While foreign governments may recognize only Tel Aviv as the capital city of Israel, Jerusalem, political arguments aside, is the uncontested stolen car capital of Israel.
In 2006, more cars were stolen from Jerusalem (4,539) than from any other city in Israel, according to an article published on Ynet today. Surprisingly, Tel Aviv came in second place, with 3,891 thefts. All in all, some 20,000 cars were stolen in Israel last year; an astounding 7% of all cars in the country!
What are people stealing? The top three contenders:
- Subaru: 5,208
- Mitsubishi: 2,449
- Mazda: 2,379
I’ll spare you the color commentary. I can rant to you in person, if you so request.
Amir Peretz, in perhaps one of his final significant meetings as Defense Minister before either Ami Ayalon or Ehud Barak take over the Labor Party, has officially placed a moratorium on General Elazar Stern’s plans (previously discussed here) to prevent Hesder students from joining Golani and the Paratroops in the upcoming August draft.
It appears–assuming that the chain of command places the Defense Minister over the Chief of Staff–that the ultimate arrangements for the August draft will be to the satisfaction of the Hesder students.
IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi has responded to the petition sent to him by Hesder students angered by a policy change which would prevent them from serving in the Golani brigade or Paratroops in homogeneous Hesder platoons.
It appears that the petition did the Hesderniks more harm than good. Under the previous proposal, the students would at least have the option to serve in Golani and Paratroops, albeit in mixed platoons. Ashkenazi took this one step further and decreed that this latter option would be unavailable as well and that Hesder students would under no circumstances be allowed to serve in Golani and Paratroops, not even in mixed platoons. According to Ashkenazi, the decision emanates from the popularity of the two latter brigades, the recent exponential growth of Hesder programs, and the army’s logistical need to fill the ranks of less popular units.
It’s been about 36 hours since the interim report of the Winograd Committee was released. Former Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, who wisely stepped down a while ago, has been gallivanting around the United States, instead of perhaps apologizing to grieving parents who unnecessarily lost their sons because of his unwillingness to admit that his army was not ready for war. Defense minister Amir Peretz, a former labor kingpin who has about as much military experience as I do, is finally rumored as mulling resignation, despite his many assertions to the contrary over the past few days. Peretz’s behavior is emblematic of what is wrong with the entire current administration: putting personal interests ahead of those of the entire nation, not to mention one’s political party.
Many commentators (and citizens with common sense) have been uncomfortable, from Peretz’s initial appointment as defense minister, with the idea that someone completely unfamiliar with the defense establishment is suddenly at its helm. Peretz wanted to be the minister of the treasury–a position now in limbo because of the audacious indiscretions of its former occupant, and ongoing criminal investigations surrounding Olmert, who assigned the position to himself. Olmert’s price for becoming Prime Minister was to recklessly relegate Shaul Mofaz, the reigning defense minister and former Chief of Staff, to minister of transportation, and promote Amir Peretz to the coveted post of defense minister. Olmert should have never made this appointment. By the same token, Amir Peretz should have declined based on his lack of experience, given the volatility of the region and the sensitivity of the post. By accepting the post of defense minister, Peretz, who was known as a champion of Palestinian rights, ended up presiding over numerous incidents in which innocent Palestinian blood was shed. Hardly the dove Peretz’s constituents hoped for when the latter overtook the ever-defeatable Shimon Peres in the 2005 Labor primaries. Alienating your constituents is one thing. But Amir Peretz’s refusal to acknowledge that he was in way over his head no doubt caused unnecessary casualties and heartbreak.
Last but not least, Ehud Olmert. He looked exhausted yesterday at the appointment of the new chief of police, and the feeling is mutual. The country is tired of Ehud Olmert, who ever since the Second Lebanon War has been fighting a daily battle to remain in office. Some 75% of Israelis recently polled want him to tender his resignation immediately. The sad truth for Olmert is that his resignation or ousting in a no-confidence vote spell the end of his political career. All indications are that Olmert will be defeated handily in the Kadima primaries by Tzippy Livni, who will confront the prime minister with an ultimatum this afternoon: either you resign or I do. The implication of Livni’s resignation is likely a wholesale mutiny in Kadima.
This country deserves better. I can’t wait to cover the new elections.
UPDATE: Please see reader/cousin Yaacov’s important clarifications in the comments.
A Hesder Yeshiva sandwiches a shortened army service between two two-year periods of study. Until now, hesder students who qualified for combat service served in any of the infantry brigades of the IDF (e.g., Golani, Nahal, Givati, Kfir), with the final placement determined by some sort of rough rotation. Those who elected for a greater challenge were given the opportunity to try out for the Paratroops. And a handful of students (though I never met one in person) completed the so-called Hesder-Sayeret program, which combines extended service in one of the IDF’s elite reconnaissance with yeshiva study.
That’s all about to change. An e-mail was apparently sent out to students with an August 2007 draft date informing them that Golani will no longer be included in the infantry rotation, that they will be unable to serve in the Paratroops, and that the Hesder-Sayeret program has been terminated.
More information to follow.
But here’s an unrelated, and heartwarming, army story brought to you by NRG (Maariv):
Pictured above are 20 year-old twins Shuey and Aharon Osbourne, who serve together in Nahal Haredi (Netzah Yehuda, if you will). It appears that they are from London and decided to serve after beginning their university studies in business management. Kol haKavod, and stay safe!
In a previous post, we noted that Israelis spend more time on the Internet than almost anyone else in the world. What are they doing online?
According to Symantec‘s most recent Internet Security Threat Report,
Israel was the most highly ranked country for malicious activity per Internet user. If one person from each of the top 25 countries were to represent their country’s Internet-connected population, the average Internet user in Israel would carry out nine percent of the group’s malicious activity. (Source)
Is this another manifestation of notorious Israeli road rage, albeit on the information superhighway?
Israel’s Channel 2 has an excellent expose`/TV news-magazine program called ‘Fact‘ (עובדה/Uvda). This week featured a particularly unsettling segment on the frivolous use of Israeli Air Force helicopters by IDF generals and senior government officials for personal trips (including spouses) and distances easily traversed by car. IDF rules allow for the use of helicopters for officers from the rank of (Major) General (swords and one falafel for those keeping track) and above for flights which would take longer than 20 minutes. But the coordinators who receive the orders for these flights and the pilots who carry them out felt that they needed to expose to the public the fact that their services are continuously exploited at the expense of Israel’s taxpayers and national security.
The video is in Hebrew only (some portions have Hebrew subtitles) and as with (too) many Israeli websites, can be viewed only in Internet Explorer.
I put “Major” in parentheses because this specific rank in Hebrew is called Aluf (אלוף = General), whereas one rank higher, the rank possessed only by the Chief of Staff is called Rav Aluf (רב אלוף = Major General). I’m not sure why the IDF’s English translation of these ranks is not faithful to the Hebrew.