Israel News for December 2, 2016

Trump Appoints General
President elect Trump has announced that he will nominate 66 year old retired Marine General James Mattis as Secretary of Defense. Mattis, nicknamed Mad Dog, retired as chief of U.S. Central Command in 2013 after service over 40 years in the Marine Corps.

Even though Central Command does not encompass Israel, Mattis made a point of visiting Israel on many occasions to discuss military matters.

However, Mattis has made statements in favor of a two-state solution, calling the alternative “apartheid”. He also indicated that US support for Israel has hurt it in dealings with the Arab world and made military operations in the Middle East more complicated.

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), a Right leaning organization, has called Mattis’s remarks, “hostile to Israel, and revealed a lack of appreciation for and understanding of the extraordinary value to American security resulting from a strong American-Israeli alliance and a secure Israel.”

While Mattis has taken a tough stance against Iran, which he has called the biggest threat to stability and peace in the Middle East, he has also said that “absent a clear and present violation,” he did not see how the US could back out of the Iran deal, since reinstating sanctions would not have the intended effect if the other signatories to the agreement would not reimpose their sanctions. While Trump has promised to scrap the Iran deal, it’s unclear whether he will actually do that as president.

Mattis will require a special waiver from Congress to be able to serve as Secretary of Defense, since the current law states that the office must be held by a civilian who has not been in uniform for at least 7 years prior to taking the job. Mattis retired from service just under 4 years ago.

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Lieberman in NY
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman addressed a group of UN ambassadors hosted by Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon. The ambassadors were from Canada, Russia, India, Italy, Senegal, Singapore, Rwanda, Greece, Cyprus, Holland, Bulgaria and Argentina. The DM briefed the ambassadors on the security threats in the Middle East and warned that the UN and other international agencies have no real power to stop them. Instead, they spend their time passing anti Israel resolutions. He said, “All this proves that the United Nations, including the Security Council, do not perform their duties and are not relevant to the rest of the world.”

Ambassador Danon explained the purpose of the meeting saying, “We are strengthening our ties and cooperation with many countries and there is a clear understanding among our allies that Israel is an island of stability in a turbulent Middle East.”

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Rabbi Takes Post
Brig. Gen. Rabbi Eyal Karim officially took his position as Chief Rabbi of the IDF last night at a ceremony attended by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot.

Eisenkot remarked, “The appointment of chief rabbi of the IDF is an extremely significant event in the army. Unfortunately, the ceremony took place a week late. I was convinced months ago that we are choosing Rabbi Eyal Karim for the job. He is the most fitting and appropriate choice for command and rabbinic authority in the IDF. I had no doubts.”

Eisenkot was referring to the controversy that surrounded Karim’s appointment as a result of statements the rabbi made that were understood by some as being anti-women and anti-gay. The Supreme Court even got involved by ordering Karim to clarify his statements, which he did.

Rabbi Karim spoke at the ceremony saying, “The military rabbinate needs to be a force for unity. We will only have one army, an army of the people, that all soldiers can find their place in. The military rabbinate, by its very nature, is firmly rooted in Jewish law, values, morals and thought.”

One controversial issue that the new IDF Chief Rabbi will have to face is the proposal by the IDF to assign women to serve in tanks alongside men. The proposal has already garnered harsh reactions from senior rabbinic figures including the Chief Rabbis of Israel.

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More Rain
Heavy rains, with strong winds, are expected to continue throughout Israel over the weekend. The first snowfall hit the Hermon this morning dropping close to 8 inches of snow. Snow is expected to continue throughout the day. Good news for the Mount Hermon Ski Resort.

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