Struggling Over Israels Soul: An IDF General Speaks of His Controversial Moral Decisions

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By contrast, the new Mizrahi arrivals tended to be large families from traditional societies. In their ethnic garb, often with no knowledge of Hebrew, they struck the native-born Israeli sabras and the European Ashkenazim as provincial and uneducated. The socioeconomic gap between Ashkenazim and Mizrahim has since narrowed, spurred by a rise in interethnic marriage about a third of Jewish Israeli children born today are ethnically mixed.

Mizrahim earn roughly 25 percent less per capita than Ashkenazim, according to Momi Dahan, a professor of public policy at Hebrew University. Social and cultural tensions still percolate. To her, the public discourse in Israel is rife with ethnically charged condescension. In other words, people like her.

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We were in the back seat of her ministerial car, driving north on the Yitzhak Rabin Highway to attend a ceremony in her honor. It was a scorching day, and she had kicked off her stilettos and wedged her bare feet between passenger seat and window. You tell yourself, I have to look pretty and be nice and wear my high heels? No way. I was there to tell them what I thought of them. Now you listen. It is a testament to the hopelessness of peace efforts today that the most-talked-about politician in Israel is its culture minister, traditionally a marginalized figure overseeing a relatively minuscule budget.

But with the peace process effectively frozen, Israelis have increasingly turned their sights inward. These days, there is much talk of homegrown enemies. The group, which had its start on university campuses, then began a campaign to call out prominent left-wing authors — Amos Oz, David Grossman, A.

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Netanyahu has tried to distance himself from many of the more flagrant displays of such McCarthyism. And yet similar measures are routinely promulgated on the Knesset floor. The law is widely seen as targeting the left because it affects most human rights organizations in the country, which typically receive money from foreign governments, but not most pro-settler groups, whose funding comes largely from private donors. The politicians peddling those bills represent a new vanguard of far-right activism.

Regev is often placed in the maximalist camp. But unlike other politicians in the maximalist camp, for whom the territorial question remains central, Regev has decided to set her sights elsewhere. To do so, she has issued new criteria for the allocation of state funds for cultural institutions.

She has amassed considerable political clout but views herself as a perpetual underdog. She rails against Ashkenazi and leftist elites yet is married to an Ashkenazi man who used to vote left. Preferably her. But by the latest Likud primary, at the end of , she had clinched a top-five position, the highest for a woman in the party. Forbes Israel named her the most influential woman in the country. Given her impressive finish, it was clear that she would get a ministerial position.

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She wanted the welfare ministry and says she prayed for it at the Western Wall before meeting with Netanyahu to learn of her assignment. When she went by his office before the swearing-in of the new government, she says, he promised her the job. But a few hours later he called her at home and rescinded the offer, having given the welfare portfolio to another Likud politician. It took her a few days to realize that this was her chance to break out. And the peripheria. To not be afraid.

Her timing was fortuitous. Whether out of a genuine sense of purpose or as a way to score political points, Regev has managed to tap into these age-old antagonisms. She has threatened to divert state funding away from places like the Israeli Opera and the canonical theaters of Tel Aviv and prioritize smaller operations working out of underprivileged areas, including the peripheria , which is overwhelmingly Mizrahi.

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At times, she seems to exert more influence than Netanyahu, who has recently been dogged by scandals, including charges that he received illegal contributions from foreign donors and that his wife pocketed thousands of shekels from recycling fees. In the media, Regev is often portrayed as an unwitting crusader for a cause more sophisticated than she is. She is a recurring character in a popular satirical Israeli show, in which a male actor plays her as a primitive loudmouth. In the fact that every Friday she posts pictures of herself making pots of spicy fish. That she lights candles with a head scarf on, and kisses mezuzas, and talks about the Temple Mount and about tradition.

And is right wing! Really right wing. This combination releases all the possible stereotypes. For Mizrahi activists like Cahlili, Regev is an unequivocal good. We were in Kiryat Gat, less than 20 miles from the Gaza border. She pointed to where the housing project she grew up in once stood; it was demolished last year. My grandmother had the bottom bed. From her old neighborhood, we drove to the wealthier part of town, where her husband, Dror, was raised and where his parents still live.

Dror is an engineer in the aerospace industry. But everything was O.

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It was all in my head. And at his house things were different.

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She was dressed for an event that evening: high heels and a short black dress that flattered her recently slimmed-down figure. In her hometown, Miri Regev is better known as Miriam Siboni, her maiden name. Her mother, Mercedes, immigrated from Spain as a teenager in and still watches Spanish entertainment news every afternoon.

Her father, Felix, who is from Morocco, worked for years as a welder; he lost two fingers in a work accident. They brought up Miri and her three younger brothers in a household that was neither secular nor religious but masorti — traditional. This is commonplace for Mizrahim in Israel: an adherence to certain Jewish commandments but not to all.

It may mean keeping kosher and saying the Kiddush, but turning on the television after the Shabbat meal. Or walking to synagogue on Friday and refraining from lighting the gas, but still driving to meet friends on a Friday night. That afternoon we sat in the snug, well-lit living room of the Sibonis. Regev had swapped her heels for a pair of worn flip-flops and piled up her hair with a clip. The news was on in the background. I asked her parents about politics. As far as I knew, Regev had never before spoken about growing up in a Laborite home.

In , after retiring from the military, she considered her options. Realizing she stood a better chance of being elected under Likud, which was riding high in the polls, Regev scheduled a meeting with Netanyahu. Regev acknowledges meeting with Barak. Despite her military bona fides, she barely managed to get on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Violent incidents mushroomed into all-out war During that fateful April of , eight out of thirteen major Zionist military attacks on Palestinians occurred in the territory granted to the Arab state.

In contrast, the Palestine Arabs did not seize any of the territories reserved for the Jewish state under the partition resolution. Arabs began to flee in terror The Israelis now allege that the Palestine war began with the entry of the Arab armies into Palestine after 15 May The ruthlessness of the attack on Deir Yassin shocked Jewish and world opinion alike, drove fear and panic into the Arab population, and led to the flight of unarmed civilians from their homes all over the country. Fighting continued, almost all of it within the territory assigned to the Palestinian state About , Palestinians fled or were expelled in the conflict.

They were ordered to secure only the sections of Palestine given to the Arabs under the partition plan. But these regular armies were ill equipped and lacked any central command to coordinate their efforts In reality, the Israeli offensive against the Palestinians intensified. The Zionist enterprise so far There were literally hundreds of such statements made by Zionists.

Publicly they all continued to speak of coexistence and to attribute the violence to a small minority of zealots and agitators. But this was merely a public pose.. I support compulsory transfer. He hoped to see them flee.

He said as much to his colleagues and aides in meetings in August, September and October []. Official circles implicitly concede that the Arab population fled as a result of Israeli action — whether directly, as in the case of Lydda and Ramleh, or indirectly, due to the panic that and similar actions the Deir Yassin massacre inspired in Arab population centers throughout Palestine. However, even though the historical record has been grudgingly set straight, the Israeli establishment still refused to accept moral or political responsibility for the refugee problem it — or its predecessors — actively created.

The records, and companion ones by a United States monitoring unit, can be seen at the British Museum. There was not a single order or appeal, or suggestion about evacuation from Palestine, from any Arab radio station, inside or outside Palestine, in There is a repeated monitored record of Arab appeals, even flat orders, to the civilians of Palestine to stay put. The village was destroyed that night Khulda was leveled by Jewish bulldozers on 20 April Abu Zureiq was completely demolished Al Mansi and An Naghnaghiya, to the southeast, were also leveled.

By mid, the majority of [the depopulated Arab villages] were either completely or partly in ruins and uninhabitable. It has been repassed no less than twenty-eight times since that first date.