It’s been an incredibly busy news day in Israel and it’s unclear what is even the most important news. So I guess I will start with the latest news. Two more sets of rockets were fired on Southern Israel tonight. Iron Dome intercepted those missiles that might have landed on populated areas. Yesterday we were not so lucky. A missile hit a factory in Sderot. A secondary explosion destroyed much of the factory. Luckily, no one was seriously hurt. It seems the rockets are being fired by all the secondary organizations in Gaza, and not by the Hamas, or even the Islamic Jihad. As long as Iron Dome continues to intercept rockets, and there are no casualties, this can go on for a while. If, however, one of the missiles causes serious casualties on our side, the daily tit-for-tat volleys now taking place in the evenings, (after the day long Ramadan fast) may escalate.
Tonight there was very large rally in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on behalf of the kidnapped students. My best guess is that there were 20,000 people in attendance – maybe even a little more. While the organizers touted the rally as a unifying rally, where secular and religious, settlers and leftists, could come together, hear some music and reflect – the gathered crowd was overwhelmingly people affiliated with the National Religious. Of course there were large numbers of non-religious people in attendance. Though they were clearly a minority. The organizers talked about us being one nation, not really sure how much that is so. However, as long as there is some hope, regardless of how slim, that the boys may be found alive, we all need to work together towards achieving that end. Sadly, as the time goes on, that hope is getting increasingly more slim. I am happy to say that the President-Elect Ruby Rivin spoke briefly about how we have to end all of the killing going on around us, in Syria, Iraq, Sudan and more. I thought that that was an important point to make, but I doubt very many people were listening.
Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke tonight at a seminar for National Security. The bulk of his remarks were directed at the need – especially now that we see what is happening in the rest of the Middle East – to make sure the Jordan River remains our security border. He stated that radical Islam will fail in the long run, but we must be very vigilant in the short term. In that I agree. Stalinism, Maoism and Nazism all failed in the long run, but killed millions along the way. Netanyahu also made headlines by calling for the establishment of an independent Kurdish State. This was the first time an Israeli leader has publically called for this outcome.
There were two developments today in the ongoing tension between Religion and State. In the first, with the most important long-term impact, the Supreme Court stated that the Rabbinic courts could not order anyone to have their child undergo circumcision. The case came up a few months ago, when in the midst of a divorce case, it was revealed that the couple’s baby boy had not been circumcised. The court ordered the mother to do so, or face daily fines. The High Court ruled that the rabbinic courts had exceeded their authority regarding this matter. I think they exceed their moral authority every time they meet, but that’s another matter.
Finally, the Interior Minister used a power I did not know he had to strike down a law passed by the Tel Aviv City Council, officially allowing convenience stores to stay open over Shabbat – something that has been happening de facto for years. I do not shop on Shabbat, but I do shop until a minute before Shabbat. Furthermore, I know many of my fellow Tel Aviv residents who appreciate the convenience of being able to buy some essentials on Shabbat. I have no doubt that Likud Minister Gideon Saar (who considers himself a potential successor of Netanyahu) made this move in an attempt to gain favor with the religious. However, he is doing so against the expressed will of the people of Tel Aviv who voted through their elected representatives to allow the stores to be open.