Bahrainis visiting Israel in quest for coexistence criticized at home
A Bahraini civil society group is under attack for visiting Israel in a gesture of tolerance, coexistence and an attempt to normalize relations with the Jewish state, The Jerusalem Post has reported.
The Post reported on the visit of a delegation, “This is Bahrain,” comprised of 24 members, who came amid U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement that America would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move her Embassy there.
Bahrainis responded harshly to the delegation visit, prompting the hashtag #Bahrain_resists_normalization, calling the visit “an act of treason” against Palestinians and Bahrainis.
“The initiative by ‘This is Bahrain’ is based on the principle of tolerance and coexistence, an approach embraced by the Kingdom of Bahrain and a feature of its society, and aims to visit Islamic, Christian, Jewish and other holy sites across the world,” the group said.
The delegation’s leader Betsy Mathieson said that half of the group were native Bahrainis while the other half were expatriates who became Bahraini citizens.
“We’re not here to interact with governments or politicians. We’re here to talk about peace and coexistence,” she said during the visit.
IDF faces motivation, manpower slump
Ynet reported that the Israel Defense Forces is dealing with a decline in enlistment in general and in combat units specifically, according to data recently released by the IDF Manpower Directorate (A.K.A.).
Recruits tend to want to serve close to home, avoid risky positions and have shown a preference for tech-oriented units. The trend shows that fewer soldiers are opting for classic infantry units and others such as engineering and field intelligence.
“The figures point, however, to the fact that the concept of ‘an army of the people’ is fading away to make way for a professional army,” Ynet said.
In 2011, the desire to serve in combat roles reached 79 percent but during this year’s draft the rate was 67 percent.
“The desire to enlist is on the decline, partly due to the relative quiet—despite the fact that war can break out at any moment,” said a senior Aka officer.
The Committee for the Army of the People will consider ways to make efficient use of the army’s manpower including shortening length of service. On a positive note, demographic changes in the population will account for an uptick in the number of enlistees beginning in 2020.
The ultra orthodox who leave it all behind to serve in the IDF
The Jerusalem Post ran an article featuring the trials of ultra-Orthodox soldiers who defy their community’s expectations and serve in the military.
In the past few weeks, Haredi Jews have been out in force protesting Israel’s mandatory military draft. In light of this, the Jerusalem Post focused on the plight of the nearly 3,000 haredi “lone soldiers” who chose to serve in the IDF anyway.
“Leaving the community is hard. It’s a drastic step. All your life you’re in black and white,” Shmuel Kaltian told The Jerusalem Post, referring to the typical attire of the Haredim.
Kaltian lost contact with his family as a result. He became a combat medic and was the recipient of an IDF award for excellence.
“Acclimatizing to the secular world was particularly difficult. We didn’t study the compulsory topics in the haredi world and I lacked necessary academic qualifications,” Kaltian said.
Some organizations help haredi lone soldiers during and after their military service.
“First of all, we need to explain to them what the army is,” Tziki Aud, senior advisor at the Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin, told The Jerusalem Post. “They do not come from families where their siblings or parents have been to the army, so they arrive without any prior knowledge.”
Taylor Force Act passes US congress
The Taylor Force Act, named after the U.S. West Point graduate who was killed in a terror attack in Tel Aviv in 2016, unanimously passed the Congress last week.
The bill would restrict financial aid that directly benefits the Palestinian Authority until it ends payouts to Palestinian terrorists.
“This perverse pay-to-slay system uses a sliding scale: the longer the jail sentence, the greater the reward,” said, Rep. Ed Royce, the House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman. “The highest payments go to those serving life sentences—to those who prove most brutal.”
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a separate version of the Taylor Force bill in early August.