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Connect the Dots: IDF vs. Rabbis, Silencing the 99%

Sometimes the biggest news isn’t found in a hot new scoop, but in a recapitulation of a string of things you knew about but hadn’t put together already—or in little details that flesh out a trend you’d heard about, showing you how fast it’s building up.

An example of the first: Former labor secretary Robert Reich’s Christian Science Monitor blogpost last Tuesday about the ways in which the wealthy have gained and used their access to public discourse in order to change the rules of the game and further enrich themselves —

Yet when real people without money assemble to express their dissatisfaction with all this, they’re told the First Amendment doesn’t apply. Instead, they’re treated as public nuisances – clubbed, pepper-sprayed, thrown out of public parks and evicted from public spaces.

An example of the second: Haaretz military reporter Amos Harel’s news analysis the Friday before last about the growing culture war within the Israeli military between the secular values of the senior command and the increasing numbers of increasingly devout Orthodox soldiers and officers. You’ve heard about the tensions. Here are some of the details:

One incident you may have heard about: a declaration call by a leading settler rabbi, Chief Rabbi of Samaria Elyakim Levanon, that Orthodox soldiers must “face a firing squad if necessary” rather than listen to women singing. An incident you probably haven’t heard about: a talk on the anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination by Rabbi Eli Sadan, dean of one of the most respected pre-military academies, telling his students that Rabin was a coward who left no legacy.

On the other side, an open letter in early November by 19 retired major generals—the top rank below chief of staff, meaning ex-heads of the navy, air force, intelligence and the regional commands—calling on defense minister Ehud Barak to halt the erosion of women’s rights and equality within the military.

In the same vein, here is a fascinating news analysis by Haaretz diplomatic columnist Akiva Eldar ticking off a list of international developments—the paralysis in Washington, the looming 2012 presidential election, the euro crisis—that effectively eliminate any pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu to offer concessions to the Palestinians, leaving him essentially free to maintain the status quo. Eldar doesn’t like the situation. I’ve heard the same argument from people who think it’s a good thing for Israel. Either way, the facts add up.

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