'll definitely reach the army's goals in 2017.

So why in the world is the government suddenly introducing criminal sanctions onto the Haredi community, when, despite the difficulties, they're meeting their numbers?

2. If this were about all citizens sharing the burden, why are Lapid and friends ignoring the Arabs?

3. If this were really only about the draft, then why were Lapid and friends going after Hesder, until Bennett cut some sort of deal with him?

4. If we don't stand with the Haredim now, when Lapid and friends go after the settlements (and Hesder), we won't be able to count on the Haredim as allies.

5. If Lapid and friends succeed, in the next elections, they'll be big enough to not need Bennett and the restrictions he's placed on them, and then Hesder, the Settlements and the National-Religious community are really going to really be in trouble. 

The pro-rally groups raises some very important points, that seem to indicate that this bill and the attacks on the Haredi community are more about populism, elections, hurting the Torah and the religious sector as a whole.

On the anti-Rally side, the following arguments were put forth:
1. Everyone should do the army, and its not fair to everyone else that the Haredim aren't doing their share.

2. If the Haredi position was really only about Torah learning and how Torah learning protects the State and they're sharing in the burden by learning - and not based on an anti-Zionist ideology, then they aren't they at least saying the prayers for the State and IDF soldiers in their shuls.

Since they don't, it proves this protest is not about being drafted, but rather not wanting to be a partner in the State of Israel itself and not caring for anyone else outside their community.

3. Lapid won't be able to hurt the Hesder programs and the religious in the army, because we make up 50% of the combat units, so we don't need the Haredim as allies for that.

4. The Dati-Leumi and Settler communities simply can't count on the Haredim to stand by us. They didn't stand with us during Gush Katif, and they only care about their own communities and whoever pays them enough to support their lifestyles. They don't care about anyone else's Torah community besides their own (see Gafni's threats to destroy Hesder and the settlements).

We gain nothing by standing with them, and some people even said, they're getting what they deserve.

 The anti-Rally group also raises some extremely valid points - essentially the isolationist approach of the Haredi community has proven that Haredim are unreliable allies, and incapable of seeing themselves as part of the greater religious and Jewish community in Israel, and acting on that partnership, so why should we act for them, when we think they should be drafted anyway, just like we are.

What do I conclude from all this?
First of all, there's no doubt the Haredi community has shot itself in the foot, and the Dati-Leumi community may very well follow in their footsteps.

Because the Haredim are still beating that dead horse and fighting battles that ended long ago between the Tziyoinim and the Dosim, they've backed themselves into a corner, and have made their natural allies - the Dati-Leumi community, wary, unsympathetic and even angry at them.

The Haredim have taken their isolationist ideology too far and are incapable of participating in the wider community in a healthy manner, which certainly makes it completely impossible to trust them in the political realm - unless you're the one signing the check.

It's about lip service.

If the Haredi community wants to see the Dati-Leumi community standing beside them, then they need to make changes in their lip service - their prayers and statements.

It's not enough to say your learning protects Israel, when you refuse to say a prayer for the Jewish country you live in, or for the Jewish soldiers who die for you. Or when a Haredi soldier comes home, how he's forced to hide his uniform so that his neighbors don't bad mouth him or his family.

That change in lip service would show the Dati-Leumi community that the Haredi community has matured and is prepared to view its fellow Jewish communities as their brothers in Israel.

The Haredim need to openly say they will support Hesder and the Settlements (where Haredi communities live too, by the way), no matter what political pressure or incentives are placed in front of them - it can't be that the only Torah communities and the only Yeshivas that Hareidim care about are their own.

On the other side, the Settlers and Dati-Leumi community needs to realize that Lapid and friends are the enemies of Torah life in Israel and of settlements. The Haredim are easy targets right now, but their recent slip of targeting Hesder proves it won't quietly end with just Haredim.

The fact that Haredi draft goals are being met, and don't require spurious criminal sanctions added onto the bill, indicate that this is a populist and dangerous attack, unconnected to the draft.

It doesn't matter that, right now, we can't count on the Haredim in the political realm. We need to trust that if we do the right thing here, the Haredim will mature and begin start acting as responsible and reliable allies, just as they've been quietly sending more and more young men to the army.

If they don't act properly, the onus is on them - but letting Lapid win and take back all the progress that was made in expanding Haredi draft numbers - just so he'll win more seats in the next election - that onus will be on us.

Both sides, Haredi and Dati-Leumi, have some serious thinking to do about who are real allies are and should be, and how we interact with one another.

I hope the right conclusions are reached before it is too late.

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