Israel News for August 31, 2015

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Trouble for Top Cop Nominee
The appointment of Brig. Gen. (Res.) Gal Hirsch as the new chief of the Israel National Police is facing further delays. Allegations against him surfaced on Friday accusing him of illegal business activities. The tenure of acting police commissioner Bentzi Sau was extended for 45 days to allow the Attorney General to conduct an inquiry into Hirsch’s appointment.

Background
Hirsch’s nomination by Erdan met strong opposition from senior police brass who were not too pleased by an external nomination, especially someone who was essentially rejected by the IDF. Families of fallen soldiers from the 2006 Lebanon war also strongly protested his nomination, as they (and Maj. Gen. Almog ) hold him directly responsible as the commander of the Galilee Division to prevent the Goldwasser and Regev kidnapping, which sparked the war.

The Israeli police and the FBI are reportedly investigating allegations against Hirsch for money laundering related to arms deals made by his company Defensive Shield Holdings. But apparently there is no evidence that directly ties Hirsch to these allegations.

Hirsch strongly denies doing anything illegal. His attorney has questioned the motives of the police for bringing all this to light only now that Hirsch has been nominated. Senior police officials aren’t pleased to say the least. Not exactly the ideal way to gain the loyalty of the people you’re going to lead.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein will investigate whether there are any significant legal issues with Hirsch’s appointment and present his opinion to the Government prior to a vote on Hirsch’s appointment. He will look into whether the nomination process was legal and whether Hirsch engaged in illegal conduct, both during his IDF service and in his business dealings.

Upshot
Weinstein is not expected to reject the nomination, but Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan is checking out alternative candidates, just in case. PM Netanyqhu fully supports Hirsch’s appointment.

Soldiers, Women and Teachers
On Friday Palestinian and foreign activists staged a violent demonstration near the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh during which protesters threw rocks at IDF soldiers. One of the soldiers chased down one of the attackers, who turned out to be a twelve year old boy, and restrained him.

Suddenly, the soldier was surrounded by several Palestinian women who started attacking him to get him to release the boy. The soldier refrained from hitting or pushing the women away. The press photographers and camera men who just happened to be on the scene (coincidence?) recorded the incident and hailed it as a victory for the Palestinian women. Other soldiers finally moved the women away and the unit commander decided to release the boy to avoid further violence.

Reactions
The Palestinians claim that the boy never threw any stones and was unjustly assaulted by the soldier.

The IDF claims that the boy was recorded throwing rocks in an observation video, but that they didn’t realize that he was a minor.

The soldier’s father told Army Radio that he’s proud of his son’s restraint in a volatile situation which could have escalated into a very unpleasant affair had one of the women gotten injured.

The mayor of Ramat Gan, Israel Singer, called for the dismissal of a Ramat Gan high school teacher who was identified in the video of the assault on the soldier. It seems that the teacher, Hertzl Schubert, attended the demonstration as a member of an extreme left wing anti-zioniist Israeli organization called Matzpen. The fact that he even indirectly participated in an assault on an Israeli soldier makes him, according to Singer, who is also the head of the local board of education, unfit to teach Israeli students who will one day serve in the IDF. Many parents of Schubert’s students agree.

A bunch of parents of Schubert’s students don’t really care about his political views and claim that he’s an excellent teacher and should not be fired.

The mother of the twelve year old boy will hopefully keep her son out of any more trouble, and the boy will hopefully have learned his lesson and not throw rocks at Israeli soldiers anymore. Or maybe not.

Turks Coming to Israel
For the first time since relations between Israel and Turkey were put on ice in 2010, after the fight between Israeli soldiers and activists on a Gaza bound Turkish registered ship, a Turkish diplomatic delegation will be visiting Israel.

The purpose of the visit is to discuss the establishment of an industrial zone near the Palestinian town of Jenin in the West Bank. Turkey is planning to invest $100 million in the project including the possible transfer of some car manufacturing currently done in Turkey to the new zone (Turkey currently manufactures about 1 million cars per year). Everything produced there will be exempt from US tariffs.

As a further sign of diplomatic thaw, last week Israel began exporting defense related products to Turkey.

So while Turkey will be fighting ISIS with Israeli weapons, Israelis might soon be driving cars made in Jenin.

Turkish Israeli relations are warming up again. Click To Tweet

UN in Israel
A United Nations conference on the protection of endangered species kicked off in Tel Aviv yesterday. This was the first time an official UN conference of this size was held in Israel that is totally unrelated to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Over 200 delegates from 57 countries are attending the four day conference, some of them from countries that don’t have formal diplomatic relations with Israel or that support the BDS movement. That’s a huge testament to the amazing work Israel is doing in environmental preservation, which the international community cannot ignore regardless of their political biases. It’s a start.

Electricians for Boycott
The US United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers union has voted in favor of a resolution at their national convention last week to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. The 37,000 member strong union is the first US union to endorse BDS.

The resolution accuses Israel of a “long history of violating the human rights of the Palestinians, starting with the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians in 1947-48 that turned most of Palestine into the State of Israel.”

The resolution also calls for cutting off U.S. aid to Israel as well as U.S. support for a peace settlement on the basis of self-determination for Palestinians and the right of return.

It endorses the worldwide BDS movement in order to “pressure Israel to end its apartheid over the Palestinians just as similar tactics helped to end South African apartheid in the 1980s.”

The Union also voted in favor of the Iran nuclear deal.

Remember this next time you need to hire an electrician.

Israeli Football
The Israeli American Football team beat Spain 28 – 20 in their first international win to advance their bid to qualify for the International Federation of American Football’s B-Group International Tournament in 2016.

Background
Yes, Israel has a national football team. No, not soccer. Real, good old, American football. The team was formed in 2012 and consists of players from the Israeli Football League (IFL), which is sponsored by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and family. The IFL teams play with only eight players per team on the field, which is only 60 yards long. They had to make the change to 11 men and 100 yards for the international tournament.
So far, so good.

Rebbe Nachmun vs. ISIS
A 37 year old British citizen fighting with Kurdish forces against ISIS in Syria does something unusual each time his unit conquers an ISIS occupied building. He spray paints “Na Nach Nachman M’Uman” in Hebrew on the walls. The phrase is the mantra of the Breslov Chassidic sect whose founder Rebbe Nachman is buried in the Ukrainian town of Uman.

The man’s name is Timothy Paul Jacobs-Woodworth and he’s the grandson of a Holocaust survivor who converted to Christianity after the war. He plans on making Aliyah next year. Meanwhile, he continues fighting ISIS and spreading the light of Rebbe Nachman on the walls of liberated buildings throughout northern Syria.