July 20, 2009 Reflections on a Month in Israel

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

July 23, 2009 Two Court Cases, Chetz Test Fails

The news in Israel was dominated today by two court cases. Though unrelated, both cases highlight some of the fissures between the religious world and the State. In the first case, the Supreme Court overturned the decision of a Jerusalem judge to find a religious student, accused of running over an Ethiopian check out clerk after the two became embroiled in a dispute, not guilty. The Jerusalem judge ruled that the perpetrator had apologized for his actions and the judge did not want to do anything that would jeopardize the perpetrator's chances of becoming a Rabbinic judge. The Supreme Court was harsh in its criticism of the Jerusalem judge.

In a second case, one that received a great deal of publicity in Israel, a Haredi (very religious) women was accused by the police of starving her three year old child. There had been information leaked suggesting the accused women suffers from Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. Today, after a long delay the woman was examined by a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist stated the woman did not suffer from the disease and was fully capable of standing trial. There is some evidence that within the Charedi community som women at their wits end, raising large broods of children, make their children sick hoping to gain the reprieve that having a sick child provides.

A test of the newest version of the Chetz was aborted today in California. The test, conducted with the US Air Force, was designed to check the integration of latest radar systems with the latest version of Israel’s anti-missile missile. The Israeli radar successfully tracked the attacking missile, and was able to distinguish that missile from the parts of the engine that it separated from. At that point, for an unknown reason, the automatic launch systems failed to designate a launch, and the on had commanders decided not to manually launch the Hetz. It should be noted the test was conducted on a system in development, and not the one currently deployed, but like all failed tests, this will set back the development and deployment of the new system.

Prime Minister Netanyahu suffered a political setback yesterday, when he was forced to call off the vote on one of his signature legislative initiatives, as it became clear (in the midst of the vote) that he did not have the votes to pass the land reform legislation. Both the labor party and the HaBayit Hayedi abandoned Netanyahu when the vote came. Netanyahu has called for a revote next week and has threatened any minister that if he or she does not vote in favor of the law, he will look upon it as if that minister had resigned. Netanyahu is also trying to pass a law that would make it easier for Shaul Mofaz to leave Kadima and form a new party. That law has drawn criticism from one of the leading Likud ministers who has opposed similar bills in the past. The criticism being, you do not change founding laws (the equivalent of the Israeli constitution) for political expediency.

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