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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Elite unit soldier expelled for 'mutiny' at the Western Wall; UPDATED with more details

A soldier from the IDF's elite Shimshon unit has been expelled from the IDF due to an incident during his swearing-in ceremony at the Western Wall in October in which he held up a sign that said he would refuse orders rather than expel Jews from their homes.
A soldier who was involved in the incident during which signs were held up calling on soldiers to refuse orders during the IDF swearing-in ceremony at the Western Wall has been expelled from the army after refusing to express remorse.

A senior officer in the personnel department decided on the move based on a recommendation from the command committee. The expulsion is the harshest punishment a lone soldier can receive. The political protest in October by new recruits in the Shimshon battalion of the Kfir brigade caused a public storm, during which Defense Minister Ehud Barak also decided to remove the Har Bracha yeshiva from an arrangement with the IDF over its support for insubordination among soldiers.
The soldier has not been named. The original story of the incident with videotape is here.

Years ago, I asked someone who had spent time in jail for nationalistic acts - and who was subsequently kicked out of the IDF reserves - what would happen in case of war. He said that if there were to be a war, the jails would be opened up for anyone who had served in the IDF to return to his unit.

Years ago that was probably true.

But two weeks ago, I reported that Avi Bieber, who was kicked out of an elite unit for refusing to expel Jews from Gush Katif, was barred from returning to his unit during the Second Lebanon War a year later. In that post, I wrote:
The problem is that you really can't run an army where everyone decides for himself what orders he wants to carry out. Turn the plate over: Imagine if a Leftist soldier refused to go with his unit to Judea and Samaria (which has happened) or refused to stop 'Palestinians' at checkpoints because it invades their privacy. Do we really want that happening? The Rightists will handle all actions against the 'Palestinians' and the Leftists will expel Jews from their homes?

On the other hand, even if one accepts the validity of Israel expelling Jews from their homes (which I do not), it ought not to be the army's job. That's a police action.

In any event, I don't believe Bieber should have been barred from the Second Lebanon War if he wanted to serve. One thing has nothing to do with the other. The Gaza expulsion was an extraordinary situation. In fact, Bieber never should have been put in the position of having to refuse an order in the first place. Most of the IDF soldiers who felt it was wrong went to their commanders and were given other assignments (although there were a few commanders who refused that request and the soldiers refused their orders - Bieber was the first).
In this case, the soldier had not actually disobeyed an order. So in addition to it being wrong to force IDF soldiers to expel Jews from their homes, this expulsion is also premature. Clearly, this expulsion was politically motivated.


Arutz Sheva adds some more details:
The soldiers are Aryeh Arvos, who refused to express regret and was thrown out of the army, and Achiya Ovadiah. They were part of a group who unfurled a banner at an IDF swearing-in ceremony at the Western Wall reading, “Shimshon Brigade Won’t Evacuate Homesh.” Shortly afterwards, six Nachshon Brigade soldiers held a banner atop a building in their army base in Adorayim reading, “Nachshon Brigade, Too, Won’t Expel Jews.” The two Hesder students involved were similarly jailed, demoted and thrown out of Hesder; the non-Hesder soldiers, some of them not religious, were jailed and demoted.

Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, head of the Elon Moreh yeshiva in which Arvos and Ovadiah study/studied, was infuriated by the latest punishments: “Why don’t they just hang them in the city square as well?! Is [Defense Minister] Ehud Barak not yet satisfied? They have already paid the price many times over. If he thinks they are not fit for the army, they must all be thrown out altogether; what connection is their between waving signs and the Hesder program? Taking combat commanders and making them stockroom clerks is quite a punishment in and of itself..."

“Barak is doing this only for himself, he doesn’t take into account the interests of the State of Israel – for in the end, this will harm the State. Hesder has given a lot to the country, but at this rate, motivation to serve in Hesder is dropping. If they don’t want us, we will find other ways; our students can learn in full-time yeshivot, like the hareidi-religious. This is not our ideal solution, because we want to serve the State, even with its present government and Defense Minister…”


At 8:17 PM, Blogger Kae Gregory said...

It says a lot about the kind of military they are trying to build. The law of unintended consequences will not be violated in this instance, me thinks.


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