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Sunday, November 21, 2010

About to go out of existence, Newsweek suddenly concerned about religious soldiers in IDF

With Newsweek about to merge with the Daily Beast and go out of existence, it has finally awoken to the reality that the demographics of the IDF officer corps are not from groups that are likely to want to surrender land to 'Palestinians' unnecessarily.
But if a peace deal is ever achieved, it would undoubtedly require the evacuation of at least some settlements—a job for the Army. Some defense analysts and former officers worry that the military’s new religiosity could lead to mass insubordination. “If soldiers decide they don’t want to participate, that’s one thing,” says Mikhael Manekin, a reserve lieutenant who co-chairs the left-wing group Breaking the Silence. “If commanders don’t want to participate, that would be much more worrying.” (Manekin says all his commanding officers were settlers during his four years of active duty.)

The threat isn’t as farfetched as it sounds. Ever since the government demolished the West Bank settlement of Homesh in 2005, former residents have kept trying to establish an illegal outpost there, and authorities have kept sending troops to evict them. A year ago, during swearing-in ceremonies for new recruits of the Shimshon Battalion in Jerusalem, several soldiers unfurled a banner proclaiming: SHIMSHON DOES NOT EVACUATE HOMESH. The military court-martialed the perpetrators, sentenced them to the brig, and expelled them from their unit. But in the weeks that followed, similar signs were displayed at two other units’ training bases.

Although the military publishes little information about the backgrounds of its enlistees, a recent issue of the defense journal Maarachot reported that in recent years some 30 percent of graduates from the infantry officers’ course have defined themselves as “Zionist-religious,” up from only 2.5 percent 20 years ago. (About 12 percent of Israelis in general choose that label.) Many of those fledgling lieutenants, along with a number of higher-ranking combat officers, were drawn from Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and some are residents of outposts—smaller, makeshift settlements—established without authorization from the government.

The mere specter of widespread refusal is enough to make the government think twice before ordering evacuations, whether of settlements or of outposts, says sociologist Yagil Levy, who specializes in military trends. (The threat might explain why most outposts remain standing despite Israel’s promise to dismantle dozens of them under a U.S. initiative back in 2003.) Some analysts have suggested that the police should handle future evacuations, rather than the Army.

The rise within the military of the “knitted skullcaps” has been building for years. In the 1990s, after the controversial first Lebanon war, many liberal Israelis stopped encouraging their kids to go beyond the mandatory three years of national service. “We secular people can only blame ourselves for no longer being able to convince our kids to spend as many years in the military as in the past,” says Avshalom Vilan, a former member of Parliament from the left-wing Meretz Party and a kibbutznik.

At about the same time, more religious Israelis were concluding that their community should have played a larger role in building the country’s secular institutions decades earlier. Embracing military service more fervently was a way to make up for lost time. “The religious community has to be involved in all public institutions, not just the Army,” says Rabbi Eli Sadan, 62, at his home in the settlement of Eli, deep in the West Bank. “That’s the revolution we’re creating.” Sadan oversees one of a string of West Bank pre-military academies where rabbis teach Torah and Jewish philosophy for up to two years while preparing students for military service and imbuing them (this is where some secular Israelis get nervous) with a religious sense of mission. Most graduates forgo the option of serving in strictly religious units, mixing instead with the general population.
Read the whole thing.

Name me another country in the world where the army or police was told to expel people from their homes (in which they were not squatters) so that the homes could be given over to people who wanted to kill them. It's insane.

Yes, the country has shifted right. There are two factors behind that. One is that the new immigrants have been mostly from the Right (both the Russians and the Americans among others), while those who leave are mostly the yefei ha'nefesh (a contemptuous way of saying 'beautiful people' in Hebrew) from the Left. Second, the people have seen what we got for Oslo and the 'withdrawals' from southern Lebanon and Gaza. We have decided we don't want anymore of that.

You won't hear most Israelis worrying too much about the army carrying out its orders. It's a concern of the Leftists - just look whom Newsweek interviewed.

The picture at the top is Rabbi Avichai Ronski, who was the IDF chief rabbi until he was forced out in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead. He had the gall to encourage soldiers to believe they were on a mission from God (which they were).

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At 2:34 PM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

Surely a contradiction in terms: " a left-wing IDF officer"??

Give him his marching orders NOW, he cannot be trusted!

At 6:18 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

For most of Israel's history, the IDF officer corps came from the kibbutzim and moshavim - the strongholds of Israel's Left. As they have declined, they're being replaced by national religious Zionist officers and others of a more right-leaning background. This shift simply parallels the evolution in Israeli society.

And no one in Israel thinks a peace agreement with the Palestinians will happen in our lifetime.


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