Moshe Ya'alon

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Moshe Ya'alon
Moshe Ya'alon.jpg
Nickname(s) Bogie
Born (1950-06-24) 24 June 1950 (age 64)
Kiryat Haim
Allegiance Israel Defense Forces
Years of service 1968 – 2005
Rank IDF rav aluf rotated.svg Chief of General Staff
Commands held Sayeret Matkal, Paratroopers Brigade, West Bank Division, AMAN, Central Command, General Staff
Battles/wars
Awards Legion of Merit
Other work Shalem Center, Likud

Moshe "Bogie" Ya'alon (Hebrew: משה יעלון‎; born Moshe Smilansky on 24 June 1950) is an Israeli politician and former Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces. He currently serves as Defense Minister.

Early life[edit]

Ya'alon was born Moshe Smilansky, the son of David Smilansky and Batya Silber. His father, a factory worker, had moved to Mandatory Palestine with his parents from Ukraine in 1925, and was a veteran of the Haganah and Jewish Brigade. His mother was a Holocaust survivor who had fought against the Nazis with partisans during World War II. She came to Palestine in 1946.[1] Ya'alon grew up in Kiryat Haim, a working-class suburb of Haifa. He was active in the Labor Zionist youth movement "HaNoar HaOved VeHaLomed" and joined a Nahal group named Ya'alon, a name he later adopted.[2] He later moved to kibbutz Grofit, in the Arabah region near Eilat. In 1968, he was conscripted into the Israel Defense Forces, and served in the Nahal Brigade. He was discharged in 1971.

Military career[edit]

In 1973, Ya'alon was called up as a reservist during the Yom Kippur War. On October 15, 1973, his unit became the first IDF unit to cross the Suez Canal into Egypt. He continued fighting as part of the Israeli drive into the Egyptian mainland, and participated in the encirclement of the Egyptian Third Army. Following the war, he rejoined the IDF as a career soldier, and completed an officers' course. He was appointed a platoon commander, and then as a commander in officers' school. In 1978, he became a commander in the Paratroopers Brigade.[1]

During the 1982 Lebanon War, Ya'alon joined the Sayeret Matkal commando unit as a commander. He then rejoined the Paratroopers Brigade and was appointed commander of its 890th Battalion. During this time, he was wounded in the leg while leading a pursuit of Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon.[1]

Ya'alon took a sabbatical to the United Kingdom to study at the British Army's Camberley Staff College. Upon his return to Israel, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel and appointed commander of Sayeret Matkal. Ya'alon lead it to many notable achievements, for which the unit received four recommendations of honor. After his tenure as commander was finished, Ya'alon studied at the University of Haifa, obtaining a BA in Political Science, and took an Armored Corps course. In 1990, Ya'alon was appointed commander of the Paratroopers Brigade,[3] and two years later, became commander of the Judea and Samaria Division. On 10 December 1992, Ya'alon killed a militant from the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine with a hand grenade after the militant had shot dead a Yamam operative attempting to arrest him.[4] In 1993, he was appointed commander of an IDF training base, and commander of an armored division. In 1995, Ya'alon was promoted to Major General and appointed head of Military Intelligence. In 1998, he was appointed commanding officer of Israel's Central Command. He was serving in this position when the Second Intifada was launched in September 2000.

Ya'alon was appointed Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on 9 July 2002, and served in that position until 1 June 2005. The major focus throughout his tenure as Chief of Staff was the army's effort to quell the Second Intifada. Under his watch, the IDF conducted Operation Defensive Shield.

In February 2005, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz decided not to prolong Ya'alon's service as Chief of Staff for another year. This marked the climax of tensions between Mofaz and Ya'alon, which had arisen partly through Ya'alon's objection to the Gaza disengagement plan. On 1 June 2005, Ya'alon retired from the army, and Dan Halutz, his successor as Chief of Staff, oversaw the disengagement.

In December 2005, relatives of the victims of the 1996 shelling of Qana filed a suit against Ya'alon in Washington, D.C., for his alleged role in their deaths.[5] In late 2006, while Ya'alon was in New Zealand on a private fund-raising trip for the Jewish National Fund, Auckland District Court judge Avinash Deobhakta issued a warrant for his arrest for alleged war crimes arising from his role in the 2002 assassination of Hamas commander Salah Shahade, who was killed in a targeted assassination, when an Israeli warplane bombed his home in Gaza. About 14 Palestinian civilians were also killed in the airstrike.[6] Deobhakta stated that New Zealand had an obligation to prosecute him under the Geneva Convention. Attorney-General Michael Cullen ordered a stay in the warrant after advice from the Crown Law office that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute, and the warrant was cancelled after Ya'alon left New Zealand.[7][6][8]

He was appointed Minister of Defense on 17 March 2013.[9]

Think tanks and institutes[edit]

After leaving his position as Chief of Staff, Ya'alon spent time in the think tank Washington Institute for Near East Policy and became a Senior Fellow at the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center Institute for International and Middle East Studies. Ya'alon also served as the chairman of the Center for Jewish Identity and Culture at Beit Morasha in Jerusalem.

Political career[edit]

Moshe Ya'alon
Knessets 18, 19
Party represented in Knesset
2009 – Likud
Ministerial roles
2009 – 2013 Vice Prime Minister
2009 – 2013 Minister of Strategic Affairs
2013 – Minister of Defense

Ya'alon backed the Oslo Accords, but later he "admitted his mistake."[10] On 17 November 2008, Ya'alon announced that he was joining Likud and that he would participate in the primaries which would determine the Likud candidates for the 2009 elections.[11] He won eighth place on the party's list,[12] and entered the Knesset as Likud won 27 seats. Upon the formation of the Netanyahu government, he was appointed Vice Prime Minister (alongside Silvan Shalom) and Minister of Strategic Affairs. In March 2013, he replaced Ehud Barak as Defense Minister.[9]

As Defense Minister Ya'alon decided to continue to manufacture and purchase Merkava tanks for the IDF, after the whole project was in question due to budget issues and the overall discussion of the necessity of tanks in modern battlefields. During Ya'alon's tenure, foreign sources claimed that the Israel Air Force launched several airstrikes on advanced weapons deposits in Syria before they were transferred to Hezbollah.

Controversial statements[edit]

Ya'alon's public pronouncements have often been controversial.

Palestinian threat as 'cancer'[edit]

On 27 August 2002, he told the Haaretz newspaper: "The Palestinian threat harbors cancer-like attributes that have to be severed. There are all kinds of solutions to cancer. Some say it's necessary to amputate organs but at the moment I am applying chemotherapy."[13] In January 2004, he publicly stated that the thirteen Sayeret Matkal soldiers who refused to serve in the Israeli-occupied territories were taking the unit's name in vain.

On the need to confront Iran[edit]

In January 2008, during a discussion at IDC Herzliya, Ya'alon said "There is no way to stabilize the situation all over the world and especially in the Middle East without confronting Iran."[14] According to The Sydney Morning Herald Ya'alon said: "We have to confront the Iranian revolution immediately. There is no way to stabilize the Middle East today without defeating the Iranian regime. The Iranian nuclear program must be stopped."

When asked whether "all options" included a military deposition of Ahmadinejad and the rest of Iran's current leadership, Ya'alon told The Herald: "We have to consider killing him. All options must be considered."[15]

The Peace Now/'virus' incident[edit]

Ya'alon with American political activist Pamela Geller

In August 2009, Ya'alon visited the ruins of Homesh,[16] a settlement that was evacuated in Israel's unilateral disengagement plan in 2005 and toured Israeli settlements in the north of the West Bank, considered as un-authorized outposts. He said that these communities are all legitimate and should not be called "illegal."[17] In addition, he participated in a convention of Manhigut Yehudit ("Jewish Leadership"), the more right-wing Settlers' segment within the Likud right-wing Party, in which he condemned the disengagement plan, called Peace Now a "virus"[18][19] and said that "We become accustomed to Arabs being permitted to live everywhere, in the Negev, Galilee, Nablus, Jenin, and [on the other hand] there are areas where Jews are not allowed to live. We caused this." He also stated that, "regarding the issue of the settlements, in my opinion Jews can and should live everywhere in the Land of Israel. Now, ... first of all, every settlement needs to get the approval of the authorities, and what goes up on the spot, in contradiction to these decisions and so on is not legitimate. It's against the law".[19]

Later, after meeting with PM Netanyahu, Ya'alon retracted parts of his statements and said that he "recognized the importance of democratic discourse and respecting other opinions."[20] Ya'alon explained that, indeed, all Israelis want peace, now. He stressed, however, the need to accept the fact that peace won't come immediately, otherwise it "hurts Israel." Ya'alon stated that, in his view, the way of thinking that Israel just needs to give one more piece of land and then it will have peace is a kind of "virus."[21]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. engagement in the peace process[edit]

In January 2014 Ya'alon was quoted in an Israeli newspaper calling U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry "obsessive" and "messianic," and claiming that the "only thing that can save us is if Kerry wins the Nobel Prize and leaves us alone." [22] [23] The remarks attributed to him precipitated a diplomatic row with the U.S. State Department and elicited criticism of members of Israel's government. In October 2014 during a visit to the U.S. Ya'alon met with his counterpart, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, but was denied requests to meet with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry.. [24] A U.S. official told the Jerusalem Post that the snub should come as no surprise. [25]

Personal life[edit]

Ya'alon is married with three children. He and his wife live in Modi'in-Maccabim-Re'ut, and are still members of kibbutz Grofit.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon
  2. ^ Ya'alon is widely known by his nickname, "Boogie" (also sometimes spelled "Bogie" or "Bogey" in English) "Knesset Gives Final OK to Gaza Pullout Plan". Fox News. Associated Press. 15 February 2005. Gil Hoffman (19 August 2009). "Netanyahu summons Ya'alon over comments". Jerusalem Post. 
  3. ^ http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-1763308,00.html
  4. ^ ‏Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon, A long way shor. Yediot Books (2008), pp.227–228.
  5. ^ Lawsuit filed against Ya'alon in US court The Jerusalem Post
  6. ^ a b "Ex-Israeli army chief praises NZ for wiping arrest warrant". The New Zealand Herald. 3 December 2006. 
  7. ^ New Zealand cancels Ya'alon warrant after he leaves
  8. ^ Eames, David; Berry, Ruth (1 December 2006). "Government overrules war-crimes arrest order". The New Zealand Herald. 
  9. ^ a b "Netanyahu picks ex-general Yaalon as new Israeli defense chief". Reuters. 17 March 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  10. ^ "New Israeli Defense Minister No Threat to Netanyahu's Policies". Al-Monitor. March 2013. 
  11. ^ Meranda, Amnon (18 November 2008). "Yaalon: Withdrawals Must End". Ynetnews. Retrieved 19 November 2008. 
  12. ^ "Likud primary results for February 10th national elections". Haaretz. 9 December 2008. Retrieved 9 December 2008. 
  13. ^ The enemy within, Ha'aretz
  14. ^ Interview with Former IDF Chief-of-Staff Moshe Yaalon, The College Zionist
  15. ^ Israeli hawks ready to fly on Iran, The Sydney Morning Herald 24 November 2008
  16. ^ Haaretz.com
  17. ^ FR.jpost.com
  18. ^ "Israeli minister calls anti-settler group a "virus"". Reuters. 19 August 2009. 
  19. ^ a b Ro`i Sharon, "יעלון: יהודים צריכים להתיישב בכל מקום בארץ ישראל", Maariv, 19 August 2009.
  20. ^ Haaretz
  21. ^ "Israeli minister calls anti-settler group a "virus"". Reuters. 19 August 2009. 
  22. ^ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/14/israel-yaaolon-john-kerry_n_4594452.html
  23. ^ http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Yaalon-criticized-for-reportedly-calling-Kerry-obsessive-messianic-338109
  24. ^ http://news.yahoo.com/us-officials-israel-defense-chief-denied-meetings-165913476--politics.html
  25. ^ http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Yaalon-snub-should-come-as-no-surprise-US-official-says-379737

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]